Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2016, Book Review, Books I have read

Standing in the Shadows – Jon Stasiak

Crime Fiction 3*s
Crime Fiction
3*s

Tom Nowak is a photographer for the Jersey Evening Post, the local newspaper, but he does freelance work too and is planning his first exhibition of his work. He lives with his girlfriend, a nurse and life is certainly better than it was now that the break-up with his wife is in the past and on the mainland, Tom is free to appreciate the different way of life offered in Jersey.

When his oldest childhood friend comes for a visit a walk is planned in the local woods. Nothing odd there, a perfectly normal Sunday activity. Tom as always takes his camera and when viewing the photos back later, can see shadowy figures that weren’t visible to the group at the time they were posing. The next day a body is found, in the same spot that the group of friends stood and Tom is dispatched in his role of press photographer back to the scene. By the time he arrives it is common knowledge that this is a murder enquiry, the dead woman a Polish woman who’d moved to Jersey for a better way of life.

Now before I go any further with this review, I need to restate that I am not a fan of the paranormal, at all. Rarely do I keep reading when this phenomenon rears its head, but I kept going for two reasons: This book is set where I live and I rarely get an opportunity to read a crime novel set on an island with very little crime, and secondly, this is my last of my 20 books of summer 2016 – yes I know summer is long over but I was determined to make my way through the books I selected before the end of the year!

In short it appears that Tom is receiving predictions of murders through his photographs and he becomes more and more obsessed with the idea that he can help prevent more murders (the bodies keep coming) and give comfort to the grieving families. Although as I kept reading I got annoyed with Tom, as does his girlfriend, and friends as endless pages are taken up with his feelings, endless justification of letting his life slide as he reviews and re-reviews his photos which for me was fortunately broken up with accurate descriptions of an island that has been my home for over a quarter of a century.

Although the author doesn’t even attempt to describe the local politics in this book he covers many other truisms about Jersey like the fact that one of the private boy’s schools looks more like Hogwarts, than Hogwarts; when we have visitors arriving by plane, we all leave town at the expected landing time because the time to drive there is usually a perfect match to how long it takes for people to disembark and pick up their bags; we all have Jersey airport arrivals as a favourite webpage not least because of the fog which disrupts life constantly!  For those of us who live here for real, we’re lucky and don’t have a vast number of crime but the drunks in the beautiful park opposite the hospital are a permanent fixture, when I came to the island their predecessors were glue sniffers and the couple that won’t, or are unable to abide by the shelter rules sleep behind cars in the car-park around the corner, these truisms are deftly worked into the plot. However, because the story is local some of the author’s beliefs feel a bit too personal, as Tom remarks early on, you have to check that who you are speaking to, is not related to or friends with, the person you are making snide remarks about here. I definitely found it harder to be objective about details which would probably wash over me if the setting wasn’t one I know so intimately.

So although the plot dragged for reasons which I will put down to my antipathy for the paranormal aspects I was pleased I persevered because the ending was both a surprise and made some of my complaints about earlier sections of the book irrelevant thus boosting my overall enjoyment. Those of you who don’t have issues with ghosts and Ghoulies may enjoy this atmospheric read even more than I did.

First Published UK: 20 December2015
Publisher: Independent publishing
No of Pages: 322
Genre: Crime Fiction – Paranormal
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (December 7)

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

My current read is The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle a psychological thriller set in the US. When her husband Will dies in a plane crash that he wasn’t supposed to be on, his wife Iris questions everything that she thought she knew to be true from their seven years of marriage.

the-marriage-lie

See the synopsis and a short extract in yesterday’s post

I have just finished The Stepmother by Claire Seeber. With its opening coming from Snow White we all know what this story holds, don’t we?

The Stepmother

Blurb

The perfect wife. A fairytale family. Don’t believe your eyes…

Jeanie and Matthew are a happily married couple who both have teenage children from previous relationships.
No one said it would be easy to raise a blended family under one roof but Jeanie and Matthew are strong. They will make it work.
And whilst Jeanie’s step-daughter Scarlett rejects her, Jeanie will just have to try harder to win her over.
But Jeanie has a past. A terrible secret she thought she’d buried a long time ago. And now, it’s coming to the surface, threatening to destroy her new marriage.
Someone is playing a terrifying game on Jeanie and she must put a stop to it once and for all.
After all, a fairytale needs a happy ending … doesn’t it? NetGalley

Next I am going to finally read Standing in the Shadows by Jon Stasiak with a book set on the island of Jersey. Fortunately the author lives here so he shouldn’t make any errors with the setting in this novel with a murder at its heart.

Standing in the shadows

Blurb

The discovery of a brutally murdered young woman has shocked a peaceful island community. Tom Nowak, photographer for the Jersey Evening Post, had been eagerly awaiting his best friend’s visit from the mainland, until accidentally capturing a series of ghostly silhouettes in his pictures. With few leads, and the impending trial of the island’s most notorious criminal, the local police force seems powerless to help. Are these ethereal shadows a way to identify and apprehend the murderer, or will Tom’s obsession in seeking justice cost him more than his career? Amazon

What are you reading this week? Do share your links and thoughts in the comments box below.

Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2016

20 Books of Summer 2016! Part II #20booksofsummer

20 Books of Summer 2016

Cathy at Cathy 746 has a yearly challenge to read twenty books over the summer months starting on 1 June 2016 and running until 5 September 2016, and I’ve decided to join her.

As I’m competitive I signed up for the full twenty. My personal challenge is to read these twenty books from my bookshelf, physical books that I already own before the end of the challenge. I’m on book nine at the moment (although only up to review number five) and as I only chose the first ten books at the start, I promised I’d add the second set half way through the challenge – so here we are books eleven to twenty!

Books 11 to 20 Summer 2016

The Narrow Bed by Sophie Hannah

The Twins by Saskia Sarginson

They Did It With Love by Kate Morgenroth

Standing In The Shadows by Jon Stasiak

Did She Kill Him? by Kate Colquhoun

The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

Tea by the Nursery Fire by Noel Streatfeild

The Chemistry of Death by Simon Beckett

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

I have been joining Cathy by tweeting my way through the challenge using the hashtag #20booksofsummer. Each of my posts for this challenge have the logo and the number of the book attached.

Like last year there is a master page linking the titles to my reviews as they are posted.

So what do you think of the second half of my choices? Do you have any suggestions on where I should start or perhaps you think some of these need to be put back on the shelf and forgotten about? All comments welcomed!

Posted in Weekly Posts

Stacking the Shelves (April 2)

Stacking the shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you’re adding to your shelves, be it buying or borrowing. From ‘real’ books you’ve purchased, a book you’ve borrowed, a book you’ve been given or an e-book they can all be shared.

Having been captivated by the recent true life cases I’ve read about poisoners with Last Woman Hanged by Catherine Overington and then Mrs Maybrick by Victoria Blake I was lucky enough to receive and review The Secret Poisoner by Stratmann which is a comprehensive look at poisoning in the nineteenth century so you’d think that was enough poison for one person, but no, I have now bought a copy of Poisoned Lives: English Poisoners and Their Victims by Katherine Watson!

Poisoned Lives

Blurb

Poisoners from Mary Anne Cotton, the Victorian mass murderess, to Dr Crippen have attracted a celebrity unmatched by violent killers. Secretly administered, often during a family meal, arsenic (the most commonly used poison) led to a slow and agonising death, while strychnine (with its faint smell of almonds) could kill very quickly. Poisoned Lives is the first history of the crime to examine poisoning as a whole. Unwanted husbands, wives or lovers, illegitimate babies, children killed for the insurance money, relatives, rivals and employers were amongst the many victims. Difficult to detect before 1800, poison undoubtedly had its heyday in the nineteenth century. In response to many suspected cases, forensic tests were developed that made detection increasingly likely. The sale of poisons also became much more tightly controlled. Because of this, twentieth-century poisoning became a crime carried out largely by professionals, notably doctors and nurses, including Harold Shipman and Beverley Allitt. Amazon

Through the post I got a surprise package from Corvus; Distress Signals by Irish author, Catherine Ryan Howard which will be published on 5 May 2016.

Distress Signals

Blurb

Did she leave, or was she taken?
The day Adam Dunne’s girlfriend, Sarah, fails to return from a Barcelona business trip, his perfect life begins to fall apart. Days later, the arrival of her passport and a note that reads ‘I’m sorry – S’ sets off real alarm bells. He vows to do whatever it takes to find her. Adam is puzzled when he connects Sarah to a cruise ship called the Celebrate – and to a woman, Estelle, who disappeared from the same ship in eerily similar circumstances almost exactly a year before. To get the answers, Adam must confront some difficult truths about his relationship with Sarah. He must do things of which he never thought himself capable. And he must try to outwit a predator who seems to have found the perfect hunting ground…Amazon

My friend lent me a copy of Standing in the Shadows by Jon Stasiak which she won in the Jersey Evening Post, the way we Islanders keep abreast of all the local news!

Standing in the shadows

Blurb

The discovery of a brutally murdered young woman has shocked a peaceful island community.
Tom Nowak, photographer for the Jersey Evening Post, had been eagerly awaiting his best friend’s visit from the mainland, until accidentally capturing a series of ghostly silhouettes in his pictures.
With few leads, and the impending trial of the island’s most notorious criminal, the local police force seems powerless to help.
Are these ethereal shadows a way to identify and apprehend the murderer, or will Tom’s obsession in seeking justice cost him more than his career. Amazon

From NetGalley I have a copy of The Good Mother by A.L. Bird which I was resisting because I thought it was by a new to me author, and then I found out this is Amy Bird who wrote Hide and Seek, which I really enjoyed!

The Good Mother

Blurb

The greatest bond. The darkest betrayal.
Susan wakes up alone in a room she doesn’t recognise, with no memory of how she got there. She only knows that she is trapped, and her daughter is missing.
The relief that engulfs her when she hears her daughter’s voice through the wall is quickly replaced by fear, knowing that whoever has imprisoned her has her daughter, too.
Devising a plan to keep her daughter safe, Susan begins to get closer to her unknown captor. And suddenly, she realises that she has met him before. NetGalley

The Good Mother will be published by Carina UK on 4 April 2016.

I completely through away the rule book and requested a copy of A Tapping at my Door by David Jackson which is due to be published on 7 April 2016 by Bonnier Publishing.

A Tapping at my Door

Blurb

A woman at home in Liverpool is disturbed by a persistent tapping at her back door. She’s disturbed to discover the culprit is a raven, and tries to shoo it away. Which is when the killer strikes. DS Nathan Cody, still bearing the scars of an undercover mission that went horrifyingly wrong, is put on the case. But the police have no leads, except the body of the bird – and the victim’s missing eyes. As flashbacks from his past begin to intrude, Cody realises he is battling not just a murderer, but his own inner demons too. And then the killer strikes again, and Cody realises the threat isn’t to the people of Liverpool after all – it’s to the police. Following the success and acclaim of the Callum Doyle novels, A Tapping at My Door is the first instalment of David Jackson’s new Nathan Cody series. NetGalley

And finally I simply had to have a copy of A Life Discarded by Alexander Masters when it came up on a list of books being offered by Lovereading – this sounded like a unique read and I had it on my wishlist before I was approved by HarperCollins UK, 4th Estate. A Life Discarded will be published on 5 May 2016.

A Life Discarded

Blurb

Unique, transgressive and as funny as its subject, A Life Discarded has all the suspense of a murder mystery. Written with his characteristic warmth, respect and humour, Masters asks you to join him in celebrating an unknown and important life left on the scrap heap.
A Life Discarded is a biographical detective story. In 2001, 148 tattered and mould-covered notebooks were discovered lying among broken bricks in a skip on a building site in Cambridge. Tens of thousands of pages were filled to the edges with urgent handwriting. They were a small part of an intimate, anonymous diary, starting in 1952 and ending half a century later, a few weeks before the books were thrown out. Over five years, the award-winning biographer Alexander Masters uncovers the identity and real history of their author, with an astounding final revelation. Amazon

How good do these finds sound? I think I have fair bit of variety here; true-crime, a murder set in a local setting, a couple of psychological thrillers, the start of a new crime series and a book about the provenance of a diary!

PicMonkey Collage TBR

TBR WATCH
Since my last count I have read 6 books, and gained, 6 so the total has remained the same 172 books!
87 physical books
68 e-books
17 books on NetGalley

 

What have you found to read this week?