Watching What I’m Reading . . .

Storm clouds are gathering. The weather that has flooded New South Wales this week is due to hit New Zealand tonight. The sunrise this morning was spectacular, but I’m afraid that I just lay in bed and enjoyed it this morning. I did think about leaping out of bed and grabbing the camera, but my body wasn’t listening 🤷‍♀️

Currently I am reading Small Town Secrets by Alys Murray, which is absolutely delightful! This is a book that I requested because the cover appealed, but it is definitely a winner. It’s a light romance with a few life lessons. I love the characters, who are well developed, quirky, and believable.

I am listening to Partners in Crime by Stuart MacBride, (Logan McRae 6.5-7.5) I love this author’s sense of humour.

I am also reading The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman. This is another book peopled by characters I love. This is the April group read for the ‘All About Books’ Goodreads.com group. This would make an excellent movie.

This week I am planning on reading Syrian Brides by Anna Halabi. The author provided me with an ARC.

This delightful collection of short stories offers insight into the lives of Syrian women, both the married and the brides-to-be. It reveals the warmth and humor as well as the oppression in the Syrian society. The stories make the reader laugh while addressing serious issues such as domestic violence.
Um Hussam can’t find a suitable bride for her son, testing each candidate’s sight, hearing and reading skills, occasionally cobbing a feel. Jamila’s husband Hassan can’t forget his deceased wife, until she makes sure he never mentions her again. Rami can’t help but wonder whether his new bride is a natural beauty or a talented surgeon’s masterpiece. Khadija’s maid stabs her in the back while Rana’s husband Muafak can’t find the right excuse to avoid a fight. 

And Of Magpies and Men by Ode Ray. This is also an author ARC.

Can any good come of longings that a person can never satisfy? If so, good for whom?

Two corpses wash ashore in a picturesque Italian village, the violence that put them there is bound to a long-held secret and two strangers living worlds apart with seemingly nothing in common.

Benedict Grant a wealthy Londoner, leading a lonely life.

Marie Boulanger a nurse and single mum, struggling to make ends meet in Marseille.

However, a mother’s illicit revelation will set in motion a chain of events that will reshape their identities, stir poignant family affairs and delve into the by-products of lawless decisions.

I am possibly being a little ambitious this week as it is the end of our financial year so there’s a lot of extra work to be done.

I received three new Netgalley ARCs this week:

The Last Night in London by Karen White

My Little Girl by Shalini Boland

and The Whispers by Heidi Perks

What are you planning on reading this week? I have three reviews I need to write, but as I am having trouble stringing my thoughts together coherently, I will wait until the morning to make a start, and hope that get a good night’s sleep tonight.

Has anyone else had any trouble downloading the audiobook Mrs Wiggins? I have made several unsuccessful attempts to download it to my ipod. It jams at around 10% and goes no further. I haven’t had this problem with any of the other audiobooks I have downloaded from Netgalley.

Have a wonderful week everyone!❤📚

Raven Black by Ann Cleeves

EXCERPT: It was the colours that caught her attention. Often the colours on the Island were subtle, olive green, mud brown, sea grey and all softened by mist. In the full sunlight of early morning, this picture was stark and vibrant. The harsh white of the snow. Three shapes, silhouetted. Ravens. In her painting they would be angular shapes, cubist almost. Birds roughly carved from hard black wood. And then that splash of colour. Red, reflecting the scarlet ball of the sun.

She left the sledge at the side of the track and crossed the field to see the scene more closely. There was a gate from the road. The snow stopped her pushing it open so she climbed it. A stone wall split the field in two, but in places it had collapsed and there was a gap big enough for a tractor to get through. As she grew nearer the perspective shifted, but that didn’t bother her. She had the paintings fixed firmly in her mind. She expected the ravens to fly off, had even been hoping to see them in flight. The sight of them aloft, the wedge shaped tail tilted to hold each steady, would inform her image of them on the ground.

Her concentration was so fierce, and everything seemed unreal here, surrounded by the reflected light which made her head swim, that she walked right up to the sight before realizing exactly what she was seeing. Until then everything was just form and colour. Then the vivid red turned into a scarf. The grey coat and the white flesh merged into the background of the snow which wasn’t so clean here. The ravens were pecking at a girl’s face. One of the eyes had disappeared.

Fran recognized the young woman, even in this altered, degraded state. The birds had fluttered away briefly as she had approached but now, as she stood motionless, watching, they returned. Suddenly she screamed, so loudly that she could feel the strain in the back of her throat and clapped her hands to send the birds circling into the sky. But she couldn’t move from the spot.

It was Catherine Ross. There was a red scarf tight around her neck, the fringe spread like blood in the snow.

ABOUT ‘RAVEN BLACK’: Raven Black begins on New Year’s Eve with a lonely outcast named Magnus Tait, who stays home waiting for visitors who never come. But the next morning the body of a murdered teenage girl is discovered nearby, and suspicion falls on Magnus. Inspector Jimmy Perez enters an investigative maze that leads deeper into the past of the Shetland Islands than anyone wants to go.

MY THOUGHTS: I love Ann Cleeves writing. She certainly knows how to set an atmosphere. Set in the Shetland Islands, she has recreated the claustrophobic atmosphere of the islands and the people who live there.

Raven Black is the first book in Cleeves’ Shetland series featuring Detective Jimmy Perez who, despite his name, was born in the islands.

Cleeves characters are very real. Perez has some personal decisions to make, as does Fran,who discovered the bodies. Yes, there is more than one. Everyone from Magnus, the reclusive old man accused of murdering a girl who disappeared some years earlier, to Catherine Ross, the girl found murdered on the hillside near Magnus’s home, are depicted so well that I could visualise them, and hear them speak.

Raven Black is an excellent murder mystery, one that kept me guessing to the end. There are several twists and surprises along the way that enhanced the plot.

I had, some years ago, watched the TV series both of Shetland and Vera and I can heartily recommend both, along with the books.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.3

#RavenBlack #anncleeves #panmacmillan

@AnnCleeves @panmacmillan

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

THE AUTHOR: Ann grew up in the country, first in Herefordshire, then in North Devon. Her father was a village school teacher. After dropping out of university she took a number of temporary jobs – child care officer, women’s refuge leader, bird observatory cook, auxiliary coastguard – before going back to college and training to be a probation officer.

While she was cooking in the Bird Observatory on Fair Isle, she met her husband Tim, a visiting ornithologist. She was attracted less by the ornithology than the bottle of malt whisky she saw in his rucksack when she showed him his room. Soon after they married, Tim was appointed as warden of Hilbre, a tiny tidal island nature reserve in the Dee Estuary. They were the only residents, there was no mains electricity or water and access to the mainland was at low tide across the shore. If a person’s not heavily into birds – and Ann isn’t – there’s not much to do on Hilbre and that was when she started writing. Her first series of crime novels features the elderly naturalist, George Palmer-Jones. A couple of these books are seriously dreadful.

In 1987 Tim, Ann and their two daughters moved to Northumberland and the north east provides the inspiration for many of her subsequent titles. The girls have both taken up with Geordie lads. In the autumn of 2006, Ann and Tim finally achieved their ambition of moving back to the North East.

DISCLOSURE: I own my copy of Raven Black written by Ann Cleeves and published by Pan Macmillan. I read Raven Black for the Goodreads.com Crime, Mysteries and Thrillers March 2021 Mysteries for a cold winter’s night group read. 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 . . .

I am sitting in the shelter of the windbreak on our deck enjoying the heat of the sun on my back. It’s been a real mixed bag weatherwise today. We have had heavy downpours, strong winds and it was really cold overnight. I can always tell how cold it is by where Tighe, our cat, chooses to sleep. Last night it was on my raspberry mohair throw on the end of our bed. And she was in no hurry to move this morning. Neither was I, but I had to go to work so I had no choice.

After work Pete took me out for a late lunch in Otorohanga, the next town north of here, where he works. The Thirsty Weta has recently changed hands and has been beautifully renovated. We had a delicious lunch; fish and chips for him, and I had chili prawns and a glass of pinot gris as I wasn’t driving.

I think we will just be having something light for dinner tonight, eggs on toast, or toasted sandwiches.

I finished A Home Like Ours by Fiona Lowe in the early hours of this morning and will be posting my review tomorrow.

I am currently listening to Everything is Beautiful by Eleanor Ray.

And reading Raven Black by Ann Cleeves for my Goodreads.com Mystery, Crime and Thriller group read.

This is the first in her Shetland series featuring Detective Jimmy Perez. I love her writing and am finding it hard to put this down. I will probably have finished it before the group read officially starts on the Street 15th (the ides of March?)

This week I am planning on reading Call Me Elizabeth Lark by Melissa Colisanti, an author I haven’t previously read.

Twenty years ago, Myra Barkley’s daughter disappeared from the rocky beach across from the family inn, off the Oregon coast. Ever since, Myra has waited at the front desk for her child to come home. One rainy afternoon, the miracle happens–her missing daughter, now twenty-eight years old with a child of her own, walks in the door.

Elizabeth Lark is on the run with her son. She’s just killed her abusive husband and needs a place to hide. Against her better judgment, she heads to her hometown and stops at the Barkley Inn. When the innkeeper insists that Elizabeth is her long lost daughter, the opportunity for a new life, and more importantly, the safety of her child, is too much for Elizabeth to pass up. But she knows that she isn’t the Barkleys’s daughter, and the more deeply intertwined she becomes with the family, the harder it becomes to confess the truth.

Except the Barkley girl didn’t just disappear on her own. As the news spreads across the small town that the Barkley girl has returned, Elizabeth suddenly comes into the limelight in a dangerous way, and the culprit behind the disappearance those twenty years ago is back to finish the job.

And The Incredible Winston Browne by Sean Dietrich

In the small, sleepy town of Moab, Florida, folks live for ice cream socials, Jackie Robinson, and the local paper’s weekly gossip column. For decades, Sheriff Winston Browne has watched over Moab with a generous eye, and by now he’s used to handling the daily dramas that keep life interesting for Moab’s quirky residents. But just after Winston receives some terrible, life-altering news, a feisty little girl with mysterious origins shows up in his best friend’s henhouse. Suddenly Winston has a child in desperate need of protection—as well as a secret of his own to keep.

With the help of Moab’s goodhearted townsfolk, the humble and well-meaning Winston Browne still has some heroic things to do. He finds romance, family, and love in unexpected places. He stumbles upon adventure, searches his soul, and grapples with the past. In doing so, he just might discover what a life well-lived truly looks like.

This week I have two new ebook ARCs, and one audiobook from Netgalley.

The Rising Tide by Sam Lloyd

And audiobook The Good Neighbour by R.J. Parker

So that’s my lot for today. Let me know what you’re reading and what new books have found their way into your TBR piles.

We are back to the new normal as from 6am today, so just recording where we’ve been with whom, social distancing from people we don’t know and sanitize, sanitize, sanitize! I hope restrictions are also easing wherever you are. ❤📚

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. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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

Watching what I’m reading…2021!

Here we are, 3 days into 2021 already, and nothing much seems to have changed except my back yard looks much tidier than it has for ages. I have olives forming on my olive tree for the first time, and my avocado tree which bore 9 avocado last year is absolutely laden! I need to get a watering system up to that corner of the garden as the hose doesn’t reach and, apparently, if they don’t get enough water they will just drop their fruit.

Is anyone else having difficulty referring to 2020 as last year? I am still referring to 2019 as last year!

I was reading in the early hours of New Year’s Day, a paperback as my Kindle was on the charger, and decided that I really did need some sleep when I started tapping the right hand side of the page and wondering why it wasn’t going to the next page! 🤷‍♀️🤦‍♀️😂🤣❤📚

Currently I am reading The Wrong Family by Tarryn Fisher on my Kindle and all I can say is wow! It’s making the back of my neck tingle in anticipation. The Wrong Family is due for publication 6 January. Order your copy now!

I am halfway through reading the paperback of Force of Nature (Aaron Falk #2) by Australian author Jane Harper. So far I am enjoying it even more than The Dry.

I am currently listening to Blue Genes by Val McDermid, #5 in the Kate Brannigan series. I haven’t previously read or listened to any of this series, but that isn’t impacting my enjoyment at all.

This week I plan on reading Family by Owen Mullen

Family – might be the death of you…
The Glass family business is crime, and they’re good at what they do. Vengeance took Luke Glass behind bars – but now he’s free and he’s never going back. Luke wants out of the gangster life – all he has to do is convince his family to let him go.

His brother holds the reins of the South London underworld in his brutal hands – nobody tells Danny Glass no and expects to live – not even DCI Oliver Stanford, bent copper and one of the Met’s rising stars. The way Danny sees it, his younger brother and sister Nina owe him everything. The price he demands is loyalty, and a war with their arch enemy gives him the leverage he needs to tie Luke to the family once more.

Luke can’t see a way out, until Danny commits a crime so terrible it can’t be forgiven. Love turns to hate when secrets are unearthed which pit brother against brother. Left with no choice but to choose a side, Nina holds the fate of the family in her hands.

And Your Neighbour’s Wife by Tony Parsons

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 …

Only one Netgalley ARC this week, and that’s an audiobook, Bibliomysteries, A must-listen collection of thirteen bibliomysteries by bestselling and award-winning authors Bibliomysteries Volume 1 includes: – “An Acceptable Sacrifice” by Jeffery Deaver – “The Final Testament” by Peter Blauner – “What’s in a Name?” by Thomas H. Cook – “Book Club” by Loren D. Estleman – and many others

Thank you Carla! I will be starting this as soon as I finish Blue Genes, probably tomorrow.

Enjoy whatever is left of your holiday period and keep calm, we survived 2020.

Watching what I’m reading…

Currently I am sitting on the deck enjoying the view and the birdsong. There is a gentle breeze, it’s not overly hot, and I feel very relaxed (lazy!) Peter mowed the lawns and tidied the vegetable garden while I was at work this morning, there is a cake baking in the oven, and my neighbour has dropped over some bok choy which I will use in a stir fry for dinner tonight. My Christmas shopping is all sorted, just the wrapping to do now. Oh yes, and find the Christmas lights, which are who knows where….I haven’t actually seen them in the eighteen months since we moved.

Currently I am reading Consolation by Garry Disher, #3 in the excellent Australian crime series based around country cop Paul Hirschausen.

I am also almost half way through A Dark so Deadly by Stuart MacBride. I love his dark humour.

And I am listening to The Ghost Fields #7 in Elly Griffiths Ruth Galloway series.

I only have one read for review due this week, The Birthday Weekend, previously titled Our Little Secret, by Lesley Sanderson. I will read this after I finish Consolation.

Dear Louise. It’s time we all put the past behind us. We’re meeting for my birthday. I want you there. Love, Amy. X

When Louise receives an invitation to her old friend Amy’s 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’ve 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’s clear one person has questions about their friend’s death – and now they want answers. And nothing will stop them.

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

Time permitting, I will read a few more back titles and get a few more of those overdue ARCs off my Netgalley shelf.

After having a few weeks of only one or two new ARCs, I have seven this week. What can I say? They are my Christmas present to myself! Plus Carla of https://carlalovestoread.wordpress.com and Susan of https://susanlovesbooks.wordpress.com have a lot to answer for. I have my Netgalley search for titles page open ready and waiting as I read their posts!

My new ARCs are: Waiting to Begin by Amanda Prowse

The Last Reunion by Kayte Nunn

A Week to Remember by Esther Campion

The Secret Within by Lucy Dawson

The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths, #13 in the Ruth Galloway series

The Art of Death by David Fennell

And, finally, A Caller’s Game by J.D. Barker

That’s my lot for today. I am off to take a look at this cake then take a look in the garage in case the lights are down there. We went away over Christmas and New Year last year, so never put them up…

Have a happy Sunday.

Cheers

Sandy

Suspicious Minds by David Mark

EXCERPT: It didn’t matter that this was where his last real lover had died.

It was their place now.

Theirs

She saw a tartan blanket, a thermos of tea; triangular sandwiches packed in opaque Tupperware, all plucked from a wicker hamper. She’d visualized him, leaning against the old beech tree, both arms around her like lengths of tarred rope, telling her the names of the plants and plucking stray twigs and silvery catkins from her hair. She saw herself barefoot; dirty-kneed in a ragamuffin dress, a tartan shawl pinned with a sprig of holly. Fantasy, of course, but one of her best…

‘Sweet chestnut,’ he’d said, slapping a random tree trunk. ‘This one’s ash. The brambles have bound their branches. They’re holding hands, look. And up there; that bracket of mushrooms – they can cure sore throats. Taste OK too. Nice in a stir-fry. They tend to explode if you let the fat get too hot, but I like a meal that offers an element of danger . . . ‘

Come back, Liz. Liz! Oh for God’s sake . . . Betsy!’

The words come from within her: a chorus of voices, each gasping as if running out of air. She registers pain, suddenly. Pain and loss and fear.

ABOUT ‘SUSPICIOUS MINDS’: Liz Zahavi is desperate. Desperate for her controlling partner, Jay, to stay with her, to actually love her. Desperate to be well again, after a recent diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. Desperate to be understood.

Private therapy seems like the answer to her prayers, but Liz doesn’t even make it to her first appointment. Lost in a maze of country roads, she crashes her car, only to be rescued by a brooding local farmer . . . who just keeps on rescuing her. Attractive and intense, Jude is a dream, and Liz doesn’t want to wake up.

But four years ago, Jude’s perfect, pretty wife died alone in the woods near their house. And as Jude’s past boils into the present, threatening to destroy their new happiness, Liz begins to wonder what exactly her new man is capable of . . . and how far he’s willing to go.

MY THOUGHTS: David Mark’s writing style is both raw and brutal, and almost poetic. He certainly has a way with words and an innate ability to draw the reader into the scene he has created. His characters are larger than life – they seem to explode from the page and wedge themselves firmly into the reader’s mind.

Liz Zahavi, legally Elizabeth, but Betsy in her heart, has been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. This is a disorder of mood and how a person interacts with others. It is characterized by emotional instability, disturbed patterns of thinking, impulsive behaviour and the tendency to form intense but unstable relationships. Her partner, Jay, is controlling, domineering, almost OCD. Liz, not Betsy, thinks that if she ran past him in flames, his major concern would be that the curtains didn’t catch alight. He threatens her, often, telling her that no one else would put up with her,that she cannot survive without him. He erodes her confidence, stamps out any small spark of independence. But she has a good relationship with his young daughter Anya, who sees her as a free spirit, a welcome antidote to her rigid, work obsessed parents. Her family is a nightmare. Her mother was abusive. Her sister thinks she is lucky to have Jay to look after her.

Lost and alone she meets Jude, who rescues her from an encounter with Campion, local landowner, bully and worse. I thought of Hitler. And then he just keeps on rescuing her, dismissing her concerns about her BPD, saying that he loves the fire in her, that it should never be dampened or extinguished. And Betsy (not Liz, though Liz will come to visit from time to time) senses something timeless in Jude. He is nurturing and gentle, but there is a sense of darkness and violence lurking beneath.

Suspicious Minds is a book that crosses a lot of boundaries. There is a fair bit of darkness and violence in this story. But it is not gratuitous. It fits. It is a story of greed and dominance, of people who use violence and threats as a means to an end, interwoven with a beautiful story of two lost people finding themselves and each other. It is also tempered with a dry wit that had me snorting with laughter at times. I was impressed and will be seeking out other books this author has written.

Oh, and just for the record, the cover doesn’t do this book justice.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.3

#SuspiciousMinds #NetGalley

‘She finds herself furious that she smell of freshly baked scones cannot be trapped in an aerosol and sold as a room deodoriser.’

‘Don’t overthink it. Don’t analyse it to death. Don’t deconstruct it, because it might not fit back together again.’

‘Long before social media, the world was full of wankers.’

THE AUTHOR: David Mark spent more than 15 years as a journalist, including seven years as a crime reporter with The Yorkshire Post—walking the Hull streets that would later become the setting for the Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy novels. He lives in Yorkshire, England.

DISCLOSURE Thank you to Severn House via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Suspicious Minds 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 my webpage

I went to the second hand bookstore Tuesday…..

I took ten books in,

And came out with twenty.

Just doing my bit for the economy.

🤣😂❤😍📚☕🍪

The Red, Red Snow by Caro Ramsay

48451457

EXCERPT: Eric Callaghan paused as co-worker Simon chucked some ketchup and salt sachets on top of the fries,then picked a Santa balloon from the display behind him and tucked the string under Geraldine’s diet coke.

Simon wished him a happy Christmas.

Eric wished him a better career.

He could see Geraldine through the Santa balloons and light sabres. Suddenly, he coughed, balancing the tray on one arm as his body jerked. He tried to resist another cough; his mouth tasted blood. Leaving the crush at the counter, he needed fresh air. The heat in the food court was oppressive, making him feel dizzy, even a little faint. He leaned against a bin, catching his breath. The small snakes of potato wriggled across the tray, turning his stomach. He bumped into a grey-haired woman holding onto two Santa balloons, thinking that the mild collusion in such a tight space did not merit the look of alarm on her face. She asked him if he was okay, a gloved hand touching his arm, the kindness of a stranger, and then Geraldine was at his side as his eldest daughter lifted the tray from him. It all went rather colourful and pretty as the Santa balloons danced around the room.

‘I’m fine.’ He looked around him, lifted up his jacket, his black T-shirt wet with sweat. The tail of his peacock tattoo wound round his lower ribs, curving to his abdomen. The tail feathers were blue and purple, their tips turning crimson as the blood ran and dripped.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: A family man is stabbed to death at a crowded Christmas Ice Show. Murdered in plain sight. No clues, no witnesses, no known motive.

A week later, two bodies are discovered at a holiday cottage in a remote highland glen: one in the kitchen; the other sprawled outside on the icy lawn. The killer would appear to have arrived and left without leaving a trace, not even a footprint in the snow.

What secrets are lurking within this isolated, superstitious community? As the snow piles higher, detectives Anderson and Costello put their wits to solving a seemingly impossible crime, and gradually uncover a twisted tale of greed, obsession – and cold-blooded murder.

MY THOUGHTS: I haven’t been hiding in the salt mines of Siberia, or even in remote parts of the Scottish highlands, so how come this is the first ever Caro Ramsay book that I have read, and #11 in the series at that?

I loved this complex and atmospheric mystery/police procedural. Even starting this series at #11 didn’t diminish my pleasure.

There are multiple mysteries in The Red, Red Snow. Why would anyone take the risk of stabbing a family man in plain sight in a crowded food court? Why would anyone stab him anyway?

And the elderly German couple in a holiday cottage in the remote Scottish Riske Glen, who would want them dead?

How did the killer get in? There are no footprints in the snow…

There is talk of Skirfin and nuckelavee, which are by no means the creepiest things in this book. No, that honour goes to the coffin bridge, a remarkable contraption that has you lay inside a coffin and, using an arrangement of ropes and pulleys, pull yourself across the river. No way would I ever climb inside that thing!

The characters are very real, their lives as complex as this case. But in no way do their private lives overshadow the main storyline, indeed it complements it. There is obviously a bit of back history between some of the characters of which I am unaware, and this has piqued my curiosity. Amongst the characters is a bad-tempered DI, a lovestruck forensic scientist, a pathologist obsessed with choosing her new curtains, and a woman called Suzette and, I quote, ‘I do apologise for my horrible daughter. I wish I could blame it on some disorder, but I’m afraid she is just an evil little cow.’ There is even a character called Arthur ‘Conman’ Doyle, and a wonderful Staffie (I love Staffies) called Nesbit.

Ramsay writes with a lightness of touch, a sensitivity to the situation, and a wry sense of humour.

I now have another series to add to my list to read from the beginning. And rest assured, I will be first in line for the next Caro Ramsay book.

🤩🤩🤩🤩

#TheRedRedSnow #NetGalley

‘She wondered vaguely what had happened to the rise of feminism, and if it applied in adverse weather conditions.’

‘It’s Christmas. People fight about everything.’

‘I can read you like a book. Just not a very good book.’

THE AUTHOR: Caro Ramsay was born and educated in Glasgow. She has been writing stories since she was five years old, developing a keen interest in crime fiction and a passion for the genre that lead her to write Absolution, her first novel.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Severn House via NetGalley for providing a digital ARC of The Red,Red Snow by Caro Ramsay 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

Deadly Harm by Owen Mullen

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EXCERPT: A breeze rustled the branches of the trees above them. Mackenzie felt sweat drying on her brow. She closed her eyes, savouring the sensation. Panic was the enemy. No good lay down that road. Whatever story they gave the police wouldn’t save them now. Digging was their only hope.

She let her breath out slowly, forcing herself to stay calm. ‘We had that chance. It’s gone.’

‘But it’s the truth.’

‘Is it?’

‘You know it is.’

Mackenzie leaned on the spade, struggling to keep hold of her impatience. ‘I’ll tell you what I know. There’s a man with half a face lying in our garden. Explain that.’

‘I’ll tell them he attacked me.’

‘We discussed this. The way he died… they’ll never believe you.’ Mackenzie pointed to the trench at her feet. ‘And what about this?’

Caitlyn didn’t answer.

‘That’s what I thought.’ She stepped out of the grave. ‘Your turn to dig.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: It’s been five years since Mackenzie Darroch was abducted and held captive in a derelict house.

She thought she’d found her way out of the darkness. She was wrong.

When she witnesses a car crash and saves the driver’s life, it sets in motion a chain of events that will alter both their futures.

The two women get involved in a high profile police case and draw the attention of a ruthless reporter. Gina Calvi is convinced Mackenzie is not what she appears and is prepared to do anything to prove it.

Meanwhile, across the city, Kirsty McBride, a young single mother, is persuaded to leave a violent relationship. Her partner, Malkie Boyle a Glasgow hardman, is due to be released from prison. Once back on the street and bent on revenge, Boyle is determined to find the people responsible for stealing his family from him.

Can Mackenzie save them or will Boyle get his revenge?

MY THOUGHTS: I didn’t want to put this down. I didn’t want to go to work. I wanted to stay home and read. I was late for work (just one more chapter….), and I dared not take Deadly Harm to work with me….

Mullen has a fairly unique writing style, a seamless blend of frantic and flowing. His prose is terse, but he leaves nothing out, and sweeps the reader along to a breathtaking finale – one that I never saw coming.

It was great to see some characters from Mullen’s previous books back – Charlie Cameron puts in a brief appearance, but the book belongs to the characters of Mackenzie Darroch, an abduction survivor whom we first met in In Harm’s Way, and DI Andrew Geddes, whose methods aren’t always in line with law enforcement norms, an aetheist, and who likes a drink. Well, maybe more than one. He made regular appearance’s in Mullen’s Charlie Cameron series.

Mullen tackles the subject of domestic abuse head on. There is no side-stepping issues, no oblique references. He calls a spade a space, but does so with finesse.

I simply galloped through this read, swept along by Mullen’s passion, both for his craft and his subject. I will be giving this a second, slower, more considered read to fully enjoy his little snippets of humour and the finer nuances of the plot.

My favourite quote: Some people don’t have relationships, they take hostages.

5 absolutely brilliant stars!

#DeadlyHarm

THE AUTHOR: Bestselling author Owen Mullen is a McIlvanney Crime Book Of The Year long-listed novelist.

Owen Mullen graduated from Strathclyde University, moved to London and worked as a rock musician, session singer and songwriter, and had a hit record in Japan with a band he refuses to name; Owen still loves to perform on occasion. His great love for travel has taken him on many adventures from the Amazon and Africa to the colourful continent of India and Nepal. A gregarious recluse, he and his wife, Christine, split their time between Glasgow, and their home away from home in the Greek Islands where the Charlie Cameron and Delaney series’, and the In Harm’s Way psychological thriller were created.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to author Owen Mullen for providing a digital ARC of his book Deadly Harm 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, or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others also appear on Twitter, and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3026545606?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1