My Rating: 4 Stars
This was the first novel I’ve read of Jack Taylor and despite the dark atmosphere and writing, I found myself enjoying it.
After being misdiagnosed and being involved in a scandal due to it, former cop Jack Taylor has almost everything he needs: his whiskey, his books and his faithful watchdog Storm. Everything, but money. In an attempt to restart his life, Jack gets a job as a night security guard. It doesn’t take long before things are given a turn. When a man offering a considerable sum of money to find “The Red Book”, the first book of heresy, approaches him he knows its way over his head. When a woman from his past reappears in his life and seemly connected to the book, Jack is pulled to a probable deadly path. Haunted by the dark, unfortunate events of his life, Jack soon discovers that the city’s corner hide secrets and some more fatal than others. Unfortunately, for Jack, nothing in his life went as he expected, and this won’t either. Can he make it out alive and with the rest of his sanity?
One thing that I learned with this book is: never take a plot for granted. This is a story that starts at a steady pace and suddenly it takes a much darker and shocking turn, one where the reader realises that characters are going to meet their ends. The first part of the novel the reader faces several plot lines and different characters. In the end, everything comes together perfectly and the revelation is unexpected.
The depth of the characters was something that impressed me. Even though I haven’t read the previous books, I got glimpses of the past of each character and ended being fascinated with a few. None of them is simple, they are all complex Emerald was one of the best for me. She’s a complex character not only due to her multiple personalities but also her determination to hold on to her consciousness. She’s both the source and the weakness of poor Jack. There are moments that I felt my heart squeeze a little for him and his torments. Jack is a complex character that has been both virtues and flaws. He’s a lost character that suffers most of his misadventures due to bad decisions mostly. As the reader is taken through a combination of what he’s doing and his thoughts and feelings, one way or the other, they grow attached to him. He takes time to look back on his life, to confront some of his ghosts and to reflect on his mistakes and his decisions. For me as a reader, it taught me a few lessons.
The style of writing is great. It’s smooth, flows perfectly with the events of the story adapting to the general mood of the plot and of the characters. The author’s vivid imagination and rich vocabulary are seductive and pull the reader to such depth that even when it gets gruesome, it’s very hard to let go of the book. It’s a distinctive style, worth remembering.
I think that I should read the previous ones to truly see how much the characters and the author’s style developed through the series. It can be read as a stand-alone but it still felt like I was missing something.
I recommend this novel to all the fans of a complex, thrilling story that stands out for all the right reasons.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Mysterious Press and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 2 Stars
An averagely good thriller that keeps the mind engaged but doesn’t bring anything new to the table.
After a traumatizing encounter that left her adjusting to the new physical and mental scars, Cat Connolly, the first female detective in the Garda Síochána, has seen enough action to last a lifetime. When her friend and training partner Sarah Jane fails to show up to their training session, Cat decides to investigate. Sarah’s home was turned upside down, and her father, a famous Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, admits to having warned her against pursuing a story. Things get even more complicated when a dead body is found in a brutal state but it turns out it’s not Sarah. Can Cat and Detective Inspector Dawson O’Rourke find her before it’s too late? Is it just a kidnapping or is there something darker laying in the dark alleys of Dublin?
I didn’t get to read the previous novel and the first adventure of Cat and DI O’Rourke, but still, I felt that this novel could be read as a standalone.
The plot is well structured and developed. The author explores the complex world of forensics and police procedures with enough detail to make the story believable. The pace is slow in the beginning and slowly begins to get more suspenseful and picks up a bit of speed. The end was unexpected and the mystery was tightly resolved, no loose ends.
The style of writing is easy to follow and it flows easily. The deep research on forensics and police procedures is definitely a plus, it gives depth to the plot. The descriptions at times were acceptable but in others, I thought there was too much detail. There were some conversations that, for me, didn’t add anything to the story or the characters.
With the characters I found myself having mixed opinions, but may that’s because I jumped the first novel. Cat Connolly is a badass main character. After going through hell in her previous adventure, she has to endure a long road of physical and psychological recovery. I could feel her passion for kickbox, her motivation to get better and to find objectives to help her move on. I think she wanted to feel useful and when her friend goes missing, she found a way escape her nightmares and to keep her mind busy. DI Dawson O’Rourke is a fine male character and his relationship with Cat makes even the reader feel safe in his ‘presence’. For Sarah Hansen, I didn’t see the depth or felt her connection to Cat. I would have liked to read more about her background story and her relationship with the main character. I felt a bit indifferent to her disappearance: If it were a member of Cat’s family or one of the male characters, it would have had a deeper impact for me.
I didn't connect with the book or it's characters, even if I do admire Cat for her strength. Hopefully the third one will be a bit better.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Zaffre Publishing and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating. 4 Stars
A classic crime novel that brings back the flare of the golden age of detective literature. A quick, pleasant read.
In a small English village, Miss Ethel Tither is the most unpopular lady. Set deeply in her religious ways, she makes it her mission to know everything about everyone. However, before she can open her mouth too much, she appears murdered. When attempts in solving the case came out blank, the local police is forced to reach out to Scotland Yard that sends Inspector Littlejohn to crack the case. Who in the village was desperate enough to shut the busybody up permanently and why?
I can’t say I knew the author when I requested the book but I did a little research. George Bellairs was a classic crime author that wrote detective stories in from the 40s to the 70s. He is best known for the adventures of Detective Inspector Littlejohn stories. Poisoned Pen Press started re-issuing old crime classics and I’m very glad they did. “Death of a Busybody” is the third instalment of the series. The vintage touch to the story is amazing and refreshing to read.
The style line is quite simple and the mystery is relatively easy to solve. All the clues are there to be openly picked by the reader and the slow pace of the story gives enough time to digest everything. At the same time, there are a few twists and surprises that add something extra to the story. In the end, the case closes very nicely and all loose ends are tide. Additionally, the author tells the reader about the fate of certain characters which gives a very nice touch and depth to the story.
The settings are the typical small villages in the country with the typical country style and people. The love for gossip, the criticism and the fake smiles give off the feeling that not everything or everyone is what they seem. Bellairs takes his time to present it and bit by bit reveals more about its inhabitants, but on the contrary of what one might think, the more you think you know, the less you actually know.
The style of writing is compelling and captivating. I got a bit lost in the midst of all the dialects and typical small town phrases but still, it added charm and made the story and its characters more real. The author did a great job in adding lightness to very serious situations.
There are many small clues like black-out curtains on the windows, petrol shortages, land girls doing jobs on the farms and some mention of rationing, but rationing had not reached the extreme levels which later years made necessary. There is a tea shop which specializes in all sorts of sweets and there is definitely no shortage of sugar at this point. There also is not a single mention of fighting on any front and that is quite at variance with most mystery novels set in this time period.
“Death of a Busybody” was a fun, quick read with unexpected twists and memorable characters. I recommend this novel to all the fans of classic detective stories!
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Poisoned Pen Press and the British Library Crime Classics, for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
This collection is the perfect read for lovers of books and mysteries. What can be better than murders themes around books?
These 15 short stories were written by distinguished mystery writers and they make every story count. The editor Otto Penzler put together an anthology of crime between books that fill fit the likes of most readers. From hidden messages inside old books, a deadly bookseller and the deep secrets a library might hide, make this book impossible to put down.
Each storyline is different but they all have something in common: books. The title was definitely well picked and it describes perfectly its content. All the stories take place in modern times and they all involve different types of books or characters related to books like booksellers, book collectors, books privately owned, public displayed books and even an old scroll. Even though most of the stories can be classified as thriller/mystery, some of them have a fantasy touch to them and one fits in the fantasy genre completely.
The authors with stories on this collection, by order of appearance, are:
The editor Otto Penzler did a great job putting this anthology together. All the authors have different styles of writing, different ways of describing and interaction with the reader which is very refreshing when you’re jumping from story to story. Some of the authors I’m familiar with and it was a treat to read some short works from them, like Jeffrey Deaver, Thomas Cook and John Connolly. Additionally, discovering other authors just made my to-read list a bit longer for next year.
I absolutely recommend this anthology to all the fans of murder mysteries and books. These great authors write great stories and getting to know other creators of this genre might help you discover some great books you haven’t read yet.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Pegasus Books and the editor for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
I absolutely love and admire Miss Phyrne Fisher. A woman wise beyond her years with modern vision and temperament; what is there not to love?
The story starts as a murder mystery always starts: a death. A sweet, innocent fairy-story writer/illustrator is found dead. This time, Miss Fisher will jump into the world of magazine publishing and investigate deeply to find the truth. As the staff isn’t at all helpful, she works together with the police to see the matter solved and justice done. However, she is also involved in a second case, of a more personal nature. Her lover Lin Chung travelled to China a few weeks before and no one has heard from him since. In a family ruled by secrets and dark intents, will Miss Fisher be able to rescue her lover before it’s too late?
This was a deep and complex novel, just how I like them. There are two different plots in the story: the writer’s murder and the disappearance of Phyrne’s lover in China. The author did a great job in developing these two different cases in one story without them getting mixed up together or leaving loose endings. The first plot is steady-paced, very “according to the law” procedure (suspect interviews, taking evidence, analyzing patterns); but the second plot is where the juicy things happen. The tempo is a lot quicker, full of suspense and action. In addition, since it’s a more personal case, Miss Fisher works alone which makes things a lot more interesting.
The characters are memorable. I really enjoy Miss Phyrne Fisher as the main character, she is a force to be reckoned with. She has the determination of iron, she will do everything to protect the people she loves and lives by her own rules. She is a strong woman with a matching temper, not afraid to make her opinions known, to call out injustice and of breaking the rules every now and then. She is the opposite of what a woman should be back in 1928. Dot is a great companion and a lovely character too. Lin Chung is, as I imagine him, very handsome and sweet but at the same time, he hides a few secrets of his own. He’s daring and interesting which is why I enjoyed the chemistry between Phyrne and him so much.
A great read that I recommend to fans of strong female protagonists and of a great murder mystery!
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Poisoned Pen Press, and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
One of the best mystery thrillers I’ve read this year! I’m a fan of Caine’s work on The Great Library series and it was a pleasant surprise to read something so far from the fantasy world!
Gina Royal had it all: the house, the husband and her two children, completely unaware of the deadly secrets hidden behind a perfect family picture. When a car accident brings to light that her husband is a serial killer, Gina becomes Gwen Proctor, a woman on the run from accusations and internet stalkers that find her guilty of helping her husband. In desperate need to settle down, Gwen moves to the remote house of Stillhouse Lake where she thinks her children and herself will finally have some peace. That is until the body of a woman is found floating in the lake, killed with the same method Gwen’s husband used.
It’s a horrific, thrilling and suspenseful novel that had me glued to its pages, right from the first chapter. The style of writing and the very well thought plot made this novel very addictive and compelling. The feeling of paranoia is always present and the characters will share that feeling with the reader. The atmosphere builds up perfectly and every event just adds to a great climax. The novel works perfectly on the dangers of the internet and how “internet is forever”. The author describes very well the social dilemma of how the family of a criminal is easily put in the same bag even though they had nothing to do with the acts committed by that individual. People tend to forget that there is a chance they might be victims too. Also, beware: if your husband doesn’t show you his garage, maybe it’s not just his workshop after all…
The characters are well developed and very well described. Gwen is a great main character and a warrior; I was proud to read about her deeds and the demonstration of her courage. Her first priority is always her children and if she has to break the rules and moral codes to do it, so be it. It takes a lot of courage and a strong spirit to be able to do what she does in the novel. Overall, the relationships in the novel are solid, especially between Gwen and her children and Gwen and her neighbour.
A great psychological thriller that I recommend to all the fans of these genres.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Thomas & Mercer. and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 4 Stars
This was my first time reading a book from Leigh Russell and consequently the thrilling adventures of Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel. I’ll definitely take a look at the previous novels though because this was one amazing and memorable read.
Geraldine is going through hard times. When she finally had her feet on the ground, her twin sister Helena enters her life and proves that the relationship between siblings can be very complicated. As if that wasn’t enough, the Detective Inspector has to find the responsible for the murder of a young woman found in a trash bin before he strikes again. Will she be able to manage her professional and personal life without losing her career and her life?
Even though I didn’t read the previous novels, I still got a good grip of the story and the characters, so I can say that it can be read as a stand-alone.
The story-line of the novel is very solid and very well developed. The murder story is very well structured and it builds up very nicely. One of the things I love the most in this type of story is how in the end everything comes together, like a puzzle. It’s very satisfactory!
The combination between the personal life of Geraldine and the murder investigation was the “cherry on the cake”: the two realities give depth to her character and it’s impossible not to sympathise with her, her internal conflicts and the way she tries to deal with her problematic sister. The effort she puts into coordinate everything is both tiring and admirable and it serves as a reminder that members of the criminal justice system have their own problems and sometimes difficult choices to make.
I will definitely be reading more of Leigh Russell and I’m very curious to see what comes next in the life of Geraldine Steel.
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher No Exit Press, and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 4 Stars
Just as good as the first volume, From Whom the Bread Rolls is the sequel of The Crepes of Wrath by Sarah Fox. I want to thank Random House Alibi for reaching out and allowing me to read this great sequel.
Life is good for Marley McKinney as she settles in Wildwood Cove, a small coastal town, managing the pancake restaurant her cousin left her. Everything is running smoothly, including the relationship wither boyfriend Brett. But calm times are not meant to last. Soon Marley has her world turned upside down when her old employee and nemesis comes back to cause problems. Marley is sure that Ida Winkler is responsible for the damage made to her restaurant, but no proof is found of the fact. Things get more complicated when later, Ida is found dead and Marley is considered the prime suspect. Fearing the ruin of her business, Marley jumps in the murder mystery and soon begins to realise that several people from the small town have a motive to get rid of Ida. Can she clear her name and find out who wants to frame her?
The setting of this novel always gets to me. I’ve lived almost all my life near the ocean and something about small towns near water give me a cosy feeling and a sense of nostalgia. The writing style is still great and it was impossible not to grow addicted to the story right from the beginning. The descriptions of the food and the recipes are still just as tempting as in the first novel. They made me hungry and with the will to actually try to make them!
The story line is great. Easy to follow and a few twists made it a bit more difficult to discover the identity of the killer.
The characters are gaining depth and growing compared to the first novel. I got the feeling that Marley has grown and I could feel her acceptance of her new responsibility but at the same time struggling to believe that all that belongs to her. She’s very real and I absolutely love the way she is. Ida was a good character in the sense of that rivalry and need for revenge. I could have pictured her being around for a bit longer to cause trouble, she brought spice to the story. The secondary characters are very nice and even if the restaurant in itself already brings a lot of colour to the novel, the characters make the light shine through.
A great, addictive cosy-mystery that will leave you hungry for more, literally! Can’t wait to see that comes next for Marley and The Flip Side!
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Penguin Random House and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 4 Stars
Wow! Never judge a book by its cover, especially not this out-of-box novel! This was my first time reading a Tarot Mystery novel and I definitely want to read the previous novels and what comes next!
Imagine that instead of a clean-record type of characters, you have a family of successful con-artists. After the death of their mother, Alanis and her half-sister Clarise try to keep a straight life by running the occult shop left by their mother, The White Magic Five and Dime shop. Things run smoothly until Biddle, the sisters father figure, comes back after years and shows up at their shop. The thing is he also came with a scheme that can get them into a hell of trouble. In a roller-coaster of emotions, Alanis is lost in what to do, until a client’s dead body is found. Let the adventure begin, including a crazy lady, old lovers and a small town.
I really enjoyed this steady-paced cosy-mystery. Completely new and refreshing to have a main female character that actually doesn’t fit the usual box of “the good girl”. The characters are great, they have depth and it was very easy to connect with them. The writing also helped in connecting to the storyline and the characters. The description of the emotions and the line reasoning of Alanis only made her more likeable to me and it made me rot for her all the way. The humorous lines and witty counter-backs add colour and spice to the story, they were a delight to read!
The illustration of the tarot cards and their meaning were amazingly used, even if some of those meanings weren’t completely accurate. Even so, I can’t describe my satisfaction in seeing a deeper use of the tarot cards and how they influence the story. Absolutely loved it!
I can say that this book has a bit of everything: drama, humour and mystery. I definitely recommend this novel to all the fans of cosy-mysteries with a twist!
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Midnight Ink, and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
My Rating: 5 Stars
Lyndsay Faye is absolutely perfect in capturing the essence of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This novel is perfect and it fills the gaps between the original stories very well. I’m very happy that I got to read an advanced copy!
The Whole Art of Detection: Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of short stories written by Dr Watson about his dear friend and world-famous detective Sherlock Holmes. The novel is divided into three parts: “Before Baker Street”, “The Early Years” and “The Return and Years Later”, giving a glimpse of the past of this extraordinary mind and the years until his death at the Reichenbach Falls.
I loved every minute of this reading, couldn’t put it down, couldn’t stop feeling astonished of the depth and pure brilliance of the author. I could hear the voice of Jeremy Brett, the great Sherlock of 1984 to 1994. Faye captures all that defines Doyle and Sherlock, from the immaculate Victorian style of writing, the characters, the complexity of the plots and the perfect power of deduction that are so known in the stories of Sherlock Holmes. I couldn’t possibly pick one or two favourite stories, every single one of them in particular, unique and addictive. Other famous characters also join the plots, like Mycroft Holmes and Inspector Lestrade.
I really enjoyed reading the growth of Dr Watson in the stories, from the newbie side-kick to an essential part of the mystery-solving business. I always enjoyed reading his perspective of Sherlock and how he tries to define him, ending up being surprised by the others actions or words that remind him of his friend’s humanity.
I can say with all heart that Lyndsay Faye did a spectacular job in continuing the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson, filling in the gaps with information that all Sherlock fans will appreciate. I highly recommend this novel to all the fans of Mr Holmes!
Thank you NetGalley, the publisher Mysterious Press. and the author for allowing me to read and review a digital copy of this book.
Hope you find an idea for your next reading here.