31 May 2012

Review: MURDER AT THE ROCKS, Jill Paterson

  • Format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 374 KB
  • Print Length: 266 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0646558536
  • Publisher: Jill Henderson (June 13, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0055TFNWG
  • Source: I bought it
Synopsis (Amazon)

When Laurence Harford, a prominent businessman and philanthropist is found murdered in the historic Rocks area of Sydney, Detective Chief Inspector Fitzjohn is asked to solve the crime quickly and discreetly. After barely starting his investigation, uncovering a discarded mistress and disgruntled employees, a second killing occurs.

Meanwhile, Laurence's nephew, Nicholas Harford, has his certainties in life shaken when he becomes a suspect in his uncle's death, and receives a mysterious gold locket that starts a chain of events unravelling his family's dark truths.

My take

This is #2 in Jill Paterson's Fitzjohn series. The first, THE CELTIC DAGGER, was a winner of the NSW Writers Centre New Holland Publishers 2008 Genre Fiction Award.

To be honest, I found the basic story of MURDER AT THE ROCKS interesting, but weighed down by an overly complex plot and flat dialogue.

I tried to warm to the main sleuth DCI Fitzjohn. He has many likeable traits:
" a policeman of the old guard, ... methodical painstaking methods viewed by some as archaic".
His wife has recently died. His offsider is called Betts, but he never quite seems to make it as a good foil to Fitzjohn. But having finished the novel I can't for the life of me think what Fitzjohn's first name is.  I think that is because I rarely read it.

MURDER AT THE ROCKS is a passable cozy, but, like many self-published e-books, in sad need of a bit more careful proof reading / editing. I'm usually pretty tolerant of errors of structure and language but these began to annoy me after a while.

The novel has a gothic, old-fashioned, feel to it, reminding me of early police procedurals like the first Gideon stories. I struggled to place it in a period of time, and then latterly discovered it is probably meant to be contemporary, certainly a couple of decades after the ending of the Vietnam War. The first murder takes place in Sydney's Rocks area, but apart from reference to New South Wales place names like Bowral and Newcastle, it gains little from that setting.

My rating: 3.2

Jill Paterson's blog
About the author
I'm a writer of murder mysteries with my first book, The Celtic Dagger, being published by New Holland Publishers in October 2010. I have since self published my second book, Murder At The Rocks. I live in Australia, am an avid reader, love going to the theatre, travelling, and delving into my family's genealogy.

Forgotten Book: FLOWERS IN THE RAIN, Rosamunde Pilcher

For many of my contributions this year to Pattinase's Friday's Forgotten Books  I am focussing on the books I read 20 years ago in 1992. By then my reading diet was almost exclusively crime fiction.

I haven't always been so devoted to murder mystery you know. But I do think puzzles and clues and mysteries have been central to most of my reading. There's a patch in 1992 where I indulged in a little lighter reading, the short stories of Rosamunde Pilcher. Really good short stories usually have a puzzle for the reader to solve, some question that needs an answer. I think one of the best things about short stories is that they are quick to read and complete in themselves.

FLOWERS IN THE RAIN, published in 1991, is a collection of romantic short stories and I must have really enjoyed them because I followed it up with another 6 titles, mainly short story collections.

30 May 2012

Review: THE PRECIPICE, Virginia Duigan

  • Format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 431 KB
  • Print Length: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Australia (June 1, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005098AV2
  • Source: I bought it
Synopsis (Amazon)

Longlisted for the 2012 Miles Franklin Award.
Thea Farmer, a reclusive and difficult retired school principal, lives in isolation with her dog in the Blue Mountains. Her distinguished career ended under a cloud over a decade earlier, following a scandal involving a much younger male teacher. After losing her savings in the financial crash, she is forced to sell the dream house she had built for her old age and live on in her dilapidated cottage opposite. Initially resentful and hostile towards Frank and Ellice, the young couple who buy the new house, Thea develops a flirtatious friendship with Frank, and then a grudging affinity with his twelve-year-old niece, Kim, who lives with them. Although she has never much liked children, Thea discovers a gradual and wholly unexpected bond with the half-Vietnamese Kim, a solitary, bookish child from a troubled background. Her growing sympathy with Kim propels Thea into a psychological minefield. Finding Frank's behaviour increasingly irresponsible, she becomes convinced that all is not well in the house. Unsettling suspicions, which may or may not be irrational, begin to dominate her life, and build towards a catastrophic climax.

My take

On the face of it, THE PRECIPICE is not a crime fiction novel, although by the end you realise that more than one crime has been committed, and there are certainly plenty of puzzles to solve.

Thea Farmer became a teacher and eventually a school principal without much liking children. She thinks she is a pretty good judge of character, but doesn't really get on with people particularly well, preferring her own company and that of her elderly dog Teddy. She was dealt a cruel blow in her forced retirement by the global financial crisis and has to sell her dream home in the Blue Mountains. She resents the people who've bought her house but as she has bought the cottage next door, which she calls the "hovel", she is very aware of them.

Thea joins a creative writing class and through her pieces for the class, and her interactions with the people who have bought her house, we piece together the mystery of her life. In fact there is more than one mystery. Despite her better judgement Thea befriends 12 year Kim.

When she begins to believe that her new neighbour Frank is not a good role model or guardian for his niece Kim, Thea is unable to stand to one side and do nothing.

An intriguing book that kept my interest throughout. Towards the end the tension builds as you just know Thea is going to do something and are not sure what. And is it something she has done before?

My rating: 4.8

Bernadette's review
Virginia Duigan's website

29 May 2012

Crime Fiction Alphabet 2012 - Letter B is for the BOY IN THE SUITCASE

I've decided that for my participation in the Crime Fiction Alphabet in 2012 I will highlight recently read books or their authors.
So they'll all come from my 2012 Reviews.
At least that's the plan.

Today's highlight is THE BOY IN THE SUITCASE by Lena Kaarbol & Agnete Friis which I rated at 4.8.

Here's the Amazon plot summary:
Nina Borg, a Red Cross nurse, wife, and mother of two, is a compulsive do-gooder who can't say no when someone asks for help—even when she knows better. When her estranged friend Karin leaves her a key to a public locker in the Copenhagen train station, Nina gets suckered into her most dangerous project yet. Inside the locker is a suitcase, and inside the suitcase is a three-year-old boy: naked and drugged, but alive.

My full review can be found here.
Click on the cover image to go to Amazon to read an extract.

Have you noticed that both of my CFA choices so far have been translated Nordic books? - if my Danish friends will allow me to lump THE BOY IN THE SUITCASE in with those of Scandinavian origin.

28 May 2012

Review: THE MISSING, P D Martin

  • Format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 205 KB
  • Print Length: 38 pages
  • Publisher: Murderati Ink (March 4, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007H3JBRQ
Synopsis (Amazon)

The Missing is two Sophie Anderson short stories - one set before book 1 in the series (Body Count) and one set after Body Count.

Story 1: Sophie Anderson is working in Victoria Police’s homicide department when her boss assigns her to a local kidnapping case. Her boss’s deal is simple: ‘Find my friend’s ten-year-old daughter and I’ll send you on the FBI course you’ve been nagging me about.’ But Sophie doesn’t need incentive to rescue a young girl. She throws herself into the case, racing against the clock to bring the girl home…only too aware of what the perpetrator might be doing to her.

Story 2: Sophie Anderson is still a relative newcomer to the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit when her profiling skills are called on for a kidnapping case in DC. Presidential candidate Senator Keen’s daughter is missing and Sophie’s mission is simple: find her and keep it quiet. But as Sophie investigates the senator and the daughter who’s kept out of the public eye, she discovers more than a straight case of kidnapping.

My take

A quick read, this one, just 38 pages, two short stories, both very polished.
Story 1 is an early Sophie Anderson, set in Melbourne before she has managed to persuade Victoria Police to send her to the FBI for training. Interesting to see how far her character has developed in later stories.

An interesting feature of the second story, published in the Australian Women's Weekly in 2006, is the two alternative endings. I preferred the first ending, which didn't have political overtones, myself.

What binds the two stories together is that both are about missing daughters, one in Melbourne, one in Washington DC. Comparing the two, and Sophie's profiling techniques, gives an excellent idea of how her skills have developed.

So if you have a Kindle, and 99 cents to spare, here's a quick taste of PD Martin, one of Australia's accomplished female crime fiction writers.

My rating: 4.6

Other reviews of PD Martin titles
FAN MAIL
THE KILLING HANDS

Review: DEATH MASK, Kathryn Fox

  • Format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 577 KB
  • Publisher: Pan Australia (October 1, 2010)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0045EPNM2
  • source: I bought it
Synopsis (from author's website)

Forensic physician Dr Anya Crichton is presented with a patient who has returned from her honeymoon with multiple sexually transmitted infections.

Her husband has none of them. She tearfully denies having had any other partners and Anya believes her. Is this a medical phenomenon or has something more sinister taken place?

Anya’s investigations into the case leads to a ground breaking study that attracts international attention. Her expertise leads to an invitation to New York to address over three hundred football players in the USA Professional League.

The enigmatic private investigator Ethan Rye is assigned to assist Anya during the summit. When an alleged rape involving five football players takes place, Anya is commissioned to investigate.
She is immediately thrust into a subculture of violence, sexual assault and drug abuse. No one is what he or she seems.

Anya soon discovers a devastating truth about the players that threatens to shut down the eight billion dollar football industry.
Now lives, including her own, are in danger…..

Click here to start reading Death Mask now.

My take

DEATH MASK takes forensic physician Dr Anya Crichton to New York to work with American footballers on a subject dear to her heart: violence, sexual abuse, and drug abuse, in high profile sportsmen. The content of the novel makes it obvious that it is a subject dear to the author's heart as well. I think inspiration for the novel probably came from the headline grabbing cases of sex scandals in Australian rugby (see the link below), but such cases are never far from the limelight in high profile football codes world over. Promoters of sports like American football and Australian Rugby, Australian Rules, and soccer, want to promote the sports as wholesome and for family consumption, their players as role models, but the Australian codes as well as the American ones have had to take preventative action to protect their images and to ensure their players understand the implications of their actions.

I think Fox was fearful that her readers would not understand the widespread nature or seriousness of the problem, nor would they have the technical knowledge of what the problem involved. The result has been some rather extensive didactic passages in the novel. It was almost as if she couldn't allow her knowledge or her research go to waste: on rape in sport, drugs in sport, on the rules of American football, on the effects of violent impacts on the brain, even on sights to see in New York.

I think Fox fleshes out more on Anya Crichton than I remember from earlier novels, particularly the disappearance of her younger sister Miriam at an Aussie Rules football match (based I think on the Kirsty Gordon/Joanne Ratcliffe case, and before that the disappearance of the Beaumont children).

In New York Anya Crichton teams up with investigator Ethan Rye (nicknamed "Catcher")  to investigate a gang rape carried by some high profile footballers, and they make a very good team. DEATH MASK leaves the path open for another novel where Anya will work with Ethan.

In a sense COLD GRAVE due to be published in August 2012 is a sequel to DEATH MASK.

My rating of DEATH MASK: 4.6

I've also reviewed BLOOD BORN

About Kathryn Fox - her website.
Australian Rugby - sex scandal

Crime Fiction Alphabet 2012 - Letter B


The Alphabet in Crime Fiction - a Community Meme.

This meme was run first on this blog in 2009-2010 and was re-run in 2011.

Last week we featured the letter A

This week's letter is the letter B

Here are the rules

By Friday of each week participants try to write a blog post about crime fiction related to the letter of the week.

Your post MUST be related to either the first letter of a book's title, the first letter of an author's first name, or the first letter of the author's surname, or even maybe a crime fiction "topic". But above all, it has to be crime fiction.
So you see you have lots of choice.
You could write a review, or a bio of an author, so long as it fits the rules somehow.
(It is ok too to skip a week.)
You probably won't have to do a lot of extra reading in order to participate, but I warn you that your TBR  may grow as a result of the suggestions other participants make.
Feel free to use either of the images provided in your blog.

Your assistance in advertising this community meme, and pointing people to this page, would be very much appreciated.

By the end of this week  post your blog post title and URL in the Mr Linky below.
Please place a link in your blog post back to this page.
Visit other blogs and leave comments.

Check the Crime Fiction Alphabet page for summaries of previous years.

Thanks for participating.

27 May 2012

Reading lists: various CWA shortlists

At CrimeFest in Bristol some shortlists have been announced, in case you need more books or authors to look out for.

International Dagger
The Potter’s Field by Andrea Camilleri, translated by Stephen Sartarelli (Mantle)
I Will Have Vengeance by Maurizio de Giovanni, translated by Anne Milano Appel (Hersilia Press)
Until Thy Wrath Be Past by Åsa Larsson, translated by Laurie Thompson (Quercus/Maclehose)
Trackers by Deon Meyer, translated by T K L Seegers (Hodder & Stoughton)
Phantom by Jo Nesbø, translated by Don Bartlett (Harvill Secker)
The Dark Valley by Valerio Varesi, translated by Joseph Farrell (Quercus/Maclehose)

my reviews seem to predict it is going to be a very close call:
4.7, UNTIL THY WRATH BE PAST
4.7, TRACKERS
4.7 PHANTOM
Karin Fossum's THE CALLER to which I gave 5.0 did not make the cut.

Ellis Peters Historical DaggerThe Crown by Nancy Bilyeau (Orion)
I Will Have Vengeance by Maurizio de Giovanni (Hersilia Press)
Bitter Water by Gordon Ferris (Corvus)
Prague Fatale by Philip Kerr (Quercus)
Icelight by Aly Monroe (John Murray)
Sacrilege by S.J. Parris (HarperCollins)
A Willing Victim by Laura Wilson (Quercus)

The Dagger in the Library – for a body of work
Belinda Bauer
S.J. Bolton
Susan Hill
Peter May
Steve Mosby
Imogen Robertson

This list raises the question, again, of how big a "body of work" is.
Not all bodies of work are equal it seems, otherwise a couple on this list would be streets ahead numerically. Bauer for example has only 3 published books, while Susan Hill has over 30 but not all crime fiction. Imogen Robertson has 4, Peter May about 18, S J Bolton 5, Steve Mosby 7.

Thanks to It's A Crime for the information about these and other lists.
She also says "The winners of these Daggers, and the CWA Diamond Dagger (Frederick Forsyth), will be announced/presented at a black tie dinner on 5th July, when the longlists for the second set of Daggers – the Gold, Steel, and John Creasey – will also be announced. The winners of this second set will be revealed at the Specsavers Crime Thriller Awards in the autumn."

26 May 2012

Review: CHELSEA MANSIONS, Barry Maitland

  • Format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 646 KB
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin (July 27, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005A0P9S8
  • Source: I bought it
  • #11 in the Brock and Kolla series
Synopsis (Amazon)

When Nancy Haynes, an elderly American tourist, is brutally murdered in a seemingly senseless attack after visiting the Chelsea Flower Show, DI Kathy Kolla suspects there is more to the case than first appears. When another occupant of the palatial Chelsea Mansions is murdered hot on the heels of the first - but this time a Russian oligarch - everybody wants to get involved.

Is it a Litvinenko-style KGB assassination? The spooks muscling in certainly think so. Are the murders linked? Or is Nancy's death just the result of mistaken identity? Kathy is determined to dig deeper, but comes up against walls of silence. If she persists, does she risk her career - and possibly more? DCI Brock, meanwhile, faces the fight of his life as his past comes back to haunt him.

A crime long buried, a deadly African virus, and some of the most resourceful criminals Brock and Kolla have ever faced, conspire to make this Maitland's best mystery yet.

My take

A worthwhile read, #11 in Maitland's long standing Brock & Kolla series, the first published in 1994.
DCI Brock and DI Kolla have been together through so many cases that they have developed a very close relationship despite the difference in their ages.

I have included this in my lists for both the 2012 Aussie author challenge and the 2012 British reading challenge, because although Barry Maitland is Australian by adoption/residence, by setting and construct these books are British police procedurals. Fantastic Fiction lists him as a Scottish author.
There's plenty in CHELSEA MANSIONS to keep the grey cells working. The hook is the unexpected murder of an elderly American tourist walking back to her hotel from the Chelsea Flower Show. The murder of a Russian billionaire who is living in the same buildings a matter of days later seems to point to a connection between the two.

Enter the fickle finger of fate when DCI Brock contracts the deadly Marburgh virus and Kathy Kolla has to lead the team. And just who is the young Canadian who turns up at Chelsea Mansions? As the story unfolds and mysteries are resolved one by one, there are some plot points that strain credibility just a bit, but that really didn't matter to me.

There are a number of connecting threads between CHELSEA MANSIONS and SPIDER TRAP, but that shouldn't prevent you from reading this if it is your first book by Barry Maitland. I think this one will send you looking for earlier titles. And there are plenty of openings for a sequel to this one.

My rating: 4.8

Other reviews of Barry Maitland books on MiP
BRIGHT AIR (2008) - stand alone.
DARK MIRROR (2009)
Mini reviews of ALL MY ENEMIES (1996), NO TRACE (2006), and SPIDER TRAP (2007).

25 May 2012

Not nice weather

For 3 days now we have been experiencing sandstorm in Abu Dhabi.
Tends to keep you inside. Temperatures have ranged from 38 to 45 C with winds up to 35 kmph.






24 May 2012

Review: COOKING THE BOOKS, Kerry Greenwood

  • Format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 583 KB
  • Print Length: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin (September 28, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005NF5H9G
  • Source: I bought it
Synopsis (Amazon)

When Corinna Chapman, talented baker and reluctant investigator, accepts an offer to do the baking for the film set of a new soap called 'Kiss the Bride', twists and turns ensue, with complications involving nursery rhymes and a tiger called Tabitha!

Corinna Chapman is trying very hard to do nothing at all on her holidays. Her gorgeous Daniel is only intermittently at her side (he's roaming the streets tracking down a multi-thousand dollar corporate theft). Jason, her baking offsider, has gone off to learn how to surf. And Kylie and Goss are fulfilling their lives' ambition auditioning for a soapie. It should be a time of quiet reflection for Corinna but quiet reflection doesn't seem to suit her - she's bored.

Scenting a whiff of danger, Corinna accepts an offer from a caterer friend to do the baking for the film set of a new soap called 'Kiss the Bride'. The soapie in which Kylie and Goss have parts. Twists and turns and complications that could only happen to Corinna ensue involving, bizarrely, nursery rhymes and a tiger called Tabitha.

While on the other side of town, a young woman is being unmercifully bullied by her corporate employers - employers who spend a lot of time cooking the books.

My take

Another enjoyable cozy in Greenwood's Corinna Chapman series. Corinna ventures into the world of the soapie tv programme, and Greenwood manages to make COOKING THE BOOKS feel a bit like a soapie too. Someone involved in the production of the pseudo reality tv series Kiss the Bride is trying to make life very uncomfortable for the main star. It hasn't come to blows or murder yet, but it very well could.

Corinna's involvement in the food side of the tv production provides the main plot but there are several interesting side plots. In one of them, Corinna and Daniel are involved in a search for some missing bearer bonds. Their search becomes a treasure hunt following clues that look like old English nursery rhymes but actually contain obscure references to Melbourne landmarks. The technique reminded me of the cryptic clues Ian Rankin use in THE FALLS which I read recently. More than one of the treasure hunt clues solved by Corinna sent me Googling for pictures of the landmark in question.

And speaking of Googling... Greenwood firmly places COOKING THE BOOKS in recent times as Corinna Googles for the stories behind the old nursery rhymes.

A gentle read in many ways, one that furthers our knowledge of Corinna herself, that has several mysteries to be solved, that emphasises the multi-cultural nature and historical background of Melbourne (I think they should give Kerry Greenwood the keys to the city!), and leaves the reader feeling replete and a little more knowledgeable.

Perhaps just one criticism: the story progresses through a daily account of Corinna's days that feels almost like a journal - the sun woke me early, then I did this, then I did that...
I got just a bit tired of chapter after chapter in that format, but I'm not sure what the alternative was.

My rating: 4.4

Other Kerry Greenwood reviews
MURDER ON A MIDSUMMER NIGHT
TRICK OR TREAT
FORBIDDEN FRUIT
4.3, DEAD MAN'S CHEST 

Forgotten Book: KINDERGARTEN, Peter Rushforth

For many of my contributions this year to Pattinase's Friday's Forgotten Books  I am focussing on the books I read 20 years ago in 1992. By then my reading diet was almost exclusively crime fiction.

KINDERGARTEN was published in 1979. I read it just 20 years ago, in May 1992.

Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

In a moving retelling of Hansel and Gretel, a woman is murdered during a terrorist attack, leaving her three sons into the care of their grandmother, Lilli. As the four prepare to celebrate Christmas without her, they are drawn into a rich, resonant world of memory, where Lilli must confront the horrors of the Nazi persecution she managed to survive. After losing her entire family in the Holocaust, it is this final death - that of her daughter - that allows Lilli to finally live again. By reaching out to a new generation, sharing with them her artistic vision of everyone she loved, she is able to forge a shared path toward peace and reconciliation.

There's some interesting background about what brought Peter Rushforth, an English teacher, to write the novel. He apparently discovered a cache of pre-war letters from Jewish parents pleading for their children's safe passage. (see Wikipedia). In Britain the book won the Hawthornden Prize, the oldest literary award in the UK. However Rushforth did not write another book until 2002, and then died in 2005, a comparatively young man.

22 May 2012

Crime Fiction Alphabet 2012 - Letter A is for Anne Holt

I've decided that for my participation in the Crime Fiction Alphabet in 2012 I will highlight recently read books or their authors.
So they'll all come from my 2012 Reviews.
At least that's the plan.

My choice for today is Anne Holt, a Norwegian writer.
At the time of writing, her book 1222  just makes it into my top 10 for the year, with a rating of 4.8.

This is the first book by Anne Holt that I have read, and it certainly won't be the last.
Perhaps one of the reasons that I enjoyed it so much is that it is in part a homage to Agatha Christie. Here are 269 train passengers with nowhere to go (169 of them in the hotel 1222), imprisoned by a snow storm, and with little hope of immediate rescue. So when the murder takes place, we have a classic "locked room" mystery.
My full review can be found here.

1222 was shortlisted for the 2012 Edgar Award for Best Novel in a very strong field.

Click on the cover image to read an extract.



 

Review: THE ABOMINABLE MAN, Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo

  • Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 2010 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (April 3, 2009)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002RI9QWG
  • Source: I bought it

Synopsis (Amazon)

The seventh classic instalment in this genre-changing series of novels featuring Detective Inspector Martin Beck.

On a quiet night a high-ranking police officer, Nyland, is slaughtered in his hospital bed, brutally massacred with a bayonet. It's not hard to find people with a motive to kill him; in fact the problem for Detective Inspector Martin Beck is how to narrow the list down to one suspect. But as he investigates Nyland's murder he must confront whether he is willing to risk his life for his job.

Written in the 1960s, these masterpieces are the work of Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo – a husband and wife team from Sweden. The ten novels follow the fortunes of the detective Martin Beck, whose enigmatic, taciturn character has inspired countless other policemen in crime fiction.
The novels can be read separately, but do follow a chronological order, so the reader can become familiar with the characters and develop a loyalty to the series. Each book will have a new introduction in order to help bring these books to a new audience.

My take

This was a thoroughly enjoyable read. It both analyses what makes people commit horrendous crimes, and what constitutes good policing.

We learn early on that the high ranking police officer killed was not a good policeman. Martin Beck's colleague Kollberg says "he was a barbaric son of a bitch of the very worst sort." His name was never discredited, and complaints against him never got past the submission stage. And many of the current personnel in the Stockholm Police force were incredibly loyal to him because he had trained them.
As the blurb indicates, there is no shortage of people who would be glad to see this person dead, but just one has reached the point of no return, deprived of both his wife and his daughter by this man.

The authors also make some interesting commentary on what happened to the city of Stockholm in the 1960s when 90% of the old city was demolished to make way for "modern" development.

This series follows the changes in Martin Beck's personal life as he rises in the force. He is now the chief of the National Murder Squad, his marriage has collapsed and he unashamedly lives for his work.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of these novels is the amount of descriptive detail included, and small nuances in relationships between the men who make up Beck's team. Beck is very demanding, but he does not demand any more from them than he does of himself.

My rating: 4.7

Other reviews on MiP
4.7, ROSEANNA
4.7, THE MAN WHO WENT UP IN SMOKE
4.5, THE FIRE ENGINE THAT DISAPPEARED
4.5, MURDER AT THE SAVOY

21 May 2012

Crime Fiction Alphabet 2012 - Letter A


The Alphabet in Crime Fiction - a Community Meme.

This meme was run first on this blog in 2009-2010 and was re-run in 2011.

This week's letter is the letter A

Here are the rules

By Friday of each week participants try to write a blog post about crime fiction related to the letter of the week.

Your post MUST be related to either the first letter of a book's title, the first letter of an author's first name, or the first letter of the author's surname, or even maybe a crime fiction "topic". But above all, it has to be crime fiction.
So you see you have lots of choice.
You could write a review, or a bio of an author, so long as it fits the rules somehow.
(It is ok too to skip a week.)
You probably won't have to do a lot of extra reading in order to participate, but I warn you that your TBR  may grow as a result of the suggestions other participants make.
Feel free to use either of the images provided in your blog.

Your assistance in advertising this community meme, and pointing people to this page, would be very much appreciated.

By the end of this week  post your blog post title and URL in the Mr Linky below.
Please place a link in your blog post back to this page.
Visit other blogs and leave comments.

Check the Crime Fiction Alphabet page for summaries of previous years.

Thanks for participating.

20 May 2012

Review: THE BROTHERS OF BAKER STREET, Michael Robertson

  • Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 392 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (March 1, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00457X8F8
  • Source: I bought it
Synopsis (Amazon)

The second in a highly original and absolutely marvelous series about two brother lawyers who lease offices on London's Baker Street--and begin receiving mail addressed to Sherlock Holmes.

When brothers Reggie and Nigel Heath choose 221B  Baker Street as the location for their law office, they don’t expect that their new office space would come with one huge stipulation, answering the letters sent to Sherlock Holmes, the most famous resident of that address.

Reggie is distressed because the love of his life, actress Laura Rankin (whom Nigel also adores), is gallivanting around with media mogul Lord Buxton. And while Reggie is working on a new case involving one of London’s Black Cab drivers who is accused of murdering two American tourists, the letters to Sherlock Holmes are piling up. There's even one from someone who claims to be the descendant of Professor James Moriarty.

With a case that would have puzzled even Sherlock himself and a pair of brother sleuths more different than night and day, The Brothers of Baker Street is sure to please mystery fans whatever their address.

My Take

This was a much lighter read than I had expected. This is #2 in the series and I did feel that I had missed some important back story, so if the idea of a series loosely connected to the domicile of Sherlock Holmes appeals, perhaps it would be better to start with the first, THE BAKER STREET LETTERS.

Reggie Heath QC has just returned from the USA and younger brother Nigel is about to return. I never did understand the circumstances of what had led to their departure from London, nor why their secretary Lois was "new".

The main focus of THE BROTHERS OF BAKER STREET is Reggie's return to criminal law and his consequent involvement in the Black Cab cases. Reggie Heath is a QC who has been focussing on corporate cases. He is currently attempting to rebuild his practice. He is approached to defend a cabbie, the driver of a London Black Cab with distinctive numberplates, who has been accused of the murder of an American tourist couple.

Under the terms of their lease Reggie and Nigel are required to reply to any letters addressed to Sherlock Holmes. They have a pro-forma letter they are supposed to send, but a letter that appears to be from a descendant of Holmes' arch enemy Moriarty has them stumped.

Reggie is sent an anonymous tip that helps him get the charges against the cabbie dismissed, but it appears that the cabbie may have been guilty after all.

THE BROTHERS OF BAKER STREET has a convoluted plot with a bit of modernism thrown in. I think it is designed to appeal to Sherlock Holmes followers, but I am not sure it will. I found it difficult to get a clear picture of the main characters and really didn't warm to them.

My rating: 4.2

19 May 2012

Review: DEFENDING JACOB, William Landay

  • Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 1551 KB
  • Print Length: 431 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1409115372
  • Publisher: Orion (March 15, 2012)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007G92QGO
  • Source: I bought it
Synopsis (Amazon)

When a teenaged boy is discovered stabbed to death in the woods adjoining the local high school, a wave of shock ripples through the suburban community of Newton, outside of Boston.
Assistant district attorney Andy Barber is used to dealing with murder and its after-effects, but with his own son, Jacob, also a student at the school, he too is anxious for a swift arrest and conviction. But as the kids appear to be stonewalling the cops and the investigation stalls, evidence emerges that ties Jacob to the crime - and suddenly Andy faces a very different challenge: preventing his son from being convicted of murder.
Together with his wife, Laurie, the family closes ranks in the midst of an increasingly hostile community as Andy prepares for the trial of his life, the one trial he cannot afford to lose. Especially when the emergence of his own dark family secrets threatens to undermine Jacob's defence. And as the drama reaches its climax, Andy and Laurie have to face every parent's toughest questions: how well do you really know your own child, and how far would you go to save them?

My take

My face-to-face book discussion group has chosen this for its next discussion and there'll certainly be  plenty to discuss.

This is a difficult book to write a non-revealing review of - so my apologies in advance if I reveal too much of the plot for you.

When his son Jacob is accused of murdering a fellow student Assistant DA Andy Barber is suddenly on the "other" side. Used to prosecuting for murder, now he has to face his protege in court.
Andy manages to worm his way into the defence team mainly so he can make sure the defence is played out the way he wants it to be. He realises also that he needs to tell both his wife Laurie and his son Jacob his biggest secret - that his own father is in gaol convicted of murder, and worse, that he comes from a whole line of murderers.

Andy and Laurie realise that they don't know their son, whom they've always regarded as "normal", as well as they thought they did. Laurie recalls incidents of violence in his childhood and they both recognise that Jacob is a bit reclusive, with only a small number of friends. Then a psychologist employed by the defence to assess Jacob diagnoses an unusual coldness towards others, a lack of empathy, and the emotional age of a much younger child. So part of the discussion becomes what is responsible for the way Jacob has turned out - is it as Laurie feels, their fault, or does he have the "murder gene" as Andy fears?

There's an interesting role given to viral networking too. All Jacob's fellow students have Facebook accounts through Jacob's Facebook discussions Andy finds out far more than he wants to know.

So yes, I think my friends will have a great time (in my absence) discussing DEFENDING  JACOB.
I think the plot structure is another thing that will take their attention. The narrative operates through a number of time frames - some separated by over 12 months - beginning with the discovery of the body and progressing through to Jacob's trial. We also have the narrative of Andy's story and some of the court transcripts. And then there is the twist at the end....

Not every one will enjoy the book (Reactions to Reading didn't),  but you will find it thought provoking. I would liken it to Lionel Shriver's WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN.

My rating: 4.6

William Landay's website

17 May 2012

Forgotten Book: THE KILLING BOTTLE, L.P. Hartley

For many of my contributions this year to Pattinase's Friday's Forgotten Books  I am focussing on the books I read 20 years ago in 1992. By then my reading diet was almost exclusively crime fiction.

THE KILLING BOTTLE comes from my records of May 1992.
It was a collection of short stories published in 1932, one of the author's early works.
He is best remembered for THE GO-BETWEEN (1953) but was awarded the 1947 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Eustace and Hilda and in 1956 he was awarded the CBE.

As far as I can work out the stories in THE KILLING BOTTLE were largely supernatural and horror stories. You can read the "title" story on Scribd.
Most of the stories had been published before.
The Killing Bottle was the basis of an episode in the tv series Journey into the Unknown in 1969.
The story synopsis says: A musician tries to get his animal-loving brother committed so that he can get his hands on the family inheritance

Biography and list of works for L.P. Hartley on Fantastic Fiction.

16 May 2012

Review: CROOKED HOUSE, Agatha Christie

  • Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 345 KB
  • Print Length: 292 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 031298166X
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; Masterpiece ed edition (October 14, 2010). Originally published 1949
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0046A9MS6
  • Source: I bought it
Synopsis (Amazon)

A wealthy Greek businessman is found dead at his London home…
The Leonides were one big happy family living in a sprawling, ramshackle mansion. That was until the head of the household, Aristide, was murdered with a fatal barbiturate injection.
Suspicion naturally falls on the old man’s young widow, fifty years his junior. But the murderer has reckoned without the tenacity of Charles Hayward, fiance of the late millioniare’s granddaughter…

My Take

In an author's foreword Agatha Christie says this was a plot she had thought through for many years.

The action takes place just after the second world war near London. Charles Hayward and Sophia Leonides had met two years earlier in Egypt and were determined to meet again after the war was over.

They are back in London and have arranged to meet when Charles learns that Sophia's grandfather has been murdered. Charles' father, a member of Scotland Yard, suggests that Charles try to get an "inside" view of the family, talk to family members, to see if one is a murderer. We see events from Charles' point of view, and it is he who finally assembles the evidence, although in a sense a family member beat him to it.

This is a book that keeps the reader guessing, although I have to admit that about a quarter of the way from the end I was pretty sure I knew who the murderer was. That's when, true to form, Agatha Christie threw a final red herring on the path.

There's some interesting discussion of what makes a murderer. Charles' father who is a Scotland Yard Commander, believes that most murders are committed by family members because it is oily situations that the depth of hatred and frustration that precedes murder will occur. When the identity of the murderer is revealed he says he had known it for some time.

My rating: 4.4

Are you accessing e-books? If so, how?

It is over 6 months since I asked this question and I am interested not only to see what proportion of readers of this blog are using e-books, but also how you are doing it.

First of all look for the poll over on the right and add your answer, Yes or No.
Then come back here and leave a comment.
The number of ways in which people are accessing e-books has increased in the last 12 months.
You might be getting them
  • from Amazon
  • from a bookseller
  • from a service offered by your local library
  • from NetGalley
  • or from some other source

14 May 2012

Review: BICYCLE SHOP MURDER, Robert Burton Robinson

  •  Format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 334 KB
  • Print Length: 250 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1448610818
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002BWPZDC
  • Source: I bought it
Synopsis (Amazon)

Greg Tenorly Suspense Series - Book 1. Suspense with a touch of romance. Length: 56,300 words.
Greg Tenorly lives a quiet and lonely life in a small East Texas town, until he is selected as a juror for a murder trial. A beautiful, mysterious redhead befriends him, and seems to have a romantic interest. But is she merely using him to influence the outcome of the trial?
By the end of the first week, three people connected with the case are dead, and Greg is beginning to fear for his own life. He is now convinced that a powerful Dallas attorney is directing the murder spree in his little town. But why? He is determined to find out. But his investigation just might earn him a spot at the top of the hit list.

My take

#1 in the Greg Tenorly suspense series (see full list below).

As the title suggests, the book focusses on the trial of a young black man accused of murdering the owner of a bicycle shop. The victim was elderly but also well thought of in the small community, particularly for the work he did adolescents in repairing their bicycles.

It takes a while to select the jury and the reader becomes aware that someone is trying to rig the jury in order that the accused will be acquitted. How serious this is becomes obvious when first of all a witness and then a juror are found dead, the latter clearly murdered.

Greg Tenorly, part-time music teacher, becomes involved because he is on the list from which the jury is chosen, and then Cynthia, the wife of one of the jurors, comes to him because she is being beaten by her husband.

When the wife of the  original victim phones Greg and tells him the name of the person behind the killings, and then is murdered herself, Greg and Cynthia decide to confront him. So begins a series of bizarre episodes when, among other things, they are followed by a hit man.

The main thing that me reading THE BICYCLE SHOP MURDER was that I wanted to know why the first murder had occurred. I thought the novel was rather unpolished in places and could have done with more editorial help. Some of the scenarios were down right improbable. I can't make up my mind if I want to meet Greg and Cynthia again.

My rating: 2.7

About the Author

After a career in music, Robert Burton Robinson worked as a software engineer, developing applications for the Mission Control Center at Johnson Space Center in Houston for fourteen years. His books include the Greg Tenorly Suspense Series: Bicycle Shop Murder, Hideaway Hospital Murders, Illusion of Luck, and Fly the Rain, the Ginger Lightly Short-Novel Mysteries Series: Sweet Ginger Poison and Ginger Dead House, the first book of the Rebecca Ranghorn Short-Novel Mystery Series: Naked Frame, and two short story collections: 22 Short Stories, and Amateur Investigator.

Robert earned a Bachelor of Music degree and a Bachelor of Science in Computer and Information Sciences from Lamar University, and did graduate music work at University of North Texas.

He loves spending time with family, playing guitar, and watching movies. He has three children and six grandchildren. He and his wife live near Houston, Texas.


13 May 2012

Review: BELIEVING THE LIE, Elizabeth George

Synopsis (Amazon)

Detective Inspector Lynley is approached by business magnate Bernard Fairclough for a confidential review - not a formal investigation - of the circumstances of his nephew's demise. The coroner's verdict is accidental death.
Still grieving for his murdered wife, Lynley has personal reasons for welcoming a spell away from London. He heads to the wild beauty of the Lake District, with Deborah and Simon St James to provide cover for his inquiries.
Barbara Havers, back at base, makes her own unique contribution to the case, distracted only by Isabelle's ambitions to improve her Detective Sergeant's appearance. When he comes to know the various members of the extended Fairclough dynasty, Lynley finds many possible motives for murder, and uncovers layers of deceit and betrayal that expose the lies at the heart of the Cumbrian community.

My take

First of all. let me say, this is a long book, but I forgive the length, although of course by the end I was anxious to have the various plot lines resolved. It is a book that begins sedately enough but by the last pages is fairly galloping along.

Despite the number of books in the series that have intervened, it is only 8 months since Thomas Lynley's wife Helen was murdered (WITH NO ONE AS WITNESS publ.2005). Tommy has spent much of that time in a fugue, coming to terms with his loss, but 4 months ago he entered into a relationship with his immediate boss, Acting Detective Superintendent Ardery. Public knowledge of this relationship could be career-ending for either or both of them.

We are used to the construction of the modern detective novel: two or more plot lines beginning separately but, from the omniscient view of the reader, inevitably destined for convergence like railway tracks coming into the station. Other plots intersect with the main ones rather like spider webs. But it seems to me that in BELIEVING THE LIE Elizabeth George has taken this plot structure rather a step further. There's a caboose or two blundering around the network, destined to rather clumsily bang into the main trains. Zed Benjamin, rookie journalist for The Source, is one of those cabooses, on the track of a story that his demanding editor has given him only partial information for.

DI Thomas Lynley is asked to go to Cumbria to investigate a death to make sure it wasn't murder. His assignment is a favour at a higher level and he's meant to keep it secret, even from his boss. He decides to ask his friends Deborah and Simon St. James to accompany him to assist in some incognito investigation and thus he lets Deborah St. James loose into the mix with eventually rather disastrous consequences.

There are a couple of themes underlying the whole plot structure.
One links to the title: the lies that characters promulgate, the lies they believe, and the ones that fool no-one.

A second concept, surrogacy, is introduced by Deborah St. James herself, desperate to have a baby, but unable to carry a child to full term. She thinks she recognises, in the wife of one of the people under investigation, a kindred spirit. In actual fact Deborah runs a line of interference into the investigation, rather than contributing positively.

A third theme is that of love and relationships. There are some very damaged, interesting, but not necessarily likeable, people in the cast of characters. Most of them are strongly drawn, as are the threads of the relationships between them.

Although Lynley's long time detective partner, Barbara Havers, is not meant to be assisting him in this investigation, he of course enlists her assistance in research, and through her other plot elements emerge. At the instigation of Activing Detective Superintendent Ardery, Barbara is having a makeover: her teeth have been fixed, and her hair and clothing are next. But will it last?

So, in the long run, for me, a satisfying read, one that gave me plenty to think about. And a book to which, without doubt, there will be a sequel.

My rating: 4.6

You might also like to check these posts:
Other Elizabeth George reviews on MiP
CARELESS IN RED (#15 in the series)

12 May 2012

Review: THE HOUSE AT SEA'S END, Elly Griffiths

  • Paper version published 2011
  • Audible version released 2011
  • Narrated by Jane McDowell 
  • Length: 10 hrs 48 mins
  • source: I bought it 
  • #3 in the Ruth Galloway series
Synopsis (Audible)


A team of archaeologists, investigating coastal erosion on the north Norfolk coast, unearth six bodies buried at the foot of a cliff. How long have they been there? What could have happened to them? Forensics expert Ruth Galloway and DCI Nelson are drawn together again to unravel the past. Tests reveal that the bodies have lain, preserved in the sand, for sixty years. The mystery of their deaths stretches back to the Second World War, a time when Great Britain was threatened by invasion. But someone wants the truth of the past to stay buried, and will go to any lengths to keep it that way... even murder.

My take

I hope you read the synopsis quickly because for me it reveals just a bit too much much of the plot.
The Fantastic Fiction blurb is not much better.

This is #3 in the Ruth Galloway series, and some threads of the story are continuous, so if you haven't read the first two then I really would recommend you don't start with this one. On the other hand, there is probably enough back story given so you won't feel you've missed out on too much.

There are a few themes brought together in THE HOUSE AT SEA'S END: the idea that war crimes are committed on both sides of a conflict; coastal erosion that is quite a hot topic among conservationists (I saw a Time Team TV programme about it recently); and then the ongoing relationship between Ruth Galloway and Harry Nelson. Ten years earlier Ruth had been on a forensic expedition to Bosnia to track down war crime burials.
"Coastal protection" is treated in two ways: what the Home Guard did during the war to protect citizens, as well as the rather inevitable coastal erosion by the sea. World War II is a long way in the past now and the last members of the Home Guard are in nursing homes. One of them just happens to be the grandfather of Harry Nelson's boss and at first it is assumed that he has simply died of old age. But Archie Wycliffe had something on his mind, a blood oath he took seventy years before, a ghastly secret he has kept all that time.

I thought the plot got a bit tangled in places, but nevertheless enjoyed it.
My rating: 4.6..

Other Elly Griffiths books reviewed on MiP

4.6, THE CROSSING PLACES
4.6, THE JANUS STONE



11 May 2012

Got the itchy feet again - on our travels

Posts on this blog may be a little erratic for the next 7 weeks!
We leave for Abu Dhabi today.
By the time you read this, we will have left home.
First flight is at 9 (to Sydney) then the 14 hour journey to Abu Dhabi starts at 2.30 pm

To be honest though, I have pre-written and scheduled a number of regular posts
and of course there will be reviews whenever I can manage them.
I will be confined to books on my Kindle and my iPod.


10 May 2012

Forgotten Book: A GREAT DELIVERANCE, Elizabeth George

For many of my contributions this year to Pattinase's Friday's Forgotten Books.  I am focussing on the books I read 20 years ago in 1992. By then my reading diet was almost exclusively crime fiction.
So my recent posts for this meme have largely been about authors that I "discovered" in that year.

I read Elizabeth George's debut novel A GREAT DELIVERANCE, published in 1988, towards the end of 1992. By then of course it had won the Anthony and Agatha Best First Novel awards in America and received the Grand Prix de Littérature Policière in France.

Synopsis (author website)
    A baby's cry echoes on lonely nights through Keldale Valley in Yorkshire. Three hundred years ago, when Cromwell's raiders swept through a village in this valley, not a living creature was to be found on its fog-shrouded streets. The entire population had taken refuge in Keldale Abbey. But then, as the legend goes, an infant began to cry-and the villages knew they had escaped Cromwell's ravages only to be betrayed by a babe. So they smothered the child to silence it.

    To this day, the low, thin wail of an infant can be heard in Keldale's lush green valleys.

    Now, into this pastoral web of old houses and older secrets comes New Scotland Yard Inspector Thomas Lynley. Accompanied by Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers, Lynley has been sent to solve a particularly savage murder which has stunned the peaceful countryside.

    Fat, unlovely Roberta Teys has been found, clad in her best silk dress, seated in the great stone barn beside her father's decapitated corpse. Her first and only words were: "I did it. I'm not sorry." She has refused to speak since. The priest who found young Roberta insists the girl is innocent. The villagers, who have known the girl all of her life, concur. The local police, however, maintain that she's guilty of the brutal slaying of one of the region's most respected citizens.

    As Lynley and Havers wind their way through Keldale's dark labyrinth of scandals, they uncover a series of revelations that will reverberate through this tranquil English valley-and in their own lives as well.
I was hooked.
I have continued to read the Lynley series, now up to #17, although I still have the last 2 in the series to catch up with.

The list (from Fantastic Fiction)
Inspector Lynley
1. A Great Deliverance (1988)
2. Payment In Blood (1989)
3. Well-Schooled In Murder (1990)
4. A Suitable Vengeance (1990)
5. For The Sake of Elena (1992)
6. Missing Joseph (1993)
7. Playing For The Ashes (1994)
8. In The Presence Of The Enemy (1996)
9. Deception On His Mind (1997)
10. In Pursuit Of The Proper Sinner (1999)
11. A Traitor To Memory (2001)
12. A Place of Hiding (2003)
13. With No One as Witness (2005)
14. What Came Before He Shot Her (2006)
15. Careless in Red (2008)
16. This Body of Death (2010)
17. Believing the Lie (2012)

Elizabeth George lives on Whidbey Island in the state of Washington, and of course there has been a lot of discussion over the years about the fact that she is an American author writing a very British feeling series. Her popularity as an author has been greatly enhanced by the Lynley television series, although there are marked differences between the books and the tv characters. The fact that she decided to kill off Lynley's wife in #13 caused controversy and distress among her readers.

9 May 2012

Regrets or Relief?

Are you ever regretful that a book is finished, or do you heave a sigh of relief?
This post should probably be read in conjunction with yesterday's A Tome, or a Delight? because it is also an attempt to get to the heart of the matter.
However it doesn't just allude to longer books.

Sometimes, I must confess, I do get to the stage where I am impatient to find out how a book ends, how the plot threads resolve.
And I am never quite sure whether it is really because the author is getting too long winded, whether I have already spent more than 3 days on the book (and am therefore falling behind my self allocated schedule*), or whether I already have my eye on what I am going to read next.

*my schedule in arithmetic terms is 365 (days of the year) divided by 166 (books) = 2.2 days.
Gone are the days when I read a book a day, generally, so each book's time allowance works out to a little over 2 days. When they take 4 or 5 days either because of length or because I just reading slowly, I really do get antsy.

The funny thing is that I can actually have enjoyed reading a book, or later, when I am writing my review, I come to a realisation of just how much the book gave me to think about, and I will still give it a high rating.

The other strange thing I have noted recently is that my reading often seems to speed up in the second half of the book. I can't quite decide whether that means I am skimming a bit more without really noticing it.

What about you? Are you an impatient reader?

8 May 2012

A Tome, or a Delight?

There are some authors who don't seem to be able to write short books these days.
I've just begun reading a Kindle edition of BELIEVING THE LIE by Elizabeth George and have noticed that it has 8,533 "locations", and I'm currently at 5%.

That makes it almost three times the length of the last book I read.
So I checked its page length on Amazon: 624 pages in the hardcover edition.

I believe Inspector Lynley doesn't make an appearance until after half way. 
He actually appears quite early.


So how do you feel about giant tomes? What was the last really big book you read? Or do you avoid them altogether?

My last really big one was PHANTOM by Jo Nesbo, but at 450 pages that really wasn't so big.

7 May 2012

Review: A DISSECTION OF MURDER, Felicity Young

Australian/US cover
  • published 2012
  • e-book supplied to me by publishers Harper Collins Australia through NetGalley.com
Synopsis (author website)

At the turn of the twentieth century, London's political climate is in turmoil, as women fight for the right to vote. Dody McCleland has her own battles to fight. As England's first female autopsy surgeon, she must prove herself as she proves that murder treats everyone equally.

After a heated women's rights rally turns violent, an innocent suffragette is found murdered. When she examines the body, Dody McCleland is shocked to realize that the victim was a friend of her sister - fuelling her determination to uncover the cause of the protestor's suspicious death.

For Dody, gathering clues from a body is often easier than handling the living - especially Chief Detective Inspector Pike. Pike is looking to get to the bottom of this case but has a hard time trusting anyone-including Dody. Determined to earn Pike's trust and to find the killer, Dody will have to sort through real and imagined secrets. But if she's not careful, she may end up on her own examination table.

My Take

US/ UK? cover June 2012
The first of the Doctor Dody McCleland series, A DISSECTION OF MURDER (aka THE ANATOMY OF DEATH - US) was published in March (Australia/NZ) and will be published June (US with UK distribution) 2012. It will be available in all good bookshops as well as Amazon and Kindle.

For Felicity Young this novel is a successful departure from her Australia-based police procedurals into the world of historical crime fiction. Felicity confesses that she has blended fictional characters with historical ones. I think she has done an excellent job of populating authentic settings with interesting and believable characters. She has captured the essence of the suffragette era that preceded the First World War, a world that was about to change forever. I certainly hope A DISSECTION OF MURDER is just the first in a long series.

My rating: 4.7

Another review on Fair Dinkum Crime.

Other Felicity Young titles reviewed in MiP

5 May 2012

Reading Plans

Working out what you are going to read next seems to be a popular past-time, not the least because I'm going to confine myself to the Kindle Mt.TBR for the next few weeks.

I'm going to try to catch up with some books that I've had in my "now Reading" category for longer than I like to remember. They include a number of new-to-me authors.

This will be my version of being on a desert island!
I certainly won't run out of books

So here are my planned titles, but of course I am notorious for lurching from the beaten track.

4 May 2012

Not a Doddle after all

At the end of March when I had read 44 books I proclaimed that my target of 166 books in the year was not going to present much of a problem.

After all 44 x 4= 176

But in April I had a bit of a slowdown, read only 9 books, so have reached only 53.
53 x 3 = 159 and suddenly the target looks a bit challenging.

My individual challenges are doing ok but there are some I haven't added to in the last month either, so I need to pay a bit more attention to them, particularly the Canadian Book Challenge, the Global Reading Challenge, and New Zealand authors.

The reading challenges I've joined
 Personal reading challenges
  • American authors: currently 7/20 - this one is actually coming along nicely. I actually read more American authors than I thought I did.
  • translated, currently 7 - 20 last year
  • New Zealand, currently 0/4 -
  • new to me: currently 18 - 60 last year
  • not crime fiction: currently 0 
Tomorrow I'll tell you of my reading plans for the next month or so.

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