Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

 

Just finished this by Liane Moriarty.  Similar to her other books, this one also explores complex relationships made more complex by secrets, lies and hidden agendas.  The cast of characters include Madeline, her husband, her ex-husband and his new wife Bonnie and all the attendant children, a mousy single mother Jane and her quirky son, Ziggy, Celeste  and Perry, the outwardly perfect socialite power couple and many others.

The book begins with an incident between two of the children that spirals out of control as it escalates through the book, much in the manner that these things do in parent and school groups.  Meanwhile, other families are simultaneously having their own issues and imploding messily.  Issues across the span of the book include child sex trafficking, teenage rebellion, domestic violence, and bullying.  All these elements weave together for a surprising conclusion, the murder of one of the characters at a school event.

The writing was well done and I liked the flash forward in the beginning.  It created tension as you waited for the murder to occur and to find out who the victim would be.  I felt the resolution of the bullying storyline was a little too “easy” and pat but still okay.  Very satisfying women’s fiction.

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Back From Brief Hiatus

I have been having some issues based on my ankle surgery/leg/foot problems that have not allowed me to read…pretty severe restless leg syndrome. It has been very depressing to not be able to sleep, read or even focus too much on watching full shows on TV. Anyway, seem to be showing much improvement thanks to these:

Being able to read again I dove into these two:

 

 

 

I loved both of them!  S. J. Bolton’s Lacey is trying desperately not to stay on the force, but she is drawn into an investigation of missing and murdered children almost inevitably.  Lacey is a great character and really drives the book, but the other characters and the mystery are well done as well.

I didn’t guess who the villain was until the reveal, I had eliminated other suspects but still the ending was a surprise.  I really enjoy the dark moodiness that Ms. Bolton’s books evoke through her use of settings and description.  I have read several of her other books and will continue to read her work.  Highly recommended!

I love Ken Bruen’s character, Jack Taylor, and have watched all the episodes available to me on Acorn TV, including the Magdalen episode.  There were a few differences from the book and the TV show but I enjoyed them both.  I liked the literary references that seem much more prominent in this book than the previous ones in the series. There is even reference to this being a pathology of Jack’s, retreating into examination of the literary world.  This book centers on the infamous Magdalen laundry, the nuns and the women imprisoned there.  Jack has a favor called in and investigates what happened there.

Jack is a great character and I am always drawn into his world in these books and in the TV show.  The setting, characters and mystery are always superbly done.   I would definitely suggest reading the books in order to see Jack’s changes over time.  Great read!

 

British Isles Friday & Acorn TV

 This is a meme hosted by Joy Weese Moll found here.  I really find it a nostalgic meme for me as someone who spent her early childhood and later periods as well in Britain with my family and whose mother is British, but now is living in New Jersey.

My entry for this is based on my absolutely favorite TV channel.  I have  a roku and stream my TV, the number one reason being that I watch a ton of Acorn TV.    It is without a doubt the best source for British TV here in the US.  They have fantastic customer service and are quickly responsive to any issues that arise and the shows…an amazing assortment of great TV to watch.

Here are just a few shows I watch on Acorn:

Midsomer Murders  Wonderful detective mystery series, multiple seasons worth of shows, great characters, I really couldn’t ask for anything more.

Pie in the Sky  Starring the amazing Richard Griffiths RIP.  Wonderful show for cozy mystery lovers.

Jack Taylor  Based on the great books by Ken Bruen, this is a darker, grittier detective show.

Blue Murder A single working mother detective.  A great character and well done cases in a more police procedural style.

Prime Suspect  Helen Mirren, enough said.

Dirk Gently A quirky different kind of detective show, fans of the American show Psych will really like this.

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries  The incomparable Miss Phrynee Fisher based on the series of books by Kerry Greenwood.  Great books which were very well adapted for TV.

And there are so many more, not all mysteries either.  Mysteries are just my particular favorite in books and TV shows.  There are historical dramas, documentaries and comedies as well.  Acorn TV is a great place to get a little piece of Britain, even sitting on your couch in New Jersey.

Blue Monday by Nicci French

 

I just finished this one, the first in the Frieda Klein series.  I have read one other in the series, Waiting for Wednesday and really enjoyed it.  The relationship between Frieda and Karlsson is now easier to understand after reading the first in the series.

This was  a well written psychological thriller.  Frieda is an interesting character whose mind makes connections and works through problems in an unconventional manner.  The mystery was somewhat improbable to me and therefore I didn’t find this as good a book as Waiting on Wednesday.  To get into the specific problems would spoil the book for others, so I will just leave it that I didn’t find the big reveal to be shocking or surprising and the ending was unbelievable.

The character of Frieda and her relationships is what really drives these books and therefore I will probably read the next book in the series.

Diamond Solitaire by Peter Lovesey

This is the second book in the Peter Diamond series.  I really liked the first book in this series and that is why I picked this one up.  This second outing in the series is very different from the first, Diamond is no longer a policeman, he begins the book as a Harrod’s department store security man, which he doesn’t last very  long as once it is discovered that a small child has managed to breach security.

Losing the job at Harrod’s has left Diamond with time on his hands.  Intrigued by the fate of the still unclaimed Japanese child, he begins to develop a relationship with her and to investigate how she ended up in Harrods.  The investigation trots around the world and involves the cut throat business of pharmaceutical manufacturing and the quest for the next big drug.  Naomi, as she is known to Diamond, appears to be autistic and/or suffering from selective mutism.  Diamond is determined to see this little girl safely home and solve the mystery that surrounds her.

This is just as well written as the first in the series, however a different style.  There is more of a thriller/international chase feel to this book.  I did enjoy it but I found some of it a little far fetched,mainly to do with the actual treatment of Naomi.  The child is discovered and not claimed and then placed in a school for autism where Diamond is given unlimited access to her.  Then, a woman shows up claims the child and waltzes off with her.  The villain and the whole pharmaceutical plot was well done and was tied together with Naomi in a satisfying resolution.

 

 

Through a Glass, Deadly by Sarah Atwell

This is the group read this month for The Cozy Mystery Corner Book Club on Goodreads.  Sarah Atwell is a pen name for Sheila Connolly, who writes the County Cork series, which I adore and two other series I have not tried yet, an Orchard series and a Museum series.

This series theme is glassblowing, which I admittedly know nothing about and don’t necessarily have very much interest in to be honest.  In general I am not an artistic or crafty person at all, not really any talent in those kinds areas. When I was a kid, in about second grade, my mom told me she always knew which project was mine when it was time to visit the classroom for back to school night.  She said she just had to look for the worst one on the wall and that would be it.  I have not improved over time.

Anyway, there is a lot to like about this book, the sleuth, Emmeline or Em, is different from most cozy mystery protagonists, at least initially.  She hears the proverbial bump in the night and rather than rush headlong into danger, she actually calls 911 and waits until she hears the culprits running away before getting out of bed to investigate.  She is a successful established business woman, most cozy mysteries start the series with the sleuth beginning their business.  The setting is in Tuscon and she does make the setting important and incorporate it into the story line.  It seems to me accurate and a good sense of place, although I have not been to Tuscon so I really have no way of knowing.  Interesting comments about limited exterior lighting to prevent light pollution suggest knowledge of the area.

Her brother, Cam is also another non-traditional cozy character.  He is obviously loyal and loving to his sister, an IT worker who lives a few hours away and visits when he can.  He seems somehow naive and innocent in an interesting way.  The other secondary characters are similarly interesting.

The book is also not traditionally plotted.  There is a murder and it is pretty straightforwardly solved in about the first two thirds of the book.  Then there is a second plot related to the murder but more in the lines of a low level thriller involving kidnapping and a missing valuable object(s).  It made it a different read than the usual cozy.

The negatives are that at least for me, there is too much detail on the glass blowing.  It might just be me, I like my themes in cozies to not overwhelm the mystery plot and here I found myself skimming some of the glass blowing detail because  I couldn’t understand it anyway.  I mean I get that you have special tools and furnaces and that temperature is important, but beyond that…ehh.  The other negative is that the mystery is not enough, there needs to be more red herrings or twists if it is going to be a mystery.

The negatives might improve in later books in the series.  There are two more and then it appears that is it.  Being that the series appears to be discontinued after 3 books, I am not sure that I will continue with it, although I do like a lot about the book.