So, anyway, not quite sure how this ended up on my TBR at Goodreads. I am trying this summer to work through books which fit in the intersection of on my TBR (or next in one of my regular series) and available at my library and this one fell into that group. It is Australian crime fiction and I picked it up from the library cold, not knowing anything about it. I don’t read a great deal of Australian work, I do keep meaning to Harper, but I haven’t got there yet.
On to The Dragon Man, this is the first in a series featuring DI Hal Challis. He works murders and is assigned in the Peninsula region outside Melbourne. Young women have begun disappearing and DI Challis is thinking that there is a serial killer and rapist at work. He is relatively new to the area and to the team and must bring them together to solve this case before more young women go missing. At the same time the station is dealing with random acts of arson, somewhat organized burglaries and a team of con artists targeting the elderly, so there is a lot going on and some of it may be connected.
The sense of place is really well developed. The reader is definitely immersed in the heat, the isolation, the sense of menace and dread of a women on her own on the side of the road, and the almost closed in feel of living in a small community. It really works well in this book, especially for someone like myself, who is not familiar with the area at all. The serial killer story arc is wrapped up a little too quickly for my taste, there is no delving into his motivations or background they simply catch him through a connection to another crime. The other story arcs work well. The character of DI Hal Challis is intriguing with an ex-wife in an institution for the criminally insane and a new relationship just starting out. In this book, it seemed to me he shared top billing with Sergeant Ellen Destry, her story arc seemed just as important as his for much of the book.
Overall, a good solid police procedural and I would read another in the series.
Something Read, Something Dead is book 5 in the A Lighthouse Library Mystery series. In this installment, the focus ison the upcoming nuptials of Josie and Jake. What starts as a simple, more homespun wedding with friends and family is rapidly spinning out of control with the arrival of a demanding matriarch and her entourage. When one of the entourage ends up dead and the bride herself is a suspect, Lucy takes it upon herself to investigate and try to save the wedding. Fun installment in a great cozy series.
Bloody January by Alan Parks is set in Glasgow in January 1973. Harry McCoy walks the line as a cop with connections on both sides of the law, who comes from a dark and traumatic background. He gets involved in a case that connects some of the wealthy elite to things they’d rather not have exposed. McCoy is no angel himself, but he works to uncover some truly horrible crimes. The story runs the gamut from small time thugs, brothels, protection rackets, to organised crime, and up to socially elite villains. Dark and gritty Scottish noir.
The Favorite Daughter by Kaira Rouda was a book I picked up on impulse having read The Best Day Ever by the same author. This follows the story of Jane Harris recovering from the death of her eldest daughter, Mary. The reader sees the story of Mary’s death and the impact on Jane and Jane’s husband and her other daughter Betsy all through Jane’s eyes. This is primarily a study of a narcissistic personality.
Jane Harris is an unreliable narrator, unfortunately that is evident almost from the first page and so there is no questioning in the mind of the reader over who to trust among the characters. You know from the start that you can’t trust Jane and from there it is a short leap that she did the very bad thing the book is about. This book is an interesting study of narcissism but there are no surprises, no interesting twists or reveals.
I received a free digital copy of this title from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.
Can’t Judge a Book by its Murder is the first in A Main Street Book Club Mystery Series by Amy Lillard set in small town Mississippi. Arlo Stanley owns a book store with a coffee shop attached along with her friend Chloe. The entire town is getting revved up for a big reunion, which is seeing the return of a local boy who has “done good” as a nationally known crime writer. Arlo and Chloe both knew him in high school and when he ends up dead on the doorstep of their shop, Chloe finds herself in jail and Arlo launches an investigation to free her friend.
A well done southern, small town setting with a nice cadre of side characters in terms of both the book club members and the Chief of Police, Mads, and the PI, Sam, as possible future love interests. The mystery is well done with plenty of red herrings. I was firmly convinced I knew who did it and I was completely wrong! Enjoyable start to a cozy mystery series. I look forward to more in the series.
Taking Pity is book 4 in the Aector McAvoy series set in Hull. This follows Sorrow Bound, in which things end in a pretty dark place for Aector and his family, who mean everything to him. In Taking Pity Aector’s boss is taking every measure she can to keep Aector’s wife and daughter safe even if it means he can’t see them or know where they are. On orders, she distracts Aector by having him look into an old case that never went to trial, the perpetrator has been held for 50 years under the Mental Health Act instead. The events and characters from Sorrow Bound with some new additions continue to roll forward in a menacing death march through this book as Pharoah works to hold onto her job and her ethics while keeping people she cares about alive.
This was really well written, with mounting tension throughout the book. I think it is one of the best in the series so far. I do think you need to read the series in order to appreciate it.
Death in Profile had some interesting characters and the crime itself was engaging, but the gaps in the police knowledge were unbelievable. On top of that, the whole Lord Peter Whimsy story line as a “treatment” for mental illness outlandish and more than a little off putting.
London Rules is the 5th book in the Slough House series by Mick Herron. In this outing, someone is trying to kill Roderick Ho of Slough House, not that he notices. The other Slow Horses and their fearless leader, Jackson Lamb, do though. As the Slow Horses circle the wagons to protect Ho, a connection is made to terrorist activities occurring in the country and this draws unwanted Regent Park attention to the Slow Horses. This was a great read is an excellent series, perhaps my favorite so far. Jackson Lamb is in particularly fine form here. Highly recommended, but you need to start the series from the beginning to really appreciate it.
Good Bait is, I believe, my first John Harvey crime novel. This was on my TBR and I don’t really remember adding it or why but when I saw it at the library I picked it up. DCI Karen Shields is running a team investigating the death of a Moldovian boy and she is not even sure if she can find it on the map. At the same time, DI Cordon is about to get enmeshed in a missing person case in Cornwall at the request of the mother of his former dog walker. The story lines and detectives contrast really or stand in relief of one another rather than interconnect. Very well plotted and paced mystery story lines here.
The novel has a big cast of rich characters and explores a large web of gang warfare, organized crime, with prostitution and trafficking featured prominently. There are literary and musical references, hence the title Good Bait, a well known Jazz number. A book written rich in detail. I really enjoyed this one.
The Next to Die by Sophie Hannah, I will admit I picked this up thinking it was a stand alone not the 10th in a series. However, I don’t think that can be the entire reason it didn’t work for me. Half the plot seemed like things you’d see in a bad TV soap. Charlie’s sister and the secret boyfriend, the way some of the character’s behaved, the killer was just tedious, the unfunny comedian, the strident feminist journalist, ho hum. It was really a struggle to read this.
This was one of this month’s reads over at the English Kindle Mystery Club on Goodreads. I will say that I waited and picked it up from the library rather than purchasing it mainly because the blurb really didn’t sound like my thing, I didn’t expect to like this.
Aiden Waits is a disgraced detective, caught breaking the rules one too many times and now he has been put into a corner where accepting the assignment of infiltrating a criminal organization undercover is really his only option. Whilst on his undercover operation, an MP with a missing daughter decides to throw his weight around and say, “You know while you’re undercover with no back up in this incredibly dangerous situation could you just check on my runaway daughter who is hanging out with the gangsters? You know, in your spare time.” This sets up the avalanche of tragic and dangerous events that follow.
This was really a great read. I finished it in one sitting. There are some really well drawn characters here. The sense of place and the dismal nature of thug life along with the feelings of being entrapped within it are portrayed clearly. There is a feeling of menace and inevitableness hanging over the story. Aiden is a complex man and detective and it will be interesting to watch him over the course of further books. I am really happy this was picked by the club because it is not a book I would ever have picked on my own from the description!
Super busy time of year for me, the end of the school year and all that so the last few days I fit in some reading but haven’t really reviewed. So some short, reviews…
Death by Chocolate Lab is the first in a pet sitter cozy mystery series featuring sisters, one of whom is launching a pet sitting service and the other is a successful vet. There are some charming animal characters, hint of perhaps a romantic interest, some family tension to further future subplots, and people from the town to serve as recurring characters. Well written, an intriguing mystery with a lead character who serves to represent the many over educated- under employed of her generation. I enjoyed this and will read more in the series.
Amanda Cadabra & the Hidey-hole Truth came highly recommended to me by several IRL friends, however they are all big Harry Potter fans and that is just not my thing. I can completely see why Harry Potter fans would love this and would recommend it for them.
Mine is actually titled The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle . Parts of this were well written and very engaging, I was pulled in at the start and enjoyed reading it. The entire world of Blackheath was well designed and immersive. Then, when you get close to the end and the truths about Blackheath, Anna, and Aiden are revealed it just didn’t work at all for me.
Blood Sisters is a study of relationships built on guilt, lies, love, and secrets. Alison, Kitty and Vanessa left for school one day and only one of them, Alison, went on to live a somewhat normal life. Kitty was institutionalized and Vanessa died. The book wends its way through the lies told or memories forgotten by Alison, Kitty, Crispin, Alison’s mother and others and the impact they have on final tragic events. A good psychological read.