27 October 2015


  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 1729 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: iUniverse (June 1, 2011)
  • Publication Date: June 1, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0055S9U76
Synopsis  (Amazon)

Elly Astoria had a miraculous musical talent. As a little girl she taught herself to play guitar and keyboard so that she could feed herself and her junkie mother. One rainy night she was spotted singing and playing by the founder of an indy women’s band. Later, cleaned up and better fed, she caught the eye of her future manager – and his creepy sister. It should have been a rags-to-riches story. Instead Elly’s career was cut short by her perverted and grisly murder.

Years after her death it looks as if Elly’s life has been overlooked. If anyone deserves rediscovery and a biography, it’s Elly. Clearly there is a story to be told and a mystery to be solved. But how?

My take

Liza Cody is an author who went off the radar for the first decade of this century. I do remember reading BUCKET NUT and MONKEY WRENCH when they were published twent years ago. I think I also read some of her Anna Lee series.

This book though was quite different to what I expected. The structure is a series of recorded interviews, excerpts from letters, emails and telephone messages which Amy makes in her quest to write a book that will make her mark in the world. Once she settles on the idea of a biography about Elly Astoria, Amy discovers that there is bit more to being a biographer than just collecting material. What do you do about the gaps where you haven't a clue where the truth lies? For example no one was ever charged with Elly's murder. Is a biographer a detective too?

Amy's quest takes her to tracking down members of MotherHood, the band Elly was "adopted" by, and she makes some odd discoveries. The band broke up straight after Elly's death and went their separate ways, although they and Elly's agents continued to get income from recordings and performance rights.

There was a point when I nearly gave up on reading the book. It began to seem rather long winded and disjointed and Amy seemed no closer to the truth. I'm glad I didn't give up though.

My rating 4.3

About the author
Liza Cody is an English crime fiction writer. She is the author of thirteen novels and many short stories. Her Anna Lee series introduced the professional female private detective to British mystery fiction.
Cody was born in London and most of her work is set there. Currently she lives in Bath in England. Her informative website can be found at www.LizaCody.com.

Anna Lee
1. Dupe (1980)
2. Bad Company (1982)
3. Stalker (1984)
4. Head Case (1985)
5. Under Contract (1986)
6. Backhand (1991)

Eva Wylie
1. Bucket Nut (1992)
2. Monkey Wrench (1994)
3. Musclebound (1997)

Rift (1988)
Gimme More (2000)
Ballad of a Dead Nobody (2011)
Miss Terry (2012)
Lady Bag (2013) 

23 October 2015

Review: JUST EVIL, Vickie McKeehan

I have discovered that I haven't got a review outline prepared for this novel by a new-to-me American author, so this post is just really to mark the fact that I have completed reading it, and also enjoyed it.

It is the first in a trilogy called The Evil Secrets. The novel is focused on Kit Griffin, proprietor of the cafe The Book & Bean. Kit's mother, Alana, from whom she is estranged, is murdered and the suspicion of local police falls on Kit.

Vickie McKeehan is an established author of romance novels, and this fact emerges clearly in some strong sex scenes in JUST EVIL.

My Rating: 4.2

I promise to expand this review with my usual format of synopsis and publication details when I get home from my travels.

19 October 2015

Review: THE MOTH CATCHER, Anne Cleeves

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 1419 KB
  • Print Length: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Macmillan (September 1, 2015)
  • Publication Date: August 25, 2015
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • #7 in the Vera Stanhope series
Synopsis (Amazon)

Life seems perfect in Valley Farm, a quiet community in Northumberland. Then a shocking discovery shatters the silence. The owners of a big country house have employed a house-sitter, a young ecologist named Patrick, to look after the place while they're away. But Patrick is found dead by the side of the lane into the valley - a beautiful, lonely place to die.

DI Vera Stanhope arrives on the scene, with her detectives Holly and Joe. When they look round the attic of the big house - where Patrick has a flat - she finds the body of a second man. All the two victims have in common is a fascination with moths - catching these beautiful, rare creatures.

The three couples who live in the Valley Farm development have secrets too: Annie and Sam's daughter is due to be released from prison any day; Nigel watches, silently, every day, from his window. As Vera is drawn into the claustrophobic world of this increasingly strange community, she realizes that there may be deadly secrets trapped here ...

My Take

I wondered whether I would have "seen" this story in the Vera series on TV. I am a great fan of the series but I am glad to report that this particular story has evaded capture, so far. I hope we continue to get some book-only Vera Stanhope stories.

For me the television series has given a vision of what Vera and the various members of her team might look like, and I must admit to their faces sitting there in my mind's-eye as I read, except that the "book" Vera is larger than the actress.

But what I love about the books is their language and the author's description of the other characters in the story. The words just slip down like good wine. The story flows and Ann Cleeves gives the reader  just enough for the little grey cells to work on. There are little puzzles to solve and little bits of humor to enjoy.

I also like the way Vera manages her team, and gets them to utilize their very divergent talents, by playing them off against each other. She is very sparing with her praise which just makes them work harder.

Six retirees, three couples, who decide to get away from it all, to make the most of the time that remains to them, and then find they haven't gone far enough. Three deaths, murders connected by place, but other connections very elusive. Cleeves makes the reader work hard to the very end.

A very satisfying read.

My rating: 4.8

I've also reviewed
mini-review RAVEN BLACK - Shetland #1
WHITE NIGHTS - Shetland#2
RED BONES - Shetland #3
5.0, BLUE LIGHTNING - Shetland#4
5.0, DEAD WATER  - Shetland#5
4.6, THIN AIR - Shetland #6
4.3, MURDER IN PARADISE - Palmer-Jones series #3
TELLING TALES (Vera Stanhope) #2
4.8, SILENT VOICES, (Vera Stanhope) #4
5.0, THE GLASS ROOM (Vera Stanhope) #5
4.9, HARBOUR STREET, Ann Cleeves (Vera Stanhope) #6
 4.5, BURIAL OF GHOSTS - stand-alone

16 October 2015

Review: MURDER IN THE FAMILY, Paula Bernstein

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 567 KB
  • Print Length: 190 pages
  • Publisher: M&Z Press (September 11, 2014)
  • Publication Date: September 11, 2014
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
Synopsis (Amazon)

Hannah Kline is a successful Los Angeles obstetrician and the recently widowed mother of a young daughter. She is barely managing to hold it all together, when her life is shattered once again by the brutal murder of her beautiful, bright, zany and recently divorced sister-in-law Beth. Detective Daniel Ross of the LAPD thinks the killer had a very personal motive.

Hannah is determined to do whatever she can to assist the police in finding the murderer. She finds herself obsessed with the details of Beth's life, and as she encounters her sister-in-law's eclectic collection of friends and former lovers, she discovers that all was not as it seemed. Not only was Beth a woman with a secret life, but her secrets may have led her inexorably to a rendezvous with her killer.

My Take

The Introduction to this novel makes interesting reading: it gives the background to the story, and tells why the novel is the third published, although in fact it is the first in the series.

The author has done what many others have done: created a fictional sleuthing duo from complementary occupations, but this particular story was based on a true story, the brutal murder of a beloved friend and cousin. The first version of story as a psychological novel remained unpublished, and then came a short story written from another point of view, until the novel in its present form was accepted for publication.

Remembering all that as I read gave me a stronger appreciation of where this novel had its roots, and I think I enjoyed it all the more. I will certainly try to read the next in the series LETHAL INJECTION. I found Hannah Kline and Daniel Ross likeable characters that I would certainly like to see in action together again.

Reading MURDER IN THE FAMILY was prompted by the author offering me a review copy of the fourth in the series THE GOLDILOCKS PLANET.

My rating: 4.3

About the author
Paula Bernstein is an author who likes to think of herself as a multi-faceted career woman. She began her professional career as an academic chemist with a doctorate from Caltech. After realizing that she liked people far more than laboratory equipment, she went to Medical School and spent her professional life as a successful practicing obstetrician gynecologist.
Between deliveries, she has always indulged her creative side by taking courses in writing, interior design, graphic arts and astronomy. Over the years she's also published non-fiction, patient oriented medical books and professional papers, and written fiction for pleasure. Now that she is semi-retired she is busy editing and publishing her short stories and novels. Not surprisingly, her heroines are witty women in interesting professions from medicine, to physics to interior design. She is the author of Potpourri,an eclectic collection of short stories spanning several genres, and of Murder in the Family, Lethal Injection and Private School, the first three books in the Hannah Kline mystery series. Her latest Hannah Kline mystery is The Goldilocks Planet.

15 October 2015


  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 1357 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Dark Passage; Reprint edition (February 17, 2014)
    first published 1948
  • Publication Date: February 17, 2014
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00G1SRCG0
Synopsis  (Amazon)

First published in 1948, when it was the best-selling mystery of the year in the author’s native Australia, Murder in the Telephone Exchange stars feisty young operator Maggie Byrnes. When one of her more unpopular colleagues is murdered — her head bashed in with a “buttinski,” a piece of equipment used to listen in on phone calls — Maggie resolves to turn sleuth.

Some of her coworkers are acting strangely, and Maggie is convinced she has a better chance of figuring out who is responsible for the killing than the rather stolid police team assigned to the case, who seem to think she herself might have had something to do with it. But then one of her friends is murdered too, and it looks like Maggie might be next. Narrated with verve and wit, this is a whodunit in the tradition of Dorothy L. Sayers and Daphne du Maurier, by turns entertaining and suspenseful, and building to a gripping climax.

 My Take

There are a few hints in the story about the time frame of this novel. It is set in Melbourne very definitely after World War One and very likely after World War Two, about the time of publication. The initial murder victim, Sarah Compton, is described as middle aged, and has been working at the telephone exchange since 1917. Many people have cause to hate her: she is greedy, grasping, and not above using people's secrets for blackmail.

The setting is the manual telephone exchange in Melbourne where Compton works as a monitor or supervisor. Hundreds of people, mainly girls and women, work here in shifts. The twenty four hour  exchange controls telephone traffic in Melbourne and between Melbourne and the country side and other Australian cities. All connections are facilitated by a telephonist, written dockets are kept detailing time and length of calls as well as numbers. The system means that each phone call leaves an extensive paper trail. Despite frantic activity at some parts of the day, the telephonists also have the opportunity to listen in on calls, and in rural towns switchboard operators are often the source of the latest news and gossip.

I am just old enough to remember the time when not everyone had a telephone line to their house, when households shared 'party' lines, when you rang the operator requesting a number rather than dialing it yourself. At peak times there could be extensive delays in connecting calls, and even then there was a three minute limit on the length of the call.

The Melbourne exchange was huge, employing hundreds, and so this means there are a large number of suspects for Compton's brutal murder. Maggie Byrnes sees herself as a bit of a sleuth, but she is young, and not much of a judge of character. With a misguided sense of loyalty she withholds information from the investigating police with the result that another of the telephonists dies, and then another. Maggie herself is attacked as the police close in on their main suspect.

Despite a lot of muddying of the waters I managed to select the right candidate for murderer early on, but really wasn't sure of the motive. In the long run I thought the motive was a bit far fetched.

An interesting novel which I thought needed a bit of editing in the last half. I thought the denouement was rather long winded and some of the final reasons given could have been released as clues earlier on. Not bad for a debut novel though.

My rating 4.1

Another review to check: @arm chair reviewer 

About the author
June Wright (1919 - 2012) was the Australian author of six detective stories, the last three featuring Mother Paul. Born in Melbourne, where most of her books are set, she had begun her writing career by winning a competition run by a London publisher. This ensured the publication of her first book, Murder in the Telephone Exchange in 1948. She herself had been working in a telephone exchange for four years. She was the mother of six children. Her last novel was published in 1966. She then retired from writing to help her husband with his business.

14 October 2015

Review: THE SHIVERING SANDS, Victoria Holt

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 1769 KB
  • Print Length: 331 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca; Reprint edition (September 3, 2013)
    originally published in 1969
  • Publication Date: September 3, 2013
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00D2XA1GU
Synopsis (Amazon)

Ancient ruins. Family scandal. Forbidden love.

Caroline knows something is wrong. Her sister Roma has gone missing, and no one can tell her why. The only option is to go where Roma was last seen—an estate with a deadly history...

The Stacy family has lived off the Dover coast for generations, carefully navigating the treacherous quicksands nearby. But the sands aren't Caroline's biggest threat. Everyone here has a secret, especially enigmatic young heir Napier Stacy. No matter where Caroline turns, the ground she walks is dangerous. And the closer she comes to unraveling the truth, the closer she comes to sharing her sister's fate...

My Take

I read this for  the Crime Fiction of the Year (1969) Challenge, a meme housed at Past Offences.
In my younger days I read lots of Victoria Holt, and so I wanted to see whether for me this title weathered the test of time.

Perhaps unsurprisingly I found the plot developed much more slowly than it would in a more recently written novel. There are very heavy Gothic overtones right from the beginning: the black sheep of the family who accidentally murdered his elder, popular, handsome elder brother, banished to Australia but now summoned to return by his dying father to marry his father's ward; the mysterious disappearance of Caroline's sister from an archaeological dig; a building destroyed by fire where lights now show at night.

One of the aspects of the plot that has interested me is the actual time setting of the story. I have come across a reference to the vicar being appointed in 1888 so I am assuming it is all late 19th century. There are other factors that reinforce this: the curate goes off to Africa as a missionary, the main mode of transportation is horseback or trap, and there are no mentions of the dislocations that World War One will later cause.

So is this crime fiction? It is a question I constantly asked myself as I was reading. Certainly crimes have been committed - there is no doubt right from the beginning that Napier killed his brother Beau, accident or not, and these days that would have led to a homicide trial, rather than a retribution exacted by his father. And there are two other unexplained disappearances. But this is much more Gothic romance, closer to Daphne du Maurier and Georgette Heyer rather than Agatha Christie. The ending made me think of Edgar Allen Poe.

And here is an author that eventually led me on to crime fiction addiction.

My rating: 4.0

About the author
Victoria Holt 1906-1993 was a pseudonym used by Jean Plaidy.

Mistress of Mellyn (1960)
Kirkland Revels (1962)
Bride of Pendorric (1963)
The Legend of the Seventh Virgin (1964)
Menfreya in the Morning (1966)
     aka Menfreya
The King of the Castle (1967)
The Queen's Confession: The Story of Marie-Antoinette (1968)
The Shivering Sands (1969)
The Secret Woman (1970)
The Shadow of the Lynx (1971)
On the Night of the Seventh Moon (1972) (with James Ramsey Ullman)
The Curse of the Kings (1973)
The House of a Thousand Lanterns (1974)
Lord of the Far Island (1975)
The Pride of the Peacock (1976)
The Devil on Horseback (1977)
My Enemy, the Queen (1978)
The Spring of the Tiger (1979)
The Mask of the Enchantress (1980)
The Love Child (1981)
The Judas Kiss (1981)
The Demon Lover (1982)
The Time of the Hunter's Moon (1983)
The Landower Legacy (1984)
The Road to Paradise Island (1985)
Secret for a Nightingale (1986)
The Silk Vendetta (1987)
The Captive (1988)
The India Fan (1988)
Snare of Serpents (1990)
Daughter of Deceit (1991)
Seven for a Secret (1992)
The Black Opal (1993)

9 October 2015

Review: THE DEVIL'S CAVE , Martin Walker

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 1071 KB
  • Print Length: 385 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus (August 2, 2012)
  • Publication Date: August 2, 2012
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007C4G0CO
Synopsis  (Amazon)

It is springtime France's Périgord, a time of beauty and calm. But not for Bruno, chef de police of the small town of St Denis. A woman's body has been found on a boat, bearing signs of a black magic ritual.

Bruno has too much on his plate as it is - mediating a domestic abuse case that needs careful handling and a dodgy local development proposal that seems just too good to be true.

But a murder case must take precedent and the roots of this one lie buried deep in the past - linked to a chateau above a bend in the river, to the reclusive old woman who lives there, and to the secret hidden in the Devil's Cave.

My Take

I have read a number of this series (see the list below) and really had them mentally categorized as cosies. But in THE DEVIL'S CAVE the action is grittier and the novel becomes quite a tense thriller.

The action starts off with a naked female body floating down the river in an old boat. It appears that she may have committed suicide, but may also have participated in some Satanic rites. Around the thread of identifying this woman Bruno's normal work continues on. Some developers want to build holiday villas but a number of the residents are opposed, including the assistant bank manager, despite the fact that his bank is participating in the project. Then there is the farmer who has beaten up his wife in a drunken rage, and the young girl who has gone missing.

I do like way Martin Walker has populated the town and surrounds with persistent characters, while at the same time the plot of a new novel introduces some ones and some new issues to keep the mix fresh.

These are police procedurals, but the way things are done in St. Denis is refreshingly different from both British and American ones. Bruno is a well developed and fascinating character too.

If you haven't yet tried this series, you are missing a treat.

8 October 2015

Travelling - posts may be intermittent

This time last year we were in Indianapolis for the birth of our third grandson.
In the intervening time the family has moved to Tampa in Florida and the little one has had his first birthday.

So we are off today on the long haul - Adelaide, Sydney, Dallas/Fort Worth, Tampa and then after 5 weeks the return journey. We have scheduled overnight stops in Dallas/Fort Worth.

We are looking forward to meeting up again and exploring new territory.
See the little boys here.

So book reading and blog posts may take a back seat, but the books will be very welcome on the long flights.

7 October 2015

Review: THE OUTCAST DEAD, Elly Griffiths - audio book

Synopsis (Audible.com

Forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway has excavated a body from the grounds of Norwich Castle, a forbidding edifice that was once a prison. She believes the body may be that of infamous Victorian murderess Jemima Green. Called Mother Hook for her claw-like hand, Jemima was hanged in 1867 for the murder of five children in her care.

DCI Harry Nelson has no time for long-dead killers. Immersed in the case of three infants found dead, one after the other, in their King’s Lynn home, he’s convinced that a family member is responsible, though others on his team think differently. Then a child goes missing. Could the abduction be linked to the long-dead Mother Hook? Ruth is pulled into the case, and back towards Nelson.

From the author's website

Digging in the grounds of Norwich Castle, Ruth finds bones that date from the days when the building was a prison. She soon suspects that she has discovered the remains of Mother Hook, Norfolk’s most notorious murderess, a Victorian ‘baby farmer’ who killed her charges and sold their bodies to the so-called ‘resurrection men’.

Before long, a TV company is also interested and Ruth finds herself involved in a programme called ‘Women Who Kill’. The only consolation is the presence of a handsome American historian called Frank Barker. 
Meanwhile Nelson is dealing with the case of a young mother accused of killing her children. Then children in Norfolk start to go missing and the only clue is a note signed by ‘The Childminder’.

Could these disappearances possibly be linked to the long-dead Mother Hook?

My take

My incentive for reading this book was that I have already read the other 6 books in the 7 book series.
All of the audio books have been really well produced and this one was no exception.

The current case which DCI Harry Nelson is investigating concerns a family in which three young children have died and I was reminded of a non-fiction book that I read last year, MOTHERS WHO MURDER by Xanthe Mallett. In the story comparisons are drawn between this case and that of Mother Hook.

Ruth becomes involved in the making of a television program about Mother Hook, focussing on an excavation at Norwich Castle. During this time she meets American historian and television presenter, Frank Barker.

There is plenty of action in this novel and it was an enjoyable read.

My rating 4.7

I've also reviewed
4.8, DYING FALL- audio book
4.5, THE GHOST FIELDS, Elly Griffiths - audio book 

Review: PAVING THE NEW ROAD, Sulari Gentil

  • review copy supplied by publisher PanteraPress
  • published in 2012
  • ISBN 978-1-921997-07-5
  • Book 4 in the Rowland Sinclair Mystery series
  • 403 pages
  • Kindle version available from Amazon
Synopsis (PanteraPress)

It’s 1933, and the political landscape of Europe is darkening.

Eric Campbell, the man who would be Australia’s Führer, is on a fascist tour of the Continent, meeting dictators over cocktails and seeking allegiances in a common cause.  Yet the Australian way of life is not undefended.  Old enemies have united to undermine Campbell’s ambitions.  The clandestine armies of the Establishment have once again mobilised to thwart any friendship with the Third Reich.

But when their man in Munich is killed, desperate measures are necessary.

Now Rowland Sinclair must travel to Germany to defend Australian democracy from the relentless march of Fascism. Amidst the goosestepping euphoria of a rising Nazi movement, Rowland encounters those who will change the course of history. In a world of spies, murderers and despotic madmen, he can trust no-one but an artist, a poet and a brazen sculptress.

Plots thicken, loyalties are tested and bedfellows become strange indeed.

My Take

This title has sat in my TBR shelves for far too long. In it the author cleverly reminds of what is happening in the world in 1933: Germany rapidly heading into fascism; that there are those who would like to see Australia heading the same way. When Rowland Sinclair agrees to go to Germany instead of his brother Wilfred, Rowland's bohemian friends decide to accompany him. And how else to get there quickly other than in Kingsford-Smith's Southern Cross?

I loved the way some now famous names came to life in this story including Kingsford-Smith, Eva Braun, Hermann Goering and Nancy Wake, just to name a few.

Although the action of the story really is improbable, it makes a captivating tale, and excellent reading.

My rating: 4.7

I've also reviewed

Getting ready to travel - my reading sorted

Something I hate more than anything else when I am travelling is to run out of books.
I like to be well equipped.

So here are the books I hope to read - I suspect there are far more than I will actually get read.
Most of them are on my Kindle so I will read them on that and my iPad, but I am taking just a few printed books too - well, not many - probably three.

from Net Galley
  • KING OF THE ROAD, Nigel Bartlett
  • EDEN, Candice Fox
  • FATAL CATCH, Pauline Rowson
  • PAINTED BLACK, Greg Kihn
from my TBR
  • PAVING THE NEW ROAD, Sulari Gentil
from my Kindle
  • MURDER IN THE FAMILY, Paula Bernstein
  • THE MOTH CATCHER, Ann Cleeves
  • EVIL GAMES, Angela Marson
  • THE HANGING GIRL, Jussi Adler-Olsen
  • THE BLEEDING HEART, Christopher Fowler
  • IN THE DARK, Chris Patchell
  • ASHES TO DUST, Yrsa Sigurdardottir
  • FRISKY BUSINESS, Jill Edmondson
  • THE DEVIL'S CAVE, Martin Walker 
  • SIX DEGREES, Honey Brown
  • THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER'S WEB, David Lagercrantz
review books
  • THE GOLDILOCKS PLANET, Paula Bernstein
  • GOOD MONEY, J.M. Green
audio books
  • VINTAGE MURDER, Ngaio Marsh
  • THE OUTCAST DEAD, Elly Griffiths

4 October 2015

Review: TIME TO RUN, J.M. Peace

  • review copy supplied to me by publisher, Pan Macmillan Australia
  • ISBN 978-1-74353-786-2
  • published July 2015
  • 228 pages
  • Kindle version available from Amazon
Synopsis (Pan Macmillan Australia)

The hunt is on


A madman is kidnapping women to hunt them for sport.


Detective Janine Postlewaite leads the investigation into the disappearance of Samantha Willis, determined not to let another innocent die on her watch.

The killer's newest prey isn't like the others. Sammi is a cop. And she refuses to be his victim.


A stunning, tautly written thriller from police officer turned writer, J.M. Peace.

My Take:

My feeling is the plot of this novel relies heavily on stories from true crime such as the Ivan Milat murders. Certainly that reinforces in my mind that events such as those described in this piece of fiction can actually happen.

I don't mean to detract from the good job the author has done with plot and with character development. I was struck also by the way the tension ratchets up in the second half of the novel. We know that Sammi is racing against time for her life.

This is an impressive debut title.

My rating:  4.5

About the author
J.M. Peace is a serving police officer who would rather be writing about policing. Over the past 15 years, she has served throughout south-east Queensland in a variety of different capacities. Her voice of authority shines through in her debut crime thriller, A Time To Run. J.M. Peace she has also written various short stories, blogs regularly about policing and writing and is currently working on her second novel. JM lives on the Sunshine Coast, juggling writing and police work with raising two kids along with her partner. She blogs at www.jmpeace.com.

3 October 2015

Summary - Agatha Christie Reading Challenge Blog Carnival

September marked the 125th anniversary of the birth of Agatha Christie and so the ACRC Blog Carnival reflects that with more posts than usual.

Agatha Christie Reading Challenge Participants
1. Dress Down Sunday: Agatha Christie Week @ Clothes in Books
2. Agatha Christie Week: A Post-War Gem @ Clothes in Books
3. I Love Her, But She Loves Agatha Christie* @ Confessions of a Mystery Novelist
4. Happy Birthday Agatha @The Game's Afoot
5. Agatha Christie Week: Her Life @ Clothes in Books
6. Agatha Christie Week: A Sharp, Brittle Book @ Clothes in Books
7. Agatha Christie Week: Surfing, an early adopter @ Clothes in Books
8. Review: THE SECRET ADVERSARY @ A Crime is Afoot
9. Dress Down Sunday: Agatha Christie Week : MURDER AT THE VICARAGE
10. 5 non-series Christie @ The Invisible Event
11. Agatha Christie Week: Round the World in Fact and Fiction @ Clothes in Books
12. A Neanderthalian view of Christie @ The Villa Rosa
13. Agatha Christie on her 125th Anniversary @ A Crime is Afoot
14. The Christies That Didn't Make the Cut @ The Passing Tramp
15. The Big Five from the Bottom Shelf @ The Passing Tramp
16. Tuesday Night Bloggers @ Clothes in Books
17. Crime Fiction Top 10s @CrossExaminingCrime

The October ACRC Blog Carnival is now open for contributions.

Review: IN BITTER CHILL, Sarah Ward

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 484 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber Crime; Main edition (June 30, 2015)
  • Publication Date: June 30, 2015
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
Synopsis  (Amazon)

Bampton, Derbyshire, January 1978. Two girls go missing: Rachel Jones returns, Sophie Jenkins is never found. Thirty years later: Sophie Jenkins's mother commits suicide.

Rachel Jones has tried to put the past behind her and move on with her life. But news of the suicide re-opens old wounds and Rachel realises that the only way she can have a future is to finally discover what really happened all those years ago.

This is a story about loss and family secrets, and how often the very darkest secrets are those that are closest to you.

My take

Stories of child abductions strike a frisson of fear into the heart of every parent.

In this case two little girls  are abducted and one turns up a few hours later with little idea of where she has been and what happened. The survivor, Rachel Jones, has fragmented memories that make little sense to her: glossy green leaves, a black door, a tall man, a woman wearing sunglasses in December. There are things that Rachel never tells anybody, mainly because they make no sense to her. Sophie Jenkins' mother never stops looking and hoping.

Until she turns up dead in the Wilton Hotel, over thirty years after the date of the kidnapping. Superintendent Llewellyn was a PC back then and remembers being assigned to going on the house to house search for the children. He is convinced that the original investigative team was thorough, left no stone unturned, and he doesn't want the current team going over the same ground. At the same time bringing fresh eyes to bear may pick up something the original team missed. And they need to find out what prompted Yvonne Jenkins to kill herself after all this time.

Two days later there is another body, this time found in the very woods where Rachel Jones was discovered.

The main investigative team consists of DI Francis Sadler, DC Connie Childs and DS Damian Palmer. The dynamics of the team are interesting, in particular with Childs and Palmer competing for prime spot in Sadler's eyes.

The story is carefully plotted and turned out to be a lot more complex than I had at first thought. From about mid way I found myself hazarding various resolutions and it kept me guessing almost to the end.

This is a terrific debut novel, written with great assurance of style.

See another review at Reactions to Reading

My rating: 4.8

About the author
Sarah Ward is an online crime fiction reviewer at Crimepieces. She is also a judge for the Petrona Award for translated Scandinavian crime fiction. Her debut novel, set in Derbyshire, In Bitter Chill was published in July 2015 by Faber and Faber.

2 October 2015

New to Me authors, July to September 2015

I've continued to read new authors in this quarter.

Some of them I should have read long ago, while others are newly published. As far as I was concerned, only one was a dud.
Many of them I would like to read more of.

The 14 listed below bring my count for the year to 45, which is just under half of the number of books I have read so far this year.
There are four Australian authors in the list. **
  1. 4.5, BLOOD REDEMPTION, Alex Palmer - Aussie author **
  2. 4.6, THE SINS OF THE FATHERS, Lawrence Block - first in the Matt Scudder series 
  3. 4.6, THE ICE TWINS, S.K. Tremayne
  4. 4.4, WYCLIFFE AND THE DUNES MYSTERY,  W.J. Burley - from Mt TBR 
  5. 4.7, SILENT SCREAM, Angela Marsons - British author 
  6. 5.0, THE GHOSTS OF ALTONA, Craig Russell - winner of Scottish crime fiction prize 
  7. 4.2, AUNT BESSIE BELIEVES, Diana Xarissa - cozy set on Isle of Man
  8. 4.7, A SIEGE OF BITTERNS, Steve Burrows
  9. 1.5, THE NAME OF THE ROSE, Umberto Eco 
  10. 4.5, SUMMERTIME, ALL THE CATS ARE BORED, Philippe Georget
  11. 4.3, THIS HOUSE OF GRIEF, Helen Garner - not crime fiction - Australian **
  12. 4.8, THE BANK INSPECTOR, Roger Monk - Aussie author, set in Adelaide **
  13. 4.0, A TRIFLE DEAD, Livia Day - female Aussie author, set in Hobart **
  14. 5.0, THE SILENCE OF THE SEA, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir - translated, winner of Petrona Award 2015 

1 October 2015

What I read in September 2015

Pick of the Month Sept 2015
A productive month with some really good reads,
It covered quite a range of the crime fiction genre.
  1. 4.5, BLOOD REDEMPTION, Alex Palmer - Aussie author
  2. 3.8, THREE-CARD MONTE, Marco Malvaldi - translated
  3. 4.6, THE SINS OF THE FATHERS, Lawrence Block - first in the Matt Scudder series 
  4. 4.6, THE ICE TWINS, S.K. Tremayne
  5. 4.5, THE GHOST FIELDS, Elly Griffiths - audio book 
  6. 4.8, THE SECRET PLACE, Tana French
  7. 4.4, WYCLIFFE AND THE DUNES MYSTERY,  W.J. Burley - from Mt TBR 
  8. 4.4, GIVE A CORPSE A BAD NAME, Elizabeth Ferrars - Vintage Golden Age fiction 
  9. 4.7, SILENT SCREAM, Angela Marsons - British author 
  10. 5.0, THE GHOSTS OF ALTONA, Craig Russell - winner of Scottish crime fiction prize 
  11. 4.2, AUNT BESSIE BELIEVES, Diana Xarissa - cozy set on Isle of Man 
My pick of the month was THE GHOSTS OF ALTONA by Craig Russell, but as you can see from my ratings there were a number of titles that were close behind. 

Jan Fabel is a haunted man.

Head of the Polizei Hamburg's Murder Commission, Fabel has dealt with the dead for nearly two decades, but when a routine enquiry becomes a life-threatening - and life-changing - experience, he finds himself on much closer terms with death than ever before.

Two years later, Fabel's first case at the Murder Commission comes back to haunt him: Monika Krone's body is found at last, fifteen years after she went missing. Monika - ethereally beautiful, intelligent, cruel - was the centre of a group of students obsessed with the gothic. Fabel re-opens the case. What happened that night, when Monika left a party and disappeared into thin air?

When men involved with Monika start turning up dead, Fabel realizes he is looking for a killer with both a hunger for revenge and a taste for the gothic. What he doesn't know is that someone has been aiding and grooming a deranged escapee as his own, personal tool for revenge.

A truly gothic monster to be let loose on the world.

Winner of the Scottish Crime Novel of the Year 2015
Read a free chapter here

I was very pleased to renew my acquaintance with Jan Fabel.

Check what others have chosen for their Pick of the Month.

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month September 2015

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month 2015
Many crime fiction bloggers write a summary post at the end of each month listing what they've read, and some, like me, even go as far as naming their pick of the month.

This meme is an attempt to aggregate those summary posts.
It is an invitation to you to write your own summary post for September 2015, identify your crime fiction best read of the month, and add your post's URL to the Mr Linky below.
If Mr Linky does not appear for you, leave the URL in a comment and I will add it myself.

You can list all the books you've read in the past month on your post, even if some of them are not crime fiction, but I'd like you to nominate your crime fiction pick of the month.

That will be what you will list in Mr Linky too -
ROSEANNA, Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo - MiP (or Kerrie)

You are welcome to use the image on your post and it would be great if you could link your post back to this post on MYSTERIES in PARADISE.

Meme: new to me authors July to September 2015

It's easy to join this meme.

Just write a post about the best new-to-you crime fiction authors (or all) you've read in the period of July to September 2015, put a link to this meme in your post, and even use the logo if you like.
The books don't necessarily need to be newly published.

After writing your post, then come back to this post and add your link to Mr Linky below. (if Mr Linky does not appear - leave your URL in a comment and I will add to Mr Linky when it comes back up, or I'll add the link to the post)
Visit the links posted by other participants in the meme to discover even more books to read.

This meme will run again at the end of December 2015


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