The Snowdonia Killings

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This is one of this month’s reads over at the Kindle English Mystery Book Club .  The novel begins with DI Ruth Hunter leaving behind fast paced London life for a new posting  in North Wales.  She is hoping for  a clean start in a more bucolic setting.  Upon arrival she is immediately greeted with  a murder to solve and has to hit the ground running.  Partnered with a resentful and alcoholic DS  Nick Evans, she has to run the investigation, earn the trust of her team and partner and solve the murder of a not well liked victim.

There is a lot to like in this.  I really liked the way the characters of Ruth and Nick are drawn.  They come across as three dimensional and their reactions seem true to their characters as written.  The sense of place is well developed, especially through the eyes of Nick as he often admires the scenery as he drives, he thinks about particular landmarks he sees.  Even some of the less important characters are well drawn, the victim who is only in the book briefly is well fleshed out, as is Drake who only steps in at the end for a few chapters.  The idea of the plot is good, there was foreshadowing of who the culprit was and several red herrings as Ruth and Nick chased after several suspects throughout the book.

The issue was that the writing was very choppy in places.  The transitions were not smooth.  At times, I would find myself  flipping back to the previous page because I thought I turned too many pages because it seemed   disjointed from the bottom of one page to the top of the next.

I would still read another in this series, because I feel that the positives were such that I would be willing to see that with perhaps writing another in the series the writing (or perhaps the editing?) would improve.

Before He Kills Again

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I received a free ebook of this title in exchange for a fair review.

This is the first in a new series featuring a somewhat loose cannon DC Cassie Rowan and a therapist, Alan Palmer.  In this introduction to the series, Rowan is being used as bait to try to trap a serial rapist on the streets.  The rapist moves through several victims as the book progresses.  Meanwhile, Alan Palmer has some patients that seem likely suspects and that draws him into this case.  Both Cassie and Alan have side plots concerning their personal lives that allow the readers more of a glimpse into who they are and perhaps why they act and react as they do.

Well written plot with plenty of possible suspects to sift through alongside Cassie.  There is also a strong recurring vein of blatant misogyny in both Cassie’s treatment by her co-workers and in the treatment of rape victims and prostitutes.  Great start to a new series.

The Darkness

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This is the first in the Hidden Iceland Series by Ragnar Jonasson.  I loved his entire Dark Iceland series, so I was excited to see this and it did not disappoint.

Hulda is a Detective Inspector at the end of her career.   Hulda is carrying a secret and this secret impacts the choices she makes. One decision in particular, how she handles an interview with a woman guilty of running down a pedophile, has far reaching repercussions.  This story intertwines with the final case she works on, a cold case involving the death of a Russian immigrant woman, who was seeking asylum.  The further Hulda investigates, the more convinced she becomes that to salvage what is left of her career, she needs to solve this case.  

Hulda is definitely not a team player, although to be fair she has spent much of her career butting up against a very solid glass ceiling and dealing with blatant sexism.  The portrayal of her treatment seemed very realistic and gave depth to her character and added to the understanding of her interactions.

Along with Hulda’s story, we are also given glimpses into the last journey of  an unnamed immigrant woman as a hint to what Hulda uncovers.  The sense of fear and isolation is well drawn in each of these episodes that are just a few paragraphs long.

This is a great mystery with some shocking reveals and a  completely unexpected ending.

 

Echoes of Guilt

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I received a free copy of this ebook from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.

This is the third in the series with DI Dani Stephens.  Previous books detailed some pretty horrific events in her life that are lingering in this book, but they are referred to in enough detail that you can conceivably read this without reading the first two.  Currently Dani works with a DS Easton.  Her husband is still in the hospital recuperating from a vicious attack.  The book opens with Dani and Easton being called to what on the surface appears to be a suicide but there are just enough oddities about it to raise doubts.

The case Dani and Easton is investigating leads them on a dark path that weaves through secret identities, missing people, human trafficking, torture, and multiple murders.  Easton deals with ongoing personal issues with his sister and her children throughout the book.  Dani continues to deal with the repercussions in her personal life from the events in book 2.

This is well written, twisting turning plot.  There are quite a few pieces that weave together here to reach the final outcome.  A great fast paced thriller.

Niksen

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I received a free ebook of this title from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.

I have been reading several books of this ilk, including Hygge, Lagom, and Sisu among others.  This particular lifestyle trend is Dutch in origin and has to do with the “art of doing nothing”,  something I used to be quite good at as child, but seemed to have lost the knack for as I aged.  The Author writes as an outsider who moved to the Netherlands and observes the culture through that lens.

There are many anecdotes and snippets of interviews or quotes of what people have said sprinkled throughout the book.  It is written in a very friendly, conversational style.  I found it really easy to sit back with a cup of coffee and my feet up on the couch and read.  I did like that the author pointed out not every suggestion works for each person and to take what fits in your life or your circumstances. At the end of each section, there are questions to think about how you can relate what you read to your own life.   On the whole, I enjoyed reading it and found it on par or better than some other lifestyle books that are circulating now.

The Wife’s Choice

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I received a free ebook of this title from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.

The Wife’s Choice revolves around the choice to tell the truth or to continue to lie, a lie of omission but still really a lie.  To choose to continue to live a life of safety and convenience by going along with all her husband Hugh’s decisions or to stand up to him and make her own choices.  To choose to pursue a dream long put aside of a career in textiles versus staying home safely, perhaps picking up some dressmaking work here or there.   This is what faces Alys almost right from the first few pages of the novel.

As the book unfolds, the reader is taken with Alys as she faces choices and the consequences for choices she has made or simply not made but just allowed to happen by default.  Losing her job and having someone from her past reenter her life serve as a catalyst to force Alys to reexamine the path she is on and decide if it is right for her.

Alys is a very relatable character and as a reader you do find yourself rooting for her along the way.  Her “secret” was to me, pretty obvious, long before we got there in the book.  However, that was not really important enough to detract from my  enjoyment of the story.  A good hopeful women’s fiction read.

A Death Long Overdue

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I received a free ebook of this title from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.

This is the 7th in the Lighthouse Library Series by Eva Gates.  I have really been enjoying this series all along  and this book, A Death Long Overdue, did not disappoint.  In this outing Lucy and her co-workers have set up some displays including  some artifacts they dug out of various town basements for Bertie’s reunion.  The former Head librarian arrives and one of the artifacts causes quite a stir and murder ensues.  As yet another murder is connected in some way to the Lighthouse library, Lucy investigates.  while Louise Jane keeps trying to find supernatural connections and Connor, Lucy’s boyfriend is definitely up to something.  A case involving a current murder, an old missing person’s case, and a jewel heist makes for a fun cozy mystery read in a great series.

 

Want

I received a free ebook of this title from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.

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This book was somewhat of a roller coaster ride for me.  As I first began to read it and was introduced to Elizabeth, the protagonist, my eyes rolled so hard I thought I was going to injure myself.  My knee jerk reaction was “here is this spoiled whiny princess who can’t just get her sh*t together”.  That really was just a knee jerk reaction.  The more I read of the book, and it really does suck you into her life, the more you realize there is much more nuance to her character.  As you watch her unravel and try to hold herself together through running, through stolen afternoons reading in a coffee shop, or going to a movie, the layers to her story shine through and you realize.  “Hey, I know this person or even perhaps I’ve been this person.”

When we meet Elizabeth, she and her husband and are gathering the paperwork to file for bankruptcy due to hundreds of thousands in medical debt mainly from the births of their children.  Elizabeth is a Phd in Literature, who teaches kids in a charter school.  The dream of full professorship at a University is a ship that has long since sailed in this era of Adjunct Professors.  Her husband’s job crashed and burned in the Lehman Bros. take down and he is building his own contracting business, but that is touch and go.

Through this whole financial and legal mess, Elizabeth, keeps tabs on her best friend from her idyllic childhood, a time she acknowledges of embarrassing wealth and privilege.  The information she sees is of the carefully curated Insta- variety and when Elizabeth finally reaches out to her almost on an impulse, obviously real life does not match.    The novel tracks Elizabeth and her relationship with her husband, her friends, her co-workers, and her parents as she struggles to hold on to a life that resembles something she wants.

This novel turns out to be so relatable and realistic.  Many people, who were raised even solidly middle class, now find themselves in a position where even a cup of coffee with a friend is a stretch to the budget.  As the title of the novel implies, there is this state of constant want because you can’t have even simple pleasures, there is never enough money or time or energy.  And that is juxtaposed with a feed of  Insta-culture  letting you know that others are managing to have it all, in perfectly curated lives. Great Read!

 

 

Cry Baby: A Tom Thorne Novel

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I received a free ebook of this title in exchange for a fair review from NetGalley.

This is book 16 in the Tom Thorpe series by Mark Billingham, but it is set back in 1996, so pre-  everyone has a cellphone and internet access and tons of CCTV and other resources to solve crime- era.  In his personal life, Tom is struggling with his ongoing divorce from Jan.  He is also dealing with his aging parents in the midst of this high profile case.

The case the book is centered on involves a kidnapping of a young boy.  The boy, Kieran,  disappears on a play date with a friend.  Two boys enter the woods and only one comes out.  Tom finds himself with an incredible amount of leads to follow up on and narrow down. There are plenty of red herrings and suspicious characters to engage the reader in the investigation along with Tom.  This was a suspenseful  and well paced police procedural.

On Borrowed Crime

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I received this title as a free ebook from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.

This is the first in a new series, A Jane Doe Book Club Mystery.  In this we have the protagonist, Lyla Moody, who is an aspiring PI.  She currently works for her Uncle’s PI agency as a receptionist, much to the dismay of her very proper mother.  In her free time, she belongs to a true crime and mystery book club that calls itself, the Jane Doe Book Club.  Now one of the Jane Doe’s has turned up dead and  Lyla finds herself embroiled in a true crime and sets out to investigate.

I really enjoyed reading this first in this new series.  Lyla is a great character and there are hints that her life has not been smooth sailing but she has shown grit and determination.  The story was well plotted and the cold case connection gives the book a very up to date vibe.  I would definitely read another in this series.