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Sunday, November 11, 2018

The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye

The Gods of Gotham (Timothy Wilde #1) by Lyndsay Faye 

From description:  1845. New York City forms its first police force. The great potato famine hits Ireland. These two seemingly disparate events will change New York City. Forever. 

Timothy Wilde, a young bar tender, has saved his money and hopes to eventually be worthy of asking Mercy Underhill to marry him.  A devastating fire burns his dreams to ash.  His money is gone, his imagined future destroyed, his face disfigured.

Now jobless and homeless, his brother Valentine signs him up with the newly created "copper stars," and a reluctant Timothy becomes part of what will become the NYPD.  The idea of a police force is anathema to many and distrusted by more.  

Political corruption is rife, and Timothy's brother is deeply involve in political high jinks; the setting is largely in areas of extreme poverty, crime, and debauchery; religious and racial divides are extreme, bitter, and dangerous; the immigration problem of the time was the influx of the detested Irish.

Chapters are preceded by excerpts from political and religious tracts of the time and letters excoriating Catholics and Irish.  The Gotham that Faye creates is rich in historical (and often extremely unpleasant) details: homeless children, poverty, corruption, drug use, sexual exploitation, and violence.

Plot:  During one of Timothy's rounds a young girl of about ten in a blood covered night gown runs into him.  Bird's presence will change everything for Timothy and leads to an investigation involving murdered children.  As it turns out, Timothy's strength is his persistent compulsion to solve crimes. 

While the mystery plot is interesting and twisty, just as intriguing is the look into the past in which so many of the problems present nearly 175 years ago are still prevalent today.  Faye's language and atmospheric creation of 1845 New York immerses the reader in an environment that feels genuine.  I will be reading more in this series.

Lyndsay Faye's Jane Steele, a fascinating re-imagining of Jane Eyre is also wonderful, evocative, and darkly funny.

And don't miss Faye's The Paragon Hotel, a stand alone that will be published in January.  Reader, I loved it.  


Historical Mystery.  2012.  Print length:  408 pages.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Orphan X Series by Gregg Hurwitz

I read Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz in July and really liked it so I continue the series.  My review of Orphan X.

A little background from a description:  As a boy, Evan Smoak was taken from a children's home, raised and trained as part of a secret government initiative buried so deep that virtually no one knows it exists. But he broke with the programme, choosing instead to vanish off grid and use his formidable skill set to help those unable to protect themselves.

The Nowhere Man proved to be less interesting.  Evan has been drugged, kidnapped, and imprisoned in luxury in an isolated location.   The majority of the book is one ingenious (failed) escape attempt after another.  Evan must escape in order to continue his mission to save a young girl, but the plot became repetitive with one escape attempt after another.  Of course, in the end he does escape and save the day, but while I wanted to believe events in the first book, The Nowhere Man was just too far-fetched for me.   

Despite having had problems with The Nowhere Man,  I was inclined to hope for more with the latest installment.  And Hellbent proved to renew my interest in the series.

Hellbent provides a little more background on Evan's relationship with Jack Johns, the father-figure and mentor who took the young boy and trained him as an assassin for the black ops, but also taught Evan to remain human.  Jack has recognized the corruption of the original Orphan Program and the attempt to terminate all of the Orphans.  Jack wants Evan to save his last protege.  

Joey, a sixteen-year-old girl and gifted hacker, is the current target of Charles Van Scriver, the Orphan in charge of terminating all traces of the program.  Joey is a handful, but she becomes a useful partner in this novel and a means for Evan to develop more emotional depth.  

In Out of the Dark, Evan (Orphan X) is prepared to go after the head of the snake--Jonathan Bennett, the man who originated the Orphan Program and has since decided to eliminate all of the Orphans and their trainers to protect himself.  The problem?  Jonathan Bennett has risen to the highest, most powerful position in the country.  Taking him down will not be easy.

To be successful, Evan needs help and gets it from the most unexpected place, an old enemy turned ally.  Candy will presumably appear in future books; she is a distinctive character with her own agenda.  Also interesting is Joey's appearance at her school in Switzerland--not exactly where you would expect to find her fitting in as seamlessly as she does, but all Orphans have a chameleon-like ability.  :)

I look forward to the next book, which will hopefully go back to the original mainstay of Evan helping those who find themselves in precarious situations.   The idea of each victim that "the Nowhere Man" helps giving his name to the next person in need of help allows a variety of settings, adventures, and characters.  

These are violent books that fit in the Thriller genre.  Orphan X is not realistic, but the plots are intense and with the exception of The Nowhere Man, I've been engrossed in each book.  My thanks to NetGalley for providing many hours of exciting plots and a variety of good and bad characters.  

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Interesting Article

What Does Immersing Yourself in a Book Do to Your Brain?
an excerpt from the article:
The unsettling reality, however, is that unbeknownst to many of us, including until recently myself, there has begun an unanticipated decline of empathy among our young people. The MIT scholar Sherry Turkle described a study by Sara Konrath and her research group at Stanford University that showed a 40 percent decline in empathy in our young people over the last two decades, with the most precipitous decline in the last ten years. Turkle attributes the loss of empathy largely to their inability to navigate the online world without losing track of their real-time, face-to-face relationships. In her view our technologies place us at a remove, which changes not only who we are as individuals but also who we are with one another.
and another excerpt:
These studies are the beginning of increasing work on the place of empathy and perspective taking in the neuroscience of literature. The cognitive scientist Keith Oatley, who studies the psychology of fiction, has demonstrated a strong relationship between reading fiction and the involvement of the cognitive processes known to underlie both empathy and theory of mind. Oatley and his York University colleague Raymond Mar suggest that the process of taking on another’s consciousness in reading fiction and the nature of fiction’s content—where the great emotions and conflicts of life are regularly played out—not only contribute to our empathy, but represent what the social scientist Frank Hakemulder called our “moral laboratory.” 

I don't think it comes as a surprise to most readers that reading and placing oneself in the role of another person, with all that entails, creates understanding from a perspective different from our own.  That it works on the brain, creating new networks shouldn't be a surprise, after all, athletes know that "imagining" their performances is as important as practice in producing a result.

I don't think that this decline is limited to young people, however.  Fear of  "the other" has risen in the last couple of years and fear often results in a lack of willingness to put ourselves in another's situation.  

However, it perhaps more incumbent than ever to choose books that are both interesting and thoughtful for our children and to encourage them as they grow to read books that will give them insight into lives that are quite different from their own.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

Debris Line and The Moscow Sleepers

Debris Line is the latest in Matthew Fitzsimmons'  adventures of Gibson Vaughn.  I loved The Short Drop and was entertained by Poison Feather, Cold Harbor, and Debris Line, but the first book was definitely the best in this thriller series.  

Debris Line finds Gibson Vaughn, Jenn, Hendricks, and George  in a small coastal village in Portugal.  Their host?  A drug smuggler who owes George a favor and is willing to harbor the fugitives for a time.

Then a drug shipment is hijacked.  Not taken, but threatened with destruction, and Vaughn and his team must repay the privilege of having enjoyed the kingpin's sanctuary.  Or else.

Fast-paced with twists and betrayals and a new protagonist/antagonist? hacker group responsible for the heist.   The spokesperson has a great deal of knowledge about Vaughn.  Whoever these people are, we can expect to hear more about them in the next book.

Read in July.  Blog review scheduled for Nov. 1.

NetGalley/Thomas & Mercer

Thriller/Suspense.  Nov. 13, 2018.  

Stella Rimington's latest espionage thriller Moscow Sleepers kept me engaged throughout.
 Dame Stella Rimington, DCB is a British author and former Director General of MI5, a position she held from 1992 to 1996. She was the first female DG of MI5, and the first DG whose name was publicised on appointment. Wikipedia

I've read one other book by Rimington and was pleased that I enjoyed this one as well.  The story begins in Vermont with a dying university professor in a hospice.  When a visitor finally arrives, the nurse notifies the FBI, as she has been instructed to do.

From Vermont, to London, to Brussels and Berlin, to a school in rural England--the plot involves the unraveling of the importance of the dying Vermont academic to a conspiracy involving immigrant children and computer hacking.  Liz Carlyle is back on the job with MI5.  

As a result of Stella Rimington's nearly 30 years of experience with MI5, her plots have a realistic feel.  Rimington's work is more concerned with putting together puzzle pieces than the more violent works of other espionage writers.   I enjoyed the puzzle and the characters.

Read in August.  Blog review scheduled for Nov. 1.

NetGalley/Bloomsbury USA

Espionage/Mystery.  Nov. 13, 2018.


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A Couple to Watch For and Three Others

Books that I have really liked, but that won't be published  until 2019.  I will mention them again closer to publication.

Watcher in the Woods (Rockton #4) by Kelley Armstrong.  I wasn't sure how I felt about the first book in this series, but after feeling more at home with the characters, I have thoroughly enjoyed each new addition.   

Description:  The secret town of Rockton has seen some rocky times lately; understandable considering its mix of criminals and victims fleeing society for refuge within its Yukon borders. 
When a US Marshal shows up demanding the release of one of the residents, but won't say who, Casey and her boyfriend, Sheriff Eric Dalton, are skeptical. And yet only hours later, the marshal is shot dead and the only possible suspects are the townspeople and Casey's estranged sister, smuggled into town to help with a medical emergency. It's up to Casey to figure out who murdered the marshal, and why someone would kill to keep him quiet—before the killer strikes again.

I enjoyed the introduction of April, Casey's sister and the way Isobel and Kenny make a difference in the way we see her.  The book takes up right after the events in the previous book, but still can be read as a stand-alone.  There are changes taking place in Rockton and in the Council.  No cliffhanger, but a direction that was indicated in earlier books is obviously about to come to a head.  

NetGalley/Penguin Group
Mystery/Police Procedural.  Feb. 5, 2019.  Print length:  368 pages.

The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye.  I more than really liked this one.  The writing is wonderful and the characters are even better.  From description:

The year is 1921, and "Nobody" Alice James is on a cross-country train, carrying a bullet wound and fleeing for her life following an illicit drug and liquor deal gone horribly wrong. Desperate to get as far away as possible from New York City and those who want her dead, she has her sights set on Oregon: a distant frontier that seems the end of the line.

Full of well-drawn characters, I found The Paragon Hotel absolutely riveting.  So many books and characters are entertaining but quickly forgettable, Faye's plot, characters, and prose will remain with you.  One of my favorite books of the year.  I read it in August, and I loved the book and Alice, Max, all of the Paragon Hotel employees, and most especially, Blossom Fontaine!  

NetGalley/Penguin Group
Historical Mystery.  Jan. 8, 2019.  Print length:  432 pages.

I'll mention these again closer to publication date, but if you are a fan of the Armstrong series, I think you'll enjoy her latest.  As for Faye's The Paragon Hotel--highly recommended!

------------Other recent reads
Cold Winter Sun is the second in a series, but I haven't read the first one.  

A missing man. A determined hunter. A deadly case.

When Mike Lynch is contacted by his ex-wife about the missing nephew of her new husband, he offers to help find the young man with the help of his friend Terry Cochran.
Arriving in LA to try and track down the young man, the pair are immediately torn away when the missing man’s car shows up, abandoned on the side of a deserted road in New Mexico.
When two fake police officers cross their path, Terry and Mike know there is more to the case than meets the eye, and soon they find themselves asking exactly who it is they are really looking for…

This is one of those books that I didn't want to put down, but didn't love.  Reasonably likable, if stereotypical characters in Mike and Terry, but the plot didn't work all that well for me.  I notice most reviews are quite positive, so maybe I was expecting something a little different.  

NetGalley/Bloodhound Books

Thriller.  Nov. 1, 2018.

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager 

From description:  Two Truths and a Lie. The girls played it all the time in their tiny cabin at Camp Nightingale. Vivian, Natalie, Allison, and first-time camper Emma Davis, the youngest of the group. The games ended when Emma sleepily watched the others sneak out of the cabin in the dead of night. The last she--or anyone--saw of them was Vivian closing the cabin door behind her, hushing Emma with a finger pressed to her lips.

I love that little excerpt from the description. I did have trouble swallowing some of the circumstances, but The Last Time I Lied certainly had a creepy vibe, plenty of twists, and a boatload of red herrings.  Maybe it was trying a bit too hard, but I was OK until the ending which was implausible.  

According to reviews on Goodreads, most people loved the book, so take my opinion with a couple of grains of salt.  Despite wanting to like it, I mostly felt the author was manipulating too many circumstances.

NetGalley/Penguin Group

Mystery/Suspense.  July, 2018.  Print Length:  384 pages.

While I haven't read all of the books in this series featuring Cyrus Barker and Thomas Llewellyn, I've read quite a few and enjoy the historical elements as well as the characters.

Thomas Llewellyn was very young and fresh out of prison  when Cyrus Barker hired him originally.  He is now twenty-six and has gained much experience and confidence during his years working with Barker.  When the current plot begins, Thomas is looking forward to his marriage.

Cyrus Barker is a bit mysterious, but through the books we have learned a little more about his past.  In Blood Is Blood, we meet his brother Caleb, and the brothers may be cut from the same cloth, but the resulting garments are quite different in style.  

When the office of Barker & Llewellyn Private Inquiry Agents is bombed, Cyrus is seriously injured and the brunt of the investigation is shifted to Thomas with the newly arrived Caleb taking an often questionable hand.  As Thomas attempts to interview some of the enemies who may be responsible, it appears that someone is taking his suspects out.

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press

Historical Detectives.  Nov. 13, 2018.  Print length:  320 pages.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Past Tense by Lee Child

How Jack Reacher always manages to find trouble is a mystery.  In Past Tense, Reacher starts out with a plan to travel from Maine to California, but only gets as far as New Hampshire before taking a detour.   

Finding himself near the town where his father grew up, he decides to check out a little family history and discovers that some of the history is apparently not there. 

Not far from the little town of Laconia, a young couple's car breaks down, and they follow a sign to a motel in the middle of nowhere to see about the damage and contact a mechanic.  From the minute they hit the reception desk, the sense of wrongness is apparent.  In spite of having an idea about where this is going, the tension I felt was enormous.  Spoiler: (Think Bates Motel and The Most Dangerous Game)

In the meantime, Reacher continues to check public records for information about his father's family.  Oh, yeah, he also stops a young man from forcing himself on a woman, inviting retribution from a mob family and protects an old man from other bullies.  

This isn't my favorite of the Reacher books (of course, there are 23 novels in the series), but I wouldn't have missed seeing what he was up to for anything.  My favorite part was finding out what was in the suitcase!

Read in July; blog review scheduled for Oct. 22.

NetGalley/Random House

Crime/Suspense/Mystery.  Nov. 5, 2018.  Print length: 400 pages.

An interesting article in The Guardian:  How thrillers offer an antidote to toxic masculinity.  Excerpt:

The hero myth is most powerfully embodied today in thrillers. These books tend to feature men with shoulders broad enough to carry responsibility, responsibility they often don’t want to bear. They’re not afraid to pick up a burden and hold on to it. They’re not afraid to help others. They live by a code: protect the helpless; follow your own moral compass; employ minimal necessary force (which is different to abstaining from violence). This code is the thread that connects Beowulf and Gilgamesh, Marlowe and Spade, Reacher and Bourne. My own hero, Evan Smoak, aka Orphan X, is derived from this same tradition.

The take-away is mostly that we need heroes who may be violent men but who will stand up for individuals and communities who are being victimized.  I've read all of these characters in both the epics and in novels,  and was surprised to see Orphan X here, because I only recently read and reviewed it.  I think John Connolly's Charlie Parker fits in here as well since Charlie Parker is always battling against supernatural evil.  I'm not sure about "minimal necessary force" with any of these characters, but otherwise, I agree that they do protect the helpless.  

Friday, October 19, 2018

Two Mysteries and Some Interesting Articles

The third in the Ravenwood Mystery series, A Record of Blood finally gives more of the background of Atticus Riot.  Each entry into this series has been stronger, not necessarily believable, but suspenseful and full of intriguing characters.

A missing corpse, a missing horse,  Bel goes missing, missing girls from Chinatown, and Atticus faces some of the memories missing since the murder of his friend and mentor.  Lots of missing going on.  

Another rollicking adventure.


Historical Mystery.  2017.  Print length:  523 pages.

If the title doesn't appeal to a Sherlock fan, then the authors might.  I read about this one on Verushka's Pop.Ed.Lit  when she reviewed the second book in the series.  As a dedicated fan of anything Sherlock, I needed to know more about Mycroft as a young man  and quickly downloaded Mycroft Holmes, the first book.  

Mycroft's role in the Sherlock novels is usually a cameo of a heavily built man with greater deductive powers than his younger brother.  The older Mycroft is physically inactive, but brilliant, and Sherlock says of his brother:  "Occasionally he is the British government [...] the most indispensable man in the country." 

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has long been a fan of Conan Doyle's great detective, and he and Anna Waterhouse began creating a background for the elder Holmes brother as a young man.   

A brief quote from the description:  Fresh out of Cambridge University, the young Mycroft Holmes is already making a name​ ​for himself in government, working for the Secretary of State for War. Yet this most British of civil servants has strong ties to the faraway island of Trinidad, the birthplace of his best friend, Cyrus Douglas, a man of African descent, and where his fiancĂ©e Georgiana Sutton was raised.

The plot is perhaps more complicated than necessary, but the friendship between the two main characters makes up for that.  There is also the promise of more to come in the adventures of Mycroft and Cyrus Douglas to keep me happy.   I'll be getting to the next book soon.  :)


Historical Mystery/Sherlock Homes Pastiche.  2015.  Print length:  336 pages.  

And Some Interesting Articles:

Best British Women Crime Writers  2018 edition  - Some of my favorites and some I haven't read.

100 Best Horror Stories  (I've read 24--which means I have a long way to go)

How Important Are Libraries?  Are they on the decline, no longer useful?  Of course, libraries have been so important to me over the years that they are one of the things I'm happy to pay taxes for.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Catriona McPherson, Alys Clare, and Joy Ellis

I've greatly enjoyed Catriona McPherson's previous books a great deal, but Go to My Grave didn't appeal to me as much.  

Description:  Donna Weaver has put everything into The Breakers, a Bed and Breakfast that she and her mother are opening on a remote stretch of beach. Now it waits - freshly painted, richly furnished, filled with flowers.

But as the guests arrive, they feel like they've been here before. Amid home-baked scones, gorgeous guest rooms, and lavish dinners fit for a king, the feeling of menace grows. 

Someone has broken their vow. Someone is playing games. And then the games turn deadly

This book felt more manipulative than McPherson's previous books.   The characters were stereotypical and not really engaging, not even Donna.   I suspected the big twist and did not find it especially believable.  

Read in September.

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press

Mystery/Suspense.  Oct. 23, 2018.  Print length:  304 pages.

Alys Clare's The Angel in the Glass continues the adventures of  Dr. Gabriel Taverner in his small Devon village.  Characters from the first novel (Taverner's sister Celia, Theophilus Davey, local coroner, and Jonathan Carew, local vicar) begin to take on more personality in this dark mystery. 

Description:  June, 1604. When the emaciated body of a vagrant is found on the edge of the moor, it's the verdict of physician Gabriel Taverner that the man died of natural causes - but is all as it seems? Who was the dead man, and why had he come to the small West Country village of Tavy St Luke's to die cold, sick and alone? With no one claiming to have known him, his identity remains a mystery.

Then a discovery found buried in a nearby field throws a strange new light on the case ... and in attempting to find the answers, Gabriel Taverner and Coroner Theophilus Davey unearth a series of shocking secrets stretching back more than fourteen years.

Members of the Fairlight family are all creepy and twisted.  Fairlight would certainly not have been a Dickensian name choice.  He would have chosen a name more in keeping with the character's personality:  Malafide, Pedark, Blackmere, Blackquill.

read in july

NetGalley/Severen House

Historical Mystery.  Oct. 1, 2018.  Print length: 240 pages.

The Stolen Boys by Joy Ellis is another compelling mystery featuring DI Rowan Jackman and DS Marie Evans.  

Young men are being attacked and their expensive designer clothing items stolen and resold.  Hybird X street designs fetch thousands of pounds and stolen resale items fetch even more.  When one of these attacks results in the unintentional death of a young man wearing Hybird X street clothes,  Jackman's team is all in.  At the same time an influx of illegal steroids has become a problem in the area.

There are many strands woven into this latest Saltern-le-fen installment:  the above two investigations, the Fagin-like use of young people as both spotters and thieves, human trafficking, a resurgence of enthusiasm to locate Alistair Ashcroft, and the addition to the force of an old enemy of Marie Evans.  Somehow it all works.

As usual, Ellis makes the most of her characters.  Members of the Jackman team, no matter how minor, always feel genuine.  Minor characters like Tommy,  Mossy, and Daisy Cotterhill are fleshed-out and engaging, and make you worry about their fates.

Joy Ellis is one of my favorite mystery/detective fiction writers for both this series and her series featuring Nikki Galena.  Both are set in the fens which always becomes a minor character.

NetGalley/Joffe Books

Mystery/Thriller.  Oct.  12, 2018.  Print length:  305 pages.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

From the Ashes and A Bitter Draught

From the Ashes by Sabrina Flynn.  Ravenwood Mysteries #1.

From description:  Atticus Riot took a bullet to his head the day his partner was killed. Three years later, Riot returns to San Francisco to put his ghosts to rest, but the abduction of an heiress snags his attention. Two ransom demands are delivered, and the husband of the abducted Isobel Kingston is hiding the truth.

The clock is ticking. Can Riot find Mrs Kingston in time, or will she become one more regret among many?

The first chapter left me divided about continuing, but then the introduction of Isobel/Bel hooked me completely.  As I read, I found myself wondering if Flynn intended the book to be about Atticus Riot, but fell in love with the socially incorrigible Bel.  For me, the book began with the unpredictable Bel and her kick-ass personality.  

A rollicking Victorian mystery set in San Francisco.  Not perfect, I knit-picked about half a dozen things, but still enjoyed it immensely and went on to the next book.  

Free with Kindle Unlimited.

Historical mystery.  2014.  Print length:  270 pages.

A Bitter Draft continues the adventures of the Ravenwood Detective Agency, Atticus Riot, Bel, Tim, and others.

Bel reinvents herself as a reporter and a member of the Ravenwood Detective Agency and her twin brother Lotario emerges in a larger secondary role.  Oh, the gender-bending--Bel masquerades as a man at times, and Lotario as a woman.  

The plot involves Riot and Bel working together to solve a number of "suicides."

I can't say these books are believable; they are pretty far-fetched.  On the other hand, they both kept me interested in the plots and the characters.  A small cast of secondary characters like Tim, Miss Lily, Tobias, and Grim make a likable group of supporters for the two main characters.  And Lotario?  Well, he's certainly a law unto himself.  Or herself.

The books are like gobbling Halloween candy.  I know a thing or two about that.  :)

Kindle Unlimited.

Historical mystery.   2015.  Print length:  377 pages.

----------- Interesting Articles -----------

Sherry Thomas (author of the Lady Sherlock series) on Crafting the Perfect Sherlock Holmes Pastiche.

What Does Immersing Yourself in a Book Do to Your Brain?  

------------ Halloween ------------

A tipsy goblin drinking Viper Venom

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

The Rain Watcher by Tatiana De Rosnay

The Rain Watcher by Tatiana De Rosnay

From blurb:  The first new novel in four years from the beloved superstar author of Sarah's Key, a heartbreaking and uplifting story of family secrets and devastating disaster, in the tradition of THE NEST.

Beautifully written, I couldn't decide whether I was more interested in Linden Malegarde and his complex family dynamics or the Paris flood.  Perhaps because I read the book so soon after watching the videos of the 2018 flood, the descriptions of the flooding of an ancient city were especially vivid.

A thoughtful book that inches up as the Seine rises--slow and deliberate.   The Rain Watcher was as beautifully rendered as Linden Malegarde's photographs.  

Read in April.  Blog review scheduled for Oct. 9.

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press

Literary fiction.  Oct. 23, 2018.  Print length:  240 pages.  

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Mystery and Horror

The Dogs in the Street is the third book in the Dark Yorkshire series by J M Dalgliesh.  

DI Nate Caslin's control over his life has improved, and when asked to do a favor for the journalist (with whom he has a connection from earlier books), Caslin looks into the disappearance of  a young woman.

Things get messy in a big way, and a friend from his past makes an appearance.  Fast-paced with an interesting twist, Caslin discovers a scary connection with the intelligence services.

Read in August.  Review scheduled for ?

 British Detectives/Noir.  2018.  Print length:  241 pages.  

In June, I read Belinda Bauer's Snap, which I liked so much I looked for another book and decided on The Shut Eye.

Missing children, a man who claims to have psychic powers, and a DCI who has been working on both cases.  I was surprised to see the character of DCI Marvel, a character I initially disliked in Snap, was also in The Shut Eye, and we get the backstory of why he ended up in Somerset.

Marvel's boorish and curmudgeonly behavior doesn't keep him from being sympathetic--he refuses to give up on the year-old case of the missing Edie Evans whose bike he keeps at the station.

More--I want more of Belinda Bauer.  Her touching ability to write about children and her skillful narrative make this one of those novels that made me hesitate to put it down.
 I knew when I read Snap that I would be reading another book by Bauer, now that I've read two, I have to decide what to read next.

Mystery/Detective Fiction.  2015.  Print length:  318 pages.

Another summer read, but an excellent choice for R.I.P. Challenge--only if you dare.   Mystery, paranormal, and horror in the chilling A Game of Ghosts by John Connolly.

From description:  It is deep winter. The darkness is unending.
The private detective named Jaycob Eklund has vanished, and Charlie Parker is dispatched to track him down. Parker's employer, Edgar Ross, an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, has his own reasons for wanting Eklund found.
Eklund is no ordinary investigator. He is obsessively tracking a series of homicides and disappearances, each linked to reports of hauntings. Now Parker will be drawn into Eklund's world, a realm in which the monstrous Mother rules a crumbling criminal empire, in which men strike bargains with angels, and in which the innocent and guilty alike are pawns in a game of ghosts . . .

As in all of the  Charlie Parker novels, the battle of good vs evil theme prevails.  Creepy and suspenseful as all of these novels are, A Game of Ghosts makes a spine-chilling read for Halloween.

Mystery/Paranormal/Horror.  2017.  Print length:  464 pages. 

Monday, October 01, 2018

Kerry Wilkinson, Viveca Sten, Sherry Thomas

Another standalone by Kerry Wilkinson:  The Wife's Secret.  

From Description: Charley Willis was thirteen years old when her parents were killed in their family home and she was found hiding in a cupboard upstairs. 

Fifteen years later, Charley is marrying Seth Chambers. It should be the happiest day of their lives, a chance for Charley to put her past behind her, but just hours after the ceremony, she is missing. 

No one saw her leave. No one knows where she is. 

One thing is for certain…Seth is about to discover he doesn’t really know the woman he just married. And his nightmare is only just beginning. 

Seth is stunned and disbelieving, and the story moves back and forth in time--Seth's story in the present and Charlie's story in the past.  To say that Charlie's family was dysfunctional is an understatement, but fortunately, Charlie's older sister Martha was a staunch support after the horrific event.

Although the truth did occur to me at times, I was never completely sure about what happened that night and there were other complications I didn't foresee.


Mystery/Suspense.  Oct. 10, 2018.  Print length:  338 pages.

The latest translation of Viveca Sten's Sandham novels, In Harm's Way takes place during the Christmas-New Year's season.  

The body of Jeannette Thiels is discovered on the Sandhamn beach, but did she freeze to death or was it murder?  

Jeannette, a journalist with a reputation for courage and relentless investigations of war crimes and corruption, certainly had plenty of enemies.

DI Thomas Andreasson interviews Jeannette's ex-husband, their daughter Alice, and others when the autopsy reveals poison.  I won't go into all of the suspects, but I had a difficult time deciding on the villain--suspecting one person after another. 

Nora Lindstrom, spending Christmas on Sandhamn with her two boys also finds herself in an ethical dilemma.  An attorney for a bank that has recently been taken over, Nora is happy that the new management has kept her on.  When she questions the direction of some practices, however, she finds herself in an ethical dilemma, and the person she counted on for support reveals a side she did not expect.  

Current events are in play for both Thomas and Nora:  an extreme right fringe movement, fear of immigration, and corporate corruption are tangled up in various ways.


NetGalley/Amazon Crossing

Mystery/Crime.  Oct. 16, 2018.  Print length:  416 pages.

I enjoyed the latest in the "Lady Sherlock" series, but would advise readers to begin with the first book.  

As a frequent reader of Sherlock Homes pastiche, I like the originality of the Charlotte Holmes character, who would probably be placed on the autistic/Asperger's spectrum:  brilliant, aloof, focused and persistent, able to recognize patterns, observant of details, etc.

The background of Charlotte Holmes described in the first two books includes her resistance to the expectations of women during the Victorian era.  Gender-flipping both Sherlock and Dr. Watson is part of the fun.  Charlotte's detecting must be done under a male cover and her associate, who takes on the Dr. Watson role, is also a strong woman with a background that doesn't meet society standards.

The Hollow of Fear takes place shortly after the conclusion of the previous novel.  Moriarity has been introduced and plays an off-camera role.  

Lord Ingram, Charlotte's close friend, has said that his wife is in Switzerland, but when Lady Ingram's body is  discovered in the ice house on his estate, the situation looks grim. Charlotte and Mrs. Watson must discover who wants Lord Ingram charged with murder...and why.

Inspector Treadles is placed in a difficult situation, Charlotte's appetite for sweets declines (a serious symptom of fear in Charlotte's case), the relationship between Lord Ingram and Charlotte changes, and the reason for framing Ingram is unexpected.  

Start with A Study in Scarlet Women  (my review of the first two novels) and have fun with this series!

NetGalley/Berkley Publishing

Historical Mystery.  Oct. 2, 2018.  Print version:  336 pages.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Interesting Articles

On banned books.  I've read 6/10.  I tried Ulysses, but gave up, and nothing has made me want to try again. 

On conversation.  I watched the following Ted Talk a year or so ago, but someone referenced it recently, and I watched again.  Everyone is doing more "talking at" than "talking with" these days.  I'm often guilty.

 On Craig Johnson.  As a long time fan of the Longmire series, I'm looking forward to Depth of Winter

On Crime Reads.  Several of these have caught my interest!

Monday, September 24, 2018

The Lies We Told by Camilla Way and If You Ask Me by Eleanor Roosevelt

In 1986, Beth and Doug are so grateful to finally have a child after years of trying, but by the time little Hannah is a toddler, Beth knows that something is not right.    

In 2017, Clara wakes up to the realization that her partner Luke failed to come home.  Unable to get in touch with him because he had forgotten his cell phone, Clara knows he would never willingly abandon the job interview scheduled for that day.  

Although police are initially reluctant to get involved since Luke is a grown man and has not been missing long,  they realize this disappearance may be serious when messages from a stalker are revealed.  Luke had laughed them off,  now, however,  the messaged threats take on an even more menacing aspect.

As it becomes increasingly obvious that Luke is in danger, Clara tries to find out why Luke has been taken.  Some of what she turns up is not to Luke's credit, but Clara is persistent in her attempts to find out who may have been behind Luke's disappearance.

Moving back and forth in time from 1986 to the present, the story unfolds in both expected and unexpected ways.  The prologue gives a convenient prediction, but making things fit together is difficult because the author withholds enough information to keep the reader from fully understanding the overall situation.  The picture is there, but not all of the pieces are available.  

There is resolution, but the conclusion is ambiguous...almost as if leaving an opening for a sequel?  Although "bad seed" characters are interesting, I don't know that I'd follow up on this one.

Read in July; blog post scheduled for Sept. 24.

NetGalley/Berkley Publishing

Psychological/Mystery.  Oct. 9, 2018.  Print length:  385 pages.  

If You Ask Me is a collection of advice articles Eleanor Roosevelt wrote over a period of twenty years.  Interesting for a number of reasons:  human problems and questions are remarkably similar regardless of the era;  Mrs. Roosevelt took each question seriously and responded with insight and kindness no matter the topic; common sense and civility are in each response.  

"Covering a wide variety of topics—everything from war, peace, and politics to love, marriage, religion, and popular culture—these columns reveal Eleanor Roosevelt’s warmth, humanity, and timeless relevance."

NetGalley/Atria Books

History/Advice.  Oct. 9, 2018.  Print length:  272 pages.

Just read this article:  In the Time You Spend on Social Media Each Year, You Could Read 200 Books.