Police at the Station And They Don’t Look Friendly (Sean Duffy #6) by Adrian McKinty

EXCERPT: . . . it is indeed spooky out here, in the hulking shadows of these venerable oaks, four hours after midnight, in the middle of nowhere, while Ireland sleeps, while Ireland dreams. . .

The little rise is a deceptively steep incline that takes my breath away and I can see that I am going to need my new inhaler if it keeps up. The inhaler, of course, is back in the glove compartment of the car because I haven’t yet acquired the habit of taking it with me everywhere. Not that it will make any difference in a few minutes anyway. A bullet in the head will fix an incipient asthma attack every time.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Belfast 1988: A man is found dead, killed with a bolt from a crossbow in front of his house. This is no hunting accident. But uncovering who is responsible for the murder will take Detective Sean Duffy down his most dangerous road yet, a road that leads to a lonely clearing on a high bog where three masked gunmen will force Duffy to dig his own grave.
Hunted by forces unknown, threatened by Internal Affairs, and with his relationship on the rocks, Duffy will need all his wits to get out of this investigation in one piece

MY THOUGHTS: ‘A paranoid man is a man who knows a little about what’s going on’ – William Burroughs

The seven ‘p’s – ‘Proper preparation and planning prevents piss poor performance’ – DI Sean Duffy

What can I say that I haven’t said before about this series? I have just finished #6 with my heart pounding, and if it was 5 pm instead of 5 am, I would pour myself a stiff drink. I am exhausted after having spent the majority of the night in the company of DI Sean Duffy, checking under the BMW 535i sport for mercury tilt bombs every time before we get in, being beaten, shot at (multiple times), kidnapped, threatened, and participating in a car chase involving a 1988 Bentley Mulsanne. All this is set against the background of ‘the Troubles’ which seem to have flared again, with Belfast experiencing riots, the funerals of the three killed in Gibraltar by the SAS, and Michael Stone’s deadly actions at the funerals inflaming the situation.

Duffy now has a partner and a child, but that doesn’t seem to be working out as well as he had hoped, either. Yet despite the troubles, Irish, professional and personal, or perhaps because of them, Duffy sees things that others miss, and while he may never have brought a criminal to trial, his resolution of cases is always interesting and probably more appropriate than any court sentence.

McKinty has evolved Duffy’s character seamlessly without losing the quintessential essence of him. He is still the thorn in the side of his superiors, and those who think themselves superior, like that eejit Kenny Dalziel. He still makes questionable choices – I was pacing the lounge at 4 am ranting ‘Sean, wtf do you think you’re doing?!’ But he also inspires loyalty, is irreverent but charming, has street smarts that I am envious of, and a black sense of humor that I love.

If you haven’t yet read this series, you are missing out on what I seriously believe to be one of the top two thriller series that I have read. I could wax lyrical about both the series and this particular book for pages yet, but honestly? Stop reading my review and just read the books. What are you waiting for?


THE AUTHOR: Adrian McKinty is an Irish novelist. He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and grew up in Victoria Council Estate, Carrickfergus, County Antrim. He read law at the University of Warwick and politics and philosophy at the University of Oxford. He moved to the United States in the early 1990s, living first in Harlem, New York and from 2001 on, in Denver, Colorado, where he taught high school English and began writing fiction. He lives in Melbourne, Australia with his wife and two children.

DISCLOSURE: I borrowed my copy of Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly by Adrian McKinty, published by Serpent’s Tail, from Waitomo District Library. Thank you to head librarian Julie for buying in a copy at my request.

All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions. For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

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

Watching what I’m reading . . .

Happy Sunday everyone!

TMOTH went fishing yesterday and had a good haul, so all our friends and family now have nice fresh fish. It was a beautiful day, and I spent it in the garden. I have almost finished the steps up to the top level of the section. Another full day should see me finished. Today we went out for lunch to a cafe I often go into for coffee, or take the grandchildren in for hot chocolate, but I had never eaten there. We had a beautiful lunch and will be going back there again. We went through some display homes looking at kitchens, but came away totally uninspired. We also took some fresh vegetables from our garden and visited our son and grandson. So it has been a lovely weekend! (Even if I have done very little reading.)

Currently I am reading Police at the Station and They Don’t Look Friendly by Adrian McKinty. This is currently the final book in the Sean Duffy series. I do hope that it is not the final final one, and that there will be more to come.

I am also reading Imperfect Women by Araminta Hall. I’m not sure quite how I feel about this yet, although I’m almost 80% done with it. There is an awful lot of introspection by the three main characters. It is a book that I can easily put down and walk away from, but I have not considered abandoning it. I hope that the ending is going to clarify things for me.

I am currently listening to The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena.

This week I am planning on reading Final Cut by S.J. Watson.

For generations Blackwood Bay, a quaint village in northern England, has been famous only for the smuggling that occurred along its coastline centuries ago, but then two local girls disappear bringing the town a fresh and dark notoriety. When Alex, an ambitious documentary filmmaker, arrives in Blackwood Bay, she intends to have the residents record their own stories as her next project. But instead of a quaint community, Alex finds a village blighted by economic downturn and haunted by a tragedy that overshadows every corner.

Alex pushes on with her work, but secrets old and new rise to the surface, raising tensions and suspicions in a town already on edge. Alex’s work takes her to dark places and uncomfortable truths which threaten to lead to a deadly unravelling.

And Memories of Wild Rose Bay by Susanne O’Leary

When Kate O’Rourke takes up a temporary position as a doctor in Sandy Cove, she hopes spending time in the place where her father was from will help her find herself again. Ever since his passing she has felt lost, but she imagines the calming sound of the sea on the Irish coast will allow her to heal.

Kate immediately feels at home in the old surgery, and as she takes walks beside the camellia bushes along Wild Rose Bay and meets every resident in the tiny village, she feels like this is where she’s meant to be. And when she’s told about local healer Cormac O’Shea, she’s excited to learn even more about the history of the area, and meet the man who every woman in town says is so charming.

But Kate quickly realises that she and Cormac have different ideas about how their patients should be treated. Kate is efficient and well-organised, whilst Cormac is wild and spontaneous, passionate about his ancestors’ reliance on Irish healing. And their differences cause more sparks than Kate is prepared to admit.

Just as Kate and Cormac begin to understand one another, Kate’s old life threatens to call her away from Sandy Cove forever. And she is finally forced to decide what life she wants to lead, and what kind of person she wants to be…

Only three new ARCs from Netgalley this week 😊

When You Were Mine by Kate Hewitt

Your Neighbour’s Wife by Tony Parsons

Fragile by Sarah Hilary

I hope that those of you who live in that part of the world with weekend still ahead of you, enjoy! I am off to cook supper – farm fresh eggs on toast.

Be careful. Be kind. Happy reading!

The Three Deaths of Magdalene Lynton by Katherine Hayton

EXCERPT: A man walked through the double doors, wavering on his feet as the suction from the closing doors pulled him off balance. The mother and grandmother each made an initial movement, as if to help, then sat back, staring at the ground. The little girl jabbed her chair at him, once, twice – the world’s smallest lion tamer – then retreated to her mother’s lap.

Ngaire understood why. Every pore of the man’s body exuded death. He reminded her of an autumn leaf left to mummify in the dry winter air – no substance, no flesh to his bones. Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle. With no offers of assistance, he crept forward, his feet never leaving the carpet. Minutes passed.

The thick plastic panels that enclosed Ngaire behind the front counter formed her excuse not to help. To walk around to the other side, she’d have to unlock two doors with her passkey – and then what? Let him stand and tremble while she walked back?

The man still had a meter to go when she manufactured a broad smile and asked, ‘Can I help you?’ In training, an officer had instructed her to channel Gold Coast surfers when she faced the public, a method sure to produce a happy grin with no concerns. Far more tiring than ‘resting bitch’ face, but also more likely to yield positive results.

He reached the counter at last and pulled a passport out of his jacket pocket with shaking fingers. He tried to give it to Ngaire, but she nodded at the desk tray. When he dropped it in there, she picked it up and flipped through the front pages, stopping at the photograph.

In the picture, a gray scale man with thick hair kept a straight face for the camera, although happy, upturned lines still radiated from the corners of his eyes and mouth. The name was Paul Worthington, and Ngaire worked out his age from his date of birth: fifty three. She pushed the book back to him, thinking ‘Surf, sun, sand. Smile, girl.’ The poster child for cancer returned her stare, his face blank, and she tried to swallow past her sympathy, her pity. Her eyebrows raised in inquiry.

‘My identification,’ he said. ‘So you know I’m serious.’ He leaned forward until her nostrils filled with mild acid and dank grapes. ‘I want to confess to a murder.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Magdalene Lynton died forty years ago: a vivacious teenager who fell victim to a grotesque, accidental drowning. The coroner’s office issued a verdict of death by misadventure and filed her case. The farming commune she’d lived within, splintered apart. Her body was left behind in a small, private cemetery encircled by acres of fallow ground.

Until Paul Worthington confessed to her murder.

Magdalene’s case lands with Ngaire Blakes, a Maori detective recovering from a brutal stabbing. After fighting for the resources to investigate, Ngaire discovers that Paul’s confession doesn’t fit with the facts of Magdalene’s death. The trouble is, neither does the original verdict.

Together with her partner, Deb, Ngaire digs deeper into the case to uncover inconsistencies, lies, and mortal danger.

MY THOUGHTS: This is a good twisty tale set in and around Christchurch in the South Island of New Zealand, and the first in a series of three books about a female, Maori detective who seems to be a magnet for trouble.

We don’t learn much about Ngaire, or any other of the characters that are likely to appear in the other books in this series, which is a pity. The characters need a little rounding out. We know far more about the characters connected with this forty year old crime, and we are unlikely to come across them again in the series, except, perhaps, for William (aka Billy) the lawyer. But there are some interesting characters, very interesting characters, some with hidden depths, others with hidden secrets. It’s not immediately clear who falls into which camp.

I did notice a few Americanisms creep in: e,g. Mom, instead of the kiwi ‘Mum’, which particularly annoyed me.

But, that aside, The Three Deaths of Magdalene Lynton is an interesting story. Nothing is simple, nothing quite what it seems. The plot is well constructed, and kept my interest throughout. The mystery unfolds quite slowly, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing happening. We learn everything as the investigative team does. The ending was certainly not what I expected. Either time. But it was spectacularly perfect.


FOR THE ARMCHAIR TRAVELLER: Christchurch, known for its English heritage, is located on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Flat-bottomed punts glide on the Avon River, which meanders through the city centre. On its banks are cycling paths, the green expanse of Hagley Park and Christchurch Botanic Gardens. In 2010 and 2011, earthquakes destroyed many of the historic centre’s stone-built buildings. These earthquakes are referred to in The Three Deaths of Magdalene Lynton.
The Waimakariri River is one of the largest rivers in Canterbury, on the eastern coast of New Zealand’s South Island. It flows for 151 kilometres in a generally southeastward direction from the Southern Alps across the Canterbury Plains to the Pacific Ocean.

THE AUTHOR: Katherine Hayton is a middle-aged woman who works in insurance, doesn’t have children or pets, can’t drive, has lived in Christchurch her entire life, and resides a two-minute walk from where she was born.

For some reason, she’s developed a rich fantasy life.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to author Katherine Hayton via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Three Deaths of Magdalene Lynton 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

Cry Baby (Tom Thorne #17) by Mark Billingham

Now, before you all go ‘never read this series, not starting it. 16 previous books to catch up on is too many,’ let me point out that Cry Baby is actually the prequel to ‘Sleepyhead’, the first book in this series. So that is an excellent reason to pick it up and read it if you haven’t yet read Billingham. Of course, if you’re a dyed in the wool Billingham fan, like me, then you probably already have this on your reading radar.

EXCERPT: Cat moved quickly through the playground towards the exit on the far side, calling her son’s name, oblivious to the stares of other parents whose kids stopped what they were doing to watch. Maria hurried to catch her up and they both stopped dead when Josh appeared suddenly and came running from the trees towards them.

His yellow coat was streaked with mud and he burst into tears the instant he laid eyes on his mother.

‘Josh?’ Maria leaned down and took her son’s face in her hands. ‘You OK?’

‘Where’s Kieron?’ Cat asked, looking towards the trees. ‘Josh, where’s Kieron?’

The boy began wailing and buried his face in his mother’s stomach.

The unlit cigarette fell from Cat’s hand and she began to run.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: In the summer of 1996, two boys run from a playground into the adjoining woods, but only one comes out. DS Tom Thorne takes on a case that quickly spirals out of control when two people connected with the missing boy are murdered. As London prepares to host the European Soccer Championships, Thorne fights to keep on top of a baffling investigation while also dealing with the ugly fallout of his broken marriage.

MY THOUGHTS: Although the 17th book in the Tom Thorne series, Cry Baby is a prequel to Mark Billingham’s debut novel ‘Sleepyhead’, which was the first book I ever read by this author, and which put him firmly on my reading radar.

Tom Thorne is a credible and engaging character. He is flawed. Detests his boss, Boyle, and has conversations in his mind where he bests Boyle. He can be quite sarky. He is going through a marriage break up, and I love his thoughts on the ‘hippy-dippy, sandal-wearing’ university lecturer Jan left him for. He’s not good at friendships, and even seems uncomfortable with his own family. Yet he shows an unexpected humanity and compassion towards the victims. Our Tom is a complex character.

We meet, for the first time, Phil Hendricks, the new pathologist, tattooed, pierced and gay, though Tom hasn’t figured that out yet. Hendricks and Thorne have nothing in common – they don’t like the same music, or support the same football team – yet Cry Baby is the start of their decades long friendship.

In a new format for Billingham, Cry Baby is told from multiple points of view: Thorne, as usual; Cat, the mother of the missing boy; Maria, her friend and Josh’s mum; Kieron, the abducted boy, and his abductor.

There are plenty of subplots inside the main storyline – relationship issues, both personal and professional, for Tom and several other characters. There is some confusion about the parentage of the missing boy. And of course, a few red herrings.

I must admit that it took me a while to settle into this story. But once I got into the rhythm of Billingham’s writing again, I was away.

I don’t think that Cry Baby is the best of Billingham’s books, although it is certainly a valuable addition to the series. I wasn’t totally invested in the ending, but loved the journey.


#CryBaby #NetGalley

FOR THE ARMCHAIR TRAVELLER: Cry Baby by Mark Billingham is set in London, mainly in the Highbury-Islington area. London, the capital of England and the United Kingdom, is a 21st-century city with history stretching back to Roman times. At its centre stand the imposing Houses of Parliament, the iconic ‘Big Ben’ clock tower and Westminster Abbey, site of British monarch coronations. Across the Thames River, the London Eye observation wheel provides panoramic views of the South Bank cultural complex, and the entire city.
Highbury is home to Premiership football at Arsenal FC’s Emirates Stadium, as well as a sports centre and tennis courts in leafy Highbury Fields park. Upscale restaurants cluster near Highbury Corner, with artisan food stores, cafes, and global eateries in the village-like area on Highbury Grove. Quiet, tree-lined residential streets feature Italianate villas and grand Georgian homes, many converted into flats.

THE AUTHOR: Mark Billingham was born and brought up in Birmingham. Having worked for some years as an actor and more recently as a TV writer and stand-up comedian his first crime novel was published in 2001. Mark lives in North London with his wife and two children.
He also writes as Will Peterson with Peter Cocks.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Grove Atlantic via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Cry Baby by Mark Billingham 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

Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham


I picked this up to read because I have the second book in this series, When She Was Good, to read. And I am so glad that I did. It has given me the best read of my year…so far. Read on!

EXCERPT: I’m happy with who I am. I have pieced myself together from the half-broken things. I have learned how to hide, how to run, how to keep safe, despite never knowing a time when my blood didn’t run cold at the sound of footsteps stopping outside my door, or the sound of someone breathing on the opposite side of a wall.

I know the jittery, crawling sensation that ripples down my spine whenever I feel the weight of eyes upon me. Searching my face. Trying to recognize me. And no matter how many times I step into doorways, or look over my shoulder, or yell, ‘I know you’re there,’ the street is always empty. No footsteps. No shadows. No eyes.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: A girl is discovered hiding in a secret room in the aftermath of a terrible crime. Half-starved and filthy, she won’t tell anyone her name, or her age, or where she came from. Maybe she is twelve, maybe fifteen. She doesn’t appear in any missing persons file, and her DNA can’t be matched to an identity.

Six years later, still unidentified, she is living in a secure children’s home with a new name, Evie Cormac. When she initiates a court case demanding the right to be released as an adult, forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven must determine if Evie is ready to go free. But she is unlike anyone he’s ever met—fascinating and dangerous in equal measure. Evie knows when someone is lying, and no one around her is telling the truth.

Meanwhile, Cyrus is called in to investigate the shocking murder of a high school figure-skating champion, Jodie Sheehan, who dies on a lonely footpath close to her home. Pretty and popular, Jodie is portrayed by everyone as the ultimate girl-next-door, but as Cyrus peels back the layers, a secret life emerges—one that Evie Cormac, the girl with no past, knows something about. A man haunted by his own tragic history, Cyrus is caught between the two cases—one girl who needs saving and another who needs justice. What price will he pay for the truth?

MY THOUGHTS: I read Good Girl, Bad Girl overnight. Couldn’t put it down. Ordered in dinner so that I didn’t have to stop reading to cook. I absorbed this book through every pore in my skin. I was there for every moment, every word. There was zero chance of my mind wandering as I read. Good Girl, Bad Girl is a heartpounding, pulse racing, edge of the seat, go away – I’ll tear your arm off if you try separating me from my book – read.

My first Michael Robotham book, and yes! It’s that damned good!

The characters are all interesting, flawed, human. Evie, the child found living in a secret room only feet away from a decomposing body, and who possesses a unique talent. She has no past, no family, no memories, not even a birthdate. She lies, she obfuscates, she casts doubts and misdirects. She’s dyslexic, antisocial and aggressive. And she wants out of Langford Hall, the secure children’s home where she is incarcerated. Cyrus, Forensic Psychologist, is called in by his friend Guthrie when Evie makes an application to the court to be released. Cyrus has his own demons, his own tragic past. Something in him recognizes something in Evie and he sets out to save her, both from the world and from herself.

The plot is gritty, gripping, and fast moving. There is a murder to be solved. One that isn’t quite as simple as it first appears. A rising skating star, an Olympic hopeful, is found dead, murdered, close to her home. Everyone’s darling, Jodie could do no wrong. But a chance remark by one of her classmates sets Cyrus off on a quest to discover the other darker side of this golden girl, and sets off a chain of events he could never have envisaged.

I loved every word of Good Girl, Bad Girl. And there are not enough stars in the rating system to convey just how good a read this is.


#GoodGirlBadGirl @michealrobotham

And now onto When She Was Good, Cyrus Haven #2.

FOR THE ARMCHAIR TRAVELLER: Good Girl, Bad Girl is set in Nottingham, a city in central England’s Midlands region. It’s known for its role in the Robin Hood legend and for the hilltop Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery, rebuilt many times since the medieval era. In the Lace Market area, once the centre of the world’s lace industry, the Galleries of Justice Museum has crime-related exhibits. Wollaton Hall is an ornate Elizabethan mansion with gardens and a deer park.

THE AUTHOR: Edgar finalist and Gold Dagger winning author, Michael Robotham was born in Australia in November 1960 and grew up in small country towns that had more dogs than people and more flies than dogs. He escaped in 1979 and became a cadet journalist on an afternoon newspaper in Sydney.

For the next fourteen years he worked for newspapers in Australia, Europe, Africa and America. As a senior feature writer for the UK’s Mail on Sunday he was among the first people to view the letters and diaries of Czar Nicholas II and his wife Empress Alexandra, unearthed in the Moscow State Archives in 1991. He also gained access to Stalin’s Hitler files, which had been missing for nearly fifty years until a cleaner stumbled upon a cardboard box that had been misplaced and misfiled.

In 1993 he quit journalism to become a ghostwriter, collaborating with politicians, pop stars, psychologists, adventurers and showbusiness personalities to write their autobiographies.

Michael writes in what his daughters’ refer to as his ‘cabana of cruelty’ on Sydney’s northern beaches where he slaves away daily to cater to their every expensive whim. Where is the justice?

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Waitomo District Library for the loan of their copy of Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham, published by Hachette Australia. 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

Report for Murder by Val McDermid


Glorious cover!

EXCERPT: Lindsay Gordon put murder to the back of her mind and settled down in the train compartment to enjoy the broken greys and greens of the Derbyshire scenery. Rather like home, she decided. Except that in Scotland, the greens were darker, the greys more forbidding. Although in Glasgow, where she now lived, there was hardly enough green to judge. She congratulated herself on finishing the detective novel just at the point where Manchester suburbia yielded place to this attractive landscape foreign to her. Watching it unfold gave her the first answer to the question that had been nagging her all day: what the hell was she doing here? How could a cynical socialist lesbian feminist journalist (as she mockingly described herself) be on her way to spend a weekend in a girl’s public school?

Of course, there were the answers she’d been able to use to friends: she’d never visited this part of England and wanted to see what it was like; she was a great believer in ‘knowing thine enemy’, so it came under the heading of opportunities not to be missed; she wanted to see Paddy Callaghan, who had been responsible for the invitation. But she remained unconvinced that she was doing the right thing. What had made her mind up was the realisation that, given Lindsay’s current relationship with the Inland Revenue, anything that had a cheque as the end product couldn’t be ignored.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Freelance journalist Lindsay Gordon is strapped for cash. Why else would she agree to cover a fund-raising gala at a girls’ public school? But when the star attraction is found garrotted with her own cello string minutes before she is due on stage, Lindsay finds herself investigating a vicious murder.

Who would have wanted Lorna Smith Cooper dead? Who had the key to the locked room in which her body was found? And who could have slipped out of the hall at just the right time to commit this calculated and cold-blooded crime?

MY THOUGHTS: A great start to a series first published in 1987 from an author I love. There are lots of secrets and resentments amongst the cast of suspects, any one of which could be a motive for murder – long buried affairs, greed, envy and hatred amongst them.

The plot is solid, the suspects numerous, the sleuthing of the good old fashioned variety.

Lindsay is a rather prickly character, quick to take offense, and someone for whom it would be difficult to do a favour. She also finds it difficult to apologise. She is headstrong, tenacious and fiercely independent. These traits work both in her favour and against her. There were moments during this read that I wanted to slap her as, at times, she comes across as arrogant and very rude.

This was a fun and satisfying read. The narration, by Caroline Guthrie, was excellent. I loved listening to her soft Scottish bur and will be looking for other audiobooks that she has narrated.


FOR THE ARMCHAIR TRAVELLER: the majority of time is spent in Derbyshire, with forays to Glasgow and London.

THE AUTHOR: Val McDermid is a No. 1 bestseller whose novels have been translated into more than thirty languages, and have sold over eleven million copies.

She has won many awards internationally, including the CWA Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year and the LA Times Book of the Year Award. She was inducted into the ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards Hall of Fame in 2009 and was the recipient of the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger for 2010. In 2011 she received the Lambda Literary Foundation Pioneer Award.

She writes full time and divides her time between Cheshire and Edinburgh

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of Report for Murder, written by Val McDermid, narrated by Caroline Guthrie 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

Watching what I’m reading…

I hope everyone is having a wonderful day. We have fine weather today and I have been making the most of it. The laundry is all up to date, and I have had a couple of hours in the garden. It’s starting to cloud over now and the wind is picking up so I decided to come inside. Good timing as the Supercar racing out of Australia – Townsville, Queensland. I have only driven through there a couple of times, but I think that once travel restrictions are eased that it is somewhere I am going to have to visit. We have friends who live there so it would be great to catch up with them too.

I am currently reading The First to Lie by Frank Phillipi Ryan, my first book by this author and it is certainly keeping my attention!


I finished listening to Sadie by Courtney Summers earlier today and have yet to download another audiobook.

This week I am planning to read Cry Baby by Mark Billingham


In the summer of 1996, two boys run from a playground into the adjoining woods, but only one comes out. DS Tom Thorne takes on a case that quickly spirals out of control when two people connected with the missing boy are murdered. As London prepares to host the European Soccer Championships, Thorne fights to keep on top of a baffling investigation while also dealing with the ugly fallout of his broken marriage. A prequel to Billingham’s acclaimed debut Sleepyhead–which the Times voted “one of the 100 books that had shaped the decade”–this compelling novel highlights the case that shaped the career of one of British crime fiction’s most iconic characters.

and Night Whistler by Greg Woodland. This is a debut novel by this Australian author. Love the cover – creepy!


It’s 1966. Hal and his little brother, newly arrived in Moorabool with their parents, are exploring the creek near their new home when they find the body of a dog.

Not just dead, but recently killed.

Not just killed, but mutilated.

Constable Mick Goodenough, recently demoted from his city job as a detective, is also new in town—and one of his dogs has gone missing. He’s experienced enough to know what it means when someone tortures an animal to death: it means they’re practising. So when Hal’s mother starts getting anonymous calls—a man whistling, then hanging up—Goodenough, alone among the Moorabool cops, takes her seriously.

The question is: will that be enough to keep her safe?

I have had 5 ARCs approved this week. Most excited about The Survivors by Jane Harper. I have requested every book that she has written, and this is the first time I have been approved!


Murder at an Irish Christmas by Carlene O’Connor

The Bluebell Girls by Barbara Josselsohn (thanks Carla and Susan!)


The Well of Ice by Andrea Carter


and The Killings at Kingfisher Hill by Sophie Hannah


I also have a beta read – Cognac and Confessions by Christine Cameron.

Happy reading everyone. Have a wonderful week!


Priest (Jack Taylor #5) by Ken Bruen


EXCERPT: The nun was gathering up the song sheets. She loved this time of the morning, the sun streaming through the stained glass. Her habit felt heavy but she offered it for the souls in Purgatory. She found a ten euro note in the end pew, was tempted to pocket it, buy a feast of ice cream. But blessing herself, she shoved it in the poor box. It slid in easily as the box was empty – who gave alms any more?

She noticed the door to the confessional ajar. Tut-tutting, she felt a tremor of annoyance. Father Joyce would have a fit if he saw that. He was a holy terror for order, ran the church like an army, God’s army. Moving quickly, she gently pulled the door, but it wouldn’t budge. Getting seriously irritated, she scuttled round to the other door and peered through the grille. Her scream could be heard all the way to Eyre Square.

Father Joyce’s severed head was placed on the floor of the confessional.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Ireland, awash with cash and greed, no longer turns to the Church for solace or comfort. But the decapitation of Father Joyce in a Galway confessional horrifies even the most jaded citizen.

Jack Taylor, devastated by the recent trauma of personal loss, has always believed himself to be beyond salvation. But a new job offers a fresh start, and an unexpected partnership provides hope that his one desperate vision, of family, might yet be fulfilled.

An eerie mix of exorcism, a predatory stalker, and unlikely attraction conspires to lure him into a murderous web of dark conspiracies. The specter of a child haunts every waking moment.

MY THOUGHTS: Bruen’s writing is raw. Brutal. Irish. Black humour. He doesn’t waste words.

Jack is a tortured soul. Haunted by his own past and the death of a child that he was responsible for. A lapsed Catholic, his life is still inextricably entwined with the Church. He makes bargains with a God he no longer believes in.

In this, the 5th book of the series, Jack is sober. Not something that either we, the readers, or Jack himself, is familiar with.

He is tasked by a Priest, Father Malachy with whom he has history, to discover who killed Father Joyce.

Bruen weaves tidbits of Irish history and folklore effortlessly into his work. We learn about Galway landmarks – the Salmon Weir bridge and Eyre Square. There are frequent literary and musical references. I have a Ken Bruen-Jack Taylor playlist. It’s getting very long. It is magnificent and varied – Steve Earle, REM, Springsteen, Black Eyed Peas, Emmylou Harris, and Adrian McKinty’s great favourite – Tom Waits.

I read this series with an Irish lilt. It is a series, and one best read in order. Preferably with a dram of Jamesons. Jack won’t mind.


THE AUTHOR: Ken Bruen is one of the most renown Irish writers, who writes noir crime fiction novels. He was born in Galway, Ireland, in 1951. He studied at Gormanston College, County Meath, and Trinity College Dublin, where he got a Ph.D in Metaphysics. Unlike most novelists, Ken Bruen has travelled around the world. During his twenty-five years as an English teacher, he worked in Africa, Japan, South America and South East Asia. Just as anyone would conclude, Ken’s travels were precarious at some point, including time spent in a Brazilian jail, where he was wrongfully imprisoned for alleged involvement in a bar fight. He currently resides in Galway, Ireland, with his wife and his daughter, Grace.

Ken started writing after his gruesome experience in prison in Brazil. The torture he went through left bad memories and mental anguish. A traumatized Bruen started writing crime fiction in an effort to get the nightmares off his head and heal the scars left from the horrendous ordeal. His very first novel, Funerals, was about a boy who attended funerals like they were soccer games. He has written over thirty five novels, six of which have been featured in television series. His novels feature typical comedy incorporated into noir crime fiction, and he does not fail to poke the Irish Church and the State at some particular point in his novels. He exposes a number of ills and provides an intuition of the dark side of Ireland. The main themes in his works are Ireland’s economic prosperity since the 1990s, immigration, the decline of the social and political power of the Catholic Church and the social change in Ireland. (BookSeriesInOrder.com)

DISCLOSURE: I own my copy of Priest by Ken Bruen, published by Bantam Press, Transworld Publishers. 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….

We have had two heavy frosts in a row, but glorious days to follow with more of the same forecast for tomorrow. Of course, you know where I have been all weekend and where I will be tomorrow – yes,at work! Day off scheduled for Tuesday and the weather forecast is….wet! I am sure that I am lacking in Vitamin D. But at least the days are drawing out and I am not always going to work in the dark. Two weeks and it will be spring. I can’t wait!

Currently I am reading The Child Across the Street by Kerry Wilkinson. He has me absolutely stumped! Every time I think I have figured out who was driving the car that hit 8 year old Ethan, he pours cold water all over my theory!


I am listening to Report For Murder (Lindsay Gordon 1) by Val McDermid. Set in an exclusive girl’s school, it’s not as dark as McDermid’s normal work, but I am totally engrossed. And isn’t that cover glorious!


This week I am planning on reading While You Slept by R.J. Parker.


What would you do if you woke up in your home… but it wasn’t your home at all?

When a man wearing a picture mask of her daughter Maisie’s face stands tauntingly in her garden, Lily Russell does the smart thing and calls the police. When she and Maisie wake up the following morning in an exact replica of their home, held captive by that same man, the police are no longer an option.

Surrounded by the rooms and things that once provided comfort and now only promote fear, Lily and Maisie must fight to survive. Because when no one knows where you are, you are your only hope.

and When She Was Good by Michael Robotham


Criminal psychologist Cyrus Haven and Evie Cormac return in this new thriller from author Michael Robotham. Who is Evie, the girl with no past, running from? She was discovered hiding in a secret room in the aftermath of a terrible crime. Her ability to tell when someone is lying helped Cyrus crack an impenetrable case in Good Girl, Bad Girl. Now, the closer Cyrus gets to uncovering answers about Evie’s dark history, the more he exposes Evie to danger, giving her no choice but to run. Ultimately, both will have to decide if some secrets are better left buried and some monsters should never be named…

I really need to read the first in the series, Good Girl, Bad Girl, before I start this.

I have been very restrained this week. No I haven’t. 😂🤣 But whoever’s been handing out the ARCs this week has been. I have received only two. Yes! Right on target! I think that is only the second time this year that I have managed that. But it is definitely more good luck than good management.

I received The Imposter by Anna Wharton


and The Second Wife by Rebecca Fleet …. my internet keeps dropping out, and I can’t download the bookcover. 🤦‍♀️🤷‍♀️ Our ultrafast fibre connection is now at our driveway…thats only taken 3 months…so it’s anyone’s guess when it will actually get connected to the house.

Enjoy whatever is left of your weekend. I have chicken in the oven roasting for dinner tonight. Am going to put the veges in and toss the salad, then settle down with a gin and my book while it all finishes cooking. I am off to visit my son and grandson Tuesday and have also booked in to get my hair cut. I am really looking forward to my day out.


The Descent by Matt Brolly


EXCERPT: From her spot on the dry grass of the churchyard, Amy glanced at Jay,trying not to make it look obvious. He was older than everyone else in the group and certainly more relaxed. There was an easiness to his long-limbed body; a sense of grace that belonged to a dancer. He sat on the other side of the fire, his arms wrapped around Claire. This in itself didn’t mean that Claire would be chosen tonight, but if last month’s events were anything to go by then she would be the one. The thought brought with it a mixture of jealousy and relief. Amy’s time would come, but sitting here overlooking the town with its glittering lights, the sea for once at full tide, she began to doubt herself.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: In the quiet coastal town of Weston-super-Mare, a body is discovered at the foot of a cliff just months after a near-identical tragedy—and Detective Inspector Louise Blackwell can’t believe it could be a coincidence.

Next to the body, she discovers a note that echoes one found beside the first: Death is not the end. Louise is certain that behind these desperate acts someone is pulling the strings, but how many more will plunge to their demise before she can find out who—and why?

Struggling to stay focused under the strain of her troubled brother’s disappearance with his young daughter, Louise hits a much-needed breakthrough when a third tragedy points to the involvement of a charismatic cult leader. The suspect is within her sights, but he knows she’s on to him…

Short on proof and with the body count rising, can Louise intercept his deadly mission—or has she taken on an unbeatable foe?

MY THOUGHTS: The Descent by Matt Brolly is the second book in his Detective Louise Blackstock series. I have read the majority of Brolly’s books and loved his DI Michael Lambert series. Unfortunately I was not so impressed by The Crossing, the first in the Louise Blackstock series, and I am even less impressed with the Descent.

The story is told by Louise, struggling with both family issues and her career. I made the comment in my review of The Crossing that I didn’t find the characters well depicted. I felt no connection to any of them and Louise’s whining inner monologue on Finch and his past treatment of her quickly became wearing. In fact, she is pretty stereotypical of the current trend in female detectives… I see no reason to change one word of that comment in regards to The Descent.

Louise spends a lot of time engaging in ‘naval gazing’ and ‘if only I had/hadn’t….’ which quickly becomes tiresome in its repetitiveness. There’s no development of any of the supporting characters, and even the thread involving her family is repetitive. Now I am becoming repetitive. It must be catching!

Despite the claim on the cover, this is definitely not a thriller. I found it slow moving and lacking in suspense.
I expected more from Matt Brolly, and I won’t be reading any more of this particular series. Which doesn’t mean that I won’t be reading other books by this author.


THE AUTHOR: Following his law degree where he developed an interest in criminal law, Matt Brolly completed his Masters in Creative Writing at Glasgow University. Matt lives in London with his wife and their two young children.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Amazon Publishing UK via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Descent by Matt Brolly 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