In accordance with the FTC, I would like to disclose that I received a review copy of this title through NetGalley. The opin(From my blog: Quill Café)
In accordance with the FTC, I would like to disclose that I received a review copy of this title through NetGalley. The opinions expressed are mine and no monetary compensation was offered to me by the author or publisher.
Twenty years ago, four year old Brian disappeared from the Arlington estate. Now, criminal journalist Griffin Hadley is writing a book that he hopes will cast a new light on the cold case.
However, Jarrett Arlington – Brian's grandfather – is the only one encouraging Griff's presence in Long Island. Family, staff, and friends are all set against his intrusion, including Pierce Mather, the Arlingtons' staunch lawyer.
When Griff begins to receive anonymous threats it becomes clear that his prying is making someone wary. Is finding out the truth about Brian's disappearance worth the expense of his own personal safety?
Lanyon's newest novel was one of my most anticipated reads for this year. It did not disappoint. While I enjoy his amateur sleuth stories, I liked that 'Stranger on the Shore' veered from that path and focused on an investigative journalist researching a cold case. It made for a different, and interesting, angle to the development of the mystery.
Atmosphere plays a vital role in the novel and envelops the reader, making the story all the more palpable. 'Stranger on the Shore' has a nice balance between hazy and vivid, giving the story a wonderful ambiance, but still maintaining a realism that kept me absorbed throughout.
I was notably drawn to the interactions between Griff and Pierce. In a different scenario, Pierce's hot and cold attitude toward Griff might have been jarring, but it fit perfectly within the context of the novel. Pierce had so many suspicions and stipulations, and it was interesting to see the conflict – and sexual tension – between him and Griff, who is adamant about writing the book on Brian's disappearance. It made for a great dynamic between the two characters from the start.
I liked that the focus of 'Stranger on the Shore' wasn't so much on uncovering what had happened to Brian, although Lanyon does not dismiss that significant factor of the novel. What I appreciated was how the mystery focused more on the how and why of the disappearance, and – of course – the culprit. Nothing was too straightforward, and I was always guessing and second guessing events, happy to be swept up in the intrigue.
There were aspects of the 'Stranger on the Shore' that, if handled poorly, could have come across as gimmicky. However, Lanyon managed them tactfully, threading speculation throughout the narrative, rather than choosing blatant ambiguity or shock value, which could have easily backfired and lessened the impact of the mystery. Lanyon's deft development of the story made for a well-written, engrossing read.
I am a huge fan of Lanyon's work, particularly of his novels. I wait in eager anticipation for the next and highly recommend 'Stranger on the Shore' to any avid mystery lover....more
After being discharged from the army, Cormoran Strike sets up as a private investigator in London. With very few clients and hardly enough income to pAfter being discharged from the army, Cormoran Strike sets up as a private investigator in London. With very few clients and hardly enough income to pay his new temporary secretary Robin, business is not looking so promising.
When John Bristow wants to hire him for a substantial fee, Strike is hesitant. Bristow is convinced that his sister – the supermodel Lula Landry – did not fall to her death but was murdered. Strike isn’t convinced but he takes the case.
Soon Strike is propelled into the seedy world of celebrity, a world that he has more ties to than he would like to admit. The more he learns about Lula’s life leading up to her death, the more he is convinced that the media darling known as the Cuckoo may have had her own secrets. Secrets someone was willing to kill her for.
I had been looking forward to The Cuckoo’s Calling ever since I discovered the pseudonymous story, particularly since I am actively looking for new mysteries to read. I will admit that I did not anticipate liking it as much as I did.
Strike is a compelling protagonist with an unconventional personal history. The novel is written in third person, focusing mainly on Strike, as well as his competent and excitable temp Robin, who was also a nice segue to introducing his character. It was the strong narrative voice and intriguing protagonist that supported my attention throughout, and my interest in Strike as a character – his background with his parents and half siblings and his wreck of a personal life – convinced me that I will be reading more of his investigations in future.
What I particularly appreciated about The Cuckoo’s Calling is that it was very realistic to Strike’s profession as a private investigator. He is not a homicide detective called into crime scenes or an amateur sleuth tripping over bodies. The novel is very much a sequence of interviewing the suspects of Lula’s death. It could be perceived by some for this reason as being a bit slow or lacking in tension but I found it to be intriguing and all the more convincing.
Galbraith excelled at capturing the atmosphere and setting of the story, so that it felt more grounded in reality, without teetering into excessive description. The plot was far from predictable, with a range of suspects – including an excellent use of a red herring – that left me constantly hypothesising motives and reinterpreting information.
The novel is also an interesting commentary on the concepts of “class” and “celebrity.” Strike is looked down on by “high class” characters who snort cocaine. Lula was adored by people who didn’t necessarily understand her true priorities and ambitions. It was a fascinating look at idolisation and the judgemental nature of people, regardless of their social standing. Even Strike’s temp Robin romanticises his work. There are so many perspectives and opinions presented in the novel – particularly pertaining to Lula – and it made for a fascinating look at human nature.
What topped off my enjoyment of the novel was that I listened to it on audio, narrated by Robert Glenister. There was such variation to what he could do with his voice and it really helped to bring the characters to life. I hope he will continue to narrate however many Strike novels there may be.
I would recommend The Cuckoo’s Calling to anyone who likes a strong narrative voice and a mystery that will keep you guessing until the end.
In accordance with the FTC, I would like to disclose that I purchased this book. The opinions expressed are mine and no mone(From my blog: Quill Café)
In accordance with the FTC, I would like to disclose that I purchased this book. The opinions expressed are mine and no monetary compensation was offered to me by the author or publisher.
When the body of a young woman turns up in a graveyard with what appears to be a crossword puzzle clue, the police look to local Cora Felton – nationally printed Puzzle Lady – for some insight.
However, Cora isn’t the sweet old lady she appears to be, more concerned with drinking and smoking, and more interested in solving murders than crosswords.
With Cora stubbornly pursuing the case, it won’t be long before she loses her façade…or her life.
‘A Clue for the Puzzle Lady’ is a book I discovered through Donald Maass’ ‘Writing the Breakout Novel.’ I originally purchased it (and three sub sequential novels) for my mother as it incorporated two of her favourite things: murder mysteries and crossword puzzles. Recently I decided to pick it up and read it for myself, finding it to be a quick and compelling read.
Cora is an unconventional amateur sleuth. She is stubborn and often doesn’t listen, especially when she is implored to do something. She is not unlikeable but neither did I find her to be the most sympathetic of protagonists. She definitely has a drinking problem and has a tendency to be reckless. Yet her supportive relationship with her niece, Sherry, is a sentimental and sometimes infuriating dynamic.
Sherry was my favourite character in the novel. She has a hard history but a strong nature. Her wit and intelligence is best shown when she goes head-to-head with reporter, Aaron, and their banter provided some of the best conflict, with an added dose of sexual tension.
Where the mystery is concerned, nothing is straight forward. There was a rather obvious use of a red herring but I was left guessing about the perpetrator and their motive until the very end. There was plenty of tension in the novel, not only where the murder was concerned but in Sherry’s fear of her past catching up to her. I also liked that the emotional stakes were raised in the book. What Cora initially sees as a curious puzzle to be solved becomes more personal when the lives of those around her are affected.
‘A Clue of the Puzzle Lady’ is a humorous and gripping read that will appeal to both lovers of murder mysteries and crossword puzzles. It even includes a puzzle at the beginning of the book for you to fill out as the clues become relevant in the story. I look forward to reading the next installment, ‘Last Puzzle & Testament.’...more
When Randi Rhodes moves from adventurous New York City to Deer Creek, she doesn’t expect to stumble across any mysteries worthy of her ninja detectiveWhen Randi Rhodes moves from adventurous New York City to Deer Creek, she doesn’t expect to stumble across any mysteries worthy of her ninja detective skills. Yet it isn’t long before Deer Creek’s Time Capsule goes missing at a crucial point that could mean a terrible loss for the town if it isn’t recovered in time.
Determined to solve the case, Randi leaps into action with the aide of her new friend, D.C., to discover the perpetrator and bring them to justice. There’s something hidden in the history of Deer Creek and Randi won’t stop until she finds out just what it is.
Randi Rhodes is a head-strong protagonist who can be stubborn to a fault. She can also be very considerate, especially when it comes to her new friend D.C. She makes for a likeable character that you can really root for and want to continue reading about.
I liked that there was a dynamic cast of characters. Randi and D.C. are particularly compelling and come across as likeable and realistic. They aren’t without their troubles or conflicts but they are also passionate about their interests – such as martial arts and detective work – which is the magnetism that brings their friendship together. Pudge, an allusive character that always showed up when Randi was investigating, instilled a definite curiousity.
The relationship between Randi and her father was an interesting one. I liked that there was juxtaposition between how he could infuriate her and yet how he also inspired her. It made for a conflicting dynamic between the two of them.
The novel was well-paced and there was never a lull. Randi may think the town is dull at first but the fact that I rarely put this book down was enough to prove her wrong. The mystery of the capsule was intriguing and not one that was simple for me to figure out. There was a great balance of plot and character development.
I liked the ninja tasks included in the appendix. I particularly found the one about plastering a footprint very interesting. It added an extra layer to the novel and made Randi’s antics all the more plausible to the reader.
Randi Rhodes is the real deal. She is inquisitive, intuitive and driven. I look forward to reading more about her, D.C. and Pudge in future and would be quick to recommend it to anyone seeking a children’s novel with great character and mystery.
In accordance with the FTC, I would like to disclose that I received this book at Book Expo America. The opinions expressed are mine and no monetary compensation was offered to me by the author or publisher....more
Christopher Holmes is in a slump. The sales for his series about an elderly amateur sleuth and her cat are dwindling and his partner of ten years hasChristopher Holmes is in a slump. The sales for his series about an elderly amateur sleuth and her cat are dwindling and his partner of ten years has run off with his PA. When his agent encourages him to attend a writer's retreat - in the middle of nowhere - he isn't anticipating much beyond boozing and catty conversation, let alone the appearance of a dead body.
It's not long before Christopher is the primary suspect, facing the scrutiny of gossiping writers with expansive imaginations and J.X. Moriarity: best-selling novelist, ex-cop, and Christopher's ex-fling. With all suspicion on him, Christopher is determined to do some sleuthing of his own...an act which may just get him killed.
This is my second encounter with one of Josh Lanyon's novels, the first being 'A Snowball in Hell.' The premise of 'Somebody Killed His Editor' hooked me because I loved the idea of writers holed up in the middle of a crime scene, but the actual execution of the novel far exceeded my expectations.
What really carried the book is its voice. It is narrated in first person by the protagonist, Christopher Holmes, whose outer sarcastic self is only trumped by his inner snark. Not that his perspective isn't often called for, with an abundance of backhanded comments and cattiness at the retreat, plenty of which is targeted at Christopher and his career. His wit lends itself to his likeable and sympathetic nature, and he becomes a well-rounded character who feels like a real person with insecurities, flaws and flusters...and excellent comedic timing.
I liked that the conflict between Christopher and J.X. wasn't contrived. They had a history and J.X.'s cold attitude had a foundation, rather than being an irritating "love interest insults the protagonist even though they met five minutes ago" scenario. There is nothing forced about their interaction and it made for a far more intriguing dynamic.
The main reason I was so quick to purchase this book was that it was narrated on audio by Kevin R. Free, who co-narrates The Kane Chronicles. His narration didn't dissapoint and amplified Christopher's voice and my enjoyment of the novel.
'Somebody Killed His Editor' is a book I would highly recommend to anyone who loves mystery with a sublime sense of wit.
When Enola Holmes' mother disappears, she is frantic to finder her - but her two older brothers, Mycroft and Sherlock disapprove. Convinced that theirWhen Enola Holmes' mother disappears, she is frantic to finder her - but her two older brothers, Mycroft and Sherlock disapprove. Convinced that their mother has run away, Enola's brothers are determined to send her off to boarding school...but she is having none of that.
Setting off to find her mother, Enola stumbles across the case of a missing boy and finds herself in more trouble than she had ever conceived. London is not the sparkling place she had imagined and there are horrid figures that crawl the streets.
Katherine Kellgren is quick becoming my favourite audio book narrator, so after reading the above review I was ecstatic to discover that she narrated the Enola Holmes Mysteries.
Enola is a compelling character, sympathetic without being petty, head-strong and intelligent. Reiterated through the story are her mother's words, "Enola, you will do very well on your own." Boy, is it true! Even Enola's name spelled backwards is "alone." She is a driven character and I was drawn to her.
I will admit that I am not overly-familiar with the original novels by Conan Doyle. I listened to A Study in Scarlet and then gave up on the second installment. Springer does make references to A Study in Scarlet (in the sense of it being a non-fiction account by Watson) but I have nothing to really compare or criticise the borrowed characters in the book. Speaking of references, I did like the one Springer made to The Importance of Being Earnest with Lane and the cucumber sandwiches.
While I am not familiar enough with the Holmes brothers to know if they were portrayed well, I can say that they appear to me to be right arses. They belittle Enola less because she is young and more-so because she is female. Sexism to the max. This is what made me like the book all the more. It hones in on the issues of sexism but also shows Enola's cleverness and gives a right "stuff you" to the notion of her inferiority.
The descriptions Springer gives of East London and even the steel corsets young women are made to wear to refine their body shape was horrific. Almost as horrid as Mycroft's attitude. (If you nap so often, you'll get diabetes, Mycroft.) There was a wonderful grit to the novel and it was riddled with plenty of dangers, mostly "unmentionable" things which made the subtext all the stronger.
I wouldn't say that the case of the missing boy was the most interesting thing in the plot but rather Enola's own journey and how she thought outside the box - even outfoxing the great Sherlock Holmes who she honestly made look a bit of a ninny. I've already purchased the second novel, 'The Case of the Left-Handed Lady' and look forward to starting it...now.
When one of her workers is found murdered, with a window cut through her middle, Liv Bergen reconnects with her old college friend Lisa Henry, who isWhen one of her workers is found murdered, with a window cut through her middle, Liv Bergen reconnects with her old college friend Lisa Henry, who is the FBI profiler on the case. Offering her hospitality to the FBI, Liv finds herself wrapped up in the killer’s twisted schemes.
FBI agent, Streeter Pierce, is hunting the dubbed “Venus de Milo” murderer. Can he find him before he strikes again? This killer is close but clever. Who will stumble into his path next?
I read this book in practically one sitting. I’ve never been one to read many murder mystery novels because I’ve always been overwhelmed by the number of them my mum has stacked up on her shelves. This book was mine though, sitting on my shelf waiting for me. One I had opened it, I was sucked in.
Is it bad of me that I like serial killers with an artistic or literary bent? I was utterly absorbed by ‘Brother Grimm’ by Craig Russell, where the killer positions his victims in the style of the Grimm fairy tales. This was much the same, where “de Milo” is inspired by/obsessed with a particular artist.
The artist in question was one that I had heard of and seen the works of but seeing the twisted mind of the killer made me look at the art in a way that transcended more than, “That’s interesting.” Unless you’re very familiar with the artist, you will be as quizzical and enlightened as I was reading the book.
‘In the Belly of Jonah’ is written alternately in Liv’s first person perspective and third person. The close third person P.O.V. allows the reader to not only observe Streeter Pierce and the killer but also see into their thought processes.
Liv is a brilliant protagonist. She is intelligent and hardworking, vulnerable without being weak. She had a quirky sense of humour and a quick witted way of thinking and speaking that made me all the more drawn to her.
Streeter is a really peculiar first name. I just had to throw that out there. I was fascinated by the way he handles people. He knows how to get people to want to work with him, instead of feeling like they are being pressured by his position to work for him. He is manipulative in the subtlest of ways.
I was torn between repulsion and fascination for the killer. Even after his identity was disclosed, I can’t stop thinking about his twisted mind and the insights I had into it. A brilliant accomplishment by the writer.
Liv and Streeter’s roles in the novel are quite separate but I never felt as though the narrative was disjointed. It was constantly captivating and I look forward to reading the next Liv Bergen novel, ‘Lot’s Return to Sodom.’
‘In the Belly of Jonah’ is a book I would recommend to mystery lovers but also those who, like me, are fascinated by the concept of a serial killer with an artistic bent.
In accordance with the FTC, I would like to disclose that I received this book from the author. The opinions expressed are mine and no monetary compensation was offered to me by the author or publisher....more
John Watson has returned from Afghanistan and is looking for lodgings in London. An old friend introduces him to Sherlock Holmes, a consulting detectiJohn Watson has returned from Afghanistan and is looking for lodgings in London. An old friend introduces him to Sherlock Holmes, a consulting detective and the two of them take up abode in 221B Baker Street. Thus begins Watson's insight into the life and mind of Holmes.
When a man shows up dead with no signs of a struggle, the police are stumped. They call in Holmes to help them solve the mystery of his murder. The policemen are at odds, trying to trump the other by solving the case first but Holmes is clever. Using his powers of deduction, can he solve the crime before the killer strikes again? Or could there be more cunning to this murder scheme than even Holmes can catch?
Revenge is the agenda - but what could prompt such vengeance?
The only insight I have ever had into Sherlock Holmes has been through adaptations or hearsay. He has become such a quintessential character that he is threaded throughout modern literature and television. I had no idea what Sherlock was really meant to be like, so I was determined to get it straight from the source. I like to start at the beginning if I can and so 'A Study in Scarlet' was the only option. The very beginning of the Watson and Holmes duo.
The novel was divided into two parts, which I wasn't aware of before I began it. The first half is much the mystery and watching Holmes go about his business of being clever but refusing to tell anyone his conclusions until everything is resolved. My fascination with the characters and the cleverness of Holmes was what kept me intrigued. The second part, however, is all about the back story. It is the lead-up to the reason of the crime.
The mystery structure I am most familiar with is one that gives an insight into possible reasons for the murder and the background of potential suspects as it goes along. This one kept me in the dark for the first half and dished out the answers in part two. It was an interesting experience.
The second part of the novel did grip me. I had my doubts. I was thrown and I wasn't sure if I was going to be interested but it proved to be a gritty telling that got right under my skin and held my attention. It is up to the individual reader to decide whether they sympathise with the murderer but I found that it was empathetic at least.
A Study in Scarlet gives an insight into religious communities in that time period that I had a faint idea of but hadn't grasped. It is a story well worth reading...or in my case listening to. I purchased it on audio book, narrated by Derek Jacobi.
I have no idea which installment comes after this one but I'm keen to find out.