The Snow Child, Only the Innocent & How to Walk Away

 

I’ve had a copy of The Snow Child for quite a while but never really felt in the right mood to read it.  This is a story of a childless couple into whose life a young child falls, only not really.  She is child of the woods and the cold and creatures.  She visits and allows them to be kind to her, but she can’t stay, not completely.  Faina, is her name, and the book follows her tale along with her quasi-adoptive parents and the man who eventually falls in love with her.  A beautiful tale of magical realism, in which hope and belief are centered.  The message is certainly “if you love something let it go…”  Very good read!

Only the Innocent is a police procedural, but not really as most of it is told from other points of view.  There is an epistolary aspect to it,  leading to the resolution of the crime and providing most of the clues.  There were some interesting pieces here but some actions of the characters were not in keeping with how they were developed,  IOW didn’t make sense in the context of the developments in the plot.  Very dark themes of child abuse, incest, grooming, rape, torture and murder. It did wrap up nicely in the end, with who I considered the obvious suspect being guilty.  This is the 1st in a new series, but I’m not entirely sure that I would read another.

How to Walk Away...the positives, the research that went into dealing with a diagnosis of paraplegia and with being a burn victim is evident here.  Very well researched on that aspect.  The negatives:   the love story  was extremely predictable and the love interest/relationship was completely, totally, unethical and as such inexcusable.  There was other practical issue that wasn’t addressed that is a huge gaping hole in the plot, but I don’t know how to discuss it without spoilers.  Hence,

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Basically, fiance is a douche who maims and paralyzes her after bullying her into going up in a small plane he is piloting, WITHOUT A LICENSE, which he promptly crashes.  He then drops off the face of the earth because now she is ugly and apparently not being able to walk isn’t sexy.  The FAA findings were for pilot error and there is no law suit???  How does that happen?  She will need care and accomodations the rest of her natural life, plus all the medical bills, and they don’t sue?  No, instead they show up at his wedding to his new WALKING fiance as a way to “show him.”  What?  How does this make any kind of sense?  There is no reference to her parents being multi-millionaires, so I didn’t get this at all.  I mean this is in America, disabled without money, not a nice long term outcome.

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Silent Voices, Deadly Donuts & Disposable Lives

Another great read in the Vera Stanhope series by Ann Cleeves, Silent Voices, was better in the  book than the TV show that I watched based on it.  Hannah’s character seemed much more interesting in the book.  Vera has joined a health club, rather stealthily as she wouldn’t really want it to be the subject of discussion at the station.  Then, dripping wet from the pool,  she has the bad luck (or is it good luck)to stumble on  a murder.  The case leads to an upper class (but probably no money left) family, the death of a child under the supervision of social services and ties to older secrets.  Great mystery, lots of twists and turns with interlocking character stories and red herrings.  I really enjoy reading this, even though I’ve watched the TV show already.

Deadly Donuts by Jessica Beck is the 10th book in The Donut Mysteries.  This is a cozy series I have returned to again and again, whenever I feel the desire for a lighter read. The story here involves blackmail, family secrets, midnight assignations, and assassination attempts on a governor.  It’s all in a day’s work for Suzanne, the sleuthing donut baker and her loyal cadre of sleuthing companions.  This was fun, quick read with lovable, relatable characters in a familiar setting.  I am sure I will continue to read and enjoy the series (good thing there are plenty more of them).

Disposable Lives has been on my Kindle for quite  a while so while I ‘m back in a cozier swing of things I decided to pick it up.  The book concerns con men and conspiracies, a murdered husband and a country club, and mainly Travelers of the Irish persuasion.  I was a little uncomfortable reading this for some reason.  Travelers as villains is certainly nothing new in crime fiction, however they were somewhat cartoonish in their villainy here.  More of stereotypes than characters and it just struck a wrong note with me.  The main character also seemed off, her husband was killed and she seemed to give no thought to consoling her kids or that the kids would even grieve for a father.   Didn’t really work well for me.

 

Latest Reads…

 

A mixture here of Kindle reads, library book sale finds, and books checked out from the library to read.

I’ll start with what I didn’t like, in fact a very rare DNF, Sophie Hannah’s Kind of Cruel, This was a book sale find.  I haven’t read any other books in the series but I have heard a lot about the author.  The book starts with insomniac Amber visiting a hypnotherapist to try to find some relief from the lack of sleep.  During her session she says the phrase kind, cruel, kind of cruel”, which just happens to be a key piece in a murder inquiry.  Amber has no idea what it is all about and neither does anybody else either.  The book meanders on and about half way through I gave up and skipped to the end just to see what happened.  The characters, setting and mystery just didn’t engage me.  The reveal was actually who I suspected, because it was really the only “mysterious/normal” character, if that is a thing, but the reasoning was extremely convoluted.

The Day She Disappeared: A Novel is my second Christobel Kent novel and  it is so much better than the first The Loving Husband.  Nat becomes concerned about the “disappearance” of fellow barmaid Beth, even though at first no one else is.  Finally, allied with Victor, an elderly and beloved bar patron, with concerns of his own, Nat tries to find out what exactly has happened to Beth.  The atmosphere here is tense and closed in feeling and the pace becomes frantic as Nat gets closer to some answers and the danger seems to be looming closer over both Nat and Victor.  A real sense of menace and dread and intriguing, intelligent characters make for a good mystery read here.

The Red Book of Primrose House is the second in the A Potting Shed Mystery series.  I really liked the first in the series.  In this book, Pru has taken on a new garden restoration project that is plagued by vandalism and finally a murder, on top of that Pru is dealing with issues in her personal life, looking for missing links to her family’s past and working on her love life with Christopher.  There are just a few red herrings here, but in general the mystery was straight forward.  I feel this book emphasized more the development of Pru and Christopher’s story than the mystery, but I still enjoyed it and will definitely continue to read the series.

The Bad Things is a Kindle read that I think I read about on Omnimystery and ordered.  The story concerns a supposed killer, Jackie Wood, of two children being released from prison on a technicality after many years.  The aunt of the children, Alex Devlin, is a writer and decides to interview her in an effort to find out where one of the children’s bodies is because it has never turned up.  Jackie is murdered and the investigation begins to turn up secrets about the original case that Alex Devlin, among others, would rather have remain buried.  What stood out for me in this book was the utter lack of remorse shown for the ruined lives of innocent people.  It was just appalling.  Good compelling mystery read.

Rest in Pizza is the 4th in a Pizza themed cozy mystery series by Chris Cavender.  The pizza parlor is owned by one widowed sister, Eleanor Swift, who runs it with the help of her sister Maddy Spencer and some part-time employees.  In this outing, a TV celebrity chef, an obnoxious personality, comes to town for a book signing, and manages to get himself murdered in Eleanor’s pizza parlour.  This puts Eleanor and her sister on the trail of a killer and maybe in the killer’s sights themselves.  Fun, quick, mystery read with realistic characters in a well drawn small town setting.  This is a cozy series that I do enjoy.

Dead Gone is a book that I believe I heard about from Omnimystery.  I checked it out from the library, it is a first from a new author, Luca Vesta.  Very much a psychological murder mystery, in fact psychology is the method and the motive for the murders.  The detectives were a little thinly drawn to start with but I’m sure that there will be more books in this series that will flesh them out further.  There are flashes here and there to let you know pieces of their past.  The plot is well done with letters from the perpetrator and glimpses into the crimes, what happens to the victims and to the victim’s family’s along with what the police are doing.  Really well done mystery, a bit on the brutal side.

 

A few more reads…

I believe I must have picked up Murder in the Marais at a library book sale and I’ve had it for a while so I finally decided to read it. Aimee Leduc is a detective who is hired to decode and deliver a file to an old woman in the Marais, the old Jewish Quarter of the city.  At her delivery she discovers the intended recipient has been murdered with indications that it was the work of an anti-Semite group or group member.

The crime is linked to crimes in the war and war criminals who have invented new personas and new lives for themselves, which they don’t want threatened by Aimee’s investigation.  The stories that are intertwined are horrifying and sad and filled with regret.  I am not a big fan of WWII themed novels usually, but this was very well written, a good mystery, with fully fleshed out characters.   A very good first novel from Cara Black.

The Guise of Another is by Allen Eskens.  The book is set in both Minnesota and New York.  The mystery involves a dead man, who may not be dead or is not actually the correct dead man..so he is anyway and how did he come to “be” the first dead man?  Identity theft, missing persons, accidents of fate, political and police corruption, hit men and government graft all come into play in this book with Alexander Rupert at the center.  He is a Minnesota policeman, currently under investigation for his part in police corruption in his old task force, now consigned to the Frauds unit while awaiting the results of the hearings.  He uncovers a case in which the victim is not who he is supposed to be and that sets in motion a series of events and deaths, as he tries to uncover the true identity of the mystery man and what he was hiding from before he died.  An okay mystery.

Local Girl Missing is about secrets and the truth and how it can all come back to bite you in the end.  Frankie is a successful hotelier, who has left the small dreary seaside town she grew up in far behind until she gets a call that the body of her missing childhood friend has finally been found.  Daniel, Sophia’s brother, asks that she come back and help him figure out what happened when Sophia disappeared.  As soon as she arrives in town, there is a sense of unease and distrust.  Frankie finds herself pursuing clues and revisiting her past including secrets that she thought were well buried.  A psychological thriller type with some gaslighting elements similar to some of the other “girl” books that have been published in the last couple of years.

Slow Cooked Murder by Tim Myers is me sticking my toes back in cozy mystery land.  I haven’t really been reading many cozies for a while, but I’ve had this one sitting on my kindle and decided to take a break from all the thrillers and police procedurals.  I’ve always liked Tim Myers cozies, in particular I enjoyed his donut series.  His characters are great, not so quirky as to be unrealistic, he creates some lovely small town settings, and the mysteries are fun and interesting.  This was a fun cozy read, I still prefer his other series, but I did enjoy reading about this adult education cooking teacher who gets thrown into a murder investigation after the death of one of her students.

Scared to Death & The Darkness and the Deep

 

Two reads from my Kindle Library.  Scared to Death is this month’s selection at the English Kindle Mystery Club on Goodreads.

Kay Hunter is a detective operating under the cloud of a recent investigation in to her professional conduct.  Called to the scene of a kidnapping that ended in murder,  a death in a horrifying manner.  Spurred on by the scene and the questions it rises, the surviving mother of the victim, and tips sent in by the public, Kay searches for the killer(s) before there is another murder.  Very good mystery/police procedural read.  I just wish that the overarching reason behind the murder would have been explored a little more.  It was exposed but not deeply.  Recommended reading.

The Darkness & the Deep is the second in the DI Margery Fleming series.  Margery is really appealing and engaging detective character.  She is more than a DI, she has a family life, she is a member of her community, even when the community doesn’t like what she is doing.  The mystery here surrounds deaths of a lifeboat rescue crew and the indications that they weren’t the result of human error or accident.  As Margery delves into the case, the reader will have lots of suspects, motives and red herrings to sort through.  I really enjoyed this one in the series and will continue to read more.

 

Latest Reads in No Particular Order…

 

I really wanted to read Death at Whitewater Church and tracked down a copy at Thriftbook to be able to read it.  The protagonist/sleuth is solicitor Benedicta “Ben” O’Keeffe, who has a big tom cat Guinness, but I don’t want to give the impression this is a cozy because  it is more of a soft-boiled mystery.  The Whitewater Church is a deconsecrated church, which is up for sale and Ben gets involved through representing the sellers.  A rather routine inspection turns out not to be so routine when a body, more a skeleton, is discovered.  The mystery revolves around a local family who had a son go missing years before and another son who can’t seem to cope with the aftermath.  Ben deals with the mystery and with personal issues involving her parents and a local Sergeant on the force.  I really enjoyed this one for the characters, the setting and the mystery.  I plan on reading more in the series.

One Good Turn is the second in the Jackson Brodie series.  A really well written book and a solid follow up to Case Histories.  I like Jackson Brodie as the sleuth and his interactions with all the  characters that he meets.  The mystery here involves a mixture of  hired killers, sex workers, adultery, a mystery writer, and corporate fraud.  Very entertaining mystery, my only issue is that I read it right after watching the TV episode and I knew everything that was going to happen which somewhat spoiled it for me.  So, I’d suggest reading if first if you are going to watch the TV series.

Crowner and Justice involves another solicitor, one who specializes in litigation, such as crime, matrimonial cases and accident claims, Chris Tyroll.  He gets involved with a woman who is not satisfied with the verdict of suicide in  her son’s death.  She asks Chris to investigate.  The case leads him to uncover suspicious circumstances and then connections as another body is found.  He is also working other cases which are given about equal weight in the book as the central mystery.  An interesting and very real feeling look at a litigator’s work.  I liked this one, but would recommend that reader’s start with the first in the series (I read this out-of-order).

Still Waters, I received for free from Amazon’s World Book Day special.  I had already read one in this series and liked it, Guiltless, which is number 3.  I liked this one even more than Guiltless.  There is not terribly much in the way of investigation, but the story unfolds nicely and the setting, Sandhamn Island, is very well done.  Nora is a recurring character and  a well-developed protagonist dealing not only with the murder investigation, but with difficult career choices, and an arrogant jerk of a husband.  I would recommend this one.

The Murder at Sissingham Hall is a historical mystery modeled very much on the Agatha Christie style –  isolated manor house so the murderer has to be one of the household or guests.  There is an interesting twist in what was going on as a resolution, but I’d guessed much of what occurred, the clues where a little heavy-handed.  An okay read for fans of historical mysteries.

Send in the Clowns is a book which I have had on my Kindle for quite a while and never really felt  in the mood to tackle.  This is set in the 70s, a time period I lived through, and that holds a certain appeal to me.  It is part of the Country Club series of mysteries.  This is a lighter humorous mystery with quirky characters and a very specific setting in time and place.  Ellison Russell exemplifies that rarefied country club existence, yet manages to be likeable, friendly and even down to earth.  The mystery is well done with enough suspects to choose from to keep the reader guessing.  Enjoyable lighter mystery read.

 

Hidden Depths by Ann Cleeves

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This is book 3 in the Vera Stanhope series by Ann Cleeves.  In this episode the killer engages in some rather artistic death scenes for his victims, leading Vera and her team on a chase to make the connections.  There is an interesting connection back to Vera’s roots, with references to birds and bird watchers.

The book opens with a single mum returning home to find her son murdered and left displayed for her to find.  There are plenty of suspects and clues to keep the reader the guessing about the connection between the victims and the reason behind the killings.  Vera is her usual self, pushing her team hard in her frustration with the case and the memories of her father that parts of it evoke.  Vera is such a wonderfully drawn character, I always feel as though I am reading about a real person when reading these books.

Great atmospheric  mystery read in a great series!