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Monday, July 31, 2017

Little White Lies by Elizabeth McGregor

It seems like a very normal day in a conventional marriage. Beth and David had a steady, conventional marriage until the day David left for work as usual, drove head on onto a lorry at high speed and was killed instantly. Unraveling the whys and hows was what left Beth not just with unanswered questions but led her to a morass of never ending lies and suspicions and betrayals. Did Beth even know the man she was married to.

The story led you on gently at first but it was bewildering because each day brought fresh clues to another life, which had seemed so well hidden that it was if Beth and David were strangers to each other not a husband and wife. How well one could have a second life, a second home totally parallel to the other becomes a reality with this book.

The ending was unexpected! It also got you thinking how many of us live duplicate lives!!

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

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Murder in Montparnasse by Kerry Greenwood

My second read of this investigative officer. Titled, quirky, clever and beautiful. The setting is Melbourne, again different and the time frame is the early 20th century.

Seven Australian soldiers unwittingly and unknowingly witnessed a murder in Paris. They were for the most drunk, never knew about it until one by one death stalks them in uncommon circumstances. Though made to look accidental two of them are sure there is something different about  these deaths and Phyrne Fisher comes to the scene.

Unraveling it further, Phyrne discovers that it is closer to home than she thinks. These are not random killings and she has to go deep to discover why and how and where the next murder is going to take place. The who is told to us half way through. Again unusual.

The style of writing is old fashioned, the methodology old fashioned, accurate and never fails. Not an Agatha Christie style of mystery murder neither is it a Patterson or Baldacci but one in its own right very very good.

I liked the style of writing, the characterizations and the plots and only hope I will be able to get to the rest by this prolific author.

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

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Family Matters by Anthony Rolls

Set in 1933, in a quiet town in England, this domestic crime is one where you felt that the victim should have been got rid of a long time ago. The fact that he lasted this long is itself surprising.

The gentleman in question was Mr. Kewdingham, in his forties who has been out of work for quite some time.  This did not detract from his sense of pompousness and attitude and was a source of frustration for his wife who was the younger and quite lovely Bertha. Mr. Kewdingham thought himself an authority on medicines and herbals and dabbled in self medication all the time. It was this that brought the idea of poisons into the mind of Bertha who sought to murder her husband in a slow and timely manner so that no suspicion would fall on her.

Unknown to her their family doctor wanting to trial a new thought on medicine sought to introduce a new medicine to Mr. Kewdingham not realising that the effects of this medicine, contradicted those being given by Mrs. K. Quite farcical because the doctor kept upping the meds and so did Bertha to no effect till the whole thing blew up and Mr K. finally died!

The ups and downs of the whole saga form the story in this book, detailing the everyday life in a small town just seventy miles from London. The details of the domestic front, the neighbours, and the extended family all add interest to this story. The investigation was detailed and meticulous and the justice meted out was surprising!

The book was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Poisoned Pen Press.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Murder Between The Lines by Radha Vatsal

Part of a series which I did not know about, this book was a good stand alone one which did not detract from its story or the series.

Set at the very end of 1915 and going into January of 1916 it depicts an era of change in America like it was all around the world especially for women. We have Kitty Weeks employed as a journalist, but in her father's eyes it is more or less a hobby. He wanted her to do this job without pay as she did not need the money at all and for Kitty it was more about asserting herself as an independent woman more than anything else. There was no vote for women as yet, the suffrage movement was just picking up and the position of women in public life was almost nil.

Kitty's assignment is Westfield Hall a prestigious school for girls, forward thinking for their times and supportive of girls higher education. A student found frozen to death supposedly whilst sleep walking makes an enquiry necessary but Kitty is not sure that all is what it seems. There seems to be a cover up from several people including most strangely the girl's parents themselves. That Elspeth was herself of a scientific bent of mind and was trying to disprove a theory re batteries involving the Navy Yard and the new ships being built were all pointers to Kitty that a conspiracy was afoot. Big names are involved with lucrative contracts involved and Kitty puts her investigative journalistic skills to play to uncover what actually happened. A second death under very mysterious circumstances adds to the intensity of the story.

Apart from the actual mystery, the story highlighted American politics in the White House of the time. President Wilson was in the White House and he did not seem progressive at all! there were strong women lobbying for women's rights but they would have a long way to go before they were successful. These stories added much interest to the book.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Sourcebooks, Landmark.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Beneath a Burning Sky by Jenny Ashcroft

Olivia and Clara two sisters, separated at a very young age due to the death of their parents. One brought up by a grandmother determined to keep the two girls apart. It was a maneuvered coincidence that brought them together in colonial Egypt, both brought to this country of their birth by marriage. One marriage seemingly happy, the other brutal, painful and abusive of the most horrific.

The setting for the story was excellent. England again in colonizing mode trying to hold this disparate country together in the face of many odds. A hostile people who did not take easily to these foreign masters and people like Olivia's husband who were the lowest of the low, exploiting everyone and treating every person he met so badly that you wondered how he was not done away with before now.

The story reaches a climax with Clara's abduction and the entire facade of both sisters lives begins to slowly unravel as actions of their respective husbands play out on a new scenario which places both sisters in grave danger. The romantic element of Olivia finding love in her own house with a lodger brought by her own husband adds another element to this tense story.

The historical setting of the story added a lot to the story which was one of betrayal and love. Alexandria at the time was colorful enough but with villains, heroes and heroines also thrown into the mix, the story was intriguing.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an honest review, courtesy of Little Brown Book Group UK, the story revealed history from a very personal angle as well.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Exact Nature of our Wrongs by Janet Peery

A family story is never straight forward. This one has more than its fair share of difficult characters. From an AIDS affected younger son, to those who have been indicted for drunk driving, for siblings to whom popping drugs - of any kind is just a day to day "harmless" occupation, Hattie and Abel find themselves perplexed at what they have produced!

Hattie is a woman who is willing to believe the best in everyone and this particularly applies to her family. While everyone knows that Billy is robbing her blind, she pretends that this does not happen but that he is just taken advantage of by all and sundry (not the other way around). She tries to excuse shortfalls in all her children and blindly follows her husband's orders, despite hidden resentments surfacing on and off. These resentments at his high handedness are pushed deep within her mind and she conveniently forgets them until the next time.

Abel on the other hand is aging, with an onset of dementia (?) but is unwilling to accede to any what he sees as weakness on his part to give control of any part of his life to his family. He wants to be the autocrat till the end and greatly succeeds in doing this, despite resentment from all.

This is the background to the story and naturally its ups and downs makes for a good story. Children in their middle age squabbling is ugly, squabbling over stuff which they hope to inherit is even worse but these are facts of life - evident in life around us and this author has descriptively detailed everything out - the good, the bad and the ugly.

Very well told story sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of St. Martin's Press

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green

With migration so much in the news, this was a forced migration of sorts. Set in the 1720s it is factually correct. The story is a fascinating one. France wanted French citizens to occupy Louisiana state in America. They could not find willing participants to their scheme. So they offered it as a way out for people in prison who would have ended their days in the prison. Many would have taken it as a way out of a horrible life, but what made it inhuman was not just being sent to a place which they knew nothing about, but that as soon as they were taken out of prison they were forcibly married to men also released from prison whom they only saw for a few minutes before they were forced to wed.

With such inauspicious beginnings it is surprising that any of the immigrants survived, or that the marriages lasted. Some of them did. And some did not even last the journey to the other side of the Atlantic. Conditions on board ship were primitive and harsh and life in Louisiana was worse.

The story depicted is one of survival. Sheer grit, determination against all odds, and the odds were stacked up so heavily against her that Julianne survived not just the death of her husband, the stigma of being a midwife convicted for murder and her constant fight against men who sought her downfall.

The book was a fascinating glimpse into a part of both French and American history many may not be aware of. The act of colonizing nations has brought about so much of heartache to people, though to governments intent on annexing another country for wealth and fortune, these are not things even considered by them as important. The individual stories are all heartfelt stories of which even in this short period of four years, must be so many and each one different.

This very interesting read was sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of Bethany House Publishers.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Jack and Jill by James Patterson An Alex Cross Thriller

Alex Cross's third foray into crime is as good as it gets.

A controversial Senator found handcuffed to his bed and cold bloodedly executed at point blank range. On the other side of the same town a six year old girl brutally killed. The killings continue apace alternatively with each other. Are the two killing sprees linked in any way or are there two separate cold blooded killers stalking Washington DC. The one killer targets high upmarket stakes and the other is more low key. The attention to the two murders by the powers that be is also markedly different to the disgust of the detectives handling the cases.

The sign offs on the murders of the upmarket killings are Jack and Jill. Coincidentally and frighteningly they are also the code names for the President of the US and his wife. When the killings get more and more linked to the Presidency, it is a high alert for all the agencies across the board to protect their President. But for how long can the President be shielded from events, people and his position. Not for long and the President himself declares that life will go on as usual, come what may.

On the other part of town the killing of children also continues and the neighbourhoods are frightened that nothing seems to be done, despite all the detective work going on. Detective Alex Cross has taken it upon himself personally along with his team to follow up on all leads but they are becoming less and less certain of their suspects.

In both cases, initial suspects are not right so they have to dig deeper and deeper. No clues left around, no amount of profiling turns up suspects and Alex Cross has to find their suspects fast. They know that the killers are clever, very clever and it although late in the day it has to be solved at any cost.

Fast paced, beautiful detective work, painstakingly following up leads and deducing what will happen is always interesting to read about. Patterson does this job beautifully.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Random House UK, Cornerstone this was a book you had to read in one go. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Romilly by Cate Charleston


An Edwardian family/romance story but certainly with many twists to it that it could very well have been set in present times. The over riding sense of protocol and correctness was certainly there but not overwhelmingly so, and whether such a situation could survive in those times I really do not know but it made for a very interesting, fast paced read.

Romilly and her mother have lived a very quiet life. Being Methodist, 'chapel' rules their day to day lives and both of them seem very satisfied the way it has turned out to be. Romilly has never questioned why she is so sequestered from others, not encouraged to make friends even at the academy she went to and certainly not with members of the chapel. Her mother despite being an ardent supporter of chapel, maintains a reserve that is chilling.

With the death of her mother, Romilly's new life begins with startling revelations. It also brings her into contact with the very rich and very social world. A world totally alien to her and which she has been always told to hold aloof from. How she is going to reconcile her natural good sense with what she has been taught from the day she was born is tricky because many things go against the grain. Despite a very delicate air, Romilly survives and thrives meeting antagonism and social disapproval head on because she has the support of her new immediate family.

The romance was for me just by the way as the story of family and support, and women standing up for themselves was much more important. It was however a nice by product!

I loved this read very much which was a free download from Amazon. I only wish the other two books were also available!  

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

The murderer here was calculating, clever and cold blooded. The methods used are unheard of, gruesome but they all mean something obviously. Trying to link the dots and trying to find a connection between the three is what the detectives have to find.

Facing a blank wall of seemingly endless clues with no connection and no idea of where to go next, a random arrest seems to make everyone happy. The fact that the so called murderer gets a stroke, is paralysed and unable to talk from that point on seemingly closes the case. It all seems very conveniently done and you still feel that somewhere down the line, the investigation has slipped.

Seemingly random, seemingly without motive the detectives move slowly but not forward. It is just by a simple deduction right at the end that it even gets closure and then it seems so simple.
Set in Iceland was interesting enough though it did not convey enough of the background. I would have liked to have seen and known more about the setting. I am glad that this author is getting known via translation as her books are certainly engrossing.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review courtesy of Hodder & Stoughton.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Murder is Suspected by Roderic Jeffries

A hit and run with a nondescript description of both vehicle and none whatever of the driver. The witnesses an elderly couple.

Seems matter of fact everyday happening but when pieces begin to unravel at headquarters and when you have an upright chief (very unreal these days) but nevertheless this is the point when things begin to make sense.

Fusili is put in charge of the investigation and when it points to the chief constable's son is ordered to stop. He now has to decide whether he is cutting his own neck by pursuing the investigation. How he is going to balance his moral code with his professional orders is the dilemma. The hit and run is the tip of an iceberg leading to bigger law breaking. The intricacies of police work, the slogging and routine work that goes into an investigation seems mind numbingly dull! but it works and break through s only happen through this method it seems.

Very enjoyable read if one likes police investigation reads!

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

Monday, July 10, 2017

This Was Not The Plan by Cristina Alger

Charlie's life is in a whirlwind. He has just lost his wife at thirty three in an accident which is tantamount to murder. His professional life has taken over his entire life. His five year old son Caleb is a stranger to him and his twin sister Zadie is trying so very hard to keep it all together for all of them.

As a lawyer working in a pressure cooker, trying to make partner after ten years of slogging, Charlie only knows about work and nothing else. His life is spent in his office and the whole thing bursts after a seventy five hour sprint in the office without a break which results in a huge settlement for his office and the end of the life which Charlie knows.

The back stabbing that goes on in the corporate world is highlighted in this book. Avarice and jockeying for position, power and money all follow this greed and this firm and its partners are not exempt. Charlie has given them the opening gambit they need and all are waiting to grab his place if he is fired. They want to use the vacuum created by his departure to their own best advantage.

Simultaneously Zadie has decided to get engaged and very quickly married putting Charlie on the spot as to what to do with his son Caleb and how he is going to work around the loss of Zadie. A reconciliation with their long lost father, unraveling of family secrets and trying to get to grips with unsavoury facts however hard it is to face.

The story of loss in its different forms - personal and professional, grief, loss of self esteem and the sheer loneliness of being all alone is handled well in this story. How we reconcile this loss and try to move on trying to hang on to our sanity and not give in to depression and the easy way out is also very delicately told.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley, courtesy of Touchstone Publishers for an unbiased review. 

Saturday, July 8, 2017

A Ring of Truth by Michelle Cox

This book was interesting in several ways. The poor girl marrying rich boy story is always very nice and when it all ends happily even better. In this case our rich man never said he was actually filthy rich and heir to an estate. He was just a chief detective and that is how our girl met him, whilst working on a case for him.  Henrietta realised that he was rich only when she visited his home and saw how difficult it would be for her to fit in. On top of that the other twist in the tale, was that Henrietta's mother herself had a colorful past, one she had successfully hidden from her eight children for all these years.  The fact that she was herself a rich heiress who disgraced her family by running away and then forsaking all attempts for reconciliation is now slowly coming to light.

In these circumstances, Henrietta visits the family home with the idea of getting used to their way of life and also to plan the much awaited engagement and wedding. To add another twist to the story a loss of a ring and the twist in the tale in its finding added another layer to this story.

Several different strands - a mystery, a follow up from a previous story plus a romance and a family saga. Very nicely combined.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of She Writes Press.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

One Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline

The story was full of suspense from the first page till the end. Right at the beginning I really thought that Chris was one of the "bad guys". The scheming, the lying, the deceitfulness had me thinking in just the opposite direction to which the story eventually went.

That is the cleverness of this author. She takes you in one direction and then jerks you back again in another. Very nicely done!!!

The story of espionage and eventually terrorism in a small town, which to all appearances is peaceful and very quiet is indicative of the times we live in and very much part of today's world.

An author whose books once you start you can't put down!

Sent to me by St. Martin's Press courtesy of Netgalley for an unbiased review.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Halo Effect by Anne D. LeClaire

Will, Sophia and Lucy form an enviable family unit. Will is a renowned painter, Sophie is a choral master and Lucy is all what they want from a daughter. An ordinary evening, each one returning from chores and Lucy does not return from hockey practice. A few days later her bloodied body is found. Seven months down the line, her parents shattered, they await some findings about their daughters killer.

Will seeks revenge on his own. He looks into every face in his well loved neighbourhood and thinks that one of them could well be his daughters killer. It drives him and Sophie far apart. Sophie is a Catholic with very strong faith and Will is not a believer. Being approached by Father Gervase to undertake a painting of forty three saints for the new cathedral is ironic. Will finally accepts the challenge and this is the turning point in the story. He chooses for the models people from all walks of life from within the community following in the manner of famous artists of the past.

Will and Sophie have to make their peace as well. They are broken by the grief of their daughters death, but this has driven them apart not brought them together. Will the killer be found as it is now a very cold case. An odd finding of a token loved by Lucy months after her death in a chapel, opens the investigation in another way and this will finally lead to solving the case.

Poignant, very emotional, very sad but beautifully and delicately written, this was a very beautifully told story.

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

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Rebecca's Children by Kate Dunn

19th century Wales - not a country or period I was very familiar with and this story a mix of historical fiction along with a complex story of both love and betrayal was portrayed very well.

The setting was tough. A hard setting to have any degree of warmth or much happily ever after and the fact that it achieved a certain degree of it, bodes well for the author's story telling. The spirit of nationalism as well as social upheaval was beginning and  uprisings were becoming common. The ordinary man seemed to have had enough and fighting against tolls and taxes is the background for this story.

Our heroine Mary handles adversity stoically, from the suicide of her father to the injury caused to her brother, the loss of the farm held by her family for generations and the entire burden of the family falling on her shoulders. It was a hard story to follow because there seemed no let up at all for Mary and whatever happiness she had was fleeting and then taken away.
The story telling was very good and characters were spot on.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review courtesy of Endeavour Press.