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Posts Tagged ‘mystery’

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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Brian Bilston has been hailed the poet laureate of Twitter – a 21st century title if ever there was one! – and while I generally struggle with poetry, I have found his poems delightful, amusing, and utterly relatable. Here, he writes as a fictional version of himself, having decided that he is going to write a poem every day of the year, while also keeping a diary of his year. (The poems are all included in his diary, and while there are a minority of days when he doesn’t write one, he more or less keeps his resolution.)

The Brian Bilston of this story is a likeable character, with a sharp eye for life’s minutiae, and while he often writes about the mundanity of life, he always makes it highly enjoyable. He is also a genius at wordplay!

Brian and his wife Sophie have broken up and she has fallen for a new, indefatigably enthusiastic man; his relationship with his teenage son is strained; work is boring to Brian and he has no interest in it; the insufferable fellow poet Toby Salt is finding fame and fortune, much to Brian’s disgust – in fact the only bright spots in his life are his cat and Liz, the new lady at his poetry club, but he can’t seem to get things going with her.

As we follow Brian through his calamitous existence, there is a smile or laugh to be had on every page, even though much of the story is actually quite poignant, and there is a mystery element thrown in which was enjoyable, although probably not necessary. I found myself rooting for Brian throughout, although I sometimes wanted to give him a good shake as well.

Overall I would certainly recommend this book and I do hope that Mr Bilston releases another novel before too long.

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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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