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

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

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

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

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

猸愨瓙猸愨瓙

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of Murder in Paradise, written by Agatha Christie, narrated by David Suchet, and published by Harper Collins during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, via Overdrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Happy weekend everyone!

My son and grandson have been in the South Island this week. They couldn’t have picked a much worse week in summer. The weather has been diabolical. Cold, wet and windy, with snow on two days. But they have had a wonderful time despite the weather and have sent us photos of their adventures each evening. They were going whale watching in Kaikoura this morning and flying home from Christchurch this afternoon. It is still quite windy, but not gusting like it was this morning, so hopefully the trip home won’t be too bumpy.

Couldn’t tell what time it was!

Currently I am reading Exit by Belinda Bauer. She is an author I always enjoy.

And I am listening to Dry Bones (Enzo #1) by Peter May.

This week I am planning on reading The Rosary Garden by Nicola White

It was Ali who found the body of a murdered newborn baby, hidden in the garden of her convent school. In an Ireland riven by battles of religion and reproduction, the case becomes a media sensation, even as the church tries to suppress it. But this is not the first dead baby Ali has found.

For Detectives Vincent Swan and Gina Considine, the pressure to discover the identity of the dead child is little help against a community with secrets to protect. Gina knows all too well how many of Ireland’s girls are forced to make difficult decisions in terrible circumstances, silenced by shame. Is Ali one of those girls? Because what evidence there is, points to Ali herself…

And Life Sentences by Billy O’Callaghan

At just sixteen, Nancy leaves the small island of Cape Clear for the mainland, the only member of her family to survive the effects of the Great Famine. Finding work in a grand house on the edge of Cork City, she is irrepressibly drawn to the charismatic gardener Michael Egan, sparking a love affair and a devastating chain of events that continues to unfold over three generations. Spanning more than a century, Life Sentences is the unforgettable journey of a family hungry for redemption, and determined against all odds to be free.

I have received two ARCs from Netgalley this week: Win by Harlan Coben

And Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I l鉂e that cover!

So that is all from me today. I hear Belinda Bauer calling my name!

Have a wonderful week. Take care and be kind. 鉂ゐ煋

Ask No Questions by Claire Allen

Published 21 January 2021

EXCERPT: I was ten years old when I found out that monsters are real and they walk among us. I can pinpoint the exact day that everything changed, when the world I’d found to be fun and innocent and good turned into something dark and frightening.

Looking back, I pity my mother having to find the words to tell my brothers and me what had happened. I pitied all the mothers and fathers who were forced to have that same conversation with their children at the dinner table that evening.

There’d be no playing out in the street any more. There’d be no nipping in and out of neighbours’ houses, or knocking on doors looking for a glass of water when we were parched from playing Tig or Red Rover, or riding our bicycles all over the estate in and out of the dark alleyways.

We were never to go out on our own. Nor walk back from school on our own. Even though it would still be light then. We were absolutely not allowed to take the shortcut through the overgrown fields at the back of the school, either.

And we were never, ever, ever to go into anyone’s house on our own. No matter how well we knew them. No matter how many times we’d been there before.

Because Kelly Doherty had been found and she was dead.

ABOUT ‘ASK NO QUESTIONS’: Twenty-five years ago, on Halloween night, eight-year-old Kelly Doherty went missing while out trick or treating with friends.

Her body was found three days later, floating face down, on the banks of the Creggan Reservoir by two of her young classmates.

It was a crime that rocked Derry to the core. Journalist Ingrid Devlin is investigating 鈥 but someone doesn鈥檛 want her to know the truth. As she digs further, Ingrid starts to realise that the Doherty family are not as they seem. But will she expose what really happened that night before it鈥檚 too late?

MY THOUGHTS: This is the second excellent book that I have read by this author, the first being Her Name Was Rose.

Ask No Questions is very aptly titled. I have never known anyone who was murdered, but I would imagine that if I had, it would never leave me. I would always, like Ingrid, be wondering if there was something I could have done to prevent it. And like Ingrid, if I had the chance to make sure that person was not forgotten, I would take it. However, I doubt that I would be as single-minded or as hard-nosed about it as Ingrid, especially once the threats started. But Ingrid is a person who doesn’t mind rocking the boat to see what the waves will dislodge.

Claire Allen had me hooked from the beginning. She has skillfully built up an air of mystery and menace, and doubt as to the guilt of Jamesy Harte, who was convicted of Kelly Doherty’s murder. Told over the periods of 1994 and 2019 by Ingrid, the journalist writing the twenty-five year anniversary piece on Kelly’s murder, and Declan, one of the Heaney twins who discovered Kelly’s body, the storyline is dark and gritty, the twists plausible and unpredictable, the characters engaging and realistic, if not always likeable.

I often found myself holding my breath – in anticipation, in dread – as I suspected almost everyone of killing Kelly.

Ask No Questions is an engaging and emotional read that occasionally unnerved me. And while I may have had a solid suspicion as to the identity of the killer, I had no idea of the how and why. That was a climactic revelation that had me shedding a few tears, and not for the first time during this read.

猸愨瓙猸愨瓙.3

#AskNoQuestions #NetGalley

‘We all get lonely. Even those of us in big houses with partners and children.’

THE AUTHOR: Claire Allan is a Northern Irish author who lives in Derry~Londonderry with her husband, two children, two cats and a very spoiled puppy.

She worked as a staff reporter for the Derry Journal for 17 years, covering a wide array of stories from court sessions, to the Saville Inquiry into the events of Bloody Sunday, health and education and human interest features.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Avon Books UK via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Ask No Questions by Claire Allen 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

Flesh House by Stuart MacBride

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Definitely the pinnacle of this series thus far. 猸愨瓙猸愨瓙猸

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

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of Flesh House written by Stuart MacBride, brilliantly narrated by Steve Worsley and published by Harper Collins Audio, via Overdrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Trafficked by M.A. Hunter

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

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

They never expected her to survive鈥

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

They never expected her to escape鈥

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

猸愨瓙猸.4

#Trafficked #NetGalley

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

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins UK, One More Chapter, via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Trafficked by M.A. Hunter for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Your Neighbour’s Wife by Tony Parsons

Due for publication 7 January 2021

EXCERPT: They call it shopping for pain.

My husband leaves the room with our son in his arms and I snatch up the phone he has left on the coffee table and I start scrolling through all the secret corners of his life.

His text messages. His WhatsApp. His email. I quickly ransack them all. The possibility of pain – real life-wrecking, heartbreaking, how-could-you, tears-of-rage pain – is everywhere. There are so many places now for him to leave the evidence of betrayal. Or the thought of betrayal. Or the flirtatious foreplay of betrayal. Or the sordid sweet nothings of real betrayal. All the damning, undeniable proof of his secret life.

ABOUT ‘YOUR NEIGHBOUR’S WIFE’: Tara Carver seems to have the perfect life. A loving mother and wife, and a business woman who runs her own company, she’s the sort of person you’d want to live next door to, who might even become your best friend.

But what sort of person is she really?

Because in one night of madness, on a work trip far from home, she puts all this at risk. And suddenly her dream life becomes a living nightmare when the married man she spent one night with tells her he wants a serious relationship with her. And that he won’t leave her or her precious family alone until she agrees.

There seems to be only one way out.
And it involves murder …

MY THOUGHTS: I read Your Neighbour’s Wife in less than twenty four hours. This is the fifth of Tony Parsons books that I have read, and the fifth five star rating. This is very different to his Max Wolfe series, but every bit as compelling, as good, if not better. This is a gripping story of love, family, friendship, marriage and infidelity.

The story is told from the points of view of Tara and her husband Christian.

Tara has a one night stand when she is away on a business trip, one that just won’t lie down and die. Tara regrets her actions and wants to forget that it ever happened. James has no intention of letting Tara forget. He wants more of Tara, all of Tara, and will go to any length to get what he wants.

Your Neighbour’s Wife is absolutely terrifying in its plausibility. If anyone is considering infidelity, I strongly urge them to read Parsons book first.

Gripping. Compelling. Plausible. And full of twists that I could never have predicted. Just read this.

The only thing that I don’t get is the title. But who cares? It could be called ‘Hot Buttered Toast’ and it would still be a five star read.

猸愨瓙猸愨瓙猸

‘We spend our youth looking for love and sex and then we spend our married lives trying to avoid it.’

THE AUTHOR: Tony Parsons (born 6 November 1953) is a British journalist broadcaster and author. He began his career as a music journalist on the NME, writing about punk music. Later, he wrote for The Daily Telegraph, before going on to write his current column for the Daily Mirror. Parsons was for a time a regular guest on the BBC Two arts review programme The Late Show, and still appears infrequently on the successor Newsnight Review; he also briefly hosted a series on Channel 4 called Big Mouth.

His novels typically deal with relationship problems, emotional dramas and the traumas of men and women in our time. He describes his writing as ‘Men Lit’, as opposed to the rising popularity of ‘Chick Lit’.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Cornerstone, Century for providing a digital ARC of Your Neighbour’s Wife by Tony Parsons 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

Blue Genes by Val McDermid

EXCERPT: I was about to close the conservatory door behind me as I returned to Richard’s house when his doorbell belted out an inappropriate blast of the guitar riff from Eric Clapton’s ‘Layla’. ‘Shit,’ I muttered. No matter how careful you are, there’s always something you forget. I couldn’t remember what the other choices were on Richard’s ‘Twenty Great Rock Riffs’ doorbell, but I was sure there must be something more fitting than Clapton’s wailing guitar. Maybe something by the Smiths, I thought vaguely as I tried to compose my face into a suitable expression for a woman who has just lost her partner. Just how was I supposed to look, I found a second to wonder. What’s the well-bereft woman wearing on her face this season? You can’t even go for the mascara tracks down the cheeks in these days of lash tints.

ABOUT ‘BLUE GENES’: Kate Brannigan, Manchester’s tough-talking crime-stalking PI, isn’t just having a bad day. She’s having a bad week. The worst week of her life, in fact. Her boyfriend’s obituary is in the newspaper, her plans to capture a team of heartless crooks are in disarray, and a Celtic neo-punk band under siege wants her to rescue them from the saboteurs who are trashing their posters and gigs. Kate can’t even cry on her best friend’s shoulder because ace crime reporter Alexis has a few worries of her own. Her girlfriend Chris is pregnant, and when someone involved in pioneering illegal fertility treatment is murdered, Alexis needs Kate as she’s never needed her before. Delving into the alien world of medical experimentation and the underbelly of the rock music business, Kate confronts betrayal and cold-blooded greed as she fights to save not only her livelihood but her life.

MY THOUGHTS: This is #5 in Val McDermid’s Kate Brannigan series. I haven’t read/listened to any of the previous books, but it didn’t matter at all.

There’s plenty going on as Kate juggles multiple investigations, the main one being the murder of a doctor involved in illegal and groundbreaking IVF treatment for lesbian couples.

Kate thinks outside the box, coming up with logical but off-the-wall ways to get the information she needs to solve her cases. She, and all the other characters featured in Blue Genes, are realistic, consistent and totally believable, as is the dialogue.

McDermid’s plotting is precise and plausible, well executed, and paced to keep the reader turning pages long into the night. I have long been a fan of this author’s Tony Hill series. This is totally different. It is lighter with a little dry humour thrown in. I enjoyed Blue Genes and will certainly be reading more of this series.

And I want Richard’s doorbell!

猸愨瓙猸愨瓙.3

THE AUTHOR: Val McDermid writes full time and divides her life between Cheshire and Edinburgh.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to Blue Genes, written by Val McDermid, narrated by Chloe Massey, and published by Avid Audiobooks, via Overdrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

It’s Monday…..and

The Ghost Fields (Ruth Galloway #7) by Elly Griffiths

EXCERPT: ‘…Is this it?’

Her question is superfluous. Three quarters of a wing and half a cockpit lie exposed at the bottom of the shallow pit.

‘American,’ says Nelson. ‘I can tell by the markings.’

Ruth shoots him a look. She thinks that Nelson would have been just the sort of boy to collect models of second world war fighter planes.

‘There was an American airbase near here,’ says one of the other men. ‘At Lockwell Heath.’ Ruth recognizes him as Edward Spens, a local property developer whom she encountered on an earlier case. Spens is tall and good looking; his air of authority is only slightly dented by the fact that he is wearing tennis clothes. The third man, dressed in jeans and a filthy football top, stands slightly aside as if to imply that none of this is his fault. Ruth guesses that he must be the digger driver.

She looks at the exposed soil. It has a faintly blue tinge. She kneels down and scoops some earth in her hand, giving it a surreptitious sniff.

‘What are you doing?’ asks Phil. Clearly he’s terrified that she’s going to embarrass him.

‘Fuel,’ she says. ‘Can’t you smell it? And look at the blue marks on the soil. That’s corroded aluminium. Did you have any idea that this plane was here?’

It is Edward Spens who answers. ‘Some children found some engine parts in the field long ago, I believe. But no one had any idea that this was buried here, almost intact.’

Ruth looks at the cockpit. Although dented and corroded it looks remarkably undamaged, lying almost horizontally at the foot of the crater. She’s no geometry expert but wouldn’t you expect the prow of a crashed plane to be at a steeper angle?

‘Where’s the body?’ she asked.

ABOUT ‘THE GHOST FIELDS’: Norfolk is suffering from record summer heat when a construction crew unearths a macabre discovery鈥攁 downed World War II plane with the pilot still inside. Forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway quickly realizes that the skeleton couldn鈥檛 possibly be the pilot, and DNA tests identify the man as Fred Blackstock, a local aristocrat who had been reported dead at sea. When the remaining members of the Blackstock family learn about the discovery, they seem strangely frightened by the news.

Events are further complicated by a TV company that wants to make a film about Norfolk鈥檚 deserted air force bases, the so-called Ghost Fields, which have been partially converted into a pig farm run by one of the younger Blackstocks. As production begins, Ruth notices a mysterious man lurking on the outskirts of Fred Blackstock鈥檚 memorial service. Then human bones are found on the family鈥檚 pig farm. Can the team outrace a looming flood to find a killer?

MY THOUGHTS: I love this series and have become very invested in Ruth’s life, with and without Nelson, father of her five year old daughter, Katie. One of the things I love most about Ruth is how realistically Elly Griffiths has chosen to portray her. While she is confident and assured in her professional life, she is anything but in her personal life. She fantasises about being married to Nelson but, in reality, she knows that she would kill him within days. To begin with, Nelson obssesses over Katie and how he thinks she should be brought up, leaving Ruth with the feeling that he thinks she’s an inadequate mother. She is much older than the other mothers of Katie’s contemporaries, and doesn’t relate to their lifestyles. She’s not a slim, trim, Lululemon mummy. She thinks wicked thoughts about people, things she would like to say, but doesn’t dare. I can totally relate to her.

There is a very complicated family by the name of Blackstock featured in The Ghost Fields. Landed gentry living in a crumbling pile with very little money but a lot of local clout. They come with a good deal of infidelity, illegitimate children, greed, avarice and a certain amount of insanity. There is a family tree at the beginning of the book to help.

Of course the body in the plane is not going to be straightforward. It would seem that the body has been moved there recently from elsewhere. But why? And from where?

This is an excellent mystery set against the ongoing relationship between Ruth and Nelson, and their friendship with Druid Cathbad, and his wife Judy, a policewoman who works closely with Nelson, and who is heavily pregnant with her second child. The American, Frank, makes another appearance. And there are goings on in the background of Nelson’s life of which he is totally unaware.

The Ghost Fields is another excellent addition to the series of which there are currently twelve books with the thirteenth due out in February 2021.

猸愨瓙猸愨瓙.4

THE AUTHOR: Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway novels take for their inspiration Elly’s husband, who gave up a city job to train as an archaeologist, and her aunt who lives on the Norfolk coast and who filled her niece’s head with the myths and legends of that area. Elly has two children and lives near Brighton.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of The Ghost Fields written by Elly Griffiths, narrated by Clare Corbett and published by Quercus via Overdrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

The Birthday Weekend by Lesley Sanderson

EXCERPT: I go back downstairs. Daisy is in the kitchen with Amy. They both look startled to see me, as if I’ve disturbed something.

‘What’s up?’ Daisy’s posture is rigid and Amy is twisting a curl around her finger.

‘You tell her,’ Daisy says.

‘It’s Sam,’ Amy says. ‘He’s going to be arriving much later than he said.’

‘That’s okay,’ I say. ‘We already knew that, and it doesn’t really matter -‘

‘No, it isn’t okay.’ Daisy’s sharp tone takes me by surprise, makes me flinch.

‘Sorry.’ I hold up my hands. ‘Nothing to do with me.’

‘It’s not that,’ Amy says. ‘It’s the reason he’s late. He isn’t working, like he said he was.’

‘I don’t understand.’

‘He’s at the police station.’

‘Oh no.’ I sit down with a bump on the hard wooden chair. Images of police cars, ambulances, a broken body flash into my mind. ‘Has he had an accident?’

‘He’s been called in to answer some questions.’ Amy looks at me as she says this, and a chill envelops my body. I know what she’s going to say. Hannah. The journalist. Blackwood Forest. My mind is on fast-forward, willing her to spit it out. ‘About what he was doing the day Hannah disappeared.’

ABOUT ‘THE BIRTHDAY WEEKEND’: Dear Louise. It鈥檚 time we all put the past behind us. We鈥檙e meeting for my birthday. I want you there. Love, Amy. X

When Louise receives an invitation to her old friend Amy鈥檚 birthday weekend in a cottage next to the woods near their old university campus, a chill runs down her spine.

Fifteen years ago, Hannah walked into those same woods and never came back. Her death destroyed her friends. They鈥檝e not met as a group since. Until now.

As the party gets underway and old grudges are uncovered, a game of truth or dare is proposed. It鈥檚 clear one person has questions about their friend鈥檚 death 鈥 and now they want answers. And nothing will stop them.

When everyone has buried secrets, digging for the truth is going to get dangerous.

MY THOUGHTS: Better than average, but not great.

Amy, Kat, Louise and Daisy were a tight bunch at university, along with Hannah whose death was ruled a suicide. For Louise, going to university was a big adventure. For Kat, it was the chance to escape a miserable home life. Amy had a passion for knowledge. Daisy wanted to be on stage, the star of the show. All Hannah had ever wanted was to be loved. These five gravitated towards one another and formed a tight knit group until Hannah’s death. Although her death is ruled a suicide, and this suits each of them for one reason or another, none of them have ever really believed it.

The thing that I had most difficulty with was that if they were all so close, wouldn’t they have turned to each other for support after Hannah’s death? ‘They’ve never met as a group since.’ I find that more than odd. And they’ve never talked about it together? Really? That is just downright strange! Even stranger, Louise has never told her husband Theo about Hannah’s death. This is a major life event! Could you just blithely sail on through the rest of your life and never mention your friend’s name again? I couldn’t.

Then there’s a journalist who is introduced into the story and then . . . nothing. What was the point?

I guessed reasonably early on who was responsible for Hannah’s death, and I was mostly right, but there was an unexpected twist to the denouement.

I mostly enjoyed The Birthday Weekend, but it doesn’t measure up to the two other books I have read by this author.

The Birthday Weekend was originally to have been released as Our Little Secret but has undergone a prepublication title change.

猸愨瓙猸.4

#TheBirthdayWeekend #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Lesley attended the Curtis Brown Creative 6 month novel writing course in 2015/6, and in 2017 The Orchid Girls (then On The Edge) was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish fiction prize. (Amazon)

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bookouture via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Birthday Weekend by Lesley Sanderson 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

Consolation by Garry Disher

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

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

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

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

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

ABOUT ‘CONSOLATION’: Winter in Tiverton.

Constable Paul Hirschhausen has a snowdropper on his patch. Someone is stealing women鈥檚 underwear, and Hirsch knows enough about that kind of crime鈥攈ow it can escalate鈥攏ot to take it lightly.

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

A little girl in harm鈥檚 way and an elderly woman in danger. An absent father who isn鈥檛 where he鈥檚 supposed to be; another who flees to the back country armed with a rifle. Families under pressure. And the cold, seeping feeling that something is very, very wrong.

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

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

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

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

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

猸愨瓙猸愨瓙.6

#Consolation #NetGalley

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

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

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Text Publishing via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Consolation by Garry Disher for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and my webpage.