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Thursday, July 30, 2020

The Next Widow by C J Lyons

If you want a page turner, a book that will keep you guessing almost to the end this is it. Leah is a dedicated doctor, her husband Ian a computer geek and Emily their daughter a gifted child. Theirs is a happy home. When things go awry and Ian is found brutally and inexplicably murdered detectives are not aware as to where to start.

Luka Jericho the Detective in charge does not believe the wife is suspect but he is working alone on this as his team are very sure that she is at the bottom of it. Their suspicions arise because Leah is clinically composed, not emotional and does not burst into tears with people. Leah on the other hand knows that there is much more than this being a random killing or a home invasion and that she must be the one to protect the child Emily at whatever cost.

Fast paced, clues falling all around you - even the reader wonders whether the wife is the suspect here despite evidence to the contrary. It all seems to point to her and so many pointers are towards her only. It takes good detection skills to see the cleverness and trickery of a twisted mind who is behind the killings.

Characterization was very good because it showed that not everyone goes to pieces in a crisis. Some people can think things through in the most desperate of situations.

The cover was I felt completely at odds with the story.

Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Golden Poppies by Laila Ibrahim

1894 and two families one white one black lead very different lives. Decades ago they were united in one household but marriage and domesticity have pushed them thousands of miles apart. The bonds of deep friendship, loyalty and love remain and that topic is one that was well enshrined throughout the story.

The other sad highlight is the racism that existed then and sadly more than a century later still exists today. Segregation was severe and the rules and laws existed to keep the black people of the country down and to make sure they stayed down. That more rebellions did not happen seems very strange because it was so obviously racist and mean and horrible.

The story is apart from highlighting the injustices of society then, was also about the intense loyalty and feelings that the two families had for each other despite the divide.
It was a solid emotional read for me.

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

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Spring Girls by Karen Katchur

Two murder mysteries one after the other is something I try to avoid. This just happened!

Each Spring a young woman's body is discovered near a pool of water. It is something that Detective Geena looks with dread because it has been happening so regularly. After many investigations and with her senior partner's retirement, she discovers that he has been hiding one fact. That there was one girl who survived the attack but who has selective amnesia and who cannot help at all with any clues.  The survivor however has a child and Geena realizes that the dates synchronize with her rape and that this must be the killer's own child. With clues in the form of DNA surfacing from the last killing and DNA from the little boy the circle is narrowing to find the identity of the killer.

Eliminating people one by one from the circle and trying to find a common link between such varying women was not easy and when the discovery comes it is a surprising one. It also comes with so much of cover up within the agency itself that it is surprising that any headway was made in the case. It costs our survivor much in the way of security, her job and the future for herself and her child. But at least the killings will stop.

The book was an emotional read with the killer on one side, the sole survivor who was balancing on a thread on the other and the detectives on the third side.

Sent by Thomas & Mercer for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Never Look Back by Mary Burton

Agent Melina Shepard is not without courage and sheer brass. A number of women have gone missing with no trace whatsoever. The pick up area is known and when a full search of missing women are done, it seems the number is quite high. No remains have been found either. Melina goes undercover alone without support to try to nab the Killer.

One chance encounter with the killer gives clues which no one can do. She is the only survivor. Along with an officer from Quantico both of them try to unravel the mystery of the missing women and uncover a story which reads stranger than fiction. And very close to home. Pieces of Melina's own past get uncovered as a result as the story unfolds and it is very much a story of Melina and her past as well as the gruesome killer's rampage. Finally it is not one killer but two that have to be uncovered.

Melina is our main character but Jerrod and others in turn play their part in this fast paced thriller. The build up was quick and the reader was always left wanting to know what the next stage was.
My first read of this author and I will be looking out for more in the future.

Sent by Montlake Romance for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Hunting Ground by Meghan Holloway

In hindsight one can see how a sociopath works. Carefully, clinically and soberly. No passionate spur of the moment decisions for him unless he is goaded by something beyond his control. This was a carefully thought out, planned kidnapping and murder and Evelyn did not have a clue that she was his victim, his ultimate goal in fact.

Moving to a small town to escape a very similar stalking situation which never got resolved (more on that later) Evelyn thinks that at last she has peace but from the word go, Jeff has his eyes on her. The Police Chief himself is a victim where his wife and daughter were abducted, never found. With a Native American population in the area Evelyn has arrived to handle artifacts check on authenticity, history and return them if possible to rightful owners. This is something she is passionate about and she is looking forward to working in this tiny town.

She did not envisage that a series of abductions and murders of girls would take place and all where she is the first person to discover their bodies. It is obviously she is a target and the Police Chief is sadly using her as bait to find out what has happened to the numerous women missing over a long period including his wife and daughter.

What follows is a cat and mouse suspenseful story where the killer is always one step ahead of law enforcement and where Evelyn eventually takes the law into her own hands, knowing fully well that she is finally responsible for her own life. That the law will come in too late for her.

Very well told, and a fabulous read.

Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Polis Books.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

The House on Boundary Street by Tea Cooper

Small country side girl wants to make it big in the city. This is a recurrent theme for many girls and boys as well. But this is 1920s and Sydney is  rife with many pitfalls for a young innocent girl. Coming to the house on Boundary Street and working as a maid seems perfectly respectable, but everyone knows that it is just one step away from servicing the many clients that step over the threshold of No. 54.

A chance encounter with Jack of her childhood days and the instant attraction that they feel for each other and slowly unraveling the underbelly of the sordid side of Sydney life with the discovery that Ted her brother is very much alive and not killed in a plane crash creates mixed feelings for Dolly.

A story of family, of love and of survival in a competitive world where girls like Dolly can be swallowed whole in a jiffy. This was a lovely read for me following the TV drama series of Miss Fisher. 1920s Melbourne.

Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Escape Publishing. 

Sunday, July 19, 2020

The Strange Adventures of H by Sarah Burton

From being a vicar's daughter to going to live with her Aunt Madge with a very comfortable existence and then to be on the streets and to end up in a bawdy house, albeit a more discreet and comfortable one was a huge journey for H.

The story was beautifully written and was like a daily account of H's life with its tribulations and sad nesses, the rape at the hands of her cousin, her loyalty to the end not to divulge to her Aunt what had happened even when things were very bleak and her loyalty not to claim relationship with her Aunt when it would have helped her all account to H's steadfastness and her character.

What H did was a career move to survive in the harsh world of London of the 17th century where women were treated as chattels and if you did not have your wits about you like H you were crushed and annihilated. H was shrewd and careful but she had heart and her story was really heart warming.

The history of London of the time is very well told and in the midst of the great plague which beset London is explained in great detail. Very good reading.

An excellent read from the historical fiction angle, as well as the social history angle of the times.

Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Legend Press.

Friday, July 17, 2020

The Girl Behind the Gates by Brenda Davies

This was a rather heart breaking read. It is also true and very representative of how mental health was treated and worst of all how pre marital pregnancies were treated. Nora is a young girl who has got pregnant and of course, considering the times the first thing her mother says is "what would the neighbours think?" but in Nora's case the situation becomes worse. Her father, a tyrant at the best of times very free with his belt, calls in the authorities who declare Nora mentally deficient and she is admitted to an institute.

Nora's nightmare begins for decades and the story highlights the cruelty, the masochism and the sadism of doctors, attendants and nurses who were there to look after these patients. The murder of her baby was the most cruel thing imaginable and it is a miracle that Nora emerged from the whole stay not deranged.

Very hard to read in sections, it is nevertheless factual and it has to be said however hard the facts are to take in. A very good story. Well told.

I need a really light read after this one.

Thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for sending the book to me via Netgalley, for an unbiased review.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Murder at the Playhouse by Helena Dixon

Captain Matt Bryant seems to be made the fall guy for the murder of a girl on the golf course. It was he who first made the detectives aware that he was the last person to have seen the murdered girl . The Davenports are the rich family of the area and seem to be able to make a lot of noise so it is upto Kitty Underhay who has worked with Matt before to make sure that he is not made the scapegoat for the Davenport's actions.

The Davenports seem to be a rum lot. Peter the son is typical of a high flyer - lots of money, no sense or purpose and then there is his "friend" Seb giving rise to lots of speculations as to his sexual identity, the daughter who is a frumpy girl but the brains in the family ignored by both father and mother, the mother the neuroitic dipsomaniac and the father only wanting to keep his reputation clean with an impending peerage in the reckoning.

Uncovering a trail which is complicated and involves blackmail, a second girl is killed and when an attempted murder of Kitty goes unsuccessful those who are sleuthing know that the killer is now becoming desperate.

Full of contrasting characters all which added depth and color to the story, the second in the Kitty and Matt series this was a page turner set in a slightly older vintage than the current thriller reads.

Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley books.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Lies to Tell by Marion Todd

A complicated case going on with someone turning witness and under threat, an ethical hacker working with the Police in Scotland trying to find a leak and a corrupt policeman and a young student found murdered and his best friend missing.

Detective Clare has her hands full. The workload is heavy and all the cases are ongoing and have to be sorted out as quickly as possible.  The links between the murdered student and the witness turning against her husband came out almost three quarter of the way through the story so the strands were not pulled together till the end. Each story was distinct but the way they were brought together was very good reading and wonderful detective work.

The hacker was another piece of magic and the ending was totally unexpected and out of the blue. It was excellent writing.

I loved the various bits of the story - the touch of a romance was just that - a light touch but it did add a bit of lightness to an otherwise sober read.

Sent by Canelo via Netgalley for an unbiased review.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

The West End Girls by Elaine Roberts

Girls from a remote village in England want desperately to see London. One of them has also aimed very high - the stage albeit an almost impossible task for a girl with no training other than a very good voice and good looks. No influence, no connections. In this escapade Annie is joined by her friend Rose and they link up with Joyce who is already in London and all of them want to seek their fortunes.

The girls are brave and forthright but they have huge odds stacked against them. They are naïve and trusting and this almost lands Annie especially in spectacular trouble. It is also the very beginning of WWI and although this is a new aspect to everyone's lives, it is something that is going to affect all of them immensely.

The story and setting is very good reading. How life was in the theatre at the time, the background and workings of it was imaginatively described. It was a bit too idyllic and the endings were too sweet to be true, although it does make for comfortable reading.

Set against the London and a rural background and the way the two areas run as well as the onset of WWI makes this an interesting read.

Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Aria.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

A Village Murder by Frances Evesham

Imogen has to return home for the funeral of her father. Dying in a car crash was not a surprise for Imogen as he was a rotten driver. Imogen is returning to her roots after a very long time because she is also trying to put behind her memories from thirty years past. A school girl incident which left one of their number dead, and which no one wishes to talk about at all.

Finding her estranged husband's body in the orangery during her father's funeral adds to Imogen's misery as she now finds several clues not adding up at all. Detectives in charge of the case seem to find Imogen as their chief suspect in the murder of her husband anyway but it is retired detective Adam who runs the local pub who sees a link between not just the death of her husband, but also her father and the death of the school boy thirty years ago.

How to link the three together in this village of eccentrics, cranks and those hell bent on revenge is the task before both Adam and Imogen.

Set in beautiful Somerset countryside the story is full of characters of a village where everyone knows everyone else's business. This adds to the atmosphere of the story. The mystery murder is just one component.

Sent by Boldwood Books via Netgalley for an unbiased review.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

The Double Dilemma by Lynn Shurr

After a spate of gruesome mystery murder books, this was a welcome change.

Rather frivolous but sometimes we need this kind of light hearted read. Twins insistent only on marrying another set of twins. Rather hard to find but their brother scouts around and does find an unlikely pair.

A fun read.

Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Backlit PR

Friday, July 3, 2020

Interviewing The Dead by David Field (victorian mystery)

The year of 1892 and a spiritualist is whipping up a frenzy in London, saying that the spirits of a mass grave discovered where hundreds were buried in 1665 are going to rise up and create chaos, mayhem and revenge for their death two centuries before.

Before long, several citizens have actually seen these horrible sights and died as a result and now the hysteria is spreading.  Turning to a local cleric Matthew West seems logical for the parishioners but he himself is nonplussed and turns to a local doctor who may have a more clinical view on the happenings. Is this some phenomenon beyond their understanding or is a clever serial killer let loose on unsuspecting Londoners.

As usual more than the actual mystery, my interest lay in the description of London of 1892. This was spot on. Methods used were unorthodox but then we are talking of 1892 and it seems perfectly alright at the time!

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

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

The Old Girls' Network by Judy Leigh

Pauline and Barbara are sisters with widely different personalities. Pauline recently widowed is a bubbly person willing to look on the bright side of anyone and Barbara is a negative, gloomy pessimist always thinking that everyone is out to either cheat her, rob her or do something to her. It does not make for a good mix when Barbara comes to convalesce at Pauline's home

From the word go you realize that sparks are going to fly as Barbara is critical not just of Pauline's home to her friends and to Bisto the man Pauline accidentally runs over and who to all accounts looks like a tramp. The story goes on covering a whole series of events in  a rural village with all the usual characters from the lord of the manor to the publicans to the doctor and his wife, to the newcomers who seem a bit distant. Each one is a different type of person and the characters make up for an interesting whole.

Dealing with relationships, mellowing and relaxing as you get older, getting less judgemental are the lessons to be learnt from the older sisters in this story.

Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Boldwood Books.