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Sunday 14 April 2024

You Are Here by David Nicholls


Not having read anything by this author, it probably took me no more than a handful of pages to ask myself, WHY have I not I read anything by this author?

It's a romance; it's an organic, down-to-earth romance with two very likeable main characters. With such witty, sharp and credible dialogue, I can't help thinking this author would be a very entertaining guest at one of those 'which ten people present or past would you invite to a dinner party'.

It's about two lonely people (Marnie and Michael) who meet on a challenging group walk. But, are they lonely or just alone? That's the beauty of Nicholls' writing…the question is cleverly and beautifully examined.

I thoroughly enjoyed this and loved being in Marnie and Michael's company. The minute I finished it, I headed straight to Amazon to seek out Nicholls' other books. He'll never be at my dinner party, of course, but I'll have many hours in his company.


Saturday 30 March 2024

Promoted with Tenure by KB Fisher


While this calls itself a murder mystery, the actual murder investigation (of a university professor, which is just for starters) plays second fiddle. The main player seems to be the politics, in-house fighting and battles for power that go on in a university…well, this university. I found it tedious and rather laboured, as there is a lot of jargon (academic and entomological) used, which went way over my head. Whilst some of this narrative is necessary to explain the motives for the murder(s), it's overdone. (Full synopsis here)

One other criticism is that there are a few chapters dedicated to flashbacks, but no indication that that's what they are; the chapters merely have a number and no title, so it takes a few minutes to realise, oh, hang on, we've gone back in time here.

However, I was impressed by the writing. The author is very articulate, and I did like the way he described mannerisms, his characters, their personalities…he's very adept at word-painting a scene.

I enjoyed this, albeit with some reservations, and I certainly wasn't expecting who did it!

Friday 22 March 2024

The Final Hours of Muriel Hinchcliffe M.B.E by Claire Parkin


I wonder how many people are old enough (one of whom would be me!) to remember the very dark, rather lurid, psychological horror film 'Whatever Happened to Baby Jane' because it kept popping into my head as I was reading this. It's many many degrees removed from this, of course, but there is just a teensy essence of similarity. 

We have two women, 'friends' since childhood, one now in a wheelchair, living together in their dotage, but who actually aren't very friendly to each other at all. They are both rather toxic and not wholly likeable and you do, albeit a bit uncharitably, consider they are actually well suited to each other. (Full synopsis here)

It makes for difficult reading sometimes, but, it is deliciously dark and twisted and well written. I didn't foresee the ending…the 'gosh, I didn't see that coming' finale is invariably the icing on a cake of a good read.

Tuesday 5 March 2024

A Beginner's Guide to Breaking and Entering by Andrew Hunter Murray


I just didn't want this to end. The narrator's voice is very, very engaging: a little cynical, very witty and all round jolly good fun. It tapped right into my sense of humour.

Al (the narrator) is, as he likes to call himself, an 'interloper'. Others would probably describe it as 'breaking and entering'. He is very particular about the difference. He merely stays in empty houses whilst their owner(s) is/are away on some exotic far-away holiday or in one of their other houses. He doesn't steal anything. He merely temporarily resides in an empty house. He's managed to do this for a good decade, following a meticulous set of rules and always on his own: until events lead him to co-'interloping' with three others, which is when it all goes wrong. Very, very wrong.

This is wonderfully easy to read and even easier to immerse yourself into the characters, all of whom are really rather captivating and fascinating. It's very well written and keeps you entertained right to the end.

Al never explains what led him to an 'interloping' career, he never explains what the nefarious deeds of his past were, but quite often alludes to, and never tells the reader his real name. I was just slightly miffed that these questions remained unanswered, but it doesn't alter my five-star rating and very certainly won't prevent me seeking out this author's other books.

Friday 23 February 2024

And Now There's Zelda by Carolyn Clarke


This is Clarke's second book after 'And Then There's Margaret', which I thoroughly enjoyed, once I'd ignored the 'dramedy' banner on that novel. It's a very entertaining, well-written family drama, it's just not funny, merely misgenred!

I was very much looking forward to catching up with Ally and co, now dealing with a new addition to her family…her son's new girlfriend/fiancée. Whilst Ally had to deal with Margaret come what may, being her husband's mother, she's quite hell-bent on ejecting Zelda from the family fold, convinced she's not the right girlfriend/fiancée/wife material for her much-loved son.

Again, it's a very enjoyable ride of ups and downs as Ally and Zelda navigate their relationship. It's a very worthy sequel to Clarke's previous novel and the characters are all very real and credible, and could quite happily be your family nextdoor who you'd be popping in to see regularly.

I think the 'And then/now there's…' might have been wrung out now, but I'll more than happily read another Ally life episode or indeed anything else by this author.

See Also:

Thursday 15 February 2024

I Will Find You by Harlan Coben


Believe it or not, this is my debut Coben, and now I'm wondering why I haven't picked him up before.

Gosh, what a page turner. And what a writer. I think I picked a good 'un to get a taste of this author.

Serving a life sentence for murdering his young son, David Burroughs is innocent. Five years into his sentence, his sister-in-law finds evidence that there is no doubt his son is alive. The only way he can prove his innocence is to break out of prison and to then find and save his son. (Full synopsis here)

This is a tense and white-knuckle ride and utterly unputdownable. It's well strategised; it has a very credible unfurling and reveal, and is gripping right to the end.

Obviously, I'm going to pick up many more Cobens!

Wednesday 24 January 2024

Island in the Sun by Katie Fforde


This isn't my number one genre, but I do like to pepper my reading list with the occasional romance for all its clicheness, predictability, inevitable happy-ever-after ending and if I'm honest, the cheesiness of it all!

This ticks all those boxes, it's true. We have the girl (Cass), we have the (older) man (Ranulph), a lovely sunny (bit prone to hurricanes) island (Dominica), there's the ex, and then there are the misunderstandings. All the right ingredients and although the dish comes out cooked, it's all a bit bland, lacking in spice. (Full synopsis here)

Cass is annoying to the point you want to slap her and tell her to grow up and get over herself. The rest of the characters are all a bit like cardboard cut-outs with no substance or emotion. The Dominican setting is authentic (which the author explains at the end) and almost makes you want to put the island on your must-see list, so job well done there.

But I did enjoy the author's writing, and I was invested enough to see it through to the end. It's an above-average-edited book, which is refreshing, although the author or the editor got in a bit of pickle with step-siblings and half-siblings…probably best to clarify themselves on that one.

Not a 'wow, amazing' book, but a decent enough read.

Tuesday 16 January 2024

A Curtain Twitcher's Book of Murder by Gay Marris


This is Roald-Dahl-esque: dark, with a hint of comedy and a good deal of murder, all in one leafy suburban neighbourhood, Atbara Avenue.

At first it feels like a collection of short stories, as each chapter focusses on one household, but the residents weave in and out of each other's lives (and houses) and make regular appearances. The ones that aren't victims, that is. (Full synopsis here)

I've not read any books by this author, but I did love her style of writing. So very articulate, intelligent, expressive and her use of language made me devour and relish every single word. She masterfully paints a picture with her vocabulary and phraseology, and every character and scene comes to life, almost colourfully.

I did feel I needed some more answers with some of the outcomes of the unfortunate victims, but other than that, this is a delightfully entertaining read. This is Marris's first book, so she's crashed into the literary scene with quite a corker. (But I hope she tells her editor it's 'a historic', not 'an historic'.)  I'll definitely be looking out for her second book.

Sunday 31 December 2023

What July Knew by Emily Koch

This is certainly a very compelling novel, though at times, a little hard to read what July has to endure.

It's a family drama packed with emotion, poignancy and heartbreak. It centres on twelve-year-old July, who clings to the eighteen things she knows about her deceased mum because her dad and stepmum won't talk about her to her. Nor will her grandparents albeit for different reasons. But she's desperate for her only parent to love and cherish her, so she does as she's told. But Dad isn't the sort of father anyone would want. (Full synopsis here)

The storyline rolls out very strategically and at a good pace. July is a character you just can't help loving. However, her twelve-year-old voice just isn't credible. Twelve going on twenty-two, perhaps. Her sagacity and logic just isn't that of a pre-teen.

It didn't spoil my enjoyment of an extremely well-written and enjoyable book, however. I loved it. This isn't Koch's first novel, but it is the first of hers I've read. I will definitely be seeking out more!

Monday 18 December 2023

Small Hours by Bobby Palmer


Palmer's debut novel, Isaac and the Egg was my book of 2022, so of course, I pounced on his second.

Palmer is a genius with words and has succeeded in following up his superb debut novel as poignantly and perceptively. Isaac and the Egg dealt with grief. This deals with regrets, unfulfilled dreams, disappointments, the missed opportunities of four members of a family and a devastating disease of one of them, which makes for a considerably more intense read. Jack doesn't talk to his father. Charlotte, his sister, doesn't talk to Jack. Why does his father have reminders all over the house, and where the heck is his mother? (Full synopsis here)

Yes. Intense. Oh, I forgot the fox. Who's surprisingly wise.

I have just one 'but'. Isaac's egg talked (well, grunted, really). Jack's fox was a good deal more talkative and intelligible. (You really do have to read these books to get it!) I think Mr P has covered talking animals and dairy products pretty well now.

Whatever he writes next, though, I'll be snapping it up!

See also:

Sunday 3 December 2023

Every Silent Thing by Alan Brenham


I first read a book by this author nine years ago (Price of Justice), and my review of it reminded me how much I enjoyed it, so I had no hesitation at all picking up another by him. It's another fast-paced thriller. Full synopsis here.

There are murders on opposite sides of the world, there's a missing USB stick, cartel thugs, the Eiffel Tower, three random French words and triplets, one of whom is deaf. So…how are they all connected? A seemingly difficult-to-solve puzzle for the reader, but it all unfurls strategically with a lot of suspense and action to move it along at a cracking pace.

There's rather a lot more 'telling' than 'showing', and I did feel some difficult, tragic even, events needed more emotional display by the characters. Nonetheless, this is a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining novel that keeps you on your toes, wondering how the main protagonists are going to keep a life-saving distance from the ruthless baddies…there are a lot of train rides involved, that's for sure!

See also:

Wednesday 29 November 2023

The Woman on the Ledge by Ruth Mancini

I first read a novel by this author five years ago and promised myself, despite a few niggles with it, I'd read another, as she'd made quite an impression. You always hope the standard is going to be kept. And it certainly is.

This is compelling, well written, superbly characterised and totally captivating. The Woman on the Ledge: well, it's what you expect. A woman does indeed fall to her death from a high ledge, but nothing is quite as it seems. Why did she do it? DID she do it, or was she pushed? Tate Kinsella is a suspect, but there's something she's keeping from the police. And her lawyer. Full synopsis here.

And there begins the tangled web! Absolutely brilliant. Suspenseful right to the very end.

I didn't like Mancini's use of the present-tense narrative when I read her In the Blood, so I was a bit disappointed to find that it was used here, too. However, I got over it (!), as a lot of the story is back story and therefore in the past tense (hooray!). Present-tense narrative just strangles a story, in my humble opinion.

That aside, excellent book, and I really must not leave five years to read another by this very talented author.

See Also:


Friday 17 November 2023

The Antique Hunter's Guide to Murder by C. L. Miller


I do love it when an author makes a debut with an absolute cracker of a novel. This is just that. It's a book of many layers: it starts with some tantalising hooks, and gradually, the layers are peeled away to reveal how and why a beloved antique dealer is murdered, and how and why his prodigy hasn't spoken to him in twenty years. It's all to do with Cairo, you see. And a bird. Full synopsis here.

The author's upbringing involved being surrounded by antiques, so, that and meticulous research has resulted in a convincingly authentic basis for a murder. There's a brilliant cast of characters: Freya, Arthur the antique dealer's resentful prodigy, her deliciously flamboyant and a teensy bit eccentric aunt and then, of course, those dodgy family members residing at Copthorn Manor, any of whom could have snuffed poor old Arthur out.

Well written, well characterised, well strategised. Thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyable and a very commendable debut novel. I want more from this author!

Friday 3 November 2023

Paw Prints and Problems by Carly Winter

I enjoy the odd cozy mystery or two…they don't have to be credible, but they do have to be entertaining (and well written and well edited).

This didn't quite tick those three boxes. Gina is a pretend Miss Marple (and a dog rescuer), who has a talking dog (that only she can hear, of course), and is on a mission to exonerate her restaurant-owner friend whose chef is found murdered. The local sheriff seems to think she's guilty. Gina, naturally, believes otherwise. Full synopsis here.

It's all a bit silly. Again, I don't mind silly, but it's that 'E' word again…it has to be entertaining. It wasn't really. It's poorly edited, and as far as Gina's concerned everyone's a 'jerk' (the word was used sixteen times), including the poor golden retriever, Zeus, that was dumped on her doorstep. A jerk is 'a useless or idiotic person'.  Dogs, and Zeus especially, aren't 'jerks'…only their owners are.

I'd recommend it for a very easy read that requires little concentration, but if you want something that's fun, a bit gritty and satisfying, sadly this isn't it.

Monday 23 October 2023

The Kamogawa Food Detectives by Hisashi Kashiwai


I rarely enjoy translated books because many of them are translated by people for whom English is a second language, and the result is invariably a bit stilted. This, though, was extremely well translated and the prose flowed very fluidly.

However, I struggled a bit with the actual story. A father-and-daughter detective duo…food-detective duo, in fact…try to recreate dishes for their customers for whom a dish from their pasts is sentimentally significant.  (Full synopsis here)

Each of the six chapters focusses on a different client. Whilst each has a different memory and reason for recapturing the essence of the pertinent dish, the format of each chapter was the same. I found this a little tedious and repetitive. Maybe it's because I don't understand the Japanese food culture, but the endless description of every food that went into the dishes (do onions from different areas really matter? An onion is an onion to me).

It was quite a departure from my usual diet of crime thrillers, but it didn't really grab me. I was actually quite glad it was a short book. If you live to eat rather than, like me, eat to live, I reckon you'll find this a treat.

Saturday 21 October 2023

And Then There's Margaret by Carolyn Clarke


It's a bold move to banner a book with 'laugh-out-loud dramedy'. It really does have to live up to that, and that's always tricky because comedy is subjective.

Honestly? There's very little comedy, laugh-out or otherwise, in this: perhaps the odd wry phrase/remark, but that's about all. However, if you read this and forget the promised 'comedy' flavouring, you do actually get a very decent read.

It's a bit clichéd (mother-in-law from hell), but it's worth committing to it to see how Ally (the hard-done-by daughter-in-law) deals with her, and how (and why) the pair finds a middle ground. (Full synopsis here)

Very definitely five-star worthy but for the lack of promised comedy and many very naughty editorial oversights, for example: 'between Hank and I…' (dear oh dear), many apostrophe sins and the detention-worthy 'was sat'. It's a classy novel, so this was disappointing.

Nevertheless, highly recommended.

Friday 6 October 2023

Mrs Pargeter's Patio by Simon Brett


Not having read a book by Brett before, it only took a few pages for me to realise I was really going to enjoy this book. I was a smidge concerned, this not being my first Mrs Pargeter mystery, that I might be a bit at sea, not knowing what's gone before, but this is perfectly stand-alone.

This is a cozy mystery, Mrs P being a present-day Miss Marple (a rather startling discovery under her patio requires her enlisting the assistance of her late husband's 'business associates'.) (Full synopsis here) It's very well written, wonderfully tongue in cheek and a joy from start to finish. (I will forgive the erroneous use of 'less' for 'few' and the 'head nodding' tautology.)

Having subsequently discovered Brett's written dozens of books, I wanted to shelve all the books on my TBR and just zip through all of his, but I shall honour my reading list and settle for punctuating with the occasional Brett penmanship!

Wonderful characters with wonderful names and some wry humour in sparkling dialogue: just a lovely, entertaining read. I can't wait to read more.

Wednesday 27 September 2023

The Icehouse by J J Richards


I feel this author still has his L plates on. This was very much a work in progress. There are a whole lot of rookie errors, the worst being that the services of a good editor must have been completely overlooked. Grammatical errors were rife, as were spelling errors (here, here for 'hear, hear' and broach for the jewellery accessory 'brooch' amongst the many), two characters had momentary name changes and the continual use of the very incorrect 'was stood' and 'was sat' wore me down. Add to that the inexplicable use of Americanisms (gotten, math, meter) and, well...

And that's just for starters. DCI Walker and PC Briggs pair up to solve a seemingly ritualistic murder(s) and one that has alarming similarities to a cold case of particular interest to Walker. (Full synopsis here). The irritating thing was Richards insisted on referring to Walker and Briggs and all their colleagues constantly with their titles. The reader is well aware of their positions by about the third or fourth reference, so the constant use of them was very tedious.

Although the dialogue is bland and awkward and sometimes a bit inane, the plot had legs until the rather silly and unbelievable ending.

Not a satisfying read and a very poorly edited one.

Monday 18 September 2023

Just Keep Climbing by Barry Finlay


I don't often pick up books of this genre, which is really silly because every time, I'm glad I did. This is no exception.

I'm no stranger to Finlay: I've read and thoroughly enjoyed three of his novels, so I needed no persuasion at all to read this.

This is a collection of a handful or so people's life-changing challenges. The people are very diverse: age, circumstance, colour, nationality. The contrast to their diversity is their one commonality: they have a goal, or rather, a 'mountain to climb', a summit to reach, all of which require a great deal of strength (mental and physical) and gritty determination. (Full synopsis here)

Interesting and inspiring though they are, what I enjoyed just as much was the author's own mountain to climb: a literal one, as it happens! That and some background of his life, along with what steered him along the authorial path after a completely different career, are as fascinating as the stories of inspiration.

A truly wonderful read.

See Also:

Searching for Truth
The Burden of Darkness
The Guardians of Truth

Wednesday 6 September 2023

Missing in Shadows by Tanya Nellestein


This book is very definitely worthy of five stars but, sadly, due to poor editing, one's got to go. Any editor who misses the plethora of apostrophes used to pluralise needs to be 'let go': especially if that same editor keeps confusing 'too' with 'to'. Too many schoolboy errors here tainted the whole book, just a bit, alas.

But for that, it's a cracking story: a newly-relocated-to-USA Aussie ex-detective teams up with a young and, of course, very handsome widowed police chief. In between the will-they-won't-they vibe, they're a force to be reckoned with when they team up to get to the bottom of a mysterious bodyless car accident, the nature of which dictates that there really ought to be a very injured person if not a dead one. Full synopsis here.

Really well written (bad editing notwithstanding) and well balanced. The crime and solving thereof is perfectly weighted against the attraction between the two crime solvers.

I was delighted to discover that the next Townsend and Gray is imminent. I'm really looking forward to that (but better edited) and hopefully, many more thereafter.

Sunday 3 September 2023

Murder on the Dance Floor by Shirley Ballas and Sheila McClure


Strictly used to be a firm favourite in our house, but it became a bit too much of a (repetitive) good thing after a few series, so highlights and snippets are now enough. Shirley Ballas is very personable and an entertaining head judge, so I was intrigued by her first foray into the literary world.

Partnering with a Mills and Boon author, though, probably wasn't the best idea: this book is predictable, clichéd, stereotyped. I really do hope it was all tongue in cheek because it's all a bit daft. It's overly wordy and hard to take any character seriously, with names like Cyril de Boeuf and Marmaduke.

As the title suggests, someone's knocking off people in the dance world. The revelation of the perpetrator's beef and his final intended victim causes some serious eye-rolling.  (Full synopsis here)

So with the very silly story, seriously bad e-reader formatting and rather poor editing, I can't rate this very highly. It's difficult to assess on Ballas's skill as a writer, as the book was co-written. Perhaps she needs to go it alone.

Monday 14 August 2023

The Holiday Bookshop by Lucy Dickens


My favourite genre is thrillers, in which, of course, for the most part, bad things happen! So every now and then, it's nice to read something light and refreshing. This fits that bill: once you've got familiar with the characters and a general gist of the plot, you know more or less how it's going to end and that it will be pretty much how you wanted and happily. Okay, yes: predictable! But, it's easy to read and untaxing for the ol' grey matter.

In this, we've almost got a bit of a travel guide thrown in, as two besties, who co-own a coastal bookshop in southwest England, take a break from each other after a minor disagreement: one in Las Vegas, ticking off her bucket list with her boyfriend, and the other in The Maldives, where she's taken a three-month job to turn around the fortunes of an on-site bookshop in a luxury holiday complex.

It's an enjoyable story of a friendship that's rock solid, wobbles a bit, then goes back to being rock solid. Throw in some romance and you've got your summer beach read.

But, Mr or Ms Editor: when you get on a bike, you pedal, you don’t peddle (seriously?). And please, learn the difference between less and few.

That aside, an entertaining, fun, light-hearted read that's well written.

Monday 24 July 2023

The Beach Party by Nikki Smith

Smith is not an author I'm familiar with, but the signs I was going to enjoy her work were good when I found myself engrossed after only a few pages. But…oh yes, there's a but…I am not a fan of present-tense narrative. I absolutely hate it. I've never found an instance where it works, and it certainly doesn't here. It's almost strangulating. As the story is told over two time frames, about thirty years apart, I did hope the past story, at least, would be in the past tense. But no, more stultifying present-tense narrative. Alas. One star lost, I'm afraid.

Nevertheless…it's a gripping story about revenge. Revenge is a dish best served cold, they say. In this instance, I'd say it's frozen pretty solid…it's had over thirty years to ice over. Six university friends go on a Spanish holiday, and the partying takes a dramatic turn. Thirty years later, the events of one tragic night come back to haunt them.

Despite the fact that it's hard to like any of the six…they range from an arrogant bully to a compliant minion…it's a gripping story, well written for the most part (spelling/grammatical errors), and the characters, despite their unlikeability, contribute to a tense and gripping story.

Despite the oh-so-tiresome present-tense narrative, I'll definitely read more of this author.

Monday 17 July 2023

Terminal Threat by DV Berkom


My reading year is only complete when a Leine Basso thriller is in it. It's Leine: it's always going to be a rollercoaster ride. So, when you learn our favourite ex-assassin Leine is about to settle into a new, peaceful life in a small coastal Italian town, you know that just isn't going to happen. Trying to save the locals from an extortionist inadvertently finds her at the business end of revenge. You can't be an assassin without making enemies who have long memories, especially when one of them who thought she was dead, discovers otherwise. (Full synopsis here)

At which point, you can forget about enjoying Leine's sun, sea and gelato-filled siestas and prepare for your roller-coaster adrenaline fix! Leine is just as skilful and magnificent as ever.

This is my twentieth book by Berkom. It's every bit as compelling, fast-paced and brilliant as the first. This is an author (without doubt my favourite) who packs a mighty punch in everything she writes and 'The End' always makes you sigh a 'how long till the next book?'. I hope there's another Basso thriller. She's never going to have a quiet life, now, is she?

See also:

Tuesday 4 July 2023

Perfect Strangers by Araminta Hall


Despite the messy ending of Our Kind of Cruelty, the first book I read by Hall, I was impressed enough to pick up another novel by the author.

This is a story of three good friends and how two of them cope with their grief after one is murdered. (Full synopsis here) Of course, it's not just a case of life after the loss of their best friend, it's also about the secrets about the deceased each has.

Whilst I enjoyed this and found it compelling, I did find it a little intense, and the endless unparagraphed passages of each of the women's insecurities and dissatisfaction with their lot were rather tedious…to the point I very nearly just wanted to shake them and tell them to grow up and either stop moaning and deal with it or change it. Ultimately, they were each victims of their own life-style choices, so the incessant 'poor me' outpourings are rather grating.

No messy ending for this book: neatly conclusive in a rather 'wow, I wasn't expecting that' way. On the whole, an enjoyable book, but I have to say, the editing is dreadful: countless grammatical and punctuation errors, missing or misplaced words. 'Were sat' can never be forgiven: new editors required, Ms Hall.

See also:

Fast Cash by J. Gregory Smith


I first 'met' Kyle Logan five years ago in book #1, so it was a pleasure to catch up with him, albeit three books later.

He's still…let's say 'equalising'…righting wrongs outside the parameters of the law, but getting the right results. This time he's got two projects: fraudsters preying on the elderly and getting them to hand over their life savings. The trouble is, these swindlers are operating from India. Secondly, virtually on his doorstep, Kyle's receiving distressing reports of a fast-growing band of home fixers who won't take no for an answer. But for Kyle and his merry band, all in a day's work! (Full synopsis here)

As with the first Kyle Logan book, it's smart, sharp, fast-paced and gripping. There's a great cast of characters and snappy dialogue. My tick list for a compelling thriller has been very satisfactorily all checked off.

I might just have to do a bit of filling in and catch up with books #2 and #3!

See also:

Tuesday 20 June 2023

Who She Was by Tony Parsons


I've read three of Parsons's books, all of them in the very enjoyable DI Max Wolfe series, so it was intriguing to read something quite different by him.

"Secrets and lies eat away what is good and leave only destruction." (Cassandra Clare) They very certainly do. This has you scratching your head throughout. Who's lying, who's telling the truth, who’s keeping secrets? How can one mysterious woman change so many lives? (Full synopsis here).

I enjoyed this, but I was just a smidge frustrated by the either/or ending. However, that's just a little niggle. Parsons's expertise and talent for writing a captivating story is all in there in bucket-loads.

See also:

Saturday 3 June 2023

Fear the Silence by Robert Bryndza


Bryndza is one of my favourite crime thriller authors. So far, I've read books in his Erika Foster and Kate Marshall series, so this is a first, for me, of his stand-alone books.

It's always a pleasure to read Bryndza's books: not only is he an excellent writer who pens a cracking story, but a very considerate and humble one too. His first port of call in his acknowledgements ia his readers. I love that…to all authors who forget their readers, please take note!

I thoroughly enjoyed this (full synopsis here). My heart was in my mouth virtually from page one…the suspense is heart-stopping. And what an explosive ending. At about ninety per cent, Bryndza gives the impression that it's all over bar the shouting and almost has you thinking, 'really…is that it?', and then pow!

Series or stand-alone, whatever. If Bryndza's written it, I'm going to love it!

See also:

Monday 29 May 2023

The Vulture Fund by Jeff Buick


My fifth book by this author. I'm quite the fan. Buick never disappoints. Quite the contrary, in fact: he wows every time.

This is the third in the Curtis Westcott series, in which Curtis and his team are investigating two seemingly isolated deaths. The investigation uncovers how greed, inevitably, leads powerful people to do unspeakable things.  (Full synopsis here)

Once again, Buick makes you buckle up, fasten your seat belts and enjoy a fast and furious ride on the journey to the truth, dipping and diving the whole way. Every single Curtis Westcott mystery has been a joy to experience and leaves you wanting more. Buick writes with conviction, gives you characters with credibility, and if you like a book you can't wait to pick up and never put down, then his are those books.

I want more, a whole shed-load more, of Curtis Westcott.

See also:

A Killing Game
No End of Bad Guys
One is Evil
The Wrong Side of Murder

Saturday 13 May 2023

The Wrong Side of Murder by Jeff Buick


I've read three books by this author, the last one about two and a half years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed them all, but it only needed one to put him in my favourite-author list. He's a very talented writer, who packs a punch with some deliciously meaty crime thrillers. So it was very exciting to dive into the second of the Detective Curtis Westcott series.

Gosh, I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed Buick's penmanship. I was immersed from page one and firmly hooked right to the last page. Research and attention to detail is second to none, and I love that the main (very likeable) character, Westcott, is generous enough to give centre stage to a member of his homicide team, Aislinn, as she investigates an unsolved twenty-year-old cold case. (Full book blurb here)

Complex, but utterly compelling, with characters you can truly invest in, there's a nail-biting (and wonderfully unpredictable) finish.

I'd forgotten that getting to The End with Buick's books fill you with a bit of dread…in an 'oh no, how am I going to follow that' sort of way. But, this time, I was enormously relieved by the fact that I was able to dive straight into the third in the series.

Excellent, just excellent.

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