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Wednesday, 1 February 2023

Girl, Forgotten by Karin Slaughter

Though slightly irked by slack editing in the three Slaughter books I've read, she is without doubt a terrific author, so I can't resist her books. 

This picks up a character from Pieces of Her. One who, in that book, actually developed quite dramatically: Andrea. She transformed from a rather aimless and ambitionless young lady…and if I'm honest, slightly irritating…to being a trained US Marshal. Her intelligence and rationality really blossom. Her first official case is a hard one; it's a cold case with a personal connection to her. I must confess I enjoyed this more than Pieces of Her. 

A case that's forty years old means there's chopping and changing between two time frames, but this is done well, and there's a good pace to the story. I was unable to predict the dramatic outcome, and despite all ends being neatly tidied up, the latch isn't quite on the door. There's just the smallest chink of light, which I hope means we'll meet Andrea again. Slaughter's talent is in giving us diverse and interesting characters, a compelling plot and intelligent writing. I'm that much of a fan of hers, I will forgive her for forgetting to thank her readers in her profuse thanks to Tom, Dick and Harry and all in her acknowledgements.

See Also:

Monday, 9 January 2023

The Library Suicides by Fflur Dafydd


Not my cup of tea at all. Firstly, there's no indication at all that this is fantasy/dystopian, and I'm not a fan of those genres. I spent the first few pages wondering why there were no temporal or geographical roots to the story. It just seemed in limbo. Could have been any country, any time.

Secondly, not one character is remotely likeable: not twins Ana and Nan, who are hell-bent on killing the novelist/critic, Eben, whom they believe sent their mother, Elena, to her suicide. Not Eben, not feminist Elena, not Dan, the ex-con porter working in the library where the whole plot plays out. 

There is no doubt that Dafydd is a skilled writer, but I found this to be laboured and over-intense and if I'm honest, rather tedious. I always finish a book but it was hard-going and not that enjoyable.

There's a long list of people to thank in the author's acknowledgements. Very nice. However, she seemed to have forgotten the most important people: her readers. I'm not impressed.

Monday, 2 January 2023

Death of Television: The COVID Murders Mystery: Book Two of Two by Conal O'Brien


I think it's important to point out that this is not a sequel, but part two. It quite literally picks up where it left off at the end of book 1. Imagine a two-part TV drama with an ad break in between (in this case a year-long ad break!). With no recap or reminders, I confess I did struggle a bit to remember the many characters and slightly complex plot, as it's been twelve months since I read the first part, with quite a number of books in between displacing its memory!

However, everything did fall into place eventually, and I soon fell into step with Artemis Bookbinder, erstwhile member of the NYPD turned NYPD advisor. Book 1 was very prescient, as we were still in the grip of covid and its harsh restrictions: Artemis's character is a germaphobe, so he didn't fair too well in that climate; he's still assisting in the hunt for his wife's murderer and the resurgence of evidence relating to an unsolved thirty-year-old priceless-art theft, but learning to cope better in the less constrictive post-covid world.

I was reminded how much I enjoyed the first part and, importantly, of the author's writing talent. The conclusion was one I never saw coming, one which makes you utter 'wow, I'd never have guessed that!', which I always think confirms a story well written.

Whilst in all honesty I'd have preferred the two parts to have been one book, this was still a cracking read, and I hope Artemis has many more challenging cases to solve.

See also:

Friday, 9 December 2022

The Night Stalker by Robert Bryndza

After reading three of Bryndza's books…two Erika Fosters and one Kate Johnson…in a rather random order...I decided, having been totally captivated by them all, to fill in the gaps. This was the next in line and without a shadow of a doubt, yet another endorsement of Bryndza's faultless writing talent and amazing ability to construct a completely absorbing plot. He doesn't leave anything out: detail, credible and well-defined characters and a guarantee you will be firmly glued to the edge of your seat.

The clue is in the title: there's a killer around, stalking his/her victims and ending their lives. Erika and her team have to find the link between the victims to help them track down a calculating serial killer. At the same time, Erika has to deal with personal grief and office politics, all in the middle of a stifling English heatwave.

It's quite obvious this genre is Bryndza's brand. He's perfectly settled in it. The four books I've read have been equally gripping and exciting. Even though I have another few Erika Fosters to go, I just want them to go on forever!

See also:

Wednesday, 30 November 2022

Devil's Way by Robert Bryndza

I read my first Bryndza six years ago (Erika Foster #1). I recently read #7, which reminded me what an excellent writer he is. I wasted no time in picking up this latest Kate Marshall. Every book endorses his talent.

I was thrilled to see that this was #4, because that means I've got #1-3 to read! Bryndza's books are very addictive, well structured, well researched, and I love that his books are perfectly stand-alone. I've been reading his books in random order (just the way they've landed in my lap), and at no point have I scratched my head in confusion about any reference to the main protagonists' pasts.

Kate Marshall is an ex-police officer turned private PI, who with her partner, Tristan, in this book, is asked to search for a child who went missing eleven years previously, by his grandmother. She doesn't really hold out hope he's alive but just wants closure. Kate and Tristan uncover quite the tangled web.

I'm now totally besotted with Bryndza's books, and I've now got organised and have gone back to the beginning. Erika Foster #1, read. Now reading #2 (totally glued already). Next, Kate Marshall #1.

And if I haven't heaped enough praise on this author, I have an extra sprinkling for him for acknowledging his readers first and foremost.

See Also:

Friday, 11 November 2022

Fatal Witness by Robert Bryndza


I first bumped (bookwise!) into Robert Bryndza about six years ago when I read the first Erika Foster. I enjoyed it and knew he and I would meet again! I think I waited a little too long, because this book reminded me what a terrific author he is. You know when you read a good book and think, wow, I've got to read ALL his/her books? Mr B is that author!

Erika is seven adventures in now and despite not having read five of them, at no point did I feel at sea with any missing information. This was perfectly standalone. A tense, frustrating (for Erika) and difficult investigation following the murder of two young girls keeps you engaged and frantically turning the pages. At no point did I guess who did it. I had a stab or two, certainly, but I couldn't have been more wrong.

The book fully deserves the five stars I've given it for plot, characters and writing, but if I could give six I would, the extra being for Bryndza humbly thanking his readers in his acknowledgements. Few authors do, but those that give us a nod have a special place in my TBR. It's a two-way thing: an author writes for a reader's pleasure and for that, I'm very grateful and, if I'm honest in awe. But an author doesn't really have a book without his or her readers, so thank you, Mr B, for your well-received thanks and appreciation.

I wasted no time and am already twenty-five percent into Bryndza's latest Kate Marshall. No six-year wait this time!

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Tuesday, 25 October 2022

Still Life by Sarah Winman


This is the most tedious, most boring, most annoying book I've read this year.

I always finish a book, but this tested me to the limit. I was ready to pack it in after the first page. Does Winman really think it's clever and innovative to ditch the use of dialogue quotation marks? It isn't. It's arrogant, lazy and utterly disrespectful to the reader (not one mention in her profuse thanks to everyone under the sun in her acknowledgements…bar the most important person: the reader).

I refused to be deterred and thought all those stars given by others must be testament to a great book. At ten percent…no improvement. Fifty percent…it's going to get better soon, isn't it? Eighty percent…why have I wasted my time? Oh well, I'd better finish; there's a reason I stuck it out. Oh for heaven's sake, only twenty percent left and we've gone back sixty or so years!

The dialogue was bland and meaningless, the characters unengaging. If the author was aiming to show off her knowledge of Florence's street map and conversational Italian, she did that. But she didn't keep me in the book, with the characters, with the story.

For heaven's sake, the quotation mark is situated on the same key as the number two. Easy to find, easy to use. Good editors are also easy to find, ones who don't miss elementary grammatical errors.

This really wasn't my book of the year.

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Bad Fruit by Ella King

I didn't enjoy this at all. In fact, I thought it was awful.

Firstly, why do authors insist on using present-tense narrative? It rarely works and really, really doesn't in this.

This is a story of secrets and bad family relationships. The relationships in this family are really rather unbelievable. The mother isn't just toxic, she's quite seriously deranged, the father equally so, albeit in a much more subtle way. Not surprisingly, their three children are more than just a little dysfunctional.

But it was all rather unrealistic and unenjoyable. There wasn't a glimmer of joy in any one part of the story. Since I'm not a DNF person, I struggled through to the end, hoping it would improve. It didn't. My displeasure was further aggravated by the terrible formatting of the Kindle version. Many words and phrases had no spaces: makingit veryawkward toread.

Confusing, unsettling, poorly written and badly formatted.


Friday, 16 September 2022

The Twist of a Knife by Anthony Horowitz


My introduction to Horowitz was 'The Moonflower Murders', and that was all it took for me to be determined to read more…many more…books by this author.

Fourth in the Hawthorne and Horowitz mysteries, this is my second Horowitz read, and I'm just as impressed and determined.

In this, the author is many things: narrator, a character, sleuth and a suspect implicated in the murder of a vicious and toxic critic, who was less than complimentary about his new play. Too many pieces of evidence point in his direction. Did he really murder Harriet Throsby because she didn't like his play?

Brilliantly articulate, strategised and utterly compelling. One of those books you just can't wait to pick up and lose yourself in.

My TBR pile is going to be peppered with many more of this author's books.

See also:

Thursday, 25 August 2022

The Guardians of Truth by Barry Finlay

After reading two books by Finlay, I can confirm: they come with excellence as standard.

This is the second in the Jake Scott mysteries. He's a retired, widowed reporter who finds himself unable to hang up his investigating hat, especially as his new love interest, Dani Perez, is a homicide detective. He finds himself a little out of his depth this time, following that investigative nose twitch, when a woman, the mother of a teenage daughter, goes missing, herself following up a suspected fraud she aims to expose.

I'm very fond of our Mr Scott. Shades of a male Miss Marple or possibly Dani Perez's Watson, he's very amiable and just a little bit lovable.

There's a sharp, fast-paced and compelling plot here, as he does his best to get himself out of some rather hot water, but in the background there's a lovely gentle rumble of the steadily (a tad too steady for Jake's daughter's liking!) growing romance between Dani and Jake. There's life in the old codger yet.

Perfectly executed, well written, thoroughly and utterly enjoyable; I really do hope Jake doesn't stop scratching that journalistic itch, because I'd love to spend another few hundred pages in his company.

Monday, 15 August 2022

Out of her Depth by Lizzy Barber


Quite the page turner until you get to 96% and realise that with only 4% to go, unless there's going to be a spectacular twist, it's not going to end quite as you expect/hope.

Barber is a till-now-unread-by-me author, and I think I found her style and writing competence a lot more compelling than the actual story. The main protagonist, Rachel, is weak and a bit pathetic, the two other important characters are utterly ghastly: both rich and self-entitled, one a toxic bitch, the other just a user of people. It was hard to even like the victim of it all.

The sultry heat of the Tuscan countryside provides a beautiful backdrop, but it wasn't enough for me to get to The End with satisfaction. There are a lot of loose ends.

Will I read more of Barber?  Very definitely, but just one little niggle: a quote from the Acknowledgements: "This book would be nowhere without my marvellous agent." Not quite right. Your book, dear author, would be nowhere without readers. But the reader doesn't get a mention. Not one.

Sunday, 31 July 2022

A Midlife Holiday by Cary J Hansson


I rather enjoyed this. It's about three middle-aged friends, each having reached a crossroads in their lives. Not knowing which way to turn, a holiday in Cyprus...a destination deliberately engineered by one of the three with an ulterior motive...albeit ever-so-slightly bumpy, provides the answers for all three.

A sun-drenched island can't fail to provide the perfect backdrop, of course. Hansson portrays the sunny isle just like a postcard. Her skill, for me, was in the characterisation of the three fifty-something women, firm friends since university days. You could feel their pain, disappointment, desperation even, which all turn to optimism with hopes and plans for a different future.

Despite the fact it's a teensy bit stereotyped and clichéd (midlife crisis is an overworked plot line), flavoured with Shirley Valentine, it's beautifully and emotionally written. Late at night in bed, I was desperately urging myself with, 'come on, just one more page'.

Definitely a read-more-of author for me.

Thursday, 14 July 2022

Fatal Objective by D. V. Berkom


My reading year is never complete without a Leine Basso thriller. Actually, no, not quite true: my reading year is never complete without a DV Berkom thriller. It's a guaranteed 'jolly good read'. The absolute epitome of 'unputdownable'.

And this time, the indestructible former assassin is at a serious disadvantage: it's not very often we find our kick-ass lass disorientated and confused and on radio silence. Which must surely mean someone really rather nefarious is responsible. Her boss, Lou, and boyfriend, Santa are the cavalry to find and rescue her.

There's no lack of nail-biting action, thrills and spills, plenty of guns and eye-watering self-defence moves. Berkom pulls it out the bag every single time.

I dread getting to the last few pages in case there's a hint Leine might be hanging up her Glocks in favour of a quiet kill-free life. Nah…not a chance. To my relief, she's headed for another adventure next year.


Sunday, 10 July 2022

Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney


The description of this book is slightly deceiving: the blurb implies this is a thriller murder. Which, in fairness, it is…until it becomes a cross between Midsomer Murders, Agatha Christie and The Sixth Sense. At that latter point, I was less enthusiastic about it.

Feeny is not an author I'm familiar with; this is the first book I've read by her, and I was very impressed by her style. There is no doubt she can write very well, but this story crossed, without warning, to the paranormal.

Whilst the characters are interesting and well portrayed, none…not one (apart from Poppins the dog perhaps) is in the slightest bit likeable, not even the main character (and narrator) Daisy Darker. I want at least one character to hang my 'like' hat on in my books.

However, I did find myself compelled to read on, and I was certainly drawn into the story, but I felt a bit cheated by the slightly ridiculous twist. I was also rather frustrated by the author's and/or editor's ignorance of the differences between irony and sarcasm, 'lay' and 'lie' and…oh, woe is me…'less' and fewer'. New editor required.

Although I didn't gel a hundred per cent with the turn this story took, in all fairness, it was ninety-five-per-cent enjoyment and I'll definitely seek out more by this author.

Friday, 17 June 2022

The Good Servant by Fern Britton


This is the second book I've read by Fern Britton. I was mightily impressed by my first encounter with her writing, which made me determined to read more, if not all, of her books. So I pounced on this when it landed in my lap!

In this book, Britton has taken the bones of a true event and put meat and fat on them to provide a moving, thoroughly enjoyable and just a little bit sad story.

It's a delightful blend of royal fact and Britton's fiction. This fusion results in a delightful, very readable account. It's one that makes you wonder about Marion Crawford, the main character: a dedicated governess to the princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, a loyal daughter to a dominant mother and an unwitting, devoted puppet to a devious, lying suitor, who tricked her into breaching the utmost confidence for the sake of money and which resulted in her eighteen years of dedication ending very badly.

Britton is a brilliant writer. She captures every aspect of a character and makes them real. She draws you in right at the beginning of her story and keeps you hooked till the very end.

See Also:

Saturday, 4 June 2022

Isaac and the Egg by Bobby Palmer

I love it when an author crashes onto the literary scene with a debut novel and just blows your mind.

The book is indeed about Isaac. And an egg. No, not a chicken egg, or  duck or goose egg, or even an ostrich egg. It's actually two-feet high and quite white and fluffy. And now everyone's going to think that this is either a children's story or something plucked from the sci-fi shelf.

Oh no, it isn't. Whilst this is a story of deep love, loss and the most intense grief, Palmer injects humour and wit and writes with perception and depth. He is without doubt an extremely talented author who manages to paint the most realistic picture with his words.

It is a most charming, poignant, tragic but heart-warming novel written with outstanding skill. I sincerely hope this exceptional writer is intending to write more, but in the meantime, someone has, just has to make a movie of this.

A phenomenal book. An excellent debut. A remarkable author.

Saturday, 28 May 2022

Now You See Her by Heidi Perks


Intriguing and unputdownable, this is a psychological suspense thriller. I haven't read anything by this author before and was certainly impressed. It's one of those 'I didn't see that coming' sort of thrillers.

A thriller where a child goes suddenly and inexplicably missing is always emotionally charged, but this tests a friendship, parental love and a mother's unbreakable devotion to her child.

Extremely well crafted and written, it had me matchsticking my eyes late at night and vowing to read more by this talented author.

Whilst fully deserving of five stars, I just can't bring myself to part with them all. I'm keeping one behind because the standard of the writing was completely let down by the shoddy editing.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

A Tidy Ending by Joanna Cannon


To be honest, the mystery of this is not 'who did it' because it's easy to guess fairly early on who is responsible for the murder of four young women, and I was feeling rather smug when I read the last line that confirmed my guess.

What keeps you glued to the pages are the characters, the twists and turns that foil the police and just about every other character who think they know who the culprit is, but are wrong. So, so wrong.

The main character is a compound of recognisable traits: everyone knows someone with one of them. She's quiet, has been moulded by a tragic event in her childhood, is (seemingly) submissive, patient, dutiful, thorough, slightly OCD, desperately eager for friendship, and….clever. We all know someone with at least one of those qualities. Though, perhaps not one with all of them.

The author presents a totally unforgettable and quite mesmerising character. Brilliantly done. In fact, all the characters are brilliantly observed and together they make for an engaging and riveting read. Absolutely terrific.

Friday, 6 May 2022

The Wedding Guest by Jonathan Kellerman

I haven't read any of Jonathan Kellerman's books before. I will read more. So, of course, neither have I read the thirty-three preceding Alex Delaware thrillers. I will read more.

It wasn't five-star perfect, however. One character seemed to have aged about fifteen years within two pages. Probably a typo, but one that should have been picked up, along with instances of the very irritating misuse of the apostrophe: I get very irritated when they are used to pluralise. Again, something that should have been spotted in proofreading.

Nevertheless, this is a good crime thriller that has you ping-ponging between all the characters wondering on whom to hang the guilty label, as Alex Delaware, a child psychologist and consultant to the L.A. police, and his detective ally, Detective Milo Sturgis, seek to find who killed a young girl at a wedding.

I enjoyed being kept on my toes, as well as the rapport and banter between Alex and Milo, testament to their comfortable, long-standing relationship. I was especially impressed by the fact that not once did I feel at sea for not having read any of the forerunners.

I'm now off to add thirty-three books to my Amazon wishlist.

Tuesday, 26 April 2022

Mum & Dad by Joanna Trollope

Joanna Trollope is ten years older than me, so she's been writing for about eighty percent of my reading life. This is the first of her books I've read, and I now I'm chastising myself for waiting this long.

Mum & Dad is a story of a fractured family, whose dysfunction is unravelled when Dad suffers a stroke in Spain, where he (and Mum) have lived for twenty-five years. Their three children, and their own children (ranging from toddlers to moody teenagers) have to disrupt their London lives to help.

Trollope writes thoughtfully, articulately, with emotion and compassion. Her characters are realistically imperfect: they're human and relatable. Their life stresses and pressures, their worries, their hopes are all recognisable.

Despite the slightly underwhelming ending, I found the story and the characters engaging and interesting, and as an introduction to this well-known author, it has propelled me into Trollope world! Many, many more to be read, very definitely!

Monday, 18 April 2022

The Museum of Ordinary People by Mike Gayle


Although I'd never heard of Mike Gayle, the title of this book caught my eye. A few pages in, and I was already wondering, what else has he written and why haven't I read anything by him till now!

I was hugely disappointed that it was written in the present-tense narrative, which is my literary pet hate, but notwithstanding, my enjoyment of the book was immense. Gayle is just brilliant. He's written a delightfully heart-warming story that hooks you from the start. And subtly topical: what happens to 'stuff' that has history, a meaning and emotion attached to it? Items, which appear ordinary and unspecial, that are found or can't be kept by their owners for whatever reason but that shouldn't be condemned to a hole in the ground to the detriment of our damaged environment? With luck, it'll find a home in the Museum of Ordinary People.

Beautifully composed with engaging characters, it's also quite thought-provoking. You find yourself wondering what, of all your possessions, would you like to have exhibited in such a wonderful place once you've popped your clogs!

Superb, and there's absolutely no question I'll be seeking out more by this author.

Tuesday, 5 April 2022

Something to Tell You by Lucy Diamond


This is a delightful story about family, its ups and downs, its secrets, its surprises and overall, its unbreakable bond.

I'm not familiar with Lucy Diamond's work, and this was my first encounter with her. Easy to read, you are drawn into the story and its characters from the start: the Mortimer family, comprising of 50-years-married Mum and Dad, their four children and grandchildren. It's a large family, and most of the adults have their own narrative POV. They weave adeptly through the story, and it's not hard to become emotionally involved with them all. The characters are multi-faceted and likeable.

The ending is a little rushed and just a teeny weeny bit predictable, but this in no way affected my enjoyment. I'm certainly going to be reading more of this author. There's a cosiness and feel-good aura about her writing, and you can't help getting to the last page with an 'awww'. And we all need a dose of feel-good from time to time.

Monday, 28 March 2022

The Phone Box at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina


I feel a bit guilty that I didn't enjoy this as much as I feel I ought to have.

The pivot of the story is the 2011 tsunami in Japan and the grief from the appalling loss of life is what does a lot of the heavy lifting. The author writes articulately and with poignancy and compassion in that regard. No problem there.

It's very well written with depth and empathy and unusually, the translation is extremely competent. It's a shame, however, that neither the translator nor the editor know the difference between 'less' and 'few'. Ah well, it was the only blip.

It's sad but heart-warming and really quite charming in some ways. Alas, I got a bit…bored with the two main characters, Yui and Takeshi, both of whom are mourning the deaths of their loved ones, who meet at the site of the disused phone box. I just couldn't drum up interest in the pair's journey to recovery or in the development of their relationship.

It wasn't a book I was in a rush to pick up and finish, but I'm not a DNF person. I was rather miffed to find a glossary at the end: all those Japanese words and phrases explained. It would have been much more useful to either have them at the beginning, or at least refer to their location at the start.

A different read. Just a bit so-so.

Monday, 21 March 2022

The Patient by Tim Sullivan


A few pages in and I thought, well, gosh, how come I haven't come across this excellent author and DS George Cross until now? I absolutely loved this.

Think TV's The Good Doctor: it's that show's main character in a police setting. An unusual, pedantic, literal, meticulous-attention-to-detail man: a man who is positioned somewhere on the spectrum. Irritating and exasperating to his colleagues, but undeniably a detective who, with dogged determination, gets results.

The plot is intriguing and a little complex. Just like DS Cross himself, who takes up the case of the death of a young recovering drug addict, whose mother disagrees with the verdict of suicide.

Twists, turns, dead ends move this along at a decent pace. And what a treat that it's set in Bristol, where I live.

Superbly written…intelligently and articulately…and I've already downloaded the two previous DS Cross novels. Cleverly, Sullivan has crafted these novels so that they can be read in any sequence. I anticipate I won't be able to get enough of DS Cross.

Sunday, 13 March 2022

The Things I Know by Amanda Prowse

I read The Art of Hiding by this author five years ago. When I sought out my review of it, I was reminded not only of how much I enjoyed it but also how much the story and its characters stayed with me long after reaching 'The End'. So I dived into this with great enthusiasm. And Prowse did it again. She left me with another wonderful story and characters that haven't yet vacated my head!

It's a marvellous story about two people who are very slightly disparate for different reasons, with no grand expectations about life or people—until they meet each other. It's a story about acceptance, hope and courage and I devoured every single word.

Prowse gives you a story heavy with emotion, empathy and characters you just can't help falling in love with.

This is a deliciously uplifting book that gives you hygge.

Sunday, 27 February 2022

Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz


Six hundred and eight pages for a murder mystery. That's two (average) books, which is exactly what this is: A book within a book. I've never read anything like it. I haven't quite decided whether it appeals. I don't read two books at a time: it gets messy, I can't remember who's who in what. In this, each 'book' has quite a number of characters, and by the time I'd reached the end of the inner book, I'd almost forgotten who was in the shell story. Different, original, but I'm on the fence.

It's a complex murder mystery. Cecily MacNeil is missing and her parents believe her disappearance is connected to a murder that took place in the hotel they own some years previously. They believe that after reading a book, a detective novel loosely based on that event, Cecily realised that the wrong man has been imprisoned for the crime. As the author is deceased, her parents invite Susan Ryeland, the editor and publisher of the book, to investigate. As she can't remember the book, she reads it again. And so must we, the readers: and that's the second book.

Part of the thrill of a murder mystery is guessing whodunnit, and you either revel in getting it right or even getting it wrong because of a clever twist or two. Although brilliantly written…Horowitz is an amazing writer…it's all a tad too convoluted and complex and took all the pleasure out of making and inclination to hazard a guess.

Despite this being a bit too long (I did have a few 'oh, do get on with it' moments) and poor editing (why did Lisa become Linda and why don't editors know the difference between lay and lie?), Horowitz's authorial skill really is something to admire.

I discovered shortly after starting this that it's a sequel to Magpie Murders, a previous Susan Ryeland adventure. Moonflower Murders is more or less standalone, but the references to Magpie Murders were rather tantalising. A bit back to front, but I'm sorely tempted to read it!

Wednesday, 23 February 2022

The Newcomer by Fern Britton


This is so lovely! I really enjoyed it. My first Fern Britton read and very definitely not my last. What a writer. Her characters are colourful, mysterious, passionate, compassionate, entertaining, and portrayed to make you feel that not only would you love to meet them but actually live in the community of which they're a part. Every scene is set with meticulous attention to detail.

You'd be forgiven for thinking this has a feint aura of The Vicar of Dibley: a stand-in female vicar has to prove herself to a village community. In the charming Cornish village of Pendruggan, most of the inhabitants welcome the new broom with her sweep of fresh and contemporary ideas, but of course, there's always one who doesn't!

Britton writes with warmth and compassion and gives you a delightfully easy and entertaining read that leaves you with a cosy glow inside. I hadn't realised she has a number of novels up her sleeve, which was a very pleasing discovery…more to be read by this author, very definitely!

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

Pug Actually by Matt Dunn


This is deliciously cheesy and clichéd but great fun. A pug called Doug (well, the clue's in the title) becomes the matchmaker between Julie, who's in a not-going-anywhere relationship with a married man, Luke, ("it's complicated"), and the much-better-suited Tom the vet (or rather, Vee E Tee, so Doug doesn't freak out).

It's told from Doug's point of view (endorsing the fact that dogs are frightfully perceptive and intelligent!). It's funny, it's endearing and delightfully feel-good.

My only niggles are that, from what I can make out, Dunn is British…so why the very annoying Americanisms, spelling and punctuation...'gotten', 'color', 'honor', etc.? That and that the characters never seem to be able to finish a sentence and Julie, quite frankly, needed a damned good shake over her infatuation with the unctuous toad that is Luke. The present-tense narrative, never my favourite, was just unnecessary.

However, my enjoyment far, far outweighed those little bugs, and I'm delighted to find that the author has penned a dozen or so other books, which I shall certainly seek out when I need some humorous, witty and light-hearted entertainment.

Tuesday, 15 February 2022

To Die For by M. A. Comley

Strip this of the banal, childish, implausible dialogue, the endless 'sniggering' between police officers, cardboard emotionless characters (most of them sexist misogynists) and you might actually have the bare bones of a plot with legs. But it's a hurried book (along with the hurried, (non-existent) editing, both technical and developmental): too few pages and too few POVs, making it rather one-dimensional.

It's the first of a series featuring DI Sam Cobbs (who doesn't like men very much despite being married to one) investigating four deaths (five if you include the dog…was that really necessary?) in a rural community. Money is the root of it all, of course.

Alas, unexciting and void of exhilaration or thrills.

Monday, 14 February 2022

The Rift Between Us by Rebecca L. Marsh


I've read two other books by this author. She has quite the knack of totally immersing you into her characters and their stories.

This is a wonderful family drama about three sisters who have drifted apart, much to their widower father's distress. He's unable to persuade them to mend the rift whilst alive, but after his sudden death, his will reveals a carefully constructed plan, a stipulation and condition, that forces the girls to reluctantly make an effort. Marsh takes us on their journey to break down the barriers of grudges, resentments, misunderstandings, grief. Each has a life-changing secret the others know nothing about.

The three books I've read by Marsh has confirmed to me her talent as a writer, but her skill is especially evident in her character portrayal: her characters are real, believable and likeable. They pull you in to their lives and their surroundings and are almost tangible. You know them and you feel them.

A lovely, beautiful story.