Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (March 29)

This Week In Books
Hosted by Lipsyy 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

I have had my brother visiting over the last week and therefore haven’t read a great deal although I did get to finally watch Heavenly Creatures which was excellent. I apologise for my lack of comments and the delay in responding to some emails etc. So onto the books!

I’m currently reading Hope to Die by David Jackson, the second in the Nathan Cody series set in Liverpool – see the wonderful post created for Put A Book On The Map by David Jackson and Karen from Go Buy The Book



Blurb

When the victim seems perfect, is it the perfect crime? The gripping new serial killer thriller, from the runaway bestselling author of CRY BABY.
On a bitterly cold winter’s night, Liverpool is left stunned by a brutal murder in the grounds of the city’s Anglican Cathedral. A killer is on the loose, driven by a chilling rage.
Put on the case, DS Nathan Cody is quickly stumped. Wherever he digs, the victim seems to be almost angelic – no-one has a bad word to say, let alone a motive for such a violent murder.
And Cody has other things on his mind too. The ghosts of his past are coming ever closer, and – still bearing the physical and mental scars – it’s all he can do to hold onto his sanity. And then the killer strikes again . . . NetGalley

The last book I finished was The Housekeeper by Suellen Dainty. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but soon became hooked – my review will be up on Friday!


Blurb

“I am the housekeeper, the hired help with a messy past who cleans up other people’s messy lives, the one who protects their messy little secrets.”
When Anne Morgan’s successful boyfriend—who also happens to be her boss—leaves her for another woman, Anne finds herself in desperate need of a new job and a quiet place to recover. Meanwhile, her celebrity idol, Emma Helmsley (England’s answer to Martha Stewart), is in need of a housekeeper, an opportunity which seems too good to be true.

Through her books, website, and blog, Emma Helmsley advises her devoted followers on how to live a balanced life in a hectic world. Her husband, Rob, is a high profile academic, and her children, Jake and Lily, are well-adjusted teenagers. On the surface, they are the perfect family. But Anne soon finds herself intimately ensconced in the Helmsley’s dirty laundry, both literally and figuratively. Underneath the dust, grime, and whimsical clutter, everyone has a secret to hide and Anne’s own disturbing past threatens to unhinge everything.

For fans of Notes on a Scandal and The Woman Upstairs, The Housekeeper is a nuanced and psychological drama about the dark recesses of the human mind and the dangerous consequences of long-buried secrets.

Next is a book which will be featured soon on Put A Book On The Map; A Time For Silence by Thorne Moore


Blurb

When Sarah, struggling to get over tragedy, stumbles across her grandparents’ ruined farm, it feels as if the house has been waiting for her. She is drawn to their apparently idyllic way of life and starts to look into her family history only to learn that her grandfather, Jack, was murdered. Why has nobody told her? Sarah becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Gwen and Jack. But are there some family stories that should never be told… Amazon!

I need your help

Now Put A Book On The Map has been launched, and has garnered so much interest I’m wondering if you live or are familiar with an area where a book is set?

If so, would you  like to write a few words and perhaps provide some photos? Please get in touch with me cleopatralovesbooks70@gmail.com

Topping the list is a shout-out for a blogger from Nottingham, or who knows the area, to feature fellow blogger Rebecca Bradley’s Hannah Robbins books.

 

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (March 28)

First Chapter
Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea 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.

This week my opener comes from The Restless Dead by Simon Beckett, the fifth in the David Hunter series which will be published in hardback on 6 April 2017.

Blurb

Once one of the country’s most respected forensics experts, Dr David Hunter is facing an uncertain professional – and personal – future. So when he gets a call from Essex police, he’s eager for the chance to assist them.

A badly decomposed body has been found in a desolate area of tidal mudflats and saltmarsh called the Backwaters. Under pressure to close the case, the police want Hunter to help with the recovery and identification.

It’s thought the remains are those of Leo Villiers, the son of a prominent businessman who vanished weeks ago. To complicate matters, it was rumoured that Villiers was having an affair with a local woman. And she too is missing.

But Hunter has his doubts about the identity. He knows the condition of the unrecognizable body could hide a multitude of sins. Then more remains are discovered – and these remote wetlands begin to give up their secrets . . . Amazon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

1

Composed of over sixty per cent water itself, a human body isn’t naturally buoyant. It will float only for as long as there is air in its lungs, before gradually sinking to the bottom as the air seeps out. If the water is very cold or deep, it will remain there, undergoing a slow, dark dissolution that can take years. But if the water is warm enough for bacteria to feed and multiply, then it will continue to decompose. Gases will build up in the intestines, increasing the body’s buoyancy until it floats again.
And the dead will literally rise . . .

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Well that’s an opening that you don’t want to linger over too much but yet so very enticing!

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

A Life Between Us – Louise Walters

Historical Fiction
4*s

If you like a book that explores family relationships, a family saga if you like updated to include a mystery, then you need to pick up A Life Between Us. Within its pages you will meet a whole range of characters, some that you will undoubtedly take to more than others and the truths and lies that underpin the way they behave.

The prologue to A Life Between Us is set in 2014 with Lucia Thornton leaving the family home for the last time, shutting the door on the dark secrets that have shaped the next generation. The rest of the book uncovers those secrets and the toll they’ve taken.

In 2013 Tina is encouraged by her patient husband Keaton to join a book club as a way of getting her out of the house and meeting other people. A fantastic idea, I’m sure you’ll agree and one that provides some contrast to the often dark narrative that underpins this novel. Tina’s twin Meg had died aged just eight and for the best part of four decades has accompanied Tina through life, as a chiding voice that does nothing to assuage Tina’s guilt for what happened on the day her twin died. A product of the time, Tina was just left to deal with the aftermath and sadly, Meg’s death has shaped her life, leaving her one with little room for one of her own.

Louise Walters’ book takes us back to 1954 travels through the sixties up to the year of the drought in the UK, 1976. The latter told in part between the pen-pal letters between Tina and her cousin Elizabeth who lives in America. This was a particularly lovely touch and provides a change of writing style. It also provided me with memories of my own letters to my pen-pal full of news! I loved the fact that Tina, keen to find another book-lover, is quite insistent that Elisabeth needs to read her favourite book, Ballet Shoes! Tina’s twin was far more into tree-climbing than reading, so her delight at being able to talk about the Fossil girls is warming, not least as this book played a part in my own childhood of roughly the same era. Further back in the past we learn more about Tina’s Aunt Lucia, one of five children born and bought up Lane’s End House in a time which was very different to those her nieces are born into. I am always impressed when writers of these types of novels provide strong links between the past and the present stories, and in this one it becomes apparent that both aunt and niece have something in their past that they simply are unable to escape.

This book contained everything I hoped for; from period details to complicated relationships the inevitable worn out patience of a man who had lived in the shadow of the death of a child he never met and the mystery which can only be resolved by delving deep into the past. With each page packed full of drama yet cleverly avoiding the feeling that the issues explored are in any way contrived or there to move the story along. One of the biggest problems of a dual time-line book is that it can be tricky to keep both strands interesting while not confusing the reader with the hopping backwards and forwards. I’m delighted to confirm that both these pitfalls have been adroitly avoided by the author and she has written a book that is utterly compelling.

I was lucky enough to receive an advance review copy of A Life Between Us from the author and I have a feeling that this story will haunt me the way that her debut novel, Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase has done. This unbiased review is my thanks to Louise Walters for such a dark yet delightful read.

First Published UK: 28 March 2017
Publisher: Matador
No of Pages:  304
Genre: Historical Fiction – Family Saga
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (March 22)

This Week In Books
Hosted by Lipsyy 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

I am currently reading A Talent For Murder by Andrew Wilson a tale based on an imaginary event in Agatha Christie’s life.

Blurb

‘I wouldn’t scream if I were you. Unless you want the whole world to learn about your husband and his mistress.’

Agatha Christie, in London to visit her literary agent, boards a train, preoccupied and flustered in the knowledge that her husband Archie is having an affair. She feels a light touch on her back, causing her to lose her balance, then a sense of someone pulling her to safety from the rush of the incoming train. So begins a terrifying sequence of events. Her rescuer is no guardian angel; rather, he is a blackmailer of the most insidious, manipulative kind. Agatha must use every ounce of her cleverness and resourcefulness to thwart an adversary determined to exploit her genius for murder to kill on his behalf. Amazon

I have just finished The Conversations We Never Had by Jeffrey H Konis



Blurb

This is the dream of a grandson, who had taken his grandmother for granted, to have a second chance, the opportunity to learn about his family from the only person in the world who knew them, who remembered them. My father remembers nothing about his real parents for they were dead by the time he was nine.
Olga, his mother’s younger sister, survived the Holocaust, found my father hiding on a farm in Poland and later brought him to America to raise as her own. He never asked her any questions about his parents. Though I later moved in with Olga for a period of time, I repeated history and never asked her the questions my father never asked. Olga has been gone for more than twenty years, along with everything she could have told me, leaving me with a sense of guilt and profound regret. The Conversations We Never Had is a chronicle of my time spent with Grandma “Ola” and tells the stories she might have shared had I asked the questions. Amazon

Next up I plan to read The Housekeeper by Suellen Dainty

Blurb

“I am the housekeeper, the hired help with a messy past who cleans up other people’s messy lives, the one who protects their messy little secrets.”

When Anne Morgan’s successful boyfriend—who also happens to be her boss—leaves her for another woman, Anne finds herself in desperate need of a new job and a quiet place to recover. Meanwhile, her celebrity idol, Emma Helmsley (England’s answer to Martha Stewart), is in need of a housekeeper, an opportunity which seems too good to be true.

Through her books, website, and blog, Emma Helmsley advises her devoted followers on how to live a balanced life in a hectic world. Her husband, Rob, is a high profile academic, and her children, Jake and Lily, are well-adjusted teenagers. On the surface, they are the perfect family. But Anne soon finds herself intimately ensconced in the Helmsley’s dirty laundry, both literally and figuratively. Underneath the dust, grime, and whimsical clutter, everyone has a secret to hide and Anne’s own disturbing past threatens to unhinge everything. Amazon

Have you read any of these? Do you want to?

What are you reading? Do share!

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (March 21)

First Chapter
Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea 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.

This week my opener comes from The People At Number 9 by Felicity Everett which will be published on 6 April 2017.



Blurb

‘Have you met them yet, the new couple?’

When Gav and Lou move into the house next door, Sara spends days plucking up courage to say hello. The neighbours are glamorous, chaotic and just a little eccentric. They make the rest of Sara’s street seem dull by comparison.

When the hand of friendship is extended, Sara is delighted and flattered. Incredibly, Gav and Lou seem to see something in Sara and Neil that they admire too. In no time at all, the two couples are soulmates, sharing suppers, bottles of red wine and childcare, laughing and trading stories and secrets late into the night in one another’s houses.

And the more time Sara spends with Gav and Lou, the more she longs to make changes in her own life. But those changes will come at a price. Soon Gav and Lou will be asking things they’ve no right to ask of their neighbours, with shattering consequences for all of them… NetGalley

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

1

Sara’s gaze drifted toward the window. It was dark outside now, and she could see her own reflection superimposed like a hologram on the house across the road. Their curtains were half-closed but the cold blue flicker of the TV could just be seen. She imagined Gavin lounging in the Eames chair with a glass of red, Lou lolling barefoot on the sofa. They might be watching an art-house movie together – or perhaps just slumming it with Saturday night telly. It was all too easy to conjure the flea-bitten hearthrug, the aroma of Pinot Noir mingled with woodsmoke. Even after everything that had happened, the scene still had its allure.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Boundary – Andrée A. Michaud

Crime Fiction
3*s

Set on the border between the US and Canada there is no doubt at all that this literary crime fiction is incredibly atmospheric. Not only is it evocative of the time it was set, 1967 Boundary combines this with a real sense of place, a holiday town populated mainly by women and children during the summer months with the men returning from work at the weekend.
So an idyllic setting with a lake and woods and sounds of the sixties running through two friend’s lives as Zaza and Sissy wield there charms on all around them. Andrée watches from the side-lines knowing that she is far too young for the ‘almost’ young women who laugh and swear and flirt their way through life.

But behind the summery scenes are the undying stories of a man, damaged by life as a solitary Canadian trapper. Pierre Landry had lived in a cabin in the woods. His tragic end and the crimes attributed to him, including the infatuation with a local woman, clinging to the town, unwanted and yet all-pervasive and the children tell stories about the ghost of Pierre Landry.

Barbeques are lit and children called in for food, dolls played with, dens made and the fairground welcomes its guests as every other summer’s day and then, Zaza goes missing. The nearby police are called, the older more experienced officer, Michaud, is haunted by a young girl’s murder, while the younger, Cusack gets worn down by the ensuing investigation into Zaza’s disappearance.

We are told the story from a number of the characters viewpoints including Andrée’s, the police and members of Boundary’s town. These different viewpoints paint a vivid picture of a town marred by events and the change of atmosphere is all-encompassing.

The story starts very slowly and although it isn’t a particularly long book, it took me a long time to finish. In part this was down to the small font which I’m sad to say I struggled to read after a full day working looking at a computer screen and I really needed daylight to see well. This in turn didn’t help the lack of forward momentum early on in the book as I was able to read so little. This may sound odd, and perhaps not entirely fair, particularly to those of you who have younger eyes than mine, but it did seriously hamper my enjoyment of what was clearly a book with lots to offer. I was reading a proof copy though so I’m not sure if the finished article will make for easier reading, but this was a book where I would have preferred an eBook. After the investigation starts the pace picks up and the various strands of the plot begin to draw together to create a convincing, if sad, story. I felt the characters acted in a consistent manner and I felt an affinity for Andrée, and not in the usual way that I feel for child narrators, she wasn’t like me as a child but her feelings felt particularly authentic.

This felt like a grown-up version of crime fiction with plenty of layers and issues to ponder which in many ways lends itself to a more contemplative reading experience than most crime fiction.

I’d like to thank the publishers No Exit Press who allowed me to read a copy of Boundary ahead of publication on 23 March 2017. This unbiased review is my thanks to them.

First Published UK: 23 March 2017
Publisher: No Exit Press
No of Pages:  320
Genre: Crime Fiction – Literary
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (March 19)

Weekly Wrap Up

This Week on the Blog

Well the surprise post of the week was the first one with my review of Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century by Peter Graham garnering a lot of interest and some lively discussions. It seems like I’m not the only one that feels uneasy about a murderer writing about murder although other bloggers love her books, despite her background.

My excerpt post this week was from The Special Girls by Isabelle Grey, the third in the DI Grace Fisher series

On my This Week in Books Post I shared my reads for the week which included my first poisoner book of 2017 by Kathryn Harkup, Louise Walters and Andrée A. Michaud.

My second review of the week was for Cut Short by Leigh Russell which is the opener to the Geraldine Steel series which showed a lot of promise.

Last but by no means least I finally reviewed the first book I’ve read by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, The Legacy, the first of The Children’s House series.

The week ended on a high note with the latest Put a Book on the Map feature which visited Derby with DI Damen Brook in a post written by the author Steven Dunne and Blogger Mary Mayfield of Our Online Book Reviews.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading the second in the DI Grace Fisher series, Shot Through the Heart by Isabelle Grey. This is a book that goes straight to the action with a tense moment as we follow a man driving through a quiet Essex town on Christmas Day. In the back of his van are presents for his children… and a gun.

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

Blurb

When a lone shooter claims the lives of five people on Christmas Day before turning the gun on himself, it’s up to DI Grace Fisher to find out, not who did it, but why and how.
Tracing the illegal weapon and its deadly load of homemade bullets, she soon uncovers a toxic web of police corruption, personal vendettas and revenge. But when the enemy is within, who will believe her?
As threats to her safety mount up and the strain of secrecy begins to wreck her friendships, Grace must decide how far she wants to pursue justice – and at what cost. Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

Well the restraint(assisted by the fog) of the last couple of weeks has gone out of the window with a fair few new acquisitions – but oh, they look so good!!

In no particular order…

I treated myself to a copy of The Doctor’s Wife Is Dead by Andrew Tierney which looks stunning.

Blurb

A mysterious death in respectable society: a brilliant historical true crime story

In 1849, a woman called Ellen Langley died in Nenagh, Co. Tipperary. She was the wife of a prosperous local doctor. So why was she buried in a pauper’s coffin? Why had she been confined to the grim attic of the house she shared with her husband, and then exiled to a rented dwelling-room in an impoverished part of the famine-ravaged town? And why was her husband charged with murder?

Following every twist and turn of the inquest into Ellen Langley’s death and the trial of her husband, The Doctor’s Wife is Dead tells the story of an unhappy marriage, of a man’s confidence that he could get away with abusing his wife, and of the brave efforts of a number of ordinary citizens to hold him to account. Andrew Tierney has produced a tour de force of narrative nonfiction that shines a light on the double standards of Victorian law and morality and illuminates the weave of money, sex, ambition and respectability that defined the possibilities and limitations of married life. It is a gripping portrait of a marriage, a society and a shocking legal drama. Amazon

Through the post I received a copy of The Cleaner by Elisabeth Herrmann from the publishers Bonnier Zaffre so a big thanks to Emily Burns!

Blurb

Pools of blood, scenes of carnage, signs of agonising death – who deals with the aftermath of violence once the bodies have been taken away?

Judith Kepler has seen it all. She is a crime scene specialist. She turns crime scenes back into habitable spaces. She is a cleaner.

It is at the home of a woman who has been brutally murdered that she is suddenly confronted with her own past. The murder victim knew Judith’s secret: as a child Judith was sent to an orphanage under mysterious circumstances – parentage unknown. And the East German secret police were always there, in the background. . . .

When Judith begins to ask questions, she becomes the target of some powerful enemies.

And nothing will ever be the same again. Amazon

From Lovereading UK I received a copy of A Talent For Murder by Andrew Wilson which will be published on 6 April 2017.

Blurb


‘I wouldn’t scream if I were you. Unless you want the whole world to learn about your husband and his mistress.’

Agatha Christie, in London to visit her literary agent, boards a train, preoccupied and flustered in the knowledge that her husband Archie is having an affair. She feels a light touch on her back, causing her to lose her balance, then a sense of someone pulling her to safety from the rush of the incoming train. So begins a terrifying sequence of events. Her rescuer is no guardian angel; rather, he is a blackmailer of the most insidious, manipulative kind. Agatha must use every ounce of her cleverness and resourcefulness to thwart an adversary determined to exploit her genius for murder to kill on his behalf. Amazon

I also have a copy of What Goes Around by Julie Corbin which will be published in paperback (eBook format already available) on what appears to be the most popular day of the publishing year, 6 April 2017

Blurb

Two women, two secrets, one murder…
If someone took away your perfect life
How far would you go to get it back?

Ellen’s family is her world. So when her husband leaves her for another woman, she is almost destroyed. But not quite, because Ellen has a plan, a way to make those who have hurt her suffer.
Leila is the other woman. She finally has everything she ever wanted. But Leila’s brother has come back into her life, raking up a past that needs to stay buried.

One of them will pay for their actions with their life, but which one? Amazon

Then there’s the NetGalley acquisitions… One of which is The Killer On The Wall from the talented Emma Kavanagh which is due to be published on 23 April 2017.

Blurb

The first body comes as a shock
The second brings horror
The third signals the beginning of a nightmare
When fifteen-year-old Isla Bell finds three bodies propped against Hadrian’s Wall, her whole world falls apart. In such a close-knit community, everyone knows the victims, and the man who did it.
Twenty years on and Isla has dedicated her life to forensic psychology; studying the brains of serial killers, and even coming face to face with the convicted murderer who turned her world upside down. She is safe after all, with him behind bars.
Then another body appears against the Wall.
And another.
As the nightmare returns and the body count rises, everyone in town is a suspect.
Who is the Killer on the Wall? NetGalley

As I will be far too busy reading for the next week to acquire anything new – my other finds will wait until next week.

What have you found to read this week? Do share, as you can see I’m always on the lookout for a good book!

tbr-watch

Since my last post I’ve read 3 books and gained 7 so the grand total is inching upwards to 191
Physical Books – 119
Kindle Books – 64
NetGalley Books – 17

Posted in Put A Book On The Map

Put A Book On The Map #BookOnTheMap #Derby

Put A Book On The Map is off to Derby featuring the DI Damen Brook series written by Steven Dunne.  Our blogger guide Mary Mayfield of Our Book Reviews Online has kindly agreed to give us a resident’s view of the area and has kindly  provided the wonderful photos of key spots to illustrate this post

Before Steven Dunne tells us a bit about Derby and of course DI Damen Brook’s life there, here is a little bit about Derby. Derby is also one of the places in Britain who are the furthest from the sea and somewhere that I’ve visited a few times, the Peak District being a popular place to holiday and I’ve actually stayed in Ashbourne as well as paid visits to the spa town of Buxton. But without further ado, I am delighted to introduce Steven Dunne.

D.I. Damen Brook  
1. The Reaper (2007)
2. The Disciple (2010)
3. Deity (2012)
4. The Unquiet Grave (2013)
5. A Killing Moon (2015)
6. Death Do Us Part (2016)

Derby

“Brook hadn’t chosen Derby as a place to live and work. He’d picked up the first available transfer out of London…And Derby hadn’t let him down. It was a pleasingly unremarkable place to lose himself.  An engineering town by tradition, which marked out the population as hard working and straightforward, it also boasted a large and well-integrated Asian population.

Frank Whittle, pioneer of the jet engine, was much honoured in a city where Rolls Royce was the main employer. Derby also had one of the largest railway engineering works in the world.  It was a city built on transport, going nowhere.  Obligatory retail parks ringed the city and much of the population and traffic had followed, making Brook’s neighbourhood, if not any more glamorous, then certainly a little quieter.

And despite the inevitable decline of such an industry-dependent city, crime was not excessive and murder was rare. But what really marked out this East Midlands backwater was the Peak District, a few miles to the north-west.  Brook had fallen in love with it and took every opportunity he could to drive into the hills and soak up the peace of the countryside. Ashbourne, Hartington, Buxton, Bakewell, Carsington Water – all were favoured haunts, where he could dump the car and walk for hours alone, clearing his mind of all the clutter.”

In the first novel of the Reaper series, Detective Inspector Damen Brook describes his new posting in the East Midlands after moving from London. Following a damaging, and only partially successful, struggle to bring the serial killer of the title to justice, Brook’s once-stellar career is on the skids and his marriage over. With his move, he has reconciled himself to a quieter life. Of course, he’s deluding himself and, six books later, Brook’s star begins to rise again because of his dedicated pursuit of justice.

And Brook speaks for me. My reasons for relocating from London to Derby were thankfully more mundane but, when I made the move, I experienced the same reaction to my new home. Brook works in the city – at the real-life St Mary’s Wharf police HQ – but lives in the lovely Peak District village of Hartington. Driving home through the countryside late at night provides him with an essential safety valve when a case threatens to overwhelm him and I often write these into the novels as a break from the high-octane tension of Brook’s investigations.

Derby itself is Britain’s most landlocked city and houses a quarter of a million people. It is home to global brands like Rolls Royce as well as a thriving university, which served as a location in my 5th novel, A Killing Moon. Derby is also, apparently, the most haunted city in the country, though I’ve yet to see one. Ghost walks have been thriving for years centred around the old Derby Gaol.

Brook took a while to see Derby’s virtues after being wrenched from London but neither of us could envisage going back.

By Steven Dunne

Mary Mayfield kindly offered to share her love of this series of books featuring Derby and as well as her brilliant book reviews,  you can also find her tweeting with the handle @marymayf

I first discovered Steven Dunne in 2012 with his third crime thriller Deity. I knew before reading that it was set in my home town of Derby but the only book I’d previously encountered set here was very sketchy on location, and at times the characters’ movements through the city were downright infeasible.

River Derwent

So when I read Deity, I was surprised to recognise the locations as quickly, easily and precisely as I did; in fact when a dead body is slipped into the river Derwent in the second chapter, Dunne gives enough detail that anyone familiar with the area could point to the spot. This accuracy continued throughout the book – the movements of police, victims and suspects could be plotted along familiar streets in the city centre (Waterstones book store gets a nice mention), another ‘incident’ occurs near Exeter bridge a route I regularly take between car park and downtown shops, but for me the most chilling moment came when the killer appeared to be heading to the house of a friend of mine!

 

The Quad, Arts Centre & Cinema

Since then, DI Brook has been finding dead bodies, talking to witnesses and tracking down villains, on golf courses and allotments, at both the sixth form college and the university, in the city’s pubs (always named) and pleasant suburban villages – and whether it’s Brook getting confused by Derby’s one-way system, or someone taking the quickest way on foot from one end of town to the other, I can follow the route in my head or on a map every time.

 

Silk Mill from Exeter Bridge

I think there’s something a little strange about my delight in reading crime thrillers set in places I know so well. I wouldn’t want real crime taking place there (and I certainly hope Derby doesn’t have anything approaching the number of murderers that Brook encounters) but to read about it is a different matter. Maybe it’s like watching a film and feeling that exciting moment of “I’ve been there” recognition, or a certain level of strange pride that Derby could be as famous for fictional crime as Morse’s Oxford or Rebus’s Edinburgh; whatever’s the cause, it does add a certain something to a novel.

Despite the chills I’m rather keen to see a DI Brook novel set in my own suburb. I’ve offered coffee as a bribe to encourage Steven Dunne to come and recce the area – I could point out all the hidden footpaths and alleyways that cut through the estate, all the ways a villain could make a quick getaway if necessary – but so far he’s not taken me up on the offer.

By Mary Mayfield

Read Mary’s review of Deity here which really captures how much we all seem to love books that accurately represent those places we know well.

Derby Guildhall

 

Book Reviews from around the Blogosphere

As we are really putting a whole series of books on the map, I have found a different blogger review for each title. I do hope if you’ve already read all the books, you might well find a new blogger to follow instead!

The Reaper by Euro Crime

The Disciple by Northern Crime

Deity by Our Book Reviews Online

The Unquiet Grave by The Welsh Librarian

The Killing Moon by Book Addict Shaun

Death Do Us Part by For Winter Nights

There are so many brilliant reviews of all the books in this series out there, if you have one why not share the link on twitter today to help put this book on the map!

Now don’t forget to hop over to see Susan The Book Trail to see the details of the book setting on her wonderful maps.

 

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Mary and Steven for this wonderful post bringing to life a whole series worth of brilliant crime thrillers set in Derby.

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Legacy – Yrsa Sigurðardóttir

Crime Fiction
4*s

Well this new series was my introduction to Yrsa Sigurðardóttir the Icelandic author who has come highly recommended. I wouldn’t say I’m an out-and-out lover of Scandi Noir, as some of it is a bit too dark for my tastes, but here goes, here’s  what I thought.

The book opens with a deeply sad meeting of the equivalent to Social Services where three young siblings are separated to be adopted, ‘the only way to give them all a chance says the director, ‘they can’t stay together’.

The story then moves to 2015 when two young boys alert their neighbour because they’ve been unable to wake up their mother. There’s a reason for that, their mother is dead, brutally murdered by someone who has taken killing to a whole different level. Please dear readers, if you are particularly sensitive and prefer your murders to take place ‘off page,’ avoid this book. That said, this isn’t a book where you are bludgeoned by horrific images on every page there is too much else to be absorbed with.

The woman’s seven year old daughter Margret had seen the murderer and she is taken to the Children’s House, a centre where children who have been abused or otherwise caught up in a crime are treated and questioned, to give a witness statement there. The highly trained team which includes child psychologist Freyja, who I suspect may be the link we follow throughout the series. Freyja is compassionate without being overly sentimental and dealt predominantly in common sense which is how I prefer my protagonists to be.

Meanwhile the local Police force has been under fire with many of the lead detectives needing to keep a low profile in both the press and community and so it is that the newly promoted Detective Huldar leads the investigation into the murder of the young mother. He’s aware that should he fail, that will be the end of his career but when he quickly establishes that his victim seemed to have no enemies, he is struggling for a lead. Our Detective Huldar clearly considers himself a bit of a ‘lad’ but since it’s obvious he is so far out of his depth and he gained my sympathy as he kept on turning over those stones in order to solve the mystery. I actually think the better side of his character is shown by his pairing with his partner Rikhardur. He is not the sort of man to heap the awful jobs on someone else, he purposely watches the post-mortem as he understands his position.

In between the scenes at the Children’s House where Freyja attempts, fairly fruitlessly to coax some details from young Margret we meet a group of young men who are friends because of their interest in listening to short wave radio and it seems to one of the group, Karl that the mysterious numbers broadcasts are a coded message meant for him.

With so much going on, I became completely absorbed by this rich complex tale and never forgot that sad opening but struggled to find a link in the main body of the story. Instead the strands hear which all seemed to be diverging in different directions were skilfully nudged into place within the last portion of the book to bring the tale to its stunning conclusion.

I will be looking out for the next book in this series although I hope to explore some of Yrsa Sigurðardóttir back catalogue before then too.

I was lucky enough to be sent this book by Amazon Vine on behalf of the publishers Hodder & Stoughton and this unbiased review is my thanks to them.

First Published UK: 23 March 2017
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
No of Pages:  464
Genre: Crime Fiction – Scandi Noir
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Mount TBR 2017

Cut Short – Leigh Russell

Crime Fiction
3*s

I know, I really don’t need to be starting any new crime series as the ones I have on the go, and try hard to keep up with already fill up a fair few slots on the trusty spreadsheet, but this book was already on my kindle having been purchased three years ago.

Now I’m going to be honest, I wasn’t too sure about Geraldine Steel’s debut outing at first but reminded myself that it is hard to introduce a whole new bunch of characters with enough of a back story to make it into a full series and the plot was definitely an intriguing one.

In Woolmarsh following the breakup of a relationship and she’s looking forward to a quieter life than that she left behind, but it isn’t to be. No sooner has she moved into a gated apartment than a killer strikes leaving behind a woman hidden in the park for a small child to find. Not a great way for Geraldine to start her new life! Partnered with the affable DS Ian Peterson the pair along with the rest of the team are under pressure to apprehend the strangler, particularly when it isn’t long before he strikes again.

There are several strands to the story with one pertaining to someone vandalising Geraldine’s personal property and another narrative from a clearly disturbed man who talks to a woman called Miss Elsie which kept my interest when the police investigation inevitably stalled. All too soon the press are asking questions about the competence of the officers in charge and women are protesting about their safety.

The fact that this series is soon going to be up to book number nine leads me to believe that the character development that perhaps this book would have benefited from, the author having favoured dastardly plotting, will soon be realised. It is all too easy for these police procedurals to feel like a rehash of something done before and yet I did feel that this showed a lot of promise. Yes, Geraldine was prone to going home and drinking wine, but hey, so I’m sure do lots of her readers and they don’t have to wonder which member of this small town out and about strangling people even while the police are on every corner! She isn’t too beset by personal problems although she has the odd reflective moment, but on the whole she uses the fact that she’s single with no personal claims on her time to work. We are told, that she uses her attention to detail and great memory to put together the clues and in this case, it works.

In the first paragraph I alluded to the wealth of characters in this book which can be tricky to manage and Leigh Russell gets over this by introducing them throughout the book as they are required, in many ways this book is almost written for TV which led to a disjointed feel in parts but there was also an awful lot that appealed and I certainly found myself racing towards the ending.

I read this book as part of my Mount TBR Challenge 2017 – this is number 7 out of my target of 36 for the year but… I must put the series books aside as I’m very tempted to buy Road Closed which sort of defeats the point of the challenge.

mount-tbr-2017

 

 

First Published UK: 2009
Publisher: No Exit Press
No of Pages:  435
Genre: Crime Fiction – Police Procedural
Amazon UK
Amazon US