The Chain by Adrian McKinty

I have just reread The Chain by Adrian McKinty for a Goodreads.com Mystery, Crime and Thriller group read. Then I discovered that I had never actually published my review on my blog, so here it is!

EXCERPT: Her phone rings, startling her,

‘Unknown Caller,’ it says

She answers with the speakerphone: ‘Hello?’

‘Two things you must remember,’ a voice says through some kind of speech-distortion machine. ‘Number one: you are not the first and you will certainly not be the last. Number two: remember, its not about the money – it’s about The Chain.’

This has to be some sort of prank, one part of her brain is saying. But other deeper, more ancient structures in her cerebellum are beginning to react with what can only be described as pure animal terror.

‘I think you must have the wrong number,’ she suggests.

The voice continues obliviously: ‘In five minutes, Rachel, you will be getting the most important phone call of your life. You are going to need to pull your car over to the shoulder. you’re going to need to have your wits about you. You will be getting detailed instructions. Make sure your phone is fully charged and make sure also that you have a pen and paper to write down these instructions. I am not going to pretend that things are going to be easy for you. The coming days will be very difficult, but The Chain will get you through.’

Rachel feels very cold. Her mouth tastes of old pennies. Her head is light. ‘ I’m going to have to call the police or…..’

‘No police. No law enforcement of any kind. You will do just fine, Rachel. You would not have been selected if we thought you were the kind of person who would go to pieces on us. What is being asked of you may seem impossible now but it is entirely within your capabilities.’

A splinter of ice runs down her spine. A leak of the future into the present. A terrifying future that, evidently, will manifest itself in just a few minutes.

‘Who are you?’ she asks.

‘Pray that you never find out who we are and what we are capable of.’

The line goes dead.

She checks the caller ID again but the number is still not there. That voice, though. Mechanically disguised and deliberate; assured, chilly, arrogant. What can this person mean about getting the most important phone call of her life? She checks her rearview mirror and moves the Volvo out of the fast lane and into the middle lane just in case another call really is coming in.

She picks nervously at a line of thread that’s coming off her red sweater just as the iPhone rings again.

Another Unknown Caller.

She stabs at the green answer key. ‘Hello?’

‘Is this Rachel O’Neill?’ a voice asks. A different voice. A woman. A woman who sounds very upset.

Rachel wants to say ‘No’; she wants to ward off the impending disaster by saying that actually she has started using her maiden name again – Rachel Klein – but she knows there’s no point. Nothing she is going to say or do is going to stop this woman from telling her that the worst has happened.

‘Yes,’ she says.

‘I’m so sorry, Rachel, I’ve got some terrible news for you. Have you got the pen and paper for the instructions?’

‘What’s happened?’ she asks, really scared now.

‘I’ve kidnapped your daughter.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: THE ONLY WAY TO SAVE YOUR CHILD IS TO KIDNAP ANOTHER.

Listen carefully …
Your child has been kidnapped.
You must abduct someone else’s child to save your own.
Disobey. Break the rules. Go to the cops. Your child will die.
Your victim’s parents must kidnap another child before yours is released.
You are now part of the chain.

#DONTBREAKTHECHAIN

MY THOUGHTS: I may have said this before, but I am going to say it again: Adrian McKinty is one hell of a writer! And versatile with it.

I read this overnight, finishing it at 2am. I have not functioned well at work today, a day when I really needed to be running at 110%.

This is very different to McKinty’s Sean Duffy series, although there is still the odd musical reference, and his sense of humour still shines through, not as often, but it’s still there. But although it is different, it is equally as brilliant in its own way.

I loved the way he wove bits of his own background, when he was struggling as a writer, into Rachel’s background. There was nothing that Rachel did in her efforts to get her daughter back, that I wouldn’t do if my child’s life was at risk. The only difference being that I don’t have the luxury of an ex-marine as a brother-in-law.

Riveting. Compelling. Thrilling. Just read it.

❤❤❤❤❤

‘Oh,Rachel, why do birds suddenly appear every time that you’re near?’ Because they’re actually carrion crows and I’m one of the goddamn undead.’

‘Chemo is a little death that you invite in in order to keep the big death outside on the porch. ‘

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 The Chain by Adrian McKinty, published by Hachette Australia, from Waitomo District Library. But I loved it so much I will be buying my own hard copy. 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. . .

It has been a long day. I went to work at 8 am as it’s my weekend for cash ups, plus we have our board meeting today. I did really well – I managed to upset both the board members and the staff. Today was one of those days when I wonder why I do what I do.

I am currently reading Cognac and Confessions, an unpublished novel by unpublished author Christine Cameron. Almost finished and loving it. I have previously read her first unpublished novel ‘If Gin Doesn’t Work, There’s Always Chocolate’. Any publishers reading this, I pose the question, ‘Why aren’t you publishing this writer?’ She is funny, taut and versatile. Both books I have read by her are far better than a lot of published work that I have read. If you know a publisher, please ask them to contact me and I will pass on her contact details.

I have just finished listening to The Disappeared by Sibel Hodge. I never realised that the cocoa industry was so corrupt. Sibel is a passionate human and animal rights advocate and this is reflected in her writing. I will definitely only be buying ethically sourced chocolate after reading The Disappeared. Read my review tomorrow.

This week I am planning on reading The Girls Weekend by Jody Gehrman

June Moody, a thirty-something English professor, just wants to get away from her recent breakup and reunite with girlfriends over summer break. Her old friend and longtime nemesis, Sadie MacTavish, a mega-successful author, invites June and her college friends to a baby shower at her sprawling estate in the San Juan Islands. June is less than thrilled to spend time with Sadie–and her husband, June’s former crush–but agrees to go.

The party gets off to a shaky start when old grudges resurface, but when they wake the next morning, they find something worse: Sadie is missing, the house is in shambles, and bloodstains mar the staircase. None of them has any memory of the night before; they wonder if they were drugged. Everyone’s a suspect. Since June had a secret rendezvous with Sadie’s husband, she has plenty of reason to suspect herself. Apparently, so do the cops.

And Save Her Soul by Lisa Regan

Josie flinches as she takes in the faded blue sports jacket wrapped around the girl they just pulled from the water. Josie knew someone who’d once owned that jacket. He had died in her arms five years ago.

Heavy rain pours on the small town of Denton causing the riverbanks to break and the body of a young girl to float quietly to the surface. With no crime scene to examine, the odds are against Detective Josie Quinn and her team. Mercifully, the victim’s body is perfectly preserved, right down to the baseball patch on the jacket she was wearing. Josie can’t hide her devastation—her dead ex-husband, Ray, owned one just like it.

Following the trail back to her high school, Josie identifies the girl as Beverly Urban, a troubled student rumored to have been dating Ray before she left town for good. It looks like a tragic accident until the autopsy reveals a bullet in her head and the heart-breaking secret she was keeping.

Josie visits the salon where Beverly’s mother used to work, believing she was at the heart of a terrible scandal around the time her daughter’s life was taken. With the Denton wives remaining tight-lipped, Josie’s only hope is a secret meet-up with a terrified woman willing to talk. But she is murdered moments before giving Josie crucial information. It’s clear that someone is prepared to keep on killing to stop the truth from getting out.

Digging deep into memories of her own past with Ray is the only advantage Josie has on this twisted killer… but at what cost?

Four new ARCs this week, three yesterday! And I was doing so well . . .

The Shadow Man by Helen Fields

The Great Escape From Woodlands Nursing Home by Joanna Nell

The Housewarming by S.E. Lynes

And finally another wonderful piece of Australian fiction, Before the Storm by Di Morrissey. I have read several of this author’s previous titles and they were brilliant!

Hopefully I will get a bit more time for reading this coming week than I had last week.

My little grandson has been a great source of amusement this week. He moved himself up a level at daycare recently because he didn’t ‘want to play with the little kids anymore.’ Yesterday he had a meltdown because he decided that if he could have a birthday party he would be four. Then he would only be one birthday away from going to school. So if he had another birthday party he would be five and could go to school. He really did not understand why that wouldn’t work….

So that’s my lot for this week. To all you lucky people who still have some Sunday ahead of you to enjoy, have a wonderful day. Almost dinner time here, so I am going to make the salad and TMOTH is going to BBQ the steaks. Apple strudel and dairy free chocolate icecream for dessert.

Enjoy however much is left of your weekend.

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!

Why we love children . . .

Thank thank you to my friend Bionic Jean from Goodreads.com for sharing this with me.

THIS IS WHY WE LOVE CHILDREN
1) NUDITY I was driving with my three young children one warm summer evening when a woman in the convertible ahead of us stood up and waved. She was stark naked! As I was reeling from the shock, I heard my 5-year-old shout from the back seat, ‘Mom, that lady isn’t wearing a seat belt!’


2) OPINIONS On the first day of school, a first-grader handed his teacher a note from his mother. The note read, ‘The opinions expressed by this child are not necessarily those of his parents.’


3) KETCHUP A woman was trying hard to get the ketchup out of the jar. During her struggle the phone rang so she asked her 4-year-old daughter to answer the phone. ‘Mommy can’t come to the phone to talk to you right now. She’s hitting the bottle.’


4) MORE NUDITY A little boy got lost at the YMCA and found himself in the women’s locker room. When he was spotted, the room burst into shrieks, with ladies grabbing towels and running for cover. The little boy watched in amazement and then asked, ‘What’s the matter, haven’t you ever seen a little boy before?’


5) POLICE # 1 While taking a routine vandalism report at an elementary school, I was interrupted by a little girl about 6 years old. Looking up and down at my uniform, she asked, ‘Are you a cop?
Yes,’ I answered and continued writing the report.
‘My mother said if I ever needed help I should ask the police. Is that right?’
‘Yes, that’s right,’ I told her.
‘Well, then,’ she said as she extended her foot toward me, ‘would you please tie my shoe?’


6) POLICE # 2 It was the end of the day when I parked my police van in front of the station. As I gathered my equipment, my K-9 partner, Jake, was barking, and I saw a little boy staring in at me.
‘Is that a dog you got back there?’ he asked.
‘It sure is,’ I replied.
Puzzled, the boy looked at me and then towards the back of the van. Finally he said, ‘What’d he do?’


7) ELDERLY While working for an organization that delivers lunchesto elderly shut-ins, I used to take my 4-year-old daughter on my afternoon rounds. She was unfailingly intrigued by the various appliances of old age, particularly the canes, walkers and wheelchairs. One day I found her staring at a pair of false teeth soaking in a glass. As I braced myself for the inevitable barrage of questions, she merely turned and whispered, ‘The tooth fairy will never believe this!’
8) DRESS-UP A little girl was watching her parents dress for a party. When she saw her dad donning his tuxedo, she warned, ‘Daddy, you shouldn’t wear that suit.’
‘And why not, darling?’
‘You know that it always gives you a headache the next morning.’
9) DEATH While walking along the sidewalk in front of his church, our minister heard the intoning of a prayer that nearly made his collar wilt. Apparently, his 5-year-old son and his playmates had found a dead robin. Feeling that proper burial should be performed, they had secured a small box and cottonwool, then dug a hole and made ready for the disposal of the deceased.
The minister’s son was chosen to say the appropriate prayers and with sonorous dignity intoned his version of what he thought his father always said: ‘Glory be unto the Faaather, and unto the Sonnn, and into the hole he goooes.’ (I want this line used at my funeral!)
10) SCHOOL A little girl had just finished her first week of school. ‘I’m just wasting my time,’ she said to her mother. ‘I can’t read, I can’t write, and they won’t let me talk!’
11) BIBLE A little boy opened the big family Bible. He was fascinated as he fingered through the old pages. Suddenly, something fell out of the Bible. He picked up the object and looked at it. What he saw was an old leaf that had been pressed in between the pages.
‘Mama, look what I found,’ the boy called out.
‘What have you got there, dear?’
With astonishment in the young boy’s voice, he answered, ‘I think it’s Adam’s underwear!’
NOW IF THIS DIDN’T BRIGHTEN YOUR DAY,GO BACK TO BED AND FORGET IT.

The Suicide House by Charlie Donlea

EXCERPT: I killed my brother with a penny. Simple, benign and perfectly believable.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Inside the walls of Indiana’s elite Westmont Preparatory High School, expectations run high and rules are strictly enforced. But in the woods beyond the manicured campus and playing fields sits an abandoned boarding house that is infamous among Westmont’s students as a late-night hangout. Here, only one rule applies: don’t let your candle go out–unless you want the Man in the Mirror to find you. . . .

One year ago, two students were killed there in a grisly slaughter. The case has since become the focus of a hit podcast, The Suicide House. Though a teacher was convicted of the murders, mysteries and questions remain. The most urgent among them is why so many students who survived that horrific night have returned to the boarding house–to kill themselves.

Rory, an expert in reconstructing cold cases, is working on The Suicide House podcast with Lane, recreating the night of the killings in order to find answers that have eluded the school, the town, and the police. But the more they learn about the troubled students, the chillingly stoic culprit, and a dangerous game gone tragically wrong, the more convinced they become that something sinister is still happening. Inside Westmont Prep, the game hasn’t ended. It thrives on secrecy and silence. And for its players, there may be no way to win–or to survive. . . .

MY THOUGHTS: I haven’t read ‘Some Choose Darkness’ #1 in the Rory Moore/Lane Phillips series. If you haven’t either, it’s not a problem. Both books are written as stand-alones although they feature the same main characters. But, first thing Monday I am off to the library to get a copy of Some Choose Darkness. I want to read it and am annoyed with myself that I missed it when it came out.

There’s a lot that goes on in this book and it takes a little while for it to start to tie in together. One thing is for sure – I never wanted to go away to school, and The Suicide House has reinforced that decision! Secret societies, dangerous pranks, dares and hazing form the background for this story of death and a dangerous obsession.

The two characters around whom this book is centred don’t actually feature as prominently as I expected they would. The Suicide house begins with a rather enigmatic journal entry by a boy who has killed his brother, and gotten away with it. These journal entries continue sporadically throughout the novel.

The timelines are split between Summer 2019 when the murders occur and August 2020, at which time we meet broadcaster Mack Carter and journalist Ryder Hillier, who are both independently working on the Westmont Prep School Murders.

August 2020 is also when we meet Dr Lane Phillips, forensic psychologist and criminal profiler. I found it quite hard to get a handle on his character, another reason I want to read the preceding book. His partner, Rory Moore, is a forensic reconstructionist specializing in cold-case homicides, with a passion for the reconstruction of antique dolls. I found it quite disappointing that more use was not made of their skills.

While I really enjoyed this read, there are a few things that don’t make much sense to me. There seems to be a point to most secret societies, but with the one at the centre of The Suicide House, there doesn’t seem to be any point other than to participate in game of ‘The Man in The Mirror’. Missing man, Marc McEvoy, was an unnecessary distraction and overcomplicated the storyline.

A new character, Gus Morelli, is introduced towards the end of The Suicide House, and I hope that we see more of him in the future.

The Suicide House certainly held my interest from start to finish. There’s a few relationships between characters that didn’t quite sit right for me and left me with a few questions about the resolution, therefore only a 4 star rating rather than 5 stars.

Definitely a series I want to read more of. I have enjoyed everything I have ever read by this author, and The Suicide House is no exception.

😲😲😲😲.1

THE AUTHOR: Charlie Donlea resides in Chicago with his wife and two young children.

He spends a part of each year fishing with his father in the far reaches of Canada, where the roads end and lakes are accessible only by floatplane. These majestic trips to “God’s Country” inspired the setting for his first novel, Summit Lake.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Kensington Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Suicide House by Charlie Donlea 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

The New Husband by D.J. Palmer

EXCERPT: If somebody had told Nina a few years ago that she would end up living with the social studies teacher from her daughter’s middle school, in a new house they had bought together, she would have broken into a fit of laughter.

In another eight months or so, the court would most likely grant Nina her divorce from Glen, after which she might feel ready to say yes to Simon’s marriage proposal so he could officially become her new husband. New Hampshire law was quite specific: spousal abandonment had to last two years or longer and required a demonstrated, wilful desire to desert and terminate the marital relationship. Clearly, Glen’s actions met those criteria. Or maybe he really was dead. Without a body, Nina had no way of knowing, while Maggie continued to hold out hope that her dad would soon return to them.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: What makes Simon Fitch so perfect?

-He knows all her favorite foods, music, and movies.
-Her son adores him. He was there when she needed him most.
-He anticipates her every need.
-He would never betray her like her first husband.

The perfect husband. He checks all the boxes.

The question is, why?

Nina Garrity learned the hard way that her missing husband, Glen, had been leading a double life with another woman. But with Glen gone—presumably drowned while fishing on his boat—she couldn’t confront him about the affair or find closure to the life he blew apart.

Now, a year and a half later, Nina has found love again and hopes she can put her shattered world back together. Simon, a widower still grieving the death of his first wife, thinks he has found his dream girl in Nina, and his charm and affections help break through to a heart hardened by betrayal. Nina’s teenage son, Connor, embraces Simon as the father he wishes his dad could have been, while her friends see a different side to him, and they aren’t afraid to use the word obsession.

Nina works hard to bridge the divide that’s come between her daughter and Simon. She wants so badly to believe her life is finally getting back on track, but she’ll soon discover that the greatest danger to herself and her children are the lies people tell themselves.

MY THOUGHTS: Meh.

This is slow. Not a slow burn, just slow.

The writing felt ‘flat’.

There is a lot about the plot synopsis that is misleading.

Nina is a mindless idiot. She comes across as needy and desperate. She bows to her new partner’s every wish and demand. She doesn’t listen to her own inner voice, her friends or her children.

Simon is a manipulative control freak. His character should be creepy. Instead he is ridiculous.

As is the ‘twist’. Really? 🙄 A weak plot.

The only redeeming features of this book are Maggie and Ben’s relationship, and Daisy the dog.

Maybe it’s me, because the rest of the world appears to love this book. Reading is a very personal subjective experience, and not every book is for every reader. So, if you enjoyed the extract, and the plot summary interests you, please do read The New Husband by DJ Palmer. I hope that you are one of the many who love this book.

😣😣

FOR THE ARMCHAIR TRAVELER: Set in New Hampshire, a U.S. state in New England, which is defined by its quaint towns and large expanses of wilderness. In the north, White Mountain National Forest is known for winter sports areas and Mt. Washington, the region’s highest peak, with a cog railway to its summit. Also in the White Mountains are moose, black bears and part of the Appalachian Trail.

THE AUTHOR: D.J. PALMER is the author of numerous critically acclaimed suspense novels, including Delirious and Desperate. After receiving his master’s degree from Boston University, he spent a decade as an e-commerce pioneer before turning his attention to writing. He lives with his wife and two children in New Hampshire.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of The New Husband by DJ Palmer, narrated by January LaVoy and Rebecca Soler, and published by Macmillan Audio. 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

Pockets by Amal El-Mohtar

EXCERPT: Warda poured tea for them in her office while Tessa asked question after question.

“When did this start?”

“Oh, a year or so ago, give or take.”

“And did you ever lose any of these things?” Tessa showed her a list of things that had come out of Nadia’s pockets, but Warda smiled and shook her head.

“No. None of those ever belonged to me; I do not think any of the things I have put in my pockets have come out of Nadia’s. I see why you’re asking, but I don’t think it works that way.”

“Why not?” asked Nadia.

“I suppose it just doesn’t make sense to me that in all the world ours would be the only two pockets connected to each other. Have you read Stoppard’s Arcadia? ‘We shed as we pick up, like travellers who must carry everything in their arms, and what we let fall will be picked up by those behind.’ There are so many of us, so many travellers.”

ABOUT THIS BOOK: What could it mean to reach into your pocket and pull out… something that wasn’t there before? Find more from Amal El-Mohtar at www.amalelmohtar.com.

MY THOUGHTS: Thank you Bianca, for introducing me to this little gem. I love it! I will definitely be reading more of this author’s work.

I’m sure every one of us has put our hand in a pocket at some stage to find something unexpected in there…

Here’s the link, if you’re keen to read it: https://uncannymagazine.com/article/p

*****

THE AUTHOR: Amal El-Mohtar (born December 13, 1984) is a Canadian poet and writer of speculative fiction. She has published short fiction, poetry, essays and reviews, and has edited the fantastic poetry quarterly magazine Goblin Fruit since 2006.

When She Was Good by Michael Robotham – (Cyrus Haven #2)

EXCERPT: I’ve reached the Maserati, a prestige car, in pristine condition.

Expensive. Loved. Inside is a different story. Blood covers the windows, seats and dashboard. I will dream about this tonight, picturing the bodies of my mother and father and sisters. I will wake with a scream dying on my lips, unsure if the sound has stayed in my head or set the neighbourhood dogs barking again.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Evie Cormac is a girl with no family. She has kept her true identity secret for seven years; silence has guaranteed her safety. Now, forensic psychologist Cyrus Haven is determined to discover who Evie is, and how she came to be hiding in a London house where a man was tortured to death. Powerful people have spent years hunting Evie, the only living witness to their crimes.

Evie’s ability to tell when someone is lying helped Cyrus crack an impenetrable case, but the closer Cyrus gets to uncovering answers about Evie’s dark history, the more he exposes her to danger. Ultimately, both will have to decide if some secrets are better left buried and some monsters should never be named . . .

MY THOUGHTS: WOW! Perhaps not quite as WOW! as Good Girl, Bad Girl, but WOW! all the same.

Once you have seen something, you can never unsee it. And Evie will never unsee Trevor’s tortured body. She lived with it for weeks. But she has seen a lot more than that, and what she has seen means that she lives in fear of being found, in fear of her life. She has matured, in the seven years since she was found, from a feral child with nits in her hair and cigarette burns on her skin into a force of nature. Damaged, brilliant, angry and lonely. She does not trust. She does not love. She has been there – and look where it got her.

Cyrus Haven believes the only way that Evie will ever be free is to discover her past – who she really is and who damaged her. He believed, when he became a forensic psychologist, that he would spend his days studying killers rather than trying to catch them, chasing death like an undertaker, or a blue-bottle fly. Evie, in particular, has changed that. The more he tries to discover about Evie, the more danger he puts himself, and Evie, in. Even he is not convinced that he can save her. No amount of love or tenderness or passing time could possibly erase the horrors of her past, yet she hangs in there, fighting like a demon, a caged lion; spitting, hissing and clawing, but still there.

He has convinced Sacha Hopewell, the young community officer who discovered Evie (then Angel Face), to come back from her self-imposed exile in Cornwall to reconnect with Evie. She, like Evie, is convinced she is being pursued, followed. She is vulnerable, joyless, and has cut herself off from her family to protect both them and herself. She is not totally convinced that any good can come from a reunion with Evie.

Detective Lenny (Lenore) Parvel has been transferred to the East Midlands Special Operations Unit, and she also needs Cyrus’s help to investigate what looks like the suicide of an ex-detective, one who was responsible for the capture and conviction of a notorious paedophile.

Some days, there is just not enough Cyrus to go around …

Suspenseful. Heart-achingly brilliant. Scary in its possibility, no, probability.

I took a little longer to read this than Good Girl, Bad Girl, but only because I had to go to work. I also read a little slower, appreciating the nuances more, taking my time to get to know the characters a little better. Now all I can say is: I hope you are already working hard on Cyrus Haven #3, and when can I have it Mr Robotham?

****.5

THE ARMCHAIR TRAVELER: We move around the country a little more in When She Was Gone than we did with Good Girl, Bad Girl.

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.

Cornwall is on everyone’s lips these days. Those lingering shots of wild moorland, Grecian blue sea and soft pale sand in every episode of the BBC’s Poldark have drawn visitors from around the world. Despite such popularity the county retains its cloak of tradition and sense of isolation. Yet hidden behind the stone walls of farmhouses and fishermen’s cottages are stylish apartments and restaurants where acclaimed chefs serve up the finest seafood.

The largely unspoilt coastline inspires Enid Blyton-style adventures: tripping through fields fringed in wildflowers to a remote beach; digging around in rockpools that are works of marine art, and swimming with seals or learning to surf a wave. Beyond the beach there is plenty to entertain, from wildlife conservation centres and hands-on farm experiences aimed at children to historic sub-tropical gardens, steam railways and working mines, reminders of the county’s rich industrial heritage. A few days of breathing fresh, clean Cornish air, eating fish straight from the sea and sleeping deeply in a clifftop eyrie is the perfect antidote to the stress of city living.

Situated 10km inland on the banks of the River Orwell, Ipswich shares the same coastal lifestyle, maritime history and foodie culture as many of the Suffolk Coast’s most famous towns and villages.

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 Hachette Australia, via NetGalley, for providing a digital ARC of When She Was Good by Michael Robotham 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 Amazon, Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads.com

Sadie by Courtney Summers

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I think I must be one of the very few people who did not read this when it first came out. I dithered and delayed … and loved it!I think the idea of podcasts put me off. I needn’t have worried.

EXCERPT: Today we’re doing something new – something big. Today, we’re pre-empting your regular scheduled episode of ‘Always Out There’ to launch the first episode of our new serialized podcast, ‘The Girls’. If you want to hear more, you can download all eight episodes – that’s right; the entire season – on our website. We’re pretty sure you’ll want to hear more.

Created and hosted by one of our longtime producers, West McCray, ‘The Girls’ explores what happens when a devastating crime reveals a deeply unsettling mystery. It’s a story about family, about sisters, and the untold lives lived in small town America. It’s about the lengths we go to to protect the ones we love … and the high price we pay when we can’t.

It begins, as so many stories do, with a dead girl.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she’s left behind. And an ending you won’t be able to stop talking about.

Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.

But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.

When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.

MY THOUGHTS: I wasn’t sure that I was going to enjoy this when I first started it. I thought it might be like one of those true crime/reality TV shows where they repeat themselves every few minutes to make sure that you get the point. Sadie wasn’t like that at all. It was intriguing, compelling and I want more. It was tantalizing.

This is a haunting, gut wrenching tale of abuse and neglect, of drug and alcohol abuse/addiction, and of making choices. In this instance, mostly the wrong ones.

Sadie lives a bleak life. Abandoned by their mother, she cares for her younger sister Mattie. Tries to provide for her, protect her, love her, and guide her. When Mattie is murdered, Sadie’s life implodes. She can focus on only one thing: revenge. And this is, amongst other things, the story of her quest for redemption.

Sadie is not always easy to listen to/read. There is nothing explicit, but plenty is implied. There are things no child should ever have to experience, but Sadie has. She had been determined that Mattie should have a different life, one where she was cherished and loved. But she failed. That sense of failure fuels her.

The story of Sadie is told from Sadie’s own point of view and that of West McCray who, diverted from his original task of portraying life in small town America, finds himself caught up in the search for Sadie long after almost everyone else has given up hope.

If you haven’t yet read Sadie by Courtney Summers, I urge you to.

😲😲😲😲.2

THE AUTHOR: Courtney Summers is the bestselling author of several novels, whose career in writing began in 2008, when she was 22. Her work has been released to critical acclaim and multiple starred reviews, received numerous awards and honors including the Edgar Award, the John Spray Mystery Award, the Cybils Award, the Odyssey Award, the Audie Award, and has enjoyed the recognition of many library, state, ‘Best Of’ and Readers’ Choice lists. Courtney has reviewed for The New York Times, is the founder of #ToTheGirls, a 2015 worldwide trending hashtag, and in 2016, she was named one of Flare Magazine’s 60 under 30. She lives and writes in Canada.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of Sadie, written by Courtney Summers, narrated by Rebecca Soler, Fred Berman, Dan Bittner, Gabra Zackman, and a full supporting cast, and published by Macmillan Audio. 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