Watching what I’m reading . . .

Happy Sunday afternoon. We were supposed to have heavy rain all day, but other than a couple of light drizzly showers, there’s been nothing, so I have had to water the vege garden. I picked another seven cucumbers for Luke’s roadside stand, but I fear that’s the last of them. It doesn’t look as though there are many feijoas on the tree, and there’s no sign yet of mandarins, so he may have a bit of a dry spell for a while. Dustin and Luke have been down for the afternoon and have just left to go back home so that they’ve time to give Timmy a run before it’s dark. Daylight saving ends here next week, so it will get dark even earlier.

Helen and I went and investigated the two new antique shops in the area Friday morning. We had a lovely time and finished with coffee out.

Currently I am reading, and almost finished, The Only Suspect by Louise Candlish. I’m not over-enamoured, but reserving my final opinion as she often pulls something out of the hat right at the end.

I am still listening to the family saga, The House at Riverton by Kate Morton.


I am not quite caught up with my March reads yet, hopefully this week. I have two reads for review due this week: Those Empty Eyes by Charlie Donlea

Alex Armstrong has changed everything about herself—her name, her appearance, her backstory. She’s no longer the terrified teenager a rapt audience saw on television, emerging in handcuffs from the quiet suburban home the night her family was massacred. That girl, Alexandra Quinlan, nicknamed Empty Eyes by the media, was accused of the killings, fought to clear her name, and later took the stand during her highly publicized defamation lawsuit that captured the attention of the nation.

It’s been ten years since, and Alex hasn’t stopped searching for answers about the night her family was killed, even as she continues to hide her real identity from true crime fanatics and grasping reporters still desperate to locate her. As a legal investigator, she works tirelessly to secure justice for others, too. People like Matthew Claymore, who’s under suspicion in the disappearance of his girlfriend, a student journalist named Laura McAllister.

Laura was about to break a major story about rape and cover-ups on her college campus. Alex believes Matthew is innocent, and unearths stunning revelations about the university’s faculty, fraternity members, and powerful parents willing to do anything to protect their children.

Most shocking of all—as Alex digs into Laura’s disappearance, she realizes there are unexpected connections to the murder of her own family. For as different as the crimes may seem, they each hinge on one sinister truth: no one is quite who they seem to be . . .

And A Pen Dipped in Poison by J.M. Hall, which I can’t wait to get to. I loved the first book in this series and am looking forward to catching up with Liz, Pat and Thelma again.

Signed. Sealed. Dead?

Retired schoolteachers Liz, Pat and Thelma never expected they would be caught up in a crime even once in their lives, let alone twice.

But when poison pen letters start landing on the doorsteps of friends and neighbours in their Yorkshire village, old secrets come to light.

With the potential for deadly consequences.

It won’t be long until the three friends are out on a case yet again…

Only one publisher’s Widget this week, and one ARC. The widget is Summer at the Cornish Farmhouse by Linn B. Halton

And ARC is The Widow of Weeping Pines by Amanda McKinney

I am back at work fulltime from Monday. Hopefully not for too long. I will still be going to aquarobics, but other interests will be taking a back seat while I deal with the end of the financial year and training someone new for my job. *sigh* I have a meeting with the outgoing manager tomorrow. She walked off the job at lunchtime Friday after having, only days earlier, agreed to work through to the end of March. 🤷‍♀️

Enjoy however much remains of your weekend. I’m making toasted sandwiches for dinner tonight – ham, cheese, mustard. Then I will sort out the menu for the rest of the week and make a shopping list. We’re a bit like Mother Hubbard’s cupboard here as I haven’t done a grocery shop for two weeks.

Happy reading!❤📚

The Dead of Winter by Stuart MacBride

EXCERPT: Bigtoria sank into an office chair, pulled the phone towards her and dialled. Sat there with the handset to her ear, frowning. Then hung up and had another go. More frowning. This time, instead of returning the handset to the cradle, she clicked the button-thing up and down a few times.
Edward wandered over. ‘Problem, Guv?’
‘Nine for an outside line?’ She poked the button again. ‘Not even getting a dialling tone.’
Sergeant Farrow tried another phone. ‘Fudge.’
Edward joined in, but the receiver just hissed in his ear. ‘This one’s buggered too.’
‘Honestly!’ Sergeant Farrow picked up another handset, jaw working on something tough as she listened. ‘How are we supposed to work like this? “State-of-the-art operation, designed to handle one of the country’s most challenging offender-management environments” my . . . bottom.’ Slamming the handset down.
‘OK . . .’ Edward raised his eyebrows at Bigtoria. ‘So we’ve no mobile signal, the Airwaves are shagged, and the landlines are down. We’re completely cut off, aren’t we.’ In a village populated with sex-offenders, murderers, and the general dregs of the criminal justice system.
‘Bastard.’
And then some.

ABOUT ‘THE DEAD OF WINTER’: It was supposed to be an easy job.

All Detective Constable Edward Reekie had to do was pick up a dying prisoner from HMP Grampian and deliver him somewhere to live out his last few months in peace.

From the outside, Glenfarach looks like a quaint, sleepy, snow-dusted village, nestled deep in the heart of Cairngorms National Park, but things aren’t what they seem. The place is thick with security cameras and there’s a strict nine o’clock curfew, because Glenfarach is the final sanctuary for people who’ve served their sentences but can’t be safely released into the general population.

Edward’s new boss, DI Montgomery-Porter, insists they head back to Aberdeen before the approaching blizzards shut everything down, but when an ex-cop-turned-gangster is discovered tortured to death in his bungalow, someone needs to take charge.

The weather’s closing in, tensions are mounting, and time’s running out – something nasty has come to Glenfarach, and Edward is standing right in its way…

MY THOUGHTS: Black humour is Stuart MacBride’s speciality, and he delivers it in spades – along with a rollicking good novel laced with crime and corruption.

The storyline is unique and intriguing and I was instantly drawn in. To be honest, I’ve never before read anything quite like this.

Edward Reekie – I bet he had a hard time at school – is treated appallingly by his boss DI Victoria Montgomery-Porter, aka Bigtoria. She’s a horrible woman. Yet he doggedly continues to do his job, albeit with a fair bit of moaning and whingeing when he’s in her company. But when your backs are against the wall, he’s the one to rely on.

Initially, I thought the idea of a ‘retirement’ village for criminals who can’t, for one reason or another, be released back into the community when they have served their sentences was a good idea. I have since changed my mind.

The Dead of Winter is fast-paced, entertaining and unpredictable. I loved it.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#TheDeadofWinter #NetGalley

I: @stuart.macbride @randomhouse

T: @StuartMacBride @randomhouse

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

THE AUTHOR: Stuart MacBride lives in the northeast of Scotland with his wife Fiona, cats Gherkin, Onion and Beetroot, some hens, some horses and an impressive collection of assorted weeds.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Transworld Publishers, Bantam Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Dead of Winter by Stuart MacBride 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 is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Watching what I’m reading . . .

We’re currently having lovely warm days and very cold nights, something I can live with. But we have more rain forecast next week and apparently a cold spell as well that may see me hibernating.

The Eastern Bay of Plenty region of the North Island of New Zealand has been hit by a swarm of earthquakes over the past 36 hours. To all my bookish friends in that region, my thoughts are with you and I hope you are all safe.

I am currently reading A Gentle Murderer by Dorothy Salisbury Davis, set in the 1950s. It took me a wee bit to settle into, but now I’m enjoying it immensely. It’s not quite a murder-mystery as we meet the murderer making confession early in the book, but it’s the police and the Priest to whom he confessed trying to ascertain just who he is, and then trying to find him, that provides the entertainment.

I am also reading #1 in a New Zealand crime/detective series by Vanda Symon, Overkill. I read the 5th in the series last week and loved it so much that I decided to begin at the beginning. Loving it. At this point it’s looking like another 5 star read.

Book 1 in the PC Sam Shephard series. Action-packed, tension-filled and atmospheric police procedural set in rural New Zealand.

When the body of a young mother is found washed up on the banks of the Mataura River, a small rural community is rocked by her tragic suicide. But all is not what it seems. Sam Shephard, sole-charge police constable in Mataura, soon discovers the death was no suicide and has to face the realisation that there is a killer in town. To complicate the situation, the murdered woman was the wife of her former lover. When Sam finds herself on the list of suspects and suspended from duty, she must cast said her personal feelings and take matters into her own hands. To find the murderer… and clear her name. A taut, atmospheric and pageturning thriller, Overkill marks the start of an unputdownable and unforgettable series from one of New Zealand s finest crime writers.

I am listening to The House at Riverton by Kate Morton, narrated by Emilia Fox. This was originally published as The Shifting Fog.

The House at Riverton is a gorgeous debut novel set in England between the wars. Perfect for fans of “Downton Abbey,” it’s the story of an aristocratic family, a house, a mysterious death, and a way of life that vanished forever, told in flashback by a woman who witnessed it all.

The novel is full of secrets – some revealed, others hidden forever, reminiscent of the romantic suspense of Daphne du Maurier. It’s also a meditation on memory and the devastation of war and a beautifully rendered window into a fascinating time in history.

I, again, have only one read for review due this week, just as well as I am still reading books that were published two weeks ago. Her Deadly Game by Robert Dugoni is due for publication 23rd March, and hopefully I will be caught up by then.

A defense attorney is prepared to play. But is she a pawn in a master’s deadly match? A twisting novel of suspense by New York Times bestselling author Robert Dugoni.

Keera Duggan was building a solid reputation as a Seattle prosecutor, until her romantic relationship with a senior colleague ended badly. For the competitive former chess prodigy, returning to her family’s failing criminal defense law firm to work for her father is the best shot she has. With the right moves, she hopes to restore the family’s reputation, her relationship with her father, and her career.

Keera’s chance to play in the big leagues comes when she’s retained by Vince LaRussa, an investment adviser accused of murdering his wealthy wife. There’s little hard evidence against him, but considering the couple’s impending and potentially nasty divorce, LaRussa faces life in prison. The prosecutor is equally challenging: Miller Ambrose, Keera’s former lover, who’s eager to destroy her in court on her first homicide defense.

As Keera and her team follow the evidence, they uncover a complicated and deadly game that’s more than Keera bargained for. When shocking information turns the case upside down, Keera must decide between her duty to her client, her family’s legacy, and her own future.

I have received two publishers widgets this week, and one ARC via Netgalley. The Netgalley ARC is Summer Nights at the Starfish Cafe by Jessica Redland. I’m excited about this as I haven’t previously been approved for any of her books.

The two publishers widgets are: Black Thorn by Sarah Hilary

And The Seventh Victim by Michael Wood. This is a series that has consistently been 5 star reads.

I’ve done quite well with my posting this week. I’m not promising the same for this week.

I’ve a shoulder of lamb in the oven for tonight’s dinner and it smells delicious. The vegetables are just waiting to be tipped into the roasting dish. I’ll be sneaking a slice or two before I dish up and putting between two slices of the fresh bread I bought from the bakery today slathered in butter, salt and pepper. That’s one of life’s guilty pleasures for me.

Enjoy your weekend!❤📚

First Lines Friday

Photo by Meszu00e1rcsek Gergely on Pexels.com

Welcome to First Lines Friday originally hosted by Reading is my SuperPower.

Instead of judging a book by its cover, here are the first few lines which I hope will make you want to read this book.

The day it was ordained that Gabriella Knowes would die, there were no harbingers, omens or owls’ calls. No tolling of bells. With the unquestioning courtesy of the well brought up, she invited death in.

Like what you’ve just read?

Want to read more?

These are the opening lines of one of my current reads, Overkill by Vanda Symon.

Book 1 in the PC Sam Shephard series. Action-packed, tension-filled and atmospheric police procedural set in rural New Zealand.

When the body of a young mother is found washed up on the banks of the Mataura River, a small rural community is rocked by her tragic suicide. But all is not what it seems. Sam Shephard, sole-charge police constable in Mataura, soon discovers the death was no suicide and has to face the realisation that there is a killer in town. To complicate the situation, the murdered woman was the wife of her former lover. When Sam finds herself on the list of suspects and suspended from duty, she must cast said her personal feelings and take matters into her own hands. To find the murderer… and clear her name. A taut, atmospheric and pageturning thriller, Overkill marks the start of an unputdownable and unforgettable series from one of New Zealand s finest crime writers.

Tempted?

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Good Sunday afternoon. We’ve had a lazy weekend and have accomplished very little. I don’t even have to think about dinner tonight as we’re off to a friend’s later this afternoon to watch the Supercar racing out of Australia and staying for dinner. I’m really looking forward to it.

I didn’t manage to accomplish much reading wise over the past week either. I have only managed to finish one of my six reads for review for the week, but will probably finish the second tonight.

Currently I am reading The Summer

And a book by a new to me New Zealand author, Vanda Symon. Loving it!

A killer targeting pregnant women.

A detective expecting her first baby…


The shocking murder of a heavily pregnant woman throws the New Zealand city of Dunedin into a tailspin, and the devastating crime feels uncomfortably close to home for Detective Sam Shephard as she counts down the days to her own maternity leave.

Confined to a desk job in the department, Sam must find the missing link between this brutal crime and a string of cases involving mothers and children in the past. As the pieces start to come together and the realisation dawns that the killer’ s actions are escalating, drastic measures must be taken to prevent more tragedy.

For Sam, the case becomes personal, when it becomes increasingly clear that no one is safe and the clock is ticking…

I am listening to The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly

I am hoping to catch up on the reads I didn’t get to last week as I have only one read for review due this week. It is Murder at the Willows by Jane Adams.

Meet Rina Martin, a retired actress with a taste for tea, gardening and crime solving.

She played a TV sleuth for years, but now she has to do it for real.

There’s something strange about the scene . . . Famous artist Elaine appears to have passed peacefully in her sleep as she rested against a tree in the garden of her home, the Willows. Her legs are outstretched, hands tenderly clutching a small blue flower.

But upon closer inspection, things don’t add up. Where is Elaine’s trusty walking stick? Why did she choose to slumber on the ground when there is a comfortable lounge chair nearby? Where did that blue flower come from? . . . not from her garden, that’s for sure.

The clues soon point to murder. Elaine was beloved by the community, who would do such a thing? Her grandson is determined to uncover the truth and hires Rina to investigate.

The trail leads Rina to a series of shocking secrets, stretching back over twenty years. And a murderer who has unfinished business . . . Can our favourite amateur sleuth catch this killer before it’s too late?

Suddenly, because I decided to stop requesting ARCs for review, several that were on my pending list were approved, and I received three widgets from publishers!🤣🤣🤣 Is someone in the great library in the sky trying to tell you something?

The three publishers widgets are:

Windmill Hill by Lucy Atkins

The People Watcher by Sam Lloyd

And Don’t Look Back by Jo Spain

Other ARCs I received via Netgalley are:

The Guest House by the Sea by Faith Hogan

A Cornish Seaside Murder by Fiona Leitch

A Lonesome Blood-Red Sun by David Putnam

and The Lucky Shamrock by Carolyn Brown

Oh, well, I was obviously meant to have these. 🤷‍♀️❤📚

Thanks to all of you who have been asking after Pete. We’re back to Oncology Monday when they will plot a detailed map of the cancer for the radiation treatment which will be starting in the next two to three weeks.

Have a great week of reading and I’ll be popping in whenever I can. 🤗❤📚

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

It’s been a lovely autumn day here in New Zealand. Cool overnight, which is lovely for sleeping, and in the mornings, but beautifully warm days. The evenings are also cool. The leaves are also starting to turn, much earlier than usual.

Photo by Meszu00e1rcsek Gergely on Pexels.com

Currently I am reading Old God’s Time by Sebastian Barry – lovely atmospheric Irish fiction.

And listening to The Gods of Guilt by Michael Connelly.

Mickey Haller gets the text, “Call me ASAP – 187,” and the California penal code for murder immediately gets his attention. Murder cases have the highest stakes and the biggest paydays, and they always mean Haller has to be at the top of his game.

When Mickey learns that the victim was his own former client, a prostitute he thought he had rescued and put on the straight and narrow path, he knows he is on the hook for this one. He soon finds out that she was back in LA and back in the life. Far from saving her, Mickey may have been the one who put her in danger.

Haunted by the ghosts of his past, Mickey must work tirelessly and bring all his skill to bear on a case that could mean his ultimate redemption or proof of his ultimate guilt.

This week I have seven titles to read for review and I know that I am not going to be able to complete them all, but I will do my best.

The Kind Worth Saving by Peter Swanson, which I am excited about.

There was always something slightly dangerous about Joan. So, when she turns up at private investigator Henry Kimball’s office asking him to investigate her husband, he can’t help feeling ill at ease. Just the sight of her stirs up a chilling memory: he knew Joan in his previous life as a high school English teacher, when he was at the center of a tragedy.

Now Joan needs his help in proving that her husband is cheating. But what should be a simple case of infidelity becomes much more complicated when Kimball finds two bodies in an uninhabited suburban home with a “for sale” sign out front. Suddenly it feels like the past is repeating itself, and Henry must go back to one of the worst days of his life to uncover the truth.

Is it possible that Joan knows something about that day, something she’s hidden all these years? Could there still be a killer out there, someone who believes they have gotten away with murder? Henry is determined to find out, but as he steps closer to the truth, a murderer is getting closer to him, and in this hair-raising game of cat and mouse only one of them will survive.

The Summer House by Keri Beevis

Mead House was once our childhood home.

Despite my fears, I always knew we would have to return to face the demons of our past.

Back to the place where it happened, to where, as carefree teenagers, we lost our elder sister in the most brutal of circumstances.

As executors of our grandmother’s will, my twin brother, Ollie, and I needed to empty the house for resale.

What I didn’t expect to discover was my sister’s secret journal that contained her most private thoughts and shocking dark secrets.

Now I am questioning everything that I saw that night. Did I get it wrong, who I saw?

Did my evidence send an innocent man, my then boyfriend’s brother, to jail for the last 17 years?

I know I have no choice. If I want to find answers, I will have to go back to that fateful night my sister died. When she made her last visit to the summer house.

Murder Visits a French Village by Susan C. Shea

Ariel Shepherd is devastated by the sudden loss of her husband, but nothing could have prepared her for inheriting the rundown French château they’d visited on their honeymoon four years ago. With finances tight she has no choice but to swap her Manhattan apartment and city lifestyle for a renovation project in a peaceful French village.

When Ariel hires an expert to help her uncover the legacy of her beautiful ruin, life only becomes more complicated. Christiane, the historian, is found dead in the moat, and although the local police aren’t suspicious, Ariel is. She joins two other ex-pats, Pippa and Katherine, to investigate, but with plenty of workmen – and errant tools – around the château, many people had the means, but who had the motive? Why would anyone want to kill a historian?

Ariel begins to suspect that her French village life will be anything but peaceful! Can she solve the suspicious murder and make her château in Burgundy the perfect new home?

A Gentle Murderer by Dorothy Salisbury Davis – a new author to me.

On a hot Saturday night in Manhattan, Father Duffy sits in a confessional, growing alarmed as he listens to the voice of a distraught young man who speaks of bloody hair and a dead woman and a compulsion to do things with a hammer that he does not understand. Before the priest can persuade the man to confess to the police, the killer flees, still clutching the hammer.

The next day, Father Duffy learns that a high-class call girl on the East Side has been savagely murdered, and no suspect has been found. As he searches for the disturbed young man who he fears will kill again, cerebral New York Police detective Sergeant Ben Goldsmith takes the lead in the investigation of the call-girl murder, racing against the clock to catch a very clever killer who, when enraged, cannot control his need to swing a hammer.

Dinner Party by Sarah Gilmartin, another new author.

To mark the anniversary of a death in the family, Kate meticulously plans a dinner party – from the fancy table setting to the perfect baked alaska waiting in the freezer. But by the end of the night, old tensions have flared, the guests are gone, and Kate is spinning out of control.

Set between from the 1990s and the present day, from Carlow to Dublin, the family farmhouse to Trinity College, Dinner Party is a beautifully observed, dark and twisty novel that thrillingly unravels into family secrets and tragedy.

The Only Suspect by Louise Candlish, an author I love.

Wrong time. Wrong place. Wrong man.
 
Alex lives a comfortable life with his wife Beth in the leafy suburb of Silver Vale. Fine, so he’s not the most sociable guy on the street, he prefers to keep himself to himself, but he’s a good husband and an easy-going neighbour.
 
That’s until Beth announces the creation of a nature trail on a local site that’s been disused for decades and suddenly Alex is a changed man. Now he’s always watching. Questioning. Struggling to hide his dread . . .
 
As the landscapers get to work, a secret threatens to surface from years ago, back in Alex’s twenties when he got entangled with a seductive young woman called Marina, who threw both their lives into turmoil.
 
And who sparked a police hunt for a murder suspect that was never quite what it seemed. It still isn’t.
 
No one else could have done it. Could they?

Apartment 303 by Kelli Hawkins, yet another new author to me.

Twenty-six-year-old Rory rarely leaves her apartment, though her little dog Buster keeps her company. Days are spent working for her aunt’s PI business, and watching and imagining histories for the homeless men, the Dossers, across the road. At night she walks Buster on the roof, gazes at the stars and wonders.

The night before New Year’s Eve, one of the Dossers is murdered, an incident which brings the world – police, new neighbours, her dark past and new possibilities – crashing through Rory’s front door.

She thought she was keeping her fears at bay. But has her sanctuary turned into her prison? Or is it safer for everyone if Rory stays locked away?

I have had no new ARCs this week. I haven’t requested any, and I have deleted a number titles from my pending list. I have also deleted a number of titles from my ARC list, but still have somewhere around 240 to read for review. But these are titles I really want to read.

After the video conference with Pete’s care team on Friday we now know that there is more cancer in his face, mainly in the area under his right eye. Because of the proximity to his eye it is going to require a multi-faceted approach. We have an appointment with the oncologist this coming Friday and, in conjunction with the surgeon, a plan of attack will be finalised.

Because of this, and increasing pressures at work, I have decided to take a break from posting every day. I hope to be able to continue with my weekly catch up, and to post reviews as I finish a read. I am currently only reading two books a week as I am so tired from running around and stress. I will still try to interact with you all, but it may not be possible every day, so please cut me some slack.

Thank you all for your understanding, and happy reading my friends.

The Mystery of Four by Sam Blake

EXCERPT: Almost midnight. The garden is ink black, as though it’s been washed with a brush, details of marble statues and sweeping steps picked out by the week moonlight.

Below, a bronze fountain cast in the likeness of Apollo splashes water into the lake, disturbing the stillness of the hour. Accompanied by the distant scream of a fox, the hoot of an owl, the night sounds meld into backdrop of what is to come.

“The stars move still, time runs, the clock will strike.”
Skirting the high granite wall, careful footsteps crunch on the gravel to the end of the path where towering gates stand open, wrought-iron flourishes picked out with golden ivy leaves, visible even in the darkness.

Now cutting across the neatly mown grass in front of the glasshouses, and through another set of matching gates.

Beyond, a series of rose beds and square ponds are linked like gems in a necklace along the formal Rose Walk, leading to the wishing well and the yew maze. On either side, crowded flower beds wait for the morning sunshine, their scent heavy, trapped in high walls covered in more roses, their stems entwined, thick with thorns.

A black shape slips into the foliage unseen, green eyes watching.

Almost there. This will be the last trip.

It’s been a long journey, the planning detailed, but there’s been a lot of time for that. Now, the last act will be easy.

ABOUT ‘THE MYSTERY OF FOUR’: Tess Morgan has finally made her dream of restoring beautiful Kilfenora House and Gardens into a reality.

But during rehearsals for the play that forms the opening weekend’s flagship event, her dream turns into a nightmare when a devastating accident looks set to ruin her carefully laid plans.

There are rumours that Kilfenora House is cursed, but this feels personal, and becomes increasingly terrifying when more than one body is discovered. Could someone be closing in on Tess herself?

Clarissa Westmacott, ex star of stage and screen, certainly believes so, particularly when she learns that purple-flowered aconite has been picked from the Poison Garden. And Clarissa will stop at nothing to protect the friend she has come to see as a daughter…

Four tragic accidents. Or four brutal murders? Unravel The Mystery of Four . . .

MY THOUGHTS: I enjoyed this quiet but engaging murder-mystery. I loved the atmosphere of Kilfenora House, and the characters involved, particularly Clarissa Westmacott, who turns out to be a star in more ways than one.

Now I have to admit that I guessed who was behind all the ‘accidents’ by the time I was a little over halfway through the book. But that didn’t impact on my enjoyment at all. I loved the journey to the rather satisfying end.

The characters are vividly portrayed. Tess is still grieving over the death of her fiance, and I could feel her grief, also her frustration and anguish at the endless stream of incidents that seem set to derail the grand opening of Kilfenora House to the public. On top of all that she has a true crime television crew wanting to dig up the grounds because they believe a serial killer may have buried at least one body there. I loved her response to the news – ‘This just keeps on getting better.’

Merlin the cat is another character of importance. He certainly has personality in spades and has a pivotal role in the solving of this slow-burn mystery.

Great characters, a setting oozing with atmosphere, and an engaging mystery makes this a no-brainer for mystery fans. This is the first book I have read by Sam Blake, and I’ll certainly be snapping up any more that come my way. I see she also has an impressive array of backtitles for me to get my teeth into.

I have listened to other audiobooks narrated by Aoife McMahon and always appreciate her talents. The Mystery of Four is another feather in her cap.

⭐⭐⭐⭐

#TheMysteryofFour #NetGalley

I: @samblakebooks @bolindaaudio

T: @samblakebooks @Bolindaaudio

#contemporaryfiction #crime #friendship #murdermystery

MEET THE AUTHOR: Sam Blake has been writing fiction since her husband set sail across the Atlantic for eight weeks, and she had an idea for a book.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Bolinda Audio via Netgalley for providing an audio ARC of The Mystery of Four, written by Sam Blake and narrated by Aoife McMahon, 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 is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

The Other Half by Charlotte Vassell

EXCERPT: The McDonald’s in Kentish Town had seen some sights, but this was something different. At 6 p.m. an elegant man strode through the automatic doors. Wing-collar shirt, cummerbund, and silk bow tie. Expensive shoes: Italian. They made a clipped noise when he walked, much like his vowels when he spoke. He strolled up to the counter and asked to speak to the manager. The server peered around him nervously, looking for a non-existent camera. The manager was dutifully found and propositioned like a comely whore. The gentleman, and there really couldn’t be another word for a man dressed in such a manner, was going to use the upstairs area – usually reserved for children’s parties on Saturday mornings – for a private gathering that evening. His guests were arriving at 7.30 p.m. and the staff were to bring food upstairs (the order had already been courteously written out in fastidious copper-plate) at 8 p.m. for them. They were not to be disturbed after that. The gentleman made it very clear that they were to be handsomely recompensed for their efforts, and their silence. No one who worked there was to mention it again and CCTV was to be turned off. The gentleman paid in cash – crisp £50 notes – and gave all the staff, including the poor, poor cleaner, who would have to deal with the true horrors tomorrow morning, a nice little tip for all the trouble he was about to cause.

ABOUT ‘THE OTHER HALF’: The night before
Rupert’s 30th is a black tie dinner at the Kentish Town McDonald’s – catered with cocaine and Veuve Clicquot.

The morning after
His girlfriend Clemmie is found murdered on Hampstead Heath. All the party-goers have alibis. Naturally.

This investigation is going to be about Classics degrees and aristocrats, Instagram influencers and who knows who. Or is it whom? Detective Caius Beauchamp isn’t sure. He’s sharply dressed, smart, and as into self-improvement as Clemmie – but as he searches for the dark truth beneath the luxury, a wall of staggering wealth threatens to shut down his investigation before it’s begun.

Can he see through the tangled set of relationships in which the other half live, and die, before the case is taken out of his hands?

MY THOUGHTS: Clever, complex, and witty, there’s nothing not to love about The Other Half, including the characters. Some I loved, some I vacillated about, and others I intensely disliked.

Rupert is at the centre of this story; titled and entitled, he is obscenely wealthy, misogynistic, and manipulative. His girlfriend (I use this word loosely, perhaps limpet might be a more apt description) Clemmie, has a token job at an art gallery, and is an ‘influencer’. She desperately wants to marry Rupert for the title and the country pile he will inherit when his grandfather dies. Rupert is enamoured with Nell, who is considered ‘unsuitable’. Alex also loves Nell, who has just parted ways with Caspar. There are various other double and triple-barreled surnamed characters, and women named Minty and . . . well, you get the picture. Everyone is connected to everyone through schools, blood and godparents. There’s no six degrees of separation here.

On other side, Detective Caius Beauchamp, who shares a surname, albeit pronounced differently, with Rupert, regrets his lack of classical education and has set about rectifying this deficit. He’s also cleansing his body and pining for Heloise, who recently unceremoniously dumped him. He is ably assisted in his investigations by Matt Cheung, intent on sabotaging Caius’s clean eating regime, and Amy Noakes, a computer whiz.

Throughout this read I was rooting for Nell, whom I quite liked except for her abysmal taste in men. Alex. And of course for Caius, who is extremely likeable.

But who killed Clemmie (dubbed Plegm by Nell)? I wanted it to be Rupert. I was scared it was Nell.

This was a fun read. I honestly hope that this is going to be developed into a series. I want more of Caius – his team and his personal life. He’s a refreshing gem. And I am sure Charlotte Vassell can dream up plenty more aristocratic prats to write about and entertain us with.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.4

#TheOtherHalf #NetGalley

I: @vassellcharlotte @faberbooks

T: @CharlotteVas17 @FaberBooks

#contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #murdermystery #romance

MEET THE AUTHOR: Charlotte Vassell studied History at the University of Liverpool and completed a Masters in Art History at the School of Oriental and African Studies, before training as an actor at Drama Studio London. Other than treading the boards Charlotte has also worked in advertising, as a head-hunter, and as a purveyor of silk top hats.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Faber and Faber via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Other Half by Charlotte Vassell 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 is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

Another week down and dusted.

We’ve had Luke for the weekend and he has just gone home. He fell off the swing at school the Friday before last and broke his right wrist. It doesn’t seem to worry him at all except this morning when he wanted to play tennis. I explained that I didn’t think it was a good idea or that he would be able to, but . . . he tried, couldn’t, and had a meltdown. He was soon distracted by a couple of Oreos and the basketball hoop. He managed to score 42 times and was quite happy. I,on the other hand, am exhausted. Although I am doing aquarobics and walking when the weather permits, I am obviously unfit. I haven’t played tennis at all this summer, and it shows. I need to get back into it.

I am currently reading Life or Death by Michael Robotham, an Australian author I love. This is a paperback copy I picked up in a charity shop. Robotham always manages to draw me in with his beautifully crafted characters and his intriguing plots. Life or Death is no exception and I can’t wait to find out why Audie Palmer has escaped from prison the day before he is due to be released.

I am almost finished listening to Midnight at the Blackbird Café. I adore Heather Webber’s writing and have been savouring this. I will probably finish this tomorrow.

This week I am hoping to read four books: A Mischief of Rats by Sarah Yarwood-Lovett.

When a driver dies during a glamourous classic car event at her family’s estate, Dr Nell Ward is in a race against time to uncover the truth and prevent the killer from making a speedy getaway…

Back in her natural habitat, Dr Nell Ward heads to a woodland pond to survey local newt populations. She’s shocked to discover a car submerged in the water – with the driver dead behind the wheel.

Nell recognises the dead man as professional racing driver, and tabloid love rat, Jack Rafferty, whose performance on (and off) Finchmere’s racetrack had earned him enemies.

Suspecting this isn’t the tragic accident it appears DI James Clark calls upon Nell and her ecological skills to help find the murderer. But she soon finds that more lurks under the surface than she could ever have imagined. Despite the danger, Nell is determined to dredge up the truth from the murky depths of this case, before it’s too late…

The Holiday Home by Daniel Hurst. I have both Kindle and audio format for this so will switch from one to the other.

I sit sipping champagne in the warm water, bubbles frothing around me as I admire the breath-taking view of gorgeous blue skies and mountains. I can’t believe I’m here, at this stunning holiday home. It’s to die for…

My best friend and her husband have invited me and my family to their lakeside property for the weekend, to experience their luxury lifestyle. I’m not envious of their wealth, although I know my husband Ryan is. All I want is to escape from our recent troubles and get my marriage back on track.

Then I overhear Ryan having a whispered conversation late one evening, and he says something that sends a shiver down my spine. In this beautiful paradise my whole world is turned upside down.

Just when I think things can’t get any worse, I discover a second secret. The truth is even more shocking than I imagine, and now I have no idea who to trust.

This was meant to be the perfect holiday, but someone isn’t going to survive it…

The Close by Jane Casey. I read this author’s previous book and loved it.

At first glance, Jellicoe Close seems to be a perfect suburban street – well-kept houses with pristine lawns, neighbours chatting over garden fences, children playing together.

But there are dark secrets behind the neat front doors, hidden dangers that include a ruthless criminal who will stop at nothing.

It’s up to DS Maeve Kerrigan and DI Josh Derwent to uncover the truth. Posing as a couple, they move into the Close, blurring the lines between professional and personal as never before.

And while Maeve and Josh try to gather the evidence they need, they have no idea of the danger they face – because someone in Jellicoe Close has murder on their mind.

Old God’s Time by Sebastian Barry, a new author to me.

Recently retired policeman Tom Kettle is settling into the quiet of his new home, a lean-to annexed to a Victorian castle overlooking the Irish Sea. For months he has barely seen a soul, catching only glimpses of his eccentric landlord and a nervous young mother who has moved in next door. Occasionally, fond memories return, of his family, his beloved wife June and their two children, Winnie and Joe.

But when two former colleagues turn up at his door with questions about a decades-old case, one which Tom never quite came to terms with, he finds himself pulled into the darkest currents of his past.

I have received two new ARCs through Netgalley this week. They are:

The Fall by Gilly Macmillan

The Monk by Tim Sullivan, another new author to me.

I am seriously considering taking an hiatus, or even a semi-hiatus, of indeterminate length. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed with dealing with Peter’s health problems and ongoing problems at work. Things will hopefully become clearer after his video-conference with his care team on Friday and I will wait until after this to make my final decision. So if I miss a post or two in the interim, or am not interacting with you as normal please understand why. I am struggling to concentrate on what I am reading and feel like I don’t have an original thought in my head when it comes to writing reviews. Thanks for your understanding.

Happy reading all.

Cheers

Sandy

The Mysterious of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett

EXCERPT: You have a key that opens a safe deposit box.

Inside is a bundle of documents, archived research material for a book that has just been published.

You must read it all and make a decision.
EITHER:
Replace the documents and the box, then throw the key where it will never be found . . .
OR: Take everything to the police.

ABOUT ‘THE MYSTERIOUS CASE OF THE ALPERTON ANGELS’: Open the safe deposit box. Inside you will find research material for a true crime book. You must read the documents, then make a decision. Will you destroy them? Or will you take them to the police?

Everyone knows the story of the Alperton Angels: the cult-like group who were convinced one of their member’s babies was the anti-Christ, and they had a divine mission to kill it – until the baby’s mother, Holly, came to her senses and called the police. The Angels committed suicide rather than go to prison, and Holly – and the baby – disappeared into the care system.

Nearly two decades later, true-crime author Amanda Bailey is writing a book on the Angels. The Alperton baby has turned eighteen and can finally be interviewed – if Amanda can find them, it will be the true-crime scoop of the year, and will save her flagging career. But rival author Oliver Menzies is just as smart, better connected, and is also on the baby’s trail.

As Amanda and Oliver are forced to collaborate, they realise that what everyone thinks they know about the Angels is wrong, and the truth is something much darker and stranger than they’d ever imagined.

This story is far from over – and it won’t have a happy ending.

MY THOUGHTS: DNF @ 53%

I began intrigued by the opening page. Early on I expressed my doubts about the format of the book which is told entirely in transcripts of interviews, phone conversations, WhatsApp, emails and various other documents.

Because of the format used, it’s very drawn out, there’s no clear storyline and a confusing multitude of characters, and I use this word loosely as we never actually meet any of them, who may or may not reappear later in the book.

By the time I abandoned this read I had no idea what was going on and really didn’t care.

This book may well appeal to true crime readers.

#TheMysteriousCaseoftheAlpertonAngels #NetGalley.

I: @janice.hallett @serpentstail

T: @JaniceHallett @ViperBooks

#contemporaryfiction #crime #cultfiction #historicalfiction #murdermystery #mystery

THE AUTHOR: Janice Hallett is a former magazine editor, award-winning journalist, and government communications writer. Her enthusiasm for travel has taken her around the world several times.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Serpent’s Tail/Viper/Profile Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett 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 is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and Goodreads.com