Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Rabbit Hunter - Lars Kepler

The Rabbit Hunter is the latest (6th) book in the Joona Linna series from husband and wife writing duo Lars Kepler.

Followers of the series will know that things went sideways for now ex-Detective Joona and two of his coworkers in the last book. Joona shouldered the blame and has now been in prison for two years.

But when a high ranking Swedish official is brutally murdered, Joona is offered a deal. Help find the killer and be pardoned. Joona takes the deal - yes, he wants out of prison, but solving crimes is what drives him.

The opening prologue sets the tone of the book. A particularly brutal murder of a particularly loathsome man. (Gentle readers - there are graphic scenes and plot devices in this book.) The killer is given a voice and his chapters are quite chilling.

Saga Bauer is back and she is one of my favourite characters, on par with Joona. She's tough, driven and highly intelligent - just like Joona. The time in prison has given Joona time to think about his personal life. This release will give him time to pursue it. Many of the relationships in the book are fractured - and this ties in with the main plotline.

The pace is quick, the action is constant and the tension rises. Although I expected a dark read, this one was really dark - some of the story seems like oddly gratuitous sex (Jeanette in the bathroom?!) and violence that has no bearing on the case. The last page had me wondering if I had a page missing in my copy. It ends a bit abruptly, but sets the stage (and crime) for the next Joona Linna book. If you like dark Scandi noir, this is a series for you. Read an excerpt of The Rabbit Hunter.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Their Little Secret - Mark Billingham

Mark Billingham has just released the sixteenth book in his DI Tom Thorne series - Their Little Secret. DI Nicola Tanner has been added to the series title in the last few entries.

Thorne is currently assigned to the Homicide Assessment Team - a mobile unit that attends sudden death cases to see if they are suspicious and need investigation. A seeming suicide by train looks to be an open and shut suicide case, but Thorne thinks may be more to it. And indeed there is. Billingham's plot for this latest mystery is dark and twisted. (most of them are!) Or to quote Thorne: "The truth was, there was very little about this case that wasn't weird. Off-kilter, unnatural. It felt as though something misshapen had woken and begun crawling towards him into the light...."

The reader has a window into both Thorne's investigation and the killer's thoughts, actions and moves. In this case, knowing who the killer is doesn't detract from enjoying the book at all. It only ramped up the tension and had me hooked. Thorne's dogged pursuit of answers and results isn't always by the book. Sometimes that works for him, other times not so much. But, I do love a driven, rebellious lead - and that is most definitely Thorne. Tanner and Thorne are complete opposites and as such, play incredibly well off each other. Different strengths, styles and outlooks.

Now, Billinham's plotting is always great and his prose are a treat to read. But, what I really enjoy are the recurring characters. Their Little Secret picks up just after the last book. Now, not to spoil anything but there were some lines crossed by Thorne, Tanner and coroner Phil Hendricks in the last book. The undercurrent of those actions runs just under the surface and the effects are telling nine months later. Thorne's personal life has fallen apart - again. And Tanner's as well. Funnily enough, the 'wild card' of the bunch (Hendricks) has found solid ground.

Billingham throws a curve into the last few chapters that I didn't see coming at all. And there's one unanswered question that will be perhaps answered in the next book?

This is one of my favourite series and Their Little Secret is yet another excellent read from Mark Billingham. See for yourself - here's an excerpt.

Friday, September 13, 2019

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #280

- You can't judge a book by its cover - which is very true. 
 But you can like one cover version better than another...

US cover
UK cover
Paul Daly is a British writer - her latest book is Clear My Name. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. Well....two quite different presentations this week. The title font on the US cover does convey a bit of a darker tone. But, the image used? Boring and I've seen it too many times. Women on a cover. Now, the UK cover interest me more. I like the red font and how some of the letters are starting to blur. The choice of words at the top easily lets you know there's a mystery inside. And the subtle bars in the background adds to that feel. So, an easy choice for me this week - UK. What about you? 
Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read Clear My Name?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Over the Counter #417

What book caught my eye this week as it passed over the library counter and under my scanner? I was completely unaware of the benefits of bean water......

Aquafaba: Sweet and Savory Vegan Recipes Made Egg-Free with the Magic of Bean Water Paperback by Zsu Dever.

From Vegan Heritage Press:

"This groundbreaking cookbook is the first to explore the many uses for aquafaba – a miraculous plant-based egg replacer made from simple bean liquid.

The bean liquid we used to throw away turns out to be one of the most astonishing culinary discoveries of the decade. With its amazing egg-replacement abilities, miraculous "aquafaba" can be used as an egg-replacer to make everything from French toast to lemon meringue pie. Aquafaba can be used as a binder in both sweet and savory recipes and is a boon to vegans, people with egg allergies, as well as anyone interested in innovative cooking with a magical new ingredient.

Aquafaba includes the story of how the bean liquid properties were discovered, how to use it, and how to make fabulous recipes, including: waffles, crepes, quiche, burgers, macarons, marshmallows,.
Aquafaba can even be used to make dairy-free cheese, ice cream, butter, and so much more. The book also includes a chapter filled with recipes that use the chickpeas and beans that remain after using their liquid to make aquafaba.

The latest title by San-Diego-based author Zsu Dever (author of Vegan Bowls and Everyday Vegan Eats), Aquafaba features Zsu's signature photography, her easy-to-follow instructions, and metric conversion charts."

(Over the Counter is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World. I've sadly come the realization that I cannot physically read every book that catches my interest as it crosses over my counter at the library. But...I can mention them and maybe one of them will catch your eye as well. See if your local library has them on their shelves!)

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The Last Widow - Karin Slaughter

I am a big fan of Karin Slaughter's writing. I've enjoyed the last few stand alones, but have been waiting for a new Will Trent/Sara Linton book. It's here! The Last Widow. With every book, I say to myself oh, that's the best one yet, but I think Slaughter has outdone herself with The Last Widow - it's an amazing read. I literally couldn't put it down.

Slaughter starts off with a prologue guaranteed to hook the reader. A woman out shopping with her daughter is snatched from a parking lot. A month later she is still missing.

Will and Sara are at Sara's parents when a car collision sends them running to the street to help. But there's something off about it....And then the unthinkable happens - Sara is taken as well....but who? why? where?

And where Slaughter takes her plot from there is not so far removed from today's headlines. The current climate of hate, supremacists and domestic terrorism are the basis of Slaughter's intricate plot. The mind set, thought processes and violence of the characters of the alt-right group are frighteningly real.

I was so happy to reconnect with Will and Sara and see how their relationship was progressing. The romantic sub plot that has been building as the series progresses is done so well. Believable and not over the top into saccharin territory. But as the danger to both lead characters increased as the story progressed, I started to worry that Slaughter would do something. (Yes, she has surprised me (and not in a good way) in previous books). And I stayed up very, very late frantically turning pages to make sure that didn't happen. Action packed doesn't even begin to describe this book!

Recurring characters also return. Oddly, I am growing quite fond of Will's boss Amanda, despite her single mindedness. And I've always liked Will's partner Faith. Motherhood is examined through the eyes of many women in this novel.

Slaughter's writing is addictive and The Last Widow is no exception. If you've not read this series before, I encourage you to go back to the beginning and discover the players right from the start.

How many stars? An easy five. Sooooooo good. Read an excerpt of The Last Widow.

Monday, September 9, 2019

The Possession - Michael Rutger

The Possession is the second book in Michael Rutger's The Anomaly Files series.

I quite enjoyed the first one - The Anomaly. (my review) This description had me pick up that first book...."If Indiana Jones lived in the X-Files era, he might bear at least a passing resemblance to Nolan Moore - a rogue archaeologist hosting a documentary series derisively dismissed by the "real" experts, but beloved of conspiracy theorists."

And it was catching up with the characters and seeing what new 'unknowns' Nolan and company would discover that had me happily picking up this next book.

Sidekick Ken is back as well as other supporting players from the first book. Hunting for a story (okay, really Nolan knows his ex-wife is on a story there herself and wants to see her) the crew find themselves in Birchlake, California. The story? Walls - stone walls seemingly randomly built. They start and stop at odd spots, the height on most of them won't keep anything in or out and many of them are in the forest. Rutger references many sites that had me firing up a browser to check them out. And yes, this is a real thing - the Nazca Lines, the Sajama Lines and Gungywamp are just a few examples of this phenomenon. But there is much more going on in Birchlake - add in a missing girl and some unusual townsfolk - and you've got yourself a multilayered story.

What's not to like? A mystery, the unknown, snappy (and humorous) dialogue and lots of action. The setting is really well done - I could absolutely imagine being caught up in the fog, the odd buildings and the dark forest. There are some creepy moments when I wanted to shout - No, don't go there to our intrepid crew! I must admit, I had to do some mental gymnastics to keep up with the last few chapters. The story flips back and forth between two groups. And up and down as the 'anomaly' and the present collide.

Although this is part of a series, The Possession can absolutely be read as a stand alone. Here's an excerpt of The Possession. I did like the first book a bit better, but this reader is looking forward to the third entry in this series.

Friday, September 6, 2019

You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover #279

- You can't judge a book by its cover - which is very true. 
 But you can like one cover version better than another....

US cover
UK cover
Lisa Jewell's newest book, The Family Upstairs, is already released in the UK, and comes out in November in North America. The US cover is on the left and the UK cover is on the right. The UK cover takes the title quite literally in this cover shot. Dark rooms in a multi leveled building with one lit window. The dark tones say something's not quite right. And if you're not sure, there's a nice blurb from Ian Rankin.  Although I must say, I am a bit tire of 'scary house' pictures. Now - the US cover has no house in sight. It's dark, but that winding vine is quite ominous looking as it twists through the title. And the one bright spot is that magenta blossom. Maybe it's a poisonous plant? I find the US cover much more sinister and interesting - so that's my vote this week. What about you?
Which cover do you prefer? Any plans to read The Family Upstairs?
You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature at A Bookworm's World.