The Long Call by Ann Cleeves

EXCERPT: It had been a weird day at the Woodyard. Jonathan had come to find her in her studio with a tale of one of the day centre clients having gone missing. Although he was the boss, he called in sometimes, not to talk about work, but to drink coffee and look at her art.

‘Christine Shapland. Gentle soul. Down’s. Very quiet. A bit shy. She just seemed to disappear.’

‘Sorry. I haven’t seen her since last week.’ Gaby thought Jonathan had come to the studio to escape the panic in the rest of the building, to have a few moments of calm. He wouldn’t really expect her to have seen the woman recently. Gaby had nothing to do with the day centre, except for running an art class there once a week.

‘There seems to have been some kind of breakdown in communication. Her uncle thought her mother had picked her up and Susan, her mother, thought the uncle was doing it. Nobody’s seen her since yesterday.’ Jonathan had been standing by the window, the light catching one side of his face, turning the blond hair to silver thread. ‘It’s a bloody nightmare. Her uncle is Dennis Salter. He’s on the Board of Trustees and should have known better. He should have gone in for her, or at least looked out properly. It’ll be the Woodyard that gets the blame, though. The press will have a field day.’

He turned towards Gaby then and she thought she’d never seen him so tense, so fraught.

‘Why don’t you talk to Christopher Preece? He must be good at handling the media.’

‘Yeah, maybe.’ But Jonathan hadn’t seemed too sure. ‘I just want her found safe and well. This, on top of the murder of one of our volunteers, seems like a nightmare. I always thought of the Woodyard as a kind of a sanctuary. Not a place where terrible things happen to the people who belong here.’

ABOUT ‘THE LONG CALL’: In North Devon, where the rivers Taw and Torridge converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his father’s funeral takes place. The day Matthew turned his back on the strict evangelical community in which he grew up, he lost his family too.

Now he’s back, not just to mourn his father at a distance, but to take charge of his first major case in the Two Rivers region; a complex place not quite as idyllic as tourists suppose.

A body has been found on the beach near to Matthew’s new home: a man with the tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.

Finding the killer is Venn’s only focus, and his team’s investigation will take him straight back into the community he left behind, and the deadly secrets that lurk there.

MY THOUGHTS: I picked this book up for two reasons: I love Ann Cleeves writing; and as I have recently received a digital ARC for the second in this series, The Heron’s Cry, I wanted to read The Long Call first.

Matthew Venn is going to be a worthy addition to Ann Cleeves existing stable of detectives, Vera Stanhope and Jimmy Perez. Gay, a bit of a loner/misfit who lacks confidence in himself and feels awkward in company, a bit anal, he has an analytical mind, and is only too aware that his past experiences with some of the people involved in this investigation may colour his perceptions. Jonathan, Venn’s husband, is manager at the Woodyard, so should Venn even be investigating this case?

Jen Rafferty, who has demons of her own is dedicated and smart, and Ross, DCI Joe Oldham’s protege, and a bit of a fashionista with an inflated opinion of himself, make up Venn’s team.

The story, definitely not as dark as many of Cleeves works, moves at a steady pace, and is told from the points of view of Matthew, Jen, and the elderly Maurice Braddick who, along with Luce his daughter, are probably my two favourite characters.

The Long Call is very much a character driven murder mystery. The murder investigation is complicated by the abductions of two of the Woodyard’s other clients, one after the other. Are these abductions connected to the murder, or is something else going on in this tight knit community? It was a definite challenge to figure out whodunit and how, and I failed, miserably.

Thank you Ann Cleeves for a new series and another wonderful whodunit. I am looking forward to reading The Heron’s Cry.

# TheLongCall

I: #anncleeves @panmacmillan

T: @AnnCleeves @PanMacmillan

#contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #murdermystery

THE AUTHOR: Ann grew up in the country, first in Herefordshire, then in North Devon. Her father was a village school teacher. After dropping out of university she took a number of temporary jobs – child care officer, women’s refuge leader, bird observatory cook, auxiliary coastguard – before going back to college and training to be a probation officer.

While she was cooking in the Bird Observatory on Fair Isle, she met her husband Tim, a visiting ornithologist. She was attracted less by the ornithology than the bottle of malt whisky she saw in his rucksack when she showed him his room. Soon after they married, Tim was appointed as warden of Hilbre, a tiny tidal island nature reserve in the Dee Estuary. They were the only residents, there was no mains electricity or water and access to the mainland was at low tide across the shore. If a person’s not heavily into birds – and Ann isn’t – there’s not much to do on Hilbre and that was when she started writing. Her first series of crime novels features the elderly naturalist, George Palmer-Jones. A couple of these books are seriously dreadful.

In 1987 Tim, Ann and their two daughters moved to Northumberland and the north east provides the inspiration for many of her subsequent titles. The girls have both taken up with Geordie lads. In the autumn of 2006, Ann and Tim finally achieved their ambition of moving back to the North East.

DISCLOSURE: I borrowed a copy of The Long Call written by Ann Cleeves and published by Macmillan, from Waitomo District Library. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on Goodreads.com

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

EXCERPT: Edward Fosca was a murderer.

This was a fact. This wasn’t something Mariana knew just on an intellectual level, as an idea. Her body knew it. She felt it in her bones, along her blood, and deep within every cell.

Edward Fosca was guilty.

And yet – she couldn’t prove it, and might never prove it. This man, this monster, who had killed at least two people, might, in all likelihood, walk free.

He was so smug, so sure of himself. ‘He thinks he’s got away with it’, she thought. He thought he had won.

But he hadn’t. Not yet.

Mariana was determined to outsmart him. She had to.

She would sit up all night and remember everything that had happened. She would sit here in this small, dark room in Cambridge, and think, and work it out. She stared at the red bar of the electric heater on the wall, burning, glowing in the dark, willing herself into a kind of trance.

In her mind, she would go back to the very beginning and remember it all. Every single detail.

And she would catch him.

ABOUT ‘THE MAIDENS’: Edward Fosca is a murderer. Of this Mariana is certain. But Fosca is untouchable. A handsome and charismatic Greek Tragedy professor at Cambridge University, Fosca is adored by staff and students alike—particularly by the members of a secret society of female students known as The Maidens.

Mariana Andros is a brilliant but troubled group therapist who becomes fixated on The Maidens when one member, a friend of Mariana’s niece Zoe, is found murdered in Cambridge.

Mariana, who was once herself a student at the university, quickly suspects that behind the idyllic beauty of the spires and turrets, and beneath the ancient traditions, lies something sinister. And she becomes convinced that, despite his alibi, Edward Fosca is guilty of the murder. But why would the professor target one of his students? And why does he keep returning to the rites of Persephone, the maiden, and her journey to the underworld?

When another body is found, Mariana’s obsession with proving Fosca’s guilt spirals out of control, threatening to destroy her credibility as well as her closest relationships. But Mariana is determined to stop this killer, even if it costs her everything—including her own life.

MY THOUGHTS: Where to start? At the beginning seems to be the best place:

‘Tell me tales of thy first love –
April hopes, the fools of chance;
Till the graves begin to move,
And the dead begin to dance.’
Alfred, Lord Tennyson, The Vision of Sin

Love. It has a lot to answer for, or rather the deeds done in the name of love do.

Love is blind – and I am sure deaf and dumb at times too.

As they say, “nothing brings people together like a tragedy.” But in The Maidens, one tragedy piles on top of another.

Mariana has lost the love of her life, Sebastian, who drowned while they were on holiday in Naxos, a Greek Island where Mariana had grown up.

Zoe, Mariana’s niece, was orphaned following the death of her parents in an accident. Mariana and Sebastian raised Zoe, and now Zoe has also lost Sebastian.

Tara is Zoe’s friend and colleague at Cambridge. Now Tara is dead, brutally murdered. And Zoe reaches out to Mariana seeking solace.

Mariana, a psychotherapist, is still struggling to come to terms with her husband’s death, and is being stalked by one of her clients. Cambridge, where Zoe is studying, is also the place where Mariana and Sebastian first met.

Bittersweet memories and murder. Or murders. Tara will not be the last of the elite group of ‘Maidens’ to be murdered. And as in Romeo and Juliet, the emotions of love and hate are the lifeblood of The Maidens. Everything that happens seems to be caused by one, the other, or both, of these two forces.

This really is a classic murder-mystery. There is a little misdirection, and a few good fat red herrings. Agatha Christie with a good dollop of Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Greek mythology thrown in. Which I didn’t mind at all. In fact, I mostly found it quite interesting.

There is a diverse cast of characters. I found Henry quite scary, Edward an enigma (a rather creepy one), and I really didn’t know what to make of Fred. Even the peripheral characters are interesting and have their own individual quirks. Between the characters, and Michaelides beautifully atmospheric settings, runs a thread of evil, of menace. The postcards are a great touch.

The plot moves on steadily, casting suspicion on multiple characters before reaching a crescendo where all is revealed. Now it seems that a lot of people were disappointed with the ending, but personally, I liked it. It certainly wasn’t what I expected, but it worked for me.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.3

#TheMaidens #NetGalley

I: @alex.michaelides #orionpublishing

T: @AlexMichaelides @orionbooks

#contemporaryfiction #crime #murdermystery #psychologicalthriller #serialkillerthriller #suspense

THE AUTHOR: Alex Michaelides was born and raised in Cyprus. He has an M.A. in English literature from Trinity College, Cambridge University, and an M.A. in screenwriting from the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. He now lives in London.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Orion Publishing via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Maidens by Alex Michaelides for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

The Serial Killer’s Wife by Alice Hunter

EXCERPT: Tom – This isn’t the first time I’ve been in a police station, but it is the first time I have been interviewed in relation to a murder.

I clench my fists under the rectangular table. My wedding ring digs into the flesh of the neighbouring fingers. I will my hands to relax again, pulling my arms from beneath the table and resting them loosely in front of me. I’ll come across as less stressed if I do that. I close my eyes lightly, blocking out the dull yellow, windowless walls. The room is claustrophobic, airless, and that’s without other bodies in here. Why couldn’t they ask their questions in the comfort of my own home, for God’s sake?

‘Because it’s bad,’ the voice in my head answers.

‘Oh, God. What’s coming?’

My eyes spring open at the sound of the door.

I guess I’m about to find out.

MY THOUGHTS: The Serial Killer’s Wife is not bad, but it is rather ordinary. It is slow, particularly so in the first half. There are a few twists in the second half, but other than one OMG! moment, there was nothing that I didn’t see coming. And that was a problem for me. I kept waiting for some great unexpected revelation, some surprise, but it didn’t happen.

There is a distinct lack of suspense, always a problem for me, and I didn’t relate to the characters at all. There was no depth to any of them, and the dialogue was equally as shallow. The book’s publicity blurb isn’t entirely accurate either.

I liked the fact that there were three different people narrating this audiobook. However, their voices weren’t particularly expressive. At times they sounded like they were reading a telephone directory.

The whole book felt rather flat. The premise is wonderful and clever, but the author just didn’t pull it off. The Serial Killer’s Wife might have earned a whole three stars if it weren’t for that final chapter because, despite my comments, there was never a moment where I considered not finishing it. The final chapter was totally extraneous, and totally pointless. Sometimes less is more.

⭐⭐.5

#TheSerialKillersWife #NetGalley

I: @alicehunter_author #harpercollinsaudio #harpercollinsaudiobooks

T: @Alice_Hunter_1 @HarperCollinsUK

#audiobook #contemporaryfiction #crime #domesticdrama #psychologicalthriller #serialkillerthriller

THE AUTHOR: After completing a psychology degree, Alice Hunter became an interventions facilitator in a prison. There, she was part of a team offering rehabilitation programmes to men serving sentences for a wide range of offences, often working with prisoners who’d committed serious violent crimes. Previously, Alice had been a nurse, working in the NHS. She now puts her experiences to good use in fiction.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins Audio via Netgalley for providing an audio ARC of The Serial Killer’s Wife written by Alice Hunter and narrated by Sarah Paul, James Mcnaughton, and Kristin Atherton. All opinions expressed in this review are my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

We have had a beautiful week of weather: cool but not actually cold nights, and gloriously sunny days with temperatures not quite reaching those of summer, but very close. But it seems that is coming to an end. We had thick fog this morning and now it is mizzling. The forecast for the week to come is rain, all week. I am glad my new dryer arrived and was installed on Friday.

We were planning on going out for lunch today at a new bar about 3/4 hour away. It has Heineken on tap and I have heard only good things about the food. But I was much longer at work this morning than I thought I was going to be, and then I got home to find friend had called in, so lunch out has been postponed for a couple of weeks. I made us all toasted sandwiches instead, and we caught up on each other’s news before he had to head off again. If he hadn’t been travelling in the opposite direction, we would have suggested he join us.

I have had a wonderful week’s reading based mainly in England, with a little time in Wales. Have you been anywhere interesting?

Currently I am reading The Maidens by Alex Michaelides. Intriguing!

I am also reading Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben. I only started this yesterday, and am almost finished.

And I am about to begin listening to If I Had Two Lives by A.B. Whelan and narrated by Kristen James

This week I am planning to read Dead Sorry by Helen H. Durrant

Twenty-five years ago a schoolgirl was attacked by three bullies in her home where she lived with her grandmother.

Now, the mother of one of those bullies is found murdered on the Hobfield housing estate. Written on the wall in the victim’s blood is the word, “sorry.”

There is a link to the discovery of bones at an old house up in the hills — the home of the teenage girl who was attacked.

Detective Tom Calladine and his partner DS Ruth Bayliss have more than this puzzling case on their hands. Arch-villain Lazarov is threatening Calladine’s granddaughter and a valuable hoard of Celtic gold is coming to a local museum.

The pressure is on, and this time Calladine is cracking . . .

Discover an absolutely unputdownable crime thriller from a best-selling author.

If you like Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott, Mel Sherratt, Ruth Rendell, or Mark Billingham you will enjoy this exciting new crime fiction writer.

DEAD SORRY is book eleven of a new series of detective thrillers featuring DS Ruth Bayliss and DI Tom Calladine.

What readers are saying about the series
“I read it in one sitting.” Aileen

“This books has lots of twists and turns throughout and with a cracking ending to this brilliant book.” Nessa

“Really enjoyed this book.” Nerys

“Kept me guessing till the end.” Anna Maria

“I finished it in twenty-four hours and enjoyed every page.” Joan

THE DETECTIVES
Tom Calladine is a detective inspector who is devoted to his job. His personal life, however, is not so successful. Having been married and divorced before the age of twenty-one has set a pattern that he finds difficult to escape.

Ruth Bayliss is in her mid-thirties, plain-speaking but loyal. She is balancing her professional life with looking after a small child.

THE SETTINGThe fictional village of Leesdon is on the outskirts of an industrial northern English city. There is little work and a lot of crime. The bane of Calladine’s life is the Hobfield housing estate, breeding ground to all that is wrong with the area that he calls home.

The Vacation by John Marrs

Venice Beach, Los Angeles. A paradise on earth.

Tourists flock to the golden coast and the promise of Hollywood.

But for eight strangers at a beach front hostel, there is far more on their mind than an extended vacation.

All of them are running from something. And they all have secrets they’d kill to keep…

I went to my local library last week to return a book. Honest. I had no intention of picking up anything new to read. You will understand why when you see the number of ARCs I received this week. And sitting there, right beside the return slot, is a shelf of recent releases – and if that’s not fighting dirty, I don’t know what is! – and New Zealand author Paul Cleave’s latest, The Quiet People. But it wasn’t just sitting there, quietly. Oh no. It was fluttering it’s pages alluringly at me, whispering seductively, ‘How about I come home with you. I can show you a really good time’ . . . Then it literally (no pun intended) threw itself at me and manoeuvred me to checkouts. I know when I’m beaten and gave in quietly. So this week I will also be reading

Cameron and Lisa Murdoch are successful crime-writers. They have been on the promotional circuit, joking that no-one knows how to get away with crime like they do. After all, they write about it for a living.So when their 7 year old son Zach goes missing, naturally the police and the public wonder if they have finally decided to prove what they have been saying all this time – are they trying to show how they can commit the perfect crime? 

I had a day during the week when I was feeling quite overwhelmed by an accumulation of different things. So that night when I couldn’t sleep and couldn’t concentrate on my reading, I took refuge in Netgalley with result that I received twenty-seven (yes, Susan. 27.) ARCs this week 🤦‍♀️🤸‍♀️🤸‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤸‍♀️🤸‍♀️🤦‍♀️ I don’t know whether to be appalled or excited.

As well as the audiobook If I Had Two Lives by A.B. Whelan, Dead Sorry by Helen H. Durrant, and The Vacation by John Marrs, I received:

What’s Not True by Valerie Taylor

My Mother’s Children by Annette Sills

In Another Light by A.J. Banner

The Darkest Flower by Kristin Wright (thank you Michael David https://bonkersforthebooks.wordpress.com/)

The Beauty of Fragile Things by Emma Hartley

Summer Island Book Club by Ciara Knight

Death and Croissants by Ian Moore

I Don’t Forgive You by Aggie Blum Thompson

The Best American Mystery and Suspense 2021

Snow Country by Sebastian Faulks

The Crooked Shore by Martin Edwards

The Murder Box by Olivia Kiernan

One Left Behind by Carla Kovach

The Shut Away Sisters by Suzanne Goldring

The Grandmother Plot by Caroline B. Cooney

The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous

Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout

The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz

Slough House by Mick Herron

Her Perfect Life by Hank Phillipi Ryan

A Hand to Hold in Deep Water (audiobook) by Shawn Nocher, narrated by Elizabeth Evans

The Third Grave by Lisa Jackson

And two more audiobooks, Know No Evil by Graeme Hampton, narrated by Julie Maisey

And, The Man I Married by Elena Wilkes, narrated by Colleen Prendergast

I have never had that many ARCs in one week before. I bet that does a bit of damage to my review ratio! What is the most ARCs you have received in any one week?

Now I have two reviews to write so I had better get writing and get them done before dinner. Nice fresh snapper tonight with an avocado salsa and salad.

Happy reading my friends. ❤📚

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

We’re having another dismal weekend. It’s been damp and foggy. Luke has been with us for the weekend and I think that the weather is even getting him down. He certainly hasn’t been his normal bouncy self. He’s quite happy to snuggle up with a book or Paw Patrol. I hope that he is not coming down with anything else!

I didn’t travel quite so widely with my reading this past week, Nantucket and Maryland in the USA, and London, Devon and the village of Westenbury in England. Have you been anywhere exciting or exotic?

I am currently reading A Family Affair by Julie Houston



And

And I am also reading The Long Call by Ann Cleeves, the first book in the Detective Matthew Venn series, the second of which, A Heron’s Cry, I received last week.

This week I am planning to read Waiting to Begin by Amanda Prowse

1984. Bessie is a confident sixteen-year-old girl with the world at her feet, dreaming of what life will bring and what she’ll bring to this life. Then everything comes crashing down. Her bright and trusting smile is lost, banished by shame—and a secret she’ll carry with her for the rest of her life.

2021. The last thirty-seven years have not been easy for Bess. At fifty-three she is visibly weary, and her marriage to Mario is in tatters. Watching her son in newlywed bliss—the hope, the trust, the joy—Bess knows it is time to face her own demons, and try to save her relationship. But she’ll have to throw off the burden of shame if she is to honour that sixteen-year-old girl whose dreams lie frozen in time.

Can Bess face her past, finally come clean to Mario, and claim the love she has longed to fully experience all these years?

And Fragile by Sarah Hilary

Everything she touches breaks . . .

Nell Ballard is a runaway. A former foster child with a dark secret she is desperate to keep, all Nell wants is to find a place she can belong.

So when a job comes up at Starling Villas, home to the enigmatic Robin Wilder, she seizes the opportunity with both hands.

Only her new lodgings may not be the safe haven that she was hoping for. Her employer lives by a set of rigid rules and she soon sees that he is hiding secrets of his own.

But is Nell’s arrival at the Villas really the coincidence it seems? After all, she knows more than most how fragile people can be – and how easy they can be to break . . .

And I am going to be listening to The Serial Killer’s Wife by Alice Hunter

They’re saying he’s a monster. And they’re saying she knew.

Beth and Tom Hardcastle are the envy of their neighbourhood – they have the perfect marriage, the perfect house, the perfect family.

When the police knock on their door one evening, Beth panics. Tom should be back from work by now – what if he’s crashed his car? She fears the worst.

But the worst is beyond imagining.

As the interrogation begins, Beth will find herself questioning everything she believed about her husband.

They’re husband and wife – till death do them part…

I have five new ARCs this week:

The One to Blame by S.E. Lynes

The Evidence by K.L. Slater

Invisible Victim by Mel Sherratt

The Wedding Night by Harriet Walker

and The Devil’s Choir by Martin Michaud

So, as you can see, my resolve to request less than what I have read didn’t last long, thanks in a large part to Carla of Carlalovestoread.wordpress.com If you haven’t visited her site, pop over and see what she is reading.

Have a great week and happy reading!

The Heights by Louise Candlish

EXCERPT: Craning to glimpse the man who has come out onto the terrace and stands at the clear glass balustrade, my first thought, as it always is when I witness someone poised inches from a sheer drop like that, is, ‘He’s going to throw himself off.’ He’s going to lean forward, look down, and hear the call of the void, exactly as I would. Then he’ll jump.

I say as much to Selena, and she exclaims in horror, ‘But why would he want to jump?’

‘Not him. Me. If I were standing where he is. Don’t worry. It’s nothing to do with feeling suicidal. It’s a condition. They call it high place phenomenon.’

‘What, it’s like vertigo?’

‘That’s more a sensation of spinning – like in the movie. This is a kind of irrational impulse. But not everyone has it.’ I gesture to our man on the roof terrace, as still and poised as an elite diver about to go for gold. ‘He obviously doesn’t.’

‘Well, it wouldn’t be the best place to live if he did,’ Selena says with a smirk, as he turns and walks the length of his terrace to its river-facing corner. That’s when it happens. The impossible. The grotesque. There’s a self-consciousness to the way this man lifts his chin, an exaggerated bounce to his step, that I recognize. That makes me put my hand to my mouth to muffle a gasp, my heart punching a savage rhythm in my chest.

It’s him.

ABOUT ‘THE HEIGHTS’: He thinks he’s safe up there.
But he’ll never be safe from you.

The Heights is a tall, slender apartment building among the warehouses of Shad Thames, its roof terrace so discreet you wouldn’t know it existed if you weren’t standing at the window of the flat directly opposite. But you are. And that’s when you see a man up there – a man you’d recognize anywhere. He’s older now and his appearance has subtly changed, but it’s definitely him.

Which makes no sense at all since you know he has been dead for over two years.

You know this for a fact.

Because you’re the one who killed him.

MY THOUGHTS: Geez, Louise! What happened? I have loved your previous books. I enjoy the ‘slow burn’, BUT ….. The Heights is just slow.

I took four days to read The Heights, for no other reason that I kept finding other things to read/do. I would put this down, and just wasn’t motivated to pick it up again.

The Heights lacks drama, suspense, which was a real disappointment after the wonderful opening chapter. I was excited by opening chapters, but as the novel ground on, I lost interest.

I felt nothing for the characters, which surprised me as I expected to have great sympathy for Ellen. Instead I actually disliked her. I tried to put myself in her place, but I don’t think that I could sustain that level of hatred and vitriol.

And the twists? Sorry Louise, but I saw them all, bar one, coming a mile off, and I wasn’t really surprised by that either.

I would like to point out that I am very much alone with my thoughts on The Heights, and that just about everyone else has loved this book. But sorry, it just didn’t work for me. However I will be right there in line for whatever Louise Candlish writes next.

⭐⭐⭐

#TheHeights #NetGalley

I: @louisecandlish @simonschusterau

T: @louise_candlish @SimonSchusterAU

#contemporaryfiction #crime #familydrama

THE AUTHOR: Before writing fiction, I studied English at University College London and worked as an illustrated book editor and advertising copywriter.

I live in a South London neighbourhood not unlike the one in my novels with my husband, teenage daughter, and our fox-red Labrador Bertie.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Simon & Schuster Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Heights by Louise Candlish. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Entry Island by Peter May

EXCERPT: When the plane began its final descent towards Havre de Maisons, it banked left and Sime saw the storm clouds accumulating in the south-west. And as it swung around for landing, he caught a glimpse once more of Entry Island standing sentinel at the far end of the bay. A dark, featureless shadow waiting for him in the grey, pre-storm light. He had thought, just a matter of days ago, that he had seen the last of it. But now he was back. To try to resolve what seemed like an insoluble mystery. To right what he believed to be a miscarriage of justice. Something that, in all likelihood, would lose him his job.

ABOUT ‘ENTRY ISLAND’: When Detective Sime Mackenzie boards a light aircraft at Montreal’s St. Hubert airfield, he does so without looking back. For Sime, the 850-mile journey ahead represents an opportunity to escape the bitter blend of loneliness and regret that has come to characterise his life in the city.

Travelling as part of an eight-officer investigation team, Sime’s destination lies in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Only two kilometres wide and three long, Entry Island is home to a population of around 130 inhabitants – the wealthiest of which has just been discovered murdered in his home.

The investigation itself appears little more than a formality. The evidence points to a crime of passion: the victim’s wife the vengeful culprit. But for Sime the investigation is turned on its head when he comes face to face with the prime suspect, and is convinced that he knows her – even though they have never met.

Haunted by this certainty his insomnia becomes punctuated by dreams of a distant past on a Scottish island 3,000 miles away. Dreams in which the widow plays a leading role. Sime’s conviction becomes an obsession. And in spite of mounting evidence of her guilt he finds himself convinced of her innocence, leading to a conflict between the professonal duty he must fulfil, and the personal destiny that awaits him.

MY THOUGHTS: Entry Island criss-crosses between a small island on Canada’s Eastern Seaboard and the Hebrides in a mystery that spans the centuries.

The plot is complex and fascinating. A murder occurs on a small isolated island with a population of only 100 people. How hard could it be to solve? The only suspect, Kirsty, the murdered man’s estranged wife, triggers a strange response in Sime, and thus begins the story of two islands in two times, two mysteries, and a love story that spans two centuries.

May, as always, writes vividly, painting pictures of his characters, the landscapes in which they dwell, and the little known but very real Highland Clearances. He is master of the claustrophobic and isolated island setting, of depicting the very special characters that choose to live there.

May had my heart pounding in places, and had me in tears in others. He wrung every conceivable emotion from me as I read Entry Island. He both thrilled me, and appalled me. He taught me of a period in history that I had known nothing about. He entertained me, superbly.

Thank you Peter May. I will continue to buy every book that you write. And will, no doubt, continue to feel that frisson of excitement as I open the cover of each for the first time.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#EntryIsland

I: @authorpetermay @riverrun_books

T: @authorpetermay @riverrunbooks

#fivestarread #crime #detectivefiction #contemporaryfiction #historicalfiction #murdermystery #mystery #thriller

QUOTES: ‘A light wind blew high clouds across an inky sky, stars like jewels set in ebony. An almost full moon came and went in washes of colourless silver light. The air was filled with the sound of the ocean, the slow steady breath of eternity.’

‘We sow the seeds of our own destruction without ever realizing it.’

THE AUTHOR: Peter May was born and raised in Scotland and now lives in France. As well as being a prolific and award winning writer, he has also had a successful career as a television writer, creator, and producer.

DISCLOSURE: I own my copy of Entry Island written by Peter May and published by Riverrun, a division of Quercus. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

It’s been a cold, wet and windy weekend here in New Zealand. Other than working Saturday morning, I have spent the weekend stretched out on the sofa in front of the fire reading and snoozing. There are lots of other things I could be doing, but I just can’t get motivated.

I have had a wonderful week of travelling through my reads, Maryland USA, Darwin Australia, Malibu California, Jamaica, Sydney Australia, and now Nantucket.

Currently I am reading Golden Girl by Elin Hildebrand. This is my first book by this author and I am loving it. It’s one of those lovely reads that you can just immerse yourself in.

I am still listening to Legacy by Nora Roberts. It is very slow moving and, although I love the characters, I am seriously considering abandoning this. I feel like I have been listening to it forever. Have any of you read or listened to Legacy? Should I persevere and finish it or should I move on?

This week I am planning on reading The Heights by Louise Candlish

The Heights is a tall, slender apartment building among the warehouses of Shad Thames, its roof terrace so discreet you wouldn’t know it existed if you weren’t standing at the window of the flat directly opposite. But you are. And that’s when you see a man up there – a man you’d recognize anywhere. He’s older now and his appearance has subtly changed, but it’s definitely him.

Which makes no sense at all since you know he has been dead for over two years.

You know this for a fact.

Because you’re the one who killed him.

And A Family Affair by Julie Houston

Joining the family business was never going to be easy…

Frankie Piccione is done running away from her responsibilities, well for now anyway. Having escaped Westenbury after suffering a shattered heart, it’s time to take up her place on the family board. Piccione’s Pickles and Preserves needs Frankie. Frankie knows she can make the business work. But with her brother Luca and the new, rather attractive, Cameron Mancini watching her every move, she’s going to have to come up with something special to get them off her back and recognising she belongs on the board just as much as they do.

With the help of her Aunt Pam and best friend, Daisy, Frankie is thriving with her new sense of purpose. Until someone from her past walks right back into it…

And I have received only one new ARC this week, (Sorry Susan 😉😂🤣), which goes some way to making up for my excesses of the previous few weeks. But what a score it is. I have been requesting Ann Cleeves books ever since I joined Netgalley in 2014 and this is the first time I have been approved, which just goes to show that it pays to persevere. The book I received is The Heron’s Cry, #2 in the Two Rivers series, so I am off to the library in morning to pick up #1 in the series, The Long Call.

Have a wonderful weekend, and do let me know where you have been on your reading travels this, and whether or not I should persevere with Legacy.

Happy reading! And happy bookish travels. ❤📚

The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood

EXCERPT: Judith’s cape was her most treasured possession. She’d tell anyone who asked, and many did, that it kept her warm in winter, served as a picnic blanket in the summer, and she could pull it over her head if ever she was caught in a spring shower.

Best of all, Judith believed it was a cloak of invisibility. Every evening, come rain or shine, she’d take off her clothes, wrap the cape around herself, and step out of her house feeling a delicious frisson of naughtiness. She would plunge her feet into a pair of ancient wellies and stride through the knee-high grass – swish, swish, swish! – to her boathouse. Like the rest of Judith’s house, it was pink-bricked, timber framed, and somewhat crumbling.

Judith entered the cobwebby darkness and kicked off her wellies. She hung her cape on an old hook, and, still hidden from the outside world by a pair of ancient boathouse doors, stepped down the stone slipway and into the Thames.

It was almost a religious experience for her, accepting the cold water onto her skin, and she exhaled with a whoosh as she leant forward into the embrace of the river. Suddenly she was weightless, supported by the water that felt like silk to her body.

She swam upstream, the evening sunshine flashing diamonds on the water all around. Judith smiled to herself. She always smiled to herself when she was out swimming. She couldn’t help it. After all, there might be dog walkers on the Thames path, and there were very definitely plenty of people in the near distance as she looked at the spire of the Marlow church and the span of the Victorian suspension bridge that linked the town to the neighbouring village of Bisham. None of these people were aware that there was a seventy-seven year old woman swimming nearby entirely in the nude.

ABOUT ‘THE MARLOW MURDER CLUB’: To solve an impossible murder, you need an impossible hero…

Judith Potts is seventy-seven years old and blissfully happy. She lives on her own in a faded mansion just outside Marlow, there’s no man in her life to tell her what to do or how much whisky to drink, and to keep herself busy she sets crosswords for The Times newspaper.

One evening, while out swimming in the Thames, Judith witnesses a brutal murder. The local police don’t believe her story, so she decides to investigate for herself, and is soon joined in her quest by Suzie, a salt-of-the-earth dog-walker, and Becks, the prim and proper wife of the local Vicar.

Together, they are the Marlow Murder Club.

When another body turns up, they realise they have a real-life serial killer on their hands. And the puzzle they set out to solve has become a trap from which they might never escape…

MY THOUGHTS: Judith is a character! How could anyone not love her? She is opinionated, brusque, and bossy.

The murder mystery is immensely enjoyable, and I had great fun trying to figure out whodunit – I was way off base, even having changed my mind half a dozen times. I figured out how it was done, but not the who.

My enjoyment was in no small part due to the characters. As well as Judith, there is Suzie, a dog-walker, and Bex, the timid wife of the local vicar. The police don’t have a chance against this lot, who continue to poke their collective nose into the police investigation. I felt quite sorry for DS Tanika Malik – she really was no match for the trio.

This is a warm, humorous read, and I am excited to see that there is a sequel in the pipeline.

Nicolette McKenzie is an excellent narrator. Her range of voices is amazing. I thought I was listening to several different narrators.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#TheMarlowMurderClub

I: @robertthorogoodwriter @hqstories

T:

#contemporaryfiction #crime #murdermystery

THE AUTHOR: Robert Thorogood is an English screenwriter. He is best known as the creator of the BBC 1 Murder Mystery Series, Death in Paradise.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of The Marlow Murder Club written by Robert Thorogood, narrated by Nicolette McKenzie and published by HQ Audio. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.com

Still by Matt Nable

Due for publication May 26, 2021

EXCERPT: The snake’s head lifted, it’s hood flared and it looked at the shadowy figures, like a fighter adopting his stance. It unravelled itself and moved away, down the embankment into the large snarls of lantana and wild saltbush.

‘Stand him up.’ The voice came from a large broad-shouldered man, his shape caught briefly in the half-moon’s light. The voice wasn’t much more than a whisper, though considering where they were, it wouldn’t have mattered had he yelled. The only sign of mankind was the corona from the town’s lights to the west of them and even it had been dulled by the ocean mist. In the darkness in front of the blockish end of a derelict machine-gun post, a prone man was pulled up by his armpits. He stood, his face lifting from the shadows and into the light. His bottom lip was split in its centre and fell loosely either side of the gash.

‘You were in the wrong place at the wrong time.’

ABOUT ‘STILL’: Darwin, Summer, 1963.

The humidity sat heavy and thick over the town as Senior Constable Ned Potter looked down at a body that had been dragged from the shallow marshland. He didn’t need a coroner to tell him this was a bad death. He didn’t know then that this was only the first. Or that he was about to risk everything looking for answers.

Late one night, Charlotte Clark drove the long way home, thinking about how stuck she felt, a 23-year-old housewife, married to a cowboy who wasn’t who she thought he was. The days ahead felt suffocating, living in a town where she was supposed to keep herself nice and wait for her husband to get home from the pub. Charlotte stopped the car, stepped out to breathe in the night air and looked out over the water to the tangled mangroves. She never heard a sound before the hand was around her mouth.

Both Charlotte and Ned are about to learn that the world they live in is full of secrets and that it takes courage to fight for what is right. But there are people who will do anything to protect themselves and sometimes courage is not enough to keep you safe.

MY THOUGHTS: Summer. 1963. Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia. It’s humid. Hot. There’s crocs, stingers and sharks. The fishing’s good. The beer’s cold. The climate rascist. Corruption rife. Women the property of their men. People went to the Territory to go missing. That’s the way it was.

Matt Nable has given us some of the most magnificent and some of the most despicable characters that I have ever encountered. Charlotte is one of the magnificent ones; a woman in an abusive relationship, the kind that was frequently the norm back then. But a woman who will rise above society’s expectations and make peace with herself and her actions. Constable Ned Potter is a ‘good bastard’. He’s not perfect, but he stands up for what he believes in, at great personal cost.

The story is dark. It flows along at its own pace. Nable spends some considerable time throughout the book creating atmosphere; the damp, stifling heat, the mosquitoes, the drinking, the bullying, which all adds to the personality of this tale. It is a tale of cruelty and abuse, of corruption and cover ups. It is violent. And, in places, shocking.

Don’t expect Still to be fast moving. It’s not. But it will keep you turning the pages in a kind of fascinated horror. Nable doesn’t pull any punches. He tells it how it was, warts and all. Incredibly realistic.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

# Still #NetGalley

I: #mattnable @@hachetteaus

T: @MattNableOnline @HachetteAus

australiancrimefiction #mystery #Darwin

THE AUTHOR: Matthew Nable is an Australian film and television actor, writer, sports commentator and former professional rugby league footballer (Manly Sea Eagles). With his wife and three children, Matt divides his time between Sydney and Los Angeles.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Hachette Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Still by Matt Nable for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com