Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Blackbird Season – Kate Moretti

Crime Fiction
4*s

This taut claustrophobic mystery is preceded by a hundreds of starlings falling from the sky during a baseball match giving the inhabitants of Mt. Oanoke in Pennsylvania something to talk about until a much bigger story comes along.

The bigger story is just as unwelcome as having the pitch covered with the corpses of birds. Nate Winters popular teacher is accused of something terrible. Nate isn’t just popular with his pupils, the parents love him, and he is one of their own. Alecia his wife doesn’t know what to believe and nor does his best friend Bridget but this is a story that isn’t going to fade away.

This is a slow-burner of a novel and although it isn’t confusing, there is an awful lot to get to grips with, including child neglect, grief, autism, self-harming, bullying and the list goes on while in the foreground the reader experiences through a man accused, wrongly in his assurances to anyone who will listen, and the way this has a ripple effect throughout the whole town.

This is a book that takes you into a modern school somewhere whose setting is familiar to many but the division of students happens on social media as well as in the classroom. The sympathetic teacher who persuades these near adults to write journals doesn’t have the context of those who follow their lives in this hidden world where alliances are made and rumours strengthened to reality.

I love small town settings and the author really does bring Mt Oanoke to life. This former thriving town where so many of the inhabitants were employed by the mill is now a shadow of its former glory and it’s hardly surprising that many of the teenagers are looking for an escape route. This is a place where eyes are everywhere, except of course when they are needed to see the importance of what is going on, a place where the accused stays with a local police officer as he has nowhere else to go and a place where what happens in the school has consequences for the whole community.

The storyline switches backwards and forwards, fortunately not over a huge time-scale but enough for each of our four main protagonists; Nate, Alecia, Bridget and Lucia to give some background to their reality as well as providing some context for the main storyline. This is a great technique for providing the reader with plenty of different opinions and scenarios to mull over, but possibly it caused it to become overly wordy in places although there is no doubting it helps to add layers of tension and an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness for all four characters which of course is echoed by the setting itself.

I was caught up in the plot, I wanted to know what had happened, and not just to those birds, and as the story wove itself backwards and forwards it was clear that very little of the storyline could be divided into black and white and certainly not the characters.

I’d like to say a big thank you to Titan Books who provided me with a copy to read for review purposes.

First Published UK: 26 September 2017
Publisher: Titan Books
No of Pages: 384
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (September 20)

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 Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti, a tale which starts with birds falling from the sky, this along with the feathers that accompanied the book makes me incredibly glad that I don’t have this particular phobia.

Blurb

Where did they come from? Why did they fall?

In a ​quie​t​ town, a thousand dead starlings fall onto a high school field, unleashing a horrifying and unexpected chain of events that will rock the close-knit community. Beloved coach and teacher Nate Winters and his wife, Alecia, are well respected throughout town. That is, until one of the​ ​reporters investigating the bizarre bird phenomenon catches Nate embracing a student, Lucia Hamm. Lucia soon buoys the scandal by claiming that she and Nate are ​having an affair, throwing the town into an uproar and leaving Alecia to wonder if her husband has a second life. And when Lucia suddenly disappears, the police only have one suspect: Nate.

Nate​’​s coworker, Bridget Harris, is determined to prove his innocence. Bridget knows the key to Nate​’​s exoneration and the truth of Lucia​’​s disappearance lie within the walls of the school and in the pages of ​t​h​e missing girl’s journal.

The Blackbird Season is a haunting, psychologically nuanced suspense, filled with Kate Moretti​’​s signature chillingly satisfying twists and turns.Where did they come from? Why did they fall?

In a ​quie​t​ town, a thousand dead starlings fall onto a high school field, unleashing a horrifying and unexpected chain of events that will rock the close-knit community. Beloved coach and teacher Nate Winters and his wife, Alecia, are well respected throughout town. That is, until one of the​ ​reporters investigating the bizarre bird phenomenon catches Nate embracing a student, Lucia Hamm. Lucia soon buoys the scandal by claiming that she and Nate are ​having an affair, throwing the town into an uproar and leaving Alecia to wonder if her husband has a second life. And when Lucia suddenly disappears, the police only have one suspect: Nate.

Nate​’​s coworker, Bridget Harris, is determined to prove his innocence. Bridget knows the key to Nate​’​s exoneration and the truth of Lucia​’​s disappearance lie within the walls of the school and in the pages of ​t​h​e missing girl’s journal.

The Blackbird Season is a haunting, psychologically nuanced suspense, filled with Kate Moretti​’​s signature chillingly satisfying twists and turns. Amazon

The last book I read was Helen FitzGerald’s My Last Confession – a psychological thriller with a Probation Officer and a murder as the two main protagonists.

Blurb

When she starts her new job as a parole officer, Krissie is happy and in love. Then she meets convicted murderer Jeremy, and begins to believe he may be innocent. Her growing obsession with his case threatens to jeopardise everything – her job, her relationship and her life.

Perfect for fans of Julia Crouch, Sophie Hannah and Laura Lippman, My Last Confession is a dark and compelling psychological thriller that traces a young parole officer and her dangerous obsession with a convicted murderer. Amazon

Next I will be reading Bad Girls from History: Wicked or Misunderstood? by Dee Gordon.

Blurb

You wont be familiar with every one of the huge array of women featured in these pages, but all, familiar or not, leave unanswered questions behind them. The range is extensive, as was the research, with its insight into the lives and minds of women in different centuries, different countries, with diverse cultures and backgrounds, from the poverty stricken to royalty. Mistresses, murderers, smugglers, pirates, prostitutes and fanatics with hearts and souls that feature every shade of black (and grey!).

From Cleopatra to Ruth Ellis, from Boudicca to Bonnie Parker, from Lady Caroline Lamb to Moll Cutpurse, from Jezebel to Ava Gardner. Less familiar names include Mary Jeffries, the Victorian brothel-keeper, Belle Starr, the American gambler and horse thief, La Voisin, the seventeenth-century Queen of all Witches in France but these are random names, to illustrate the variety of the content in store for all those interested in women who defy law and order, for whatever reason. The risque, the adventurous and the outrageous, the downright nasty and the downright desperate all human (female!) life is here. From the lower stratas of society to the aristocracy, class is not a common denominator.

Wicked? Misunderstood? Nave? Foolish? Predatory? Manipulative? Or just out of their time?

Read and decide. Amazon

What do you think? Any of these take your fancy? Please do leave your thoughts in the comments box below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (September 10)

 

Sadly no cute cat photos to lure you in this week as my time has been taken up by work and sleep with of course some obligatory reading squeezed into any spare time.

This Week on the Blog

My week started with my review of One Day in December by Shari Low, a very enjoyable story about four people and the events that changed everything in just 24 hours.

My excerpt post came from My Last Confession by Helen FitzGerald which is about a Parole Officer and a murderer.

This Week in Books featured the authors Caimh O’Donnell, Susie Steiner and Chris Curran.

On Thursday I reviewed the psychological thriller Lost in the Lake by A.J. Waines on its publication day. This compelling tale features some musicians, an accident, a psychotherapist and a lost memory.

My review on Friday was for The Other Mrs Walker by Mary Paulson-Ellis, one of my holiday reads from back in June – I awarded this original story of the search for a dead woman’s identity, the full five stars.

It was back to a psychological thriller for my final review of the week; Her Deadly Secret by Chris Curran, proved to be a five star read involving a missing child.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading The Trespasser by Tana French, the sixth in the Dublin Series by this oh so talented author. Each book in this series can be read as a standalone as unlike many crime fiction series there isn’t a single story arc, or indeed a chief protagonist. Instead one of the characters from earlier in the series may feature in a later book.
The centre of the plot of The Trespasser is about the murder of Aislinn Murray a young woman, identikit to the numerous other women with straight blonde hair and a pout to match, who has had her head bashed in. There is no forced entry to the house and the table is set for two. All the detectives need to do is find the dinner date!

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

Blurb

You can beat one killer. Beating your own squad is a whole other thing.

Being on the Dublin Murder squad is nothing like Detective Antoinette Conway dreamed. Her working life is a stream of thankless cases and harassment. Antoinette is tough, but she’s getting close to the breaking point.
The new case looks like a regular lovers’ quarrel gone bad. Aislinn Murray is blond, pretty and lying dead next to a table set for a romantic dinner. There’s nothing unusual about her – except that Antoinette has seen her somewhere before.

And her death won’t stay neat. Other detectives want her to arrest Aislinn’s boyfriend, fast. There’s a shadowy figure at the end of Antoinette’s road. And everything they find out about Aislinn takes her further from the simple woman she seemed to be.

Antoinette knows the harassment has turned her paranoid, but she can’t tell just how far gone she is. Is this the case that will make her career – or break it? Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

I was lucky to receive a copy of The Blackbird Season by Kate Moretti complete with black feathers that scared me half to death when I stuck my hand in the envelope! This book will be published on 26 September 2017.

Blurb

Where did they come from? Why did they fall?

In a ​quie​t​ town, a thousand dead starlings fall onto a high school field, unleashing a horrifying and unexpected chain of events that will rock the close-knit community. Beloved coach and teacher Nate Winters and his wife, Alecia, are well respected throughout town. That is, until one of the​ ​reporters investigating the bizarre bird phenomenon catches Nate embracing a student, Lucia Hamm. Lucia soon buoys the scandal by claiming that she and Nate are ​having an affair, throwing the town into an uproar and leaving Alecia to wonder if her husband has a second life. And when Lucia suddenly disappears, the police only have one suspect: Nate.

Nate​’​s coworker, Bridget Harris, is determined to prove his innocence. Bridget knows the key to Nate​’​s exoneration and the truth of Lucia​’​s disappearance lie within the walls of the school and in the pages of ​t​h​e missing girl’s journal.

The Blackbird Season is a haunting, psychologically nuanced suspense, filled with Kate Moretti​’​s signature chillingly satisfying twists and turns. Amazon

I was contacted by the author of a new crime fiction series and despite repeatedly reminding myself that I don’t need to add any more of these to the burgeoning pile, I couldn’t resist his kind offer as an ARC. The Last Thread by Ray Britain will be published on 1 October 2017.

Blurb

Accused of pushing a boy to his death in a failed suicide intervention, DCI Doug Stirling is suspended from duty. Attacked in the media and haunted by the boy’s smile as he let go of Stirling’s hand, he must look on helplessly as an incompetent colleague intent on destroying him investigates the boy’s death, supported by the vindictive Deputy Chief Constable, McDonald.

Weeks later, an anonymous call leads the police to a remote location and the discovery of a burnt out car containing the body of an unidentified man who has been savagely murdered. Short of experienced senior investigators, ACC Steph Tanner has no choice but to take a professional risk. Throwing Stirling the lifeline he needs to restore his reputation, Tanner appoints him as SIO to lead the investigation.

But with no witnesses, no forensic evidence and more theories than investigators, Stirling’s investigation has far too many ‘loose threads’ as he uncovers a complex, interwoven history of deception, betrayal and sadistic relationships. Was the victim connected to the crime scene? Is the murder as complex as it appears? Or is there a simpler explanation?
Still traumatised by the boy’s death and with time the enemy, does Stirling still have what it takes to bring the killer, or killers, to justice before McDonald intervenes?

Things are already difficult enough when DC Helen Williams joins the investigation, a determined woman who seems intent on rekindling their past relationship. And is Ayesha, the beautiful lawyer Stirling has grown fond of, connected to the murder somehow? Amazon

I was also the proud recipient of The Frozen Woman by Jon Michelet with the book named Norway’s Best Crime Novel which has been translated into English for the first time and will be published on 21 September 2017.

Blurb

A FROZEN BODY
A MURDERED BIKER
A RADICAL LAWYER WITH A MURKY PAST

In the depths of the Norwegian winter, the corpse of a woman is discovered in the garden of a notorious left-wing lawyer, Vilhelm Thygesen. She has been stabbed to death.

A young biker, a member of a gang once represented by Thygesen, dies in suspicious circumstances.

As Thygesen receives anonymous threats, investigating detectives Stribolt and Vaage uncover a web of crime and violence extending far beyond Norway’s borders.

Does the frozen woman hold the key? Amazon

And if that wasn’t enough I had to buy a copy of A Patient Fury by Sarah Ward which was published on 7 September 2017 having fallen in love with this DC Childs series (In Bitter Chill and A Deadly Thaw)



Blurb

When Detective Constable Connie Childs is dragged from her bed to the fire-wrecked property on Cross Farm Lane she knows as she steps from the car that this house contains death.

Three bodies discovered – a family obliterated – their deaths all seem to point to one conclusion: One mother, one murderer.

But D.C. Childs, determined as ever to discover the truth behind the tragedy, realises it is the fourth body – the one they cannot find – that holds the key to the mystery at Cross Farm Lane.

What Connie Childs fails to spot is that her determination to unmask the real murderer might cost her more than her health – this time she could lose the thing she cares about most: her career. Amazon

And I also had to buy a copy of The New Mrs Clifton by Elizabeth Buchan after reading so many great reviews from around the blogosphere of this book

(here’s just one to wet your appetite)

Blurb

‘Wrapped in the roots of the sycamore was a skeleton; the remains of a woman, between twenty-five and thirty. She had carried a child . . .’

At the close of the Second World War, Intelligence Officer Gus Clifton returns to London. On his arm is Krista, the German wife he married secretly in Berlin. For his sisters, this broken woman is nothing more than the enemy. For Nella, Gus’s loyal fiancée, it is a terrible betrayal. These three friends wonder what hold Krista has over decent, honourable Gus. And, they ask themselves, how far will they have to go to permanently get her out of their home, their future, their England? Amazon

 

What have you found to read this week? Any of these take your fancy?

tbr-watch

Since my last post I’ve read 3 books, discarded 1 and gained 5
Making a Grand Total of 179
Physical Books – 100
Kindle Books – 62
NetGalley Books – 17