Friday Favorite – Visiting Lilly by Toni Allen

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.

It is a wonderful experience going back over all my 5-star reads. While I may have forgotten some of them until I see the cover, read the title or the author’s name, some of them stay with me. Visiting Lilly is one of these.

Visiting Lilly by Toni Allen
Visiting Lilly 
by Toni Allen (Goodreads Author)
Reviewed by

30817744


EXCERPT: Frankie stood in the rain. It had started out mild, but a driving wind had kicked up, and nowhe was freezing cold. He stared at the building, looked up and across the windows, wondering which room she was in. He’d rehearsed what to say one hundred times over, but that had been in his head, in his imagination. The nursing home had been built in the sixties, straight lined, pebble dashed – no character. In the rain the building looked grim. The idea of going inside was daunting, and for the past hour his courage had failed him. He dug his hands into his pockets. He’d bought new clothes especially for the occasion, a pair of black jeans, a chestnut brown sweater, and some leather shoes, not trainers. He knew she’d like the shoes, polished and smart; but they didn’t look smart any more. It was silly standing there getting wet with no umbrella and his waterproof left in the car. He was supposed to go straight in, only it wasn’t happening as planned. His nerve had failed him.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Why should a man at a Surrey police station go ballistic because someone tries to visit Lilly, his elderly grandmother?

Detective Inspector Jake Talbot is intrigued, and this little puzzle might serve to distract him from sorrows of a Christmas past. Soon he is entangled with Frankie, an odd young man who claims to have met Lilly in her youth. Talbot dismisses the notion of time travel, but then discovers the Ministry of Defence has been monitoring Frankie since his friend disappeared ten years previously. Forced to work with the MOD, Talbot unearths family secrets and betrayals. The families act ruthlessly to prevent him from discovering the facts, colluding to ruin him.

If Frankie is innocent, Talbot won’t let him be victimised. An uneasy understanding grows between them as they follow the evidence, for only the truth will allow Frankie to visit Lilly.

MY THOUGHTS: Can I write a review that does this outstanding book justice? I hope so.

This is a carefully and delicately layered book that delivers so much more than you first expect.

What starts out as a simple police procedural, and one where no real crime has been committed, soon turns into something far more sinister.

Detective Inspector Jake Talbot wonders why a man at a Surrey police station would go ballistic because someone tries to visit Lilly, his elderly grandmother? He asks to follow up the complaint, mainly as a distraction from the ghosts of Christmases past which come to haunt him at this time each year.

He is soon intrigued, even more so after he has met the man in question, Frankie Hayward, who claims to have met Lilly in her youth. Perhaps the authorities, who variously describe Frankie as a nutter, schizophrenic, genius, murderer, stalker and fanatic, may be right.

But in spite of all this, he forms an oddly protective friendship with Frankie, who is traumatised by the disappearance of his only friend, Keith MacKenzie, ten years earlier.

There are lots of secrets and lies, and people acting ruthlessly to prevent Frankie from seeing Lilly. The big question is “Why”?

This is a truly intriguing read. At times I wondered if there had been a book prior to this one, but there hasn’t, and all becomes clear by the end.

Toni Allen has done a wonderful job of this book and I am looking forward to her next book, Saving Anna, which is due out later this year.

Thank you to gejohnsonmedia, Kay Vreeland at Booktrope and author Toni Allen for the gift of this book in exchange for an honest 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/1401085494

The Next Girl by Carla Kovach

The Next Girl by Carla Kovach
Reviewed by

30817744


EXCERPT: ‘When you smile, you make me the happiest man alive. Make me happy and I make you happy. Do you trust me?’ She nodded.
‘Good. Breakfast will be served in a minute.’ He pulled the door closed as he continued to whistle. She listened as he took the plates from the cupboard and slammed them onto the countertop. He then turned the portable television on and she heard the sound of a morning news show. As he turned up the volume, the cries she’d suppressed burst out. Sobbing, she clenched the blanket and silently screamed into it. As she drew her legs towards her chest, her body leaked more liquid. She lifted one leg off the other and yelped as pain seared through her body. The ankle chain cluttered as she moved her other leg.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: She thought he’d come to save her. She was wrong.

Deborah Jenkins pulls her coat around her as she sets out on her short walk home in the pouring rain. But she never makes it home that night. And she is never seen again …

Four years later, an abandoned baby girl is found wrapped in dirty rags on a doorstep. An anonymous phone call urges the police to run a DNA test on the baby. But nobody is prepared for the results.

The newborn belongs to Deborah. She’s still alive.

MY THOUGHTS: The Next Girl is an encouraging start to a new series featuring DI Gina Harte. I wouldn’t go quite so far as to classify it as a police procedural, I thought that some of the investigative techniques left something to be desired, but it does develop into a good crime thriller.

Even after learning Gina’s background, I didn’t at first like her. She seemed to be a caricature of most major female detectives currently being written – heavy drinking, hard-nosed, has been in an abusive relationship, estranged from family. However as the book progressed her character seemed to soften and mature and my feelings towards her mellowed accordingly.

There are a few interesting personalities amongst the cast of supporting characters and I look forward to seeing how they develop and grow.

This is a good solid 3.5 star read and I look forward to more from this author.

Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Next Girl 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/2307566717

Sandy’s Sunday Summary

Here we are at Sunday and it’s time, once again, to take a look at what I’m currently reading, what I am planning on reading in the coming week, and what ARCS I have been approved for from NetGalley this week.

Currently I am reading

The Next Girl (Detective Gina Harte, #1)

and listening to

Lessons in Love

This week I plan to read

Portrait of a Murderer

“Adrian Gray was born in May 1862 and met his death through violence, at the hands of one of his own children, at Christmas, 1931.” Thus begins a classic crime novel published in 1933, a riveting portrait of the psychology of a murderer.

Each December, Adrian Gray invites his extended family to stay at his lonely house, Kings Poplars. None of Gray’s six surviving children is fond of him; several have cause to wish him dead. The family gathers on Christmas Eve – and by the following morning, their wish has been granted. This fascinating and unusual novel tells the story of what happened that dark Christmas night; and what the murderer did next.

LETTERBOX

At approximately 09.00hrs on the 15th June 1996, an unassuming white lorry was parked on Corporation Street in the city centre of Manchester, England; it contained over 3000 pounds of high explosive.
At 11.15hrs the same day, Manchester witnessed the detonation of the largest device on the British mainland since the second World War … The Irish Republican Army claimed responsibility for the attack.

Based around actual events, LETTERBOX tells the story of Liam Connor, an ordinary boy brought up in Manchester by a seemingly ordinary family. He goes to the local school, loves football and has a best friend called Sean … an ordinary life!
Unbeknown to Liam, his father, Michael Connor, harbors a dark historic secret, following a life a lot less ordinary … as a furtive, yet high ranking soldier within the IRA.

As a result of extraordinary circumstances, Liam’s innocent and carefree world is shattered when he is exposed to the truth about his family’s heritage and then learns about the tragic death of his father at the hands of the SAS.

Consumed with both hate and the need to seek retribution, Liam is taken to Ireland where he is intensively trained to become a highly skilled and efficient soldier within the Irish Republican Army … He is 16 years old!
Some years later, following the drug-induced death of his beloved sister, Liam is given the opportunity to exact his revenge on those he believed should truly be blamed for the tragedies in his life … The British Government!
Thus, on the 15th June 1996, it was Liam’s responsibility to drive the bomb laden lorry into the unsuspecting city of Manchester and let the voice of the IRA be clearly heard … And listened to!!

Deadly Secrets (Detective Erika Foster, #6)

To commit the perfect murder, you need the perfect cover. 

On a cold icy morning, a mother wakes to find her daughter’s blood-soaked body frozen to the road. Who would carry out such a horrific killing on the victim’s doorstep?

Straight off her last harrowing case, Detective Erika Foster is feeling fragile but determined to lead the investigation. As she sets to work, she finds reports of assaults in the same quiet South London suburb where the woman was killed. One chilling detail links them to the murder victim – they were all attacked by a figure in black wearing a gas mask.

Erika is on the hunt for a killer with a terrifying calling card. The case gets more complicated when she uncovers a tangled web of secrets surrounding the death of the beautiful young woman.

Yet just as Erika begins to piece the clues together, she is forced to confront painful memories of her past. Erika must dig deep, stay focused and find the killer. Only this time, one of her own is in terrible danger…

This week I have received only one ARC from NetGalley

The Perfect Mother

But I have received a proof from author June Rousso for a children’s book titled The Little Book of Character Strengths. You may remember I reviewed another title by this author, We All Live On This Planet Together, earlier this year.

I am starting a new job this week which is going to be quite time consuming for the first month or two. So if my posts are a little erratic in the next few weeks, I apologise in advance and ask that you bear with me.

Please don’t be shy about letting me know what you like and don’t like. I love getting your feedback. And I love hearing about what you are reading, or if you have read something that is on my list, what you thought of it.

Have a lovely week and  happy reading.

When In Rome and Opening Night by Ngaio Marsh

When in Rome and Opening Night by Ngaio Marsh
Reviewed by

30817744


EXCERPT: (From When in Rome) Barnaby Grant looked at the Etruscan bride and bridegroom who reclined so easily on their sarcophagal couch and wondered whether they had died young and whether, they had died together. Their gentle lips, he thought, might easily tilt into the arrowhead smile of Apollo and Hermes. How fulfilled they were and how enigmatically alike. What signal did she give with her largish hands? How touchingly his hand hovered above her shoulder.

” –from Cerveteri,” said a guide rapidly. “Five hundred and thirty years before Christ.”

“Christ,” said a tourist on a note of exhaustion.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Two full-cast BBC Radio 4 dramatisations of Ngaio Marsh short stories.

In Opening Night, a leading actor is found gassed in his dressing room. It looks like suicide, until it transpires that he was widely detested. Inspector Alleyn quickly realises that almost everyone in the theatre had a motive for his murder.

Jeremy Clyde stars as Inspector Alleyn.

When In Rome finds Inspector Alleyn joining a group of highly suspicious tourists on a visit to a Roman catacomb. The corpse he finds in an ancient sarcophagus has been very recently murdered…

MY THOUGHTS: I just love these full cast BBC Radio 4 dramatisations of Ngaio Marsh’s murder-mysteries. While they may be severely abridged in content, the professionalism with which they are produced more than compensates.

Both mysteries are well plotted, with no obvious suspects and a well balanced cast of characters.

Highly recommended.

I listened to When In Rome and Opening Night by Ngaio Marsh, recorded with a full cast and featuring Jeremy Clyde as Inspector Alleyn, produced by BBC Radio and published by AudioGO 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/2349659318

Dark Lies by Nick Hollin

Dark Lies by Nick Hollin
Reviewed by

30817744


EXCERPT: He stands in quiet contemplation of his work, the warm glow of satisfaction lingering as the body ahead of him starts to cool. There is frustration there, too; she’d deserved better, deserved him to be at the top of his game, but instead he’d stumbled and very nearly missed her throat with the knife. He’d gone a little too deep, and the blood had sprayed to places he hadn’t intended, like onto the corner of a child’s painting pinned by a magnet to the fridge door. It looks like a signature, he thinks. But that crude little picture is not his art. His masterpiece will be something far more ambitious.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Don’t trust your friends. Don’t trust your family. Don’t trust yourself…

The people of London fear for their lives when a twisted serial killer called The Cartoonist starts targeting young mothers, leaving their bodies on display in their homes with speech bubbles drawn from their lips. He has a terrifying story to tell, but first, the right people need to be listening…

Nathan Radley has a brilliant and dangerous talent. Formerly one of the best criminal psychologists on the police force he’s renowned for getting deep into the minds of the murderers he hunts. But for the past year he has lived in isolation, haunted by this gift and his own dark desires.

DI Katie Rhodes’ career is spinning out of control. She’d sworn never to knock on her old partner Nathan’s door again, but when she sees his distinctive birthmark drawn in chocolate on one of the victims, she knows she doesn’t have a choice.
As the body count rises and the clues become more and more personal, Katie and Nathan join forces for one final case together.

Why is The Cartoonist using Katie and Nathan’s own dark secrets as calling cards on his victims? What does he want, and how many more innocent lives will be taken before they can crack his disturbing riddle?

To find a murderer, first you need to think like a murderer. The Cartoonist doesn’t just know this, he’s counting on it…

MY THOUGHTS: I have a love-hate-love relationship with Dark Lies by Nick Hollin. I loved the prologue. It drew me in and reminded me of Richard Montanari’s writing. Then, for me, the book became an absolute nightmare. The writing was disjointed, choppy, I couldn’t make sense of it. It was like someone in the grip of a manic psychotic episode had jotted down their random crazy thoughts. I became frustrated, disappointed, almost angry – where had this great read gone? – and was on the cusp of dnf’ing it, when everything changed again.

Suddenly I was being gripped by a still strange, but very compelling (and gruesome) serial killer thriller that in no way could I second guess. The story swept me along, buffeting me from all sides. It is wild, and crazy. But it works. Mostly. Things that made no sense to me from the ‘manic writing phase’ slowly matured, the relevance revealed. At times it is a little OTT. But, my recommendation is ‘stick with it.’

The two main characters in Dark Lies can in no way be considered ‘traditional’. Katie is damaged. Self-destructive. Within a whisker of having no job. Nathan is damaged. Disliked. Distrusted. Trying desperately to save himself.

I can’t say I ‘liked’ this book. Not in the traditional sense. But once I got past the first 30%, I became glued to it. Desperate to see where it was going. By the time I was finished, I felt like I had been white water rafting on a grade 5 run. Without the raft. Exhausted, battered, bruised but exhilarated. And definitely in line for the next in the series.

3.5 stars

Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of Dark Lies by Nick Hollin 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/2323363222

Friday Favorite – Hunted by Paul Finch

Hunted by Paul Finch
Hunted 
by Paul Finch (Goodreads Author)
Reviewed by

30817744


EXCERPT: Neither lad noticed as the car mounted an embankment, engine yowling, smoke and tattered grass pouring from its tyres. It smashed through the wooden palings at the top, and then crashed down through shrubs and undergrowth, turning over and over in the process, and landing upside down in a deep-cut country lane.

For quite a few seconds there was almost no sound: the odd groan of twisted metal, steam hissing from numerous vents in mangled bodywork.

The two concussed shapes inside, while still breathing, were barely alive in any conventional sense: torn, bloody and battered, locked in contorted paralysis. They were still aware of their surroundings, but unable to resist as various miniature forms, having ridden out the collision in niches and crevices, now re-emerged to scurry over their warm, tortured flesh. Deggsy’s jaw was fixed rigid; he could voice no complaint – neither as a mumble nor a scream – when the pale shelled scorpion reacquainted itself with him, creeping slowly up his body on its jointed stick legs and finally settling on his face, where, with great deliberation it seemed, it snared his nose and left ear in its pincers, arched its tail again – and embedded its stinger deep into his goggling eyeball.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Heck needs to watch his back. Because someone’s watching him…

Across the south of England, a series of bizarre but fatal accidents are taking place. So when a local businessman survives a near-drowning but is found burnt alive in his car just weeks later, DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg is brought in to investigate.

Soon it appears that other recent deaths might be linked: two thieves that were bitten to death by poisonous spiders, and a driver impaled through the chest with scaffolding.

Accidents do happen but as the body count rises it’s clear that something far more sinister is at play, and it’s coming for Heck too…

MY THOUGHTS: This is #5 in a series but it does equally well as a standalone read. I have never read any of the previous books, but it in no way affected my enjoyment of this one.

There are some very innovative killings in this book. I don’t think I would ever like to wrongfoot Mr Finch!

DS Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg has just caught the brutal killer of several elderly women, and now there are a series of bizarre accidental deaths, including by inflation, slow roasting and exotic poisonous spider, occurring in Surrey. After his boss’s mother asks her to investigate the untimely death of a multi-millionaire following a narrow escape only weeks earlier, she sends Heck off to investigate something that will probably turn out to be nothing. Only, of course, it doesn’t.

There is nothing predictable about this book – an exciting and fast-paced read that left me gasping in many places.

I will be going back to the beginning to read the others in this series.

Thank you to NetGalley, Harper Collins UK, Avon and author Paul Finch for providing an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest 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/1396336467

 

 

The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries – A Man Lay Dead, and A Surfeit of Lampreys by Ngaio Marsh

The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries by Ngaio Marsh
Reviewed by

30817744


EXCERPT: (From ‘A Man Lay Dead’) He had heard much of Sir Hubert Handesley’s ‘unique and delightfully original’ house-parties from a brother journalist who had returned from one of them, if the truth be told, somewhat persistently enthusiastic. Charles Rankin, himself a connoisseur of house-parties, had refused many enviable invitations in favour of these unpretentious weekends. And now, as a result of a dinner party at old Charles’s flat, here was Nigel himself about to be initiated.

(From A Surfeit of Lampreys) …for Roberta the invitation broke like a fabulous rocket, that Roberta’s mother, when Lady Charles Lamprey telephoned, was thrown into a frenzy of sewing that lasted until two o’clock in the morning, that Roberta’s father bicycled four miles before eight o’clock in order to leave at Te Moana a strange parcel, a letter of introduction on behavior, and five shillings to give the housemaid. Frid always sympathised when Roberta said her people were poor, as though they were all in the same boat, but the poverty of the Lampreys, as Roberta was to discover, was a queer and baffling condition understood by nobody, not even their creditors, and certainly not by poor Lord Charles with his eyeglass, his smile and his vagueness.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: A Man Lay Dead:

A game of ‘murders’ at Sir Hubert Handesley’s country house party becomes far too realistic for anyone’s liking. First a guest arrives with a dangerously lethal dagger and then, when the gong sounds to announce the start of the game, the victim plays dead in a very convincing manner. Chief Detective Inspector Alleyn believes the unusual dagger is a vital clue to the real-life murder, and soon he’s on the trail of a Russian secret society.

A Surfeit of Lampreys:

Like all good aristocrats, the Lampreys are charming but penniless – so a visit from the wealthy head of their family is greatly anticipated. However, their Uncle Gabriel isn’t persuaded to part with his money and a row ensues. When a body is found in the lift leading to the Lampreys’ flat, Chief Detective Inspector Alleyn finds a family immersed in hidden secrets and intrigue.

Jeremy Clyde stars as Chief Inspector Alleyn in these BBC Radio dramatisations of two of Ngaio Marsh’s much-loved mysteries.

MY THOUGHTS: I came late unto the pleasure of Ngaio Marsh, a Dame here in her native New Zealand. But although I have only recently begun to read her work, I rank her up there with, or perhaps even slightly above, Agatha Christie.

She has a great gift for placing the reader in the moment, of carrying them along on a pleasant, meandering, but purposeful ride of discovery. She captures the nuances and atmosphere of the era, and has the great knack both of getting her characters absolutely perfect and of setting the perfect scene, creating the perfect atmosphere.

Ngaio Marsh’s murder-mysteries are fun, good jolly rollicking fun. And this BBC Radio rendition is first class. It brought back fond memories of listening to plays on the radio with my grandmother when I was a child.

Although the BBC audio productions of Marsh’s books are somewhat abridged, the sheer quality of the production makes this well worth listening to.

I listened to the audiobook of The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries containing A Man Lay Dead and A Surfeit of Lampreys by Ngaio Marsh, starring Jeremy Clyde as Inspector Alleyn, produced by BBC Radio 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/2336177040

Sandy’s Sunday Summary

Here we are at Sunday again, and time, once again, to take a look at what I’m currently reading, what I am planning on reading in the coming week, and what ARCS I have been approved for from NetGalley this week.

I don’t know where in the world you are, but here in New Zealand we have a beautiful autumn day after a wet and stormy night. Wherever you are, may you be having the day you desire.

I am currently reading

The Friend

And, from one of my favorite authors

The Amazing Mr. Morality: Stories

And listening to

The Dead of Winter

This week, I am planning on reading

Anything For Her

You’d do anything for the one that got away . . . wouldn’t you?

When Billy Orr returns home to spend time with his dying sister, he bumps into his ex-girlfriend Aimi, the love of his life. He might not have seen her in eleven years, but Billy’s never forgotten her. He’d do anything for her then, and he’d do anything for her now.

When Aimi tells him that she wants to escape her abusive husband, Billy agrees to help her fake her own death. But is she still the Aimi that Billy remembers from all those years ago?

Once Aimi disappears, Billy has to face the possibility that perhaps she had different reasons for disappearing – reasons that might be more dangerous than she’s led him to believe . . .

Sometimes trusting the one you love is the wrong thing to do.

Dark Lies (Detective Rhodes and Radley #1)

Don’t trust your friends. Don’t trust your family. Don’t trust yourself… 

The people of London fear for their lives when a twisted serial killer called The Cartoonist starts targeting young mothers, leaving their bodies on display in their homes with speech bubbles drawn from their lips. He has a terrifying story to tell, but first, the right people need to be listening…

Nathan Radley has a brilliant and dangerous talent. Formerly one of the best criminal psychologists on the police force he’s renowned for getting deep into the minds of the murderers he hunts. But for the past year he has lived in isolation, haunted by this gift and his own dark desires.

DI Katie Rhodes’ career is spinning out of control. She’d sworn never to knock on her old partner Nathan’s door again, but when she sees his distinctive birthmark drawn in chocolate on one of the victims, she knows she doesn’t have a choice.
As the body count rises and the clues become more and more personal, Katie and Nathan join forces for one final case together.

Why is The Cartoonist using Katie and Nathan’s own dark secrets as calling cards on his victims? What does he want, and how many more innocent lives will be taken before they can crack his disturbing riddle?

To find a murderer, first you need to think like a murderer. The Cartoonist doesn’t just know this, he’s counting on it…

Last Night

It’s the early hours of the morning and Rose Denton wakes up behind the steering wheel of her car. She’s off the road, through a hedge and in a field.

There’s blood on the windscreen and bonnet – but it’s not hers and there’s no sign of anything or anyone she might have hit. The last thing she remembers is being in a hotel on a business trip but now she’s miles away.

Back home and her daughter’s boyfriend is missing. The last thing he did was argue with Rose over money. He left no note, no text, no clue as to his whereabouts.

The police have questions – and so does Rose’s family. But those are little compared to the ones she has for herself.

What happened last night? And, perhaps more importantly, does she really want to know the answer?

And my haul of ARCs from NetGalley this week  –

Cross Your Heart (Detective Jess Bishop, #2)

Deadly Secrets (Detective Erika Foster, #6)

The Family at Number 13: An absolutely gripping psychological thriller

That’s my week all mapped out. What is yours looking like? Have you read any of the books I have lined up for the week? Have you requested any ARCs that you think I would enjoy?

Have a wonderful reading week my friends.

The Murder List by Chris Merritt

The Murder List by Chris Merritt
The Murder List (Detective Zac Boateng #1) 
by Chris Merritt

30817744
Reviewed by


EXCERPT: This day will change him forever, though he doesn’t know it yet. . .

Tilting her head, for a second she’s with him. Then lost again. She draws a long breath.

His hands are soaked, slippery. Leaning over, he turns a cheek to her mouth and looks down her chest. Waits. Counts to ten. No air, no movement.

Puts two fingers on her carotid artery.

No pulse.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: The lifeless body sat, hands bound, silver tape over his mouth. Patches of blood had soaked into the cheap carpet around him. Zac had spent years gaining scientific insight into the mind: human motivation and behaviour. And this scene wasn’t right…

It’s been five years since Detective Zac Boateng’s daughter was murdered and her killer was never found. Now Zac is back working for the Metropolitan Police and is more determined than ever to bring the city’s killers to justice.

When a man is found brutally murdered in a rundown south London shop, all fingers point to the highly intelligent and manipulative Darian Wallace. Two years ago, the victim helped send him to prison. And he’s just been released.

Still grieving, Zac knows it will take everything he’s got to catch this dangerously clever killer. But just as he feels he’s getting closer, he realises all is not quite as it seems and he makes a devastating personal discovery.

Zac has a choice to make – risk letting this killer escape or watch his daughter’s murderer get away again…

MY THOUGHTS: There are some books that, the moment you start reading them, you know are going to be an excellent read. The Murder List by Chris Merritt is one such book. I have tweeted as I was reading that I was excited to be in right at the beginning of this great new series, and I am. Usually when I discover a really good series, I pick up on it several books in then have to go back and read the earlier installments, but not this time. This time I am in from the very beginning.

This is no bog-standard detective series. It has a depth to both the characters and plot that is unusual, especially from a first time author, but is perhaps explained by the author’s background. Chris Merritt is a Psychologist in the NHS who has worked with both the victims and perpetrators of crime. He has taken what he has learned in his work environment and applied it to his writing with great success.

Merritt has created a detective who runs contrary to the “deeply disturbed loner/renegade” that seems to currently be de riguer in detective fiction. That’s not to say he doesn’t have issues. No man who has seen his daughter gunned down and die in his arms could escape having issues. But Zac has a strong relationship with both his wife and son, with the occasional hiccup of course as happens in real life, and is both liked and respected by his work colleagues. He doesn’t always make the best or wisest decisions, but who does? He is a strong and interesting character, and one whose journey I am committed to following.

The cover of this book promises ‘An utterly gripping crime thriller with edge of your seat suspense’, and believe me, that’s exactly what you get. 4.5 very bright stars

Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital copy of The Murder List by Chris Merritt 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/2291637078

A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny

A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny
Reviewed by

30817744


EXCERPT: … there was something unnatural about the Manoir Bellechasse from the very beginning. It was staggeringly beautiful, the stripped logs golden and glowing. It was made of wood and wattle and sat right at the water’s edge. It commanded Lake Massawippi, as the Robber Barons commanded everything. These captains of industry couldn’t seem to help it.

And once a year, men with names like Andrew and Douglas and Charles would leave their rail and whiskey empires, trade their spats for chewed leather moccasins and trek by canoe to the lodge on the shore of the isolated lake. They’d grown weary of robbery and needed another distraction.

TheManoir Bellechasse was created and conceived to allow these men to do one thing. Kill.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: “What happened here last night isn’t allowed,” said Madame Dubois.
It was such an extraordinary thing to say it stopped the ravenous Inspector Beauvoir from taking another bite of his roast beef on baguette.
“You have a rule against murder?” he asked.
“I do. When my husband and I bought the Bellechasse we made a pact….Everything that stepped foot on this land would be safe.”

It is the height of summer, and Armand and Reine-Marie Gamache are celebrating their wedding anniversary at Manoir Bellechasse, an isolated, luxurious inn not far from the village of Three Pines. But they’re not alone. The Finney family—rich, cultured, and respectable—has also arrived for a celebration of their own.
The beautiful Manoir Bellechasse might be surrounded by nature, but there is something unnatural looming. As the heat rises and the humidity closes in, some surprising guests turn up at the family reunion, and a terrible summer storm leaves behind a dead body. It is up to Chief Inspector Gamache to unearth secrets long buried and hatreds hidden behind polite smiles. The chase takes him to Three Pines, into the dark corners of his own life, and finally to a harrowing climax.

MY THOUGHTS: Louise Penny’s murders are always just a little ‘off the wall’, and the murder in A Rule Against Murder is no exception. There is nothing so mundane as a shooting or stabbing for Chief Inspector Gamache to solve, and while it seems impossible for the death to have been murder, it is also equally impossible for it to have been accidental. And why? Why this particular member of a mainly obnoxious family?

I think that is really what I love most about Penny’s writing; she takes the unusual and crafts it into a compelling mystery peppered with well crafted, totally believeable characters. And while we may love to dislike the detestable (with the exception of Bean) Morrow-Finney clan, they are all instantly recognisable as people we know or know of. Penny creates interesting dynamics in this family who reluctantly gather each year for a reunion at their wealthy and autocratic mother’s behest, who have no contact with each other at any other time, and who are waiting only for their mother to die so as to collect their inheritance.

Of all the books in the series that I have read so far, this is my favorite.

I listened to A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny, narrated by Adam Sims and published by Hachette Audio UK 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/1902047276