Monday 30 October 2017

Robert Crouch

No Bodies is the second in the Kent Fisher mysteries - and just as good. Sharp and witty and a cracking read.

No Bodies link

My review - 

Kent Fisher, is once again on the trail of a murderer. The problem is, there are missing women, but no bodies. Colonel Witherington, a local bigwig, has charged Kent with finding his missing wife Daphne, or bringing her murderer to justice. As the investigation progresses, Kent discovers links between the missing women and sets off to find justice. Meanwhile, he himself, or at least, his animal sanctuary, may be implicated in another tragedy. He gets in deeper, and doesn’t help himself by his attitude to his boss.

This is the second Kent Fisher mystery and follows directly on from the first, No Accident. I think you really need to read the first, as this would be confusing as a stand-alone. A little more explanation of who people are when they first appear in the book would help new readers. Having said that, this is equally refreshing, set as it is around the investigations of an environmental health officer, rather than a police officer. Kent Fisher is a warm, stubborn and occasionally hopeless character whom I couldn’t fail to warm to. The author handles his writing deftly and the story is very funny, witty and full of sharp observations. I really enjoy this series and look forward to more.

Thursday 26 October 2017

Joel Hames

This is a short story which delves deeper into the mind of Sam Williams, the lawyer who gets into deep problems in The Art of Staying Dead. 

Caged link

My review -

‘Caged’ is a club with an unusual selling point. Instead of scantily clad ladies, it has well-built young men suspended in cages. It’s working within the law but has failed to get its licence renewed. Lawyer Sam Williams is tasked with sorting it out. An unforeseen tragedy follows. Is it Sam’s fault?

This is another short story which gives a snapshot of the life of the main character in one of the author’s full length novels. I enjoy his writing style and the depth and complexity of the characters and I’m pleased to discover that there’ll be another full length Sam Williams novel in 2018. Bring it on!

Monday 23 October 2017

Sam Kates

I've always enjoyed Sam's writing and this is a delight! (In a nasty sort of way...)

Ghosts of Christmas Past and Other Dark Festive Tales link

My review -

They called I’m Sorry I haven’t a Clue the antidote to panel games. This little collection is an astringent antidote to the sugar-rush we sometimes suffer after reading too many Christmas stories. It’s the season to want feel-good reads and I enjoy a few myself, but just occasionally we want something darker – to refresh the palate, you might say. That’s why ghost stories are popular around the Christmas fireside.

Sam Kates is a very good writer who creates scenes in a reader’s head. Some of these scenes are peculiarly unsettling. Add a bit of spice to your seasonal menu and give this little collection a try. I really enjoyed it.

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Ann Girdharry

The second in a series which gets better as it progresses.

London Noir link

My review -

Kal Medi is still influenced by her father’s activities. She takes a young girl under her wing after almost knocking her down in a rain storm. The girl, Sophie is heading for a place Kal knows to be a brothel, and she’s worried about her. Things, in the event, are worse than Kal expected. Kal becomes involved in a seedy underworld with a girl who has spent much of her life in a psychiatric institution. Her best friend, Marty, just out of hospital, also volunteers to help, and the pace picks up.

I found this a very exciting story, and became involved from the beginning. It’s the second Kal Medi story, and I found it even better than the first. I hope it’s the beginning of a longer series.

I received an advance review copy of this book.

Louise Jensen

Another 'first for me' author who writes a rattling good story.

The Surrogate link

My review - 

Kat is pushing thirty and desperate for a baby. She and her husband have tried for adoption abroad but each time it’s fallen through at the last minute. Then she meets up with her old school friend, Lisa who offers to be surrogate mother for them. Kat’s suspicious. There’s been something in their past which she has been hiding, and which Lisa’s return into her life may resurrect. Kat becomes increasingly anxious and has fears that her husband is unfaithful, too, and that somebody is stalking her.

The book was very exciting to read. I read it over twenty-four hours just because I was desperate to find out what had happened in the past and what lay in the future. There’s a darkness, a threat, just out of touch for most of the book, and when it comes out, it’s an eye-opener. This story gradually reveals the consequences of wrong decisions taken in times of panic and crisis, and the results of lying to ourselves until we begin to believe the lies are truth. A blisteringly good read.

Monday 16 October 2017

Cassandra Jane Parkin

My first book by Cassandra Parkin and it's a real corker. 

The Winter's Child link

My review -

Susannah and John’s son Joel disappeared five years ago, at the age of fifteen. The case has never been solved and Susannah is still occasionally in touch with one of the police team who searched for her son. She becomes obsessive about finding him, going out at all hours to search, and finally, she and her husband part. Though professing to despise mediums and clairvoyants, She still occasionally contacts one, and is told, on the night of Hull Fair (October) that she’ll see her son again by Christmas.

Although, as the story progressed and past scenes unfolded, I felt the inevitability of the ending, I couldn’t work out why. One of the strengths of the author’s writing is that she can tell of deep and turbulent emotions in clear and logical language – you follow it from the character’s point of view, and totally believe it. It’s very well done indeed. A stand-out book, for me.

Sunday 15 October 2017

Rowan Coleman

This is the second book of Rowan's that I've read. I like her style!

The Memory Book link

My review -

Claire, like her late father, is suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s disease and her counsellor has suggested writing a memory book, something to nail her memories down while she still has them. Her mother, who nursed her father through the disease, comes to stay, to help. Caitlin, her grown up daughter from an earlier relationship, is due to go back for her final year at university and her three year-old daughter from her recent marriage doesn’t understand why Mum can’t read her stories. Greg, her husband, feels her withdrawing from him as her memories fade.

This book could have been a total misery-fest but I found it truly hopeful and occasionally very funny. Rowan Coleman writes an easy book to read which generally means it’s taken a lot of work to write. Her characters are flawed but genuine and I loved this story of a family who have had so much thrown at them. Do read it. It’s got a hopeful wonder at its heart.

Wendy Percival

Another in the lovely Esme Quentin series of genealogical mysteries.

The Malice of Angels link

My review -

Esme Quentin has moved to Devon to be closer to her friend, and to the area in which she grew up. She makes contact with her late husband’s journalist friend Tim, and though she’s reluctant, she agrees to work with him. Her speciality is genealogy. Her friend is concerned about her mother, the woman Esme has known since childhood, but who is now very reluctant to look into her own memories about her sister, who disappeared after the war. As they delve, things come very close to home for Esme.

I loved the way information unfolded gradually and we realised how complex this web was. We aren’t always happy to face our memories and we don’t like those who try to confront us with things we’re trying to keep in the dusty attic of our minds. This is brought over extremely well. People important to Esme were in danger and she got on with the job, as always. Esme Quentin is becoming one of my heroes!

I received a pre-publication copy of this book.

Saturday 14 October 2017

Lynda Wilcox

Verity Long does it again. Great, funny and well up to the usual standard.

Long Tramp to Murder link

My review -

Verity, now working cold cases part time, spends the rest of her time as researcher for her old employer, author Kathleen Davenport. She currently finds herself with two murders on her hands. One is the old one she’s been asked to look into, involving the death of an elderly lady ten years ago. The second occurs at a local garden centre when she and her employer are there. KD finds the body – and just about everyone who knew the victim had a reason to want her dead.

Verity, the eternally nosy and feisty investigator, worries away at both cases, officially and unofficially. This story, with its two murders, years apart, contains all the trademark wry, dry and witty humour of the author’s Verity Long series, and, as always, I enjoyed it immensely. I received a review copy of this book.

Thursday 12 October 2017

Oliver Tidy

This is the first book I've read by this author. I doubt it will be the last.

The Fallen Agent link

My review -

They say there’s honour among thieves but there doesn’t seem to be much in the world of the secret service. Someone high up in Vauxhall Cross is sacrificing agents to save his own job. Add in Al Qaeda, a rich Albanian, unfeasible amounts of money and the threat of a terrorist attack on London and you have the ingredients for an exciting thriller.

The characters are well-drawn, with good points and flaws to make them three-dimensional and believable. There are several high-octane points in the story which keep it bouncing along, making you wonder what can possibly happen next. The author vividly portrays the setting of the book – much of it in Albania. Altogether, this is a top notch spy thriller which I have no hesitation in recommending.

I received a review copy of this book.

Tuesday 10 October 2017

Su Bristow

New author, debut novel, and what a corker!

Sealskin link

My review -

Donald is out in his boat on the skerry and sees a group of seals come ashore. They shrug off their skins and, as naked young women, dance freely in the night. He hides one of the skins and one girl is trapped, unable to go home to the sea. That’s the basic legend that many of us are familiar with. They beauty of this book is that it takes the story onward and tells us how Donald and his seal girl make a life together.

I love a bit of mythology and this gorgeous story fleshes out a legend to give us real characters coping with a hard life. There are choices to be made, and Donald has made a bad one initially – but he wants to make up for it. It’s simply told and so believable. I heartily recommend this book to anyone who wants to read something different.

Sunday 8 October 2017

Kelly Clayton

Third in a series but it would make a great stand alone novel.

Blood on the Rock link

My review -

A body is found on a boat. It belongs to a member of a rather fractured family and as Le Claire and his team investigate, they are snowed under with people who might have wanted the man dead. Their task is to sieve out the evidence and find which one it actually was.

I’ve really enjoyed this series, this being the third. The relationships, within Le Claire’s own family, and between members of his team, are growing and strengthening, and I’m enjoying taking these journeys with them. Kelly Clayton manages to find a good balance between the popular but often incredible ‘rogue cop’ genre and the foot-slogging real life police drama. Sometimes you could shake Jack Le Claire, but you admire his tenacity and his attention to the job. Snippets of his family life add to the mix and a horrible episode from his past comes up to bite him at the end. There’ll be more Jack Le Claire, I’m glad to say! A really good story in which the island of Jersey is almost a character.

Tuesday 3 October 2017

Louise Beech

I've been hearing about this book but sometimes there's just too much to read! Finally got around to it - it's jolly good!

How to be Brave link

My review - 

What a great concept for a book this is. Young Rose, aged nine, is diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes while her soldier father is away on a long tour and her mum, Natalie, has to cope with it alone. To persuade her daughter to allow her to do the blood tests and injections, Natalie ‘bribes’ her with a family story of her own grandfather’s time in the war.

Rose is a great little character, self-willed and often driven by the disease she’s battling. Natalie is real, flawed, hating what she has to do to her daughter to keep her safe, and often losing her rag doing it. Well, you would, wouldn’t you? Their story thread is wrapped around with that of Natalie’s grandad, Colin. They twist around one another, cross-linked here and there, very much like strands of DNA. They say blood is thicker than water – even sea water. It seemed that through their very different adversities, Rose and Colin taught one another ‘how to be brave’. A great bit of writing and one I’ll remember for a long time.