3 October 2015

Summary - Agatha Christie Reading Challenge Blog Carnival

September marked the 125th anniversary of the birth of Agatha Christie and so the ACRC Blog Carnival reflects that with more posts than usual.

Agatha Christie Reading Challenge Participants
1. Dress Down Sunday: Agatha Christie Week @ Clothes in Books
2. Agatha Christie Week: A Post-War Gem @ Clothes in Books
3. I Love Her, But She Loves Agatha Christie* @ Confessions of a Mystery Novelist
4. Happy Birthday Agatha @The Game's Afoot
5. Agatha Christie Week: Her Life @ Clothes in Books
6. Agatha Christie Week: A Sharp, Brittle Book @ Clothes in Books
7. Agatha Christie Week: Surfing, an early adopter @ Clothes in Books
8. Review: THE SECRET ADVERSARY @ A Crime is Afoot
9. Dress Down Sunday: Agatha Christie Week : MURDER AT THE VICARAGE
10. 5 non-series Christie @ The Invisible Event
11. Agatha Christie Week: Round the World in Fact and Fiction @ Clothes in Books
12. A Neanderthalian view of Christie @ The Villa Rosa
13. Agatha Christie on her 125th Anniversary @ A Crime is Afoot
14. The Christies That Didn't Make the Cut @ The Passing Tramp
15. The Big Five from the Bottom Shelf @ The Passing Tramp
16. Tuesday Night Bloggers @ Clothes in Books
17. Crime Fiction Top 10s @CrossExaminingCrime

The October ACRC Blog Carnival is now open for contributions.

Review: IN BITTER CHILL, Sarah Ward

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 484 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber Crime; Main edition (June 30, 2015)
  • Publication Date: June 30, 2015
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
Synopsis  (Amazon)

Bampton, Derbyshire, January 1978. Two girls go missing: Rachel Jones returns, Sophie Jenkins is never found. Thirty years later: Sophie Jenkins's mother commits suicide.

Rachel Jones has tried to put the past behind her and move on with her life. But news of the suicide re-opens old wounds and Rachel realises that the only way she can have a future is to finally discover what really happened all those years ago.

This is a story about loss and family secrets, and how often the very darkest secrets are those that are closest to you.

My take

Stories of child abductions strike a frisson of fear into the heart of every parent.

In this case two little girls  are abducted and one turns up a few hours later with little idea of where she has been and what happened. The survivor, Rachel Jones, has fragmented memories that make little sense to her: glossy green leaves, a black door, a tall man, a woman wearing sunglasses in December. There are things that Rachel never tells anybody, mainly because they make no sense to her. Sophie Jenkins' mother never stops looking and hoping.

Until she turns up dead in the Wilton Hotel, over thirty years after the date of the kidnapping. Superintendent Llewellyn was a PC back then and remembers being assigned to going on the house to house search for the children. He is convinced that the original investigative team was thorough, left no stone unturned, and he doesn't want the current team going over the same ground. At the same time bringing fresh eyes to bear may pick up something the original team missed. And they need to find out what prompted Yvonne Jenkins to kill herself after all this time.

Two days later there is another body, this time found in the very woods where Rachel Jones was discovered.

The main investigative team consists of DI Francis Sadler, DC Connie Childs and DS Damian Palmer. The dynamics of the team are interesting, in particular with Childs and Palmer competing for prime spot in Sadler's eyes.

The story is carefully plotted and turned out to be a lot more complex than I had at first thought. From about mid way I found myself hazarding various resolutions and it kept me guessing almost to the end.

This is a terrific debut novel, written with great assurance of style.

See another review at Reactions to Reading

My rating: 4.8

About the author
Sarah Ward is an online crime fiction reviewer at Crimepieces. She is also a judge for the Petrona Award for translated Scandinavian crime fiction. Her debut novel, set in Derbyshire, In Bitter Chill was published in July 2015 by Faber and Faber.

2 October 2015

New to Me authors, July to September 2015

I've continued to read new authors in this quarter.

Some of them I should have read long ago, while others are newly published. As far as I was concerned, only one was a dud.
Many of them I would like to read more of.

The 14 listed below bring my count for the year to 45, which is just under half of the number of books I have read so far this year.
There are four Australian authors in the list. **
  1. 4.5, BLOOD REDEMPTION, Alex Palmer - Aussie author **
  2. 4.6, THE SINS OF THE FATHERS, Lawrence Block - first in the Matt Scudder series 
  3. 4.6, THE ICE TWINS, S.K. Tremayne
  4. 4.4, WYCLIFFE AND THE DUNES MYSTERY,  W.J. Burley - from Mt TBR 
  5. 4.7, SILENT SCREAM, Angela Marsons - British author 
  6. 5.0, THE GHOSTS OF ALTONA, Craig Russell - winner of Scottish crime fiction prize 
  7. 4.2, AUNT BESSIE BELIEVES, Diana Xarissa - cozy set on Isle of Man
  8. 4.7, A SIEGE OF BITTERNS, Steve Burrows
  9. 1.5, THE NAME OF THE ROSE, Umberto Eco 
  10. 4.5, SUMMERTIME, ALL THE CATS ARE BORED, Philippe Georget
  11. 4.3, THIS HOUSE OF GRIEF, Helen Garner - not crime fiction - Australian **
  12. 4.8, THE BANK INSPECTOR, Roger Monk - Aussie author, set in Adelaide **
  13. 4.0, A TRIFLE DEAD, Livia Day - female Aussie author, set in Hobart **
  14. 5.0, THE SILENCE OF THE SEA, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir - translated, winner of Petrona Award 2015 

1 October 2015

What I read in September 2015

Pick of the Month Sept 2015
A productive month with some really good reads,
It covered quite a range of the crime fiction genre.
  1. 4.5, BLOOD REDEMPTION, Alex Palmer - Aussie author
  2. 3.8, THREE-CARD MONTE, Marco Malvaldi - translated
  3. 4.6, THE SINS OF THE FATHERS, Lawrence Block - first in the Matt Scudder series 
  4. 4.6, THE ICE TWINS, S.K. Tremayne
  5. 4.5, THE GHOST FIELDS, Elly Griffiths - audio book 
  6. 4.8, THE SECRET PLACE, Tana French
  7. 4.4, WYCLIFFE AND THE DUNES MYSTERY,  W.J. Burley - from Mt TBR 
  8. 4.4, GIVE A CORPSE A BAD NAME, Elizabeth Ferrars - Vintage Golden Age fiction 
  9. 4.7, SILENT SCREAM, Angela Marsons - British author 
  10. 5.0, THE GHOSTS OF ALTONA, Craig Russell - winner of Scottish crime fiction prize 
  11. 4.2, AUNT BESSIE BELIEVES, Diana Xarissa - cozy set on Isle of Man 
My pick of the month was THE GHOSTS OF ALTONA by Craig Russell, but as you can see from my ratings there were a number of titles that were close behind. 

Jan Fabel is a haunted man.

Head of the Polizei Hamburg's Murder Commission, Fabel has dealt with the dead for nearly two decades, but when a routine enquiry becomes a life-threatening - and life-changing - experience, he finds himself on much closer terms with death than ever before.

Two years later, Fabel's first case at the Murder Commission comes back to haunt him: Monika Krone's body is found at last, fifteen years after she went missing. Monika - ethereally beautiful, intelligent, cruel - was the centre of a group of students obsessed with the gothic. Fabel re-opens the case. What happened that night, when Monika left a party and disappeared into thin air?

When men involved with Monika start turning up dead, Fabel realizes he is looking for a killer with both a hunger for revenge and a taste for the gothic. What he doesn't know is that someone has been aiding and grooming a deranged escapee as his own, personal tool for revenge.

A truly gothic monster to be let loose on the world.

Winner of the Scottish Crime Novel of the Year 2015
Read a free chapter here

I was very pleased to renew my acquaintance with Jan Fabel.

Check what others have chosen for their Pick of the Month.

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month September 2015

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month 2015
Many crime fiction bloggers write a summary post at the end of each month listing what they've read, and some, like me, even go as far as naming their pick of the month.

This meme is an attempt to aggregate those summary posts.
It is an invitation to you to write your own summary post for September 2015, identify your crime fiction best read of the month, and add your post's URL to the Mr Linky below.
If Mr Linky does not appear for you, leave the URL in a comment and I will add it myself.

You can list all the books you've read in the past month on your post, even if some of them are not crime fiction, but I'd like you to nominate your crime fiction pick of the month.

That will be what you will list in Mr Linky too -
ROSEANNA, Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo - MiP (or Kerrie)

You are welcome to use the image on your post and it would be great if you could link your post back to this post on MYSTERIES in PARADISE.

Meme: new to me authors July to September 2015

It's easy to join this meme.

Just write a post about the best new-to-you crime fiction authors (or all) you've read in the period of July to September 2015, put a link to this meme in your post, and even use the logo if you like.
The books don't necessarily need to be newly published.

After writing your post, then come back to this post and add your link to Mr Linky below. (if Mr Linky does not appear - leave your URL in a comment and I will add to Mr Linky when it comes back up, or I'll add the link to the post)
Visit the links posted by other participants in the meme to discover even more books to read.

This meme will run again at the end of December 2015

30 September 2015

Review: AUNT BESSIE BELIEVES, Diana Xarissa

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 791 KB
  • Print Length: 234 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publication Date: July 24, 2014
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • #2 in the Isle of Man Cozy Mysteries
Synopsis (Amazon)

Aunt Bessie believes that Moirrey Teare is just about the most disagreeable woman she's ever had the misfortune to meet.

Elizabeth Cubbon, (Aunt Bessie to nearly everyone), is somewhere past sixty, and old enough to ignore the rude woman that does her best to ruin the first session of the beginning Manx language class they are both taking. Moirrey's sudden death is harder to ignore.

Aunt Bessie believes that Moirrey's death was the result of the heart condition that Moirrey always complained about.
The police investigation, however, suggests that someone switched some of the dead woman's essential medications for something far more deadly.
Aunt Bessie believes that she and her friends can find the killer.

But with Doona suspended from work and spending all of her time with the dead woman's long-lost brother, with Hugh caught up in a brand new romance and with Inspector Rockwell chasing after a man that might not even exist, Bessie finds herself believing that someone might just get away with murder. 

My Take

Feel like a bit of light reading? This gentle cozy may be just what you are looking for.

The setting is the Isle of Man, the narrator Aunt Bessie Cubbon. Aunt Bessie has been a refuge for the island's youth for decades, a place where they can go to stay when they have had enough of their parents. And so Bessie has her finger on the pulse of most happenings on the island, and lots of people trust her and owe her favours. She is also part of the island's "skeet" network, a group of friends who are quick to update each by telephone on the latest news and gossip. The local police find her an invaluable source of information and tips.

The author encourages the reader right at the beginning to read these books in order. She explains the origins of the series, which now numbers 7 titles (see Amazon) and the connection of the series to an earlier Romance series. Apparently some of the characters in the Romance series, including Aunt Bessie, have made their way across into the mystery series.The language is British English with some Manx words and terminology interspersed. A glossary is provided in the final pages.

 A delightful read.

My rating: 4.2

About the author
Diana has lived in several US states, the north of England and the Isle of Man. While she is currently in the US, she still misses the stunning scenery, wonderful people and fascinating history that make the Isle of Man so unique.


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