Very impressive debut novel

book

The Moment Before Drowning by James Brydon

Book Review:  5 out of 5 star rating

Capitaine Jacques le Garrec has returned to Paris in disgrace.  He was a hero in the French Resistance but now is facing charges of a terrible crime that occurred in Algiers, where he was working in the Army Intelligence Service.  While he’s waiting trial, he’s asked to investigate the unsolved murder of a local teenage girl.  The French town where this murder took place has a history of German occupation that has left its impact on the residents.  As le Garrec looks into the murder, his memories of what happened in Algiers often collides with the investigation.

I’m very impressed by this author’s debut novel.  It’s a short novel but Mr. Brydon packs in so much emotion, suspense, tension and heartbreak.  This story literally took my breath away and has left me shaken.  Be forewarned that this book is not for the faint hearted.  It’s a brutally violent book with graphic descriptions of horrendous torture.  Capitaine le Garrec is a broken man, torn apart by his work in Algiers.  The moral dilemma he’s faced with is a tragic one.   There was never a moment in this book that I wasn’t completely engrossed.  The ending was pure perfection.  This book will haunt me for some time to come.  This author is one to be reckoned with and I hope his next literary work will be published soon.

Most highly recommended.

This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.

 

 

Advertisements

Believable? Not really – but who cares!

book

Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris

Book Review:  4 out of 5 star rating

When the love of Finn’s life Layla disappears at a service station, he’s a suspect but is soon cleared though he hasn’t told the police the whole story.  His grief is shared by Layla’s sister Ellen and it brings them together.  Ten years after Layla’s disappearance, Finn and Ellen are engaged to be married.  But now signs start appearing that Layla may still be alive and not too happy about the upcoming wedding.

I really could not put this book down!  I enjoyed this author’s two previous books and this was no exception.  The author really knows how to ramp up tension.  It’s a short book and just flew by.  I never expected quality literature when I chose this one but Ms. Paris’ books are fun and entertaining and that’s all I ask for in a light thriller like this one.

Recommended for when you want a fun, fast read.

This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.

book pub

Entertaining exotic mystery

book

The Knowledge by Martha Grimes

Book Review:  4 out of 5 star rating

As David and Rebecca Moffit exit a cab in front of an exclusive club/casino/art gallery called Artemis, they are tragically shot to death.  The shooter then jumps in the cab, points a gun at the cab driver, Robbie Parsons, and tells him to drive.

Det. Superintendent Richard Jury becomes involved in the murder case due to the fact that he had met the victims two days before their death and felt an instant bond with David.  He’s determined to find the murderer as the investigation moves from London to Reno, Nevada to Tanzanian gem mines and even to Africa.

While I don’t often read cozy mysteries any longer, Martha Grimes is one author that I always return to.  I’ve read each of her books and it was quite a pleasure to once again spend time with her unique, eccentric characters.  This book also introduced us to a gang of young children, particularly the clever Patty Haight, who were all delightful.  Ms. Grimes’ books are character and humor driven and are unlike any other mystery series.  From Richard Jury to his aristocrat friend Melrose Plant to dear Wiggins, Marshall Trublood, Carole-Anne, Diane and Vivian and even the mischievous cat Cyril, all such beloved characters.  I did miss Aunt Agatha in this particular book.  Logic and believability may be lacking in the mystery department but her books more than make up for it in the character department.

Recommended as are all of Martha Grimes’ books.

This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.

 

Extraordinary character study

book

The Waters & the Wild by DeSales Harrison

Book Review:  5 out of 5 star rating

One of Daniel Abend’s therapy patients commits suicide.  She was an addict and was depressed so he thought he understood what had happened.  But when he starts to receive mysterious packages and letters, he starts to think there may have more to her death than he first thought.  The letters and packages take a more sinister turn when they lead him to believe that his teenage daughter is in danger.  Whomever is sending Daniel these notes seems to know a lot about his past, which causes Daniel to visit his past mistakes in life.

Writing the above blurb outlining the basic plot of this book makes it sound like an ordinary thriller.  Yes, there’s plenty of suspense, but it’s so much more than that.  It’s an extraordinary, multi-layered look at the life of a man whose sorrows and regrets run deep.  The writing is so luscious, I couldn’t get enough of it.  The author chose to tell the story through a confession written to a priest, which added another layer of intrigue.  It’s a dark, tragic tale and one I’ll never forget.  This is an intense literary work of art and completely took my breath away.  Kudos to the author on his debut novel.  If it doesn’t receive many awards, I’ll be very surprised.

Most highly recommended.

This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Another delightful mystery from Ms. George

book

The Punishment She Deserves by Elizabeth George

Book Review:  5 out of 5 star rating

Ian Druitt was a respected deacon of the Church of England.  When he turns up dead while in police custody due to an accusation of pedophilia, it’s up to Detective Chief Superintendent Isabelle Ardery to sort out whether it was suicide or murder.  She reluctantly teams up with DS Barbara Havers and they set off to historic Ludlow to investigate.  Ardery is battling more demons than a possible murderer.  She’s fighting with her ex-husband who is determined to move out of the country with their two sons and Ardery’s been hitting the vodka bottle too often.  She’s also determined to finally find enough reason to call for the transfer of Havers out of her district.

I’ve have been a fan of this author since her first book many years ago.  Ms. George is a master at meticulously plotting out her complex mysteries, but where she truly excels is in her characters.  If you decide to read something by this author, and I hope you do, you should start with her first book, “A Great Deliverance”, so you have a good understanding of the background of each of the characters and can grow to love them as I have.  Her newest book is a long one, over 700 pages on my Kindle, but you’ll get no complaints about that from me as the more time I spend with these characters, the happier I am.   This is a complex tale and one of the best that this author has written.  I became totally engrossed in the mystery and I so very much enjoyed Ms. George’s humorous telling of Havers’ attempts at tap dancing.  Ms. George remains my favorite English mystery writer (though she’s American).  I’m already longing for her next book.

Most highly recommended

This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.

 

Entertaining mystery

book

The Bad Daughter by Joy Fielding

Book Review:  4 out of 5 star rating

Robin hasn’t heard from her sister, Melanie, in years so when she received a phone message from her, she knew it couldn’t be good.  Robin gets panic attacks fairly often and the news that her estranged best friend, Tara, had been shot and killed and that Tara’s 12-year-old daughter, Cassidy, and Robin’s father had also been shot and were in the hospital in critical condition sends Robin into a tail spin.  Though Robin has no love for her father, she returns home.  There she tries to piece together what actually had happened.  Was this a home invasion or was this personal?  Was her brother Alec involved somehow?  After all, Alec and Tara had been engaged at one time and Alec and Robin’s father had stolen her affections away from his son and married Tara himself.  Quite a good motive, wouldn’t you say?  But that had happened years ago so why would Alec suddenly seek revenge?

Joy Fielding has been writing psychological suspense since the early ‘70s.  I was quite a big fan of hers back then but somehow I got away from her work.  When I saw this book being offered to book reviewers, I thought it was about time I tried one of her books again.   And I’m glad I did!

Ms. Fielding knows how to weave together a good story and how to keep those pages turning for her readers.  The main character, Robin, is down to earth and likeable.  I also really liked Melanie, as obnoxious as she was.  Her witty barbs were entertaining, though not to those they were directed to.  And the ending was quite a surprise to me though I should have seen it coming.  I remember thinking at several points, hmm, that’s odd, but I never took the thought any further.  Even after I learned the big reveal, I didn’t quite believe it.  Very surprising ending indeed!  I think this may be more of a mystery rather than suspense book as I didn’t personally find it suspenseful.  And it’s not the kind of book that I’ll long remember.  But I definitely had to keep reading to find out what had really happened and found it enjoyable.  I think I’m going to have to go back and read those books of this author’s that I’ve missed.

Recommended.

This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.

 

A thriller with a lot of heart

book

The Dry by Jane Harper

Book Review:  5 out of 5 star rating

Aaron Falk has returned to his home town.  He and his father had been run out of that town when Aaron was a teenager due to suspicion of their involvement in a young girl’s death.  Now Aaron’s good friend, Luke, has apparently killed his family and then committed suicide.  Luke’s parents ask Aaron to look into what really happened.  Was Luke so despondent about the future of the farm during the area’s horrendous drought that he lost his mind, killing those he loved?  And will the town accept Aaron back or will the young Ellie’s death still haunt him and all who loved her?

I very much enjoyed this thriller.  It’s as suspenseful and engrossing as you would want any thriller to be but it also is an excellent study of how the past can affect the lives of so many for years to come.  And it’s also a look at how an environmental catastrophe can tear apart a community.  There are many layers to this absorbing book.  This is the author’s debut novel and she’s already nailed how to bring her characters to life.  These were people I knew and cared about, which made the stories of the past and the present all the more heart rending.  You’ll feel the heat from this town, both due to the weather and the anger that has been nursed for years.  An explosion is inevitable.  Perfect plot and perfect character development.  And the best part is that this is only the first of the Aaron Falk series.  There’s more to come with “Force of Nature” to be published in February, 2018.  I’m very much looking forward to it.

Highly recommended.

What a very special treat for readers!

book

Sleep No More:  Six Murderous Tales by P.D. James

Book Review:  5 out of 5 star rating

There was a reason P.D. James was the “Queen of Crime”.  She knew how to capture her readers.  I’ve read all of her work and was so pleased to see these new-to-me six stories being published.  They were such a very special treat!

I think “The Girl Who Loved Graveyards” was my favorite, if I had to pick a favorite as I loved each of them.  This was the most chilling tale.  A story of a young girl who fell in love with a graveyard and who couldn’t remember the first ten years of her life.

While some of these stories will give you chills, some of them will make you laugh, like “Mr. Millcroft’s Birthday”.  They take place in the 1920’s and 1930’s and have a wonderful old-fashioned feel about them.  Ms. James must have had so much fun writing these witty, delightful short stories.

Most highly recommended.

This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Quite a captivating book

book

The Wildling Sisters by Eve Chase

Book Review:  4 out of 5 stars

Jessie hopes that a move to the country will help her relationship with her teenage step daughter, Bella. Jessie is also trying to escape from being surrounded by memories of her husband’s deceased wife, Mandy, and wants a fresh start.  But their new home is not the haven that Jessie had hoped for.  Bella is caught up in the disappearance of a young girl, Audrey, some 50 years ago.

The book fluctuates between telling the present-day story of Jessie and the story of the missing Audrey 50 years ago. Five years after Audrey’s disappearance, Margot and her three sisters are sent off by their mother to stay with Audrey’s parents, their Aunt Sybil and Uncle Perry.  Sybil and Perry have been housebound since their daughter’s disappearance and pretty much shunned by their neighbors since Perry had been a suspect in his daughter’s disappearance.  Margot is pulled into the strange world Audrey has left behind and the sisters are drawn apart by the attentions of two young men.  When disaster strikes, hard decisions need to be made.

This is the second book by this author and I’ve had the pleasure of reading them both. I very much enjoy the characters and atmosphere that she creates in her books.  While in many ways, it’s a typical tale of an old English house with past secrets, the author has quite a knack for bringing her characters to life and has wonderful insight into the human heart.

Spellbinding and recommended.

This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.

Do we ever know anyone?

book

Watch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown

Book Review:  3 out of 5 star rating

Billie Flanagan is the mother of teenager Olive and the wife of Jonathan. She’s a bit on the rebellious side and despite warnings of hiking alone, she sets off for Desolation Wilderness and doesn’t return nor has her body been found.   A year after her mother’s disappearance, Olive begins to have visions of her mother asking that Olive find her which convinces Olive that her mother is still alive.  Jonathan is trying to have Billie officially declared dead so he can access insurance money that the family desperately needs but he’s having doubts as to what happened to Billie as he has found secrets that she has kept from him.

I had trouble getting into this one. Some of the characters’ decisions just didn’t gel with the characters’ nature as the author described them.  Some of it was hard to believe, especially the ending.  The parts concerning Olive mostly seemed written in a YA style.  The author does do a good job of describing the characters’ grief and their struggles following Billie’s disappearance.  And it certainly did keep me guessing right up to the end.  While I did find some enjoyment in reading t, the book didn’t impress me enough that I want to read the author’s other books so I can’t give it more than 3 stars.

An average book that I enjoyed.

This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review.