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Posts Tagged ‘mystery’

I have always enjoyed Ben Elton’s books, so I’m not sure quite why it took me so long to get around to reading this one. But I’m glad I finally did. Scotland Yard Detetice Inspector Ed Newson investigates the brutal murder of an equally brutal man who was killed in a most unusual manner. With the aid of his Detective Sergeant Natasha, who Ed is secretly in love with, he starts to connect the dots between this murder and others that have happened – and which continue to happen. Essentially someone is going round murdering bullies and is using the same methods that the bullies themselves used on their victims.

This novel was written in 2004, and the now defunct website Friends Reunited features as a prominent part of the story. Ed himself joins the site as a way of connecting with his old classmates which leads to him meeting a number of them again – some reunions being very welcome (the school beauty Christine) and others not so much.

I did work out who the killer was before the reveal, but I jumped about between a few of the characters beforehand, so although it was guessable, I wouldn’t say it was so obvious that it would mar enjoyment of the story.

It’s not out and out comedy, and there is a serious issue within the story about how bullying in youth can lead to severe problems later in life – but you can always rely on Ben Elton to make you smile and some of the dialogue exchanges between Ed and Natasha were very funny.

Just a warning to anyone who doesn’t like gore or sex – some of the murders are particularly unpleasant, and there is one fairly lengthy sex scene which is eye-poppingly excruciating, revolting and hilarious all at once.

Overall, if you have read and enjoyed Ben Elton before, I would imagine you would definitely enjoy this book. If you haven’t read anything by him before, why not give it a try?

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London 1831. Hester White is the daughter of educated and reasonably wealthy parents, both sadly deceased. She is taken in by their gardener and his wife, but their lack of good fortune causes them to end up living in the slums of London. At this time, people are going missing all round London and rumours abound as to whst might be happening. When Hester is injured in an accident she ends up living in teh stately home of brother and sister Calder and Rebekah Brock, who believe her to be an uneducated young woman from the dregs of society. Calder tasks Rebekah wiht the job of educating Hester and while Rebekah is initially resistant to the idea, eventually she and Hester become very close.

However, when they start to uncover the truth about the people going missing, they both find themselves in great danger and have to use all of their wits and cunning to stay safe – and alive.

I had high high hopes for this book, and at first I thought I was going to love it. However, just as the story should have really got going – when Hester went to live with the Brocks – it seemed to start to drag somewhat. I could never get invested in Hester and Rebekah’s relationship because Rebekah didn’t seem very well developed; I did however find the mystery part more interesting, but the ending was drawn out a little too much for me. That said, some of the writing was very eloquent and I didn’t feel at any point as though I didn’t want to read on. If you like gothic mysteries you might like this book but – for my money – there are better novels in the genre.

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This was an audiobook narrated by Laura Brattan, with three narrators: Lisa Kallisto, who is a harassed but loving mother and wife, devastated when the 13 year old daughter of her friend goes missing – when Lisa was supposed to be looking after her; an unnamed narrator who, it quickly becomes obvious, is a paedophile; and a third person narrator who concentrates mainly on the police investigation into the missing girl.

Lisa is understandably wracked with guilt when Lucinda Rivety disappears, and more so when it is believed that she was taken by a man who had already taken one girl and subjected her to a brutal rape. As Lisa’s world falls apart, the race is on to find Lucinda, but in so doing, secrets and lies become known and it seems that people are not always what they seem.

I don’t want to give too much away about the story, but I will say that I liked Lisa a lot. I also liked Joanne, the Detective Constable investigating the disappearance. However, there was a side story featuring Joanne wanting to get a breast reduction and I felt this served no purpose in the story and could easily have been edited out.

There was one twist which I didn’t predict and which I thought was well done, but the final denouement seemed rushed, as though the author had just tacked the ending on to get it finished quickly. Having said that, I did enjoy the book for the majority of the time, although most of the characters were not particularly likeable (the aunt of the missing girl was particularly unbearable). There was also another twist which seemed ludicrous to me, and spoiled the book somewhat. Nonetheless, I would read or listen to more by Paula Daly.

On a final note, the narration was excellent.

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This was an audiobook narrated by Lucy Price-Lewis, who did an excellent job.

The story revolves around Rose Tinsley, whose 8 year old brother Billy was murder 16 years earlier and as a result, Rose has severe psychological problems. Rose, and her whole village were convinced of who murdered Billy and that the right person is in prison for the offence, but her belief is shaken to the core when she finds something shocking in her elderly next door neighbour’s house. Could it be that the person serving time for the murder is in fact innocent? To find out the truth, Rose must face her fears and examine the past.

The book has two timelines – 16 years earlier which is narrated in the third person, and the present day, which is narrated by Rose. In the earlier timeline, an 18 year old Rose meets Gareth, who is ten years older than her. At first he seems like the perfect charming boyfriend but as times goes on, it becomes clear that he is not all he appears.

This is the third book I have read by K L Slater, and unfortunately I have yet to find one that I really enjoy. As mentioned earlier, I did think the narration was done well by Lucy Price-Lewis, but the storyline itself seemed very repetitive. The main issue I have with this author is that in all her books (at least the ones I’ve read) the women are very weak, and quite frankly spineless and not able to see what is staring them in the face. Meanwhile the males are generally so awful that they are almost like a caricature and just serves to heighten the issue with the women not able to see through them.

The one positive thing I will say was that I liked the resolution to the mystery and I did enjoy Rose’s last scene in the book. Other than that, I found it fairly annoying with dialogue that seemed to go round in circles. There are LOADS of positive reviews for this book online, so it may be that this author is just not for me, but I think I’ll be giving her other books a miss.

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This was an audiobook, narrated by Olivia Dowd, Aiofe McMahon, Chloe Massey, Sarah Owens, Rich Keeble and Jot Davies.

Jules, editor of a popular online magazine, and Will, host and hero of a reality tv show called ‘Survive The Night’ are getting married after a whirlwind romance. The destination is a remote Irish island, which is subject to high winds and rough weather. The narration switches between characters, including Jules herself, her half-sister and bridesmaid Olivia, the ‘plus one’ Hannah, best man Jonno and the wedding planner Aiofe.

It becomes clear that all of the guests have a secret from their past and there is a lot of tension simmering beneath the glittering surface. The timeline switches between ‘now’ – the wedding day and evening, and the day before when guests were arriving.

I liked the premise of the book and I generally do enjoy multiple narrators as it can be interesting seeing the same events from different perspectives. But while this started off well, it slipped into ridiculousness with too many coincidences being revealed towards the end. Also, almost all of the characters were just horrible people. I did like Hannah, but pretty much everyone else was awful.

I had high hopes for this one, but came away feeling disappointed.

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This is the third book I have read by Victoria Holt and I gave the others 4/5 and 4.5/5. I quite enjoyed this one but not to the same extent. Nora Tamsin and her father live a simple happy life, until he leaves England for Australia where he hopes to find gold and make his fortune. When he dies there, Nora moves to Australia and into the care of her father’s friend Charles Herrick, known as the Lynx. She is captivated by his enigmatic charisma and power, but has loving feelings towards his son Stirling. By the time she realises that Lynx is hell-bent on revenge for old grievances, she is too caught up in the family to escape, and finds herself involved in his campaign, which takes her back to a mysterious old house in England.

This is a strange kind of romance with a love triangle of sorts, which only gets more complicated in the last third of the novel. I quite liked Nora, and i loved the character of Minta. However, neither Lynx nor Stirling were particularly likeable and I found it hard to have any sort of feeling for them one way or the other. Lynx was supposed to be this charismatic but cold man, but he just seemed like a power hungry bully.

However the ending was a genuine surprise and I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy the book, just that it did not live up to my expectations after the other books I have enjoyed by this author.

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When Gemma O’Connor comes home after a work trip away, she is surprised to find her husband Danny isn’t there and when he hasn’t come back after a couple of days, she reports his disappearance to the police. She grows even more fearful when it turns out that two men who bear a striking resemblance to Danny and to each other, have been murdered and she is terrified that Danny may be a victim of the same killer.

As the police investigation moves forward, Gemma learns that Danny has been lying to her about all sorts of things and she starts to wonder how well she really knew her husband. And then she finds herself the chief suspect for the killings that have been taking place…

The premise of this book was great, although a book called The Perfect Couple could only be about a couple who are anything but! Unfortunately it became too silly for words, with a stupid protagonist doing stupid things, with a ridiculously incompetent police force investigating. The denouement when all was explained seemed to drag on and on and was almost like a farce. There was a also a lot of repetition in the early part of the story which bogged it down.

So overall, interesting idea but not a success for me.

This was an audiobook narrated by Elaine Claxton and Hattie Ladbury. One narrated Gemma’s story in the first person and the other described the police investigation from a third person point of view. Both narrators did a good job.

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There’s been so much hype around this book that before reading it, I was worried that I might be disappointed. I wasn’t! This is such an enjoyable and clever book, which was a genuine pleasure to dive into.

In a sleepy retirement village, four pensioners hold a weekly murder club, where they study past unsolved murders and try to work out who might have committed them. It’s a bit of fun and keeps their brains active, but when they suddenly find themselves very close to an actual murder, they decide to put their skills to work investigating who the killer is. Leader of the group is the indomitable Elizabeth, newest member Joyce is the reader’s portal to how their investigation is going, as part of the novel is made up of her diary excerpts. Ron, a former rebel rouser who loves to kick back against authority, and the suave pilates-obsessed Ibrahim, retired psychiatrist, make up the quartet.

I’m not going to say too much about the actual murder itself, but I will say that there were plenty of twists and turns, some genuinely funny moments, and some moments of genuine pathos. All of the people who live in the retirement village have either lost loved ones, or are faced with the prospect, and are all well aware of their own mortality. But they are all spirited, and determined to help solve a crime.

The two police officers in the story – PC Donna de Freitas, and DCI Chris Hudson – are also great characters. So often in stories featuring amateur detectives, the police can be made to look incompetent, but that is not the case here; the police themselves are diligent and resourceful and clearly good at their jobs.

Anyway – there’s a sequel in the works, and a film apparently on the way, and I am looking forward to both. Highly recommended.

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Lethal White is the fourth book in the Cormoran Strike series written by J K Rowling under a pseudonym. In this story, Strike and his former assistant turned business partner Robin, are trying to uncover the truth behind a mentally ill man’s assertion that he saw a child being murdered years ago, and how it ties in to the blackmailing of a government minister named Jasper Chiswell, who hires Strike to find out what the blackmailers have on him. The case takes them into the Houses of Parliament, and leads to them becoming involved in Chiswell’s family, who all have plenty of secrets of their own. Inevitably, it puts them into personal danger too, but these two determined investigators will not be put off.

Meanwhile, the fame brought about by their previous investigation (from book three) means that Strike how struggles with undercover work, as he is now publicly known and easily recognisable, while Robin’s personal life is starting to disintegrate.

This book is the longest and most labyrinthine Strike novel yet, but it’s no less enjoyable than the ones before it; in fact I believe this series improves with each instalment (and that’s coming from someone who really enjoyed the first one). There are plenty of twists and turns, but without the sensationalism that some crime/mystery novels have – it really does feel as though they are working the case and finding clues and evidence slowly but surely. I still adore the friendship and working relationship between Strike and Robin, and look forward to seeing how this pans out in future books.

The ending was a surprise, in a good way!

If you are a fan of crime thrillers or mysteries, then I do recommend the Strike series very highly, but would also suggest that it is advisable to read them in order.

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Audiobook narrated by Aoife McMahon. The narration was excellent.

This is not the first Jo Spain book that I have read/listened to, but it is the first in the DCI Tom Reynolds series. I didn’t realise it was part of a series until after I had started listening to it, but it didn’t matter, as I didn’t need to be familiar with the previous books to follow this one.

17 year old Luke Connolly, dies after being pushed out of a third floor window of an abandoned house, and police quickly arrest and charge his friend Daniel Konate with raping Luke and then murdering him. Luke has a group of well-to-do friends with parents in well paid positions of power, but Daniel, being black, openly gay and from a lower socio-economic group, has never fitted in and only Luke himself really liked him.

When DCI Reynolds is asked by a colleague who also happens to be Daniel’s aunt to look into the matter, because she is convinced that her nephew is innocent, Ton agrees to do so and soon comes to the conclusion that the investigation which led to Daniel’s arrest was deeply flawed, and that there is a strong possibility that Daniel is innocent. He starts to investigate Luke’s other friends and as he does so, secrets are revealed.

I really enjoyed the book for the main part – I definitely liked Tom and his wife Louise, his friend and Chief Superintendent Shaun McGuinness (who is about to retire, and who’s position Tom is about to step into), and colleagues Ray and Laura. Luke is dead at the beginning of the story, and despite what happened to him it soon becomes clear that neither him nor his friends were particularly pleasant people. They have grown up with privileged lifestyles and believe that money and influence will allow them to get away with anything – and so far they have been correct.

I do have a slight niggle about the ending – on the one hand, it came as a complete surprise which is always welcome. On the other hand, it seemed very sensational and unbelievable compared to the rest of the book. Nonetheless the rest of the book held my attention and overall I would certainly recommend it to fans of the mystery genre, and I would definitely read/listen to more of the Tom Reynolds series.

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