Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner

EXCERPT: This is how most cases start. With a bubble of desperate hope and tentative trust. Where things go from here, how Guerline and Emmanuel might view me months from now . . .

Emmanuel walks me back downstairs. He doesn’t speak a word, relying on the rigid set of his shoulders to radiate disapproval.

‘You love Angelique,’ I state softly when we reach the lobby. She’s a good older sister. She looks out for you.’

He glares at me, but I see a bright sheen in his eyes. The pain he’s trying hard not to show.

‘You really done this before?’ he asks roughly.

‘Many times.’

‘How many people have you actually found?’

‘Fourteen.’

He purses his lips, clearly taken aback by that number.

‘Goodnight Emmanuel. And if you think of anything I should know.’ I stick out my hand. This time he takes it.

Then I exit the triple, out into the crisp fall night, where the sun has set. Bright lights wink in the distance. But on this block no streetlights are working. Not the best idea for a lone woman to be walking around after dark, but I hardly have a choice.

I square my shoulders and head briskly back toward Stoney’s, grateful it hadn’t occurred to Emmanuel to ask the next logical question.

Not just how many people I’d found, but how many people I’d found alive.

None.

At least, not yet.

ABOUT: ‘BEFORE SHE DISAPPEARED’: Frankie Elkin is an average middle-aged woman, a recovering alcoholic with more regrets than belongings. But she spends her life doing what no one else will–searching for missing people the world has stopped looking for. When the police have given up, when the public no longer remembers, when the media has never paid attention, Frankie starts looking.

A new case brings her to Mattapan, a Boston neighborhood with a rough reputation. She is searching for Angelique Badeau, a Haitian teenager who vanished from her high school months earlier. Resistance from the Boston PD and the victim’s wary family tells Frankie she’s on her own–and she soon learns she’s asking questions someone doesn’t want answered. But Frankie will stop at nothing to discover the truth, even if it means the next person to go missing could be her.

MY THOUGHTS: Can someone please explain to me how and why I have never previously read anything by this author of twenty books? Because I am sure I don’t know. What I do know is – that is about to change!

Before She Disappeared is the first of two books featuring Frankie Elkin, an alcoholic with enough baggage to make a porter shudder. She keeps her demons at bay by focusing her energies on investigating disappearances that are cold cases.
To fund her search, she tends bar, something she is very good at. She regularly attends AA meetings, and has nightmares that gave me the willies just reading about them, never mind having them invade my sleep night after night. And just in case that isn’t enough, she is sharing her accommodation with Piper, an attack cat, and just one more to add to the list resenting Frankie’s intrusion.

Frankie doesn’t endear herself to the police, who resent her involvement and accuse her of many things including trying to rip off the families of the missing. But what Frankie has on her side is a kind and caring heart and the ability to ask the right questions.

Before She Disappeared is a fast paced and gripping story that kept me immersed throughout as the search for one missing girl turns into a search for two missing girls; the second never reported missing by her family or her school. As Frankie slowly builds up a picture of Angelique’s life, little snippets of Frankie’s back story are revealed.

This is a story that has something for everyone. There are two incredibly bright and talented young girls, living in poverty in a crime ridden Boston neighbourhood, determined to rise above their backgrounds and make something of themselves. So there is hope. There are thrills as Frankie is warned off her endeavours to find Angelique and Livia. There are chills and dread as it becomes apparent just how vulnerable these young girls are. There is sadness, and joy. Mystery, crime and suspense. The characters are realistic and beautifully crafted, their stories ones that happen every day. Gardner has taken these stories and written a moving and thrilling book that highlights the plight of the ‘forgotten’ missing – those who come from a background of poverty, from high crime areas where the police have more important issues to deal with than looking for some teenage girl who has probably run of with some boy.

This is no ordinary missing person story!

Gardner’s author notes at the end of the book are worth reading as she explains what inspired her to write Before She Disappeared.

I may be late discovering this author, but I now have a lot of backtitles to catch up on. And Frankie Elkin #2 to look forward to.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#BeforeSheDisappeared #NetGalley

I: @lisagardnerbks @randomhouse

T: @LisaGardnerBks @RandomHouse

#contemporaryfiction #crime #mystery #suspense #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Lisa Gardner, a #1 New York Times bestselling thriller novelist, began her career in food service, but after catching her hair on fire numerous times, she took the hint and focused on writing instead. A self-described research junkie, she has transformed her interest in police procedure and criminal minds into a streak of internationally acclaimed novels, published across 30 countries.

Lisa lives in New Hampshire where she spends her time with an assortment of canine companions. When not writing, she loves to hike, garden, snowshoe and play cribbage.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Random House UK, Cornerstone, Century via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner 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 Best Mystery Stories of the Year: 2021 edited by Lee Child and Otto Penzler

EXCERPT: taken from 30 and Out by Doug Allyn

The sign on the door read Sgt. Charles Marx, Major Crimes. I raised my fist to knock, then realised the guy at the desk wasn’t just resting his eyes. He was totally out, slouched in his chair, his grubby Nikes up on his desk, baseball cap tipped down over his eyes, snoring softly. Looked like a Class C wrestling coach after a losing season. Edging in quietly, I eased down into the chair facing his desk. When I glanced up, his eyes were locked on mine like lasers.

‘Can I help you?’

‘I’m Jax LaDart, Sergeant Marx. Your FNG.’

He frowned at that, then nodded. ‘The f*****g new guy,’ he said, massaging his eyelids with his fingertips. ‘Ah, right. You’re the home boy the chief hired, straight out of the army. I was reading your record. It put me to sleep.’ He spun the Dell laptop on his desk to show me the screen. ‘According to the Military Police, you’ve closed a lot of felony cases overseas, but the details are mostly redacted, blacked out.’

‘The army’d classify Three Blind Mice if they could. You don’t remember me, do you?’

ABOUT ‘THE MYSTERIOUS BOOKSHOP PRESENTS THE BEST MYSTERY STORIES OF THE YEAR: 2021: Under the auspices of New York City’s legendary mystery fiction specialty bookstore, The Mysterious Bookshop, and aided by Edgar Award-winning anthologist Otto Penzler, international bestseller Lee Child has selected the twenty most suspenseful, most confounding, and most mysterious short stories from the past year, collected now in one entertaining volume.

Includes stories by:

Alison Gaylin
David Morrell
James Lee Burke
Joyce Carol Oates
Martin Edwards
Sara Paretsky
Stephen King
Sue Grafton (with a new, posthumously-published work!)

And many more!

MY THOUGHTS: There are a couple of absolutely brilliant stories in here – Sue Grafton’s ‘If You Want Something Done Right . . .’ and Stephen King’s ‘The Fifth Step’ are the two that stood out for me. Others that I enjoyed were: ‘The Locked Cabin’ by Martin Edwards, Janice Law’s ‘The Client’, and David Morrell’s ‘Requiem For A Homecoming.’ There was one story I absolutely detested – Parole Hearing by Joyce Carol Oates, and I didn’t much care for David Marcum’s ‘The Home Office Baby’ either, or the first two stories which were ‘tough guy’ fiction and almost completely put me off reading any more of the collection. The rest fell somewhere in the middle and were mostly quite mediocre.

This is by no means anywhere near my favourite collection. Quite a few, I zoned out of as I was listening, and had to return to. They just didn’t hold my interest; absolutely no reflection on the narrators who, on the whole did an excellent job.

I know 2020 was a difficult year for all, but I am sure that there were far better mystery stories out there that could have been included in this collection.

⭐⭐⭐

#TheBestMysteryStoriesoftheYear2021 #NetGalley

#audiobook #contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #murdermystery #mystery #shortstories

Edited by Lee Child and Otto Penzler

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Highbridge Audio via Netgalley for providing an audio ARC of The Best Mystery Stories of the Year:2021 edited by Lee Child and Otto Penzler 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

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’re anything but. Even on vacation, tensions can bubble beneath the surface, and when the end of the line leads to murder, everyone’s a suspect.

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

⭐⭐⭐⭐

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 (1879–1950), called Madge, who was eleven years Agatha’s senior, and Louis Montant Miller (1880–1929), 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

Bibliomysteries Volume 1 edited by Otto Penzler

EXCERPT: They’d met last night for the first time and now, mid-morning, they were finally starting to let go a bit, to relax, to trust each other. Almost to trust each other.

Such is the way it works when you are partnered with a stranger on a mission to kill. (An Acceptable Sacrifice by Jeffrey Deaver)

ABOUT ‘BIBLIOMYSTERIES Volume One’: If you open your dictionary, you will discover that there is no such word as “bibliomystery.” However, most mystery readers know that the word refers to a mystery story that involves the world of books: a bookshop, a rare volume, a library, a collector, or a bookseller.

The stories in this unique collection were commissioned by the Mysterious Bookshop. They were written by some of the mystery genre’s most distinguished authors. Tough guys like Ken Bruen, Reed Farrel Coleman, Loren D. Estleman, and Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins. Bestsellers like Nelson DeMille, Anne Perry, and Jeffery Deaver. Edgar winners such as C. J. Box, Thomas H. Cook, and Laura Lippman.

Here you will discover Sigmund Freud dealing with an unwelcome visitor; Columbo confronting a murderous bookseller; a Mexican cartel kingpin with a fatal weakness for rare books; and deadly secrets deep in the London Library; plus books with hidden messages, beguiling booksellers, crafty collectors, and a magical library that is guaranteed to enchant you. The stories have been published in seven languages—one has sold more than 250,000 copies as an e-book (“The Book Case” by Nelson DeMille)—and another won the Edgar Allan Poe Award as the Best Short Story of the Year (“The Caxton Lending Library and Book Depository” by John Connolly).

MY THOUGHTS: This is a mostly excellent collection of short stories with books and mysteries at their centre. There is a mix of contemporary and historical fiction. There were a couple of stories that I felt weren’t really mysteries at all, but the high quality of the others eclipsed them.

My favourite story was ‘The Book of Virtue’ by Ken Bruen; the story I liked the least was ‘The Final Testament’ by Peter Blaumer.

The stories are: An Acceptable Sacrifice by Jeffrey Deaver ⭐⭐⭐
Pronghorns of the Third Reich by C.J. Box ⭐⭐⭐
The Book of Virtue by Ken Bruen ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Book of Ghosts by Reed Farrell Coleman ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Final Testament by Peter Blaumer ⭐⭐
What’s in a Name by Thomas H. Cook ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Book Club by Lauren D. Estleman ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Death Leaves a Bookmark by William Link ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Book Thing by Laura Lippman ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Scroll by Anne Perry ⭐⭐⭐.5
It’s In the Book by Mickey Spillane and Max Allen Collins ⭐⭐⭐.5
The Long Sonata of the Dead by Andrew Taylor ⭐⭐⭐.5
Rides a Stranger by David Bell ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Caxton Lending Library and Book Depository by John Connolly ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
The Book Case by Nelson De Mille ⭐⭐⭐

David Thomas May did an excellent job of narrating the stories. He had an awful lot of different voices to portray and did so admirably.

Please note: some books are harmed in the telling of these stories.

Overall a ⭐⭐⭐⭐.6 rating

#BibliomysteriesVolume1HighBridgeAudio #NetGalley

EDITOR: Otto Penzler is an editor of mystery fiction in the United States, and proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop in New York City, where he lives.

Otto Penzler founded The Mysteriour Press in 1975 and was the publisher of The Armchair Detective, the Edgar-winning quarterly journal devoted to the study of mystery and suspense fiction, for seventeen years.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to HighBridge Audio via Netgalley for providing an audio ARC of Bibliomysteries Volume 1 for review. Publication date 05 January 2021.

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!

⭐⭐⭐⭐.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