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Posts Tagged ‘mystery’

I listened to this audiobook, narrated by Philip Stevens, over the course of two weeks. The story is mainly narrated by Ed Collier, with chapters also told in the third person but showing the point of view of other characters.

When Ed and his wife Claire meet their daughter Abby’s boyfriend Ryan for the first time, Ed instantly distrusts him. He is shocked when Abby and Ryan announce that they are going to get married in just over a month, and he instantly determines to find out more about this stranger who has entered their lives, and get his daughter to at least postpone the wedding.

The bulk of the book mainly follows Ed’s investigations, with the last part being the culmination and consequences of what Ed does or doesn’t discover.

I liked the premise of the book, but unfortunately did not find that it lived up to its promise. Whether or not Ed was right about his suspicions (I’m not saying), his instant and extreme reaction seemed unbelievable. Based on literally nothing more than an uneasy feeling, Ed starts following Ryan and using underhand methods to discover more about him, even paying thousands to a private investigator.

The characters – even Ed, who narrates large parts of the book – never really seemed fleshed out or ‘real’ and it was hard to invest in any of them. Abby and Claire were bland, Ed was obsessive and Ryan was a cardboard cut out.

It’s a real shame because there was potential for a great story here. Still, lots of other reviewers online seem to have enjoyed it, so if this a genre you enjoy, you may want to give it a go.

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I like to read and listen to Christmas themed books at this time of year, so I chose to listen to this one while out on my runs during the lead up to Christmas (finished it on Christmas Eve, which was ideal).

It’s one of a series of books about DCI Jack Ryan, but it was the first one I had listened to/read. There are obvious references to previous books, but nothing that made it difficult to understand this one, and you could pretty much enjoy this as a standalone novella.

Ryan and his historian wife Anna, with their friends Frank and Mackenzie, who are also married, are on their way back from a short break when they get stranded by the snow and have to spend the night at England’s apparently most haunted castle, in Northumberland, with a motley crue of staff and other guests.

When a grisly murder occurs, the Ryan and co have to interrupt their holiday to investigate the crime. With everybody being snowed in, and nobody able to enter the premises, it is clear that the murderer is somebody already there, meaning that time is of the essence before another murder occurs.

I definitely enjoyed listening to this book. I enjoy mysteries set in one location with a small cast of characters, as this was. I also liked the DCI Ryan character and his friend Frank. Mackenzie and Anna were good characters, but I suspect I would have liked them more in print, as unfortunately the narrator Jonathan Keeble, while generally good, was TERRIBLE at female voices. The mystery itself was entertaining enough, a touch Agatha Christie-is (no bad thing) and I didn’t guess the ending. All in all, a likeable enough story and I would happily listen to more in this series.

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Another short audiobook mystery from the creators of Cherringham. In this ‘episode’ Sarah and Jack investigate when a series of unfortunate incidents threaten the Cherringham Players Amateur Dramatics Society. Sarah’s mother Helen is one of the players and asks the two self-styled detectives to step in and investigate whether or not someone is trying to sabotage them, or if they are just having a run of bad luck. Of course, it’s not very spoilery to say that everything that’s happening is deliberate – but who is behind it, and why?

I enjoyed this story a lot – it’s filled with the usual cast of characters, with their own personal secrets and disputes rising to the surface as events pile up one after the other. Jack and Sarah continue to grow close. It’s not very realistic, but it’s decent cosy escapism. Another solid entry in this series.

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This was an audiobook narrated by James Lailey. It tells the story of two women – Beth Lawlor and Cath Patterson. Beth is caught in a loveless marriage to Evan but a shocking event helps her make up her mind to leave him and start a new life with her lover. Cath is trapped in a relationship with a physically and mentally abusive junkie named Saul. She knows she has to leave him but fears that if she does he will find her and kill her. A chance meeting leads to a shocking turn of events, and detective Dan Riley is soon put on the case…

The book is told from three points of view – those of Cath and Beth, which are both told in the third person, and that of Dan, which is told in the first person. I preferred the narration for Dan’s parts but I think Beth and Cath’s parts were told with a lack of emotion, which didn’t greatly impact my enjoyment but was noticeable. I do think a female narrator might have been better for those chapters, as they are telling female points of view, but it didn’t stop me liking the book.

This is the third book in the Dan Riley series, which I didn’t realise until I started listening, but it makes no difference as it can easily be enjoyed as a stand alone novel.

Anyhow, I don’t want to give away anything else about the storyline, but I will say that I enjoyed this book a lot and would definitely consider reading or listening to more books by this author. If I had to nitpick, I would say that a couple of chapters – in both cases conversations between two characters – could have done with cutting down somewhat, and also the whole premise of this story relies on a huge coincidence which struck me as very unlikely. But if you can suspend your disbelief and just go with it, this is on the whole an enjoyable and interesting read (or listen). If you are a fan of mysteries I would probably recommend this one.

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This is the eighth instalment in the Cherringham Crime Series, narrated by Neil Dudgeon. Our intrepid detectives Jack and Sarah find themselves investigating suspicious goings on at an old people’s home after one of their residents escapes and dies in the worst snow blizzard to hit Cherringham for years.

As usual, this is an enjoyable mystery, with some surprises along the way. The more I listen to, the more I think this would be super as a TV programme along the lines of Midsomer Murders or The Brokenwood Mysteries – quirky and generally inoffensive, but with an interesting plot running through. I don’t know how or if Jack and Sarah’s relationship status as good friends will change, but I do sense the two of them getting closer in this book. We will see…

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I listened to this as an audiobook narrated by Tuppence Middleton. I have to say that if it had been a physical book, I would probably have thrown it against the wall in frustration. Mainly due to the utter stupidity of the title character. (Yes, I’ve gone in early with my opinion on this one and you have probably guessed that I didn’t like it.)

Freya Miller has money problems after her husband first left her for another woman and then died. She has to move out of the house and find somewhere cheaper to live for her and her five year old daughter Skye. When she is approached by stranger named Dr Marsden in a coffee shop and offered an apartment in the Kensington based Adder House, which he owns, she thinks it’s too good to be true. Freya can not dream of being able to afford such a fabulous home, but Dr Marsden says she can live there for whatever she can afford, however little.

At this point, alarm bells would be going off ALL OVER THE PLACE for me but Freya, apparently just can’t believe her luck. When she moves in, there are red flags everywhere – such as mysterious noises in her flat, furniture being moved around and the Marsdens wanting to install a spy camera right inside her flat. You would think she would get out straight away, right? But nope. She just keeps banging on about how this is a fresh start for herself and Skye, and my eyes just kept rolling almost out of their head.

Anyway, the ending was partly predictable and partly frankly ridiculous. So utterly daft as to be almost funny. If it was a film it would definitely come under the ‘so bad it’s good’ category.

Tuppence Middleton’s narration was….okay. When she was voicing Freya she was fine and any annoyance I had came from Freya’s unbelievable stupidity. However, Freya’s daughter Skye is quite a prominent character and unfortunately the voice Middleton used for Skye was annoying beyond belief.

As you may have guessed I didn’t enjoy this book. I’m not even sure why I stuck with it. There were plot holes and unexplained plot threads. Still every book teaches you something and this taught me not to read anything else by this author.

Sorry if this review sounds harsh, but it’s rare that a book annoys me this much.

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After reading Clare Mackintosh’s debut novel, ‘I Let You Go’, I was really looking forward to the this follow up. I had enjoyed the first book, thought it was well written with a super twist that, unusually, came halfway through. Unfortunately, I See You was nowhere near the calibre of it’s predecessor, and ultimately I was disappointed.

The story is narrated by mother of two Zoe Walker, another unknown narrator, and in the third person from the point of view of police officer Kelly Swift.

Zoe is horrified when she spots her own photo in an advert in the classified section of a free newspaper – there’s nothing there other than her picture, a phone number and a website address, but when she goes to the website she cannot gain entry. The next day the advert has a photo of a different woman, and she soon realises that there is a different woman shown each day. When she realises that crimes are being committed against some of the women in the pictures, Zoe starts to worry about her own safety. Who is printing these adverts and what kind of danger is she in?

Meanwhile PC Kelly Swift, still recovering from disciplinary action taken against her a few years before, becomes involved in the investigation into the advertisements and subsequent attacks on the women featured. It’s a race against time to discover who is behind the pictures and stop the crimes before more women are hurt.

Okay – so here’s the good part: the writing is well paced, and the characters are fairly well drawn (at least Zoe, her daughter Katie, and PC Swift are all easy to relate to). The idea behind the mystery is an intriguing one, and so far so good.

However…the final reveal, which I won’t give away here, almost made me throw the book against the wall in disgust. I can suspend my disbelief to an extent but this was ridiculous. Also, and I don’t think this is too spoilery, Zoe was not able to access the website because a password was required and she couldn’t figure it out. Fair enough – by her own admission, she was not particularly computer savvy. However, when the police are investigating and also cannot work out how to get in for some time, it didn’t make sense that the people who the advert was aimed at were miraculously able to figure out the password.

Anyway, it’s a quick read and undemanding if you don’t think too deeply about it. After the brilliance of I Let You Go, though, I can’t help feeling that this may have been rushed in order to capitalise on the success of that book. I’ve read worse for sure, but I’ve also read a LOT better.

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This audiobook, narrated by Todd Boyce, follows an unusual format, in that it starts at the end of the story and then goes backwards in time, with each chapter being set earlier than the previous one. It’s an interesting idea, and I’m not sure that it completely worked. The ending (or the beginning, as it were) was very satisfying and provided lots of ‘aha!’ and ‘wow!’ moments, but for the first few chapters (or indeed the last few!) it was confusing and somewhat frustrating. Jeffery Deaver has written some excellent books, and I don’t think this is one of them. It was good in the end, but I was tempted to give up on it after listening for the first hour or so.

Anyhow, the story revolves around a woman named Gabriella MacKenzie, sitting in a room with a man who is obviously there to look after her, while she anxiously awaits to hear if her kidnapped daughter Sarah has been rescued. Sarah was taken by a mysterious man named Joseph, who demands a huge sum of money and a mysterious document called The October List, which Gabriella’s boss has ownership of, and which contains details of people he had been dealing with in criminal financial activity. The boss has disappeared with the list and with Joseph’s – and several other people’s money – and Joseph wants it back. The story covers Gabriella and her new boyfriend Daniel’s attempts to retrieve the mysterious list and get it to Joseph before her daughter comes to any harm.

The narration was fine and the story was clever, but as mentioned above I’m not sure I would read something else written in this format. Normally when people are introduced into a story, there is some background or information provided about them which gives the reader an idea of the role they are going to play. Not so here however; characters are introduced with no explanation of how they fit into this story. It’s kind of like piecing together a jigsaw without ever having seen the picture you’re trying to make.

So a bit of a mixed bag. If you manage to get halfway through then it’s definitely worth sticking with it, but be prepared to be a bit lost at first.

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I listened to this audiobook over the course of a week. It’s narrated by Lisa Coleman, who did an excellent job. This psychological crime thriller is apparently the eighth in a series featuring DCI Tom Douglas, and had I known that going in, I may well have skipped it; I have always felt that book series needed to be read in order from the beginning. However, it didn’t matter one iota – clearly there is a backstory to Tom’s personal life but it’s all explained clearly enough, and this book could actually serve as a standalone novel.

The story centres, and is largely narrated by, Anna Franklyn – mother, wife, headteacher, and a respected member of the community. As she is driving to work one day, Anna hears a voice from her past on a phone in radio show – that of her ex-boyfriend Scott, who says he is going to phone back in a weeks time and tell the story of himself and his lost love ‘Spike’ and their tragic relationship. The only problem is….Scott died 14 years earlier, taking Anna’s most guarded secrets with him…and now it seems he is here and ready to expose her past. Anna has a week to find out what happened to Scott, and to stop him ruining her life.

The narrative jumps forwards and backwards between Then (14 years earlier) and Now, and also includes chapters written in the third person which focus on the police investigation.

I actually really enjoyed this book. Yes, it is fairly implausible, and I did guess the twist about halfway through, but it was a well told story which did a good job of illustrating how a young naive woman found herself in such a predicament all those years ago. I HATED the character of Scott, but he was far from the worst character in the story. I felt sorry for Anna, but also wanted to shake her and tell her to get a grip! I’m not going to reveal any spoilers because the ending, although partly predictable, was still written well, and there was in fact one final twist which I didn’t expect.

My only niggle is that sometimes things were over explained. For example, there is a poker game that happens at one point where every play seems to be explained in detail. Unless you play / understand poker, this bit is all unnecessary filler – it would be enough to explain who won and who lost. But still – a minor niggle.

Overall, excellent narration and an enjoyable storyline (kept me listening for the most part anyway) made me give this a thumbs up, and I would definitely read / listen to moron this series.

 

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The Body in the Lake is the seventh episode/novella/installment – whichever you want to call it – in the Cherringham Cosy Crime Series. Laurent Bourdain, the mayor of a French village has been invited to Cherringham to pave the way for the twinning of the two small villages. A celebration party at Repton Hall (a large manor house owned by Lady Repton, who has appeared in a previous Cherringham mystery) turns to debauchery and ends with Monsieur Bourdain’s body being found floating in the lake at the manor.

Naturally there are plenty of suspects and an arrest is soon made, but our amateur detectives Sarah and Jack think that the wrong person is in custody and set out to solve the crime for themselves.

As with all the Cherringham series, Neil Dudgeon excellently narrates this episode and the story is enjoyable, although not the best so far but they can’t all be the best. Another fun slice of life in the sleepy Cotswold village with all sorts of secrets lurking below the surface…

 

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