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Archive for the ‘Mystery’ Category

Title: Double Take

Author: Kendall Talbot

Genre: Mystery

Opens:

Jack Rich glanced down at his watch: 4:32 beamed up at him like a fateful countdown

Blurb:

Jackson Rich is an unlucky man – he’s lost his job, his house and it looks like he’s going to lose the love of his life. To buy his terminally ill wife Candice more time, he’ll try just about anything. Including robbing a bank, on the one day of the year everything shuts down: Melbourne Cup day. To do it, Jack has to call in a promise from his old gang. It’s been a long time since they were all together, but they would do anything for him – at least that’s what he’s banking on. Nothing could possibly go wrong.

My thoughts: Two young boys are playing under a deserted shed when people come into the building above them. They stay quiet so they won’t be discovered and overhear Jack’s plan to rob a bank on Melbourne Cup day – the day where a horse race stops a nation and all eyes are turned to Melbourne. The boys run home and tell their dad who doesn’t believe them – so knowing the gang is going to return to make final plans the two boys sneak back and record the conversation. On hearing the evidence their dad’s girlfriend now enters the story and takes a lot of interest, she makes a decision that starts off the twists and turns of one of the story lines. There are a few story lines – both past and present – and connections between them all – and I did get a little confused at times in the first half of the book until I sorted everything out in my mind – by the second half I was well and truly hooked.

The action is not confined to Australia or one period of time – with flashbacks to when they were teens when after a botched crime Jack went to jail to protect the rest of the gang. Because he was the scape goat then he feels that he has them over a barrel, so to speak, to help him out. And they all want to help his wife. Plans made they were confident in their success – except the police now know that a bank is going to be robbed – just not which one, or where – and limited man power has made their job harder.

Jack was hard to love – I certainly understood his motivation to commit a crime, but there was no way it could work surely? Yet he went ahead with it with a mish mash of ‘gang members’ who had all changed since their youthful indiscretion. Really, controlling the whole heist was like trying to herd cats. Double Take is a very interesting crime story, fast paced with characters brimming with good intentions, and at least one you would cheerfully throw over a cliff.

Rating:

Above average – was very readable and I really liked it but was easily able to put it down and walk away for a while.

I wish to thank the author Kendall Talbot for my copy to read and review

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Title: Beneath the Mother Tree

Author: D.M. Cameron

Genre: Mystery – with a touch of Fantasy

Opens: On the wind, Ayala heard a tune so sweetly mournful it made her toes curl in the sand.

Blurb:

On a small island, something sinister is at play. Resident alcoholic Grappa believes it’s the Far Dorocha, dark servant of the Faery queen, whose seductive music lures you into their abyss. His granddaughter Ayla has other ideas, especially once she meets the mysterious flute player she heard on the beach. Riley and his mother have moved to the island to escape their grief. But when the tight-knit community is beset by a series of strange deaths, the enigmatic newcomers quickly garner the ire of the locals. Can Ayla uncover the mystery at the heart of the island’s darkness before it is too late?

My thoughts: BENEATH THE MOTHER TREE started very slowly; nothing really happens straight away and yet from the very first page there’s a hint of something not quite right. This sense of wrongness increased as the story progressed until it got to the stage where you know darn well bad things are happening – but you can’t explain what they are.

Ayla has lived on an island off the coast of Queensland for her whole life, she has grown up with her grandfather’s tales of Irish myths and also the history of both white settlement and, through her friend Mandy and her relatives, Indigenous traditions and stories. This blend of myth and fact has formed her outlook at life.

The story opens with Ayla alone on the beach when she hears a flute playing – it plays so beautifully that it lures her to come closer. She remembers a conversation with her grandfather, an alcoholic, where he told her that recent imagined omens were saying that something bad is coming. She also remembered his story of how her grandmother was seduced by a flute playing fairy. Whilst she dismisses her grandfather’s warnings because they live in Australia not Ireland – there are no little people – good or evil here. Ayla still goes and hides in the large tree that is called the mother tree until she no longer hears the flute.

The flute player is not an Irish fairy – he is Riley. Riley has just moved to the island with his mother Marlise after the death of his stepfather. Marlise is a world expert on mosquitos and the islanders want to rid the swamp of mosquitoes as their presence is stopping the tourists from coming over to the island.

Then the deaths start – animal and human. Deaths in the past and deaths in the present have to be solved to prevent deaths in the future.

The story is told from mostly the viewpoints of Ayla and Riley; and every so often from the view point of Marlise. Now there is mind you don’t want to spend much time in!! Gradually Ayla and Riley work out the mysterious goings on, and Irish mythology, Aboriginal traditions and history blend to protect the island from its doom in an edge of the seat climax.

I loved Ayla and Riley they were so focused and protective of each other. Ayla’s Aboriginal friend Mandy was lovely too. And Marlise? Let’s just say she came alive on the pages and her madness, or was it her sanity? Was amazing to behold.

BENEATH THE MOTHER TREE was a fabulous debut novel. The author D.M. Cameron lived in SE Queensland and based her island on islands in Moreton Bay and coastal land between the Brisbane and Logan Rivers. She grew up with people of the Quandamooka Nation and used their traditions and beliefs in her story. BENEATH THE MOTHER TREE is her love story to these people, her friends.

BENEATH THE MOTHER TREE takes you on a journey from normal day to day living to oh my goodness this can’t be happening very slowly, adding to the tension word by word, page by page until you at a climax where people are fighting for their very lives. Amazing. I would certainly read any more books written by her, and hope this is the first of many.

Rating: Excellent Stuff– a real page turner and hard to put down. I carved out extra reading time just so I could finish it. This book got carted into the bathroom with me, read over meals, read at work, and/or kept me up late at night. If this author has more work, I will certainly read it.

Want to know more about author D.M. Cameron? Click Here

With thanks to MidnightSun Publishing and the author for my copy to read and review.

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Title: Fiction Can Be Murder

Author: Becky Clark

Genre: Cosy Mystery

Opens: Melinda Walter settled her lean Pilates body – the maintaining of which took all her free time and could fund North Korea’s military for a year – into the soft leather driver’s seat of her sleek red 1959 classic corvette.

Blurb: Life becomes stranger than fiction when Charlee’s latest novel inspires a real murder. Mystery author Charlemagne "Charlee" Russo thinks the twisty plots and peculiar murders in her books are only the product of her imagination–until her agent is found dead exactly as described in Charlee’s new, unpublished manuscript. Suspicion now swirls around her and her critique group, making her confidence drop as severely and unexpectedly as her royalty payments. The police care more about Charlee’s feeble alibi and financial problems than they do her panicky claims of innocence. To clear her name and revive her career, she must figure out which of her friends is a murderer. Easier said than done, even for an author whose skilled at creating tidy endings for her mysteries. And as her sleuthing grows dangerous, Charlee’s imagination starts working overtime. Is she being targeted, too?

My Thoughts: FICTION CAN BE MURDER is the first in the Mystery Writer’s Mystery series and my first book by author Becky Clark. Overall the story is quick paced and entertaining and I really enjoyed it. In fact I laughed out loud quite a few times. Charlee turns into an amateur sleuth when her publishing agent Melinda is murdered. Being an amateur sleuth comes natural for Charlee as she is a mystery writer who knows how to research facts to create her fictional crimes. On top of this her brother is a policeman, as was her father. The trouble with the murder of her agent is that the way she was murdered was exactly the same way Charlee had her victim murdered in her latest book – which hasn’t been published yet. This means that only those who have read her manuscript would know the method – or Charlee herself. Charlee knows she didn’t do it, but is not sure she can convince the police investigators, so takes matters into her own hands and starts to check the alibies.

There turns out to be quite a few suspects to check – the members of her writing critique group; her beta readers who are any friends, family or boyfriend willing to read the manuscript. Also, of course, Melinda’s husband is on the list. Most are easy to cross off the list, some are upset they are even ON the list, and others out and out lie about their alibies for one reason or another. There are lots of twists and turns – as you would expect in a mystery and I didn’t pick who it was until the big reveal – my suspect was completely innocent so I would have been hopeless as a sleuth!

The only niggle I had was with a back story about Charlee – She has a tremor – which is only mentioned a few times but what it is triggered by is not very clear. So I wondered about what purpose it served to have it. It is highly probable that I missed the explanation though – and did not affect my enjoyment of the story. I really enjoyed a peek into the writing/publishing world, and early on in the book there is a scene where the writer’s group discuss reader reviews as one member has just returned from consulting with his therapist over a review he read:

“…He held up one hand. “In my defense, it was one-star and began, ‘I don’t know anything about astrophysics, but … ’”

Ouch. Those hurt. Even I get those. Not about astrophysics, of course, but equally ridiculous. I’m giving Ms. Russo’s book one star because I ordered the wrong book. Or, this is a mystery and I hate reading mysteries, even though the description clearly states it’s a mystery. Or my favorite, I thought this was by Richard Russo, NOT Charlemagne Russo, whoever she is. I LOVE his books. Won’t bother to read hers. It took volumes of emotional maturity to ignore those kinds of bogus reviews…”

I will certainly look for more books by Becky Clark as she seems like a very out there person – and her web page is a hoot!

For more about the author – Click Here

B – Great – I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

With thanks to Midnight Ink and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.

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Title: Kakadu Sunset

Author: Annie Seaton

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Opens:

The three over-sized trucks in front of Ellie Porter’s small red sedan were loaded with pipes and earthmoving equipment, and they’d slowed her trip home along the Arnhem Highway from Darwin Airport.

Blurb:

Helicopter pilot Ellie Porter loves her job. Soaring above the glorious Kakadu National Park, she feels free from all her family problems. But when returning from a search-and-rescue mission she spots some unusual excavation works hidden at the back of her old family property. She is immediately very concerned because Kakadu being a National Park mining is not allowed. She decides to ask a few questions about the earthworks which immediately bring her into the radar of people who will stop at nothing to get their own way.

My Thoughts: Being a Darwin girl of some 40 years – and knowing the Kakadu Park area very well, I have to say I approached the setting very critically. I need not have worried – Aussie author Annie Seaton nailed it!!! Other than one little quibble about the location of her MacDonald’s in Darwin City and Darwin’s Mitchell Street being called Mitchell Avenue everything else accurate – as is the magnificent scenery and the ever present danger of Crocodiles – don’t go swimming in the rivers here!!! But every beauty spot has its snake; and KAKADU SUNSET’s snake is human with ruthless henchmen, political corruption and the very topical subject of mining and fracking. Love, bribery, kidnapping, physical maiming and murder are all set in the background of this beautiful wilderness. But it is not all doom and gloom because enter stage left our handsome hero – Kane, former military helicopter pilot suffering PTSD. He’s drop dead gorgeous but suffers from vivid flashbacks and a deep fear of flying.

The pace moves quickly with the tension steadily building as the reader gets to know what’s going on and where the danger is coming from before Ellie and Kane. That doesn’t mean to say there aren’t a few twists and turns just to prove that maybe you didn’t know it all. Each of the characters are realistic – including the support cast – you can feel the worry, the fear, the sickness and the anger. The building up of the romance between Kane and Ellie is not the main focus, it is part and parcel with the suspense – one doesn’t overpower the other. Another of the layers to the story is the fact that Annie feels passionate about conservation and the environment. It comes through the story strongly – but she doesn’t pick you up and shake you about it. Indigenous land rights also add to the tapestry of the story.

KAKADU SUNSET is the first in a trilogy based on the three Porter sisters – and I have the next one – DAINTREE – in my hot little hand. In all honesty, if you like romantic suspense that grips you and won’t let you go, then do yourself a favour and get yourself a copy of this book.

For more about the author – Click Here

B – Great – I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

 

I have also posted this review over on Book Charmers

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Title: Big Little Lies

Author: Liane Moriarty

Genre: Mystery

Opens:

Blurb: Pirriwee Public is a beautiful little beachside primary school where children are taught that ‘sharing is caring.’ So how has the annual School Trivia Night ended in full-blown riot? Sirens are wailing. People are screaming. The principal is mortified. And one parent is dead.

Was it a murder, a tragic accident or just good parents gone bad? As the parents at Pirriwee Public are about to discover, sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal. Big little lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, school-yard scandal, and the big little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

My Thoughts: As the blurb states, when the story opens the reader learns one main thing – someone has died at a noisy school fund raising night! That is all we’re told – we don’t know who has died, or how they’ve died, or who caused the death to happen. So for me the mystery of the story is not just finding out who did it – but who had it done to them. Whilst the delight of the story is not only finding out what lead to the events of that night – but spending the time trying to figure out who was going to be the victim, and who was going to be the killer, and hoping beyond hope that neither of them was one of my favourites.

The three main characters, Celeste, Jane and Maddie are all very different women, but I loved each of them. Maddie and Celeste are married, Jane is a single mum. Maddie is with her second husband and they have two young children, she also has her teen daughter living with them from her first marriage. Her ex-husband and his alternative lifestyle wife have recently moved into the area with their youngster. Celeste is very well off, drop dead gorgeous and her husband that makes all the other ladies swoon when he appears; they have twin boys. Finally the single mum, Jane, has just moved into the area with her little boy called Ziggy. The three women meet at the Pirriwee Public Kindergarten orientation day, where the story kicks off with little Ziggy being accused of bulling one of the girls. The girl’s high-powered mother takes it on herself to punish Ziggy, and his mother, for his sin – accusing him of lying when he denies he bullied the girl. Yes you’ve guessed it Helicopter parents play a large part in the story; a mummy war quickly breaks out along with the alliances, side taking, gossiping and cattiness begins.

It took me a while to get into BIG LITTLE LIES, to get used to the writing style author Liane Moriarty used. I have read books that are written for more than one point of view before, but this is different because on top of the three main characters taking their turn in narrating there are also a multitude of snappy little one-liners from many supporting characters that appear between the main narratives. Each of these voices (let’s call them the Greek chorus) are trying to say what they think happened, what they heard happened, their opinion on why something happened and what caused it to happen – but like the main story at no point is the victim named, or who is accused, if anyone – no names are named. This chorus of voices provided a commentary on what was going in – filled in some of the gaps – or related utter untruths – exactly how a gossiping crowd of helicopter parents would act once they start hunting in a pack.

Once I realised the role they had to play I really, really enjoyed the experience. While the subjects covered are quite dark at times – the story rings with humour as the nice school gate chit chat is slowly stripped away and the underlying nastiness is revealed. When the truth comes out at the horrific climax that was oh so perfect to the story, it leaves many of the characters shaken and shame-faced as none of them were entirely blameless. While the mums and dads were battling it out – the kids involved just got on with it, quarrels forgotten within a day or two as they struggle to understand why their parents are doing what they are doing.

The conversations were so perfect, I have heard mothers and fathers talking like this, I have had my children attend ordinary schools like this with all these procedures in place that just don’t work in some cases. Teachers doing the best they can as parents use the system against them. There is the frustration from both parents and the teachers, which is balanced by total oblivion of the situation from the kids. But rarely does it end in death as it did in Pirriwee Public on that fateful night.

For more about the author – Click Here

B – Great – I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

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Title: Murder on the Island

Author: Brian Kavanagh

Genre: Mystery

Opens: “…’Mark, I would say dear Mark but since your recent attitude and behaviour, I think not’…”

Blurb: Belinda travels to the island of Guernsey to meet up with her fiancé Mark and his mother Lady Melba Sallinger to make plans for the upcoming wedding. Her best friend Hazel is at her side. When they arrive there are other guests in residence – Belinda’s parents, who are expected, along with some additions – a handsome interior designer, a Jesuit priest, and Catherine, a writer who is researching the German occupation on Guernsey.

My Thoughts: MURDER ON THE ISLAND is the 6th in the Belinda Lawrence mystery series, and is every bit as good, if not slightly better, as its predecessors! There are some really spooky shenanigans going on this time. Belinda is infuriated when her future mother-in-law starts taking over the wedding plans – insisting on a huge society wedding against Belinda’s wishes. Expecting some support from Mark, she is very upset when he scampers off to the USA for an important ‘business trip’ leaving her alone to face his mother. Thankfully Hazel is with her and she and Belinda soon get distracted by the feeling that something is amiss with some of the other guests. For a start the writer didn’t seem to be doing much research into, or write about, WWII which she was there to do. The priest doesn’t seem to know very much about Catholic sacraments, but is very knowledgeable about the island’s history. He tells the story of the Guernsey Martyrs, who burned alive in 1556 for theft and the baby of one of the martyrs was thrown alive into the fire as well. The next day the skeleton of a baby is found in the garden where some earth has washed away – Hazel insists on reporting the find to the police and Mark’s mother is horrified. That night guests are pondering on the story they have been told by the priest and the discovery of the child – cue scary scene with a storm hitting the island – wild winds and torrential rain lash the house, trees come down, the power goes out and a scream is heard outside! A body of one of the staff members is found, and next to the where the baby’s skeleton was found.

Oh I SO loved this atmospheric chapter. Because of the storm communication is cut off and Belinda and Hazel decide to investigate the baby’s death as well as that of the staff member until the police can get there. I had to confess while I was reading no-one was above suspicion. From creepy housekeepers, a child crying in the night, cooks who couldn’t cook and the haughty Lady of the realm who is furious because she just wanted to bury the child again and not report its discovery. Then there was a scruffy bookstore owner who rocked up in the middle of the storm and an interior designer who knows little about house interiors – as you can see there were quite a few possible suspects.

MURDER ON THE ISLAND is a quick and extremely enjoyable read. I loved the plot and the setting and the tension ensured I staid glued to the pages until it reached its conclusion. You can read it as a stand-alone – but I strongly recommend that you do yourself a favour and read the previous 5 books/

For more about the author – Click Here

B – Great – I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

With thanks to the author for my copy to read and review

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Title: The Lake House

Author: Kate Morton

Genre: Mystery

Blurb: It is 1933 and in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, innocent, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who is experiencing her first crush. She loves to write mystery stories, but the one she has written is no match for the mystery her family is about to endure! On midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the house by the lake has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. Seventy years later, Alice is living in London and Theo’s case has never been solved. Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out running one day, she stumbles upon the old house—now crumbling and covered with vines, clearly abandoned long ago. Her curiosity about the missing child is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone…yet more present than ever.

My Thoughts: I only discovered author Kate Morton a few years back and have loved every book she has written, THE LAKE HOUSE was no exception. An atmospheric and multi-generational story, it is not fast-paced, but is utterly riveting as bit by bit the story is revealed. Told from a few points of view it is never confusing and each point of view moves the story forward and fills in a few of the gaps.

Alice is an elderly woman now and a renowned mystery writer; she inherited the house after the death of her mother, but never goes there. Sadie, on forced disciplinary leave from the London police department after getting too involved in a child-abandonment case, comes across the deserted house on her morning run; she later hears about the missing child.

More than just a story of a stolen child THE LAKE HOUSE is about family secrets, misunderstandings, guilt, love and, of course, finding out the truth. Each of the family members has reasons to feel guilt over the child’s disappearance, but whose guilt is the correct one? Alice and Sadie are gradually drawn together to find out what happened. Sadie has her own issues to deal with so the distraction/obsession over finding out just what happened helps her to deal with events in her life.

I changed my mind about the fate of the baby boy several times during the course of the story – but in my wildest dreams I didn’t guess the ending. But I loved it – for me it was perfect. I see that some people weren’t happy with the ending, or felt the ending let the story down, but I completely disagree. The characters were real – warts and all – they all had a reason to be in the story and their actions added richly to the book. Reading the story was like exploring the old house – following a thread down a dark and dusty passage only to discover there’s a dead end there, so going back only to follow another thread down a different passage until eventually everything has been found, the truth revealed. Not one thread was dropped, there were no loose ends.

For more about the author – Click Here

A – Excellent Stuff – a real page turner and hard to put down. I carved out extra reading time just so I could finish it. This book got carted into the bathroom with me, read over meals, read at work, and/or kept me up late at night. If this author has more work, I will certainly read it.

With thanks to Allen & Unwin and the author for this copy to read and review. Allen & Unwin recommended retail price is $32.99

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