Haven, That Night & Never Alone

 

I’ve read these three in the last couple days.  Chevy Stevens wrote a book a while ago that I really liked, Still Missing, and so I was eager to try another book by her.  That Night of the title refers to the death of a teenage girl and then the story rolls forward to the release of her sister, Toni, and the sister’s boyfriend, Ryan,  from prison.  They had been convicted of the murder and now return home out on parole.  They decide to do the investigation that had never been done to find the killer and clear their own names.  There is a dark web of secrets and lies here and killer(s) that don’t care that Toni and Ryan spent 17 years in prison for a crime they didn’t commit.  The pacing is fast and Toni is a great character, who leaves the reader rooting for her all the way. I’d recommend both this and Still Missing.

Never Alone by Elizabeth Haynes is one of the reads this month at the English Kindle Mystery Club.  Sarah actually is alone.  She lives in an isolated farmhouse, her husband dead, her daughter grown and away at uni, and her son estranged.  She rents a cottage on her land to an old flame, Adrian, and the story takes off from them there.  The book includes second person perspective, which can be somewhat off-putting, but here is manages to catch the reader’s imagination and develop a sense of something being off, some inexplicable danger.  Sarah is an interesting character, a woman once successful in her career now struggling, once financially stable now sinking in morass of debt left by her husband, once a mother now with children who either don’t need her, Kitty, or don’t want her, Louis.  On top of that one of Louis’ friends continues to hang around often uninvited.

Sarah’s best friend disappears and all of a sudden  Sarah is left unsure.  Unsure of the people in her life, their motivations, even who they are.  There is an action packed conclusion that brings the book to a close.

At first,  I was really drawn into this and couldn’t put it down.  But further along once I knew who the narrator was and pretty much figured out their life story, I knew what happened to Sarah’s friend  and it made the last part just a trudge to the finish.   The red herrings just didn’t really work for me and I didn’t have any doubt as to what was going on, even before  the disappearance.  Interesting writing style and the story started off strong.  …On a side note, I really disliked the son character Louis…thought he was a right little entitled sod..

Haven was passed on to me and is not really my normal read.  An FBI/Paranormal investigation team member, returns to her home town to try to figure out what trauma she had that is keeping her from reaching her full potential.  This is book 13 in a series so the whole FBI/Paranormal unit is well established with,  I am assuming, recurring characters.

This was a fun quick read.  Nicely done twists and turns in uncovering the original crime and tracking the current villain.  I’m not a big paranormal reader, but I did enjoy it

 

 

Crime on the Fens

30647648  This is one of the reads this month over at the Kindle English Mystery Book Club on Goodreads.  DI Nikki Galena has survived traumatic events but they have left a mark on her which impacts her interactions and relationships with others and has left her with a burning desire more for vengeance than justice.  She is partnered with Joe as a last chance to redeem her career.  Nikki & Joe and their team of misfits investigate a crime spree that includes murder, assault, kidnapping, and random acts of violence perpetrated by villains wearing grotesque masks.

I did enjoy the fast paced action and want to the find out the resolution.  The sense of place was well-developed and gives a feeling of tension as the reader waits for what will happen next.  I did find that the reveal about the forces behind all the interconnected crimes was a little hard to believe, however there was enough good here that I would read another in the series.  The characters in particular are engaging and show depth and emotion very well.

Two More NetGalley Reads….

NetGalley provided free ebook copies of these titles in return for a fair review.

I was really excited to get approved for Patricia Wentworth’s The Miss Silver Mysteries:  Grey Mask, The Case is Closed, and The Lonesome Road.  I had heard about them from  Ian Hughes review over at Murder, Mystery, and More…

Miss Silver is a charming sleuth, similar in some respects to Miss Marple, but she is still her own person.  She is more assertive in her questioning styles, more professional than amateur, and more in the midst of the action.  The three stories encompassed a variety of themes blackmail, greed, lost love, mistaken identity, presumed death, and fights over inheritance.   My favorite of the three was Lonesome Road.  A woman hires Miss Silver to discover who is trying to kill her.  A great selection of possible suspects, classic red herrings and a nicely drawn together ending make it a perfect golden age mystery.   This collection is a must read for fans of Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers and the like.

The Secret is the second in a series, the first being The Teacher, which I have not read.  The book opens with Bridget, an undercover officer in a brothel, attempting to escape a man who has come to the house to kill her.  She slips his grasp only to wake up later in a basement room with no concept of time passing.  DS Imogen Grey and her partner DS Miles are on the case along with another DS Sam Brown who was working with Bridget.  Imogen and Sam have an unpleasant history making it difficult for them to work together as Imogen doesn’t trust him.

The book changes viewpoints between several of the characters to bring together the whole plot.  There is a lot of action to keep the pace moving quickly.  I will say that I feel I missed things by not reading the first book, it just seemed that as a reader I needed a clearer picture of what happened between Imogen and Sam early on.  Quite an enjoyable read with an intriguing strong female lead in DS. Grey.

 

Two NetGalley Reads…

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These are two of my latest NetGalley Reads. I received free ebooks of these titles in exchange for a fair review from NetGalley.  I requested Christmas at the Dog & Duck mainly because I am a sucker for Christmas stories in general.

The protagonist in Jill Steeples book is Ellie Browne, who recently was made redundant at her big city accountancy job and has returned home to lick her wounds, recover and decide what to do next with her life.  Her parents are away on contract work, so she has the family home to herself as she cobbles together a living from a dog walking/sitting service and shifts as a barmaid at the local pub.  She develops a couple of love interests, one old and one new and deals with changes happening in the little village that she holds dear.  There are classic misunderstandings and poor communication between the lovers and a HEA Christmas for all.  There was not as much emphasis on the Christmas theme here as in many of these novels, that came more at the end.  I didn’t really feel the chemistry between the leads and so the book fell a little flat for me.

A Killer Closet opens with a body being found in the closet of the newly ready consignment shop about to be opened by mother and daughter team, Irene and Adelle.  Irene is a big city DA, called home to help her mother through her latest financial crisis resulting from the death of her latest spouse.  She decides to stay since her mother refuses to move to the city and open a high end goods consignment shop.  The victim has connections to the shop and Adele and the clues begin to pile up as the local police look hard at Irene and Adele.  The novel covers murder, theft and plenty of secrets.  I had a difficult time getting into the book and the characters, that may be because I read and enjoyed Duffy Brown’s series, A Consignment Shop Series, and couldn’t help but compare the two.  An okay cozy mystery with a fashion/consignment shop theme.

Bramard’s Case by David Longo

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I received a free ebook of this title, Bramard’s Case, from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.

The summary of this book sounded really intriguing, a serial killer who targeted the policeman’s family, the crime going unsolved for years, the policeman living a life of “quiet desperation” basically waiting to die, and a series of clues in the form of letters.  Finally, one of the clues gives Corso a break.  He picks up the case pursuing the killer with new energy.  This is not fast paced or not even what I would call a thriller.  A great deal of the book is spent inside Corso’s head, which can be a monotonous place.

I really thought I would like this but I just didn’t connect with it or get drawn in to the story as I would expect to.  I found myself skimming rather than reading at times.  A disappointing read for me but it might work for someone else.

Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner

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I read this because it was the book of the month at the Kindle English Mystery Club on Goodreads.

Manon Bradshaw is a 39 year old, desperately single police officer in Cambridgeshire.  We get glimpses of her desolate internet dating life intertwined with the opening of a VIP missing person case.  Edith, the missing woman, is a grad student, involved in a long term relationship with highly connected parents.  As the case slowly seems to be wending its way from a missing person case to a murder case, a body appears.  It is not Edith, but is it connected?  and if so how?  Connected to the 2nd body is a ten year old boy, that Manon cannot just forget about as she continues to uncover clues and look for connections.  The media bursts of news and commentary  lead to more tragedy as the case becomes more and more muddied.

Manon Bradshaw is a complex and intriguing character.  She represents the classic figure of the lonely, single,  middle aged woman, yearning for a companion, with a cynical dark view of the world.  She is submerged in her job and yet still finds her life lacking.  Her characters shows growth through the course of the novel.

I figured out part of the ending, but it didn’t mar my enjoyment of the novel.  A very intriguing, thrilling read.  I would recommend this novel to readers of British Police Procedurals.

 

Putting on the Witch by Joyce and Jim Lavene

28504472I received a free ebook of this title from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review and to participate in the book tour hosted by Escape with Dollycas .  This is the third in the A Retired Witches Mystery Series written by the prolific team of Joyce and Jim Lavene, who have both recently  passed away and are  missed greatly by the cozy mystery community. Their website, which includes all their series is found here.

In this book the coven is still missing their spellbook and feeling the effects of its loss.  Molly and Elsie, along with their ghostly friend Olivia and her daughter Dorothy jump at the chance to attend the Witches Ball, even with Dorothy’s “wicked witch” father back in the picture.  The ball opens at a fantastical castle location and all and sundry are swept along with the festivities, until a murder occurs.  Molly and coven find themselves trying to solve a  murder and retrieve their missing spell book.

So much more than the average paranormal cozy, the story sweeps you along into a  whole new world of magic and a little mayhem.  Fun, exciting and intriguing, it is really a great read!  As so much of Joyce and Jim’s work, this book provides an escape from the every day monotony and troubles, but to perceive the work as “just a cozy” would be to do it a disservice.  After all, Margery Allingham famously said, “light reading is not light writing.”

Photo from Killer Characters.   RIP Joyce and James Lavene