Police at the Station And They Don’t Look Friendly (Sean Duffy #6) by Adrian McKinty

EXCERPT: . . . it is indeed spooky out here, in the hulking shadows of these venerable oaks, four hours after midnight, in the middle of nowhere, while Ireland sleeps, while Ireland dreams. . .

The little rise is a deceptively steep incline that takes my breath away and I can see that I am going to need my new inhaler if it keeps up. The inhaler, of course, is back in the glove compartment of the car because I haven’t yet acquired the habit of taking it with me everywhere. Not that it will make any difference in a few minutes anyway. A bullet in the head will fix an incipient asthma attack every time.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Belfast 1988: A man is found dead, killed with a bolt from a crossbow in front of his house. This is no hunting accident. But uncovering who is responsible for the murder will take Detective Sean Duffy down his most dangerous road yet, a road that leads to a lonely clearing on a high bog where three masked gunmen will force Duffy to dig his own grave.
Hunted by forces unknown, threatened by Internal Affairs, and with his relationship on the rocks, Duffy will need all his wits to get out of this investigation in one piece

MY THOUGHTS: ‘A paranoid man is a man who knows a little about what’s going on’ – William Burroughs

The seven ‘p’s – ‘Proper preparation and planning prevents piss poor performance’ – DI Sean Duffy

What can I say that I haven’t said before about this series? I have just finished #6 with my heart pounding, and if it was 5 pm instead of 5 am, I would pour myself a stiff drink. I am exhausted after having spent the majority of the night in the company of DI Sean Duffy, checking under the BMW 535i sport for mercury tilt bombs every time before we get in, being beaten, shot at (multiple times), kidnapped, threatened, and participating in a car chase involving a 1988 Bentley Mulsanne. All this is set against the background of ‘the Troubles’ which seem to have flared again, with Belfast experiencing riots, the funerals of the three killed in Gibraltar by the SAS, and Michael Stone’s deadly actions at the funerals inflaming the situation.

Duffy now has a partner and a child, but that doesn’t seem to be working out as well as he had hoped, either. Yet despite the troubles, Irish, professional and personal, or perhaps because of them, Duffy sees things that others miss, and while he may never have brought a criminal to trial, his resolution of cases is always interesting and probably more appropriate than any court sentence.

McKinty has evolved Duffy’s character seamlessly without losing the quintessential essence of him. He is still the thorn in the side of his superiors, and those who think themselves superior, like that eejit Kenny Dalziel. He still makes questionable choices – I was pacing the lounge at 4 am ranting ‘Sean, wtf do you think you’re doing?!’ But he also inspires loyalty, is irreverent but charming, has street smarts that I am envious of, and a black sense of humor that I love.

If you haven’t yet read this series, you are missing out on what I seriously believe to be one of the top two thriller series that I have read. I could wax lyrical about both the series and this particular book for pages yet, but honestly? Stop reading my review and just read the books. What are you waiting for?

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

THE AUTHOR: Adrian McKinty is an Irish novelist. He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and grew up in Victoria Council Estate, Carrickfergus, County Antrim. He read law at the University of Warwick and politics and philosophy at the University of Oxford. He moved to the United States in the early 1990s, living first in Harlem, New York and from 2001 on, in Denver, Colorado, where he taught high school English and began writing fiction. He lives in Melbourne, Australia with his wife and two children.

DISCLOSURE: I borrowed my copy of Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly by Adrian McKinty, published by Serpent’s Tail, from Waitomo District Library. Thank you to head librarian Julie for buying in a copy at my request.

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

The Night Whistler by Greg Woodland

EXCERPT: He was standing atop a small rise staring at something when Evan staggered up beside him and gasped softly. A strange yellowish vehicle-cum-dwelling: they couldn’t take their eyes off it.

The depleted shell of a truck cabin at one end merged into a decrepit caravan at the other. It was like some bizarre caterpillar with extremities so different they might have belonged to separate species. The truck’s bonnet lay on the ground, engine parts flung around it like a mad mechanic’s toys. Where once were wheels, tree stumps now propped the apparition up. Skew-whiff sheds and lean-tos lay scattered around it, rotting in the grass. The caravan was covered in peeling tan and yellow paint and above the door a faded sign declared ‘Highway Palace’. It was a ruined palace though, with oval windows cracked or broken, glinting like jagged teeth, shreds of lace curtains behind them. There was nothing palatial or grand about it now, and probably never had been. But behind the curtains, mystery seemed to lurk in every corner.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: It’s 1966. Hal and his little brother, newly arrived in Moorabool with their parents, are exploring the creek near their new home when they find the body of a dog.

Not just dead, but recently killed.

Not just killed, but mutilated.

Constable Mick Goodenough, recently demoted from his city job as a detective, is also new in town—and one of his dogs has gone missing. He’s experienced enough to know what it means when someone tortures an animal to death: it means they’re practising. So when Hal’s mother starts getting anonymous calls—a man whistling, then hanging up—Goodenough, alone among the Moorabool cops, takes her seriously.

The question is: will that be enough to keep her safe?

MY THOUGHTS: Atmospheric. Very atmospheric. There is a palpable air of menace in this small rural town where most people are either hiding something, or watching … and waiting.

Set in the 1960’s, there is blatant racism in this book that may upset some people. But that is just the way things were then. While we can’t change the past, we can learn from it.

There are multiple layers to this mystery – corrupt police, corrupt town councillors, extra-marital activity, missing and mutilated animals, mystery and murder. But Woodland has also captured the essence of the time, particularly the way kids were allowed to roam about unfettered, the only restriction that they ‘be home in time for tea.’ Parents weren’t at all concerned about where the kids were, who they were playing with or what they were doing, as long as they stayed out of trouble and came home on time. Step out of line, and you’d get a whack around the ear or a slap around the legs for your trouble. People drank and drove. And smoked – everywhere.

Woodland’s writing is vivid, both his descriptions and his characters come alive. I could smell the heat, taste the dust, hear the voices. I knew, well before I reached the end of the first chapter, that I was onto a winner.

The plot is enthralling, and takes place in Aussie time. ‘Don’t worry mate, it’ll get done, some time. Crack a stubby while you wait.’

Mick Goodenough (pronounced Good-no, or as his boss likes to quip, no-good) has two strikes against him before he starts. 1. He’s an indigenous Australian. 2. He’s been demoted from the rank of Detective in Sydney and exiled to Moorabool as a probationary constable. The problem is that Mick still thinks like a detective. And his boss takes great delight in rubbing his nose in the fact that he isn’t.

Hal, twelve, has also only recently moved to Moorabool for his father’s work. Summer holidays, so he hasn’t really had a chance to meet anyone else his own age. Until Allie, an indigenous girl who takes him crawbobbing, and talks to him about the spirits trapped in the Highway Palace, the scene of a murder-suicide years earlier. Hal is more concerned about what happened to the one surviving child. Where did he go, and where is he now? And could it be him that is making the strange and threatening calls his mother is receiving? If not, then who? And why?

I was riveted by this story. Gritty and honest. And I want more.

I have lived in a small town in Australia, a little like this. Some of my happiest years were spent there. Woodland made me homesick. Dust, flies, spiders, snakes and all…

❤❤❤❤.8

#TheNightWhistler #NetGalley

FOR THE ARMCHAIR TRAVELLER: I think that Moorabool is a fictional town in the New England region of New South Wales, Australia.

New England or New England North West is the name given to a generally undefined region in the north of the state of New South Wales, Australia, about 60 kilometres inland, that includes the Northern Tablelands and the North West Slopes regions.

Dubbed the Cathedral City, Armidale in the New England High Country is one of Australia’s most elegant regional cities. With an altitude of a kilometre above sea level, it’s known for vibrant autumn foliage and cool breezes in summer. Wander its streets and find 19th century churches mixed with modern cafes and restaurants.

THE AUTHOR: Greg has been a script developer and consultant for Australian film funding bodies and the Australian Writers Guild for 25 years. He is the founder-director of a leading Australian script service. As writer/director Greg’s award-winning short films and documentaries screened nationally and internationally at over 60 film festivals and many TV channels. His screenplays The Whistler and Pangs won several script competitions including the Fellowship of Australian Writers Best Drama Manuscript, the Inscription Open Script award, and three Varuna Fellowships between them. Greg has lectured in Scriptwriting at Macquarie University, UTS, NIDA, and AFTRS. His script editing credits include feature films ‘Moon Rock for Monday’, ‘Don’t Tell’, ‘Needle’, ‘Cold Turkey’, ‘The Bet’, ‘Broken’, several Project Greenlight and Monte Miller Award finalists, the 2013 Tropfest Best Film Winner, the 2016 AWG John Hinde Science Fiction script award winner and many others. His first crime novel ‘The Night Whistler’ was published by Text Publishing in August 2020, and he’s now writing the sequel, The Carnival is Over.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Text Publishing via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Night Whistler by Greg Woodland for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

The Three Deaths of Magdalene Lynton by Katherine Hayton

EXCERPT: A man walked through the double doors, wavering on his feet as the suction from the closing doors pulled him off balance. The mother and grandmother each made an initial movement, as if to help, then sat back, staring at the ground. The little girl jabbed her chair at him, once, twice – the world’s smallest lion tamer – then retreated to her mother’s lap.

Ngaire understood why. Every pore of the man’s body exuded death. He reminded her of an autumn leaf left to mummify in the dry winter air – no substance, no flesh to his bones. Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle. With no offers of assistance, he crept forward, his feet never leaving the carpet. Minutes passed.

The thick plastic panels that enclosed Ngaire behind the front counter formed her excuse not to help. To walk around to the other side, she’d have to unlock two doors with her passkey – and then what? Let him stand and tremble while she walked back?

The man still had a meter to go when she manufactured a broad smile and asked, ‘Can I help you?’ In training, an officer had instructed her to channel Gold Coast surfers when she faced the public, a method sure to produce a happy grin with no concerns. Far more tiring than ‘resting bitch’ face, but also more likely to yield positive results.

He reached the counter at last and pulled a passport out of his jacket pocket with shaking fingers. He tried to give it to Ngaire, but she nodded at the desk tray. When he dropped it in there, she picked it up and flipped through the front pages, stopping at the photograph.

In the picture, a gray scale man with thick hair kept a straight face for the camera, although happy, upturned lines still radiated from the corners of his eyes and mouth. The name was Paul Worthington, and Ngaire worked out his age from his date of birth: fifty three. She pushed the book back to him, thinking ‘Surf, sun, sand. Smile, girl.’ The poster child for cancer returned her stare, his face blank, and she tried to swallow past her sympathy, her pity. Her eyebrows raised in inquiry.

‘My identification,’ he said. ‘So you know I’m serious.’ He leaned forward until her nostrils filled with mild acid and dank grapes. ‘I want to confess to a murder.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Magdalene Lynton died forty years ago: a vivacious teenager who fell victim to a grotesque, accidental drowning. The coroner’s office issued a verdict of death by misadventure and filed her case. The farming commune she’d lived within, splintered apart. Her body was left behind in a small, private cemetery encircled by acres of fallow ground.

Until Paul Worthington confessed to her murder.

Magdalene’s case lands with Ngaire Blakes, a Maori detective recovering from a brutal stabbing. After fighting for the resources to investigate, Ngaire discovers that Paul’s confession doesn’t fit with the facts of Magdalene’s death. The trouble is, neither does the original verdict.

Together with her partner, Deb, Ngaire digs deeper into the case to uncover inconsistencies, lies, and mortal danger.

MY THOUGHTS: This is a good twisty tale set in and around Christchurch in the South Island of New Zealand, and the first in a series of three books about a female, Maori detective who seems to be a magnet for trouble.

We don’t learn much about Ngaire, or any other of the characters that are likely to appear in the other books in this series, which is a pity. The characters need a little rounding out. We know far more about the characters connected with this forty year old crime, and we are unlikely to come across them again in the series, except, perhaps, for William (aka Billy) the lawyer. But there are some interesting characters, very interesting characters, some with hidden depths, others with hidden secrets. It’s not immediately clear who falls into which camp.

I did notice a few Americanisms creep in: e,g. Mom, instead of the kiwi ‘Mum’, which particularly annoyed me.

But, that aside, The Three Deaths of Magdalene Lynton is an interesting story. Nothing is simple, nothing quite what it seems. The plot is well constructed, and kept my interest throughout. The mystery unfolds quite slowly, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing happening. We learn everything as the investigative team does. The ending was certainly not what I expected. Either time. But it was spectacularly perfect.

😊😊😊.7

FOR THE ARMCHAIR TRAVELLER: Christchurch, known for its English heritage, is located on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Flat-bottomed punts glide on the Avon River, which meanders through the city centre. On its banks are cycling paths, the green expanse of Hagley Park and Christchurch Botanic Gardens. In 2010 and 2011, earthquakes destroyed many of the historic centre’s stone-built buildings. These earthquakes are referred to in The Three Deaths of Magdalene Lynton.
The Waimakariri River is one of the largest rivers in Canterbury, on the eastern coast of New Zealand’s South Island. It flows for 151 kilometres in a generally southeastward direction from the Southern Alps across the Canterbury Plains to the Pacific Ocean.

THE AUTHOR: Katherine Hayton is a middle-aged woman who works in insurance, doesn’t have children or pets, can’t drive, has lived in Christchurch her entire life, and resides a two-minute walk from where she was born.

For some reason, she’s developed a rich fantasy life.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to author Katherine Hayton via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Three Deaths of Magdalene Lynton 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

Cry Baby (Tom Thorne #17) by Mark Billingham

Now, before you all go ‘never read this series, not starting it. 16 previous books to catch up on is too many,’ let me point out that Cry Baby is actually the prequel to ‘Sleepyhead’, the first book in this series. So that is an excellent reason to pick it up and read it if you haven’t yet read Billingham. Of course, if you’re a dyed in the wool Billingham fan, like me, then you probably already have this on your reading radar.

EXCERPT: Cat moved quickly through the playground towards the exit on the far side, calling her son’s name, oblivious to the stares of other parents whose kids stopped what they were doing to watch. Maria hurried to catch her up and they both stopped dead when Josh appeared suddenly and came running from the trees towards them.

His yellow coat was streaked with mud and he burst into tears the instant he laid eyes on his mother.

‘Josh?’ Maria leaned down and took her son’s face in her hands. ‘You OK?’

‘Where’s Kieron?’ Cat asked, looking towards the trees. ‘Josh, where’s Kieron?’

The boy began wailing and buried his face in his mother’s stomach.

The unlit cigarette fell from Cat’s hand and she began to run.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: In the summer of 1996, two boys run from a playground into the adjoining woods, but only one comes out. DS Tom Thorne takes on a case that quickly spirals out of control when two people connected with the missing boy are murdered. As London prepares to host the European Soccer Championships, Thorne fights to keep on top of a baffling investigation while also dealing with the ugly fallout of his broken marriage.

MY THOUGHTS: Although the 17th book in the Tom Thorne series, Cry Baby is a prequel to Mark Billingham’s debut novel ‘Sleepyhead’, which was the first book I ever read by this author, and which put him firmly on my reading radar.

Tom Thorne is a credible and engaging character. He is flawed. Detests his boss, Boyle, and has conversations in his mind where he bests Boyle. He can be quite sarky. He is going through a marriage break up, and I love his thoughts on the ‘hippy-dippy, sandal-wearing’ university lecturer Jan left him for. He’s not good at friendships, and even seems uncomfortable with his own family. Yet he shows an unexpected humanity and compassion towards the victims. Our Tom is a complex character.

We meet, for the first time, Phil Hendricks, the new pathologist, tattooed, pierced and gay, though Tom hasn’t figured that out yet. Hendricks and Thorne have nothing in common – they don’t like the same music, or support the same football team – yet Cry Baby is the start of their decades long friendship.

In a new format for Billingham, Cry Baby is told from multiple points of view: Thorne, as usual; Cat, the mother of the missing boy; Maria, her friend and Josh’s mum; Kieron, the abducted boy, and his abductor.

There are plenty of subplots inside the main storyline – relationship issues, both personal and professional, for Tom and several other characters. There is some confusion about the parentage of the missing boy. And of course, a few red herrings.

I must admit that it took me a while to settle into this story. But once I got into the rhythm of Billingham’s writing again, I was away.

I don’t think that Cry Baby is the best of Billingham’s books, although it is certainly a valuable addition to the series. I wasn’t totally invested in the ending, but loved the journey.

⭐⭐⭐.8

#CryBaby #NetGalley

FOR THE ARMCHAIR TRAVELLER: Cry Baby by Mark Billingham is set in London, mainly in the Highbury-Islington area. London, the capital of England and the United Kingdom, is a 21st-century city with history stretching back to Roman times. At its centre stand the imposing Houses of Parliament, the iconic ‘Big Ben’ clock tower and Westminster Abbey, site of British monarch coronations. Across the Thames River, the London Eye observation wheel provides panoramic views of the South Bank cultural complex, and the entire city.
Highbury is home to Premiership football at Arsenal FC’s Emirates Stadium, as well as a sports centre and tennis courts in leafy Highbury Fields park. Upscale restaurants cluster near Highbury Corner, with artisan food stores, cafes, and global eateries in the village-like area on Highbury Grove. Quiet, tree-lined residential streets feature Italianate villas and grand Georgian homes, many converted into flats.

THE AUTHOR: Mark Billingham was born and brought up in Birmingham. Having worked for some years as an actor and more recently as a TV writer and stand-up comedian his first crime novel was published in 2001. Mark lives in North London with his wife and two children.
He also writes as Will Peterson with Peter Cocks.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Grove Atlantic via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Cry Baby by Mark Billingham 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 . . .

It is Father’s Day here in New Zealand so happy father’s day to all the dads out there. It’s a fairly dismal day, wet and windy, so we have postponed the plans we had made for this afternoon until next week. Currently we are waiting for the Supercar racing out of Townsville, Queensland, Australia to start. There is the delicious aroma of curried sausages (Chelsea Winters – Eat) simmering away in the slow cooker drifting through to the lounge. All is well in our little world.

I have had a good reading week, although I deviated from my reading plan as you may have noticed if you have been following my reviews during the week.

I am currently reading Cry Baby by Mark Billingham, #17 in the Tom Thorne series. This story is set in 1996 and is the prequel to Sleepyhead which was the first book I ever read by Billingham.

I am listening to an audiobook by a New Zealand author, Katherine Hayton, called The Three Deaths of Magdalene Lynton which is set in the South Island of New Zealand.

You may have a feeling of deja vu as you read on regarding what I plan on reading this week.

Night Whistler by Greg Woodland.

It’s 1966. Hal and his little brother, newly arrived in Moorabool with their parents, are exploring the creek near their new home when they find the body of a dog.

Not just dead, but recently killed.

Not just killed, but mutilated.

Constable Mick Goodenough, recently demoted from his city job as a detective, is also new in town—and one of his dogs has gone missing. He’s experienced enough to know what it means when someone tortures an animal to death: it means they’re practising. So when Hal’s mother starts getting anonymous calls—a man whistling, then hanging up—Goodenough, alone among the Moorabool cops, takes her seriously.

The question is: will that be enough to keep her safe?

Imperfect Women by Araminta Hall

When Nancy Hennessy is murdered, she leaves behind two best friends, a loving husband and daughter, and a secret lover whose identity she took to the grave. Nancy was gorgeous and wealthy, with adoring friends and family—from the outside, her life was perfect. But as the investigation into her death flounders and her friends Eleanor and Mary wrestle with their grief, dark details surface that reveal how little they knew their friend, each other, maybe even themselves.

A gripping, immersive novel about impossible expectations and secrets that fester and become lethal, Imperfect Women unfolds through the perspectives of three fascinating women. Their enduring, complex friendship is the knot the reader must untangle to answer the question: who killed Nancy?

My copy of Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly, by Adrian McKinty, #6 in the Sean Duffy has finally arrived, so I want to read that also.

Belfast 1988: A man is found dead, killed with a bolt from a crossbow in front of his house. This is no hunting accident. But uncovering who is responsible for the murder will take Detective Sean Duffy down his most dangerous road yet, a road that leads to a lonely clearing on a high bog where three masked gunmen will force Duffy to dig his own grave.
Hunted by forces unknown, threatened by Internal Affairs, and with his relationship on the rocks, Duffy will need all his wits to get out of this investigation in one piece.

I have 6 new ARCs from Netgalley this week . . . so I guess you could say that once again, I have fallen off the wagon!

I have Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman, but I plan to read Practical Magic before I start this. I read and loved The Rules of Magic last year.

Peace by Garry Disher, Australian fiction.

The Girls in the Snow by Stacy Green

Without Blood by Martin Michaud

Stolen Children by Michael Wood

And Living Ayurveda by Claire Ragozzino. I have been going to Ayurveda yoga classes over the winter and have really enjoyed them, so couldn’t resist this title when I saw it. Even the cover invokes a feeling of calm and peace.

Have a wonderful week my friends. I hope that, wherever in the world you are, the Covid-19 situation is easing. Keep calm and read on. In our local library, even the books are put into quarantine when they are returned!

Happy reading!

Sandy ❤😍📚☕🍪

Watching what I’m reading…

I hope everyone is having a wonderful day. We have fine weather today and I have been making the most of it. The laundry is all up to date, and I have had a couple of hours in the garden. It’s starting to cloud over now and the wind is picking up so I decided to come inside. Good timing as the Supercar racing out of Australia – Townsville, Queensland. I have only driven through there a couple of times, but I think that once travel restrictions are eased that it is somewhere I am going to have to visit. We have friends who live there so it would be great to catch up with them too.

I am currently reading The First to Lie by Frank Phillipi Ryan, my first book by this author and it is certainly keeping my attention!

52383175

I finished listening to Sadie by Courtney Summers earlier today and have yet to download another audiobook.

This week I am planning to read Cry Baby by Mark Billingham

cover189762-medium

In the summer of 1996, two boys run from a playground into the adjoining woods, but only one comes out. DS Tom Thorne takes on a case that quickly spirals out of control when two people connected with the missing boy are murdered. As London prepares to host the European Soccer Championships, Thorne fights to keep on top of a baffling investigation while also dealing with the ugly fallout of his broken marriage. A prequel to Billingham’s acclaimed debut Sleepyhead–which the Times voted “one of the 100 books that had shaped the decade”–this compelling novel highlights the case that shaped the career of one of British crime fiction’s most iconic characters.

and Night Whistler by Greg Woodland. This is a debut novel by this Australian author. Love the cover – creepy!

53405327

It’s 1966. Hal and his little brother, newly arrived in Moorabool with their parents, are exploring the creek near their new home when they find the body of a dog.

Not just dead, but recently killed.

Not just killed, but mutilated.

Constable Mick Goodenough, recently demoted from his city job as a detective, is also new in town—and one of his dogs has gone missing. He’s experienced enough to know what it means when someone tortures an animal to death: it means they’re practising. So when Hal’s mother starts getting anonymous calls—a man whistling, then hanging up—Goodenough, alone among the Moorabool cops, takes her seriously.

The question is: will that be enough to keep her safe?

I have had 5 ARCs approved this week. Most excited about The Survivors by Jane Harper. I have requested every book that she has written, and this is the first time I have been approved!

53305127._sy475_

Murder at an Irish Christmas by Carlene O’Connor

The Bluebell Girls by Barbara Josselsohn (thanks Carla and Susan!)

54083663._sy475_

The Well of Ice by Andrea Carter

34379501

and The Killings at Kingfisher Hill by Sophie Hannah

50659524._sy475_

I also have a beta read – Cognac and Confessions by Christine Cameron.

Happy reading everyone. Have a wonderful week!

Cheers
Sandy

Priest (Jack Taylor #5) by Ken Bruen

1735704

EXCERPT: The nun was gathering up the song sheets. She loved this time of the morning, the sun streaming through the stained glass. Her habit felt heavy but she offered it for the souls in Purgatory. She found a ten euro note in the end pew, was tempted to pocket it, buy a feast of ice cream. But blessing herself, she shoved it in the poor box. It slid in easily as the box was empty – who gave alms any more?

She noticed the door to the confessional ajar. Tut-tutting, she felt a tremor of annoyance. Father Joyce would have a fit if he saw that. He was a holy terror for order, ran the church like an army, God’s army. Moving quickly, she gently pulled the door, but it wouldn’t budge. Getting seriously irritated, she scuttled round to the other door and peered through the grille. Her scream could be heard all the way to Eyre Square.

Father Joyce’s severed head was placed on the floor of the confessional.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Ireland, awash with cash and greed, no longer turns to the Church for solace or comfort. But the decapitation of Father Joyce in a Galway confessional horrifies even the most jaded citizen.

Jack Taylor, devastated by the recent trauma of personal loss, has always believed himself to be beyond salvation. But a new job offers a fresh start, and an unexpected partnership provides hope that his one desperate vision, of family, might yet be fulfilled.

An eerie mix of exorcism, a predatory stalker, and unlikely attraction conspires to lure him into a murderous web of dark conspiracies. The specter of a child haunts every waking moment.

MY THOUGHTS: Bruen’s writing is raw. Brutal. Irish. Black humour. He doesn’t waste words.

Jack is a tortured soul. Haunted by his own past and the death of a child that he was responsible for. A lapsed Catholic, his life is still inextricably entwined with the Church. He makes bargains with a God he no longer believes in.

In this, the 5th book of the series, Jack is sober. Not something that either we, the readers, or Jack himself, is familiar with.

He is tasked by a Priest, Father Malachy with whom he has history, to discover who killed Father Joyce.

Bruen weaves tidbits of Irish history and folklore effortlessly into his work. We learn about Galway landmarks – the Salmon Weir bridge and Eyre Square. There are frequent literary and musical references. I have a Ken Bruen-Jack Taylor playlist. It’s getting very long. It is magnificent and varied – Steve Earle, REM, Springsteen, Black Eyed Peas, Emmylou Harris, and Adrian McKinty’s great favourite – Tom Waits.

I read this series with an Irish lilt. It is a series, and one best read in order. Preferably with a dram of Jamesons. Jack won’t mind.

❤❤❤❤❤

THE AUTHOR: Ken Bruen is one of the most renown Irish writers, who writes noir crime fiction novels. He was born in Galway, Ireland, in 1951. He studied at Gormanston College, County Meath, and Trinity College Dublin, where he got a Ph.D in Metaphysics. Unlike most novelists, Ken Bruen has travelled around the world. During his twenty-five years as an English teacher, he worked in Africa, Japan, South America and South East Asia. Just as anyone would conclude, Ken’s travels were precarious at some point, including time spent in a Brazilian jail, where he was wrongfully imprisoned for alleged involvement in a bar fight. He currently resides in Galway, Ireland, with his wife and his daughter, Grace.

Ken started writing after his gruesome experience in prison in Brazil. The torture he went through left bad memories and mental anguish. A traumatized Bruen started writing crime fiction in an effort to get the nightmares off his head and heal the scars left from the horrendous ordeal. His very first novel, Funerals, was about a boy who attended funerals like they were soccer games. He has written over thirty five novels, six of which have been featured in television series. His novels feature typical comedy incorporated into noir crime fiction, and he does not fail to poke the Irish Church and the State at some particular point in his novels. He exposes a number of ills and provides an intuition of the dark side of Ireland. The main themes in his works are Ireland’s economic prosperity since the 1990s, immigration, the decline of the social and political power of the Catholic Church and the social change in Ireland. (BookSeriesInOrder.com)

DISCLOSURE: I own my copy of Priest by Ken Bruen, published by Bantam Press, Transworld Publishers. 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….

We have had two heavy frosts in a row, but glorious days to follow with more of the same forecast for tomorrow. Of course, you know where I have been all weekend and where I will be tomorrow – yes,at work! Day off scheduled for Tuesday and the weather forecast is….wet! I am sure that I am lacking in Vitamin D. But at least the days are drawing out and I am not always going to work in the dark. Two weeks and it will be spring. I can’t wait!

Currently I am reading The Child Across the Street by Kerry Wilkinson. He has me absolutely stumped! Every time I think I have figured out who was driving the car that hit 8 year old Ethan, he pours cold water all over my theory!

54121275._sy475_

I am listening to Report For Murder (Lindsay Gordon 1) by Val McDermid. Set in an exclusive girl’s school, it’s not as dark as McDermid’s normal work, but I am totally engrossed. And isn’t that cover glorious!

634419

This week I am planning on reading While You Slept by R.J. Parker.

52534501

What would you do if you woke up in your home… but it wasn’t your home at all?

When a man wearing a picture mask of her daughter Maisie’s face stands tauntingly in her garden, Lily Russell does the smart thing and calls the police. When she and Maisie wake up the following morning in an exact replica of their home, held captive by that same man, the police are no longer an option.

Surrounded by the rooms and things that once provided comfort and now only promote fear, Lily and Maisie must fight to survive. Because when no one knows where you are, you are your only hope.

and When She Was Good by Michael Robotham

cover190665-medium

Criminal psychologist Cyrus Haven and Evie Cormac return in this new thriller from author Michael Robotham. Who is Evie, the girl with no past, running from? She was discovered hiding in a secret room in the aftermath of a terrible crime. Her ability to tell when someone is lying helped Cyrus crack an impenetrable case in Good Girl, Bad Girl. Now, the closer Cyrus gets to uncovering answers about Evie’s dark history, the more he exposes Evie to danger, giving her no choice but to run. Ultimately, both will have to decide if some secrets are better left buried and some monsters should never be named…

I really need to read the first in the series, Good Girl, Bad Girl, before I start this.

I have been very restrained this week. No I haven’t. 😂🤣 But whoever’s been handing out the ARCs this week has been. I have received only two. Yes! Right on target! I think that is only the second time this year that I have managed that. But it is definitely more good luck than good management.

I received The Imposter by Anna Wharton

54225845

and The Second Wife by Rebecca Fleet …. my internet keeps dropping out, and I can’t download the bookcover. 🤦‍♀️🤷‍♀️ Our ultrafast fibre connection is now at our driveway…thats only taken 3 months…so it’s anyone’s guess when it will actually get connected to the house.

Enjoy whatever is left of your weekend. I have chicken in the oven roasting for dinner tonight. Am going to put the veges in and toss the salad, then settle down with a gin and my book while it all finishes cooking. I am off to visit my son and grandson Tuesday and have also booked in to get my hair cut. I am really looking forward to my day out.

Cheers
Sandy

The Descent by Matt Brolly

51515513._sy475_

EXCERPT: From her spot on the dry grass of the churchyard, Amy glanced at Jay,trying not to make it look obvious. He was older than everyone else in the group and certainly more relaxed. There was an easiness to his long-limbed body; a sense of grace that belonged to a dancer. He sat on the other side of the fire, his arms wrapped around Claire. This in itself didn’t mean that Claire would be chosen tonight, but if last month’s events were anything to go by then she would be the one. The thought brought with it a mixture of jealousy and relief. Amy’s time would come, but sitting here overlooking the town with its glittering lights, the sea for once at full tide, she began to doubt herself.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: In the quiet coastal town of Weston-super-Mare, a body is discovered at the foot of a cliff just months after a near-identical tragedy—and Detective Inspector Louise Blackwell can’t believe it could be a coincidence.

Next to the body, she discovers a note that echoes one found beside the first: Death is not the end. Louise is certain that behind these desperate acts someone is pulling the strings, but how many more will plunge to their demise before she can find out who—and why?

Struggling to stay focused under the strain of her troubled brother’s disappearance with his young daughter, Louise hits a much-needed breakthrough when a third tragedy points to the involvement of a charismatic cult leader. The suspect is within her sights, but he knows she’s on to him…

Short on proof and with the body count rising, can Louise intercept his deadly mission—or has she taken on an unbeatable foe?

MY THOUGHTS: The Descent by Matt Brolly is the second book in his Detective Louise Blackstock series. I have read the majority of Brolly’s books and loved his DI Michael Lambert series. Unfortunately I was not so impressed by The Crossing, the first in the Louise Blackstock series, and I am even less impressed with the Descent.

The story is told by Louise, struggling with both family issues and her career. I made the comment in my review of The Crossing that I didn’t find the characters well depicted. I felt no connection to any of them and Louise’s whining inner monologue on Finch and his past treatment of her quickly became wearing. In fact, she is pretty stereotypical of the current trend in female detectives… I see no reason to change one word of that comment in regards to The Descent.

Louise spends a lot of time engaging in ‘naval gazing’ and ‘if only I had/hadn’t….’ which quickly becomes tiresome in its repetitiveness. There’s no development of any of the supporting characters, and even the thread involving her family is repetitive. Now I am becoming repetitive. It must be catching!

Despite the claim on the cover, this is definitely not a thriller. I found it slow moving and lacking in suspense.
I expected more from Matt Brolly, and I won’t be reading any more of this particular series. Which doesn’t mean that I won’t be reading other books by this author.

🤦‍♀️🤷‍♀️.6

THE AUTHOR: Following his law degree where he developed an interest in criminal law, Matt Brolly completed his Masters in Creative Writing at Glasgow University. Matt lives in London with his wife and their two young children.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Amazon Publishing UK via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Descent by Matt Brolly 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…

Hi all! Well the worst of the weekend is over and I have finished work for the day. Pete and I went out for a late lunch together. We started out by heading to our favourite cafe in the next town south, but it was packed to capacity and a line of people waiting to be seated, so we headed almost an hour further south to a little coastal pub in Awakino. We had a lovely lunch, an open Gurnard sandwich for me with homemade tartare, salad and capers. It was delicious. As was Pete’s beef burger which featured a good sized tasty homemade beef patty. I took some photos on the way down, mainly of the single lane tunnel which is going to be bypassed. My boys used to love the echoes of the car horn in the tunnel and we sounded the horn all the way through the tunnel as a farewell salute today. Not that we needed to, as traffic lights mean there’s no chance of meeting anyone in the middle coming from the other direction. I had intended to take more on the way back, but the rain was too heavy. Once I remember how to download the photos from my phone to my tablet, I will share them. Too tired this afternoon to even think about it…Pete is currently asleep in his chair in front of the footy.

Anyway, on to what I’m reading….

I have started Rachel Joyce’s Miss Benson’s Beetle.

48742351

I am at 30% and, honestly, am not yet feeling the love. To be quite honest, I am finding it slightly ridiculous. I hope that is not going to be my final opinion. I absolutely adored The Love Songs of Miss Queenie Hennessy, and liked but did not love The Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

I am currently listening to The Chess Men by Peter May. This is the second book in his wonderful Lewis trilogy. As always with this author, I was instantly absorbed.

22082061

This week I am planning on reading The Weekend Away by Sarah Alderson

51735102._sy475_

Two friends go on holiday. Only one comes back.

Orla and Kate have been best friends forever. Together they’ve faced it all – be it Orla’s struggles as a new mother or Kate’s messy divorce. And whatever else happens in their lives, they can always look forward to their annual weekend away.

This year, they’re off to Lisbon: the perfect flat, the perfect view, the perfect itinerary. And what better way to kick things off in style than with the perfect night out?

But when Orla wakes up the next morning, Kate is gone. Brushed off by the police and with only a fuzzy memory of the night’s events, Orla is her friend’s only hope. As she frantically retraces their steps, Orla makes a series of shattering discoveries that threaten everything she holds dear. Because while Lisbon holds the secret of what happened that night, the truth may lie closer to home…

and The Descent by Matt Brolly

51515513._sy475_

Were they pushed to the edge—or over it?

In the quiet coastal town of Weston-super-Mare, a body is discovered at the foot of a cliff just months after a near-identical tragedy—and Detective Inspector Louise Blackwell can’t believe it could be a coincidence.

Next to the body, she discovers a note that echoes one found beside the first: Death is not the end. Louise is certain that behind these desperate acts someone is pulling the strings, but how many more will plunge to their demise before she can find out who—and why?

Struggling to stay focused under the strain of her troubled brother’s disappearance with his young daughter, Louise hits a much-needed breakthrough when a third tragedy points to the involvement of a charismatic cult leader. The suspect is within her sights, but he knows she’s on to him…

Short on proof and with the body count rising, can Louise intercept his deadly mission—or has she taken on an unbeatable foe?

And nine, yes 9, new ARCs this week 🤦‍♀️🤷‍♀️

I have two titles by Hannah Mary McKinnon,

The Secret Son

39835414._sy475_

and The Neighbors

35494634._sy475_

What Became of Us by Anna Mansell

54765299._sy475_

Good Will by Tiffany W. Killoren

52731630._sx318_sy475_

When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins

cover180358-medium

Glimmer As You Can by Danielle Martin

cover197956-medium

The Wife by Shalini Boland

cover199596-medium

Stolen Children by Michael Wood

cover190129-medium

And, The Last to Know by Jo Furniss

cover191611-medium

Well, after that haul, there’s only one thing that I can do….READ!

Enjoy whatever is left of your weekend. I am ordering dinner in tonight so that I don’t lose any reading time!

Happy reading and stay safe and healthy.

Cheers
Sandy