14 August 2017

Review: THE LEGACY, Yrsa Sigurdardottir

  • this edition published by Hodder & Stoughton UK 2017
  • first published in 2014 as DNA
  • translated from Icelandic by Victoria Cribb
  • ISBN 978-1-473-62152-7
  • 455 pages
Synopsis (publisher)

The first in a thrilling new crime series from international bestseller and prizewinning author Yrsa Sigurdardottir.

The first in an exciting new series from the author of THE SILENCE OF THE SEA, winner of the 2015 Petrona Award for best Scandinavian Crime Novel.

The murder was meant as a punishment - but what sin could justify the method?

The only person who might have answers is the victim's seven-year-old daughter, found hiding in the room where her mother died. And she's not talking.

Newly promoted, out of his depth, detective Huldar turns to Freyja and the Children's House for their expertise with traumatised young people. Freyja, who distrusts the police in general and Huldar in particular, isn't best pleased. But she's determined to keep little Margret safe.

It may prove tricky. The killer is leaving them strange clues: warnings in text messages, sums scribbled on bits of paper, numbers broadcast on the radio. He's telling a dark and secret story - but how can they crack the code? And if they do, will they be next?

[From the bestselling Queen of Nordic Noir, THE LEGACY, is the first in a new serieswith intriguing, flawed investigators, and crimes as chilling as they come]

My Take

I came away from this novel feeling that the author didn't quite play fair with the reader, that essential information in solving the case wasn't revealed until the very last chapters - or maybe I just didn't pick up on it.

There are three horrendous murders eventually, all connected, and the clues the murderer is leaving don't help the police investigation much. So much depends of the answers given by Margret, the young daughter of the first victim, who was hiding under the bed during her mother's murder. Margret needs to be interviewed carefully so that her evidence is not tainted.

The other clues are found by some students who are interested in short wave radio transmissions.

The plot develops in complexity and from that point of view it is satisfying reading.

Euro Crime has labelled this as the first in The Children's House series, with a second THE RECKONING due in 2018. Fantastic Fiction confirms that we will meet Huldar and Freyja again.

My rating: 4.5

I've already read
4.8, SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME
5.0, THE SILENCE OF THE SEA
4.5, ASHES TO DUST
4.5, THE UNDESIRED
4.8, WHY DID YOU LIE?


13 August 2017

Review: THE FLOATING ADMIRAL, Agatha Christie et al - audio book

Synopsis (Audible)  

Inspector Rudge does not encounter many cases of murder in the sleepy seaside town of Whynmouth. But when an old sailor lands a rowing boat containing a fresh corpse with a stab wound to the chest, the Inspector's investigation immediately comes up against several obstacles. The vicar, whose boat the body was found in, is clearly withholding information, and the victim's niece has disappeared. There is clearly more to this case than meets the eye - even the identity of the victim is called into doubt. Inspector Rudge begins to wonder just how many people have contributed to this extraordinary crime and whether he will ever unravel it....

In 1931 Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and 10 other crime writers from the newly formed Detection Club collaborated in publishing a unique crime novel. In a literary game of consequences, each author would write one chapter, leaving G. K. Chesterton to write a typically paradoxical prologue and Anthony Berkeley to tie up all the loose ends. In addition, all of the authors provided their own solutions in sealed envelopes, all of which appeared at the end of the book, with Agatha Christie's ingenious conclusion acknowledged at the time to be 'enough to make the book worth buying on its own'. The authors of this novel are G. K. Chesterton, Canon Victor Whitechurch, G. D. H. Cole and Margaret Cole, Henry Wade, Agatha Christie, John Rhode, Milward Kennedy, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ronald Knox, Freeman Wills Crofts, Edgar Jepson, Clemence Dane and Anthony Berkeley. 
First edition cover

From Wikipedia
As Sayers explained in the introduction to the book, "Each writer must construct his instalment with a definite solution in view—that is, he must not introduce new complications merely 'to make it more difficult' ... [E]ach writer was bound to deal faithfully with all the difficulties left for his consideration by his predecessors."

My Take:

This novel tends to prove that having a lot of famous authors doesn't necessarily make for a better novel.

As the novel develops, each author adds various plot elements such as "discoveries", new characters, and red herrings, so that by the last chapter the stage is very cluttered indeed. It was Anthony Berkeley's job to pull it all together at the end and to "make sense of the mess". The reader isn't really given a lot of help in deciding which things to eliminate from consideration and by the end we have two bodies, and a police Inspector who appears to be totally confused. The result is that the final chapter is more like a novella, very long, and final plot is very complicated.

It does help that the narrator, David Timson, is so good and provides a sense of continuity with his voice, as well as distinguishing cleverly between characters. I'd like to be able to say that I recognised the various styles of the authors, but I'm not sure that I did. You are told at the beginning of each chapter who has been responsible for this chapter.

I have talked to fellow readers about this concept, particularly in relation to teams of writers responsible for novels. Just recently we came across an Australian novel written by 5 authors, and two writers in a team like Nicci French, Michael Stanley, and Charles Todd are quite common.

My Rating:  4.2

7 August 2017

Review: WOLVES IN THE DARK, Gunnar Staalesen

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 2333 KB
  • Print Length: 276 pages
  • Publisher: ORENDA BOOKS (May 9, 2017)
  • Publication Date: May 9, 2017
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B06ZYL9CB4
  • translated by Don Bartlett from Norwegian
Synopsis (Amazon)

Reeling from the death of his great love, Karin, Varg Veum's life has descended into a self-destructive spiral of alcohol, lust, grief and blackouts.
When traces of child pornography are found on his computer, he's accused of being part of a paedophile ring and thrown into a prison cell. There, he struggles to sift through his past to work out who is responsible for planting the material ... and who is seeking the ultimate revenge. When a chance to escape presents itself, Varg finds himself on the run in his hometown of Bergen. With the clock ticking and the police on his tail, Varg takes on his hardest - and most personal - case yet.
Chilling, shocking and exceptionally gripping, Wolves in the Dark reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world's foremost thriller writers.

My Take:

The last four years of his life, since Karin's death, have been a nightmare, and now Varg Veum is entering an even worse one.

The police have identified him as one of four men who are part of an international paedophile ring. His lawyer wants him to think over the last four years and try to work out who could be responsible. At first Varg can't think of anyone, and then he remembers various cases that he took on, none of which were successful, where someone may have come out harboring a grudge. For the reader it reveals just what Varg has been up to in the last four years and with him we begin to work out who may be responsible for his current situation.

An excellent read that really gets you in.

My rating: 4.8

I've also read
4.8, WHERE ROSES NEVER DIE

5 August 2017

Review: A STRANGER IN THE HOUSE, Shari Lapena

  • this edition published by Transworld Press 2017
  • ISBN 978-0-5930-7741-2
  • 288 pages
  • author website
Synopsis (book cover)

Why would you run scared from a happy home?

You’re waiting for your beloved husband to get home from work. You’re making dinner, looking forward to hearing about his day. That’s the last thing you remember.

You wake up in hospital, with no idea how you got there. They tell you that you were in an accident; you lost control of your car whilst driving in a dangerous part of town.

The police suspect you were up to no good. But your husband refuses to believe it. Your best friend is not so sure. And even you don’t know what to believe . . .

My Take

One of those novels that hooks the reader right from the beginning.

When Tom Krupp comes home a little later than he had intended, he knows from the open front door, and the absence of his wife Karen, that something is very wrong. His wife's mobile phone and purse are in the house, and it looks as if she left in the middle of preparing dinner. Her car is gone.

A little later a policeman turns up to tell him that his wife has had an accident. At hospital Tom finds that Karen is heavily concussed and appears to have severe amnesia. When she was admitted she was unable to give her name and she kept repeating the name Robert.

The police decide to charge Karen Krupp with reckless driving - she did run some red lights - but they are not convinced by her story of amnesia. They decide to take a closer look at things, to work out why she was driving so badly.

Tom is not convinced by the amnesia angle either and he wonders what Karen is hiding. He searches the house for clues about what might have sent her out that night.

A very readable book, with a few hidden twists.  The ending still came out of left field.

My Rating: 4.5

About the author
Shari Lapena is the internationally bestselling author of THE COUPLE NET DOOR. She was a lawyer and an English teacher before turning her hand to fiction.
She lives in Toronto.

Review: DON'T LET GO, Michel Bussi

  • this edition first published in Great Britain by Wiedenfeld & Nicholson 2017
  • translated from French by Sam Taylor
  • ISBN 978-1-474-60179-5
  • source: my local library
  • 324 pages
Synopsis (Amazon)

Picture the scene - an idyllic resort on the island of Réunion. Martial and Liane Bellion are enjoying the perfect moment with their six-year-old daughter. Turquoise skies, clear water, palm trees, a warm breeze...

Then Liane Bellion disappears. She went up to her hotel room between 3 and 4pm and never came back. When the room is opened, it is empty, but there is blood everywhere. An employee of the hotel claims to have seen Martial in the corridor during that crucial hour.

Then Martial also disappears, along with his daughter. An all-out manhunt is declared across the island. But is Martial really his wife's killer? And if he isn't, why does he appear to be so guilty?

My Take:

There are several narrators in this story: Martial Bellion, his small daughter Sopha, police investigator Captain Aja Purvi, her sergeant Christos Konstantinov, just to name a few.

Liane Bellion's disappearance from her hotel room is treated very seriously right from the beginning, particularly because of the blood stains on the bed and the floor. It seems that her husband Martial is in the clear until it is discovered that he visited the bedroom shortly after Liane went there. His access to a laundry trolley seems to indicate that he may have disposed of her body before he roused hotel staff to her disappearance.  And then suspicion lands squarely on him when both he and his daughter go missing.

I found the structure of the book distracting, particularly because there are places where French or Creole terminology is used in the text, with footnotes in English. As the reader, you are not sure whether it is important for you to remember this, whether that term will appear again.

However there were a number of mysteries to be solved, and the plot had many twists, with the effect of raising the tension and level of mystery. The final explanation and plot resolution is ingenuous and I began tossing up a number of denouements from about half way through.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read
4.8, BLACK WATER LILIES
4.5, AFTER THE CRASH 

1 August 2017

What I've read in July 2017

I've had an excellent month of reading with some really good reads
  1. 4.5, LET THE DEAD SPEAK, Jane Casey
  2. 4.1, Cherringham 1-3, Costello, Neil & Richards, Matthew - audio book
  3. 4.2, STORMY COVE, Bernadette Calonego - audio book
  4. 4.8, THE THIRST, Jo Nesbo 
  5. 4.8, BIG LITTLE LIES, Liane Moriarty 
  6. 4.4, SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE, Sarah Schmidt 
  7. 5.0, THE SECRETS SHE KEEPS, Michael Robotham
  8. 4.5, AFTER THE CRASH, Michel Bussi
  9. 4.4, A STRAITS SETTLEMENT, Brian Stoddart
  10. 4.7, THE CHALK PIT, Elly Griffiths
  11. 4.6, MASK WARS (aka CRIME ON THE FENS), Joy Ellis
Without a doubt my pick of the month was THE SECRETS SHE KEEPS by Michael Robotham.
He is in my opinion the top of Australian crime fiction authors. 

See what others have picked this month
 

Pick of the Month: July 2017

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month 2017
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 July 2017, 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.


31 July 2017

Review: MASK WARS aka CRIME ON THE FENS, Joy Ellis

  • this edition first published in Great Britain 2010, MPG Books Group
  • ISBN 978-0-7090-9021-2
  • source: my local library
  • 223 pages
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

A NEW CRIME THRILLER WITH A COMPELLING DETECTIVE WHO WILL STOP AT NOTHING TO AVENGE HER DAUGHTER

THE DETECTIVE DI Nikki Galena: A police detective with nothing left to lose, she's seen a girl die in her arms, and her daughter will never leave the hospital again. She's got tough on the criminals she believes did this to her. Too tough. And now she's been given one final warning: make it work with her new sergeant, DS Joseph Easter, or she's out.

HER PARTNER DS Joseph Easter is the handsome squeaky-clean new member of the team. But his nickname "Holy Joe" belies his former life as a soldier. He has an estranged daughter who blames him for everything that went wrong with their family.

THEIR ADVERSARY is a ruthless man who holds DI Galena responsible for his terrible disfigurement.

The town is being terrorised by gangs of violent thugs, all wearing identical hideous masks. Then a talented young female student goes missing on the marsh and Nikki and Joseph find themselves joining forces with a master criminal in their efforts to save her. They need to look behind the masks, but when they do, they find something more sinister and deadly than they ever expected . . .
This is an exciting and absorbing crime thriller that you won't be able to put down from start to thrilling finish

THE SETTING The Lincolnshire Fens: great open skies brood over marshes, farmland, and nature reserves. It is not easy terrain for the Fenland Constabulary to police, due to the distances between some of the remote Fen villages, the dangerous and often misty lanes, and the poor telephone coverage. There are still villages where the oldest residents have never set foot outside their own farmland and a visit to the nearest town is a major event. But it has a strange airy beauty to it, and above it all are the biggest skies you've ever seen.

My Take

These days it is very unusual for me to complete reading a book in one sitting, but I did!

I was interested in the setting: the last novel I read was also set in the Fens, but the two settings could not be more different. This one is a police procedural with a Detective Inspector being given a "last chance". She likes to work alone, is driven by a need to rid the streets of drug pushers. Her newly assigned DS has also been given a last chance to prove himself. A new posting, and 4 weeks to prove they can hit it off. Needless to say they both have "history" and a few problems.

One thing I do know is that this won't be the only title in this series that I will read.

I like the two main characters and also their assistants who make up the rest of their supposedly dysfunctional team. Two cases get tackled in this novel: a rash of robberies and assaults being carried out by gangs wearing hideous masks, and a huge drug shipment coming into a nearby port in the Wash.

My rating: 4.6

About the author
Joy Ellis grew up in Kent but moved to London when she won an apprenticeship with the prestigious Mayfair flower shop, Constance Spry Ltd.
Many years later, having run her own florist shop in Weybridge, Ellis took part in a writers workshop in Greece and was encouraged by her tutor, Sue Townsend to begin writing seriously. She now lives in the Lincolnshire Fens with her partner Jacqueline and their Springer spaniels, Woody and Alfie. 

Review: THE CHALK PIT, Elly Griffiths

  • first published in Great Britain 2017
  • source: my local library
  • #9 in the Ruth Galloway series
  • ISBN 978-1-78429-680-5
  • 362 pages
Synopsis (author)

Boiled human bones have been found in Norwich’s web of underground tunnels. When Dr Ruth Galloway discovers they were recently buried, DCI Nelson has a murder enquiry on his hands. The boiling might have been just a medieval curiosity – now it suggests a much more sinister purpose.

Meanwhile, DS Judy Johnson is investigating the disappearance of a local rough sleeper. The only trace of her is the rumour that she’s gone ‘underground’. This might be a figure of speech, but with the discovery of the bones and the rumours both Ruth and the police have heard that the network of old chalk-mining tunnels under Norwich is home to a vast community of rough sleepers, the clues point in only one direction. Local academic Martin Kellerman knows all about the tunnels and their history – but can his assertions of cannibalism and ritual killing possibly be true?

As the weather gets hotter, tensions rise. A local woman goes missing and the police are under attack. Ruth and Nelson must unravel the dark secrets of The Underground and discover just what gruesome secrets lurk at its heart – before it claims another victim.

My Take

Yet another excellent read in the Ruth Galloway series. I should emphasise that this is a continuing series: the characters grow and age and their relationships change and develop. And so my recommendation to readers is that you try to read the books in order.

here is the list from Fantastic Fiction
1. The Crossing Places (2009)
2. The Janus Stone (2010)
3. The House at Sea's End (2011)
4. A Room Full of Bones (2011)
4.5. Ruth's First Christmas Tree (2012)
5. A Dying Fall (2012)
6. The Outcast Dead (2014)
7. The Ghost Fields (2015)
8. The Woman in Blue (2016)
9. The Chalk Pit (2017)
10. The Dark Angel (2018)

In 2016 Elly Griffiths was awarded the CWA Dagger in the Library for services to crime fiction and I think it is true to say that by having a forensic archaeologist as the central character she has broken new ground in the genre.  Dr. Ruth Galloway is both clever and intuitive. There are a range of characters both in the police and among their relatives and friends who are very well drawn and engaging.


My rating: 4.7

I've also read
4.6, THE CROSSING PLACES
4.6, THE JANUS STONE
4.6, THE HOUSE AT SEA'S END
4.5, A ROOM FULL OF BONES
4.8, DYING FALL- audio book
4.5, THE GHOST FIELDS, Elly Griffiths - audio book
4.7, THE OUTCAST DEAD, Elly Griffiths - audio
4.7, THE WOMAN IN BLUE   

27 July 2017

Review: A STRAITS SETTLEMENT, Brian Stoddart

  • this edition published by Crime Wave Press 2016
  • #3 in the Le Fanu series
  • ISBN 978-988-14584-8-3
  • 265 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

In the third instalment of the Le Fanu Mystery series, the intrepid superintendent is promoted to Inspector-General of Police in 1920s Madras, which proves to be more boring than he had envisaged.

Instead of pushing papers across his desk, Le Fanu focuses on the disappearance of a senior Indian Civil Service officer and an apparently unrelated murder. As the two incidents intertwine, the world weary detective is drawn into the worlds of indentured labor recruitment and antiquities theft..

But as bureaucratic politics make his position vulnerable, his superiors send the intrepid policeman across the Bay of Bengal to pursue the cases in the Straits Settlements. Le Fanu immediately becomes embroiled in the activities of secret societies and the British colonial intelligence services.

The appearance of a mysterious Chinese woman renders his professional life uncertain as he wonders anew about the British imperial future.

My Take

I think it helped, this being #3 in this series, that I had already read the first two, so that I was familiar with many of the characters that occur in the earlier books.

What I particularly like about these stories is the authentic feel to the historical setting, which is, rather vaguely, Madras in the 1920s. The Indian Civil Service is losing its grip because of the independence movement and the protests about Imperialism. Le Fanu has risen to the level of Inspector-General of Police mainly because Major Jepson has taken his sick wife back to England. Le Fanu expects to job to be a lot more interesting than it is, but it does bring status with it.

Nevertheless he jumps at the chance to do some real investigation, rather than his usual pen pushing, and the trail eventually leads him to the Straits Settlements of Penang and Singapore, and with that the tantalising offer of a new job.

Stoddart has left himself plenty of room for #4.

My rating: 4.4

I've also read
4.6, A MADRAS MIASMA - #1
4.3, THE PALLAMPUR PREDICAMENT -#2





23 July 2017

Review: AFTER THE CRASH, Michel Bussi

  • this edition first published in Great Britain 2015 by Orion Publishing Group
  • ISBN 978-0-297-87142-2
  • translated from French by Sam Taylor
  • 386 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Good Reads)

On the night of 22 December 1980, a plane crashes on the Franco-Swiss border and is engulfed in flames. 168 out of 169 passengers are killed instantly. The miraculous sole survivor is a three-month-old baby girl. Two families, one rich, the other poor, step forward to claim her, sparking an investigation that will last for almost two decades. Is she Lyse-Rose or Emilie?

Eighteen years later, having failed to discover the truth, private detective Credule Grand-Duc plans to take his own life, but not before placing an account of his investigation in the girl's hands. But, as he sits at his desk about to pull the trigger, he uncovers a secret that changes everything - then is killed before he can breathe a word of it to anyone..


My take

A private investigator, Credule Grand-Duc, is employed by the richer of the two families, the de Carvilles, to continue to investigate the identity of the baby girl for 18 years,with continual financial support, despite the fact that a court has given the baby into the care of the other family.

We see the investigation through his eyes, through the journal in which he has summarised the 18 year investigation for the benefit, he says, primarily of the baby girl who has now had her 18th birthday. The journal tells a meandering story during which little conclusive evidence is revealed.
    In this notebook I have reviewed all the clues, all the leads, all the theories I have found in eighteen years of investigation. It is all here, in these hundred or so pages. If you have read them carefully, you will now know as much as I do. Perhaps you will be more perceptive than me? Perhaps you will find something I have missed? The key to the mystery, if one exists. Perhaps.. 
    For me, it is over.
The plot made intriguing reading with Grand-Duc's investigation constantly posing little problems, particularly with what the de Carville family hoped to get out of supporting the ongoing investigation. Is there a hidden agenda?

My rating: 4.5

I've also read
4.8, BLACK WATER LILIES 

20 July 2017

Review: THE SECRETS SHE KEEPS, Michael Robotham

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 1127 KB
  • Print Length: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Sphere (July 11, 2017)
  • Publication Date: July 11, 2017
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01N7SVPRI
Synopsis (Amazon)

Everyone has an idea of what their perfect life is. For Agatha, it's Meghan Shaughnessy's.

These two women from vastly different backgrounds have one thing in common - a dangerous secret that could destroy everything they hold dear.

Both will risk everything to hide the truth, but their worlds are about to collide in a shocking act that cannot be undone.

My Take:

Here is another cracker from Australian author Michael Robotham.

Two women, Meg and Agatha, living in suburban London, are joined by a bond of pregnancy. They will even give birth within days. But Agatha knows much more about Meg than vice versa. And they come from very different backgrounds and life experiences. They are the narrators of the story and so we often get two versions of the same events.

Initially I felt very critical of the apparent thin-ness of the "official" blurb, but then in writing this "review" I became very aware of how difficult it is to talk about the story without revealing too much. (I hope you don't feel that I've told you too much as it is).

So, let me just recommend the book to you. It is a stand-alone, told through excellent character development, and with mounting suspense and plot twists as the book progresses. Underpinning everything is a commentary on modern living.

Michael Robotham remains at the top of my list of modern Aussie crime fiction authors.

My rating: 5.0

I've also read
BOMBPROOF
SHATTER #3
SHATTER (audio)
BLEED FOR ME #4
5.0, THE WRECKAGE #5
4.8, SAY YOU'RE SORRY #6
5.0, WATCHING YOU #7
4.8, IF I TELL YOU... I'LL HAVE TO KILL YOU (edit)
5.0, LIFE OR DEATH Shortlisted for the 2015 CWA Gold Dagger
4.8, CLOSE YOUR EYES

About the Author

Michael Robotham is a former investigative journalist whose psychological thrillers have been translated into twenty-three languages. In 2015 he won the prestigious UK Gold Dagger for his novel Life or Death, which was also shortlisted for the 2016 Edgar Allan Poe Award for best novel. Michael has twice won a Ned Kelly Award for Australia's best crime novel for Lost in 2015 and Shatter in 2008. He has also twice been shortlisted for the CWA UK Steel Dagger in 2007 for The Night Ferry and 2008 with Shatter. He lives in Sydney with his wife and three daughters.

18 July 2017

Review: SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE, Sarah Schmidt

  • this edition published by Hachette Australia in 2017
  • ISBN 978-0-7336-3688-2
  • source: my local library
  • 325 pages
Synopsis (Hachette Australia)

'He was still bleeding. I yelled, "Someone's killed Father."

I breathed in kerosene air, licked the thickness from my teeth. The clock on the mantel ticked ticked. I looked at Father, the way hands clutched to thighs, the way the little gold ring on his pinky finger sat like a sun. I gave him that ring for his birthday when I no longer wanted it. "Daddy," I had said. "I'm giving this to you because I love you." He had smiled and kissed my forehead.

A long time ago now.'
 
On 4 August 1892 Andrew and Abby Borden were murdered in their home in Fall River, Massachusetts. During the inquest into the deaths, Lizzie Borden was arrested and charged with the murder of her father and her stepmother.

Through the eyes of Lizzie's sister Emma, the housemaid Bridget, the enigmatic stranger Benjamin and the beguiling Lizzie herself, we return to what happened that day in Fall River.

Lizzie Borden took an axe. Or did she?

My Take

This is a work of fiction based on true events, and I was never quite sure how fictionalised everything was.The evidence about the events that led to the murder Andrew and Abby Borden is presented by several narrators, looking for reasons for the murders.

We are told in the cover blurb that Lizzie Borden was tried and found innocent, and that no one was ever convicted of the crime. The novel presents a number of possible scenarios but I think you are left in no doubt at the end of the author's conclusion.

Nevertheless it is a book that keeps you reading, and it presents an analysis of the main characters.

My rating: 4.4

About the author
After completing a Bachelor of Arts (Professional writing and editing), a Master of Arts (Creative Writing), and a Graduate Diploma of Information Management, Sarah currently works as a Reading & Literacy Coordinator (read: a fancy librarian) at a regional public library. She lives in Melbourne with her partner and daughter. See What I Have Done is her first novel.

12 July 2017

Review: BIG LITTLE LIES, Liane Moriarty

Synopsis (Pan Macmillan Australia)

The internationally bestselling author turns her unique gaze on the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves every day and what really goes on behind closed suburban doors.

'I guess it started with the mothers.'
'It was all just a terrible misunderstanding.'
'I'll tell you exactly why it happened.'

Pirriwee Public's annual school Trivia Night has ended in a shocking riot. A parent is dead. Was it murder, a tragic accident... or something else entirely?

Big Little Lies is a funny, heartbreaking, challenging story of ex-husbands and second wives, new friendships, old betrayals and and schoolyard politics.

'Let me be clear. This is not a circus. This is a murder investigation.'

Winner of the ABIA General Fiction Book of the Year

My Take

When your child goes off to kindy, it isn't just him or her that joins a new world. The parent(s) join a new world too, populated by novices like themselves, and also by other parents who have confidence that has come from experience generated by older children. And most are unprepared for the rivalry that will be generated as children are classified and their performance compared with that of others. It is a world of stresses, complicated by the fact that most families are hiding things they don't necessarily want to share.

But nothing that I experienced back in those kindy days led to the death of one of the other parents. This novel is full though of very believable scenarios and I enjoyed every minute of it. The natural audience for this book is probably women who have "been there", and I guarantee that it will stir memories.

A certain amount of tension is created by the fact that for most of the novel the reader does not know who is going to die, and why. Is the person who caused the death going to escape detection? After the death no-one wants to talk.

Liane Moriarty is an Australian author to watch,

My rating: 4.8

I've also read
4.6, THE HUSBAND'S SECRET

Novels to look for (list from Fantastic Fiction)
Three Wishes (2003)
The Last Anniversary (2005)
What Alice Forgot (2010)
The Hypnotist's Love Story (2012)
The Husband's Secret (2013)
Big Little Lies (2014)
     aka Little Lies
Truly Madly Guilty (2016)

9 July 2017

Review: THE THIRST, Jo Nesbo

  • Format: kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 3361 KB
  • Print Length: 538 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (April 20, 2017)
  • Publication Date: April 20, 2017
  • Sold by: PRH UK
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B01LXW31Q5
  • series: Harry Hole #11
Synopsis: Amazon


HARRY HOLE IS BACK!

THERE’S A NEW KILLER ON THE STREETS...
A woman is found murdered after an internet date. The marks left on her body show the police that they are dealing with a particularly vicious killer.

HE’S IN YOUR HOUSE… HE’S IN YOUR ROOM
Under pressure from the media to find the murderer, the force know there’s only one man for the job. But Harry Hole is reluctant to return to the place that almost took everything from him. Until he starts to suspect a connection between this killing and his one failed case.

HE’S OUT FOR BLOOD
When another victim is found, Harry realises he will need to put everything on the line if he’s to finally catch the one who got away.


My Take


Harry Hole is as content as he's ever been. He is married, working as a lecturer at the Police Academy, even using his previous cases as examples for his students. He has promised his wife Rakel that he will never return to active policing. And his stepson Oleg has joined up.

But amongst the police force his reputation is legendary as the one who never lets a killer get away, even putting his own life on the line. And now murders are happening and the police think they know who is responsible - someone who did escape from Harry four years earlier.


Police Chief Mikael Bellman wants to be the Minster for Justice and a quick resolution to this nasty case is just what is needed. He needs Harry to come back, even though Harry is the bane of his life.


This is a gritty noir read, not for the squeamish.  It involves a vampirist, as well as being a long novel in three stages. Just when you think it is finished you realise that your Kindle is saying there is still 2 hours of reading left and Harry points out there are still some loose ends.

An excellent read.


My rating: 4.8

I've also read
NEMESIS
THE REDEEMER
5.0, THE SNOWMAN
4.8, THE LEOPARD
4.7, HEADHUNTERS
4.7, PHANTOM
4.7, THE BAT
4.7, POLICE
5.0, THE SON
4.4, BLOOD ON SNOW

8 July 2017

Review: STORMY COVE, Bernadette Calonego - audio book

Synopsis (Amazon)

As a globe-trotting freelance photographer based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Lori Finning has seen just about everything. But when she lands an assignment on the barren, snow-swept island of Newfoundland, she finds herself in harsh and unfamiliar territory.

During the long, dreary winters in the isolated fishing community of Stormy Cove, gossiping is the primary pastime. So Lori is surprised when she learns of a crime the locals have spent twenty years not talking about: the strange, unsolved murder of a teenage girl. As she delves deeper into the village's past, she'll discover dark family secrets, unexplained crimes, and an undeniable attraction to Noah, a taciturn local fisherman who just might hold all the answers.

My Take

An intriguing and rather complicated plot with lots of plot lines. Lori Finning's assignment to create a coffee table record of life in a remote Canadian fishing village turns into a murder mystery and an investigation of missing women. Rather inevitably it also has a romance strand, and also some danger to Lori herself.

Nicole Zanzarella does a good job with the narration, producing a number of voices to differentiate different characters.

The author also uses not only first voice narration but also some segments when a person is being interviewed about his/her impressions of the main characters in the story. This made for challenging listening.

My rating:4.2
 
About the author
Bernadette Calonego was born in Switzerland and grew up on the shores of Lake Lucerne. She was just eleven years old when she published her first story, in a Swiss newspaper. She went on to earn a teaching degree from the University of Fribourg, which she put to good use in England and Switzerland before switching gears to become a journalist. After several years working with the Reuters news agency and a series of German-language newspapers, she moved to Canada and began writing fiction. Stormy Cove is her fourth novel. As a foreign correspondent, she has published stories in Vogue, GEO, and SZ Magazin. She splits her time between Vancouver, British Columbia, and Newfoundland. 

3 July 2017

Review: Cherringham (1-3) - Cosy Crime Series Compilation, Matthew Costello, Neil Richards - audio book

Synopsis ( audible)

Jack's a retired ex-cop from New York, seeking the simple life in Cherringham. Sarah's a Web designer who's moved back to the village find herself. But their lives are anything but quiet as the two team up to solve Cherringham's criminal mysteries.

This compilation contains episodes 1 - 3: MURDER ON THAMES, MYSTERY AT THE MANOR and MURDER BY MOONLIGHT.

Here Jack and Sarah investigate a suicide in the River Thames - or was it murder? They investigate an "accidental" fire with deadly consequences, and they nab the culprit behind the Rotary Club choir poisoning.

Cherringham is a series à la Charles Dickens, with a new mystery thriller released each month. Set in the sleepy English village of Cherringham, the detective series brings together an unlikely sleuthing duo: English web designer Sarah and American ex-cop Jack. Thrilling and deadly - but with a spot of tea - it's like Rosamunde Pilcher meets Inspector Barnaby. Each of the self-contained episodes is a quick listen for the morning commute, while waiting for the doctor, or when curling up with a hot cuppa.

My Take

This is not very demanding listening, really a cozy in the real sense of the word. The events are almost everyday occurrences, the sort of scenarios the listening audience might find themselves in. The detective duo are interesting enough: a retired NYP detective and a housewife who is also a single mum. Each episode is 2-3 hours, so achievable with a longish return journey. There is not to think about in each scenario, but not a lot of mystery either. 

I think the character development of the detectives is quite well done, and Neil Dudgeon does a  good job of the narration.

My rating: 4.1

About the authors
Co-authors Neil Richards (based in the UK) and Matthew Costello (based in the US), have been writing together since the mid 90's, creating content and working on projects for the BBC, Disney Channel, Sony, ABC, Eidos, and Nintendo to name but a few. Their transatlantic collaboration has underpinned scores of TV drama scripts, computer games, radio shows, and - most recently - the successful crime fiction series Cherringham.

The narrator of the audiobook, Neil Dudgeon, has been in many British television programmes including the roles of "DCI John Barnaby" in "Midsomer Murders" and "Jim Riley" in "The Life of Riley".  

What I read in June 2017

I have really slowed down in the last month or two, but I've also read some really good crime fiction.
My pick of the month is A GREAT RECKONING by Louise Penny
  1. 4.8, EARTHLY REMAINS, Donna Leon
  2. 4.4, DAINTREE, Annie Seaton
  3. 4.4, THE BUNTING QUEST, Steven Marcuson 
  4. 4.7, RACING THE DEVIL, Charles Todd
  5. 5.0, A GREAT RECKONING, Louise Penny 
  6. 4.8, WHERE ROSES NEVER DIE, Gunnar Staaleson  
See what others have read in the last month

1 July 2017

Review: LET THE DEAD SPEAK, Jane Casey

  • this edition published by Harper Collins UK 2017
  • ISBN 978-0-00-814899-7
  • 390 pages
  • #7 in the Maeve Kerrigan series
  • source: my local library
Synopsis ( Pan Macmillan US)

When eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns to her West London home she finds her mother missing, the house covered in blood. Everything points to murder, except for one thing: there’s no sign of the body.

London detective Maeve Kerrigan and the homicide team turn their attention to the neighbours. The ultra-religious Norrises are acting suspiciously; their teenage daughter and Chloe Emery definitely have something to hide. Then there’s William Turner, once accused of stabbing a schoolmate and the neighborhood’s favorite criminal. Is he merely a scapegoat, or is there more behind the charismatic façade?

As a body fails to materialize, Maeve must piece together a patchwork of testimonies and accusations. Who is lying, and who is not? And soon Maeve starts to realize that not only will the answer lead to Kate Emery, but more lives may hang in the balance.

With Let the Dead Speak, Jane Casey returns with another taut, richly drawn novel that will grip readers from the opening pages to the stunning conclusion.

My Take:

I have only read the first title in this series, so it was nice to re-acquaint myself with Maeve Kerrigan, recently made a DS. Obviously quite a lot has happened in her life in the intervening years.

Something appears to have happened to Kate Emery and the police decide to treat it as a murder although there is no body. This allows them to call on more resources than if they were just investigating a missing person. However forensic experts feel that the story told by the blodd spatters in Kate's house don't add up. Kate has left behind her wallet, her credit card, and to all intents and purposes this points to an abduction.

Chloe then disappears with the neighbour's daughter and fears are held for their safety. After a couple of days a traumatised Bethany returns without Chloe. Kerrigan's investigation ramps up.

The plot explores the relationships within an investigative team, and the roles played by systematic following of procedure, and intuitive leaps.

My Rating: 4.5

I've also read
4.6, THE MISSING
4.3, THE BURNING

Pick of the month for June 2017

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month 2017
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 June 2017, 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.


30 June 2017

New to me authors read April to June 2017

I haven't read quite as many new-to-me authors in this quarter of the year as in the first quarter but nevertheless they have been nearly half my total reads for the year.

You can see from my ratings that they have all been worth the effort.
I have now read 22 for the year out of a total of 52 books.
The most impressive was the winner of the Petrona Award for 2017, WHERE ROSES NEVER DIE.
Check to see what others have read.
 

29 June 2017

Meme- New to Me Authors - April to June 2017

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 April to June 2017, 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 August 2017
 


27 June 2017

Review: WHERE ROSES NEVER DIE, Gunnar Staalesen

  • format  Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 881 KB
  • Print Length: 285 pages
  • Publisher: ORENDA BOOKS; Tra edition (March 15, 2016), translated from Norwegian.
  • Publication Date: March 15, 2016
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B016721USA
Synopsis  (Amazon)
 
September 1977. Mette Misvær, a three-year-old girl disappears without trace from the sandpit outside her home. Her tiny, close middle-class community in the tranquil suburb of Nordas is devastated, but their enquiries and the police produce nothing. Curtains twitch, suspicions are raised, but Mette is never found.

Almost 25 years later, as the expiry date for the statute of limitations draws near, Mette’s mother approaches PI Varg Veum, in a last, desperate attempt to find out what happened to her daughter. As Veum starts to dig, he uncovers an intricate web of secrets, lies and shocking events that have been methodically concealed. When another brutal incident takes place, a pattern begins to emerge …

Chilling, shocking and full of extraordinary twists and turns, Where Roses Never Die reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world’s foremost thriller writers.
Winner of the Petrona Award 2017

My Take

From the start of this story I could not get away from the feeling that I have read other novels where other authors have deal with this scenario: little girl goes missing from outside the house where she is playing while mother is keeping half an eye on her.

The cold case that Varg Veum tackles revealed little about the child's disappearance during the original investigation, apart from the fact that the investigators felt there was something about the community that they weren't quite getting. The residents knew more than they were prepared to say and there was something "funny" about the cooperative community housing project. Now 25 years on, Veum finds that most of the couples are divorced and in the main they are more willing to talk. There are things they want to unburden.

Coincidentally one of the former residents was recently an innocent passerby during a jewellery robbery in town. He was shot dead by one of the robbers during an altercation on the footpath outside the store. This coincidence ensures police cooperation with Varg Veum.

This turns out to be only the first in a number of coincidences in the plot and a very different picture emerges of what happened to Mette. Varg Veum is middle-aged, a former policeman, a persistent and intuitive investigator who is not afraid to ask questions and to call in favours. He has a troubled past and an alcohol problem, but appears to be getting the better of it.

Gunnar Staaleson has been a prolific Norwegian crime writer since 1993, with mostly only novels written in the last decade available in English.  It appears that there are 18 in the series in Norwegian, 7 translated into English. This is the first one that I've read but it certainly won't be the last. Four are currently available on Kindle.

My rating: 4.8

About the author (Wikipedia)


Gunnar Staalesen (born 19 October 1947 in Bergen) is a Norwegian writer. Staalesen has a Cand philol. degree from Universitetet i Bergen and he has worked at Den Nationale Scene, the main theater in Bergen. Staalesen is best known for his crime novels involving private detective Varg Veum.

Available in English (Euro Crime list)
Varg Veum, PI in Bergen, Norway
Yours Until Death19932
• At Night All Wolves are Grey19865
The Writing on the Wall200211
The Consorts of Death200914
• Cold Hearts201315
We Shall Inherit the Wind201516
• Where Roses Never Die201617
• No One is Safe in Danger201718

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