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Posts Tagged ‘mystery’

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The Blurb

You wake. Confused. Disorientated.
A noose is round your neck.
You are bound, standing on a chair.
All you can focus on is the man in the mask tightening the rope.
You are about to die.

John Wallace has no idea why he has been targeted. No idea who his attacker is. No idea how he will prevent the inevitable. Then the pendulum of fate swings in his favour.
He has one chance to escape, find the truth and halt his destruction. The momentum is in his favour for now. But with a killer on his tail, everything can change with one swing of this deadly pendulum…

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My Thoughts

I listened to this as an audiobook, narrated by Luke Thompson who did a great job. The narrative hits the ground running – rather than any introductory back story, it starts slap bang in the middle of an attempted murder. When photographer John Wallace is attacked in his apartment, he feels sure that he is about to die, but manages to escape by the skin of his teeth. However, his attacker is relentless and seemingly able to track John, no matter where he hides. John has to find out who is trying to kill him, and more importantly why – but his journey will take him across an ocean and down some very dark paths.

I really liked the first part of the book – the action was fast moving and the characters were well fleshed out. However, when the story moved to New York, it faltered somewhat for me, as it began to include elements of cyber terrorism (don’t worry – no spoilers here) and it became unbelievable as Wallace seemed to be able to somehow defy numerous attempts on his life, while around him the body count continued to rise.

Hamdy definitely knows how to write an action sequence, and Luke Thompson’s narration matched the pace of the storyline. However, the second half of the story was something of a slog for me. This book is the first in a series, and although it’s easy to see where the set up for the next book comes in, there was enough closure here for anyone who didn’t want to read any more. I fall into that category – this wasn’t awful, but didn’t interest me enough to want to read any more about the Pendulum case.

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Year of first publication: 2016

Genre: Thriller, action, mystery

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The Blurb:

We’ve all seen him: the man – the monster – staring from the front page of every newspaper, accused of a terrible crime. But what about her: the woman who grips his arm on the courtroom stairs – the wife who stands by him? Jean Taylor’s life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she’d ever wanted: her Prince Charming. Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil. But now Glen is dead and she’s alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms. Jean Taylor is going to tell us what she knows.

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My thoughts:

First, let me warn anyone who is thinking of reading this, that the blurb on the back cover – as above – is somewhat misleading. Second – I’m in two minds about this one. I definitely think Fiona Barton can write, and the characters were all well drawn and fleshed out.

There are two timelines – 2010, which for the purposes of this novel is the present day, and 2006, which is when the little girl that Glen Taylor was accused of abducting, disappeared. The vast majority of it actually takes place in 2006, with the 2010 storyline concentrating on a journalist called Kate who wants to get Jean’s story.

The chapters are told from separate points of view – ‘The Widow’ – Jean Taylor; ‘The Reporter’ – Kate; ‘The Detective’ – Bob Sparkes who was in charge of the original investigation and is still haunted by the matter years later; and ‘The Mother’ – Dawn, the mother of the abducted child. I liked Bob and I quite liked Kate, but Jean and Dawn both left me cold.

At times the book was very suspenseful, but at times it did drag slightly as there seemed to be a lot of back-and-forth, and did-he/didn’t-he, with the same ground being trodden over. But despite that, I did quite enjoy this book and would almost certainly read more by Fiona Barton. It doesn’t have the twists and turns of a book like Gone Girl, but for my money it’s better written than Gone Girl (and as with every other psychological thriller which has been released since that book, this one has been compared to it – ignore the comparisons, it’s totally different).

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Year of first publication: 2016

Genre: Psychological drama

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The Blurb: 

England, September 1939. Lily Shepherd boards a cruise liner for a new life in Australia and is plunged into a world of cocktails, jazz and glamorous friends. But as the sun beats down, poisonous secrets begin to surface. Suddenly Lily finds herself trapped with nowhere to go…

Australia, six weeks later. The world is at war, the cruise liner docks, and a beautiful young woman is escorted on to dry land in handcuffs.

What has she done?

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My thoughts: 

I had really been looking forward to reading this book, believing that it was some kind of murder mystery set in turbulent times. It sounded like just the kind of book I would enjoy, and I did enjoy it although it was not quite what I expected and the comparisons with Agatha Christie which I read in some reviews were way off the mark. But that is not to complain – it’s a well written story, definitely more character driven than plot driven. The threat of WWII looms large and causes tension among the passengers, especially when Lily makes friends with a young Jewish woman named Maria, much to the disapproval of some other passengers.

Other than Lily herself, the main characters are a brother and sister named Edward and Helena, who befriend Lily, and a glamorous American couple named Eliza and Max Campbell who have a scandalous background. All the different personalities thrust together in an intimate setting, are bound to make for tension and this tension pervades the story.

I did not guess the ending, although in hindsight, there were clues peppered throughout the book. I did think it was cleverly written and would definitely read more by this author.

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Year of first publication: 2017

Genre: Mystery, drama

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Murder on the Orient Express, is one of Agatha Christie’s best known and most loved novels. Hercule Poirot is travelling on the train when one of the passengers, a Mr Ratchett, is murdered. Now Poirot must sift through the evidence and work out which of the other passengers wanted Ratchett dead – and why.

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Although I am classing this as an audiobook, it’s actually more of a dramatisation of the novel, rather than a straightforward narration. Art Malik is the narrator but he in fact he serves mainly to provide links from scene to scene. As lovely and delicious as his voice is, the real star of the production is of course the character of Poirot, performed here by Tom Conti, who imbues his Poirot with just the right amount of eccentricity with a dash of arrogance.

The mystery at the heart of the story is an excellent one, and if I didn’t already know something of the ending, it certainly would have kept me guessing. My favourite performers apart from Conti were Paterson Jospeh and Sophie Okonedo as Colonel Arbuthnot and Mary Debenham respectively, but the whole cast were excellent and really brought the story alive.

I really hope that Audible gives the dramatisation treatment to more of Agatha Christie’s works, as I found this a splendid and enjoyable listen. Highly recommended.

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Year of first publication: 1934 (novel) 2017 (this dramatisation)

Genre: Murder mystery

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A disparate group of five students are given detention and only four of them walk out alive. Somebody killed Simon Kelleher while he was in the room and as the investigation gets underway, it turns out that each of the other students had something to hide…and Simon not only knew all of their secrets, but was planning to reveal them on his on his gossip app.

Although this book is marketed as Young Adult, I am certainly WAY past that category and I really enjoyed it. People like me who remember classic 80s movies may well remember The Breakfast Club, and it is difficult not to draw comparisons between the premise of that movie and the initial backdrop to this book. However, the story here is a lot darker – as all four students are investigated for the murder, it turns out that each of them had reason to want Simon dead.

I really enjoyed the story, and while I have no intention of revealing the ending, I will say that it came as a complete surprise and I certainly wouldn’t have guessed it.

If you like mysteries and dramas (this is more of a drama than a thriller), then I would recommend this book, no matter what your age.

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A year after her husband Zach’s death in a horrific road crash, Lizzie Carter finally feels able to visit the accident site and leave flowers for him. However when she gets there she sees that someone else has left flowers for him with the name ‘Xenia’ in a note, and she wonders if he had another woman in his life. As Lizzie digs deeper into Zach’s past to try and find out who Xenia is, she discovers all sorts of things which make her question whether she ever really knew him at all.

Interspersed with the chapters narrated by Lizzie in the present day, are chapters from Zach’s diary which start from around the time he and Lizzie met. It is clear from both narratives that Zach has anger issues, and is a sociopath. Lizzie starts to question whether or not he is even dead, or whether he has faked his own death and is now stalking her.

I listened to this as an audiobook, and it was narrated by Penelope Rawlins (Lizzie) and Daniel Weyman (Zach). I thought they both did a good job. Unfortunately however, I did not really enjoy the book. I had previously read Lie With Me by the same author, and enjoyed it, despite it being far-fetched. Based on that, I thought Remember Me This Way would be a good book to pass a few hours while I was out running, but I actually almost gave up on it. The main issue was that there were no redeeming characters at all, except for Lizzie’s dog Howard! I have no issue with unpleasant characters but these were just frustrating. Lizzie herself was a wet blanket who was seemingly incapable of seeing what was staring her in the face and who got walked over not just by her husband, but also by her unbearably selfish sister. The character of Onnie – the teenage daughter of an old friend of Zach – was annoying beyond belief, and I just wanted to shake them all into sense.

I didn’t give up on it and in the end it did keep my fairly occupied, but after it had picked up a bit in the second half, the actual ending turned out to be a bit of a damp squib. I think I am bit fed up of the glut of books about people who turn out not to be who their nearest and dearest thought they were. How many people in recent books have married people with dark secrets in their past? I sometimes feel as though I am reading the same story over and over again, so maybe I need a break from these kinds of stories for a while.

Unfortunately, and based on this book, I would probably not be interested in reading/listening to anything else by this author.

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This is the second in the Gourmet Detective series of tv movies, starring Dylan Neal and Brooke Burns, and which are based on the books of Peter King.

In this instalment, the titular detective Henry Ross once again finds himself teamed with Detective Maggie Price, when they investigate the murder of a journalist at a luxury spa. Naturally there are several possible suspects, and it is up to Henry and Maggie to sift through the evidence and uncover the killer.

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Year of release: 2015

Director: Scott Smith

Writers: Peter King (book series), Dawn DeKeyser, Dylan Neal, Becky Southwell

Main cast: Dylan Neal, Brooke Burns, Crystal Lowe, Patrick Sabongui, Stefanie von Pfetten, Devon Weigel, Brendan Penny, Steve Valentine

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Genre: Cosy murder mystery

Highlights: Charming and undemanding fun throughout, chemistry between the two main characters, mystery kept me guessing until the big reveal

Lowlights: None for me, but those who like their films gritty and realistic might want to pass on this one

Overall: Good fun, perfect to unwind on a lazy weekend

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