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Posts Tagged ‘mystery’

The Colorado Kid is definitely not your typical Stephen King novel. For a start, it’s not scary, there’s no sci-fi or dystopian element, and there’s nothing supernatural here. It’s pulp fiction and an interesting crime noir.

It opens in 2005, when a young female newspaper intern on a small island in Maine is chatting to her two colleagues, who have lived on the island their whole lives, discussing the subject of local unsolved mysteries. They tell her the story of the man they nicknamed the Colorado Kid, a young man who was found dead on the beach one early morning in 1980. The story revolves not only around identifying the man and finding out how he died, but also what he was doing there in the first place.

Due to the fact that the story is being told 25 years after it happened, there is no sense of urgency or danger, it’s just an interesting story. Although it’s not typical Stephen King fare, you can feel his writing come through – mainly in the description of the small town characters with their quirks and idiosyncrasies, and of course the fact that, like so many of his stories it is set in Maine.

It’s short – coming in at 180 pages, but in reality not even that, as my copy had a long introduction from the publisher, so the story itself actually started around 30 pages in, and there are several full-page illustrations of events throughout the book.

It’s not classic crime and it’s not one of King’s best, but as his books always do, it pulled me in and held my interest throughout. I also really liked the typically pulpy cover picture! Recommended to Stephen King fans as well as those who might not always enjoy his books, but like crime fiction.

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I first read this book when I was a teenager, and if I cast my mind back through the many years that have passed since, I’m fairly sure that at the time I thought it was a true story. It isn’t, but that doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of the reading.

The story is, on the face of it, fairly simple. In Victoria, Australia in 1900, the students and two teachers as the prestigious Appleyard School for young ladies are preparing to go for a Valentine’s Day picnic at the famous landmark Hanging Rock. During the picnic, four of the students go off for a walk and only one returns, in a state of hysteria, and unable to recall what has happened to the other three young women. Also missing is one of the teachers.

The book explores the ripple effect of the disappearance and how it changed the lives even of people who were initially only on the periphery of the story, and illustrates how one event can have far reaching consequences. The disappearance itself happens in the first quarter of the book and the rest of the book deals with the after-effects.

I did enjoy this book very much, both times that I read it. There was a surprising amount of humour, or at least acerbic wit, but the main atmosphere is somewhat ethereal and dreamlike. My favourite characters were the coachman Albert Crundall and Madamoiselle De Poitiers, the French teacher who genuinely cared about her students.

It’s a short read (just under 200 pages) but an enjoyable one, and I would recommend it. I’d also like to see Hanging Rock for myself!

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This fifth outing for private detective Cormoran Strike and his business partner Robin Ellacott sees them tackling their first cold case. Strike is visiting his uncle and sick aunt in Cornwall when he is approached by Anna Phipps, who hopes he can help her discover what happened to her mother, GP Margot Bamborough, who went missing just over 40 years earlier. Was she a victim of serial killer Dennis Creed who was in the midst of his killing spree at that time? Or was something else behind Margot’s disappearance?

As Strike and Robin go back over the lives of Margot’s colleagues, friends and family, they run into more and more problems, with red herrings, missing witnesses and unreliable memories. Meanwhile Strike is juggling trying to look after his aunt, dealing with unwanted contact from his half siblings and his erstwhile father, and his fragile and unbalanced ex-fiancee Charlotte still trying to remain in Strike’s life. Robin has her own problems, going through an unpleasant divorce from Matthew and dealing with unwanted attention from another quarter.

The agency is expanding for better or for worse – they have taken on a new subcontractor and an office secretary (the latter of which was a very enjoyable character to read about; I hope she features in future books).

Every time I read the latest Strike book I think it is the best yet, and this one is no exception. It’s huge – the paperback is nearly 1100 pages – but I enjoyed every minute of it. The twists and turns came fast and just when I thought the detectives might be getting somewhere, something would happen to make me think, “Oh, hang on….”

I do think Galbraith has a gift for characterisation, as I felt I really knew everyone in this book. The plotting must have been meticulous, and the ending was brilliant. I like the fact that the book shows the private lives of Strike and Robin, but never delves into the realms of soap opera; rather it adds to their motivations and nuances of character as we understand more about what drives them.

Ready for the next one please!

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In the mid 1740s, a young Englishman named Richard Smith arrives in New York, a city in its infancy, with a money order for £1000. As none of the counting houses have that kind of cash available and as there are questions surrounding his honesty and the authenticity of the order, Mr Smith is obliged to wait in New York until the money can be raised and he can be proven to be trustworthy.

The reader is also kept in the dark about Mr Smith’s intentions – we don’t know if he is honest and we don’t know what he plans to do with the money, and we only find out the truth about both questions at the end of the book. No spoilers here though!

His presence in the city divides the people who live there – some believe him and like him, others are convinced that he is a liar and a cheat – and he finds himself in some dangerous and unsavoury situations – some of his own making and others in which he is an innocent party. There are a number of twists and turns along the way.

A curious one this, for me. I really struggled with some parts of it and found it difficult to maintain interest. But other parts were fascinating and exciting and I raced through them. There is a LOT of description about New York in the 1740s, which does really help to set the scene. Spufford also employs the use of language of the era, which could sometimes mean that it didn’t flow as easily as it might have. So all in all a bit of a mixed bag. I did like the main character of Mr Smith, but most of the other characters were not particularly well developed. There is a strong female character named Tabitha, who I wish could have been pleasant as well as strong and smart. She had a much more pliant sister, and I was reminded of Katherine and Bianca from Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew (although Katherine is more of a sympathetic character than Tabitha, who I just found unpleasant).

With all that said, there was a lot here to enjoy and I would consider reading more from this author.

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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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