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Monday, February 27, 2017

Behind Closed Doors by J J Marsh

A series I knew nothing about but this was good as a stand alone as well.

A series of inexplicable suicides right across Europe. All eminent men but those with an unsavoury past and no real moral ethics in business. It was business first and last with all these men and this is the only common factor amongst them. Their deaths all varied and somehow the way they died was also linked to how they lived and how they conducted their business. No clues, nothing to link them together except for one sample of DNA left behind at the scene of the murders.

A group of international experts put together under the guidance of Beatrice Stubbs who has to adhere to international rules as well as differing way of doing things as each expert thinks his way is the best way. Disparate to say the least and ruffling feathers and smoothing them is also part of her job.

Unraveling the mystery by finding a common denominator seems the way to go forward and with pressure from above to solve the murders, as the number of deaths rise is not as easy as it seems as you are dealing with a master manipulator and a very clever man (or woman). They always seem to be a step ahead and the author keeps you dangling as to what would happen next.

This was a very cleverly written novel with good characterization.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Cameron Publicity & Marketing Ltd

Thursday, February 23, 2017

the kept woman by Karin Slaughter

Involving cops - present and past, good and bad you knew that this was going to be a thriller to beat all thrillers the moment the first paragraph was read.

Finding a cops body in a neglected warehouse was bad enough. The fact that the owner of the said warehouse had gone head to head in very recent cases and come out smelling like roses was not going to make our cops happy. Having to deal with powerful businesses who dealt with the cops as if they were trash was not easy either. For Will Trent having to deal with this case, specially knowing that his wife , herself an ex copy was involved in it upto her eyeballs was going to make this case the most painful one of his career.

Add to the mix his present partner, also in the forces - the medical examiner in this case and you know that so many strands woven together could either make or break the story. The fact that there were so many loose ends, so many different stories, different characters all complicated but that they worked seamlessly together to bring about a chilling story of mystery and murder, big time football
big time crime and held the reader spellbound, speaks to the cleverness and adroitness of its author.

Loved the story, loved the writing.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Random House UK, Cornerstone.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh

The story is dismal. Eileen is 24, unattractive and makes herself even more so, works in a boys prison with harsh colleagues. She is friendless, suspicious herself of everyone, has to return home to an abusive, alcoholic father and her life seems to be at a dead end. There is no future for her at all.

Rebecca's  entrance to the story brought some welcoming lightness. She seemed a normal, attractive, fun loving young woman who showed Eileen glimpses of a world which were for her were rare. Unfortunately Rebecca had her own agenda and ensnaring Eileen was one of them.

The ending was a bit flat for me though the character of Eileen though very repulsive makes for compelling reading. Her psche bordered on the weird but it kept you reading hoping for better things to come. It never did!

I found this a puzzling book because most of the time I was reading without getting involved like I would normally do. It was not a book however that I could leave half way done either.

Sent to me by Netgalley, for an unbiased review, courtesy of Random House  UK, Vintage Publishing.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon

Time travel - this time not going very far. Just early twentieth century but still different.

This was so fabulous that I felt that welll..... it could happen you know!!! told so beautifully that the story draws you in and keeps you first in the early twentieth century on a farm/commune. Old fashioned, hard working and gorgeous called Greengage Farm and then swings you out into the harsh world of a single mum trying to bring up a mixed race kid facing all the problems you could imagine. Emotional, financial and with no family trying her very best to cope with a bad situation.

Lux has to try to balance her worlds and without entrusting her secret to anyone but her friend who just does not believe her but is open enough to just accept it for what it is. Lux disappears regularly and no one knows where till one day it goes wrong in a juxtaposition of time and she is away for a year, during which her parents have been given custody of her beloved son. To win him back Lux has to work very hard especially to win his trust and the trust of her parents because she cannot tell anyone where she has been.

Fast forward and Lux living in both worlds continues till she has to make a decision once again with the added complication of another child. What is good for this second child is definitely not the present world and how does Lux try to solve this Solomon like problem.

The story kept me enraptured, and though with its ups and downs emotionally it was a beautifully told one.

Sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of Random House Publishing Group Ballantine, for an unbiased review.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Behind the Lines by W F Morris

The first time I am reading a story from the other side of the lines. WWI and II has brought about a plethora of books. All very good reading. This is a story of someone who is a deserter who kills a fellow officer and then joins a rag tag group of men, on the border lines of the actual action, scrounging a living from the dregs remaining of actual warfare and somehow surviving.

Peter kills an officer and is convinced that he will not get a fair hearing. He is sure he will be tried and hanged for this offence. He has no choice but to flee but he lives in torment as to what he has been forced to give up. The chance of love because he just met a young lady who has taken his fancy, his family back in England and the goodwill and reputation he had as a very good man in the army itself.

Trying to balance his life with the fugitives with whom he has thrown his lot, he must also avoid capture by the Germans, try to regain contact with his girl and fall on her understanding and mercy for his absence and lack of communication and try to come to grips with life again.

Very well told for such a harrowing background, you root for Peter all the way.

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

Friday, February 10, 2017

From A Paris Balcony by Ella Carey

Sarah is a practical, down to earth art curator. The death of her parents and the breakdown of her marriage dealt her a double whammy. Finding a letter in a closet of her late father's addressed by a famous courtesan to her great great grand father and the contents of the letter compels Sarah to set out on an adventure with very surprising results.

The story is romantic and far fetched, but it is set in beautiful surroundings. Told in two life times and hence two life lines it compares and contrasts the present with the past. Both have rich histories and combined with the setting of Paris and England they present a story that is extremely entertaining.
Highlighting the plight of women in 19th century Europe where being an aristocrat or rich did not help if you were a woman fighting for your rights to not just love but even to live. Husbands were able to do what they wished and despite being a woman of means, Louisa in our story had very little say in her life. First governed by the wishes of her brother, mother and society and then dictated by her husband she was doomed to a life of unhappiness. Sarah brought it to light and sought closure for her family by highlighting the truth of Louisa's apparent suicide. It was of no avail but it helped Sarah in her quest for the truth.

Idyllic in its content and very pleasant reading.

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

Monday, February 6, 2017

Two Days Gone by Randall Silvis

This was a mystery murder/thriller cum detective novel at its finest! A real page turner. One I had to finish in one go.

A well respected college professor, also a famous crime writer finds his entire family brutally murdered.  He is also on the run. It simply points out to his guilt. For some reason, completely unfathomable to everyone around him - his students, his in laws and even to the police chief who knew him this was not his work. But then why was he missing, why didn't he turn himself in and tell his part of the story.

The story unravels slowly without any sequence or logic. I personally could not work out who was the murderer and why till it was actually spelt out.  Taken in baby steps, the logic and why and wherefore of how a murderer's mind works and subsequently how those who are most affected take revenge are devious and complicated. This adds to the story here.

A very good read sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of Sourcebooks Landmark.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Songs from the Violet Cafe by Fiona Kidman

The setting with New Zealand is unique. The period covered is a long one - sixty years so it covers a whole gamut of styles as well, from hair to food to conversation and way of life.

The Violet Cafe is at the centre of the story and it is an unusual cafe for the time. French themed food and a madam who acted just like one, fairly autocratic for a rural area who only employed "troubled" girls. The theme worked and each girl was a fairly strong character in their own right, developing the story as it went. The men were on the periphery as it were and though they did contribute to the story, the women were the main thing.

Each woman's life taken separately and then together, how they meshed and how Violet influenced each one in turn, despite her in turns being liked or disliked by her employees was told very well.

It was my first foray into reading Kidman's books but it certainly will not be my last. Enjoyed this story very much.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Gallic Books Aadvark Bureau.