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Saturday, September 19, 2020

The Girl from Vichy by Andie Newton (1947 era occupied France)

1942 occupied France is not a good place for a patriot. There are the Nazis and then there are Petain supporters even more dangerous than the Germans. They could be anyone and everyone around you. You never knew when someone had turned, for whatever reason. It could even be your sister. Adele is a courageous young woman, trying to live an independent life but finding it hard. Her marriage has been promoted by her father for strategic if no other reason, her mother finds it abhorrent but is helpless, her sister is all for it as it promotes both her and her husband's well being in the current political climate but Adele is looking for a way out. Escaping to a convent, acting as a postulant, getting embroiled in Resistance activities and then finding love and consolation in the arms of another is good. Having to return to her former fiancée and pretend to be in love with him and then go on planning a wedding with him is very hard for anyone and for Adele it is the breaking point in her work for the Resistance and for herself as well. The extent to which people work for the love of their country, never mind their own loves is boundless and inexplicable. To sacrifice all for love of country has happened countless times and will happen again and again and it is a huge sacrifice. This is that story. Part history, with threads of a love story as well and a family striving to survive amidst so many threats. Sent by Aria for an independent review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Hidden Lake by Ruhi Choudary (small time politics/police)

Mackenzie is the Detective in smalltime Lakemore. She is known for being rather reserved, not much of a mixer and this does not bode well when one is part of a team. Right now Lakemore is facing their biggest unsolved crime - an abduction of a young woman daughter of one of the founding fathers of the town as it were, and a very big cheese both for the town and everyone else. Finding Erica is top priority, and when one year exactly on the date of her abduction another girl coincidentally her best friend disappears the town is galvanized into action. Something has to be done and fast. The second girl is a nobody, and the action is slow but when Erica's body is discovered a couple of days after the second girl's abduction, Mackenzie and everyone on her team knows that time is running out for Abby. Further enquiries uncover that during September of the two previous years, two girls were also reported missing and through very convenient channels, the files got buried, misrepresented and forgotton. Now four girls are missing and the onus is on the detectives to discover who is responsible. A bizarre finding of a few clues leads them to all the leading citizens of the county and the head is very very reluctant to allow for even questioning let alone arrest. How the detectives are going to go ahead with this elite few is the question facing them. Especially since everyone is in awe to them, obliged to them for their jobs and even the whole town is dependant on them for their living. Corruption found in police and politics abound everywhere. Magnified here. How do you get around it and still do your job to the best of your ability is the problem. Nice police work, small town politics, corruption all found in this story. Captivating reading. Sent by Bookouture for an honest review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Midnight at Malabar House by Vaseem Khan (post Partition India)

This encapsulated everything I like in books - history, family saga, mystery, detective, a touch of geography and politics of the glass ceiling. All hot topics for me. The story set in post partition Bombay involves Persis a Parsi (tiny minority in India and in the world actually) eloquent, educated and determined to hold her own in a terribly male dominated profession - the police force in India. The only and first female detective in India but one who has to fight every step of the way to get recognition from her peers, from her superiors and even the public whom she tries to help. A murder of a English diplomat at the height of a dinner party despite lots of people around, security, his personal servants etc and no one saw or heard anything. The victim was found minus his trousers which added to the mystery and Persis and her team are put in charge of the investigation. Mainly with the reason that if the investigation falls flat, the blame will squarely fall on her shoulders and those of her precinct, all of whom other than her have come there as a result of what is usually called a "punishment transfer" for some misdeed done. Her colleagues all have a chip on their shoulder and some of them are out gunning for her, not liking her status, her position and her confidence. Going back and forth from the victim's mansion and his coterie of domestics to the far outskirts of Amritsar and the Punjab and coming back again the story winds around with a sad ending. Not the ending that was envisaged but one which sought to cover political ills in a system and one where everyone came smelling of roses. Persis is not happy but she cannot endanger the careers of many with her wanting to speak out the truth. A fine enactment of what happens everyday in most countries even today. I loved the setting, the detailed history of the antagonism which exists and which politicians try to play down, the insistence on one's community, religion and caste so important in not just India but many Asian countries and the deep rooted hatred built up over centuries sometimes not understood by those outside these realms. Beautifully written about and fascinating reading. This was a real winner for me. Sent by Hodder & Stoughton for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

The Nidderdale Murders by J R Ellis (idyllic setting!)

A Yorkshire Murder Mystery - that is the description and certainly more than the murder or the mystery or the detective work, the Yorkshire dales are so beautifully described in this book that anyone will want to go right now see what it is all about. The names of the villages themselves are enchanting and add to the mystery of this story. Add a detective that loves poetry and the dales, a mix of very realistic village folk, cautious with "in comers" and everyone who loves a pint the story is very good reading. One murder at point blank range, the murderer almost wanting to be recognized as so and so and then the murderer disappears. No one knows where he lived, though he worked for many as an odd job man and gardener - the victim was obnoxious and disliked but tolerated because he spent quite a bit around the village (though never paid his bills on time). When a second murder happens in the same manner, where the murderer faces a witness so that he will be identified Detective Oldroyd knows that there is something much more than meets the eye. Good detective work, plodding book work connects the dots and how revenge is really served cold in this case. Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Amazon Publishing UK.

Friday, September 11, 2020

The Quiet Girl by S F Kosa

Still unable to upload the picture of this book! Alex returns home after a spat with his new wife and discovers her missing. Her rings are in a wineglass and that's that. The police treat it as a person who wants to be missing and do not take his pleas seriously. The story begins to unravel at that point. Alex has not met his parents in law other than on a single occasion. He knows that his wife is not on good terms with them but they are his last resort to find out any clues as to what has happened to her. Meeting them and feeling the tensions and hidden stories behind their steely façade, Alex knows there is more than meets the eye and it is somehow connected to his wife's disappearance. The story of Layla is running parallel to Mina's story and one is definitely linked to the other. How Alex has to work to unravel the mystery of his wife's past and somehow find her is this story. The book was good but meandered a bit to the point that it became rambling and it was difficult for me to fix events and how they connected. Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Sourcebooks Landmark.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

The Secrets of Saffron Hall by Clare Marchant

The story is told in two time frames. 1538 and 2019 five centuries apart. The story which we read in present times is an eerie similarity to what went on five centuries before and you do kind of think that there is much more to life than what actually meets the eye. Saffron Hall is a crumbling manor house lived in by Amber's grandfather. Amber after a miscarriage almost at the end of a normal pregnancy has fled to her family home as she cannot bear to live in the house with her husband who is also grieving but who seems to be able to cope better with the emotional trauma of this loss. Amber's reason for being there at Saffron Hall is to deal with the enormous collection of books that are lying around, to archive it and to bring it to some sense of order. Discovering an ancient manuscript when one tower of the Hall comes down, reveals a story that Amber feels compelled to follow. She feels that Eleanor is trying to tell her a story about the child she carried which died, and which was never properly buried. Trying to unravel this piece of history and bring it to completion is what Amber feels will also bring peace to herself and a reconciliation with her husband. Till this is resolved, she is determined not to leave Saffron Hall. The story alternating between two centuries is a poignant one in both time frames. Both Eleanor and Saffron suffered immensely from their loss and both had to come to peace before they could move forward. Sent by Avon Books UK for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, September 7, 2020

The Last to Know by Jo Furniss

Very atmospheric from the word go, Rose and Dylan with their little son are returning home from tumultuous Somalia after a long exile away from home. Home is Dylan's ancestral pile in the quiet village of Hurtford. The house is eerie, sitting on a hill and the Kynaston name alone is spoken about with derision, scorn and disdain. Rose is unaware of the tension surrounding her husband's family until she actually arrives in the home to find Gwendoline - Dylan's mother herself eccentric, displaying all the characteristics of dementia but is not acknowledged by her son to actually be a danger to anyone. To the outsider Rose, there are lots of things very wrong both with Gwendoline and the house but Dylan persists in being blind to all this. The scandal attached to Dylan's father persists despite there being no proof at all (case dismissed) but it is not a happy situation at all. Rose is fighting blind an enemy that she does not know or even can perceive, and when human remains are discovered the entire old scandal is reopened like a festering wound and it is upto Rose to protect herself and her son even against her husband who is now a prime suspect in a murder investigation. The whole village of Hurtford itself added to the suspense of the story as it seemed as if small time villages have very long memories and thirty years is a mere few days in people's memory. It does not fade with time nor is it allowed to do so and it is kept very much alive - the animosity and hatred particularly. This was a good read with a lot to ponder over - how family ties, loyalty to a clan to a village can sometimes be too much of a good thing! Sent by Lake Union Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.