The Reversal by Michael Connelly

The Reversal by Michael Connelly
The Reversal (Mickey Haller, #3; Harry Bosch Universe, #21) 
by Michael Connelly (Goodreads Author)


EXCERPT: Jason Jessup was a convicted child killer who had spent nearly twenty-four years in prison until a month earlier when the California Supreme Court reversed his conviction and sent the case back to Los Angeles County for either retrial or a dismissal of the charges. The reversal came after a two-decade long legal battle staged primarily from Jessup’s cell and with his own pen. Authoring appeals, motions, complaints and whatever legal challenges he could research, the self-styled lawyer made no headway with state and federal courts but did finally win the attention of an organization of lawyers known as the Genetic Justice Project. They took over his cause and his case and eventually won an order for genetic testing of semen found on the dress of the child Jessup had been convicted of strangling.

Jessup had been convicted before DNA analysis was used in criminal trials. The analysis performed these many years later determined that the semen found on the dress had not come from Jessup but from another unknown individual. Though the courts had repeatedly upheld Jessup’s conviction, this new information tipped the scales in Jessup’s favor. The state’s Supreme Court cited the DNA findings and other inconsistencies in the evidence and trial record and reversed the case.

This was pretty much the extent of my knowledge of the Jessup case, and it was largely information gathered from newspaper stories and courthouse scuttlebutt. While I had not read the court’s complete order, I had read parts of it in the Los Angeles Times and knew it was a blistering decision that echoed many of Jessup’s long-held claims of innocence as well as police and prosecutorial misconduct in the case. As a defense attorney, I can’t say I wasn’t pleased to see the DA’s office raked over the media coals with the ruling. Call it underdog schadenfreude. It didn’t really matter that it wasn’t my case or that the current regime in the DA’s office had nothing to do with the case back in 1986, there are so few victories from the defense side of the bar, that there is always a sense of communal joy in the success of others and the defeat of the establishment.

The Supreme Court’s ruling was announced the week before, starting a 60-day clock during which the DA would have to retry or discharge Jessup. It seemed that not a day had gone by since the ruling that Jessup was not in the news. He gave multiple interviews by phone and in person at San Quentin, proclaiming his innocence and pot-shotting the police and prosecutors who put him there. In his plight, he had garnered the support of several Hollywood celebrities and athletes and had already launched a civil claim against both the city and county seeking millions of dollars in damages for the many long years during which he was falsely incarcerated. In this day of non-stop media cycles, he had a never-ending forum and was using it to elevate himself to folk hero status. When he finally walked out of prison, he too would be a celebrity.

Knowing as little as I did about the case in the details, I was of the impression that he was an innocent man who had been subjected to a quarter century of torture and that he deserved whatever he could get for it. I did, however, know enough about the case to understand that with the DNA evidence cutting Jessup’s way, the case was a loser and the idea of retrying Jessup seemed to be an exercise in political masochism unlikely to come from the brain trust of Williams and Ridell.

Unless . . .

THE BLURB: Longtime defense attorney Mickey Haller is recruited to change stripes and prosecute the high-profile retrial of a brutal child murder. After 24 years in prison, convicted killer Jason Jessup has been exonerated by new DNA evidence. Haller is convinced Jessup is guilty, and he takes the case on the condition that he gets to choose his investigator, LAPD Detective Harry Bosch.
Together, Bosch and Haller set off on a case fraught with political and personal danger. Opposing them is Jessup, now out on bail, a defense attorney who excels at manipulating the media, and a runaway eyewitness reluctant to testify after so many years.

With the odds and the evidence against them, Bosch and Haller must nail a sadistic killer once and for all. If Bosch is sure of anything, it is that Jason Jessup plans to kill again.

MY THOUGHTS: The Reversal by Michael Connelly is an intense read. I have never been a great fan of the courtroom drama, which this largely is, but I am starting to think that I would read a shopping list if Connelly has written it.

Featuring both Mickey Haller and Harry Bosch, The Reversal is neither a straight courtroom drama, nor a detective story, but a clever and compelling combination of the two. The tension increases throughout the book, relieved only by glimpses into the family lives of the two main characters, and sometimes not even then!

I have previously read #1 in the Mickey Haller series, the Lincoln Lawyer, and rated it 3☆. This is just so much better, a good solid 4☆ read.

I listened to the audiobook of The Reversal by Michael Connelly, narrated by Peter Giles, via OverDrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2220734356

Killman Creek (Stillhouse Lake #2) by Rachel Caine

Killman Creek by Rachel Caine
Killman Creek (Stillhouse Lake, #2) 
by Rachel Caine (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: …she’s someone’s daughter.

She’s standing on the balls of her feet, straining to keep her balance, because if she relaxes at all, the noose bites into her neck. It’s deliberate and cruel and finely calculated, just like the tools hung on pegboard, arrayed in order on the walls. On the wooden workbench, toolboxes stand open to display wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers . . . all color-coded, aligned in precise rows in the drawers.

Precise in his barbarity.

There are two other people in the room. One man adjusts lighting, ignoring the girl and her horrible struggle. Another one adjusts the focus on a video camera on a tripod. Both look completely normal, and it’s horrifying to see that this is just work to them. Just another day.

THE BLURB: Every time Gwen closed her eyes, she saw him in her nightmares. Now her eyes are open, and he’s not going away.

Gwen Proctor won the battle to save her kids from her ex-husband, serial killer Melvin Royal, and his league of psychotic accomplices. But the war isn’t over. Not since Melvin broke out of prison. Not since she received a chilling text…

You’re not safe anywhere now.

Her refuge at Stillhouse Lake has become a trap. Gwen leaves her children in the protective custody of a fortified, well-armed neighbor. Now, with the help of Sam Cade, brother of one of Melvin’s victims, Gwen is going hunting. She’s learned how from one of the sickest killers alive.

But what she’s up against is beyond anything she feared—a sophisticated and savage mind game calculated to destroy her. As trust beyond her small circle of friends begins to vanish, Gwen has only fury and vengeance to believe in as she closes in on her prey. And sure as the night, one of them will die.

MY THOUGHTS: My first encounter with author Rachel Caine and the second book in her Stillhouse Lake series, Killman Creek, just blew me away. And I haven’t read the first in the series. But I will.

Action packed, stunning, horrifying, thought provoking, compelling and so damned real! I feel battered and shattered.

I couldn’t understand why I had never before come across this author. Looking her up, she is a prolific writer, but this is a new genre for her. I hope it is one she will continue with.

Thank you to Thomas and Mercer via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Killman Creek by Rachel Caine for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2185445188?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

No Rest for the Dead

No Rest for the Dead by Andrew Gulli
No Rest for the Dead 
by Andrew Gulli (Editor)Jeff Abbott (Goodreads Author)Sandra Brown(Goodreads Author)Jeffery Deaver (Goodreads Author)Diana Gabaldon(Goodreads Author)Tess Gerritsen (Goodreads Author)Peter JamesJ.A. Jance(Goodreads Author) , more…

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: There is always that case, the one that keeps me awake at night, the one that got away. It’ll always be there, gnawing at the edges of my mind. It doesn’t matter that ten years have passed, it doesn’t matter that the case is officially closed. An innocent woman was executed, I was the one who helped make it happen, and on the sad night when the needle was inserted into her arm, injecting her with death, part of my life ended too.
It never felt right, never made sense. Sure, there was motive and opportunity, there was the physical evidence. But if you met her, if you knew her the way I got to know her . . . It wasn’t until later, after I’d taken a step back from the case, that I realized it had angles I hadn’t seen, layers I hadn’t uncovered, back when it mattered, back when I could have saved her….

THE BLURB: More than twenty New York Times bestselling authors team up to create a first-rate serial novel — a collaboration that combines the skills of America’s greatest storytellers to produce a gripping, spellbinding mystery.

Alexander McCall Smith. Sandra Brown. Faye Kellerman. J.A. Jance. Jeffery Deaver. Kathy Reichs. Lisa Scottoline. Jeff Lindsay. These are only a handful of the names that make up the all-star lineup of authors behind No Rest for the Dead, a tale of vengeance, greed, and love that flows seamlessly, in the words of David Baldacci, “as it passes from one creator’s mind to the next.”

When Christopher Thomas, a ruthless curator at San Francisco’s McFall Art Museum, is murdered and his decaying body is found in an iron maiden in a Berlin museum, his wife, Rosemary, is the primary suspect, and she is tried, convicted and executed. Ten years later, Jon Nunn, the detective who cracked the case, is convinced that the wrong person was put to death. In the years since the case was closed, he’s discovered a web of deceit and betrayal surrounding the Thomases that could implicate any number of people in the crime. With the help of the dead woman’s friend, he plans to gather everyone who was there the night Christopher died and finally uncover the truth, suspect by suspect. Solving this case may be Nunn’s last chance for redemption … but the shadowy forces behind Christopher’s death will stop at nothing to silence the past forever.

In this innovative storytelling approach, each of these twenty-five bestselling writers brings their distinctive voice to a chapter of the narrative, building the tension to a shocking, explosive finale. No Rest for the Dead is a thrilling, page-turning accomplishment that only America’s very best authors could achieve.

MY THOUGHTS: I have to admit to being a bit sceptical about how well a book with more than twenty different authors was going to flow. I need not have worried. No Rest for the Dead was a great read, the difference in writing styles only adding to my enjoyment of this book, produced for cancer charity.

I was hooked from very early on in the book, and remained captivated throughout. There are a lot of unexpected twists and turns, a lot of red herrings, a lot to keep your mind busy.

This is a worthwhile read, and it still would be without the charitable aspect.

I listened to No Rest for the Dead narrated by James Colby, Richard Ferrone and Carol Monda, via OverDrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2198360370

Friday Favorite- My top ten books of 2017

I know that it is not quite the end of the year yet, but the run up to Christmas is always hectic with last minute preparations and catching up with friends. Plus you might need a few ideas for last minute gifts, or books to read yourself over the holiday period.

So here are my top ten picks for 2017. I am not going to rank them into any order of preference because they were all outstanding reads.

Please note, some of these books are reviewed in an old review format and do not contain excerpts. This list only contains books that have been published in 2017 or earlier and are currently available.

The first, you are already familiar with if you have been following me for some time. But it is always the book I think of first when someone is looking for a really great crime thriller. A brilliant read from a favorite author-

And So It Began by Owen Mullen
And So It Began (Delaney #1) 
byOwen Mullen(Goodreads Author)



EXCERPT: ‘It was good to feel apart from the herd. Different from the masses. What could be worse than being just another walking number on the earth? Thank God that wasn’t the way of it. Society saw it otherwise of course, that was to be expected. Closed minds.

A woman passed with a child dressed in top hat and tails. Fred Astaire? The kid was bawling something impossible to make out, its small face distorted in an anguish that would cease the second the mother relented and let it have its way. When children acted like that they were almost as unattractive as the adults who spawned them. Well, the mother could relax, her whining offspring was safe; repulsively secure.

No matter, there were plenty more.

Lots and lots and lots more.

Where to begin? The biggest question. The answer would dictate how the rest of the day would go. The trick was not to wait too long. That was dangerous. Anxiety about missing out produced poor-quality decisions. Risk was all very well so long as the thrill allowed for escape.

It was all about timing.

A lost looking girl came close. Pretty, but pretty wasn’t enough. There were many here who outscored her on that, boys as well as girls, it didn’t matter.

Cute. Cute. Cute. Nothing but cute.

‘Darlene! Darlene, honey!’

A woman bent to scoop up her daughter.

Mother and child reunion.

Time to make a move. But what was the rush? There was a whole day ahead.

All day. All day, every day if need be.

THE BLURB: PI Vincent Delaney thought he was done with the NOPD until a string of seemingly unrelated child murders brings an unexpected invitation from the FBI, and his old boss.

A serial killer is roaming the South, preying on children appearing in pageants, and the police want him to go undercover using his own family. Accepting would mean lying to people he loves and maybe even putting them in harm’s way.

In Baton Rouge, a violent criminal has escaped and is seeking revenge for the brother Delaney shot dead. But Delaney isn’t going anywhere. He has unfinished business.

Meanwhile, north of the French Quarter, shopkeepers are being extorted and ask for Delaney’s help. Extortion is a matter for the police.

But what do you do when those responsible are the police?

Delaney has his work cut out and he’ll be lucky if he makes it out of this alive…

MY THOUGHTS: Owen Mullen knows how to write.

I rank him right up there with Mr King. Different genres, but there is something in the writing style that just sucks me right in. Cocoons me from the outside world. Has me snarling at anyone that would dare try interrupt my reading.

I fell in love with Charlie Cameron, Mullen’s Glaswegian PI in his first series. Now we have Delaney in New Orleans. And I’m in love all over again.

Delaney has a past. But that doesn’t guarantee he has a future. Delaney is dedicated. When he is on a case, all else is pushed to the side. I would hate to be in a relationship with this man. He is unfailingly loyal. He is stubborn. And tenacious. He reminds me of my very favorite chocolates, strong and hard on the outside, liquid inside. This is a man who will go to any lengths to protect those he loves.

And he is a man with old scores to settle.

And So It Began by Owen Mullen is a breathtaking read. There is nothing ordinary or mediocre about this book. It grips from page one and never lets go.

Crime fiction has a new master.

Thank you to author Owen Mullen for providing an ARC of And So It Began. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system.

Forget Me Not by Luana Lewis

THE BLURB: A tragic suicide?

When Rose’s daughter, Vivien, is found dead in a suspected suicide, Rose has questions nobody can answer. Wasn’t Vivien living the perfect life? A caring husband, a sweet little girl of her own.

Or the perfect murder?

But as the police investigation develops, their findings raise new questions. Did Vivien kill herself, or was she attacked? If so, who has something to hide?

As Rose struggles to piece together the secrets of her daughter’s life, the cracks in the family begin to show. But once Rose knows the answers, there’s no going back…

MY THOUGHTS: Forget Me Not by Luana Lewis is a deceptive book on many levels.

It is simply written, and this in itself is deceptive, for it is not a simple book. It is a multi-layered book; there are layers and layers of lies and near lies, things that are hidden; more deception. And yet it is an easy read. The characters are well defined, the plot complex but simple. Nothing blurs. The author writes fluidly and with great clarity.

Set amid complex family relationships, a young woman, Vivien – a mother, a daughter, a wife – dies. Was it suicide? Was it murder? Told mainly through the eyes of Vivien’s mother Rose, with occasion flashbacks from Vivien herself, this is a book that slowly drew me in until I was completely immersed in the story. It left me breathless, stunned and very, very satisfied.

Thank you to Random House UK, Transworld Publishers, Corgi via NetGalley for a digital ARC of Forget Me Not by Luana Lewis for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

I have long had a love affair with Penny Vincenzi’s family sagas. And in 2017 I read and fell in love with
A Perfect Heritage by Penny Vincenzi

THE BLURB: The House of Farrell – home of The Cream, an iconic face product that has seen women flocking to its bijoux flagship store in the Berkeley Arcade since 1953.

At Farrell, you can rely on the personal touch. The legendary Athina Farrell remains the company’s figurehead and in her kingdom at the Berkeley Arcade, Florence Hamilton plies their cosmetics with the utmost discretion. She is sales advisor – and holder of secrets – extraordinaire.

But of course the world of cosmetics is changing and the once glorious House of Farrell is now in decline, its customers tempted away by more fashionable brands.

Enter Bianca Bailey, formidable business woman, mother of three, and someone who always gets her way. Athina and Bianca lock horns over the future of the House of Farrell but it is the past that tells its devastating tale of ambition and ego, passion and wonder.

Here is a tale of survival … and a perfect heritage.

MY THOUGHTS: I have mixed feelings when I finish a Vincenzi novel. Exhilaration and sadness to name but two. Her plots are always complex with a large cast of characters. Characters whom, by the time you have finished the book, have completely enchanted you, as has the plot.

A Perfect Heritage is no different. A door stopper of a book, I have been sitting on it since publication in 2014. Perhaps ‘hoarding’ is a more apt description.

I adore my Kindle, but I have to read Vincenzi in a physical book. And now, having finished this marvelous saga, it will join my Vincenzi collection, to be taken out and reread numerous times, sighed and exclaimed over, treasured.

All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

And one from one of my all time favorite authors, Susan Hill, but surprisingly not one of the Simon Serrailler series!
From the Heart by Susan Hill

EXCERPT: ‘…it occurred to her that she had a choice- now, here. She could fret about whether her father had done the right thing, marrying again, coming to this town, confining his life to a small space, and whether he would be able to grow old here in some sort of contentment- and she was right, he was not old yet, only in his early sixties. Or she could simply leave him- them- to it, let them carry on with their life as they would have done if she had not existed. Trying to discover how happy he really was, if he had regrets, was pointless because his life was not hers.’

THE BLURB: You’re a young woman. You can choose. Which career to pursue. Who to have sex with. Who to marry and have children — or not — with. This is now.

Step into the shoes of Olive. You’re a happy, open-hearted girl. Your (tricky) mother is dead and you live with your father in a solid, Edwardian house with apple trees in the garden. He’s a kind man who does his fair share around the house. Your passion for books gets you easily into university, where the world is surely waiting for you.

There, you take part in a play, and are noticed by the leading man. Even though he’s not as glamorous off-stage, he becomes your boyfriend. But then you make a mistake – the kind any one of us could make – and face an impossible choice. You are young, still, and full of hope. You can’t possibly know how that mistake will sit in your heart. Or that when you get a job at a wonderful school you will meet an older colleague and fall in love. But the affair must stay secret; the world won’t have it any other way.

All you have ever wanted is for your heart to be free. But you are living in a time and place where freedoms we now take for granted had the power to destroy.

MY THOUGHTS: Susan Hill, no matter in what genre she is writing, and she is a very versatile author, never fails to inspire me to want to write.

She writes from the heart, so this book is aptly titled. She takes perfectly ordinary situations- friendship, love, birth, death, marriage, second marriages – and explores the emotions of them and the impact on the lives of the characters, the choices they make.

Hill’s writing makes me think of friends, of choices I have made, of relationships that have flourished, and those that have failed. She makes me question if I could have done, or indeed could do, better. There is a lot of wisdom in her writing.

Don’t expect conventional endings, happy ever afters; you won’t get them. You will get an interesting and thought provoking read.

My favorite quote from this book- ‘Books had been all to her. They saved her. …’

Thank you to Random House UK, Vintage Publishing, Chatto and Windus for providing a digital copy of From the Heart by Susan Hill for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

You by Caroline Kepnes

EXCERPT: YOU walk into the bookstore and you keep your hand on the door to make sure it doesn’t slam. You smile, embarrassed to be a nice girl, and your nails are bare and your V-neck sweater is beige and it’s impossible to know if you’re wearing a bra but I don’t think that you are. You’re so clean that you’re dirty and you murmur your first word to me—hello—when most people would just pass by, but not you, in your loose pink jeans, a pink spun from Charlotte’s Web and where did you come from?

You are classic and compact, my own little Natalie Portman circa the end of the movie Closer, when she’s fresh-faced and done with the bad British guys and going home to America. You’ve come home to me, delivered at last, on a Tuesday, 10:06 a.m. Every day I commute to this shop on the Lower East Side from my place in Bed-Stuy. Every day I close up without finding anyone like you. Look at you, born into my world today. I’m shaking and I’d pop an Ativan but they’re downstairs and I don’t want to pop an Ativan. I don’t want to come down. I want to be here, fully, watching you bite your unpainted nails and turn your head to the left, no, bite that pinky, widen those eyes, to the right, no, reject biographies, self-help (thank God), and slow down when you make it to fiction.

Yes.

I let you disappear into the stacks—Fiction F–K—and you’re not the standard insecure nymph hunting for Faulkner you’ll never finish, never start; Faulkner that will harden and calcify, if books could calcify, on your nightstand; Faulkner meant only to convince one-night stands that you mean it when you swear you never do this kind of thing. No, you’re not like those girls. You don’t stage Faulkner and your jeans hang loose and you’re too sun-kissed for Stephen King and too untrendy for Heidi Julavits and who, who will you buy? You sneeze, loudly, and I imagine how loud you are when you climax. “God bless you!” I call out.

You giggle and holler back, you horny girl, “You too, buddy.”

Buddy. You’re flirting and if I was the kind of *sshole who Instagrams, I would photograph the F–K placard and filter the sh*t out of that baby and caption it:

F—K yes, I found her.

Calm down, Joe. They don’t like it when a guy comes on too strong, I remind myself. Thank God for a customer and it’s hard to scan his predictable Salinger—then again, it’s always hard to do that. This guy is, what, thirty-six and he’s only now reading Franny and Zooey? And let’s get real. He’s not reading it. It’s just a front for the Dan Browns in the bottom of his basket. Work in a bookstore and learn that most people in this world feel guilty about being who they are. I bag the Dan Brown first like it’s kiddie porn and tell him Franny and Zooey is the sh*t and he nods and you’re still in F–K because I can see your beige sweater through the stacks, barely. If you reach any higher, I’ll see your belly. But you won’t. You grab a book and sit down in the aisle and maybe you’ll stay here all night. Maybe it’ll be like the Natalie Portman movie Where the Heart Is, adapted faithlessly from the Billie Letts book—above par for that kind of crud—and I’ll find you in the middle of the night. Only you won’t be pregnant and I won’t be the meek man in the movie. I’ll lean over and say, “Excuse me, miss, but we’re closed” and you’ll look up and smile. “Well, I’m not closed.” A breath. “I’m wide open. Buddy.”

THE BLURB: When a beautiful, aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and Tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight—the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way—even if it means murder.

MY THOUGHTS: In her author’s acknowledgements, Kepnes thanks Joe Goldberg for demanding to be heard. I would like to thank Kepnes for listening to him.

I had a love-hate relationship with this book. It is at once both irritating and compelling.

I loved this book. I hated this book.

I loved Joe. I hated Joe. Ditto Beck. I was captivated/ repelled by Joe’s obsession with her. He has total control over his life. He has no control over his life.

I guess we have all had an earworm experience at some stage; probably more than one. I had a bookworm experience with ‘You’. It wormed its way into my head and would not leave me alone. I tried to leave it alone, but it stalked me. I had to finish it.

Stephen King tweeted Caroline Kepnes that her book YOU was “hypnotic and scary” and having “never read anything like it before.”

Full marks to Kepnes for a very clever piece of writing. And a plea for more please.

All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

A collection of short stories from another of my very favorite authors-
The Liars' Asylum by Jacob M. Appel

EXCERPT: My best friend that spring was Lacey Moretti. Soon enough we would drift apart, our natural differences overcoming our common history, so when I saw her at the twentieth reunion last year, where Lacey gulped champagne from a slipper and made a sloppy pass at every unhitched male within groping distance, I could hardly remember what had drawn us together on long-ago evenings studying the polarity of magnets and the trajectories of cannon balls. Yet in those final months at Laurendale, we were truly inseparable–so much so that when a third former classmate sensed the tension between us at the reunion, she’d confessed she’d always suspected we’d been lovers. The reality was that we’d both been far too innocent for anything like that. – Prisoners of the Multiverse

The wipers swept the windshield hypnotically, and when the rain stopped, the rubber blades scraped furiously across the dry glass. I didn’t even register the sound until Sheila reached across the steering column and snapped them off.
“What can a forty-six year old man possibly see in my mother?” she demanded. “I’ll tell you what! He’s either after a green card or he’s after her money. ”
“Or both, ” I offered.
Sheila glared at me. “Don’t you dare take her side. ”
“I’m not taking sides, Sheila. ”
“How can you not take sides?” she snapped. “That’s like not taking sides about the Holocaust. Not taking sides is the same thing as taking sides. ”
Sheila had worked in the creative division at an advertising agency before we married. She has a winning slogan for every argument. – Good Enough For Guppies

THE BLURB: SHORT STORY COLLECTION: The frustrations of romantic love in its various guises—a domineering kindergarten teacher for a dashing artificial foliage designer, a suicidal physicist for his star student, a dialysis patient at a sleep-away camp for the camp owner’s daughter—provide the common theme for the stories in Jacob M. Appel’s seventh collection. We meet a psychiatrist dabbling with infidelity during a crisis in which rain turns into truth serum, a Finnish-American soldier charged with facilitating his commanding officer’s extra-marital affair, and a couple transporting a wealthy, “locked-in” patient across the Piedmont to his new nursing home. Appel’s literary short fiction offers a quirky window into the pangs and promise of love.

MY THOUGHTS: I have a special place reserved both in my heart and on my shelves for Jacob Appel’s books. I have almost the full set and they are on the shelf right beside my favorite reading chair. It is a collection that I dip into frequently and The Liars’ Asylum will take pride of place amongst them.

This is yet another wonderful collection of eight short stories from an extremely talented writer. The focus in this collection is love. But they are not your traditional love stories. They range from tales of first love to that of a last love, and everything in between. And don’t expect happy ever after. There is duplicity and truth, desire and rejection, hope and despair, success (of sorts) and failure.

Appel demonstrates an excellent understanding of human character. From the young couple who become more interested in scoring points over each other than in the truth of their relationship, to the desperate for a husband Aunt Jill, all these characters are people we know, we can relate to and, if we are honest, there is probably more than a little bit of ourselves in there too.

Appel has a wonderful sense of the ridiculous which he crafts into clever and believable stories. Another winner from a favorite author.

Publication date is October 15, 2017.

Thank you to author Jacob M Appel, Black Lawrence Press and Netgalley for providing a copy of The Liars’ Asylum for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system.

Not a new book, but definitely oneof the top reads of my year was
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

EXCERPT: Yes, an illustrious career.

I should hasten to admit, however, that there was a considerable hiatus between the first stolen book and the second. Another noteworthy point is that the first was stolen from snow and the second from fire. Not to omit that others were also given to her. All told, she owned fourteen books, but she saw her story as being made up predominantly of ten of them. Of those ten, six were stolen, one showed up at the kitchen table, two were made for her by a hidden Jew, and one was delivered by a soft, yellow-dressed afternoon.

When she came to write her story, she would wonder exactly when the books and the words started to mean not just something, but everything. Was it when she first set eyes on the room with shelves and shelves of them? Or when Max Vandenburg arrived on Himmel Street carrying handfuls of suffering and Hitler’s Mein Kampf ? Was it reading in the shelters? The last parade to Dachau? Was it The Word Shaker? Perhaps there would never be a precise answer as to when and where it occurred. In any case, that’s getting ahead of myself. Before we make it to any of that, we first need to tour Liesel Meminger’s beginnings on Himmel Street and the art of saumensching:

Upon her arrival, you could still see the bite marks of snow on her hands and the frosty blood on her fingers. Everything about her was undernourished. Wirelike shins. Coat hanger arms. She did not produce it easily, but when it came, she had a starving smile.

Her hair was a close enough brand of German blond, but she had dangerous eyes. Dark brown. You didn’t really want brown eyes in Germany around that time. Perhaps she received them from her father, but she had no way of knowing, as she couldn’t remember him. There was really only one thing she knew about her father. It was a label she did not understand.

A STRANGE WORD

Kommunist

She’d heard it several times in the past few years.

“Communist.”

There were boardinghouses crammed with people, rooms filled with questions. And that word. That strange word was always there somewhere, standing in the corner, watching from the dark. It wore suits, uniforms. No matter where they went, there it was, each time her father was mentioned. She could smell it and taste it. She just couldn’t spell or understand it. When she asked her mother what it meant, she was told that it wasn’t important, that she shouldn’t worry about such things. At one boardinghouse, there was a healthier woman who tried to teach the children to write, using charcoal on the wall. Liesel was tempted to ask her the meaning, but it never eventuated. One day, that woman was taken away for questioning. She didn’t come back.

THE BLURB: A story about, among other things: A girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery. . . .an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

Winner of the 2007 BookBrowse Ruby Award.

Set during World War II in Germany, Markus Zusak’s groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist – books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement before he is marched to Dachau. This is an unforgettable story about the ability of books to feed the soul.

MY THOUGHTS: The Book Thief is brutal and beautiful. It is sad and inspiring. It is unforgettable and haunting. It is a book that should be read by everyone.

The Book Thief is narrated by Death himself. There are some things you probably need to know about Death. He does not carry a sickle or a scythe. He only wears a hooded black robe when it is cold. He doesn’t have those skull- like facial features so often ascribed to him. Do you want to know what he truly looks like? Take a look in the mirror. And, believe it or not, he has a heart.

We meet Leisel for the first time in January 1939. She is nine years old. Death also meets her for the first time when he stops to collect the soul of her six year old brother. He will meet her again. And Leisel is about to steal her first book.

The book is written in parts, each titled and with a brief description, eg Part Three, Mein Kampf, featuring: the way home – a broken woman – a struggler – a juggler – the attributes of summer – an Aryan shopkeeper – a snorer – two tricksters – and revenge in the shape of mixed lollies.

Scattered throughout the chapters are little notes from Death – ‘A Nice Thought – one was a book thief. The other stole the sky.’

The author’s language is almost poetic – ‘ As she crossed the river, a rumour of sunshine stood behind the clouds. ‘, ‘the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Leisel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out, like the rain. ‘ – in places, and in others it is clipped and brutal.

This is not an easy book to read at first, but increasingly as I read I could feel the author’s words embracing me, challenging me. It is a worthy read and has earned itsplace as my favorite book of the year to date.

J. T. Ellison is an author who consistently blows me away with her writing prowess.
Lie to Me by J.T. Ellison

THE BLURB: They built a life on lies 

Sutton and Ethan Montclair’s idyllic life is not as it appears. The couple seems made for each other, but the truth is ugly. Consumed by professional and personal betrayals and financial woes, the two both love and hate each other. As tensions mount, Sutton disappears, leaving behind a note saying not to look for her.

Ethan finds himself the target of vicious gossip as friends, family and the media speculate on what really happened to Sutton Montclair. As the police investigate, the lies the couple have been spinning for years quickly unravel. Is Ethan a killer? Is he being set up? Did Sutton hate him enough to kill the child she never wanted and then herself? The path to the answers is full of twists that will leave the reader breathless.

‘The world breaks everyone, and afterwards, some are strong at the broken places.’ – Ernest Hemingway. ………. and some are just broken.

Lie to Me opens with the words ‘You aren’t going to like me very much’…………….’Truly, you are going to despise me. I am the rot that lives in the floorboards of your house. I am the spider that shuttles away when you shine a light in my corner, ever watching, ever waiting. I am the shard of glass that slits the skin of your bare foot. I am all the bad things that happen to you.’

I was hooked from the first page.

Sutton and Ethan Montclair both love and hate each other. Their jealousy and rivalry is both personal and professional. On the anniversary of the death of their baby, Sutton disappears. Was Sutton Montclair responsible for her baby’s death? Or was it Ethan? Did she kill the baby, lose her mind, fake her own death, set up her husband? Or has Ethan orchestrated the whole thing to make her look mentally unstable? People have done worse. …..

I love the writing style. The chapters are short, gritty and to the point. Chapter titles (not numbers) are enticing – eg DID SHE OR DIDN’T SHE?

The pace of Lie To Me by J.T. Ellison is frantic. It doesn’t allow you to draw a breath. It twists and turns and twists again. Every time I thought I was even close to sorting it all out, Ellison would turn everything on its head. It was like trying to read a kaleidoscope; the picture kept changing, but it was never pretty.

‘I told you at the beginning you weren’t going to like me very much. You really don’t like me right now, do you? Am I a horrible person? A loathsome creature? You bet. I ‘m evil to the core. And I warned you. I warned you, and you didn’t listen. …’

And now a warning from me – don’t miss reading this book. Lie to Me must be one of, if not THE best psychological thriller of 2017.

Thank you to Harlequin (Australia) via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Lie To Me by J.T. Ellison for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.

The Surrogate by Louise Jensen

EXCERPT: ‘Is it really a coincidence she is here or has she purposely tracked me down? And if so, why?

‘Revenge’ whispers the voice inside my head.’

THE BLURB: ‘You know that feeling? When you want something so badly, you almost feel you’d kill for it?’

Be careful what you wish for…

Kat and her husband Nick have tried everything to become parents, and are on the point of giving up. Then a chance encounter with Kat’s childhood friend Lisa gives Kat and Nick one last chance to achieve their dream.

But Kat and Lisa’s history hides dark secrets.

And there is more to Lisa than meets the eye.

As dangerous cracks start to appear in Kat’s perfect picture of happily-ever-after, she realises that she must face her fear of the past to save her family…

MY THOUGHTS: Twisted, twisty and oh so nerve wracking! I almost tore my fingernails out of their beds reading The Surrogate by Louise Jensen, and I do not bite my nails!

Full marks to Louise Jensen. She has demonstrated that she is mistress of her art. I thought I knew where she was going with this. She reinforced my beliefs. But she took me for a ride – up the wrong road. More than that, I am not going to say. I don’t want to give anything away. I don’t want to spoil any surprises. And they come thick and fast.

I am going to liken reading this book to riding a roller coaster in one of those spinning teacups with no seat belts. Thrilling, scary. Yes, you may have to suspend belief occasionally, but believe me, by then, you won’t care.

Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Surrogate for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system.

And last, but definitely not least,
The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

EXCERPT: ‘Once upon a time, before the whole world changed, it was possible to run away from home, disguise who you were, and fit into polite society. The children’s mother had done just that.’

THE BLURB: Find your magic

For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man.

Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk.

From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Back in New York City each begins a risky journey as they try to escape the family curse.

The Owens children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart. The two beautiful sisters will grow up to be the revered, and sometimes feared, aunts in Practical Magic, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy.

MY THOUGHTS: I was bereft when I finished The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman. I wanted to go right back to the beginning and start all over again. This is a fairy story for adults. It is bewitching, enchanting and compelling. I want to move in with the Owen’s family, to be embraced by them, to become one of them.

Just as Mrs Russell was instantly in thrall to Vincent when she spied him in the kitchen, I was instantly in thrall to Hoffman’s writing. Alice (may I call you Alice?) writes in a lazy, indolent fashion that slowly seduces the reader, leaving one feeling languidly intrigued.

I scribbled pages of notes as I read, highlighted sections to quote. But as I prepared to write this review, I realised that, taken out of context, they mean nothing.

If you think this book is about witchcraft, you are wrong. Yes, there are black cats and spells and potions, but that is not what this book is about. It is about acceptance, of ourselves and of others. It is about family, and it is about love. And if you do not read The Rules of Magic then you will miss out on a wonderful book which really is all about finding the magic in yourself.

I am going out to buy a hard copy of this book for my shelf. It is a ‘forever’ book. I am also going to read everything by this author that I can lay my hands on.

Thank you to Simon and Schuster via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or my ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system.

Thank you all for your support in the months since I started this blog. Postings may be a little erratic over the holiday period as we are planning on freedom camping in some remote beaches, weather permitting. I wish you and your loved ones a joyous and safe  festive season with lots of wonderful books to read, and the time to create some wonderful memories.

Somebody at the Door by Raymond Postgate

Somebody at the Door by Raymond Postgate
Somebody at the Door 
by Raymond Postgate

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: “The German, too, is a possible line. Refugees are a Home Office matter, and Inspector Atkins deals with them. But I remember him telling me one, who sounds very like this man, whom Grayling was making a dead set at. I can’t remember the name, but Atkins will when he comes in. Grayling had written both to us and to the Home Secretary charging the man with being a spy, possessing a bicycle and a radio, and passing himself off falsely as a refugee, using the name of someone the Nazis had, in fact, killed. We didn’t pay much attention, because Grayling had recently become very violent about such things and talked rather wildly. But I seem to remember Atkins spoke as if an arrest wasn’t unlikely.”

THE BLURB: One bleak Friday evening in January, 1942, Councillor Henry Grayling boards an overcrowded train with £120 in cash wages to be paid out the next day to the workers of Barrow and Furness Chemistry and Drugs Company. When Councillor Grayling finally finds the only available seat in a third-class carriage, he realises to his annoyance that he will be sharing it with some of his disliked acquaintances: George Ransom, with whom he had a quarrel; Charles Evetts, who is one of his not-so-trusted employees; a German refugee whom Grayling has denounced; and Hugh Rolandson, whom Grayling suspects of having an affair with his wife.

The train journey passes uneventfully in an awkward silence but later that evening Grayling dies of what looks like mustard gas poisoning and the suitcase of cash is nowhere to be found. Inspector Holly has a tough time trying to get to the bottom of the mystery, for the unpopular Councillor had many enemies who would be happy to see him go, and most of them could do with the cash he was carrying. But Inspector Holly is persistent and digs deep into the past of all the suspects for a solution, starting with Grayling’s travelling companions. Somebody at the Door,” first published in 1943, is an intricate mystery which, in the process of revealing whodunit, “paints an interesting picture of the everyday life during the war.”

MY THOUGHTS: Oh dear. I was so looking forward to reading Somebody at the Door by Raymond Postgate. I usually love these old murder mysteries with their ambience. Unfortunately, this falls a little short.

Somebody at the Door, and I really can’t see the relevance of the title, could easily have been a short story, or novella. The actual mystery itself, although a little obvious, is entertaining. What killed the book for me was the interminable back stories for each and every suspect in Grayling’s death. Each one examined and relayed every minute detail starting from the suspect’s childhood through to the present time. Each one could have been a book on its own. And most of it was irrelevant to the plot. ‘Filling’ I think they call it. I skimmed large tracts of text.

I could not make up my mind between 2 or 3 stars, so 2.5 it is.

Thank you to Poisoned Pen Press via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Somebody at the Door by Raymond Postgate for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. A lot of people will like this book more than I did, therefore if you enjoyed the excerpt and like the sound of the blurb, please take a chance and read Somebody at the Door. I will enjoy reading your reviews.

Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2205016042

Talkabout Thursday

Why is it that the closer we get to Christmas, the faster the time seems to go! Here it is, Thursday again already. And so it’s time to talk about what I am currently reading, what I am hoping to read in the coming week, and the ARCS I have been approved for.

 

So firstly, what is it that I am currently reading?

City of Masks (Cree Black, #1)

In City of Masks, the first Cree Black novel, parapsychologist Cree and her partner take a case in New Orleans’s Garden District that leaves them fearing for their own lives. The 150-year-old Beauforte House has long stood empty, until Lila Beauforte resumes residence and starts to see some of the house’s secrets literally come to life. Tormented by an insidious and violent presence, Lila finds herself trapped in a life increasingly filled with childhood terrors. It takes Cree’s unconventional take on psychology and her powerful natural empathy with Lila to navigate the dangerous worlds of spirit and memory, as they clash in a terrifying tale of mistaken identity and murder. Daniel Hecht portrays the ambience of New Orleans perfectly, and this book is deliciously creepy in the right places.

Somebody at the Door

One bleak Friday evening in January, 1942, Councillor Henry Grayling boards an overcrowded train with £120 in cash wages to be paid out the next day to the workers of Barrow and Furness Chemistry and Drugs Company. When Councillor Grayling finally finds the only available seat in a third-class carriage, he realises to his annoyance that he will be sharing it with some of his disliked acquaintances: George Ransom, with whom he had a quarrel; Charles Evetts, who is one of his not-so-trusted employees; a German refugee whom Grayling has denounced; and Hugh Rolandson, whom Grayling suspects of having an affair with his wife.

The train journey passes uneventfully in an awkward silence but later that evening Grayling dies of what looks like mustard gas poisoning and the suitcase of cash is nowhere to be found. Inspector Holly has a tough time trying to get to the bottom of the mystery, for the unpopular Councillor had many enemies who would be happy to see him go, and most of them could do with the cash he was carrying. But Inspector Holly is persistent and digs deep into the past of all the suspects for a solution, starting with Grayling’s travelling companions. Somebody at the Door,” first published in 1943, is an intricate mystery which, in the process of revealing whodunit, “paints an interesting picture of the everyday life during the war.” I love murder mysteries from the ‘Golden Age ‘.

Sleeping Beauties

In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place. The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied, or is she a demon who must be slain?

I started this some time ago, but had to abandon it due to an influx of Netgalley reads all due to be published within a short period of time. Bad planning on my part and I resolve to try and be a bit more organized in the coming year. I am really enjoying this collaboration and will never again look at cobwebs the same way.

I have deliberately left this weeks reading list light as I am working extra hours until Christmas, we have two Christmas work parties to attend, and a friend and I are off to see Jack Johnson in concert under the stars Sunday evening. This week I am only planning on reading two books, and if I find myself with reading time to spare I will pick something from my backlist.

The Runaway Children

A heart-wrenching, unforgettable story of two evacuee sisters during the Second World War… Perfect for fans of Orphan Train, Nadine Dorries and Diney Costeloe.

London, 1942: Thirteen-year-old Nell and five-year-old Olive are being sent away from the devastation of the East End. They are leaving the terror of the Blitz and nights spent shivering in air raid shelters behind them, but will the strangers they are billeted with be kind and loving, or are there different hardships ahead?

As the sisters struggle to adjust to life as evacuees, they soon discover that living in the countryside isn’t always idyllic. Nell misses her mother and brothers more than anything but she has to stay strong for Olive. Then, when little Olive’s safety is threatened by a boy on a farm, Nell has to make a decision that will change their lives forever…

They must run from danger and try to find their way home.

Together the two girls hold each other’s hands as they begin their perilous journey across bombed-out Britain. But when Nell falls ill, can she still protect her little sister from the war raging around them? And will they ever be reunited from the family they’ve been torn from?

An unputdownable novel of unconditional love, friendship and the fight for survival during a time of unimaginable change. The Runaway Children is guaranteed to find a place in your heart.

Killman Creek (Stillhouse Lake, #2)

Every time Gwen closed her eyes, she saw him in her nightmares. Now her eyes are open, and he’s not going away.

Gwen Proctor won the battle to save her kids from her ex-husband, serial killer Melvin Royal, and his league of psychotic accomplices. But the war isn’t over. Not since Melvin broke out of prison. Not since she received a chilling text…

You’re not safe anywhere now.

Her refuge at Stillhouse Lake has become a trap. Gwen leaves her children in the protective custody of a fortified, well-armed neighbor. Now, with the help of Sam Cade, brother of one of Melvin’s victims, Gwen is going hunting. She’s learned how from one of the sickest killers alive.

But what she’s up against is beyond anything she feared—a sophisticated and savage mind game calculated to destroy her. As trust beyond her small circle of friends begins to vanish, Gwen has only fury and vengeance to believe in as she closes in on her prey. And sure as the night, one of them will die.

And only one ARC approval from NetGalley this week, but I have 10 sitting in the pending pile, quite a few of which are wishes I am hoping will be granted. My one approval this week was for

Kill Creek

At the end of a dark prairie road, nearly forgotten in the Kansas countryside, lies the Finch House. For years it has perched empty, abandoned, and overgrown–but soon the door will be opened for the first time in many decades. But something waits, lurking in the shadows, anxious to meet its new guests.
When best-selling horror author Sam McGarver is invited to spend Halloween night in one of the country’s most infamous haunted houses, he reluctantly agrees. At least he won’t be alone; joining him are three other masters of the macabre, writers who have helped shape modern horror. But what begins as a simple publicity stunt soon becomes a fight for survival–the entity they have awakened will follow them, torment them, threatening to make them part of the bloody legacy of Kill Creeknow.

Love that cover!!!!!!

So happy reading my friends, and I ‘ll see you tomorrow for the Friday Favorite!

 

Evil Crimes by Michael Hambling

Evil Crimes by Michael Hambling
Evil Crimes (DCI Sophie Allen #6) 
by Michael Hambling

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: . . . I think she’s convinced herself that there might be something wrong, and she wants to nip it in the bud before we have another death on our hands. If it is the same woman behind these two deaths, then she’s right to push hard. Killers can soon get addicted to what they do. The boss is worried that she might have already chosen another victim. If that’s the case, it’s a race and we’re handicapped because there’s so much we don’t yet know.

THE BLURB: A young man’s body is spotted in the stormy sea off Dancing Ledge in Dorset.

Did he lose his footing in the gale force winds and fall in? Or is there a more sinister cause of death?

Detective Sophie Allen’s team discover some curious links to a suicide that happened six months earlier.

A strikingly attractive female student connects the cases. Alarming facts slowly come to light as the team probes more deeply.

Is the young woman as evil as she seems or is someone else manipulating her?

DCI Sophie Allen races against time to uncover the tragic secrets behind the crimes and stop any more deaths.

MY THOUGHTS: How have I previously missed out on Michael Hambling? How many times have I said that I wished someone would give me a strong female lead detective who isn’t carrying loads of baggage and lives a relatively normal life? A female Alan Banks.

Well, here she is. DCI Sophie Allen is happily married to the father of her two daughters, one coming up eighteen, the other a little older. She has a great relationship with both her daughters and with her mother, who’s quite a colorful character. She works well with her team. A nice woman who gets the job done. A breath of fresh air!

And if you think that sounds boring, you’d be wrong. The characters are well portrayed, the plot unusual and interesting. I liked this so much that I am planning to gorge myself on the earlier books in the series over the Christmas break.

And, in case you are wondering, Evil Crimes works perfectly well as a stand alone.

Thank you to Joffe Books via Netgalley for providing me with a digital copy of Evil Crimes by Michael Hambling for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2203231397?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Chord of Evil by Sarah Rayne

Chord of Evil by Sarah Rayne
Chord of Evil (Phineas Fox #2) 
by Sarah Rayne

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: On the first night she knelt on the window-seat of her room, staring across the darkening landscape towards a huddle of buildings. At first she was not sure what they were. They were too large to be farm buildings, and too neatly laid out to be a village. She thought the word for it might be regimented. Might it be a factory? But as she went on looking, her eyes began to adjust to the darkness – or perhaps the moon simply came out from behind clouds – and she could make out tall gates. She was seeing more details as well now, and sick horror was starting to sweep over her. Because on the eastern side of the buildings, almost exactly as she had seen them in her nightmares, were jutting brick chimneys.

It’s a concentration camp, thought Christa. It’s one of the places where people are shut away and where the skewer-eyed men and the humpback surgeons pull out their bones. Where the brick chimneys sometimes glow with heat, because people – dozens of people – are being burned. For the first time since leaving Lindschoen, she was grateful that Stefan was not with them.

THE BLURB: A mysterious 1940s’ portrait leads researcher Phineas Fox to uncover a devastating wartime secret in this chilling novel of suspense.

Phineas Fox finds it impossible to refuse when his sport-loving neighbour Toby begs for his help in finding out what’s happened to his cousin Arabella, who seems to have disappeared without trace. The only clue to her whereabouts is an obscure 1940s’ portrait left in her flat, a gift from her godfather, Stefan. The painting depicts the mysterious Christa Klein, Stefan’s sister – and an alleged murderess.

Was Christa Klein really guilty of a monstrous crime? What exactly happened within brooding Wewelsburg Castle back in 1941? And what does it have to do with Arabella’s disappearance? As Phin delves further, he uncovers evidence of a lost piece of music and a devastating wartime secret: an atrocity whose repercussions reach to the present day.

MY THOUGHTS: I enjoyed Chord of Evil by Sarah Rayne, although I wouldn’t call it chilling. It is really almost a cosy mystery. Although some of the subject matter, the concentration camps, the Nazi’s treatment of the Jews, could be horrific, it is merely glossed over in favor of presenting a good mystery.

And it is a good mystery, one that had me turning the pages rapidly to find out who was going to survive and just whether or not Christa was a murderess.

Don’t expect any great historical depth, or in fact much depth at all. If you want a quick, enjoyable mystery to read, Chord of Evil fits the bill admirably. If I get the chance to read more in this series, I will definitely be taking it.

Thank you to Severn House via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Chord of Evil by Sarah Rayne for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2202189458?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Dying Breath (Detective Lucy Harwin #2) by Helen Phifer

Dying Breath by Helen Phifer
Dying Breath (Detective Lucy Harwin, #2) 
by Helen Phifer (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: Right there and then he’d known that he was different to most kids, probably most people. They were all scared of death and dead people, whereas he was fascinated with them and couldn’t get enough. He needed to see a real dead person – he wanted to see if they looked as beautiful as his girls had. He wanted to touch one, stroke their skin, run his fingers through their hair. He wouldn’t think twice about kissing one; he wanted to know what it would feel like to put his lips on theirs. He thought about Carrie. He would have kissed her.

THE BLURB: Take a breath. Pray it’s not your last.
Just a few months after a terrifying case that nearly took her life, Detective Lucy Harwin is back with her squad in the coastal town of Brooklyn Bay – and this time, she’s faced with a case more horrifying than anything she’s encountered.

Along with her partner, Detective Mattie Jackson, Lucy is investigating what appears to be a vicious but isolated murder; a woman found bludgeoned to death on a lonely patch of wasteland.

But when a second victim is discovered strangled in an alleyway, then a young family shot in their own home, Lucy and the team must face the unthinkable reality – a killer is walking the streets of their town.

While Lucy and the team try to find the link between these seemingly unconnected murders, they uncover a disturbing truth – these murders are replicating those carried out by infamous serial killers.

Lucy must get to the killer before he strikes again. But he’s got his sights on her, and is getting ever closer… Can she save herself, before she becomes the final piece in his twisted game?

MY THOUGHTS: There are some absolutely chilling moments in Dying Breath by Helen Phifer. “He turned to take one last look at the man who had changed from a monster into his hero, and he grinned at him.” is one of them. It may not seem like much on its own, but when read in context you will feel chills up your spine.

Dark and twisty, Dying Breath had me wondering just who this child had grown up to become, because we never knew his name. . .but we knew what he had become and his life ambition. There are several people he could be, all of whom have some type of fixation on Lucy.

Dying Breath is deliciously suspenseful. Highly recommended ☆☆☆☆

Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Dying Breath by Helen Phifer for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2199969913

Friday Favorite – Old Friends and New Enemies by Owen Mullen (Charlie Cameron #2)

Looking for something to read over the weekend?

Nothing on your book radar that is screaming “read me!”?

Check out my Friday Favorite  – it may not be new, it may not even be by an author you have ever heard of, but it will be a book that has captured both my imagination and my heart.

We first met Charlie Cameron in  Games People Play, which featured in an earlier Friday Favorite blog. Old Friends and New Enemies, the second book in the Charlie Cameron series, is the third book by Scottish novelist Owen Mullen that I have featured on my blog, an honor so far only awarded to one other author, Susan Hill.

But I think that Owen Mullen has a spectacular writing style, and is a name you are going to be hearing a lot of in the future, right up there with Stuart MacBride and Val McDermid. Of the other two books by Mullen that I have featured, Games People Play was long-listed for Bloody Scotland McIlvanney Crime Book Of The Year 2017, and And So It Began, book #1 in the Delaney series, was awarded ⭐Star Pick from the Sunday Times Crime Club.

So, you see, you’re onto a good thing here . . .

Old Friends and New Enemies by Owen Mullen
Old Friends and New Enemies (Charlie Cameron, #2) 
by Owen Mullen (Goodreads Author)

Reviewed by


EXCERPT: They dragged him from the boot of the car, down an embankment to the shore; gagged, bound and blindfolded. His feet scraped grass and stones, a shoe came off and was left behind. At the jetty, Kevin Rafferty waited in the boat. In a long career of violent persuasion, this guy had been the hardest to break. But it wouldn’t last, when the blindfold came off he’d realise the loch was to be his grave.

THE BLURB: The body on the mortuary slab wasn’t who Glasgow PI Charlie Cameron was looking for.
But it wasn’t a stranger.
Suddenly, a routine missing persons investigation becomes a fight for survival. As Charlie is dragged deeper into Glasgow’s underbelly he goes up against notorious gangster Jimmy Rafferty and discovers what fear really is.
Rafferty is so ruthless even his own sons are terrified of him.
Now he wants Charlie to find something. And Jimmy Rafferty always gets what he wants.
There is only one problem… Charlie doesn’t know where it is.

MY THOUGHTS: Old Friends and New Enemies: A tense and gripping Scottish Crime Thriller – all true, but neither tense nor gripping does this book justice.

This book follows on from Games People Play and again we meet with Charlie Cameron, who specialises in locating missing people; Jackie, the Manager of New York Blues, Charlies ‘local’ for want of a better word; Pat Logue, Charlie’s sidekick and husband of the long-suffering Gail; and DS Andrew Geddes, sometimes friend of Charlie who has been known to push the limits on what he unofficially reveals to Charlie.

Charlie is looking for a man who went missing after his teenage son committed suicide. There is an unidentified body in the morgue who just may be the man Charlie is trying to locate. Instead he finds an old friend, Ian Selkirk, whom he hasn’t seen for years. Ian has been tortured. Whoever killed him wanted something. And now they think Charlie may have it……

I have never before read an author who can pack so much meaning and imagery into so few words. His writing style could almost be called terse. It is also refreshing, dynamic and (as I have said previously) totally unputdownable.

Gripping? Yes. Thrilling? Yes. But both these words pale in the face of Owen Mullen’s talent. Here is a new writer with a brilliant future.

Thank you to author Owen Mullen for a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the ‘about’ page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1575855828