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Friday, October 14, 2016

Beneath the Ashes and The Next

Beneath the Ashes by Jane Isaacs is the second in the DI Will Jackman series.  I read the first, Before Its Too Late, last year.  Jackman's wife suffers from locked in syndrome after a car crash, and while there is less about this aspect of his life than in the first novel, Jackman is still grieving and feeling guilty about his wife's condition.

brief description:  Nancy Faraday wakes up on the kitchen floor. The house has been broken into and her boyfriend is missing. As the case unravels, DI Jackman realises that nothing is quite as it appears and everyone, it seems, has a secret.  (source:  NetGalley description)

And then there is the body in the barn.  Jackman needs to solve the case before something happens to Nancy.

NetGalley/Legend Press

Police procedural.  Nov. 1, 2016.  Print length:  280 pages.

The Next by Stephanie Gangi came in the mail.  A lot of the advanced reader copies that arrive in my mailbox now are cozy mysteries or are books that I've already read from NetGalley.    

The Next was certainly different.  It starts out with a dying Johanna and her grown daughters who disagree about what should be done in Johanna's final days.  This part is sad, but interesting.

However, the novel then proceeds into a long section about Johanna's anger at her abandonment by her much younger lover who has moved on to a rich younger woman who is now pregnant with his child.  When Johanna dies, she finds herself as a ghostly spirit who has the ability to influence events in the earthly plane.  

Things get sticky here as ghostly Johanna's focus is on a combination of sexual frustration and revenge.  I found this portion unattractive and just as I was about to stop reading, the story switches to a final section--which was interesting and diverges from the content in previous sections.

The book has a split personality:  a serious and sad and short first section; the unpleasant middle, full of a lustful, vengeful ghost; and the sweet and sentimental conclusion.  The ingredients didn't blend well for me.

Reviews are mixed and many are extremely positive, but almost all of them seem a bit uncomfortable with the obsessive, lascivious ghost (maybe not in so many words) before Johanna moves into the light.  Spoiler:  with her dog.

Conclusion:  interesting, and if the sexual component had been missing, I might have liked it better, but I found that frenetic compulsion unpleasant.

Favorite character:  Tom, the faithful dog.

Supernatural?  2016.  309 pages.


  1. Sounds like The Next isn't sure what type of book it wants to be. Beneath the Ashes sounds more up my alley.

    1. I found it a confusing mixture.... Beneath the Ashes is developing into an interesting series.

  2. I had to look up locked-in syndrome - that sounds horrific. Certainly a difficult dilemma the inspector has to work through. Now the second book, what an odd story. I am sort of intrigued but it does sound a bit all over the place.

    1. Locked-in syndrome does sound awful, doesn't it? Makes me shudder to think about it.

  3. I'll probably give The Next a miss as it doesn't really sound appealing to me. Beneath the Ashes sounds much more interesting, perhaps it's the genre which I enjoy more. :)

    1. :) I'm not really sure which genre The Next belongs to, but I'm definitely a mystery/detective fiction fan, myself.