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

Past Tense – Margot Kinberg

Crime Fiction
4*s

Tiltton University is not the quiet place of learning all the staff and students could hope for when the construction workers move in to build a new performing arts centre. And then work stops because there is something buried in the site that ruined everyone’s day.

Kramer walked slowly in the direction Stephens had indicated. Then he stopped short. His face drained of colour and he gulped twice. He could see it clearly — a bone sticking up out of the dirt he’d been preparing to move.

Tilton police detectives Donna Crandall and her partner Ron Zuniga are called to the scene and it isn’t long before the bones are sent off to be dated. The result is that the skeleton is that of a young man, and he died some forty years ago but he didn’t bury himself so it must be murder but how on earth do you go about investigating a crime that old?

Never fear because the detectives have Joel Williams, The Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at Tilton University, a former detective now academic, is only too willing to use his skills to assist. Before long the Police and the campus sleuth have a name; Bryan Roades a twenty year old who went missing in the 70s. Could his determination to emulate his heroes in the investigative journalism world on the campus newspaper have led to someone wanting him out of the way?

This is my first Joel Williams story although this is actually Margot Kinberg’s third book in the series featuring the academic detective and I’m pleased to report Past Tense reads perfectly as a stand-alone novel. The crime aspect was one of my favourite tropes; I love it when those who commit a crime think they are home and dry only for them to be caught years after the fact. This is particularly true in this novel as the article Brian Roades was working on was about women’s lib and of course attitudes have changed dramatically in the past forty years, so I suspect if anything the uncovering of the truth had far more impact than it may have done if he’d been allowed to write his story back then, but that of course is mere speculation on my part!

Margot Kinberg structures the novel well always keeping the mystery in clear line of sight and thankfully her investigative professor is a normal man, without angst and is somewhat self-effacing which gives the book a less aggressive feel than some modern crime novels, not that life as part of the campus staff is without its petty rivalries, this is no cosy mystery! I always imagine life in academia to be somewhat rarefied, however with this book written by someone living that life, I’ve been totally disabused of that opinion but it is an illusion shattered by some great characters and some fabulous dialogue that helped establish the setting, and opinions, for the modern angle of the crime and its discovery as well as giving enough references to take us back twenty years to the heart of the crime.

I have been a long-time reader, and admirer of Margot’s blog, Confessions of a Mystery Novelist… and I have to admit to being slightly apprehensive about read this book – what if I didn’t like it? But not to fear, I thoroughly enjoyed the mystery, the plotting and the writing style, a book without gratuitous violence but not so sanitised that it felt too sugary for this crime loving reader. I will definitely be keeping up with Joel in the future and I’m looking forward to my next visit to Tilton University.

Past Tense was my seventeenth read in the Mount TBR challenge and I’m pleased to announce is my last review of the backlog dating from June!

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First Published UK: 1 November 2016
Publisher: Grey Cells Press
No of Pages:  428
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (November 7)

Weekly Wrap Up

Well the wind and rain has started here so all the more excuse to tuck myself up and enjoy some good books.

This Week on the Blog

My week started with a five star review of My Sister’s Bones by Nuala Ellwood which reflected my pleasant surprise at how the author’s decision to feature the main protagonist as a war reporter was used in such an intelligent way. This book was just full of surprises.

Tuesday had me featuring the opening paragraph from While You Were Sleeping by Kathryn Croft, her latest psychological thriller where we meet a married woman who wakes up naked in bed next to her neighbour, only to realise he’s been murdered. I’ve finished this read now, and my review will follow shortly.

My weekly This Week in Books post indicted that my next read would be Great Small Things by Jodi Picoult which I’m currently immersed in.

Another review on Thursday, this time for Cut to the Bone by Alex Caan which featured the world of vloggers amongst many other things, in this exciting, high action thriller.

On Friday I reviewed For All Our Sins by T.M.E. Walsh, the first in a series featuring DCI Claire Winters. There was a lot to enjoy in this debut and enough to ensure that the next book has made it to the wishlist…

Which brings me neatly to my re-visit of the TBR Book Tag in which I first counted and confronted my TBR on 6 November 2015 – see how my TBR fared over the year here.

This Time Last Year

I read one of the books that made it to my Top Ten list for 2015 – The Hidden Legacy by G.J. Minett which absolutely wowed me. On the surface this is a book with a truly shocking opening and a woman who inherits a house and doesn’t understand why. On a deeper level the reader is challenged to question whether right and wrong is as black and white as we would like it to be.  See my review here

The Hidden Legacy Cover Reveal

Ellen has received a life-changing inheritance. If only she knew who had left it to her . . .

1966. A horrifying crime at a secondary school, with devastating consequences for all involved.

2008. A life-changing gift, if only the recipient can work out why . . .

Recently divorced and with two young children, Ellen Sutherland is up to her elbows in professional and personal stress. When she’s invited to travel all the way to Cheltenham to hear the content of an old woman’s will, she’s far from convinced the journey will be worthwhile.

But when she arrives, the news is astounding. Eudora Nash has left Ellen a beautiful cottage worth an amount of money that could turn her life around. There’s just one problem – Ellen has never even heard of Eudora Nash.

Her curiosity piqued, Ellen and her friend Kate travel to the West Country in search of answers. But they are not the only ones interested in the cottage, and Ellen little imagines how much she has to learn about her past . . . Amazon


Stacking the Shelves

As anyone who read yesterday’s post will know, I need to seriously cut down on the number of books I acquire so be warned, this may be the last bumper post for a while…

From NetGalley I have been lucky enough to receive a copy of Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land, I just can’t resist the early hype for this psychological thriller which will be published on 12 January 2017.

good-me-bad-me

Blurb

‘NEW N A M E . NEW F A M I LY. S H I N Y. NEW. ME .
‘ Annie’s mother is a serial killer. The only way she can make it stop is to hand her in to the police. But out of sight is not out of mind. As her mother’s trial looms, the secrets of her past won’t let Annie sleep, even with a new foster family and name – Milly. A fresh start. Now, surely, she can be whoever she wants to be. But Milly’s mother is a serial killer. And blood is thicker than water.
Good me, bad me. She is, after all, her mother’s daughter…

I saw a wonderful review for The House of Birds by Morgan McCarthy on The Quiet Knitter’s Blog and was delighted to be approved a copy too. The House of Birds was published on 3 November 2016.

house-of-birds

Blurb

Oliver has spent years trying to convince himself that he’s suited to a life of money making in the city, and that he doesn’t miss a childhood spent in pursuit of mystery, when he cycled around the cobbled lanes of Oxford, exploring its most intriguing corners.
When his girlfriend Kate inherits a derelict house – and a fierce family feud – she’s determined to strip it, sell it and move on. For Oliver though, the house has an allure, and amongst the shelves of discarded, leather bound and gilded volumes, he discovers one that conceals a hidden diary from the 1920s.
So begins a quest: to discover the identity of the author, Sophia Louis. It is a portrait of war and marriage, isolation and longing and a story that will shape the future of the abandoned house – and of Oliver – forever. NetGalley

My pre-ordered copy of fellow blogger, Margot Kinberg’s book Past Tense dutifully arrived on my kindle on publication day 1 November 2016. If you haven’t visited Margot, I can’t recommend her blog highly enough, here is her publication day post

past-tense

Blurb

A long-buried set of remains…a decades-old mystery

Past and present meet on the quiet campus of Tilton University when construction workers unearth a set of unidentified bones.
For former police detective-turned-professor Joel Williams, it’s a typical Final Exams week – until a set of bones is discovered on a construction site…

When the remains are linked to a missing person case from 1974, Williams and the Tilton, Pennsylvania police go back to the past. And they uncover some truths that have been kept hidden for a long time.

How much do people really need to know?

It’s 1974, and twenty-year-old Bryan Roades is swept up in the excitement of the decade. He’s a reporter for the Tilton University newspaper, The Real Story, and is determined to have a career as an investigative journalist, just like his idols, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. He plans to start with an exposé article about life on the campus of Tilton University. But does everything need to be exposed? And what are the consequences for people whose lives could be turned upside down if their stories are printed? As it turns out, Bryan’s ambition carries a very high price. And someone is determined not to let the truth out. Amazon

I have also been lucky enough to receive a proof copy of A Life Between Us by Louise Walters which came with a lovely handwritten note from this author who delighted me with her earlier novel Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase. A Life Between Us will be published on 28 March 2017.

a-life-between-us

Blurb

Tina’s sister Meg died in a childhood accident, but for almost forty years Tina has secretly blamed herself for her twin’s death. During a visit to her Uncle Edward and his sister Lucia, who both harbour dark secrets of their own, Tina makes a discovery that forces her to question her memories of the day Meg died.

As Tina finds the courage to face the past, she unravels the mysteries of her estranged parents, her beautiful Aunt Simone, the fading, compassionate Uncle Edward, and above all, the cold, bitter Aunt Lucia, whose spectral presence casts a long shadow over them all.

The second novel from the author of MRS SINCLAIR’S SUITCASE is a gripping tale of a family’s disintegration and eventual redemption. Goodreads

I also was posted a copy of A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys, again with a lovely message which made my day. A Dangerous Crossing will be published in April 2017.

dangerous-crossing

Blurb

It was a first class deception that would change her life forever
1939, Europe on the brink of war. Lily Shepherd leaves England on an ocean liner for Australia, escaping her life of drudgery for new horizons. She is instantly seduced by the world onboard: cocktails, black-tie balls and beautiful sunsets. Suddenly, Lily finds herself mingling with people who would otherwise never give her the time of day.
But soon she realizes her glamorous new friends are not what they seem. The rich and hedonistic Max and Eliza Campbell, mysterious and flirtatious Edward, and fascist George are all running away from tragedy and scandal even greater than her own.
By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and life will never be the same again. Goodreads

PicMonkey Collage TBR

TBR WATCH

Since my last post I have read 3 books, discarded two part-read books that I’m not going to pick up again, and managed to gain 5 and so my TBR is standing at 181 books!

95 physical books
68 e-books
18 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?