Watching what I’m reading . . .

It’s probably a bit indulgent of me, but I have lit the fire as it’s a miserable grey, windy day with occasional smatterings of rain. It’s not particularly cold, but looking at the fire makes me feel better.

Currently I am reading The Curse of Morton Abbey by Clarissa Harwood

and A Letter From Nana Rose by Kristen Harper

both of which are due for publication this coming week.

I am listening to The Last Time She Died by Zoë Sharp for which I received both digital and audio ARCs this week.

This week I am planning on reading Survivor’s Guilt by Michael Wood

A TEAM TORN APART

Nine months ago DCI Matilda Darke survived a bullet to the head. The brutal attack claimed dozens of lives, including those she loved most, and the nightmares still plague her every waking thought.

A MEMORY SHE’D RATHER FORGET

Now, she’s ready to get back on the job. But a new terror awaits. A woman is found murdered and her wounds look eerily similar to several cold cases. Desperate to find a lead, DCI Darke and her team must face a terrifying truth: a serial killer is on the loose in Sheffield.

A THREAT CLOSE TO HOME

Matilda has led countless murder investigations before but the lingering emotional scars from her ordeal and the uneasiness within her once-tight team have left tensions high. As the body count rises, Matilda realises that this might just be where it all ends.

And Every Little Lie by Lesley Sanderson

Lie #1 was to my new friends, about why I moved here.
Lie #2 was to my husband, about who I was before I met him.
Lie #3 was to myself, that I would get away with what I’ve done.

When I met Seb, it was like everything fell into place. My daughter Evie finally had a proper dad, and I had found the husband of my dreams – and what Seb didn’t know about my past wouldn’t hurt him.

But lately he’s been acting strangely. He won’t look me in the eye, he keeps coming home late and the other day at the school fair I saw him arguing with an unknown woman – the same woman I’ve seen hanging around outside our house.

And just as I start wondering whether I’m not the only one with a secret, Evie goes missing…

Oh, dear! 15 new ARCs this week! I fell off the wagon big time 😂🤣😂🤣❤📚 and I still have 28 pending requests.

My new ARCs are: Goodbye Again by Mariah Stewart

The New Neighbor by Carter Wilson

Stolen Ones by Angela Marsons, DI Kim Stone #15

Why She Left by Leah Mercer

The Cranberry Inn by Barbara Josselsohn

The Widow by K.L. Slater

Old Sins by Aline Templeton

Backstory by William L. Myers, Jnr

A Cornish Christmas Murder by Fiona Leitch

Such A Good Wife by Seraphina Nova Glass

A Tidy Ending by Joanna Cannon

Her Dying Day by Mindy Carlson

Afraid by Lisa Jackson, Alexandra Ivy, and Lisa Childs

The Secret in the Wall by Ann Parker

And, of course, The Last Time She Died by Zoë Sharp, which I have already started.

Yes, well . . . What can I say?

In the past week I have travelled to: Tinworthy, Cornwall; Edinburgh, Scotland; Derbyshire, England; New York City; and New Ross, Ireland.

We are still in lockdown, so this last week was the first time in I don’t know how long that I was able to read and review all the books on my list for the week!

It doesn’t look like it is going to end any time soon, so I plan on making the most of it. I still pop into work every second day just to check the chiller temperatures and make sure everything is secure. My home office is almost ready to have the carpet laid, we’re just waiting on a new piece of skirting board to be fitted and painted. Then I plan to paint my library nook. The ceiling will need some work as there are quite a few little holes in it, almost like someone has repeatedly pushed a pool cue into it.

A little later this afternoon I will videocall my son and grandson, whom I had been planning on seeing on Tuesday when I was going to Hamilton to have my hair done. But, of course, that’s not going to happen. I will also call my youngest son in Australia and have a chat with him. I called my older brother in Sydney, Australia during the week as it was his birthday. They have recently come out of lockdown, and he is enjoying being able to get out and about again.

Have a wonderful week everyone. Stay safe and read on.❤📚

Watching What I’m Reading. . .

Well, one week down the track and we are still in lockdown. Our 75th Jubilee has been cancelled, and we are waiting to hear tomorrow whether or not we will remain in lockdown. I am not hopeful that we will be coming out any time soon. Still I am enjoying the break and getting caught up on lots of little jobs around the house and garden. On nice days my neighbour and I sit outside on our respective sides of the fence and have coffee and chat.

I bumped into Allison from the library book group in the pharmacy in town yesterday and she said the thing that she misses most is human contact; actually being able to touch someone. She is in her eighties, lives alone and has no family close by. We ended up crossing the street to sit at either end of a park bench in the sun and talking for quite some time. So I hope that, for her sake and the sakes of everyone else in the same position, that we will soon be allowed to move around a little more freely. Though having just glanced at today’s figures, it’s not looking all that likely.

Currently I am reading Oh William by Elizabeth Strout. I love her writing; reading Strout is like sitting down having a ‘remember when’ conversation with a friend.

The Room in the Attic by Louise Douglas, which is set in an old mental asylum – although they were called lunatic asylums in 1903 which is one of the two time periods in the book. The other is 1993 when it is a boys school.

I am listening to The Killer in the Snow by Alex Pine which is certainly an interesting murder-mystery/police procedural.

This week I plan to read A Body at the Altar by Dee MacDonald

Jilted grooms, sudden deaths, broken hearts and threatening letters. All in a day’s work for super sleuth Kate Palmer!

Nurse Kate Palmer thought the pretty Cornish village of Tinworthy would be the perfect place for a peaceful retirement. She couldn’t have been more wrong! But even she is shocked when she attends a beautiful wedding at St. Pirin’s Church and the handsome groom drops dead in front of her very eyes.

While the rest of the wedding party panics, Kate notices the strange behaviour of the not-so-blushing bride and the posh mother-in-law – and vows to find out the truth behind the poor young man’s sudden demise. Especially when the new detective Charlotte Martin makes it known that she doesn’t want Kate involved – and also shows an interest in Woody Forrest, Kate’s partner in crime-solving.

Undeterred, Kate discovers this isn’t the only wedding to have been sabotaged. A series of peculiar letters contain the clues Kate needs to get to the heart of the matter. But is the mystery letter writer behind the unusual deaths? Or is more than one person responsible for the strange goings on in the seaside village…

As Kate digs deeper, she adds more suspects to her growing list: the world-weary vicar, the unlucky-in-love cleaner and the bride’s former flame. But, as a pair of boots bring Kate closer to the killer, it becomes clear their investigation has placed Woody in danger.

Can Kate solve the murder and save the man she loves at the same time?

The Geometry of Holding Hands by Alexander McCall Smith

Isabel finds herself entangled in some tricky familial and financial situations that will require all of her kindness, charm, and philosophical expertise to navigate.

Just when Isabel and Jamie finally seem to have some time to connect and unwind, a wealthy Edinburgh resident reaches out to Isabel with an unusual request–he would like her to become the executor of his large Highland estate. Though Isabel initially demurs, he presses on. He has only a short time to live, and, without any direct heirs, is struggling to determine which of his three cousins would be the best caretaker. Should it go to the bohemian artist, the savvy city property developer, or the quiet, unassuming bachelor?

As if this weren’t enough to keep Isabel occupied, she’s also spending more time helping her niece Cat at the deli. Cat, perennially unlucky in love, seems to have finally found her match in the leonine Leo. But Isabel is beginning to suspect that Leo might be interested in more than Cat’s charms, namely her access to the family trust. Isabel will need to rely upon remarkable reserves of intelligence and compassion in order to give all parties exactly what they want and deserve–no more, and no less. 

And I have made up for the excesses of the previous few weeks with only one new ARC this week:

The Life She Wants by Mel Sherratt

I still have 27 requests pending, though there are quite a few that have already been published so I presume that I will never see them. I do wish that the publishers would hit the ‘decline’ button though, and remove them from my pending list.

In the past week I have been to Sydney, Australia; Glasgow, Scotland; Sweden; various locations in England in the mid-1900s; and Exeter, England. Have we crossed paths anywhere?

Safe travels and happy reading. ❤📚

The Stoning by Peter Papathanasiou

EXCERPT: Heavy footsteps were soon around her ears, hands on her hair pulling backwards, dragging her limp body further east. They were leaving the oval, heading for the copse of gum trees behind the scoreboard. Dry sheets of sharp bark clawed at her skin, leaving dark red whiplashes across her milky white back. The next sound was of her spine crunching against one of the thick trunks as she was moved into position and fixed with a thick roll of gaffer tape around her shoulders, breasts, torso, thighs, ankles.

She was left there for some time – several minutes. Ample opportunity for her to be found had it not been such a late hour or desolate part of town. She hung there, strung like a puppet. Something began to crawl up her leg.

ABOUT ‘THE STONING’: A small town in outback Australia wakes to a crime of medieval savagery.

A local schoolteacher is found taped to a tree and stoned to death. Suspicion instantly falls on the refugees at the new detention centre on Cobb’s northern outskirts. Tensions are high, between whites and the local indigenous community, between immigrants and the townies.

Still mourning the recent death of his father, Detective Sergeant George Manolis returns to his childhood hometown to investigate. Within minutes of his arrival, it’s clear that Cobb is not the same place he left. Once it thrived, but now it’s a poor and derelict dusthole, with the local police chief it deserves. And as Manolis negotiates his new colleagues’ antagonism, and the simmering anger of a community destroyed by alcohol and drugs, the ghosts of his past begin to flicker to life.

MY THOUGHTS: Set in the fictional town of Cobb, somewhere in outback Australia, The Stoning is a richly atmospheric story of the brutal stoning to death of a young woman, a much loved and admired teacher in the community.

DS Georgios Manolis is sent out from ‘the city’ to oversee the investigation, the local police force of three being largely inept and mostly drunk, with the exception of Kate Kerr, the only female on the force. Even she carries a baseball bat in the boot of her car to ward off unwanted attention and even she, initially, resents Manolis’ intrusion.

Manolis, a man used to doing things by the book and following procedures, struggles with policing in this small town where there’s no chain of command and no recognition given to the need to preserve the scene of the crime or establish a chain of evidence.

The people are a mystery to him. Angry, resentful and bigoted, they seem content to blame Molly’s death on the inmates of the local refugee detention centre. After all, it’s their sort of crime. But for Manolis, there’s a few things that just don’t seem to add up.

As much as I loved this story, there were a few things that didn’t add up for me either. Molly must have had some friends amongst the townspeople. No mention is made of them, the question is never asked, and thus no one, other than the principal of the school where she worked, is interviewed about her.

Small towns like this thrive on gossip. That is never tapped. And believe me, the men gossip just as much as the women. Georgios could have done with spending a bit more time on a bar stool in the top pub, shouting a few rounds, with his ears open.

And speaking of women, where are they? Other than the dead Molly, Kate the copper, Ida the old gin soak and newspaper thief who found Molly’s body, and Vera from the holiday park, there are no women!

I would also have liked a better sense of place. Beyond the fact that we’re in the Australian outback, which is two-thirds of Australia, a bloody big place, we have no idea where we are.

But, beyond that, the writing is superb. Manolis portrays an impoverished and dying town, badly impacted by the detention centre meant to bring jobs and prosperity to the area, but which has instead brought crime and drugs and hostility.

I loved the underlying thread of Manolis’ family background that runs through this story. In the course of the investigation into Molly’s death, he learns more about his own family, and clears up a mystery from his childhood.

The ending to The Stoning was unexpected, but strangely satisfying.

I believe this to be the first in a series featuring Georgios Manolis. I will definitely be in line for the next.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.1

#TheStoning #NetGalley

I: @petepapathanasiou @quercusbooks

T: @peteplastic @QuercusBooks

#australianfiction #contemporaryfiction #crime #detectivefiction #murdermystery #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Peter Papathanasiou was born in northern Greece in 1974 and adopted as a baby to an Australian family. His debut book, a memoir, was published in 2019 as “Son of Mine” by Salt Publishing (UK) and “Little One” by Allen & Unwin (Australia). His debut novel, a work of crime fiction, was published in 2021 as “The Stoning” by MacLehose Press (UK) and Transit Lounge (Australia), and in 2022 by Polar Verlag (Germany). Peter’s writing has otherwise been published by The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, The Seattle Times, The Guardian UK, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Good Weekend, ABC and SBS. He holds a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from City, University of London; a Doctor of Philosophy in Biomedical Sciences from The Australian National University (ANU); and a Bachelor of Laws from ANU specialising in criminal law. (Amazon)

DISCLOSURE: Thanks to Quercus Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Stoning 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

1979 (Allie Burns #1) by Val McDermid

EXCERPT: Muttering a prayer to the God she didn’t believe in, Allie slid her fingers through the letterbox and groped for the string. At first, she couldn’t feel it but when she slid her hand to one end, her fingertips brushed the nub end of the knot. She struggled to grasp the string, realising it was snagged around something on the inside. She feared it had been tied but at last she worked it loose and pulled the key through.

Sweating now, she let herself in. Hopefully the neighbours hadn’t heard her. She wasn’t planning on being there long, but she would still prefer the police to be unaware of her visit. Allie headed for the kitchen. She knew that’s where she’d find what she was looking for.

There on the wall above the table in the bed recess was a family photograph. Danny, his parents and his brother Joseph. The man most likely to have a flash car with Paragon folders on the front seat. Allie reached up and lifted it from the hook. She was about to put it in her bag when she heard a sound that turned her guts to water.

The front door that she’d carefully locked behind her was opening.

ABOUT ‘1979’: Hailed as Britain’s Queen of Crime, Val McDermid’s award-winning, internationally bestselling novels have captivated readers for more than thirty years. Now, in 1979, she returns to the past with the story of Allie Burns, an investigative journalist whose stories lead her into world a corruption, terror, and murder.

The year started badly and only got worse–blizzards, strikes, power cuts, and political unrest were the norm. For journalist Allie Burns, however, someone else’s bad news was the unmistakable sound of opportunity knocking, and the year is ripe with possibilities. But Allie is a woman in a man’s world. Desperate to get away from the “women’s stories” the Glasgow desk keeps assigning her, she strikes up an alliance with wannabe investigative journalist Danny Sullivan. From the start, their stories create enemies. First an international tax fraud, then a potential Scottish terrorist group aiming to cause mayhem ahead of the impending devolution referendum. And then Danny is found murdered in his flat. For Allie, investigative journalism just got personal.

MY THOUGHTS: McDermid writes great crime fiction and 1979 is an excellent start to what promises to be a great new series.

While not as graphic nor dark as some of Mcdermid’s work, 1979 is a compelling look at a time in the not so distant past, but a time that was very different to today. Women were still very much second class citizens, struggling to make their way in a man’s world. There are no computers, no mobile phones.

Allie has ambition. And talent. So when an opportunity arises to collaborate on a story that doesn’t involve items for the women’s desk, she jumps at the chance. Then, knowing that a reporter’s reputation is only as good as her last story, she embarks on a dangerous exposé.

Allie is a wonderful character, determined, bright and dedicated, and her growth as a person in 1979 is phenomenal as we see her confidence in her own ability increase, along with others respect for her.

Mcdermid’s writing is, as always, excellent. Her characters are humanly flawed and relatable, the plot superbly crafted. I can always ‘hear’ her characters as I read, and 1979 was no exception.

It is going to be exciting to see where McDermid is going to take Allie’s character in the future. I will be at the front of the line waiting to find out.

In her acknowledgements, McDermid pays tribute to the booksellers, who she describes as having been ‘heroic’ and ‘innovative’ over the past year (2020/2021).

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#1979 #NetGalley

I: #valmcdermid @groveatlantic

T: @valmcdermid @groveatlantic

#crime #historicalfiction #murdermystery #series #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Val McDermid, FRSE, FRSL is a Scottish crime writer, best known for a series of novels featuring clinical psychologist Dr. Tony Hill in a grim sub-genre that McDermid and others have identified as Tartan Noir. At Raith Rovers football stadium, a stand has been named after McDermid.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Grove Atlantic via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of 1979 by Val McDermid 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

Over My Dead Body by Jeffrey Archer

EXCERPT: ‘Are you a detective, sir?’

William looked up at the young man who’d asked the question. ‘No, I’m the assistant manager of the Midland Bank in Shoreham, Kent.’

‘In that case,’ continued the young man, not looking convinced, ‘you’ll be able to tell me what the exchange rate was between the dollar and the pound when the currency market opened this morning.’

William tried to remember how much he’d received when he changed a hundred pounds into dollars just before he’d joined the ship the previous evening. But he hesitated for too long.

‘One dollar and fifty-four cents to the pound,’ said the young man before he could reply. ‘So, forgive me for asking, sir, why aren’t you willing to admit you’re a detective?’

William put the book he was reading on the table in front of him and took a closer look at the earnest young American who seemed desperate not to be thought of as a child, although he hadn’t started shaving. The word ‘preppy’ immediately came to mind.

‘Can you keep a secret?’ he whispered.

‘Yes, of course,’ the young man said, sounding offended.

‘Then have a seat,’ said William, pointing to the comfortable chair opposite him. He waited for the young man to settle. ‘I’m on holiday, and I promised my wife that for the next ten days I wouldn’t tell anyone I was a detective, because it’s always followed by a stream of questions that turn it into a busman’s holiday.’

But why choose a banker as your cover?’ asked the young man. ‘Because I have the feeling you wouldn’t know the difference between a spreadsheet and a balance sheet.’

‘My wife and I gave that question some considerable thought before we settled on a banker. I grew up in Shoreham, a small town in England, in the sixties, and the local bank manager was a friend of my father’s. So I thought I’d get away with it for a couple of weeks.’

‘What else was on the short list?’

‘Estate agent, car salesman, and funeral director. All of which we were fairly confident wouldn’t be followed by never ending questions.’

The young man laughed.

‘Which job would you have chosen?’ asked William, trying to regain the initiative.

‘Hitman. That way nobody would have bothered me with any follow up questions.’

‘I would have known that was a cover immediately,’ said William with a dismissive wave of his hand. ‘Because no hitman would have asked me if I was a detective. He would have already known. So, what do you really do when you’re not a hitman?’

ABOUT ‘OVER MY DEAD BODY’: In London, the Metropolitan Police set up a new Unsolved Murders Unit—a cold case squad—to catch the criminals nobody else can.

In Geneva, millionaire art collector Miles Faulkner—convicted of forgery and theft—was pronounced dead two months ago. So why is his unscrupulous lawyer still representing a dead client?

On a luxury liner en route to New York, the battle for power at the heart of a wealthy dynasty is about to turn to murder.

And at the heart of all three investigations are Detective Chief Inspector William Warwick, rising star of the department, and ex-undercover agent Ross Hogan, brought in from the cold.

But can they catch the killers before it’s too late?

Due for publication 12 October 2021

MY THOUGHTS: I first read Jeffrey Archer in 1979,or shortly thereafter, having bought my father Kane and Abel as a gift, which I promptly borrowed back to read. My father is long passed away, but I still have that copy. Thus began my love affair with this extraordinarily talented storyteller.

Now in his eighties, he certainly hasn’t lost his touch, and has created a wonderful character in William Warwick who has risen to the rank of Detective Chief Inspector (youngest in the history of the Met), and also in Ross Hogan, an ex-undercover agent and loose cannon.

The cruise that William and his delightful and clever wife Beth are taking, doesn’t turn out to be the relaxing holiday they were planning on. A suspicious death on board puts paid to that, and William leaves his wife in New York after they dock and flies back to England where he becomes embroiled in a plan to catch the escaped, and previously thought dead, criminal Miles Faulkner.

Over My Dead Body is fast paced and kept me spellbound from beginning to end. It’s not often that I will listen to an audiobook in two days, but I had my earbuds in every chance I had. It’s brilliantly written, with plots and subplots, twists, turns and drama. I frequently had my heart in my mouth, and at one point I called out a very loud and anguished, ‘Nooo!’ If you read Over My Dead Body, and I hope that you do, you will know exactly at which point I did this.

Archer has left me on the edge of my seat, waiting for #5 in this planned series of 8 books.

Narrator George Blagden gave an excellent performance, but then I would expect nothing less from such a distinguished actor.

At the end of the audiobook is an excellent interview with Jeffrey Archer. Please don’t skip this, it’s priceless.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

#OverMyDeadBody #NetGalley

I: @jeffrey_archer_author @harpercollinsuk

T: @Jeffrey_Archer @HarperCollinsUK

#fivestarread #detectivefiction #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Jeffrey Howard Archer, Baron Archer of Weston-super-Mare (born 15 April 1940) is an English author and former politician.

He was a Member of Parliament and deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, and became a life peer in 1992. His political career, having suffered several controversies, ended after a conviction for perverting the course of justice and his subsequent imprisonment. He is married to Mary Archer, a scientist specialising in solar power. Outside politics, he is a novelist, playwright and short story writer.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harper Collins UK Audio via Netgalley for providing an audio ARC of Over My Dead Body 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

Bad Apples by Will Dean

EXCERPT: An arm catches around my neck. I fall.

A body on top of me. Heavy. Smells of waxed jacket. A forearm to my face.

‘Get off me!’

‘Please,’ she says.

I roll away and she is staring at me, her eyes bulging and red, her fingers bloody.

‘Please.’

‘Who are you?’ I ask, the fog managing to drift between us, her face breaking up behind the static.

She gets to her knees and stands and I see her jeans are red. Stained. Splattered.

I pull my knife from my bag and she says, ‘No’ and puts her palms to her face, and she says, ‘No, no, no.’

I take a deep breath of forest air, dense with spores and rotten leaves. It’s thick autumn air laced with the tang of rot and decay.

‘Over there,’ she says, pointing into the mists.

I swallow hard and stand up and move to where she’s pointing. A fallen pine, its root system flat and sprawling like a metro map. A dash of colour behind. A coat? I clamber over the pine, its rough bark scratching at my trousers like the nails of a grasping hand.

Two boots.

And two legs.

‘Dead,’ she says.

ABOUT ‘BAD APPLES’: It only takes one…

A murder

A resident of small-town Visberg is found decapitated

A festival

A cultish hilltop community ‘celebrates’ Pan Night after the apple harvest

A race against time

As Visberg closes ranks to keep its deadly secrets, there could not be a worse time for Tuva Moodyson to arrive as deputy editor of the local newspaper. Powerful forces are at play and no one dares speak out. But Tuva senses the story of her career, unaware that perhaps she is the story…

MY THOUGHTS: Dark. Intense. Spine chilling. Unsettling. Gory. Almost nightmarish. And set at Halloween.

I read Bad Apples, my first book by Will Dean, with a kind of fascinated horror. I was constantly on edge, at times not daring to breathe as I read.

The setting is the fictional towns of Gavrik and Visberg, a few hours north of Karlstad, a real city, in Sweden. Surrounded by the Utgard Forest, the winters are cold and dark, the animals wild, the towns sparse, insular, and isolated. Even the difference in the inhabitants of Gavrik and the even more isolated Visberg is noticeable.

The characters are outstanding and many exude an air of mystery and menace. There is a pair of elderly sisters who carve trolls, adorning them with animal parts; a clock maker with a macabre basement museum; a mother and son who run a strange storage facility; a Bosnian pizzeria owner reputed to be a war criminal; and twins who run an eerie 24 hour gaming parlour. There are many more characters who range from eccentric to downright scary, so there’s no shortage of suspects, and there’s plenty of red herrings to exercise those little grey cells.

But there are tender moments too, such as with Danny, the delightful and lovable small child of the warring couple who live next door to Tuva. There is definitely something about this couple, and I am sure that they will feature more in future books.

While Dean may lack the finesse of Mr King, he still knows how to create an atmosphere.

I haven’t read any of the previous books in this series, but that is something I intend to remedy. I didn’t have any problem with continuity, and Bad Apples is easily read as a stand-alone.

Bad Apples ends on a cliffhanger, but I am sure that there is more to come.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.3

#BadApples #NetGalley

I: @willrdean @oneworldpublications

T: @willrdean @OneworldNews

#contemporaryfiction #crime #murdermystery #thriller

THE AUTHOR: Will Dean grew up in the East Midlands, living in nine different villages before the age of eighteen. He was a bookish, daydreaming kid who found comfort in stories and nature (and he still does). After studying Law at the LSE, and working in London, he settled in rural Sweden. He built a wooden house in a boggy clearing at the centre of a vast elk forest, and it’s from this base that he compulsively reads and writes.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Oneworld Publications, Point Blank, for providing a digital ARC of Bad Apples by Will Dean for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

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

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

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

I am currently reading a very atmospheric piece of Australian fiction, The Stoning by Peter Papathanasiou. I keep expecting my furniture to be covered in a fine layer of red dust whenever I surface from this read.

I am listening to Trick or Treat by Katerina Diamond, which I have only just started, and which received this week.

This week I am planning on making a start on my Christmas reads, with A Lighthouse Christmas by Jenny Hale. I have heard such wonderful things about this author and am looking forward to reading this.

When her beloved grandmother passes away, Mia Broadhurst returns to the snow-covered seaside village of Winsted Cape, where Grandma Ruth ran the lighthouse overlooking the golden beach.

This will be Mia’s first Christmas without her, and she can’t bear to part with the lighthouse that has been in their family for generations. As she steps into it, childhood memories rush back to her. She can almost hear them playing tag on the steps… But her life is back in New York, dedicated to a busy PR firm, and she has no choice but to sell.

With the snow falling, turning the grounds into a winter wonderland, Mia works with real estate agent Will Thacker. As they restore the historical building, she tries not notice how handsome he is. After all, she’s only home for Christmas… And Will’s deep blue eyes, as stormy as the Atlantic Ocean, tells her he has his own heartbreak to contend with.

Warmed by a crackling fire, Mia packs up Grandma Ruth’s belongings with the help of her mother and sister. But waiting for them is a black-and-white photograph with a faded inscription. The mysterious message is the key to a family secret that has been hidden for decades––one that changes everything.

When Mia finds out the truth, will it save the precious lighthouse and show Mia where her heart belongs? Or will it tear her from Winsted Cape––and Will––for ever?

And The Mother’s Fault by Nicole Trope, an author I always enjoy.

I am cooking spaghetti, his favourite, while he plays in the garden. But when I look up, he’s gone. I call the police, my hands shaking so much that I hit the wrong digits twice. ‘My son is missing.’

When the police turn up, I’m trapped in the web of my lies.

I have hidden the truth from eight-year-old Riley, my little boy who loves climbing trees and always has scraped knees. I have hidden my secret from everyone.

Riley knows his father is dead but he has no idea why. He doesn’t know his dad’s real name, and there are no pictures in the house. Not a single person knows what happened eight years ago.

I love my son more than anything but the truth is, I have always feared for him. When the first gift arrived in our mailbox, wrapped in blue paper with silver stars, I realised I was right to be afraid.

Now, I can see the question in the detectives’ eyes. Am I a mother with a missing child or a mother with a lot to hide? I need them to save my son – but how much can I tell them without losing him forever? 

I have 9 new ARCs this week, two of them audiobooks, one of which, Trick or Treat, I have started listening to. I still have 31 requests pending.

My new ARCs are: The Maid by Nita Prose

The Heretic by Liam McIlvanney

A Surprise for Christmas and Other Seasonal Mysteries edited by Martin Edwards

The Silent Conversation by Caro Ramsay which, when I requested it, I was unaware was #13 in a series!

A Body at the Altar by Dee MacDonald. I also have the previous book in this series, A Body at the Tea Rooms to catch up on.

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

Put Out to Pasture by Amanda Flower

and the audiobook Touching Strangers by Stacey Madden

Thank you to all my enabler friends who provided fodder for my book list this week. You know who you are. ❤📚

My posting has been a bit irregular this week for a number of reasons starting with the brutal, senseless and cowardly murder of one of my husband’s workmates last weekend while we were away. Antz was an all round good guy and father of six who will be greatly missed. We are grateful that two suspects have been apprehended.

I have also been helping to care for a friend who started chemotherapy this week and who has had a very violent reaction to it.

And we went back into lockdown at midnight on Thursday night. So Friday was spent going through all the lockdown procedures as we have no idea how long this will be for. It doesn’t affect the whole of New Zealand, just from the middle of the North Island, north. Case numbers are continuing to rise daily with an alarming number not connected to current cases. We had our Club’s 75th Jubilee scheduled for the last weekend this month and, depending on the news tomorrow afternoon, are probably going to have to postpone it again. We were meant to have it last year, but the same thing happened. Maybe we should just wait for the 80th now!

I had planned to go to visit my son and grandson this past week, but they went into lockdown a week ahead of us, so I am having to make do with videocalls. Aren’t we lucky to have this technology available to us. I also had a long videocall with my son in Western Australia earlier today. It was lovely to be able to see and talk to him.

So that was my week. I didn’t get all the reading done that I had planned, but that’s life and I am grateful that I and all my loved ones are safe. I hope your week wasn’t as eventful as mine.

Happy reading all. ❤📚

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

Thank you all for your good wishes for our weekend away. It was long drive in unpleasant conditions, and a detour to avoid a road closure due to an accident, but it was worth it to catch up with my brother. We share a passion for wine and I brought a few bottles home from his collection, plus the leftovers from the very delicious white chocolate cheesecake Rachel made for dessert. I am going to have to spend some time on my cross trainer this week as a result.

Currently I am reading 1979 by Val McDermid. I only started this before work this morning, but I am hooked.

I am listening to Our House by Louise Candlish which I am enjoying.

This week I am planning on reading Bad Apples by Will Dean – my second book title featuring apples in as many weeks.

It only takes one…

A murder

A resident of small-town Visberg is found decapitated

A festival

A cultish hilltop community ‘celebrates’ Pan Night after the apple harvest

A race against time

As Visberg closes ranks to keep its deadly secrets, there could not be a worse time for Tuva Moodyson to arrive as deputy editor of the local newspaper. Powerful forces are at play and no one dares speak out. But Tuva senses the story of her career, unaware that perhaps she is the story…

And The Stoning by Peter Papathanasiou, Australian fiction by a new author to me.

A small town in outback Australia wakes to a crime of medieval savagery.

A local schoolteacher is found taped to a tree and stoned to death. Suspicion instantly falls on the refugees at the new detention centre on Cobb’s northern outskirts. Tensions are high, between whites and the local indigenous community, between immigrants and the townies.

Still mourning the recent death of his father, Detective Sergeant George Manolis returns to his childhood hometown to investigate. Within minutes of his arrival, it’s clear that Cobb is not the same place he left. Once it thrived, but now it’s a poor and derelict dusthole, with the local police chief it deserves. And as Manolis negotiates his new colleagues’ antagonism, and the simmering anger of a community destroyed by alcohol and drugs, the ghosts of his past begin to flicker to life.

Six new ARCs this week – where did they come from?🤷‍♀️ And, oh dear, 33 requests still pending.

Two titles from Marci Bolden, both read now – A Life Without Regrets (Thank you Susan of susanlovesbooks.wordpress.com )

And Hidden Hearts

The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

The Echo Man by Sam Holland

A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham

And The Perfect Neighbour by Susanna Beard

I still have two reviews to write, so I had better crack on.

Stay safe. Covid Delta has escaped Auckland and there are cases just an hour up the road. Where my son and grandson live is now off limits to us . . . They are both fine, and Dustin is fully vaccinated so hopefully they will be fine.

Happy reading!❤📚

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

Watching What I’m Reading . . .

Happy Sunday afternoon everyone!

I have just started reading The Parents by Claire Seeber, a new author to me.

I am 2/3 through listening to Stranded by Sarah Goodwin. The jury is still out. I do see the resemblance to Lord of the Flies, which I never particularly liked, but there is still a third of the book to go, and it sounds like there’s still plenty to happen.

This week I am planning on reading My Daughter’s Mistake by Kate Hewitt, an author I know I can depend on for an emotionally wrenching read.

I look at my daughter. My darling girl. I remember her tiny hand in mine, her first smile. I recall her tears when she’d tumble over, healed instantly with a band-aid and a little kiss. I have to keep her safe. Even if it means someone else gets hurt…

In the pretty, privileged college town of Milford, New Hampshire, everyone is friendly, everything is safe. And on this cold autumn day, as red and yellow leaves begin to fall from the trees, and everyone wraps up for the first time, it would be easy to believe nothing bad could ever happen here.

Until a screech of tires is heard, a thud, a child’s scream. The crash that sees Jenna’s six-year-old daughter Amy Rose being hit by a car driven by seventeen-year-old Maddie.

Maddie’s mother, Ellen—a college professor with a warm, approachable reputation—insists it must have been an accident. Her daughter is always safe on the road—and she’s vulnerable herself.

But as Amy Rose lies unconscious in hospital, the town begins to take sides. With Ellen, who just wants to defend her daughter. Or with Jenna, a single mother with a past, whose child hovers between life and death…

The truth is that both mothers have secrets they’re trying to keep. And, with Amy Rose’s life hanging in the balance, one of them will stop at nothing to protect the person she loves—her daughter.

And Birds of a Feather by Tricia Stringer, another new author to me.

Eve has been a partner in a Wallaby Bay fishing fleet as long as she can remember. Now they want her to sell – but what would her life be without work? She lives alone, her role on the town committee has been spiked by malicious gossip and she is incapacitated after surgery. For the first time in her life she feels weak, vulnerable – old.

When her troubled god-daughter Julia arrives at Wallaby Bay, she seems to offer Eve a reprieve from her own concerns. But there is no such thing as plain sailing. Eve has another house guest, the abrasive Lucy, who is helping her recuperate and does not look kindly on Julia’s desire for Eve’s attention.

But Lucy, too, has demons to battle and as each woman struggles to overcome their loss of place in the world, they start to realise that there may be more that holds them together, than keeps them apart.

But will these birds of feather truly be able to reinvent what family means? Or will the secrets and hurts of the past shatter their precarious hold on their new lives … and each other? 

During the past week I have been: Stranded on Buidseach Island off the Scottish Coast; in the poverty stricken suburb of Mattapan, Boston; to the tea shop in Charon’s Crossing, wherever that may be; and I am currently in the football obsessed village of Tenderton, Kent. Have we crossed paths this week? Where have you been?

I have eight new ARCs this week: At the End of the Day by Liz Byrski, an English born Australian author I love.

Brutal Crimes by Michael Hambling

The Room in the Attic by Louise Douglas

A Life Without Water by Marci Bolden which I was declined for back in 2019 when it was first released. I found it as ‘read now’ when I was browsing the Netgalley shelves.

The Stoning by Peter Papathanasiou, another Australian author also new to me.

A Lighthouse Christmas by Jenny Hale, an author I have been wanting to read for some time.

Every Little Lie by Lesley Sanderson, an author I enjoy.

And finally, The Long Weekend by Gilly Macmillan

and I still have 29 requests pending. 🤦‍♀️🤷‍♀️❤📚