1 March 2015

Review: MEDEA'S CURSE. Anne Buist

  • first published by Text Publishing Melbourne 2015
  • ISBN 9-781922-182647
  • 366 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

Forensic psychiatrist Natalie King works with victims and perpetrators of violent crime. Women with a history of abuse, mainly. She rides a Ducati a size too big and wears a tank top a size too small. Likes men but doesn’t want to keep one. And really needs to stay on her medication.

Now she’s being stalked. Anonymous notes, threats, strangers loitering outside her house.

A hostile former patient? Or someone connected with a current case? Georgia Latimer—charged with killing her three children. Travis Hardy—deadbeat father of another murdered child, with a second daughter now missing. Maybe the harrassment has something to do with Crown Prosecutor Liam O’Shea—drop-dead sexy, married and trouble in all kinds of ways.

Natalie doesn’t know. Question is, will she find out before it’s too late?

Anne Buist, herself a leading perinatal psychiatrist, has created an edge-of-the-seat mystery with a hot new heroine—backed up by a lifetime of experience with troubled minds.

My Take

At first I found the characters and events of this story hard to get sorted. Natalie King leads a complex and busy life working on cases where mothers have been accused, even convicted, of murdering their children. It is all made more complex by her own bipolarism, supposedly kept under control by medication, if she remembers to take it. What happens when she doesn't is frightening to say the least. Natalie reports regularly to her supervisor Declan who attempts to provide therapy and controls to keep her focussed, but he can only work with what she tells him, or guess at what she is hiding from him.

Things become more complicated though when it appears that at least one of the fathers of the dead or missing children may be connected to a pedophile ring. Most of what Natalie knows is told to her in confidence and she struggles to know what she can pass on to the police without endangering her clients, to say nothing of endangering herself.


Throughout my reading of this novel I could not get out of my head MOTHERS WHO MURDER by Xanthe Mallett, a true crime book that I read last year. MOTHERS WHO MURDER looks at a number of Australian cases where the author feels there has been the possibility of a miscarriage of justice. I feel that this book and MEDEA'S CURSE have the same starting point in the real world, with the latter fictionalising a response from real events.

Anne Buist writes with an authority and confidence that makes the reader sure that these things do happen, even if they rarely surface in my world. This makes for a gritty and noir novel, not for the faint hearted.

My rating: 4.7

About the author

Professor Anne Buist is the Chair of Women’s Mental Health at the University of Melbourne and has over 25 years clinical and research experience in perinatal psychiatry. She works with Protective Services and the legal system in cases of abuse,kidnapping, infanticide and murder. Medea’s Curse is her first mainstream psychological thriller.

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month February 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 February 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 -
e.g.
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.


28 February 2015

Review: THEY FOUND HIM DEAD, Georgette Heyer - audio book

Synopsis (Audible.com)

The 60th birthday party of Silas Kane was marred by argument and dissension among his family. And then, the morning after the celebrations, Kane is found dead at the foot of a cliff. The theory that Silas accidentally lost his way in the fog is confirmed when the coroner returns a verdict of death by misadventure.

But then Kane's nephew and heir is murdered and threats are made on the next in line to the fortune, throwing a new and sinister light on Kane's death. All clues point to an elderly lady of eighty as the killer. But as the redoubtable Superintendent Hannasyde delves further into the case he discovers that nothing is quite as it seems

My Take

It takes quite a while for Superintendent Hannasyde to make an appearance, in my estimation about half the novel has passed before he is called in, and then only after the second death.

Meanwhile the reader has explored the Kane family. I may have found this less confusing if I had been reading with my eyes rather than my ears. The author has the tendency to refer to characters sometimes by first name and sometimes by surname. It took me quite a while to work out they were not two different people. I think perhaps which name is used depends on the character's role in the family and applies particularly to Mrs Kane (senior)'s companion.

We accept the interpretation that Silas Kane was murdered while on his evening walk, pushed over a cliff in the fog, readily enough but all theories are confounded when his heir is shot while sitting at his desk in the study. His distraught wife has a lover but as she will not inherit there seems no reason to suspect him or her. Attention focusses on who will now be the heir, and a dodgy investment scheme lurks in the wings.

As I noted in my review of an earlier Heyer detective novel, the language seems a bit dated but the plotting is tight, and the characters, although some are abysmal people, or perhaps because they are, are quite realistic. 

My rating: 3.8

I've also reviewed
3.8, A BLUNT INSTRUMENT 

 

23 February 2015

Review: ANGLE OF INVESTIGATION: Three Harry Bosch Stories, Michael Connelly

  • Format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 415 KB
  • Print Length: 98 pages
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin (October 11, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005SDPHM0
Synopsis (Amazon)

LAPD Detective Harry Bosch tackles three tough cases that span a legendary career in this never-before-collected trio of stories.

In CHRISTMAS EVEN, the case of a burglar killed in mid-heist leads Bosch to retrace a link to his past. In FATHER'S DAY, Bosch investigates a young boy's seemingly accidental death and confronts his own fears as a father. In ANGLE OF INVESTIGATION, Bosch delves into one of the first homicides he ever worked back as a uniformed rookie patrolman, a case that was left unsolved for decades. Together, these gripping stories span Bosch's controversial career at the LAPD, and show the evolution of the haunted, legendary investigator he would become.

My Take

From the reviews on Amazon, it seems that die-hard Michael Connelly fans won't particularly like these short stories, because they are short, lacking a bit in character development, and have pretty simple plot lines.

On the other hand if you are looking for some good quality quick reads, then they may hit the spot, as they did for me.

My rating: 4.4

I've also reviewed
THE OVERLOOK
THE BRASS VERDICT
THE CONCRETE BLONDE
4.3, THE REVERSAL
4.4, SUICIDE RUN  

22 February 2015

Review: THIS DARK ROAD TO MERCY, Wiley Cash

  • first published by HarperLuxe 2014
  • ISBN 978-0-06-227844-9
  • 336 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

The critically acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller A Land More Kind Than Home returns with a resonant novel of love and atonement, blood and vengeance, set in western North Carolina, involving two young sisters, a wayward father, and an enemy determined to see him pay for his sins.

After their mother's unexpected death, twelve-year-old Easter and her six-year-old sister Ruby are adjusting to life in foster care when their errant father, Wade, suddenly appears. Since Wade signed away his legal rights, the only way he can get his daughters back is to steal them away in the night.

Brady Weller, the girls' court-appointed guardian, begins looking for Wade, and he quickly turns up unsettling information linking Wade to a recent armored car heist, one with a whopping $14.5 million missing. But Brady Weller isn't the only one hunting the desperate father. Robert Pruitt, a shady and mercurial man nursing a years-old vendetta, is also determined to find Wade and claim his due.

Narrated by a trio of alternating voices, This Dark Road to Mercy is a story about the indelible power of family and the primal desire to outrun a past that refuses to let go.

My Take

This book is probably at the very edge of the crime fiction genre - crimes have been committed, even murders, but that is not the central theme of the story. What is central is a father's attempt to re-establish a relationship with his two daughters. He gradually wins both of them over, but they are all on the run.

The story asks a moral question - when Wade, who signed away his legal rights to his children, decides he wants to re-establish them, should he be allowed to? Or are they better off without him?

An engrossing read.

My rating: 4.7

20 February 2015

Review: THE BRONZE HORSEMAN, Paullina Simons

  • published by Harper Collins 2011
  • ISBN 978-0-00-790467-9
  • 637 pages
  • from my local library
Synopsis (author website)

Leningrad 1941: the white nights of summer illuminate a city of fallen grandeur whose beautiful palaces and stately avenues speak of a different age, when Leningrad was known as St Petersburg.

Two sisters, Tatiana and Dasha, share the same bed, living in one room with their brother and parents. It is a hard, impoverished life, yet the Metanovs know many who are not as fortunate as they.

The family routine is shattered on 22 June 1941 when Hitler invades Russia. For the Metanovs, for Leningrad and for Tatiana, life will never be the same again. On the fateful day, Tatiana meets a brash young officer named Alexander.

Tatiana and her family suffer as Hitler’s army advances on Leningrad, and the Russian winter closes in. With bombs falling and the city under siege, Tatiana and Alexander are drawn to each other in an impossible love. It is a love that could tear Tatiana’s family apart, a love that carries a secret that could mean death for anyone who hears it.

Confronted on the one hand by Hitler’s unstoppable war machine, and on the other by a Soviet system determined to crush the human spirit, Tatiana and Alexander are pitted against the very tide of history, at a turning point in the century that made the modern world.

Mesmerizing from the very first page to the final, breathtaking end, The Bronze Horseman brings alive the story of two indomitable, heroic spirits and their great love that triumphs over the devastation of a country at war.

My Take

Do you feel obliged to finish a book, once started? One of the hardest things I find is to stop reading a book when I am not finding it a satisfying read.

Had THE BRONZE HORSEMAN been shorter (I got to page 187), or had it had more mystery about its plot, or had I been younger, I might have finished it. I am more than willing to believe that it may well be another's cup of tea, just not mine.

The Metanov family are in Leningrad, fighting in their own way for Mother Russia as Hitler's forces advance steadily towards the city. Pasha, the 17 year old son, and Tatiana's twin, disappears from a boy's holiday camp near Novgorod where his father has sent him. The family are living in squalid conditions when a Red Army officer Alexander enters their lives. Tatiana's older sister appropriates him, and so a love triangle develops.

And that's where I stopped. I have no doubt that the historical detail is what will attract some readers, while the romance will captivate others. Just not me. It was part of an attempt to read a book that is NOT crime fiction.

My Rating: 2.0

19 February 2015

Books on the Go

Plans, plans, plans
TBRN - To Be Read Next - lists to give me direction,
but I often ignore them :-)


from Net Galley
  • EDEN, Candice Fox
  • ODD FELLOWS, Nicholas Shakespeare
from my TBR
  • PAVING THE NEW ROAD, Sulari Gentil
audio books on the go
  • RUNAWAY, Peter May
  • THEY FOUND HIM DEAD, Georgette Heyer - I must be nearly finished this!
from my Kindle
  • THE CARTER OF 'LA PROVIDENCE', Georges Simenon
  • IT HAPPENED IN EGYPT, Charles Norris Williams - published in 1915 - I started it but now I'm not sure I want to read it
review books
  • THE KIZUNA COAST, Sujata Massey
  • GRAVEYARD OF THE ATLANTIC, Helen Goltz
  • DEAD RECKONING, Michael Smart
  • PAINTED BLACK, Greg Kihn
  • ONE TOO MANY, Maureen Jennings
  • THE ABRUPT BUSINESS OF DYING, Paul Hardisty
  • THE FOURTH REICH, Helen Goltz
  • DEATH BY DISGUISE,, Helen Goltz
from the library
  • BY ITS COVER, Donna Leon
  • MEDEA'S CURSE, Anne Buist
  • THIS DARK ROAD TO MERCY, Wiley Cash
  • AN EVENT IN AUTUMN, Henning Mankell
  • THE HUNTING DOGS, Jorn Lier Horst
  • THE BRONZE HORSEMAN, Paullina Simons - as far as I can see this will count for "NOT crime fiction." - I have begun it, but it is very long......

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