Exit by Belinda Bauer

EXCERPT: In the front bedroom an old man was leaning out of a bed by the window, trying to reach a walking stick that had apparently fallen on to the wooden floor. He propped himself on an elbow, glared at Felix and grumbled:
‘You took your time!’

Felix froze.

Took in the gaunt grey face, the frail body, the bedside table filled with pills . . .

Then he stepped backwards out of the room and pulled the door smartly shut behind him.

Amanda was at his shoulder now. ‘What is it?’ she said, but Felix couldn’t speak because all the words he’d ever known seemed to be whirling round inside his skull like bingo balls.

The ones he needed finally dropped slowly from his numb lips.

‘We killed the wrong man.’

ABOUT ‘EXIT’: IT WAS NEVER SUPPOSED TO BE MURDER …Pensioner Felix Pink is about to find out that it’s never too late … for life to go horribly wrong.

When Felix lets himself in to Number 3 Black Lane, he’s there to perform an act of kindness and charity: to keep a dying man company as he takes his final breath … But just fifteen minutes later Felix is on the run from the police – after making the biggest mistake of his life.
Now his routine world is turned upside down as he tries to discover what went wrong, while staying one step ahead of the law.

MY THOUGHTS: Belinda Bauer’s books always take me by surprise. Exit starts out as a gentle slow burn then veers off in directions I could never have foreseen.

I love Bauer’s characters . . . they just jump right off the page, they are so realistic. The main two characters are Felix, a seventy-five year old widower who became an Exiteer after his son died of cancer, then his wife of dementia. The second main character is policeman Calvin Bridge who suffers from a lack of confidence, exacerbated by his wife leaving him. Neither of these characters have gotten over their losses, and both are vulnerable.

Bauer injects the subject of assisted dying with wit and humour, but doesn’t lessen the gravity of the subject at all. She cleverly presents both sides of the argument wrapped up in a heartrending and heartwarming story that could almost be called a comedy of errors. I both laughed and cried during this read.

This is one of those stories that grew on me as I read and became embroiled in the characters lives. Bauer has written an entertaining piece of crime fiction that also poses a moral dilemma.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#Exit #NetGalley

#contemporaryfiction #crime #mystery

THE AUTHOR: Belinda Bauer grew up in England and South Africa. She has worked as a journalist and screenwriter, and now lives in Wales.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Transworld Publishers, Bantam Press, for providing a digital ARC of Exit by Belinda Bauer 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

Murder in Paradise: Thirteen Mysteries from the Travels of Hercule Poirot by Agatha Christie

ABOUT ‘MURDER IN PARADISE’: Train journeys through rolling countryside and cruises across the open ocean might sound like paradise, but when murder strikes mid-journey, they’re anything but. Even on vacation, tensions can bubble beneath the surface, and when the end of the line leads to murder, everyone’s a suspect.

STORIES IN THIS COLLECTION: ·The Plymouth Express ·The Submarine Plans ·Problem at Sea ·How Does Your Garden Grow? ·The Market Basing Mystery ·The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan ·The Million Dollar Bond Robbery ·The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb ·The Affair at The Victory Ball ·The King of Clubs ·The Lemesurier Inheritance ·The Cornish Mystery ·The Adventure of the Clapham Cook

MY THOUGHTS: What a treat it was to have David Suchet narrate this collection! A few of these stories are also included in the Poirot Investigates collection, but they were just as interesting second time around.

This collection of short stories, also featuring Poirot’s sidekick Hastings and occasionally Inspector Japp, although lacking the depth of the Poirot novels, were still entertaining and stretched ‘the little grey cells!’ Oui!

⭐⭐⭐⭐

THE AUTHOR: Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born in Torquay, Devon, England, U.K., as the youngest of three. The Millers had two other children: Margaret Frary Miller (1879–1950), called Madge, who was eleven years Agatha’s senior, and Louis Montant Miller (1880–1929), called Monty, ten years older than Agatha.

Before marrying and starting a family in London, she had served in a Devon hospital during the First World War, tending to troops coming back from the trenches. During the First World War, she worked at a hospital as a nurse; later working at a hospital pharmacy, a job that influenced her work, as many of the murders in her books are carried out with poison. During the Second World War, she worked as a pharmacy assistant at University College Hospital, London, acquiring a good knowledge of poisons which feature in many of her novels.

Her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, came out in 1920. During her first marriage, Agatha published six novels, a collection of short stories, and a number of short stories in magazines.

In late 1926, Agatha’s husband, Archie, revealed that he was in love with another woman, Nancy Neele, and wanted a divorce. On 8 December 1926 the couple quarreled, and Archie Christie left their house, Styles, in Sunningdale, Berkshire, to spend the weekend with his mistress at Godalming, Surrey. That same evening Agatha disappeared from her home, leaving behind a letter for her secretary saying that she was going to Yorkshire. Her disappearance caused an outcry from the public, many of whom were admirers of her novels. Despite a massive manhunt, she was not found for eleven days.

In 1930, Christie married archaeologist Max Mallowan (Sir Max from 1968) after joining him in an archaeological dig. Their marriage was especially happy in the early years and remained so until Christie’s death in 1976.

Christie frequently used familiar settings for her stories. Christie’s travels with Mallowan contributed background to several of her novels set in the Middle East. Other novels (such as And Then There Were None) were set in and around Torquay, where she was born. Christie’s 1934 novel Murder on the Orient Express was written in the Hotel Pera Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, the southern terminus of the railway. The hotel maintains Christie’s room as a memorial to the author. The Greenway Estate in Devon, acquired by the couple as a summer residence in 1938, is now in the care of the National Trust.

Christie often stayed at Abney Hall in Cheshire, which was owned by her brother-in-law, James Watts. She based at least two of her stories on the hall: the short story The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding, and the novel After the Funeral. Abney Hall became Agatha’s greatest inspiration for country-house life, with all the servants and grandeur which have been woven into her plots.

To honour her many literary works, she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1956 New Year Honours. The next year, she became the President of the Detection Club.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of Murder in Paradise, written by Agatha Christie, narrated by David Suchet, and published by Harper Collins during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, via Overdrive. 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

Flesh House by Stuart MacBride

EXCERPT: ‘I’ve been waiting for you for fifteen minutes!’ Dr Isobel MacAlister, Aberdeen’s chief pathologist, wearing an expression that would freeze the balls off a brass gorilla at twenty paces. ‘You might not have anything better to do, but I can assure you that I have. Now are you going to listen to my preliminary findings, or shall I just go home and leave you to whatever it is you feel is more important?’

Logan groaned. That was all they needed, Isobel winding Insch up even further. As if the grumpy fat sod wasn’t bad enough already. The inspector turned on her, his face flashing angry scarlet in the IB spotlights. ‘Thank you so much for waiting for me, Doctor. I’m sorry if my organising a murder enquiry has inconvenienced you. I’ll try not to let something so trivial get in the way again.’

They stared at each other in silence for a moment. Then Isobel pulled on a cold, unfriendly smile. ‘Remains are human: male. Dismemberment looks as if it occurred some time after death with a long, sharp blade and a hacksaw, but I won’t be able to confirm that until after I’ve performed the post mortem.’ She checked her watch. ‘Which will take place at eleven am precisely.’

Insch bristled. ‘Oh no it won’t! I need those remains analysed now -‘

‘They’re frozen, Inspector. They – need – to – defrost.’ Emphasising each word as if she was talking to a naughty child, rather than a huge, bad tempered detective inspector. ‘If you want, I suppose I could stick them in the canteen microwave for half an hour. But that might not be very professional. What do you think?’

Insch just ground his teeth at her. Face rapidly shifting from angry-red to furious-purple.

ABOUT ‘FLESH HOUSE’ (Logan McRae #4): Panic grips The Granite City as DS Logan McRae heads up a manhunt for ‘The Flesher’ – one of the UK’s most notorious serial killers. The case was closed. Until the killer walked free When an offshore container turns up at Aberdeen Harbour full of human meat, it kicks off the largest manhunt in the Granite City’s history. Twenty years ago ‘The Flesher’ was butchering people all over the UK – turning victims into oven-ready joints – until Grampian’s finest put him away. But eleven years later he was out on appeal. Now he’s missing and people are dying again.When members of the original investigation start to disappear, Detective Sergeant Logan McRae realizes the case might not be as clear cut as everyone thinks Twenty years of secrets and lies are being dragged into the light. And the only thing that’s certain is Aberdeen will never be the same again

MY THOUGHTS: I took every possible opportunity to listen to Flesh House, but I have to admit to not eating much meat while I was doing so! If you don’t have a strong stomach and a love of gore, I strongly suggest that you bypass this. But me? I loved every minute of it.

I don’t know why, but everyone seems to pick on Logan; he’s everyone’s whipping boy. He is treated abominably by all his superiors and his ex-girlfriend. And yet he has good ideas, sees possibilities that no one else recognizes.

Flesh House is grim, but has flashes of (dark) humor in unexpected places. It is needed. Be prepared for the eating of human flesh, torture, imprisonment and graphic descriptions of the killing of people.

I had the identity of the killer worked out a little ahead of the police, which pleased (and surprised) me no end. The ending was completely unexpected, and I laughed, which was probably highly inappropriate, but I did.

Definitely the pinnacle of this series thus far. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

THE AUTHOR: Stuart MacBride is a Scottish writer, most famous for his crime thrillers set in the “Granite City” of Aberdeen and featuring Detective Sergeant Logan McRae.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of Flesh House written by Stuart MacBride, brilliantly narrated by Steve Worsley and published by Harper Collins Audio, via Overdrive. 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 . . .

A glorious morning has turned into a wet and stormy afternoon here in New Zealand. Pete has been away for the weekend fishing up the Coromandel. He had a wonderful time with his mates and they even brought home a few fish! I had to work this weekend otherwise I would have been with them. I haven’t been up the Coromandel for almost 40 years.

8I am currently reading Pianos and Flowers by Alexander McCall. It is a collection of short stories written about some historical photos. I am really enjoying this.

I am currently listening to Murder in Paradise: Thirteen Mysteries from the Travels of Hercule Poirot. I have read/listened to some of these previously, but some of the stories are new to me.

This week I am planning on reading The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn, the Goodreads.com Crime, Mysteries and Thrillers January group read. I am a little late starting as I committed to two group reads this month. But I have been wanting to read this ever since it came out, so I simply couldn’t pass on this.

Anna Fox lives alone, a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother and their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems. 

I have ten books due to be read for review this week 🤦‍♀️ and obviously I am not going to get them all read. Bad planning, I know, and a mistake I am trying not to repeat. So I am planning on reading Weekend Pass by Paul Cavanagh

Who can forgive a mother who poisons her eight-year-old son? Even if it was an accident.

Tasha thought she had everything under control – her family life, her career as a nurse – until her son got into her stash of painkillers. Now, during her first weekend home from drug treatment, she must come to grips with the damage she’s done and somehow pick up the pieces. Told from the points of view of four different family members, Weekend Pass is a story about the lies we tell ourselves and the people we love. And it’s about struggling to rise above the mistakes that threaten to define us.

And Ask No Questions by Claire Allen

Not all secrets are meant to come out…

Twenty-five years ago, on Halloween night, eight-year-old Kelly Doherty went missing while out trick or treating with friends.
Her body was found three days later, floating face down, on the banks of the Creggan Reservoir by two of her young classmates.
It was a crime that rocked Derry to the core. Journalist Ingrid Devlin is investigating – but someone doesn’t want her to know the truth. As she digs further, Ingrid starts to realise that the Doherty family are not as they seem. But will she expose what really happened that night before it’s too late?

I have a busy week ahead at work so I probably won’t be able to sneak any extra reads in this week, but if I can, I will.

And of course I have already read and reviewed the amazing gangland crime thriller Family by Owen Mullen, which is being released 21 January.

Check out my review which I posted 11 January. This is one book that you won’t want to miss out on!.

I have only two new ARCs from Netgalley this week, so I am back on track. The first is The Words We Whisper by Mary Ellen Taylor

And Three Missing Days by Colleen Coble. This is my first book by this author so I am very excited!

Happy reading everyone, and enjoy whatever is left of your weekend!

Cheers

Sandy ❤📚

Bibliomysteries Volume 1 edited by Otto Penzler

EXCERPT: They’d met last night for the first time and now, mid-morning, they were finally starting to let go a bit, to relax, to trust each other. Almost to trust each other.

Such is the way it works when you are partnered with a stranger on a mission to kill. (An Acceptable Sacrifice by Jeffrey Deaver)

ABOUT ‘BIBLIOMYSTERIES Volume One’: If you open your dictionary, you will discover that there is no such word as “bibliomystery.” However, most mystery readers know that the word refers to a mystery story that involves the world of books: a bookshop, a rare volume, a library, a collector, or a bookseller.

The stories in this unique collection were commissioned by the Mysterious Bookshop. They were written by some of the mystery genre’s most distinguished authors. Tough guys like Ken Bruen, Reed Farrel Coleman, Loren D. Estleman, and Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins. Bestsellers like Nelson DeMille, Anne Perry, and Jeffery Deaver. Edgar winners such as C. J. Box, Thomas H. Cook, and Laura Lippman.

Here you will discover Sigmund Freud dealing with an unwelcome visitor; Columbo confronting a murderous bookseller; a Mexican cartel kingpin with a fatal weakness for rare books; and deadly secrets deep in the London Library; plus books with hidden messages, beguiling booksellers, crafty collectors, and a magical library that is guaranteed to enchant you. The stories have been published in seven languages—one has sold more than 250,000 copies as an e-book (“The Book Case” by Nelson DeMille)—and another won the Edgar Allan Poe Award as the Best Short Story of the Year (“The Caxton Lending Library and Book Depository” by John Connolly).

MY THOUGHTS: This is a mostly excellent collection of short stories with books and mysteries at their centre. There is a mix of contemporary and historical fiction. There were a couple of stories that I felt weren’t really mysteries at all, but the high quality of the others eclipsed them.

My favourite story was ‘The Book of Virtue’ by Ken Bruen; the story I liked the least was ‘The Final Testament’ by Peter Blaumer.

The stories are: An Acceptable Sacrifice by Jeffrey Deaver ⭐⭐⭐
Pronghorns of the Third Reich by C.J. Box ⭐⭐⭐
The Book of Virtue by Ken Bruen ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Book of Ghosts by Reed Farrell Coleman ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Final Testament by Peter Blaumer ⭐⭐
What’s in a Name by Thomas H. Cook ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Book Club by Lauren D. Estleman ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Death Leaves a Bookmark by William Link ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Book Thing by Laura Lippman ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Scroll by Anne Perry ⭐⭐⭐.5
It’s In the Book by Mickey Spillane and Max Allen Collins ⭐⭐⭐.5
The Long Sonata of the Dead by Andrew Taylor ⭐⭐⭐.5
Rides a Stranger by David Bell ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Caxton Lending Library and Book Depository by John Connolly ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
The Book Case by Nelson De Mille ⭐⭐⭐

David Thomas May did an excellent job of narrating the stories. He had an awful lot of different voices to portray and did so admirably.

Please note: some books are harmed in the telling of these stories.

Overall a ⭐⭐⭐⭐.6 rating

#BibliomysteriesVolume1HighBridgeAudio #NetGalley

EDITOR: Otto Penzler is an editor of mystery fiction in the United States, and proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York City, where he lives.

Otto Penzler founded The Mysteriour Press in 1975 and was the publisher of The Armchair Detective, the Edgar-winning quarterly journal devoted to the study of mystery and suspense fiction, for seventeen years.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to HighBridge Audio via Netgalley for providing an audio ARC of Bibliomysteries Volume 1 for review. Publication date 05 January 2021.

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

Trafficked by M.A. Hunter

EXCERPT: Aurelie remained curled in that foetal-like position until the crying stopped, and when she did look up, she was no longer facing a thin curtain. Instead, there was a door. Thin indentations in the wooden panels drew her attention, and shuffling forward on her hands and knees, she traced her small fingers along the crevices, shuddering when she realized what they were: the scratches of other girls who’d been in the same position as her.

ABOUT ‘TRAFFICKED’: They stole away her future…
A French woman stumbles out of a forest in Dorset more than a decade after vanishing from the English beach where she had been innocently building sandcastles under the not-so-watchful gaze of her holidaymaking parents.

They never expected her to survive…

As investigative journalist Emma Hunter sifts through the secrets of a seemingly unrelated disappearance with police archivist Jack, it soon becomes clear the two cases are linked.

They never expected her to escape…

Emma enlists her best friend and broadsheet reporter Rachel to trace the French woman’s steps through the forest to a nightmarish underground cell littered with human bones. That’s when Emma realises this woman could be the answer, the answer to everything.

MY THOUGHTS: This is #3 in The Missing Children Case Files) by M.A. Hunter. I have read #1, Ransomed, previously but somehow missed the second in the series, Isolated.

There is enough of the background scattered throughout the story to make reading the previous books unnecessary, and I think that this would work well enough as a stand-alone. Some of the background information is repeated more than once, which was a little annoying. Probably the only aspect to suffer would be the history of the characters relationships.

Trafficked started off well but lost its impetus somewhere around the middle of the book. The chapters were divided into ‘now’ and ‘then’ but frequently the ‘then’ chapters seemed to be a lot more ‘now.’

Once the impetus was lost, the suspense also declined. Often I felt as if I was being lectured to, rather than reading a novel.

The relationships between the characters, particularly the animosity between Emma and Cavendish, and the debacle with Jack felt totally unnecessary. Emma lacks confidence in her personal relationships, and even in her professional role
she rarely stands up for herself unless being led by her friend Rachel. I loved Aurelie’s character and thought she was well and realistically depicted.

I also found the ending of the book anticlimactic. There are apparently three more books to come in this series. At this point I am undecided about reading any more.

⭐⭐⭐.4

#Trafficked #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: M. A. Hunter has been a huge fan of crime fiction series since a young age and always fancied the idea of trying to write one. That dream became a reality when One More Chapter signed The Missing Children Case Files.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins UK, One More Chapter, via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Trafficked by M.A. Hunter 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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

What a tumultuous week it has been around the world! I am so grateful to be living in New Zealand. ❤ I hope that wherever you are, you are safe and healthy.

Currently I am reading Trafficked (The Missing Children Case Files #3) by M. A. Hunter. This was published earlier this week.

I have also started reading The Lost Man by Jane Harper. I have only read the prologue and already I am enthralled! I love this author.

I am almost finished listening to Bibliomysteries: Stories of Crime in the world of books and bookstores, a Netgalley audiobook ARC. There are some excellent stories in this collection. My favourite so far would have to be The Book of Virtues by Ken Bruen.

This week I am planning on reading The Ocean House: Stories by Mary-Beth Hughes.

Faith, a mother of two young children, Cece and Connor, is in need of summer childcare. As a member of a staid old beach club in her town and a self-made business consultant, she is appalled when her brother-in-law sends her an unruly, ill-mannered teenager named Lee-Ann who appears more like a wayward child than competent help. What begins as a promising start to a redemptive relationship between the two ends in a tragedy that lands Faith in a treatment facility, leveled by trauma.

Years later, Faith and her mother, Irene, visit Cece in college. A fresh-faced student with a shaved head and new boyfriend, Cece has become a force of her own. Meanwhile, her grandmother, Irene, is in the early stages of dementia. She slips in and out of clarity, telling lucid tales of her own troubled youth. Faith dismisses her mother’s stories as bids for attention. The three generations of women hover between wishful innocence and a more knowing resilience against the cruelty that hidden secrets of the past propel into the present.

Including stories from an array of characters orbiting Faith’s family, The Ocean House weaves an exquisite world of complicated family tales on the Jersey Shore.

And, The Boatman’s Wife by Noelle Harrison.

There was some dark secret in this western edge of Ireland that her husband never wanted her to find out. She might never be able to lay his body to rest, but she could gain some kind of closure by finding out who the man she married was.

When Lily married her soulmate Connor, buffeted by the sea spray and wild winds of her coastal homeland in Maine, she never imagined she’d be planning his memorial just three years later. Connor has been lost at sea in the bleak stormy Atlantic, leaving Lily heartbroken.

But as she prepares to say goodbye to Connor for the last time, she is shocked to discover a message to him that he never told her about:

Does your wife know who you really are, Connor Fitzgerald? Don’t ever think you can come home. Because if you do, I swear I’ll kill you.

Unable to bear living in the home she and Connor shared, Lily decides to find out her husband’s secret. She flies to Connor’s home town of Mullaghmore on the west coast of Ireland, a harbour town hugged by golden beaches and emerald-green fields. But when doors are slammed in her face, she begins to realise that she knows nothing about her husband’s past.

Connor’s grandmother, a hermit living on the cliffs of the wild Atlantic, must know the truth about her grandson. But when Lily tries to find her, threatening notes are pushed through her door warning her not to stay. Will Lily leave the darkness of the past where it belongs? Or will she risk everything to find out the truth about the man she married…

I have four new ARCs from Netgalley this week: The Gorge by Matt Brolly

The Secret Within by Lucy Dawson

Forgotten Victim by Helen H. Durrant

And, The Incredible Winston Browne by Sean Dietrich

I have requested a couple of audiobooks, but my approvals don’t seem to be in any hurry to come through. 🤷‍♀️

I am not looking forward to going back to work tomorrow, but needs must. There were so many things I was planning on doing during the two weeks I had off work, and so many things that are still on my list, uncompleted or, worse still, not even started. I always overestimate what I can do in the time I have available. My Netgalley back list is evidence of this failing!

Look after yourselves my friends and stay safe.

Pop in tomorrow check out my review of a book that I didn’t really expect to love, but ended up being a five star read for me!

Cheers

Sandy ❤📚

The Dry by Jane Harper

EXCERPT: It had been twenty years, but Falk recognized Luke’s father straight away. Gerry Hadler’s face was grey. His eyes appeared sunken into his head. He was sitting dutifully in his spot in the front row, but his head was turned. He was ignoring his wife sobbing by his side and the three wooden boxes holding the remains of his son, daughter-in-law and grandson. Instead, he was staring directly at Falk.

Somewhere up the back, a few notes of music piped out from speakers. The funeral was starting. Gerry inclined his head in a tiny nod and Falk unconsciously put his hand in his pocket. He felt the letter that had landed on his desk two days ago. From Gerry Hadler, eight words written with a heavy hand:
Luke lied. You lied. Be at the funeral.

ABOUT ‘THE DRY’: In the grip of the worst drought in a century, the farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily when three members of a local family are found brutally slain.
Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk reluctantly returns to his hometown for the funeral of his childhood friend, loath to face the townsfolk who turned their backs on him twenty years earlier.
But as questions mount, Falk is forced to probe deeper into the deaths of the Hadler family. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret. A secret Falk thought was long buried. A secret Luke’s death now threatens to bring to the surface in this small Australian town, as old wounds bleed into new ones.

MY THOUGHTS: The Dry was not the breathtaking, gripping read that I expected. It is, however, quietly compelling and I loved it.

The pace is slow and steady, very much small town rural Australia pace. The relationships between the townsfolk are intense and interesting. These are people who have no other entertainment than what is happening in their town. Secrets are currency to them.

The policeman, Raco and his wife Rita, are new in town. Policing a small rural town is never easy. There are too many people who know too much about each other, and the small town hierarchy to contend with. There are old scores to settle, resentments to fuel. But despite all this, the locals tend to close ranks against outsiders, and unless there have been generations of your family born and living there, you’re an outsider.

Even Falk, born and bred in the town but who left as a teenager is considered an outsider. And not a welcome one. There are people who believe that he was responsible for the death of teenager Elly Deacon, including Elly’s father.

Now he is back and investigating what was supposed to be a clear cut case of murder/suicide. But he and Raco have found some things that don’t add up, things that make them think that someone other than Luke is responsible for these three deaths. And someone wants him gone…

Like I said, quietly compelling. I found it quite easy to put the book down and walk away from it, but I couldn’t stop thinking about it, my mind tossing about the clues that Falk and Raco unearth, trying to solve the mystery before them. I didn’t.

Harper provides a credible list of suspects and cleverly weaves the old case of Elly Deacon’s death into the current investigation of the deaths of the Hadler family. The denouement is frightening.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#TheDry #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Jane worked as a print journalist for thirteen years both in Australia and the UK, and now lives in Melbourne.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Macmillan Australia via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Dry by Jane Harper 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 my webpage

Watching what I’m reading…

Only a few days to go, and Christmas will be all over again. We aren’t seeing Dustin and Luke until Boxing Day, so we have invited a few other empty nesters for Christmas. It will be a fairly laid back affair; lots of nibbles, salads and bbq.

I don’t seem to have read much this week, a combination of work and my ongoing health issues. I have to learn not to overdo it when I am having a good day because I inevitably crash and burn the following day.

I am currently reading The Orchid Girls by Lesley Sanderson, which is a backlist title from Netgalley. I have had it since 2018,so it’s good to get it read. One less bank-title to feel guilty about. I am much preferring it to The Birthday Weekend which I finished this week.

I am almost finished A Dark So Deadly by Stuart MacBride, another back-title from Netgalley.

And I have just finished listening to The Ghost Fields (Ruth Galloway #7) by Elly Griffiths.

I have yet to download something new to listen to. I also need to write my review, which I will post tomorrow.

I have nothing from Netgalley that needs reading for review this week, but another member of my local library book club has passed on a new release she thought I would like, Wearing Paper Dresses by Anne Brinsden. Betty really enjoyed it. Another new Australian author for me.

You can talk about living in the Mallee. And you can talk about a Mallee tree. And you can talk about the Mallee itself: a land and a place full of red sand and short stubby trees. Silent skies. The undulating scorch of summer plains. Quiet, on the surface of things.

But Elise wasn’t from the Mallee, and she knew nothing of its ways.

Discover the world of a small homestead perched on the sunburnt farmland of northern Victoria. Meet Elise, whose urbane 1950s glamour is rudely transplanted to the pragmatic red soil of the Mallee when her husband returns to work the family farm. But you cannot uproot a plant and expect it to thrive. And so it is with Elise. Her meringues don’t impress the shearers, the locals scoff at her Paris fashions, her husband works all day in the back paddock, and the drought kills everything but the geraniums she despises.

As their mother withdraws more and more into herself, her spirited, tearaway daughters, Marjorie and Ruby, wild as weeds, are left to raise themselves as best they can. Until tragedy strikes, and Marjorie flees to the city determined to leave her family behind. And there she stays, leading a very different life, until the boy she loves draws her back to the land she can’t forget…

And I have a copy of The Dry by Jane Harper, so I would also like to read that this week.

In the grip of the worst drought in a century, the farming community of Kiewarra is facing life and death choices daily when three members of a local family are found brutally slain.
Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk reluctantly returns to his hometown for the funeral of his childhood friend, loath to face the townsfolk who turned their backs on him twenty years earlier.
But as questions mount, Falk is forced to probe deeper into the deaths of the Hadler family. Because Falk and Luke Hadler shared a secret. A secret Falk thought was long buried. A secret Luke’s death now threatens to bring to the surface in this small Australian town, as old wounds bleed into new ones.

I only have two new ARCs from Netgalley this week (Susan stop rolling your eyes!)

Eudora Honeysett is Just Fine Thank You by Annie Lyons is my first audiobook download, which has been beset by problems. Like my ipod is too old to support the Netgalley Shelf app! So I guess I will be buying a new ipod tomorrow.

I have also received The Lady in Residence by Allison Pittman

My posting may well be a bit erratic again this week, so I will wish you all a happy, healthy and safe festive season now, just in case.

Btw, my tree looks NOTHING like this!

Consolation by Garry Disher

EXCERPT: The house was empty. Hirsch didn’t know if the thin trace of dust on the kitchen table indicated abandonment or bad housekeeping. But the UHF equipment in the radio room had been smashed up: violence of some kind had occurred here.

He left by the back door and walked to the jackaroos’ quarters, a pair of squat back to back rooms. Unmade beds and dirty clothes piled on wooden chairs; in one room a guitar, in the other posters of a Tasmanian rainforest, a formula one racing car and a woman in tennis whites scratching her bare bum.

The sheds: a Falcon station wagon, a trailer, tools, ladders, ropes, axles, a blacksmith’s anvil.

Hirsch stood in the yard a while, indecisive. Search a wider area? Call it in right now? The Ayliffes could be anywhere. Maybe they’d drive the Triton down into a sinkhole and the airbag would explode and slice their throats open.

Widening the circle each time, Hirsch circumnavigated the patch of buildings and stockyards. Eventually he caught, faintly but unmistakably, a stench of death borne on the wind that gusted across the rocky ground.

ABOUT ‘CONSOLATION’: Winter in Tiverton.

Constable Paul Hirschhausen has a snowdropper on his patch. Someone is stealing women’s underwear, and Hirsch knows enough about that kind of crime—how it can escalate—not to take it lightly.

But the more immediate concerns are a call from the high school, a teacher worried about a student who may be in danger at home. Another call, a different school: a man enraged about the principal’s treatment of his daughter.

A little girl in harm’s way and an elderly woman in danger. An absent father who isn’t where he’s supposed to be; another who flees to the back country armed with a rifle. Families under pressure. And the cold, seeping feeling that something is very, very wrong.

MY THOUGHTS: Paul Hirschausen is on duty twenty four seven in Tiverton and it’s surrounds. No eight hour day then knock off and put your feet up for him. Rural policing doesn’t work like that. In a typical day he might have a cup of tea and a chat about missing, believed stolen, sheep, or mysterious headlights in the night, or a grown son not taking his meds. He might help a widow start her ute with the police Toyota’s jumper leads, hold a ladder so a man can fish his grandson’s cricket ball out of the gutter, or change a tap washer for an elderly woman. He might also be shot at. . .

Consolation, the third book in the Paul Hirschausen series, initially seems gentler than the previous two, but this is merely an illusion. The crimes are different, perhaps a wider range than we have been treated to previously, but are still full of deadly intent. A farmer and his son turn rogue and go on a rampage, there is a stalker, some Irish conmen, fraud, child abuse, and a kidnapping. Just another police beat in a sleepy outback town where nothing much ever happens… Oh yes, and there’s someone stealing elderly ladies’ underwear from their clothes lines.

Paul’s relationship with Wendy and her daughter Katie continues, not without the odd hiccup, and many of the characters from the previous two novels return in this one. But Disher also introduces some new characters: Clara Ogilvie, a teacher who works with Wendy; Margaret and Amy Groote, an elderly lady and her niece; Quinlan, the stock and station agent; Sophie Flynn, a young bank teller who uncovers some strange goings on in some bank accounts; and the Ayliffes, a family on the brink.

The previous two books in the series were set mid-summer, Christmas; Consolation is set mid-winter and I could feel every blast of that icy wind, see the roads made almost impassable by the relentless rain, feel the frost crunching beneath my feet.

Again, Garry Disher held me spellbound, totally caught up in the lives of the people in this small remote town. I can’t wait for the next installment. In the meantime, I plan on starting on one of the other two series he has written. Can’t get enough of this author!

⭐⭐⭐⭐.6

#Consolation #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Garry Disher was born in 1949 and grew up on his parents’ farm in South Australia.

He gained post graduate degrees from Adelaide and Melbourne Universities. In 1978 he was awarded a creative writing fellowship to Stanford University, where he wrote his first short story collection. He travelled widely overseas, before returning to Australia, where he taught creative writing, finally becoming a full time writer in 1988.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Text Publishing via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Consolation by Garry Disher 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

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