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Archive for the ‘Mystery’ Category

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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Title: Karma’s a Killer

Author: Tracy Weber

Genre: Cosy Mystery

Quote: “…For the record, telling your boyfriend that your not-as-dead-as-you-might-have-implied mother has been arrested for murder doesn’t go over well…”

Blurb: Yoga instructor Kate Davidson is about to discover that when it comes to murder, there’s no place like home. When she agrees to teach doga—yoga for dogs—at a fundraiser for Dogma, a local animal rescue, Kate believes the only real damage will be to her reputation. But when an animal rights protest at the event leads to a suspicious fire and a drowning, a few downward-facing dogs will be the least of Kate’s problems…

My Thoughts: KARMA’S A KILLER is the third in the series – and I’m now settling in to them to the extent that when I open to page one I have the relaxed feeling that I am meeting old friends. In this story we learn about animal rescue, crazy animal liberationists and doga. What’s doga I hear you ask – it is yoga for dogs!!! No really, and it is supposed to be very good for owner/pet bonding – here is more information: http://www.dogamahny.co.uk/

Kate’s class is to raise funds for one of the local animal rescue centres. She is not sure how opening a class to all and sundry is a good idea – even more unsure when a woman turns up with a rabbit. This reader just knew a rabbit in a class of dogs is not going to end well. Kate may have got away with bunny yoga, but when animal liberationists start setting fire to the goat shed, and yelling and screaming and frightening the very creatures they are supposed to want to protect, mayhem ensues. Once the dust has settled an activist has been murdered and Kate’s supposedly dead mother has been arrested for the murder.

KARMA’S A KILLER is a very funny story, but within the humour are some serious issues – especially in animal rescue/protection and rights. It gently brings out the problem that sometimes activists do more harm than good when they run off half-cocked only hearing what they want to hear and not taking in the whole picture and considering any extenuating circumstances.

As the investigation burbles along, Kate learns more about her childhood – things she had forgotten – finds letters that had been hidden from her which reveal secrets kept from her. All the familiar characters are back – the ever patient pet shop owner boyfriend; sulky teen pet shop assistant; Kate’s, now very pregnant with twins, best friend Rene; and her friendly goat breeder lawyer. Lastly, but by no means least, there is larger than life Bella, a dog with a lot of medical issues, a lot of character, and a hatred of dogs and many men.

The great news to console me about finishing book 3 is that I have discovered that Tracy Weber has signed a contract with her publisher Midnight Ink for 3 more books in the Downward Dog Mystery series! Woo Hoo! More Kate and Bella adventures to come, can’t wait to see what happens!

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 Books and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review

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Title: Treasured Lies

Author: Kendall Talbot

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Opens: “…Nox’s eyes stung…”

Blurb: The discovery of The Flying Seahorse, a 13th century shipwreck, nearly killed Archer’s two best friends. Now, with their recovery assured and his fiancée back at his side, Archer can finally hunt for the treasure that has haunted him since his father’s death years before. Rosalina learned things about herself that she didn’t expect: her capacity to love, her capacity to forgive and her capacity to do whatever it takes to protect the people she loves. Shooting Nox with a spear gun saved Archer’s life, and brought them back together — this time forever. Now she’s with her fiancé, in the beautiful Mediterranean, with a real chance of ending the guilt that’s tortured Archer for two decades. But Nox isn’t dead, and he hasn’t given up. Archer and Rosalina may believe that they are safe, but nothing could be further from the truth. What once was about treasure is now about revenge — and it’s very, very personal.

My Thoughts: TREASURED LIES is a sequel to the edge of the seat adventure Treasured Secrets which I read and enjoyed mid last year. That story was based around the romance between Rosalina and Archer as they sorted their lives out and did battle over treasure with the villain of the story, Nox – a vile, horrible, evil, creepy and truly unlikable person. This story picks up a few weeks after Treasured Secrets finishes and it turns out from the opening line of TREASURED LIES that this odorously malevolent human being is not dead after all. But I have to confess though for a very small while (a couple of pages) I actually felt sorry for everything that author Kendall Talbot threw at Nox – I mean he really deserved it he is a very nasty person, and at first I cheered the author on as she really went to town on him (reminder – never write a bad review for this author – she knows how to punish) but yes, there was this one brief time that I though poor Nox – the sympathy didn’t last long!! It just demonstrates the writing talent that Kendall has that enables to enables me to feel any sympathy for a very horrible person.

TREASURED LIES is less about the relationship between Rosalinda and Archer and more on Treasure Hunting – and just how cut throat it all is. The setting is fantastic, wafting over the Mediterranean Sea on a yacht with good food and wine. Then leisurely diving in clear waters and carting treasures back to the surface. You would think that with Nox busy elsewhere all this treasure hunting should be a doddle! Not so, there is another evil treasure pirate in the area, Ignatius, and he is rich, brutal and doesn’t play fair!!

Summed up, TREASURED LIES has everything that you need in a good book, romance, suspense, adventure, conflict, laughter, explosions and drama, I am looking forwards to seeing what happens next as the ending is obviously open ended.

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 Escape Publishing and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review

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Title: Hester and Harriet

Author: Hilary Spiers

Genre: Cosy Mystery

Opens: “…The invitation reproached them from the mantelshelf…”

Blurb: When widowed sisters, Hester and Harriet, move together into a comfortable cottage in a pretty English village, the only blights on their cosy landscape are their crushingly boring cousins, George and Isabelle, who are determined that the sisters will never want for company; including on Christmas Day. As they reluctantly drive over to Christmas dinner, the sisters come across a waif-like young girl, hiding with her baby in a disused bus shelter. Using her rescue from the cold as a perfect excuse for returning home with good food and wine, Hester and Harriet insist on bringing Daria and baby Milo home with them.

The next morning a sinister stranger comes looking for a woman and baby and instinct makes the two elderly ladies deny any knowledge of Daria. Then Ben, their cousin’s son, arrives on the doorstep and announces he has run away from home. Hester and Harriet’s carefully crafted peace and quiet quickly begins to fall apart.

My Thoughts: HESTER AND HARRIET was a very enjoyable read centred around two elderly sisters with an appreciation for the finer things in life – something I can only aspire to. There is humour, kindness and a determination to make things right along with a gentle message that sometimes family is the one we choose rather than the one we are born into. From the moment they open their hearts and home to Daria and her baby boy there is intrigue and mystery. Daria is a foreign refugee who has fled to England for safety after political upheaval in her country and a series of circumstances has meant that she is now in England with an expired visa through no fault of her own; she needs kindness and help. Ben is a typically unaware teen male who has hidden depths that his aunts manage to bring out of him as he hides from his parents after a family disagreement. Harriet and Hester, along with Ben, set out to keep Daria a secret while they work out how she got into her predicament, who is hunting for her and how they can save her.

The story is a wonderful blend of comedy and drama that is set against a background of an English country village, local gossip and a cast of quirky support characters – aren’t they all quirky in English villages? The mystery behind Daria is gradually unveiled and Harriet and Hester are delightful amateur sleuths. I sometimes got the two sisters muddled up, but it didn’t matter because they worked as one unit. There were a couple of minor characters that appealed to me as well – the main one being a hobo called Finbarr.

The writing is beautiful and some of the old rarely used words just rolled off the tongue – such as consanguinity and lugubrious. The two sisters are constantly corrected Ben’s grammar, and his poor use of the correct tense, and I applauded this. So many youngsters today, and even some older people, talk as if they’re texting. The English language is beautiful – use it. Don’t be lulled into thinking this is a light and fluffy read, sure there are lots of food and wine discussions but there are some serious issues going on that are gently brought out into the open without feeling as though we are being lectured.

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 Allen & Unwin and the author for this copy to read and review. Allen & Unwin recommended retail price is $29.99

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