Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (January 15)

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Vicky from I’d Rather Be At The Beach who posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

Well my reading pace has picked up in 2019 and I’m delighted to share the opening from a book I plan to read very soon indeed; The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths is the eleventh episode in the Dr Ruth Galloway series which is due to be published on 7 February 2019.


Blurb

DCI Nelson has been receiving threatening letters telling him to ‘go to the stone circle and rescue the innocent who is buried there’. He is shaken, not only because children are very much on his mind, with Michelle’s baby due to be born, but because although the letters are anonymous, they are somehow familiar. They read like the letters that first drew him into the case of The Crossing Places, and to Ruth. But the author of those letters is dead. Or are they?

Meanwhile Ruth is working on a dig in the Saltmarsh – another henge, known by the archaeologists as the stone circle – trying not to think about the baby. Then bones are found on the site, and identified as those of Margaret Lacey, a twelve-year-old girl who disappeared thirty years ago.

As the Margaret Lacey case progresses, more and more aspects of it begin to hark back to that first case of The Crossing Places, and to Scarlett Henderson, the girl Nelson couldn’t save. The past is reaching out for Ruth and Nelson, and its grip is deadly. Amazon

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

CHAPTER 1

12 February 2016

DCI Nelson,

Well, here we are again. Truly our end is our beginning. That corpse you buried in your garden, has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year? You must have wondered whether I, too was buried deep in the earth. Oh ye of little faith. You must have known that I would rise again.

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This is actually one of my favourite of all the series that I follow and I am seriously excited to be meeting up with Nelson and Ruth again especially as the start of this letter is weird. What corpse is in Nelson’s garden?

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Don’t Believe It – Charlie Donlea

Crime Fiction
4*s

2018 was the year where I finally cracked how to listen to an audio book rather than read a book. Quite a simple skill for many but I found it enormously challenging to concentrate until another blogger suggested that I imagine the author had visited to tell me the story – somehow imagining that there was someone there worked for me. But not all stories are created equally in this audio world. On the whole I prefer my audio books to be lighter than my usual reads and contemporary fiction works far better than crime fiction (somehow hearing the crimes described is too much, ludicrous I know but there we are!)

I have made one exception that worked though and this was for Don’t Believe It a crime fiction novel based upon a TV series like Making a Murderer or The Staircase or even the podcasts that comprised West Cork, all of which I’ve either watched or listed to. The format of the book is quite unlike anything else I’ve read and lent itself so well to audio that I have a suspicion that this actually may not have worked for me if I’d read rather than listened to it.

The Girl of Sugar Beach is the name of the twelve part TV series that female producer Sydney Ryan has planned. It covers a crime committed some ten years previously on the Caribbean island of St Lucia. A young man, Julian was killed at a fancy hotel resort and his college-aged girlfriend, Grace Seabold, was put on trial for murder and imprisoned. She’s worked hard, alongside her loyal friend to get her case noticed so that someone will campaign seriously for her release. Inevitably as Sydney undertakes her research into the case she uncovers stuff that could put her own career in danger. Of course the main thing we all want to know not only did Grace do it or not?

This book felt different to the many crime novels out in the market and of course it is tapping into a relatively new phenomenon where TV researchers have the money and time to probe areas that may yield answers due to the advances in forensics or the loosening of relationships which prevented the truth being told. The format also allows the author to play a little with the information because let’s face it, often these documentaries take a view, consciously or not.

The book is segmented with the story Grace Seabold herself presents. This goes back to the past and right up to the present, her story of what happened the day Julian died and as time goes on how this intersects with the evidence presented in court. We also see behind the scenes information from the proposal of the TV show to when it goes on air, which is fascinating in its own right. We sit on meetings hearing the feedback from the last episode and the planning of the next. This is a great insight into the TV world, the jockeying for ratings and the money-men demanding value for their bucks. We follow Sydney Ryan as she jets backwards and forwards, interviewing not just Grace but her friends and family, seeking out experts and working against the clock to put an episode together for the public to view. We also meet a man in hospital who has lost his leg due to cancer. It takes a little while to work out why he is there but even before then I felt he added an important contrast to Sydney looking back and Grace worrying about the here and now with her frantic schedule, instead we have a man working out what his future will hold.

A great book which as we got towards the end, I thought I had it all figured out; the author disagreed and surprised me with a different finale altogether!

I can’t leave this review without praising the narrator, Nina Alvamar, for the engaging way she told the story.

First Published UK: 28 June 2018
Publisher: Avid Audiobooks
No of Pages: 304
Listening Length: 10 hours 31 minutes
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (January 13)

Well my first weekly wrap up post of 2019 is here already and I’m pleased to say I have actually read and reviewed some books this week.

In short I had a bit of a reading/blogging crisis towards the end of 2018 which in part I am blaming my desire to cut down on the TBR by restricting my purposes throughout 2018. I did really well but as the choices on my own TBR became less attractive the aim of the project actually put the brakes on my reading full stop.

But this is a new year and although I am hoping not to purchase numerous books with wild abandon, I will be carrying out regular clear outs on the TBR assigning those of my own books that I have no wish to read either to the virtual bin (eBooks) or handing them off to charity shops (physical books).

On the plus side my break from blogging does mean  I have a few books to review in hand, this week I began by clearing off those read towards the end of November 2018.

This Week on the Blog

My week started with a review of a book that was published on Thursday, Jane Fallon’s Tell Me a Secret switched her usual revenge on men or friends to a work colleague. The story told with the author’s trademark eye for what makes people tick and despite it all the result is a light-hearted look at life.

My excerpt post was taken from a book I have already read; To Catch a Killer by Emma Kavanagh, which will be published by Orion on 24 January 2019.

This Week in Books featured the authors Robert Thorogood, Sofia Lundberg and Fiona Barton.

This was followed by my review of a true crime book that I selected from NetGalley way back in 2016 but didn’t read as I felt I probably needed to watch the connected Netflix series Making a Murderer first. That didn’t happen until the end of 2018. The Innocent Killer by Michael Griesbach was interesting in parts but I felt let down by the amount of bias in the account.

I then reviewed The Wych Elm by Tana French, the author of the Dublin Series, who has now penned this standalone book. This was crime fiction which concentrated on the chief protagonist and looked at society and the beliefs we tell ourselves and each other as well as a solid mystery of how there came to be a skull in a tree!

My last review of the week was for another true crime, this one a historical one set in 1931 which has stumped crime writers ever since. Move to Murder by Antony M Brown like the other two books currently in the series, is linked to a website which holds some of the ‘evidence’ used as well as giving the reader the opportunity to vote for the most likely scenario.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading Close to Home by Cara Hunter, later on in the year I read In The Dark, the second in the series which features Adam Fawley, and currently have an ARC of the third No Way Out which is due out later this year.

The book was an instant winner for me. Number one the characters well-formed although I have a feeling some will be universally disliked although Adam Fawley is a likeable detective, not an alcoholic although he does have a bit of baggage, but who doesn’t and it’s the kind of problem which is likely to produce a hefty amount of sympathy. He has a good team who are in the main supportive of each other, a fairly inoffensive bit of rivalry between a couple of officers but not the angst ridden teams with endless pressure piled on from above that is the normal crime fiction fare.

Secondly the plot was great – there are multiple strands and there was no doubt in my mind that some rigorous editing had taken place to ensure that they were all kept straight as the story progressed. If that weren’t enough the structure of the book whist not being wacky so it becomes bigger than the story itself was different enough to give a ‘fresh feel’ to this crime fiction novel.

You can read my review here or click on the book cover.

Blurb

HOW CAN A CHILD GO MISSING WITHOUT A TRACE?

Last night, eight-year-old Daisy Mason disappeared from a family party. No one in the quiet suburban street saw anything – or at least that’s what they’re saying.

DI Adam Fawley is trying to keep an open mind. But he knows the nine times out of ten, it’s someone the victim knew.

That means someone is lying…
And that Daisy’s time is running out.

Introducing DI Fawley and his team of Oxford detectives, and a Richard and Judy Book Club pick for Spring 2018, CLOSE TO HOME is the new crime thriller series to get addicted to. Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

Unsurprisingly I’ve done a fair bit of stacking the old shelves since the clock struck midnight on 1 January 2019.  To keep the list to a minimum I’m going to share one from each type of book this week.

 

From NetGalley I have a copy of The Evidence Against You by Gillian McAllister who is one of the new authors that have really wowed me over the last couple of years.  This book isn’t due to be published until 18 April 2019 but I’m going to have to read it long before then!

Blurb

It’s the day her father will be released from jail. Izzy English has every reason to feel conflicted – he’s the man who gave her a childhood filled with happy memories. But he has also just served seventeen years for the murder of her mother.

Now, Izzy’s father sends her a letter. He wants to talk, to defend himself against each piece of evidence from his trial. But should she give him the benefit of the doubt? Or is her father guilty as charged, and luring her into a trap? Amazon

For my kindle I have purchased a copy of Day of the Dead by Nicci French, the eighth and last book in the Freida Klein series which I’ve been longing to read for a while.

Blurb

At long last, a final reckoning is coming for Frieda Klein…

On a north London high street, a runaway vehicle crashes to a halt, but the man in the driving seat was murdered a week earlier.

On Hampstead Heath, a bonfire blazes: in the flames lies the next victim.

As autumn leaves fall, a serial killer runs amok in the capital, playing games with the police. The death toll is rising fast, and the investigation is floundering.

But this is no ordinary killer, and every new victim is intended as a message to just one woman – psychologist Freida Klein.

And the message is very simple.

You’re next. . .

Frieda Klein’s duel with her dark nemesis is finally coming to a climax – and only one can make it out alive. Amazon

My audio selection is Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman as this seemed to be in a similar vein to other books I’ve chosen to listen to, rather than read, although I’m slightly concerned by the ‘heartbreaking tag’ as that may cause me some issues on my daily walk home from work.

Blurb

Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine? Amazon

And in physical book format I have been purchasing some of the books I will need to crack on with my reads for The Classic Club, something I’m determined to do in 2019.  One of the books I want to read is The Saplings by Noel Streatfeild, the author being one of my favourite in childhood.


Blurb

Noel Streatfeild is best known as a writer for children, but had not thought of writing for them until persuaded to re-work her first novel as Ballet Shoes; this had sold ten million copies by the time of her death.

Saplings (1945), her tenth book for adults, is also about children: a family with four of them, to whom we are first introduced in all their secure Englishness in the summer of 1939. ‘Her purpose is to take a happy, successful, middle-class pre-war family – and then track in miserable detail the disintegration and devastation which war brought to tens of thousands of such families,’ writes the psychiatrist Dr Jeremy Holmes in his Afterword. Her ‘supreme gift was her ability to see the world from a child’s perspective’ and ‘she shows that children can remain serene in the midst of terrible events as long as they are handled with love and openness.’ She understood that ‘the psychological consequences of separating children from their parents was glossed over in the rush to ensure their physical survival… It is fascinating to watch Streatfeild casually and intuitively anticipate many of the findings of developmental psychology over the past fifty years.’

‘A study of the disintegration of a middle-class family during the turmoil of the Second World War, and quite shocking’ wrote Sarah Waters in the Guardian. Amazon

As mentioned at the start of this post the TBR is being culled and I no longer feel I ‘must’ read books I’ve bought but that no longer interest me, however to keep an eye on the running total I intend to continue to keep track of the various ups and downs.

tbr-watchThis week it is standing a respectable and appealing 170

Physical Books – 115
Kindle Books – 36
NetGalley Books –16
Audio Books –4

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Move to Murder – Antony M Brown

Non-Fiction
4*s

I honestly can’t recall when I first came to hear about this historical true crime which seemed to have all the elements of a fiction, far removed from the more mundane murders where the motive, opportunity and means soon become relatively clear, but it was many years ago.  I hadn’t however read any books on the matter although there have been more than a few written and was keen to learn more.

Antony M Brown has devised an interesting concept with the publishers Mirror Books

Cold Case Jury is a unique collection of true crime mysteries. Each one tells the story of an unsolved, historic murder in an evocative and compelling way. It tells the story dramatically, like a historical novel, exposes the strengths and weaknesses of past theories and allows the readers to make their judgement on what most likely happened. Although each book is perfectly self-contained, the author providing his view at the end, readers are able to deliver their verdicts on this website, making these the first truly interactive crime tales. Beautifully presented with uniquely illustrated covers, they also contain historic documents, map and images – some unpublished before. For lovers of puzzles, mysteries and crime stories, this new collection of Cold Case Jury books will not only bring a murder story to life – it will make you part of it

And this is one of the mysteries and I for one couldn’t resist the opportunity to sit on the jury from the comfort of my own house although I have to confess voting for my chosen suspect did feel more than a little odd to say the least! I’m not sure whether choosing a murderer albeit one that is dead should be on a par with voting for your favourite contestant on a reality show.

For those who haven’t come across this true crime the facts that have puzzled many over the years are as follows:

On 20 January 1931 Mrs Julia Wallace was found murdered inside her home in Liverpool, she’d been bludgeoned to death.
Her husband William had found her body on his return from a fruitless client meeting as his job as an Insurance Agent for the Prudential Insurance, as he’d been unable to open the day at the first try his neighbours who he’d asked if they knew why were soon to the scene.
The real mystery seemed to be who was the Mr Qualtrough who’d left a message at the chess club he’d attended the evening before. This was the man William Wallace had set out to meet, but not only did Mr Qualtrough appear not to exist, nor did the address 25 Menlove Gardens East. This fact was unknown to William Wallace and everyone he asked for assistance directed him to similar addresses located in one area of Liverpool.
The unsolvable part of the mystery is if the crime was committed by the most obvious suspect, the husband, then who made the phone call to the chess club and left the message for William Wallace? And how could he kill her when he was tramping the streets looking for Mr Qualtrough? If someone had lured him away then what was there motive?

The author lays out the facts, those discovered by the police at the time, the contemporary records of the trial of William Wallace and the unusual decision to free him on appeal due to lack of evidence. He also includes information that has come to light after the death of some of the key players. This is all set out well, and at the end we are given various suspects and how likely our author believes them to be viable, he also lays his own hat down with his preferred scenario.

This was a book that I would classify as more factual ‘true crime’ which was enjoyable for the lack of drama and sensationalism alone. This was the third in this series of books which are also featured on the Cold Case Jury website.

I’d like to say a big thank you to Mirror Books who allowed me to read an copy of Move to Murder which was published on 1 November 2018.

First Published UK: 1 November 2018
Publisher: Mirror Books
No of Pages: 247
Genre: Non Fiction – True Crime
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Wych Elm – Tana French

Crime Fiction
4*s

Having been an ardent follower of this author’s crime fiction in the Dublin Series, I was very excited indeed to hear she was publishing a stand-alone novel. It would be so easy to say this is different to that series but since one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about this author’s books is the fact that each one had a unique feel which sets it apart from most crime fiction series.

This book does however focus perhaps more on the psychological aspects of crime than her previous novels with a house also playing the part of centre stage.

Happy go-lucky Toby has had an easy ride of life and when things have gone wrong he has used his charm or has been rescued by a hefty dose of luck. Life is good until he is attacked by burglars in his flat and is hospitalised. The result is that Toby is broken, both mentally and physically. With his elderly uncle Hugo being in failing health the family decide that as a temporary measure Toby should move in to keep him company. This works well returning Toby to his seemingly idyllic childhood in the Irish ancestral home and his very fond memories of time spent with his two cousins under the less than watchful eye of their batchelor uncle while their parents went off and made merry over the summers of their youth.

Anyway there is Toby coming to terms with a brutal attack, the loss of ‘himself’ and at the same time staring death in the face as the cancer that has taken up residence in his uncle’s body makes the loss of this important man inevitable. Then a skull is found by his young niece and nephew in the hollow of the wych elm in the garden bringing a whole different kind of horror to their door.

This is a long book and one that has an entirely different feel to many that the term psychological sums up. It is slow moving, our chief protagonist Toby is presented as something quite easy to grasp but equal to any mystery concerning bodies stashed in a tree Toby is left to unravel the mysteries of his own past. He is forced to examine his blindness to the injustice that seemingly ravaged around him without his registering it on any level. This is a modern tale in the sense that it concentrates on the social concerns that perhaps only the privileged in life can afford to focus on. I have to admit I did struggle a little because in many ways this book is an attack on the main protagonist with his easy privileged life, son to two professionals, never a worry in his life being knocked because his life wasn’t awful. It isn’t just that he is privileged in the way that he had enough food or warmth or clothes, but his privilege is further emphasised because he wasn’t a minority in terms of his gender or his sexuality. His crime it seems is that he didn’t recognise, as a child, that others got bullied for such things. I have to admit the strident tone adopted around this strand of the story did at times cause me to question the reasoning behind it, thereby pulling me out of what is a complex and interesting story.

This is a book that truly stands outside the norms of crime fiction because it is a book about people and society and the beliefs we tell ourselves and each other. The visible and the invisible both are uncovered by Toby our narrator through his own particular journey in search of the truth.

I’d like to say a belated thank you to the publishers Penguin Books UK who allowed me to read a copy of The Wych Elm ahead of publication of this edition of 21 February 2019, although it is possible to get a copy of the same book named The Witch Elm in the UK already. Confused? Yes, me too!

First Published UK: 21 February 2019
Publisher: Penguin Books UK
No of Pages: 528
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Innocent Killer – Michael Griesbach

Non-Fiction
2*s

I’m not going to lie this book was requested from NetGalley some time ago, in fact it was published in February 2016! So why did it take me so long to get around to reading it? Well this book is strongly linked to the Netflix True Crime sensation which was  Making A Murderer, and I thought I would watch it but not being a great watcher of TV didn’t actually ever get around to it.  And then at the tail end of 2018 I did, and remembered The Innocent Killer!

True crime is always somewhat difficult to review, after all are we concentrating on the crime itself and how interesting/entertaining that is? You see what I mean? If you look at any true crime from that dimension it can seem at best completely heartless but to be blunt without the crime having some aspect to set it apart, its hard to see how you generate the interest. I’m hoping that the following review will indicate some of the areas that true crime writers need to consider when writing a book, it turns out true crime isn’t all about the crime after all.

The killer in this book is about Steven Avery, a man who lived in Manitowac County, Wisconsin, and this book concentrates for the most part on the crime he was convicted of the rape of a local woman back in the 1985 and went on to serve eighteen years in prison for the crime. Then in 2003 he was exonerated, the advances in DNA testing proving that another man was guilty of that crime. Then in a massive twist in the tale, just as Steven Avery’s civil suit was being played out in court for damages owed to him for the wrongful conviction, he was accused of the murder of a young woman photographer Teresa Halbach and in 2007 was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole.

Michael Griesbach it should be noted is a prosecuting attorney for the Manitowac County Prosecutor’s Office and with the majority of the book going into the background, trial and the ultimate work carried out by the innocence project that led to Steven Avery’s exoneration in relation to the rape charge. This is done in far more depth than the TV series whose focus is on the murder and subsequent imprisonment with a particular focus on how sound or otherwise the conviction for that crime is believed to be.

I really did appreciate the additional details provided in this book on the original prison charge although perhaps the author’s lack of experience in writing a novel is apparent especially with the repetition, and surprisingly for a lawyer, the unusual narrative structure in places.

However once we are at the point when Steven is released from prison the book fell down for me because the author is unable to write the second part from anything like an independent perspective. He’s name-dropping his friends, piling on the absolute outrage he feels at the nasty television producers for even daring to question the integrity of the officers who serve Manitowac County, and in doing so lost any credibility from this reader. In fact it was at that point I began to seriously question why he even wrote this book. A sceptical person might say he saw an opportunity and decided to cash in on it, someone less harsh might say he was standing up for his friends, who lets not forget, very nearly had to part with a small fortune had they been deemed liable for the incorrect incarceration of Steven on the original rape charge. It was therefore with no surprise that I learnt on finishing the book that Michael Griesbach acts as an attorney for one of the Police Officers whose actions in both investigations and trials are highlighted by the TV programme.

So in conclusion, if like me you are so late to the party that it is a distant and somewhat hazy memory for everyone else, you may find the additional information on the first charge informative however I’d save yourself some rage and close the book once that part is over.

I’d like to say a belated thank you to the publishers Random House UK who allowed me to read a copy of The Innocent Killer albeit over three years ago, better late than never?

First Published UK: 21 January 2016
Publisher: Random House UK
No of Pages: 304
Genre: Non Fiction – True Crime
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (January 9)

This Week In Books

Hosted by Lipsy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

My current read is The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg a wonderful story that has transported me to Sweden, through Paris and to America, and I’ve not finished it yet!

Blurb

A heartwarming debut about 96-year-old Doris, who writes down the memories of her eventful life as she pages through her decades-old address book. But the most profound moment of her life is still to come …
Meet Doris, a 96-year-old woman living alone in her Stockholm apartment. She has few visitors, but her weekly Skype calls with Jenny her American grand-niece, and her only relative give her great joy and remind her of her own youth.

When Doris was a girl, she was given an address book by her father, and ever since she has carefully documented everyone she met and loved throughout the years. Looking through the little book now, Doris sees the many crossed-out names of people long gone and is struck by the urge to put pen to paper. In writing down the stories of her colourful past—working as a maid in Sweden, modelling in Paris during the 30s, fleeing to Manhattan at the dawn of the Second World War.

Can she help Jenny, haunted by a difficult childhood, to unlock the secrets of their family and finally look to the future? And whatever became of Allan, the love of Doris’s life?

The last book I finished was full-on crime fiction in the shape of The Suspect by Fiona Barton. This story will set a chill through anyone who has a child travelling in Thailand but there is a good surprise for fans of the author in a catch-up with some characters we’ve met before. The Suspect will be published on 24 January 2019.

 

‘The police belonged to another world – the world they saw on the television or in the papers. Not theirs.’

Blurb

When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing on their gap year in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft and frantic with worry.

Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth – and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, who she hasn’t seen in two years, since he left home to go travelling. This time it’s personal.
And as the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think . . . Amazon

Next up I plan to read Murder in the Caribbean by Robert Thorogood in order to get some winter sunshine with the fourth in this delightful series by the creator and writer of the BBC One TV series.

Blurb

DI Richard Poole is hot, bothered and fed up. He’s stuck on the tropical island of Saint-Marie, forced to live in a rickety old shack on a beach, and there isn’t a decent cup of tea to be found anywhere.

When a boat explodes in the harbour, Richard and his team soon realise there’s a new murderer on the loose. But who is it? And why did the killer leave behind a ruby at the scene of the crime?

As the police dig deeper, they uncover secrets that go back decades, and a crime from the past that can never be forgiven.

Worse still, they soon realise this is only the beginning. They’ve got to catch the killer before there’s another death in paradise… Amazon

So that’s my weeks reading travelling across continents  – how far are you travelling?

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (January 8)

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Vicky from I’d Rather Be At The Beach who posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

Well we have a new year and that means a whole heap of brand new books to read, what could be better? OK well if they were accompanied by a sun-drenched holiday complete with cocktails but… a fire & a blanket in a cold January will have to suffice!

My choice of opening this week comes from To Catch a Killer by Emma Kavanagh, author of Hidden, The Missing HoursThe Killer on the Wall and Falling, all excellent psychological thrillers that truly thrill. To Catch a Killer will be published by Orion on 24 January 2019.

 

Blurb

I’ve been watching you DS Alice Parr.
I saw you trying to save the poor young woman you found in the park.
The woman I tried to kill.
I’ve been waiting for you to find her family. To find someone who cares about her.
But you can’t can you?
You’ve never had a case like this.
I know everything about you. You know nothing about me.
Even though I’m the man you’re looking for.
And you will never catch me… Amazon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

Prologue

 

When I think about that day, when I think about her, it is her hands that I remember most. Long, patrician fingers, the nails shaped into a smooth arc, filed with a care that even to this day, baffles me. The muted pink of them so perfectly applied, the blood that had worked its way into the creases of her fingers, ghoulish and macabre besides the effortless glamour. I remember the way her fingers clutched mine, those perfect nails raking at my palm as if I represented the final rung on a falling ladder, and that by holding on to me she could hold on to a rapidly disappearing life. Perhaps that was true. Perhaps that was precisely what I was to her.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Yes it looks very much like I’ve started 2019’s opening post with a full on psycho killer – I mean really, not knowing from experience but I doubt the quality of someone’s manicure is what preoccupies most murderers…  Can’t wait to see what other treats this book has in store!

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Tell Me A Secret – Jane Fallon

General Fiction
4*s

As we head into a new year there is an air of seriousness in the air as people judge their last year’s performance and aim to up their game in the upcoming one. And I find as much as I try to ignore the urging to better myself, I too get caught up in the wish to be a ‘better’ or perhaps ‘different’ person but having done this a few times before comfort myself that life will return to normal probably before the month is out. While I wait for normality to return I seek comfort and Jane Fallon is one of those authors who knows how to weave a good story, a story absolutely made for curling up by the much needed fire to immerse yourself in another person’s life.

Tell Me A Secret is about Holly, a woman in her forties, with a grown-up daughter, a best friend and a promotion! Ok the setting of the workplace might be as script editors on a TV soap but to all intents and purposes this is an office, not so different to the one that many of us sit in day in and day out and deliciously full of the open and hidden alliances that have been present in every one I’ve worked in.

For those of you who have read previous books by this author you will be prepared for a tale of deceit heaped upon deceit served up in a number of different dishes but all with a lightness that by the time the book comes to a close you are left with a feeling that you’ve been entertained rather than put through the wringer.

Holly is promoted and assumes that her workplace best friend Roz will be keen to celebrate her success, and she is, isn’t she? But someone in the office is out to make mischief and it isn’t long before Holly is wondering whether she will manage to hang onto her job. The thing about Jane Fallon’s writing is that you will laugh, you will gasp and you may well cry at the scenes portrayed and the conversations had but because they are sufficiently grounded in true life. Those short-hand conversations that many authors seem to struggle with are captured with a wicked sense of humour as Jane Fallon makes an acute life observation, there were times when I was sure she has taken a peek into those unspoken thoughts I have whenever the occasion calls for people watching.

The story is a cracker full of twists and turns to keep those pages turning and fortunately Holly has friends outside work, Dee who works for the NHS and has a whole host of medical related stories to entertain us whenever it all gets a bit serious. Dee also as a sounding board, often a wise one but with a wild side all in the name of searching for the truth but when they are proposed I’m sure I won’t be the only reader to sit back thinking ‘oh dear, time to hang onto your hats folks!’

So if you need cheering up with a bit of a feel-good story with a hefty dose of the realities of working life then you really can’t go too far wrong with Tell Me A Secret. I was hugely grateful to receive an arc of this book from the publishers Penguin ahead of publication on Thursday 10 January 2019.

If January is proving to be a bit on the serious side for you too, this could be the perfect antidote.

First Published UK: 10 January 2019
Publisher: Penguin
No of Pages: 404
Genre: General Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Uncategorized

New Year Book Tag!


Last year I celebrated by doing this book tag and I decided to revisit it to start my posting for 2019, especially as I have been missing in action for a while.

I think it originated from Bookables which is a You Tube channel. The questions also echo a few posts I’ve seen from other bloggers about books they’ve not managed to squeeze into 2018 so it seems like a good tag take part in to kick off the new year!

How many books are you planning to read in 2019?

My Goodreads Challenge has been set at 130 for the last few years and I plan to set the same goal in 2019 as this works out at 10 books per month and a bonus 10 for holidays.

I read a total of 146 books in 2018n which is slightly down on 2017’s total of 150 but not as much as I expected since I felt I’ve read very little in the last couple of months.

Name five books you didn’t get to read this year but want to make a priority in 2018?

Only five?? Well here goes!

In no particular order Day of the Dead by Nicci French, the eighth and final book in the Frieda Klein series

 

 

Blurb

At long last, a final reckoning is coming for Frieda Klein…

On a north London high street, a runaway vehicle crashes to a halt, but the man in the driving seat was murdered a week earlier.
On Hampstead Heath, a bonfire blazes: in the flames lies the next victim.
As autumn leaves fall, a serial killer runs amok in the capital, playing games with the police. The death toll is rising fast, and the investigation is floundering.
But this is no ordinary killer, and every new victim is intended as a message to just one woman – psychologist Freida Klein.
And the message is very simple.
You’re next. . .
Frieda Klein’s duel with her dark nemesis is finally coming to a climax – and only one can make it out alive.

Force of Nature by Jane Harper, the follow up to The Dry which was on 2018 list of books to get to in 2018 – I did but I’m still trailing!

Blurb

Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along a muddy track.
Only four come out on the other side.

The hike through the rugged Giralang Ranges is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and encourage teamwork and resilience. At least, that’s what the corporate retreat website advertises.

Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk has a keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing hiker, Alice Russell. Because Alice knew secrets, about the company she worked for and the people she worked with.

The four returning women tell Falk a tale of fear, violence and fractured trust during their days in the remote Australian bushland. And as Falk delves into the disappearance of Alice, he begins to suspect some dangers ran far deeper than anyone knew.

 

I fell in love with Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life which I read last summer and so I’m determined to read another book featuring some of the same characters A God in Ruins in 2019.

Blurb

A God in Ruins relates the life of Teddy Todd – would-be poet, heroic World War II bomber pilot, husband, father, and grandfather – as he navigates the perils and progress of the 20th century. For all Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge will be to face living in a future he never expected to have.

This gripping, often deliriously funny yet emotionally devastating book looks at war – that great fall of Man from grace – and the effect it has, not only on those who live through it, but on the lives of the subsequent generations. It is also about the infinite magic of fiction. Few will dispute that it proves once again that Kate Atkinson is one of the most exceptional novelists of our age.

I also need to read The Trouble With Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon having been delighted by Three Things about Elsie early in 2018, sadly my copy of her earlier book went walkabout to my daughter’s house and has only recently returned.

 


Blurb

England,1976.

Mrs Creasy is missing and The Avenue is alive with whispers. As the summer shimmers endlessly on, ten-year-olds Grace and Tilly decide to take matters into their own hands.

And as the cul-de-sac starts giving up its secrets, the amateur detectives will find much more than they imagined…

My final choice is a book that was published in December 2018, The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley.




Blurb

Everyone’s invited. Everyone’s a suspect.

Nine friends ring in the New Year in the remote Scottish Highlands.
As the curtain falls on another year, the celebrations begin.

The next 48 hours see the friends catching up, reminiscing over past stories, scratching old wounds. . . And guarding friendship-destroying secrets.

The clock has barely struck 12 when a broken body is found in the snow.

Not an accident – a murder among friends.

When a thick blizzard descends, the group are trapped.
No-one can get in. And no-one can get out.
Not even the killer.

Name a genre you want to read more of?

I adore crime fiction but in 2018 I joined The Classics Club and so my aim is to read more books from the 50 books I’ve chosen for the challenge. So far I’ve had a pretty good run of books but along with all other reading this tailed off dramatically towards the end of last year.

Three non book related goals for 2019?

I haven’t really made any resolutions for 2019 but I will continue to strive to be healthier and happier.

What’s a book you’ve had forever that you still need to read?

So many but one of the non-fiction books I really want to read that I’ve had for an age is Inconvenient People: Lunacy, Liberty and the Mad-Doctors in Victorian England by Sarah Wise which I bought in September 2013 is high on the list.

3rd October

Blurb

The nineteenth century saw repeated panics about sane individuals being locked away in lunatic asylums. With the rise of the ‘mad-doctor’ profession, English liberty seemed to be threatened by a new generation of medical men willing to incarcerate difficult family members in return for the high fees paid by an unscrupulous spouse or friend.

Sarah Wise uncovers twelve shocking stories, untold for over a century and reveals the darker side of the Victorian upper and middle classes – their sexuality, fears of inherited madness, financial greed and fraudulence – and chillingly evoke the black motives at the heart of the phenomenon of the ‘inconvenient person’.

 

One word that you’re hoping 2019 will be?

Fun… I am getting married in 2019 and greatly looking forward to celebrating with our friends and family.

Tag a friend…..

There’s still time to join in if you haven’t already…

 

Happy New Year – I hope 2019 is full of bookish delights!