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Posts Tagged ‘mystery’

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This is the third ‘episode’ in the Cherringham series and another enjoyable story.

Cherringham is preparing for it’s annual Christmas choir performance, when one of the women in the choir, Kirsty, dies of anaphylactic shock from eating a biscuit containing peanuts. It is originally thought of as a tragic accident, but Kirsty’s friend Beth has her suspicions and asks the unofficial detectives Jack and Sarah to investigate.

As always, secrets are unearthed and of course the truth is finally revealed.

Expertly narrated again by Neil Dudgeon, this series has continued to delight me, being undemanding enough to listen to while out running, but also keeping me guessing. Bring on episode 4!

 

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I previously reviewed Murder on Thames, which is the first book in the Cherringham Cozy Crime series, and over the past two days I have listened to book 2, Mystery at the Manor. In this book, Victor Hamblyn, the elderly owner of Mogdon Manor, dies in a fire at his house. But when he is found, it appears that rather than trying to get out of the manor downstairs, he went up to the attic for reasons that nobody can fathom.

Meantime his three avaricious children, Dominic, Susan and Terry, are all only interested in one thing – their inheritance. None of them trust each other, and each of them thinks that they will be the only heir. But is that enough reason for them to murder their father? Sarah Edwards and retired NYC detective Jack Brennan are soon on the case…

As with the first book, and indeed the rest of the series, this novella is narrated by Neil Dudgeon, who has a perfect voice for audiobooks. I found this episode in the Cherringham series to be just as enjoyable as the first one, if not more so, especially as at the beginning of this one, we are already acquainted with Sarah and Jack.

I didn’t guess the ending either, and that’s always a bonus, but I don’t want to give away any spoilers for anyone who is thinking of checking out this series (and if you are a fan of cozy crime, then you really should).

All in all, another great read and I look forward to book 3.

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Three stories combine…

Present Day: In Ridinghouse Bay in Northern England, Alice Lake, single mother of three young children and three dogs, finds a man on the beach. He has no idea of who he is, why he is there, or how he got there, but Alice takes pity on him and lets him stop at her holiday house. While he is there, she tries to help him recover his memories.

Meanwhile in London, young newlywed Lily who has come from her home in Ukraine to live with her husband Carl Monrose, is desperate for answers when her husband fails to come home from work. The police are dismissive of her at first, so she sets out to find him on her own.

1993: The Ross family are holidaying in Ridinghouse Bay. Son Graeme and daughter Kirsty are with their parents on the beach when a handsome and enigmatic stranger strikes up a conversation. None of them realise that this is an encounter which lead to disaster.

These three stories start out separately but soon start to intertwine, and while some parts  were sort of guessable, there were plenty of surprises too. It did take me a while to get into and I was somewhat sceptical about it at first as I did not really enjoy the last book I listened to by Lisa Jewell. However, this one won me over in the end. I listened to the audiobook which held my attention during some long and hilly runs! Narration by Antonia Beamish, who did an excellent job.

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I recorded this film months and months ago, because something about it intrigued me. I’m not sure what and it took ages for me to get around to watching it – somehow whenever I was trying to pick a film I fancied, I passed this one by. But finally I settled down to watch it, and wow! It FAR exceeded my expectations (and if you will allow me to be shallow for a moment, it also awakened me to the fact that Viggo Mortensen is a beautiful man!)

The story revolves around Chester McFarland and his wife Colette (Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst), who are holidaying in Athens. They meet up with Rydal (Oscar Isaac), an American tour guide, and hire him to show them around. Rydal is something of a con artist, but as the audience quickly learns, so is Chester. This fact catches up with Chester when some disgruntled victims of his hire a private detective to track him down and Chester accidentally kills him. Rydal stumbles upon Chester trying to hide the body (don’t worry, this all happens very early on, so there are no spoilers here) and not realising the other man is actually dead, helps Chester.

The two men are then inextricably bound to one another – both has the means to get the other into trouble, and also the motive – Rydal is clearly attracted to Colette, and the feeling seems mutual.

An uneasy alliance forms as the three of them are forced to stay together – I won’t say more as there are lots of twists and turns and the storyline deserves not to be spoiled for first time viewers.

I really liked this film – it’s basically an old fashioned thriller, done extremely well, with great actors. The main three are all excellent, with Mortensen and Isaac competing for who steals each scene (Dunst is also fantastic, but I think she was given less to work with). Fans of Alfred Hitchcock will like this; I feel sure that if Hitchcock were making movies today, this is the kind of thing he would come up with. It also looks stunning, the locations and the lighting were beautiful, and the music was reminiscent of thrillers from the 50s and 60s.

I was entirely unsurprised to discover after I had finished the film that it is based on a  book by Patricia Highsmith. It is undershot with just the right amount of tension, and you are never quite sure who if anyone will come out on top.

I highly recommend this film, and will also add the book to my reading list.

 

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Harriet ‘Hal’ Westaway is down on her luck, completely alone in the world and in debt to some very dangerous people. So when she gets a solicitor’s letter telling her that her grandmother has died, and she is due an inheritance, it seems as though she might have found the answers to her problems. There’s just one hitch – Hal’s grandparents all died years ago, so who on earth is this lady who has named Hal in her Will?

Hal knows she shouldn’t take the money – but the Westaway family are rich and can afford it. And with her job as a tarot card reader, she is used to making people think what she wants them to think, so if anybody can pull off the deception required to get the inheritance, it’s Hal.

She travels to Trepassen House, the home of Mrs Westaway and meets the family, who are shocked to meet a ‘niece’ they never knew they had but largely welcome her into the fold – all except for the housekeeper Mrs Warren, who is intent on driving Hal out. But as she gets to know the family, it is clear that there are dangerous secrets lurking below the surface, and Hal may be in danger…

I listened to his audiobook, which is narrated by Imogen Church. Unfortunately some of the narrative style irritated me. The weird emphasis on certain words was off-putting, although I did grow more used to it after a while. Her attempt at posh male voices though was really annoying, and unfortunately the three brothers in the family all ended up sounded too similar.

I do think the premise of the book is really interesting and while I guessed part of the ending fairly early on, there was one twist which really threw me and I didn’t get even the slightest hint of it.

That said though, this book could really have done with some tight editing. It just seemed to take so long and so many unnecessary words to describe every situation. And metaphors – metaphors everywhere. “She looked into his eyes and it was like falling into a dark, leaf strewn pond.” I mean, come on!! The story could have been told in half the time if all the unnecessary sentences had been cut and the author had just got to the point!

So, yeah not a hit for me. It wasn’t awful and it did hold my attention enough to keep me listening to the end, but I can’t say I wasn’t glad when it was finished.

 

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I’ve found audiobooks a bit hit and miss lately, and as this one was a Daily Deal from Audible (I probably would have passed it over if I had had to pay full price for it, but for £1.99 it’s worth a punt), I wasn’t sure what to expect. But I’m happy to say I was pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed it – this book kept me company on some long runs, and I actually found myself looking forward to hearing the next ‘installment’.

A quick note on the narrators – we hear from four narrators in the book (one is a character in a book-within-the-book) – and they are voiced by Anjana Vasan, Esther Wane, Sarah Feathers and Andrew Wincott. They were all excellent and I personally think it was a great move to give each narrator their own voice.

The story revolved around Clare Cassidy – one of the narrators – an English teacher at Talgarth High School, which is famous for being the former home of gothic horror writer R M Holland (note – Holland is a fictional character created for this book, more’s the pity, as his short story The Stranger, laced throughout this book, kept me interested!). Clare is in fact writing a book about Holland, and is fascinated by his former quarters at the school which are kept more or less intact. She is horrified when her friend and colleague Ella is murdered, and even more horrified when she realises that the murder is connected somehow to the murders in Holland’s most famous story – and possibly to Clare herself.

DS Harbinder Kaur is the detective leading the investigation into the murder(s) and also narrates parts of the book. She is obviously wry and cynical, but clearly clever and brave, and without doubt was my favourite character. Her narrated chapters were my favourite parts of the story.

The third narrator was Clare’s teenage daughter Georgia, who provides important elements to the story, having inherited her mother’s passion for writing and fascination for gothic horror.

The fourth ‘narrator’ was the main character of R M Holland’s story The Stranger. As mentioned earlier, this story is told in excerpts through the book, and – brilliantly – is told in its entirety at the end.

Each character was distinct and believable, and I loved hearing about the same events from different viewpoints. I don’t want to give too much away because this book deserves to be read/listened to unspoiled, but I would highly recommend it. I actually did  guess the culprit, but it was fairly near the end of the book, and only because if you suspect enough people, you will probably end up hitting on the right one eventually!

I’ve never read anything by Elly Griffiths before but based on this book, I would definitely read more by her in future.

 

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I listened to this audiobook over the course of several training runs. The storyline revolves around a marriage between Simon and Marianne Wilson – and it soon becomes apparent that it is a deeply unhappy marriage and that Simon is a bully and a liar. There are no spoilers here, as this is made clear very early on in the story.

Marianne, who narrates the story, becomes suspicious when her husband mentions a woman who he works with, and immediately suspects that he is having an affair. She has had such suspicions before but this time it’s different. She knows deep inside that something is going on, and that this relationship could be the one that threatens her marriage and could cause her to lose her children. And Marianne is determined that that won’t happen.

I’ll be honest – for the first couple of hours of this book, I was tempted to give up on it. Within half an hour I had decided that I didn’t like either Simon or Marianne, and there seemed to be so much repetition in what Marianne was saying  that the whole listening experience was somewhat tiresome. This is no fault of the narrator Katie Villa, who did an excellent job, but more the writing itself.

However, about halfway through it suddenly got a lot more exciting and things started moving at a much quicker pace. I actually enjoyed the second half of the book a lot – there were two twists, one of which I guessed quite early on, and the other which I did not guess at all (always a plus in my book).

Overall I would say that this was a book of two halves, and I am glad I stuck around for the second one. If you like psychological dramas and unreliable narrators, I would give this a try.

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