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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Paris Still Life by Rosalind Brackenbury

The story of a forty year old married woman who troubled deeply by the death of her father, leaves her husband in America behind much to his bewilderment and arrives in Paris - is it to find herself as they would say, to meditate on life and its meaning and what does she eventually hope to do. Right now she is lucky as she has an apartment (owned by her father) and enough money to live without having to work.

Almost immediately she is beset by memories of her father when she sees not once but three times someone who is the image of her father. On all three occasions she is unable to reach him, being either in a bus or somewhere where she cannot access him. On top of that she meets up with her father's mistress whom everyone apparently knew about other than her. This comes to her as a betrayal though the lady is someone whom Gaby begins to appreciate, but slowly. Many characters from her father's hidden double life keep appearing and each one shows another facet of her father's life which he kept well hidden from his wife and family.

Gaby taking on a lover adds to her questions. Where is her life going to take her? Back to her American roots and her husband or to a new life in Paris.

Despite the varying nuances of the story, the story reads as a formal novel. The characters were multi faceted and added to the enjoyment of the story. At the same time it seemed slightly unreal and removed from day to day life as it happens. How many can move from the expected or unexpected death of a parent, move continents, leave a husband, start even temporarily a new life without any clear understanding of where this is taking one.

I enjoyed the story very much. It was the unreal, removed from real life bit that I enjoyed the most.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Lake Union Publishing. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Wild Justice by Priscilla Royal

The year of 1282 was tumultuous for both England and Wales were at war. The Prioress Eleanor is on her way home and she has been requested by her brother to hand over the rents and a private letter only into the hands of the Prioress Amicia and no one else. Though curious, Eleanor proceeds to do just that.

What greets her at the Mynchen Buckland Priory is chaos and disturbance. The Prioress Amicia has been accused of murder and is under detention and the new Prioress is not very pleased to either accommodate or have Eleanor on the premises. To add to the complications it is her brother Damien who is the preceptor in charge of the brothers who live alongside the priory. The reception of the small party is tense and it is apparent that they are not welcome at all.

On realizing that Amicia has been wrongfully detained Eleanor is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery and it is only by pretense of being unwell that she is allowed to stay. Unraveling the mystery of not one murder but two under cover of ill health and not being able to move out of her room she is dependent on the faithful Brother Thomas and Sister Anne to bring information to her to solve the puzzle.

I did not think that I would appreciate this mystery murder set in medieval times. Surprisingly I did. The setting and the story of the priory was an interesting one and did not weigh too much on religious aspects but on the story itself. Murder is murder whatever century it happens and solving is very much a procedure of investigation and deduction. Very nicely put together.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Poisoned  Pen Press. 

Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Mitford Murders by Jessica Fellowes

It is 1920 and for girls like Louisa the future is bleak. Daughter of a washerwoman her way out of this drudgery is service in a respectable house. Nothing more than that. To add to her misery, her mother is ailing and her uncle who should have been a protector in the absence of her father, now seeks to sell her to the highest bidder as he has got into debt.

Louisa escapes his clutches and ends up in the Mitford household. A large house with a number of children, Louisa is happy for once in her life. She is content with her lot, feels safe, is not hungry and thinks that life is good. However she and Nancy the eldest daughter of the house gets entangled in a murder of a lady on a train and despite not wanting to get further involved knowing that her word will have no hold with the gentlemen of the law, both she and Nancy who will not give up get into the case more and more. Investigating independently and being much more successful along with Guy a railway police young man whose thoughts are also ignored by the higher ups they more or less solve the case with good deductive skills and thorough slow investigating.

This was the first novel in the series and I look forward to the next. This particular story apart from the murder and solving of the crime, depicted in great detail the lives of the aristocracy and the lives of those who lived and worked for them. It also showed the position of women at the time, which is not saying much.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley for my unbiased review, courtesy of St. Martin's Press

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Safe with Me by Amy Hatvany

Safe with Me

Two mothers linked by a strange link. It was a bit too slick to be true but at the same time the story was so well put together that I did enjoy my first read from this author.

Emily is Hannah's much loved daughter. Maddie is Olivia's much adored daughter. Emily dies in a tragic car accident and her organs are donated by Hannah to various receipients. Fast forward Maddie is just weeks from dying if she does not get a new liver and it is timely for want of a better word when Emily's liver becomes available. The two families live in widely disparate worlds. Hannah is a single mother, successful and upto now managing very well on her own. Olivia is in an abusive relationship and though on the surface having everything material available to her and her daughter, she knows that this is not the way to live. She has no choice though, with Maddie so ill and needing so much she in a situation she cannot get out of.

The story goes on and with their eventual meeting, accidental and not contrived and the eventual realisation of who each person was.

The near death escape by Olivia from her husband is the catalyst that sets her and her daughter free  and it is a happily ever ending of a kind though for Hannah her life has changed completely and will never ever be the same.

Emotional but not overpoweringly so read. From the Glen Waverley library and my last book from them till the next time I come to Melbourne. 

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Fragile by Lisa Unger


My second read of this author though I have been having her on my TBR for quite a while.

The setting is almost village like though it is just outside New York City. Everyone knows everyone and everyone's memories last a lifetime and beyond.

Maggie has returned to the Hollows and is a psychologist. She is very anxious about her clever son who seems to have drifted into a life of aimlessness, not even thinking of his future and college. His girlfriend is not someone she would choose for him but she is trying desperately to be fair and not comment, Her disappearance puts the entire family on the spot though her son Ricky's alibi is rock solid as he was at home throughout. Ricky's father Jones is the lead detective on the case but Maggie sees anxiety and vibes not quite right in her husband.

Multiple characters and a story and a mystery murder that went almost unsolved thirty years ago is remembered when Sarah a classmate of them all went missing, and then later her body was discovered raped and abused. Why these two very different cases are linked and how they are linked is the story in this book.

Long hidden ghosts in one's past dont stay hidden and in this case they certainly dont. It will tear apart the entire town, outlining a past that all of them will prefer to remain hidden. Though dormant it has affected all of them and not in a good way these past years. For some it is a relief that it is now out in the open for others it is the end of the road for their lives as they knew it.

Well written with a wide cast of characters all different, this was a good read.

Courtesy of Glen Waverley library.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Soldier's Wife by Joanna Trollope

As usual Joanna Trollope gets to the very crux of the story very fast. Dan is in the Army. He has served a very troublesome six months period in Afghanistan and is now home with his mates. Life should be happy. His wife, he has twin daughters and an older step daughter all look forward to his return but why cant they all settle down.

Alexa is a very loyal dutiful wife. She has battled on alone, never complaining but she now begins to feel that his batch mates and the Army is his top priority and that the family trails behind. Dan himself feels caught up in a triangle of how does one choose priorities. A mate returned with him, his wife leaves him, there are those mates who have been badly injured who have to be rehabilitated, there are many social obligations within the Army itself which have to be included in his life and he himself feels that things are getting away from him and he and his wife are increasingly isolated, without communicating what they actually want from each other.

Alexa wants a fixed home, she wants Isabel her eldest daughter to be happy (she isnt), she wants them to be a family again without the third wheel of all of the Army crowding in. How does one cope. Dan's father, grandfather , Alexa's parents are all anxious, all wanting to help. All know that without an intervention the family is going to split.

The story of relationships and mainly the need for open lines of communication are so manifestly important and it is this that for me was the focal point of this story. Dan is a soldier foremost and now he must try to be a civilian father and husband whilst balancing his career as well. Tough calls.

Another book from Glen Waverley library.

Friday, February 23, 2018

I See You by Clare Mackintosh

I See You

Like lots of us Zoe Walker had a routine. Walk a certain route, stand at a particular spot at the train station to get into a particular compartment as this was she felt the optimum position for her. Like all of us it was now in her subconsciousness. Little did she know that she was being watched, till one day idly picking up a discarded paper, her own face stares up at her from a classified advert. Almost an escort service, except for the fact that Zoe was no pin up babe, just an ordinary mid 40s lady intent on looking after her two almost adult children, get out of a marriage and solidify the relationship she has just embarked on.

Going to the police with such a weak story was laughable, the photograph was grainy, was old and did not look very much like Zoe. Discovering that many women unknown to them were featured on these adverts and with the murder of one of them, made the police sit up and take notice. Was there a link by such widely different women. The only thing that linked them all was that they used the underground railway. Could such a tenuous link be a key in solving murders, opening up a can of worms of the magnitude that the London investigators had not envisaged.

Identity theft, cyber crime, money laundering and eventually murder were all on offer. Trying to track down the mastermind behind the operation was almost impossible. With names popping up from the Channel Islands to China, from Russia to London itself it kept winding and winding upon itself until Zoe herself walked into the most improbable scenario with unexpected and scary effect.

Going alongside the story was the life of Kelly, the Police Sergeant and her life and then there was Zoe trying to balance it all and protect at the same time her loved ones. How even the simplest scenario can be misinterpreted very badly is shown up in the story over and over again. We think we have got to the end and the mystery is solved but it is never solved. Even after someone lies dead and bleeding.

A thriller with detailed police procedures for those of you who like it. I did.

Another good choice from Melbourne's Glen Waverley library. Sadly the holiday is almost at an end and there goes my huge choice of reading material!