Tuesday, December 28, 2021

My Darling Husband - Kimberly Belle

My Darling Husband is bestselling author Kimberly Belle's newest domestic suspense novel. 

Jade and Cam have it all - five successful restaurants, two adorable children, a beautiful house and numerous luxuries. They're living large.

Someone else knows that as well. What could be more frightening than a home invasion? A home invasion when your children are home. That's what happens when Jade. What the invader is demanding is is a very specific amount of money - and Cam has a limited time to come up with it.

Great setup! My Darling Husband is actually told from three points of view - Jade, Cam and the invader. As readers, we're privy to the details that Jade doesn't have. Suffice it to say that Cam has been keeping secrets from Jade. Not unexpected in this genre.

Jade is feisty and resists the captor both physically and verbally, even as she tries to figure out why he has chosen their family and home to invade. As she gathers info from her interactions with him, she begins to have her own suspicions - about Cam.

The timeline has now and then movement. We're in the present with Cam as he scrambles to put together the cash. But we're also in the future as he gives an interview to a reporter about the events. The captor's point of view lets the listener know a bit more than Jade does. However, Belle caught my off guard with unexpected developments in the last bit of the plot that surprised me. (Surprises are good!) Without providing spoilers, there's definitely some social commentary woven into the invader's impetus and the book's epilogue. 

My Darling Husband was a fast paced, action based listen. There were a few situations where I had to suspend disbelief, but overall an entertaining entry in the domestic suspense genre.

I chose to listen to My Darling Husband. Natalie Duke, Seth Podowitz and Charlie Kevin were the performers. They all did an excellent job. Each played one of the three main players and employed voices that absolutely suited the characters. Within those characters there are interactions with other characters and each narrator conjured up yet another voice for those situations. Each reader was easy to understand, pleasant to listen to and spoke clearly. There's lots of emotion in the book and each narrator easily captured and portrayed the action, situations and more. 

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Merry Christmas!

I know Christmas is going to look much different this year. (again!)

I hope you're able to connect with family and friends while staying safe.

Wishing you health and happiness,

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Silent Parade - Keigo Higashino

Silent Parade is the latest North American release for award winning Japanese author Keigo Higashino. This is the fourth entry in his Detective Galileo Series - but you'll have no problem jumping into the story. 

'Detective Galileo' is actually not a part of any police force. Instead, he is a physics professor with an incredibly quick mind. His deductive powers could be compared to Poirot's. His good friend, DCI Kusanagi with the Homicide Division of the Tokyo police has drawn on Professor Yukawa's skill set before. 

Two young girls have been murdered decades apart. What they have in common is the suspect - and the investigator. DCI Kusangi worked the historical case and is determined to solve this latest.

There are many players in Silent Parade and I was appreciative of the list of characters at the beginning of the book. I liked the enigmatic style of  Professor Yukawa and the dogged determination of DCI Kusanagi. The family of the missing girl were very well drawn. The supporting cast is detailed enough to make each of them a suspect.

Higashino's plotting is detailed, intricate and downright devious. Just when I thought  had things figured out, he upended all my suppositions and the investigation headed in a different direction. This happened more than once - and I loved it! Higasino is a clever, clever writer.

I enjoyed learning more about everyday life, social mores and celebrations in and of the Japanese culture, as well as the legal system. Giles Murray was the translator and did a fantastic job. The prose never felt wooden or awkward at all. I enjoyed the pacing of the book as well - a slow burner that lets you become immersed in the tale.

I would absolutely read the next book from Higashino. See for yourself - read an excerpt of Silent Parade. 

Thursday, December 9, 2021

The Postmistress of Paris - Meg Waite Clayton

There are many, many WWII novels written from a woman's perspective and/or featuring a role in the war performed by women. Bombgirls, landgirls, codebreakers and more. 

Meg Waite Clayton's new novel, The Postmistress of Paris is part of that more, bringing in another perspective. Her main character is Naneé, a wealthy American living in Paris who decides to join the French resistance. Her wealth and American passport allow her to move about freely, delivering messages to those in hiding. She's a great lead character - brave, daring and charming with a strong sense of right and wrong and duty.

She meets photographer Edouard and his young daughter Luki at a gathering of artistes. Edouard has escaped from Germany, but still must try to hide from the Vichy government. It is after this meeting that Naneé decides she must help artistes to escape and to preserve their work.

Now, here's the really neat part - Naneé is based on the life of Mary Jayne Gold, a Chicago heiress, who helped American journalist Varian Fry smuggle well-known artists and intellectuals out of France.

The book's opening chapters introduce us to the two main players, the sparks that fly between them, as well as the artistic setting/element of the book. I must admit, I did find this went on a bit too long for me. I wanted to dive right into the 'action' of the book. The hiding, the subterfuge and the danger. That does come, but Waite Clayton also stops along the way to explore other themes such as the love between a parent and child, the loss of loved ones and the sacrifices made. Different views are provided with Luki having her own chapters, as does Edouard. There are many supporting players, all just as determined with the same goal. I did find one character to be quite detestable as he plays 'games' at the house that the group shares. I thought there would be a reason he was included, but never found a meaning for his inclusion and ugliness. But he is tempered with the addition of a dog to the tale - named Dagobert.

A good addition to the WWII fiction list. Waite Clayton is a talented wordsmith and I did enjoy this novel. However, I did find it to be a bit of a slow burn for me and it felt a repetitive at times.

I chose to listen to The Postmistress of Paris. The readers were Imani Jade Powers and Graham Halstead. Powers has such a rich, melodious, honeyed tone to her voice. It's very pleasant to listen to and easy to understand. The voice for Naneé, absolutely captured the character as I had imagined her. Her speaking speed was just right. There are many French language bits to the story and I found both her pronunciation and accent to be believable. Her performance did justice to Waite Clayton's book. I've also listened to Graham Halstead in the past. He has a very resonant tone to his voice that draws the listener to him. He too speaks clearly and is easy to understand. I like his voice very much, but it wasn't quite what I imagined for Edouard. I had a softer, more continental voice in mind.That being said, he does do a fine job with his narration. Hear for yourself - listen to an audio excerpt of The Postmistress of Paris. Length is 13 hours, 10 minutes.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

The Midnight Hour - Elly Griffiths

Elly Griffiths is hands down one of my favorite authors. Now, while her Ruth Galloway series is near and dear to me, The Brighton Mysteries run a very close second. The sixth entry - The Midnight Hour - has just released. 

What makes these series so delightful? For me, it's the characters. They're warm and funny, wry and witty and eminently likable. In this latest, former Brighton DS Emma Holmes has joined forces with reporter Sam Collins and opened a Private Eye business. They've been hired by a high profile widow to look into her husband's death. It's a big case for the two, but the Brighton police are also on the job. It's more than a bit awkward as Emma is also married to Police Superintendent Edgar Stephens. "She was honest enough to know she also wanted to get ahead of the police, to present them with the solution to the case with all the loose ends tied up in a bow."

There's continuity to this series as Griffiths moves the lives of her characters along. I'm always curious to see what's next for this cast of players. And it is indeed a large cast. Faithful readers will recognize and welcome back recurring characters. New readers, you can absolutely read this latest without having read previous titles, but it might take you a beat or two to sort out who's who. I have to say that Emma and young Constable Meg Connolly are my favorites. Emma's young son Jonathan also makes many appearances that are endearing.

So, great characters...and great plotting. There are many choices for the whodunit. Griffiths gives the reader a lovely winding road, littered with red herrings on the way to the final whodunit. I truly had no idea who the murderer was going to be in the end. 

I like the time frame being the 1960's. Cases are solved with lots of footwork, interviews, intuition and deductions rather than CSI-like methods. It's a more satisfying and intimate read somehow. Women's roles are changing and that too is woven into the story. 

Griffiths just has an easy way with words. I'm always drawn into the story. See for yourself - read an excerpt of The Midnight Hour.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Autopsy - Patricia Cornwell

I read Patricia Cornwell's first Kay Scarpetta novel back in 1990 and was immediately hooked on the premise, characters and plotting. Fast forward to 2021. The 25th entry in this series, Autopsy, has just released.

Now, I must admit, somewhere around the 20th book, I threw the towel on this series. The books seemed mired in extraneous detail and became repetitive. But...this blurb from the publisher had me more than a little curious....

"In this relaunch of the electrifying, landmark #1 bestselling thriller series, chief medical examiner Dr. Kay Scarpetta hunts those responsible for two wildly divergent and chilling murders. Forensic pathologist Kay Scarpetta has come almost full circle, returning to Virginia as the chief medical examiner, the state where she launched her storied career." 

And you know what? I really enjoyed it and am back on board with this series.

The same cast of characters is present, Kay, her Secret Service forensic psychologist husband Benton, her niece Lucy and my personal favorite - Pete Marino. The relationship between Kay and Marino was contentious in the beginning of the series, but I'm happy with where Cornwell has taken Marino in this latest. He's a valuable resource instead of being portrayed as a thorn in her side. However there is a new thorn in the side character. Kay has inherited a secretary who is loyal to her old boss and quite resentful of Kay. Kay has the same analytical mind. Cornwell keeps the characters moving forward in real time, with the successes and sadness that living life brings.

The 'back to basics' has Kay investigating the death of a young woman found on the railroad tracks. This crime very much reminded me of the earlier books. Political machinations and corruption abounds at a number of levels in this latest, stretching as far as outer space! Kay is called in to examine a remote site. There's yet another thread that I'll let you discover. 

I chose to listen to this latest. The reader was award winning narrator Susan Ericksen. She has read previous Scarpetta books, so the continuity is nice. Her voice is perfect for the mental image I've created for Scarpetta. Her diction is clear, easy to understand, well enunciated and pleasant. The speed of speaking was a bit slow for me, so I sped things up two notches, using the speed adjuster on my device. She provides different voices for the characters, each easily identifiable. Ericksen conveys the emotions of the characters and the action and suspense of the plot with her voice. A great performance. Hear for yourself - listen to an excerpt of Autopsy.

I did find the ending a bit rushed and a slightly too pat, but I quite enjoyed this 'relaunch' of this series. The door has been left open for number 26 - and I for one will be picking it up.