Still by Matt Nable

Due for publication May 26, 2021

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

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

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

ABOUT ‘STILL’: Darwin, Summer, 1963.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

# Still #NetGalley

I: #mattnable @@hachetteaus

T: @MattNableOnline @HachetteAus

australiancrimefiction #mystery #Darwin

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

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

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

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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

I have had an extraordinary reading week! Three five star reads!!! This is totally unprecedented. Anyone who follows me regularly knows that I don’t hand out five stars willy-nilly. They have to be earned.

Currently I am reading The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward. Mind-boggling! I read 60% in the first sitting last night and only stopped because I needed sleep before I went to work this morning.

I absolutely agree with Joe Hill!

I am halfway through listening to The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood and loving it.

And I am almost finished listening to the enigmatic Entry Island by Peter May. This is a little different to anything else I have read by this author, but oh so good!

This week I am planning on reading The Photographer by Mary Dixie Carter

WHEN PERFECT IMAGES

As a photographer, Delta Dawn observes the seemingly perfect lives of New York City’s elite: snapping photos of their children’s birthday parties, transforming images of stiff hugs and tearstained faces into visions of pure joy, and creating moments these parents long for.

ARE MADE OF BEAUTIFUL LIES

But when Delta is hired for Natalie Straub’s eleventh birthday, she finds herself wishing she wasn’t behind the lens but a part of the scene—in the Straub family’s gorgeous home and elegant life.

THE TRUTH WILL BE EXPOSED

That’s when Delta puts her plan in place, by babysitting for Natalie; befriending her mother, Amelia; finding chances to listen to her father, Fritz. Soon she’s bathing in the master bathtub, drinking their expensive wine, and eyeing the beautifully finished garden apartment in their townhouse. It seems she can never get close enough, until she discovers that photos aren’t all she can manipulate.

And The Marriage by K.L. Slater

Ten years ago he killed my son. Today I married him.

Ten years ago my darling son Jesse was murdered and our perfect family was destroyed. My strong, handsome boy, so full of life, became a memory, a photo I carried with me everywhere.

But today I’m finally close to finding happiness again. My ash-blonde hair has been curled into ringlets. Carefully placed white flowers frame my delicate features. The small, drab chapel has been prettied up with white satin, and there are tiny red hearts scattered on the small table where I will soon sign the register with my new husband.

The man who killed my son.

My friends and family can’t understand it. My neighbours whisper in the street whenever I walk past. How can I love a man like Tom?

They don’t really know me at all…

And I am afraid that my requesting finger ran amuck again this week – it does that when I am tired and my resistance levels are low (or nonexistent!) and I have 8 new ARCs from Netgalley. They are:

The Edelweiss Sisters by Kate Hewitt. I love this author, but this will be the first historical novel I have read by her.

Safe From Harm by Leah Mercer

One Way Street by Trevor Wood

Happily Ever After by Alison James

The Child in the Photo by Kerry Wilkinson

A Hand to Hold in Deep Water by Shawn Nocher

An Unwelcome Guest by Amanda Robson

And Geraldine Verne’s Red Suitcase by Jane Riley

I can’t wait to get started!

This past week I have travelled to Decatur, Georgia, Wasjington Woods, and Long Island in the USA, Halesowen and Marlow in England, as well as Entry Island in Canada with brief forays into the Outer Hebrides off Scotland. Where have you been this week?

Have a wonderful week of reading. I am hurrying back to Needless Street. 🏃‍♀️🏃‍♀️🏃‍♀️🏃‍♀️🏃‍♀️🏃‍♀️ ❤📚

Twisted Lies by Angela Marsons

(DI Kim Stone #14) …… but don’t let that put you off! This can easily be read as a stand-alone.

EXCERPT: I am disappointed that she didn’t stay as long today. A light drizzle forced her from the bench earlier than normal.

She has no idea that she is my rock, that I get comfort from watching her absently throw crusts to the ducks. She comes, she sits, she stares, and for some reason that simple constant in my life gives me the strength to go on.

I take the few short steps into the bathroom and pause. I look in the mirror and am again confronted with everything I have lost: my friends; family; stability;familiarity; and, in some ways, even myself.

The person who stares back at me is not vision of myself I have in my mind. When I close my eyes my face is plumper; it has more colour. I am younger and without the dark circles under my eyes. My hair is longer, a different colour. Many days I have trouble imprinting the new me on top of the old one. It sounds ridiculous to say that I miss myself, but I do.

ABOUT ‘TWISTED LIES’: When the lifeless body of a man is found on an industrial estate, Detective Kim Stone arrives on the scene and discovers he’s been tortured in the worst way imaginable.

But as she breaks the devastating news to the victim’s wife, Diane Phipps, Kim can’t help feeling that something isn’t quite right about the woman’s reaction.

Twenty-four hours later, the victim’s family disappears into thin air.

Then a second body is found staked to the ground in a local nature reserve.

Desperate to crack the case open quickly, Kim and her team unravel a vital clue – a fiercely guarded secret that links both victims and could cost even more lives.

A secret that some police officers are also protecting.

Faced with deceit from those she should be able to trust, family members who won’t talk, and local reporter, Tracy Frost, opening a can of worms on the case of a woman murdered by her husband a year ago – Kim is in deep water like never before.

Kim must find the motive if she is to find the killer who is systematically targeting and torturing his victims. But can she unlock the shocking truth and stop him before he strikes again?

MY THOUGHTS: #14 of the DI Kim Stone series, in which several people are tortured to death and Kim almost makes a friend.

#14, and my heart still skips a beat, and my breath catches as I open the cover.

#14, and I still can’t get enough. I stay up most of the night reading. Yes, even at 410 pages, it’s a one sitting read.

#14, and the characters are as fresh and intriguing as they were in Silent Scream, only now they are more like old friends.

#14, and the plot is still fresh, tight, twisty and suspenseful.

#14, and Marsons still has the ability to shock me on multiple fronts – the innovative killings; the twist at the end; the amount of information she is able to impart on her subject and the subtlety with which she does it.

#15? Bring it on!

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#TwistedLies #NetGalley

I: @angelamarsonsauthor @bookouture

T: @WriteAngie @Bookouture

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

THE AUTHOR: Angela is the author of the Kim Stone Crime series. She discovered a love of writing at Primary School when a short piece on the rocks and the sea gained her the only merit point she ever got.
Angela wrote the stories that burned inside and then stored them safely in a desk drawer.
After much urging from her partner she began to enter short story competitions in Writer’s News resulting in a win and three short listed entries.
She used the Amazon KDP program to publish two of her earlier works before concentrating on her true passion – Crime.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Twisted Lies by Angela Marsons 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 . . .

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mums out there. May you all have a wonderful day. Mine is being a very lazy one. It’s cool and raining steadily so I haven’t moved far from the fire. The cat and I are very happy at our respective ends of the sofa.

I have spent a great deal of the week in Ireland, mainly Counties Kerry and Mayo, with the occasional foray back to Entry Island, and now I am in Decatur, Georgia. Where have you been this week, and where are you now?

Currently I am reading Mother May I by Joshilyn Jackson. I started it this morning and am already a little over halfway through. She sure knows how to ramp up the tension! I have to admit that when I was approved for this I let out a whoop of joy and did a victory dance around the coffee table.

I am not currently listening to an audiobook, having had two dnfs in a row, but I will log into my library site this afternoon and pick something up.

I am still reading Entry Island by Peter May – yes, I know this is week 3, but I am reading a physical copy and only pick it up when my Kindle is on the charger. It is a good read, and I am enjoying it greatly.

This week I am planning on reading The Perfect Lie by Jo Spain.

He jumped to his death in front of witnesses. Now his wife is charged with murder.

Five years ago, Erin Kennedy moved to New York following a family tragedy. She now lives happily with her detective husband in the scenic seaside town of Newport, Long Island. When Erin answers the door to Danny’s police colleagues one morning, it’s the start of an ordinary day. But behind her, Danny walks to the window of their fourth-floor apartment and jumps to his death.

Eighteen months later, Erin is in court, charged with her husband’s murder. Over that year and a half, Erin has learned things about Danny she could never have imagined. She thought he was perfect. She thought their life was perfect.

But it was all built on the perfect lie. 

And Twisted Lies by Angela Marsons

Her stomach lurches as she sits in the windowless room. He throws her phone to the ground, grinds it against the floor with the heel of his shoe and brings his face closer to hers. There was no turning back now, her life as she knew it was gone.

When the lifeless body of a man is found on an industrial estate, Detective Kim Stone arrives on the scene and discovers he’s been tortured in the worst way imaginable.

But as she breaks the devastating news to the victim’s wife, Diane Phipps, Kim can’t help feeling that something isn’t quite right about the woman’s reaction.

Twenty-four hours later, the victim’s family disappears into thin air.

Then a second body is found staked to the ground in a local nature reserve.

Desperate to crack the case open quickly, Kim and her team unravel a vital clue – a fiercely guarded secret that links both victims and could cost even more lives.

A secret that some police officers are also protecting.

Faced with deceit from those she should be able to trust, family members who won’t talk, and local reporter, Tracy Frost, opening a can of worms on the case of a woman murdered by her husband a year ago – Kim is in deep water like never before.

Kim must find the motive if she is to find the killer who is systematically targeting and torturing his victims. But can she unlock the shocking truth and stop him before he strikes again?

My requesting finger has been working overtime again with seven new ARCs on my shelf this week 😬😂❤📚

The Beach House by Jenny Hale – don’t you just love that cover!

Still by Matt Nable – a new Australian author for me.

A Gingerbread House by Catriona McPherson

Cabin Fever by Alex Dahl – an invitation!

A Body at the Tearooms by Dee MacDonald

Rabbit Hole by Mark Billingham

And Legacy by Nora Roberts (audiobook)

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday and have a wonderful week.

The Coffin Maker’s Garden by Stuart MacBride

EXCERPT: There were shackles fixed to the bricks opposite, the chains furry with rust. A mattress on the floor, filthy with brown stains. Heavy-duty stainless-steel hooks, screwed into the beams of the floor above. More brown stains on the concrete floor beneath them.

Another line of Polaroids hung on either side of the shackles. Only in these ones, the people weren’t smiling. In these ones, the colours were mostly reds and blacks.

Alice crept forwards, pulling a reluctant Henry with her.

‘What the hell is this place?’

I cleared my throat.

Wasn’t easy.

All those small, square photographs in their rectangular white ‘frames’, the greying plastic stained with the dark swirls of bloody fingerprints.

Just like the ones that used to turn up on the birthday cards for Rebecca . . .

‘Ash?’

I swallowed something bitter. ‘It’s a kill room.’

ABOUT ‘THE COFFIN MAKER’S GARDEN’: A village on the edge…
As a massive storm batters the Scottish coast, Gordon Smith’s home is falling into the North Sea. But the crumbling headland has revealed what he’s got buried in his garden: human remains.

A house full of secrets…
With the storm still raging, it’s too dangerous to retrieve the bodies and waves are devouring the evidence. Which means no one knows how many people Smith’s already killed and how many more he’ll kill if he can’t be found and stopped.

An investigator with nothing to lose…
The media are baying for blood, the top brass are after a scapegoat, and ex-Detective Inspector Ash Henderson is done playing nice. He’s got a killer to catch, and God help anyone who gets in his way.

MY THOUGHTS: I don’t know how Stuart MacBride does it. Innovative plotting, the most complete characters, and black humor. MacBride is one of those few authors whose books play out like a movie in my head as I read. I can see what he writes. I can hear his characters. I can feel their emotions.

No one would ever want to cross this author. Death would be painful and drawn out, the body never recovered. He’s so good, he’s scary!!! Oldcastle is a fictional town in the northeast of Scotland, home to ‘Mother’s Misfits’, the dumping ground for Police Scotland’s disgraced and undesirables. It’s also a place where terrible things happen.

The Coffin Maker’s Garden is deliciously creepy and oh so twisty. A tale that starts out on a dark and stormy night and just keeps getting better and better. My interest never flagged for a second.

If you like dark, gruesome reads with great characters and a good dollop of black humour, you can’t beat a Stuart MacBride novel.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

P.s. I would listen to narrator Ian Hanmore read the telephone book.

#TheCoffinMakersGarden

I: @stuart.macbride @harpercollins

T: @StuartMacBride @HarperCollins

#fivestarread #contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #murdermystery #scottishnoir #serialkillerthriller #suspense #thriller

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of The Coffin Maker’s Garden written by Stuart MacBride and narrated by Ian Hanmore.

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 Whole Truth by Cara Hunter

EXCERPT: I wonder what she would have said if she knew the truth.

Gavin Parrie isn’t stupid, she’s right about that. And he’d have a hell of a lot to lose, she’s right about that too. But he does have a reason. A reason that might – perhaps – be worth the risk.

Revenge.

Because he wasn’t just venting, that day, in court.

He was guilty. He knows that and I know that. But there’s something else we both know.

Gavin Parrie was convicted on a lie.

ABOUT ‘THE WHOLE TRUTH’: An attractive student. An older professor.

Think you know the story? Think again.

She has everything at stake; he has everything to lose. But one of them is lying, all the same.

When an Oxford student accuses one of the university’s professors of sexual assault, DI Adam Fawley’s team think they’ve heard it all before. But they couldn’t be more wrong.

Because this time, the predator is a woman and the shining star of the department, and the student a six-foot male rugby player.

Soon DI Fawley and his team are up against the clock to figure out the truth. What they don’t realise is that someone is watching.

And they have a plan to put Fawley out of action for good.

MY THOUGHTS: The Whole Truth by Cara Hunter has two storylines involving DI Adam Fawley. There’s a distinctly different and muddied case of sexual assault, and an old case of Adam’s, which actively involves his very pregnant wife Alex, looks like it is coming back to haunt them.

This is a heart-in-the-mouth addition to an excellent series. I have become quite fond of Adam and his team, most of whom are loyal to their boss. But there’s always one, isn’t there, who wants to take him down.

There are plenty of twists and turns in both storylines and at times I felt like I was in a tumble dryer and didn’t know which way was up. Cara Hunter has done a wonderful job of making this work. At no point was I in any way confused, just incredibly excited and invested in the outcome.

Hunter has seamlessly blended two intriguing storylines with a progression in the characters personal lives. Adam and Alex’s is fraught with tension on several fronts, and we learn a bit more about Asante.

Another thing I really appreciated was the refresher on the series characters at the beginning of the book. Other authors, please take note.

The one fly in the ointment for me was the reproduction of Alex’s notes. It was totally unreadable on the Kindle. 🤷‍♀️

The narration on the audiobook was excellent. It was provided by Lee Ingleby, Emma Cunnliffe and Roy McMillan.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#TheWholeTruth #NetGalley #carahunterauthor #penguinukbooks #penguinrandomhouse

@CaraHunterBooks @PenguinUKBooks @PenguinRandom

#contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #murdermystery #series

THE AUTHOR: Cara Hunter is a writer who lives in Oxford, in a street not unlike those featured in her series of crime books.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Penguin Random House UK audio and Penguin General UK via Netgalley for providing both a digital and audio ARC 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 . . .

I have had a busy week dashing from dashing back and forth from the remote Entry Island in the Gulf of St Lawrence 850 miles from the Canadian mainland with Peter May, to Scotland with Stuart MacBride, to Gozo, a Maltese Island, and Snowdonia with C.L. Taylor, to Alexandria, Cairo and London with Carol Cooper! I feel quite exhausted 😂🤣

Where have you been this week? Leave me a message and tell me about your travels.

Currently I am reading the amazing and addictive The Dead Husband by Carter Wilson. I started it this morning and haven’t been able to put it down! I adored Mr Tender’s Girl back in 2017, and The Dead Husband is on track to be another five star read.

I am also reading Entry Island by Peter May.

And am almost finished listening to The Coffin Maker’s Garden by Stuart MacBride. This has taken somewhat longer than usual as I am training new staff, so can’t listen to my audiobooks as I am working. Definitely no reflection on the plot, author or narrator. All are excellent.

This week I am planning on reading The Ladies Midnight Swimming Club by Faith Hogan

When Elizabeth’s husband dies, leaving her with crippling debt, she must turn to her friend, Jo for help, who calls in her daughter, Lucy to run the village surgery. Leaving her city life, and past demons, behind, Lucy is determined to make the most of her fresh start.

As life slowly begins to resemble something normal for the three women, Jo’s world is turned upside down when she receives some shocking news.

In search of some solace, Jo and Elizabeth find themselves enjoying midnight dips in the freezing Irish sea. Here they can laugh, cry and wash away all their fears. As well as conjure a fundraising plan for the local hospice; to take a dip in the nip. 

And The Lost Girls of Ireland by Susanne O’Leary

The picturesque beach of Wild Rose Bay is the last place Lydia Butler thought she’d be. But having just lost everything, the run-down cottage she inherited from her Great Aunt Nellie is the only place she can take her daughter, Sunny. Hidden away in a tiny Irish village, she can protect Sunny from the gossip in Dublin, and the real reason they have nowhere else to live…

The cottage is part of the old coastguard station and other eccentric residents are quick to introduce themselves when Lydia arrives. Lydia instantly feels less alone, fascinated by the stories they have about Nellie, and she’s charmed by American artist, Jason O’Callaghan, the mysterious man who lives next door.

But the longer Lydia relaxes under the moonlit sky, the more the secret she’s keeping from Sunny threatens to come out. And as she finds herself running into Jason’s arms, she knows she must be honest and face up to the past she has tried to forget. Has she finally found people who will truly accept her, or will the truth force her to leave the cottage for good?

I also plan on listening to The Silent Suspect by Nell Pattison

A FIRE. A MURDER. A SILENT SUSPECT…

On a quiet street, one house is burning to the ground…

By the time sign language interpreter Paige Northwood arrives, flames have engulfed her client’s home. Though Lukas is safe, his wife is still inside. But she was dead before the fire started…

Lukas signs to Paige that he knows who killed his wife. But then he goes silent – even when the police charge him with murder.

Is he guilty, or afraid? Only Paige can help him now…

I have seven new ARCs this week . . .

An Ambush of Widows by Jeff Abbott, an author I used to read regularly but whom has somehow dropped off my reading radar for no particular reason that I can recall. Though I have just noticed that this is an excerpt only, which is a bit disappointing.

The Marriage Mender by Linda Green

Boy Underground by Catherine Ryan-Hyde

Dream Girl in Laura Lippman

The Stalker by Sarah Alderson

Invite Me In by Emma Curtis

And 56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard

So that’s it from me for today. I need to get back to The Dead Husband . . . I am going to have to finish this before I go to sleep tonight.

Please do tell me where your reading travels have taken you this week. Happy reading!❤📚 Sandy

In Her Tracks by Robert Dugoni

EXCERPT: ‘Let’s play hide and seek, Daddy.’

‘We don’t have time for that, Elle. We have to get through.’

‘Please, Daddy.’

‘I’m sorry, honey. Maybe we can play at home.’

Elle cried. Then she sat down in the dirt.

‘Elle, get up, honey. You’re getting your costume dirty.’

‘No.’

‘Honey, you have to stand up.’

‘I want to play. Mommy lets me play.’

The counsellor Chin had seen for his court-ordered anger-management classes had warned that kids going through a contentious divorce could become defiant and play one parent off against the other.

‘Elle. You need to stand up.’

‘No. Graham plays with me.’

Chin felt his heart ripping apart. ‘Okay. One quick game. All right?’

Elle got to her feet. ‘Yay!’

‘But when I say come out, you have to come out. Okay?’

‘You count, Daddy. You have to hide your eyes.’

‘Okay, but if I say come out, you come out. Right?’

‘Turn around when you count.’

Chin turned and counted. It wouldn’t be hard to find Elle’s colourful butterfly wings among the green corn stalks. ‘One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. Three Mississippi.’

At six he cheated and turned. He didn’t see Elle’s wings behind the corn stalks. ‘Here I come.’ He stepped forward. ‘I’m coming.’ He searched the aisle, looking under the drooping leaves. He turned the corner to another row. Then a third and a fourth. He checked his watch, felt himself starting to panic.

He shouted, ‘Okay, Elle. I give up. Come out.’ He turned in a circle, looking, hearing the wind rustle the stalks. ‘Don’t let the lights go out,’ he muttered under his breath. He called again. ‘Elle? You have to come out. The game is over.’

His heart raced.

He jogged, turning left and right, down the rows, shouting her name. ‘Elle. Come out. Elle? Elle!’

He turned a corner, disorientated.

Another corner.

Elle’s colourful butterfly wings lay in the dirt.

‘Elle!’

Then the lights went out.

ABOUT ‘IN HER TRACKS’: Returning from an extended leave in her hometown of Cedar Grove, Detective Tracy Crosswhite finds herself reassigned to the Seattle PD’s cold case unit. As the protective mother of an infant daughter, Tracy is immediately drawn to her first file: the abduction of a five-year-old girl whose parents, embattled in a poisonous divorce, were once prime suspects.

While reconstructing the days leading up to the girl’s disappearance, Tracy is brought into an active investigation with former partner Kinsington Rowe. A young woman has vanished on an isolated jogging trail in North Seattle. Divided between two critical cases, Tracy has little to go on except the treacherous deceptions behind a broken marriage—and now, the secrets hiding behind the closed doors of a deceptively quiet middle-class neighborhood.

To find two missing persons, Tracy will have to follow more than clues, which are both long cold and unsettlingly fresh. Given her own traumatic past, Tracy must also follow her instincts—to whatever dark and dangerous places they may lead.

MY THOUGHTS: Another solid addition to Dugoni’s Tracy Crosswhite series. Tracy is returning to work following her maternity leave and finds that she has been shafted by her longtime arch-nemesis, Nolasco. But as they say, every cloud has a silver lining and Nolasco may just wind up having to eat humble pie.

Tracy’s character continues to develop and motherhood seems to have made her more conscious of the effect her personal traumas have had on her, and the need to learn to cope with them, if not overcome them has her regularly seeing a therapist. She has to learn to balance her caseload with her family life, not always an easy task, especially for someone as dedicated and empathetic as Tracy.

There are some unexpected twists and turns, and one that wasn’t so surprising to me, that I had guessed earlier on. Even though we know what has happened to Stephanie Cole, the young woman who has been abducted, Dugoni has laid a clever trail of red herrings so that the case is not quite as clear cut as it initially seems. This case somewhat overshadows the cold case involving the disappearance of five year old Elle Chin, and I also felt that the resolution to this was dragged out too long. Despite this, Dugoni kept my interest throughout and I enjoyed this addition to the series.

As a bonus, I think that this book could well be read as a stand-alone, so if you are daunted by the thought of starting this series at book #8, don’t be.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.4

#InHerTracks #NetGalley

@robertdugoni

#contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #mystery #policeprocedural

THE AUTHOR: A writer turned lawyer turned writer.
Robert Dugoni was born in Idaho and raised in Northern California the middle child of a family of ten siblings. Dugoni jokes that he didn’t get much of a chance to talk, so he wrote. By the seventh grade he knew he wanted to be a writer.

Dugoni wrote his way to Stanford University, receiving writing awards along the way, and majored in communications/journalism and creative writing while working as a reporter for the Stanford Daily. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and worked briefly as a reporter in the Metro Office and the San Gabriel Valley Office of the Los Angeles Times.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Thomas & Mercer via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of In Her Tracks by Robert Dugoni 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

Pray for Silence (Kate Burkholder #2) by Linda Castillo

EXCERPT: A massive barn and silo stood in silhouette against the pre-dawn sky. The postcard-perfect farm was the last place Skid expected any trouble. He’d lived in Painters Mill going on four years now. Aside from a few minor infractions – like that time two teenage boys got caught racing their buggies down Main Street – the Amish were damn near perfect citizens. But Skid had been a cop long enough to know there was always an exception to the rule.

He parked behind a buggy, his headlights reflecting off the slow-moving-vehicle sign mounted at the rear. To his right, the house stood in shadows; it didn’t look like anyone was up yet. Turning, he made eye contact with Zimmerman. ‘How did you get in?’

‘The back door is unlocked,’the Amish man said.

Grabbing his Maglite, Skid left the cruiser. He slid his. 38 from its sheath as he started down the sidewalk. Stepping onto the stoop, he banged on the door with his flashlight. ‘This is the Police,’ he called out. ‘Open up.’

That was when he noticed the dark smear on the jamb. He shifted the flashlight beam and squinted. It looked like blood. A handprint. Skin shone the light down on the concrete porch. More blood. Black droplets glittering in the moonlight.

ABOUT ‘PRAY FOR SILENCE’: The Plank family moved from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to join the small Amish community of Painters Mill less than a year ago and seemed the model of the Plain Life—until on a cold October night, the entire family of seven was found slaughtered on their farm. Police Chief Kate Burkholder and her small force have few clues, no motive, and no suspect. Formerly Amish herself, Kate is no stranger to the secrets the Amish keep from the English—and each other—but this crime is horribly out of the ordinary.

State agent John Tomasetti arrives on the scene to assist. He and Kate worked together on a previous case during which they began a volatile relationship. They soon realize the disturbing details of this case will test their emotional limits and force them to face demons from their own troubled pasts—and for Kate, a personal connection that is particularly hard to bear.

When she discovers a diary that belonged to one of the teenaged daughters, Kate is shocked to learn the girl kept some very dark secrets and may have been living a lurid double life. Who is the charismatic stranger who stole the young Amish girl’s heart? Could the brother—a man with a violent past, rejected and shunned by his family and the Amish community, have come to seek out revenge? As Kate’s outrage grows so does her resolve to find the killer and bring him to justice—even if it means putting herself in the line of fire.

MY THOUGHTS: Pray for Silence may be the most shocking, but it is not the strongest, nor the best book in the series. I loved Sworn to Silence, the first book in this series, and I have read many of the later books, and loved them. But with Pray for Silence, it almost felt like the Castillo was trying too hard, trying to shock rather than entertain. Not what I have come to expect from this author. I finished this read feeling somewhat unsettled, and ‘grubby’.

I didn’t particularly like what was happening in the relationship between Kate and Tomasetti either, with both in self-destruction and point-scoring modes. Kate rushes into things blindly, putting herself in danger to prove a point to Tomasetti. We learn very little more about the constant characters, there’s almost zero character development.

The bones of the story are good. Now, this is going to sound strange coming from me – the Queen of ‘dark and gritty’, but this is one story that could have benefited from a slightly gentler touch.

I am pleased that I didn’t read this immediately after ‘Sworn to Silence’. I might not have continued reading what is an otherwise excellent series. Instead I am going to put this down to the second book’ phenomenon and advise other readers not to be put off by it. There is better to come.

I did a read & listen of Pray for Silence. Narrator Kathleen McInerney was, as always, wonderful.

⭐⭐.8

#PrayForSilence #KateBurkholderSeries

@lindacastilloauthor
@LindaCastillo11
@MacmillanAudio

#amishfiction #contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #murdermystery

THE AUTHOR: Linda Castillo is a New York Times bestselling author. In addition to writing, Castillo’s other passion is horses, particularly her appaloosa George. She lives in Texas with her husband and is currently at work on her next novel.

DISCLOSURE: I own my copy of Pray for Silence by Linda Castillo, published by Macmillan. 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 . . .

Is it my imagination, or are Sundays, and therefore Mondays, coming around more quickly than they did earlier in the year? Or is it just because I am still working 7 days….? Not quite true as I had yesterday off for Luke’s 4th birthday. It was a lovely day, the children were all very well behaved and had lots of fun. The birthday cake was a lovely rich moist chocolate cake in the shape of two volcanoes with lava flows and roaming dinosaurs.

The smaller volcano was Dustin’s gluten free cake. We had a dehumidifier under the larger volcano but the kids were so excited and wanting to help Luke blow out his candles that we didn’t have a chance to plug it in and let it blow steam. I wish I had taken a photo when we did the very brief test run as it was quite spectacular! Luke got lots of dinosaur themed gifts and had a great time with his friends.

I am just about to start Robert Dugoni’s In Her Tracks, Tracy Crosswhite #8.

Returning from an extended leave in her hometown of Cedar Grove, Detective Tracy Crosswhite finds herself reassigned to the Seattle PD’s cold case unit. As the protective mother of an infant daughter, Tracy is immediately drawn to her first file: the abduction of a five-year-old girl whose parents, embattled in a poisonous divorce, were once prime suspects.

While reconstructing the days leading up to the girl’s disappearance, Tracy is brought into an active investigation with former partner Kinsington Rowe. A young woman has vanished on an isolated jogging trail in North Seattle. Divided between two critical cases, Tracy has little to go on except the treacherous deceptions behind a broken marriage—and now, the secrets hiding behind the closed doors of a deceptively quiet middle-class neighborhood.

To find two missing persons, Tracy will have to follow more than clues, which are both long cold and unsettlingly fresh. Given her own traumatic past, Tracy must also follow her instincts—to whatever dark and dangerous places they may lead. 

I also intend to read When I was Ten by Fiona Cummins.

She had lived a lie for thirteen years, and the perfect life as she had known it was about to change forever.

Everyone remembered Sara and Shannon Carter, the little blonde haired sisters. Their Dad was the local GP and they lived in the beautiful house on the hill. Their best friend, Brinley Booth, lived next door. They would do anything for each other but everything shifted on that fateful day when Dr Richard Carter and his wife Pamela were stabbed fourteen times with a pair of scissors in what has become the most talked about double murder of the modern age.

The girls were aged ten and twelve at the time. One, nicknamed the Angel of Death, spent eight years in a children’s secure unit accused of the brutal killings. The other lived in foster care out of the limelight and prying questions. Now, on the anniversary of the trial, a documentary team has tracked down one of the sisters, persuading her to speak about the events of that night for the first time.

Her explosive interview sparks national headlines and Brinley Booth, now a journalist, is tasked with covering the news story which brings to light fresh evidence and triggers a chain of events which will have devastating consequences.

I have just started listening to The Coffin Maker’s Garden, #3 in Stuart MacBride’s Ash Henderson series.

A village on the edge…
As a massive storm batters the Scottish coast, Gordon Smith’s home is falling into the North Sea. But the crumbling headland has revealed what he’s got buried in his garden: human remains.

A house full of secrets…
With the storm still raging, it’s too dangerous to retrieve the bodies and waves are devouring the evidence. Which means no one knows how many people Smith’s already killed and how many more he’ll kill if he can’t be found and stopped.

An investigator with nothing to lose…
The media are baying for blood, the top brass are after a scapegoat, and ex-Detective Inspector Ash Henderson is done playing nice. He’s got a killer to catch, and God help anyone who gets in his way.

I am also reading The Women Who Ran Away by Sheila O’Flanagan. Don’t you just love this cover!

Deira is setting out on the holiday she’d planned with her long-term partner Gavin… only she’s on her own. Gavin will not be amused when he finds out she’s ‘borrowed’ his car, but since their brutal break-up Deira’s not been acting rationally. Maybe a drive through beautiful France will help her see things differently…Grace is also travelling alone, each stage of her journey outlined in advance by her late husband. Ken was head of the household when he was alive, and it seems he’s still in charge. His last decision was a surprise – could there be more surprises to come? There’s only one way to find out, galling though it is to dance again to Ken’s tune…Thrown together by chance, Deira and Grace are soon motoring down the French highways, sharing intriguing stories of their pasts, as they each consider the future.

I will be lucky to finish all these this week, but I will give it my best shot.

I was excited to receive a publisher’s widget for Stolen by Tess Stimson this week. One in Three by the same author was one of the best books that I read last year.

I also received four ARCs from Netgalley – All Her Fault by Andrea Mara

The Car Share by Zoe Brisby

The Marriage by K.L. Slater

Finding Tessa by Jaime Lynn Hendricks

Is that better, Susan? I did it for you, my friend! 🤣😂

Have a wonderful week of reading and please do pop in and tell me what you currently turning the pages of. ❤📚