Thursday, December 22, 2022

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.

I'll see you in the New Year. I'm taking a break and getting a start on all the great titles coming out in January.

Wishing you health and happiness,

Luanne

Thursday, December 15, 2022

The Key to My Heart - Lia Louis

The Key to My Heart is the third novel from British author Lia Louis.

Natalie Fincher's life was upended when her beloved husband Russ unexpectedly passed away. All the plans they made, the dreams they had - gone. Two and a half years, Nat is still struggling with the loss. Her friends mean well, but she's just not ready to date again. She works, gets out once in a while, but the only high point is anonymously playing the piano in the train station.

When sheet music that seems directed specifically at Natalie starts appearing at the piano, she is intrigued, interested, excited even...

The Key to My Heart starts off slowly, matching Natalie's mood, demeanor and circumstances. Additional players are added to the cast. Everyone needs a Shauna - the wise, caring woman at the café in the train station. Natalie is not the only regular. There are others, all with their own stories. Slowly but surely, new friendships, relationships and more are built. But is Nat ready for more?

I liked Natalie and appreciated the care Louis afforded to depicting the loss of a partner and the aftermath. The emotions and feelings were believably portrayed. The supporting players each have a role and round out the novel. 

Louis has a penned a novel of love, loss and finding a way forward. Music plays a large part in the book. And is the impetus for the cute title. 

I chose to listen to The Key to My Heart. Some books just translate better for me when I listen. And such was the case with this novel. I became easily immersed in Nat's world. The reader was Victoria Fox and did a great job with presenting Louis's book. She has a pleasant accent and is easily understood. She has easily captured the emotions of the plot with her voice. I did find the speed of the speaking a bit slow for me, so I sped it up to .09. A lovely listen of a thoughtful, well written book. Hear for yourself - listen to an audio excerpt of The Key to My Heart. 

Thursday, December 8, 2022

The Personal Assistant - Kimberly Belle

The Personal Assistant is Kimberly Belle's latest domestic suspense novel. 

Alex has it all - two great kids, a loving husband and enough money that she doesn't have to worry. Oh, and she's a very successful social media mommy influencer. So successful (one million followers!) that she needs an assistant. But all it takes is one horrific post and the walls come tumbling down. Alex knows she didn't write that post. Was she hacked? Did her assistant, AC, post it? Where is she? Things rapidly go from bad to worse...

Belle tells her story through multiple characters, points of view and time periods. Belle does a good job of playing with the listener, directing our attention down more than one garden path. 

I liked the premise and was initially behind Alex. But she started to grate on my nerves. She started coming off as entitled and over the top in general. She's very self focused. I wish I had started counting the sentences with 'my husband' in them. (Hint: there's a lot). The other characters are over the top as well and felt like caricatures instead of believable players.

There are a few holes in the plot for this mystery reader. However, the final whodunit was a surprise. Kudos. I would have been happy with that being the final pages, but Belle seems determined to tie up every last point with a detailed explanation. 

There are some truths on social media, woven into the book. 

I had enjoyed Belle's 2021 book, My Darling Husband and had higher hopes for this newest. A three stars listen for me.  

I chose to listen to The Personal Assistant. I liked that three distinct and easily identifiable readers were used.  Chelsea Stephens (Narrator), Chris Andrew Ciulla and Megan Tusing. Ciulla voiced all of the male characters and provided believable voice all of them. He's a reader I've listened to in the past. I find his voice easy to listen to, clearly enunciated and captured the action and emotions. I'm not sure which reader played Alex and who read AC. Both captured and presented Belle's work very well. Each had a firm grasp of their character and captured that 'over the top' feeling I mentioned earlier. The Alex reader captured the 'look at me' sense I got from Alex. Hear for yourself - listen to an audio excerpt of The Personal Assistant. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

The Widowmaker - Hannah Morrissey

Hannah Morrissey's debut novel (Hello, Transcriber) last year was a fantastic read and put Morrissey on my must read list. Her second novel, The Widowmaker, has just released. 

While The Widowmaker is listed as a 'Black Harbor book', it can absolutely be read as a stand alone. 

The setting is indeed the town of Black Harbor, a dark, dirty, unsettling, foreboding place to live and work. Getting out seems to be the prevailing thought of many of the residents. Morgan Mori is one of the few who have come back to Black Harbor. When Morgan, a photographer, is asked to document the Christmas celebrations of the wealthy Reynolds family, she really has no choice but to take the job. She's desperate for money. But there's something just 'off' with them.

Investigator Ryan Hudson is trying to make a difference in Black Harbor. He ends up with not one, but two cases - one current day and another from the past. Those of you who have read that first book will be interested to know that Investigator Nikolai Kole returns in this second entry. 

Each and every character is the book is flawed, damaged or dangerous.

Morrissey's writing is unsettling most of the time, but addicting all the time. There's no way to predict where the plot is going to. I thought I had solved the cases, only to be proven wrong. (I love being proved wrong) Who is lying? Covering up? Keeping a secret? Who's the killer? Killers?

A gritty, dark tale that's another five star read for me from Morrissey. See for yourself - read an excerpt of The Widowmaker. 

Gentle readers - this may not be the book for you as there are many triggers in The Widowmaker.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

How to Survive Everything - Ewan Morrison

Well, Ewan Morrison's novel, How to Survive Everything kept me glued to the couch on a rainy weekend!

Haley and her younger brother Ben have been kidnapped by their (non-custodial) father who is determined to shield them from the next pandemic, at a remote, off the radar location. It is Haley's voice and point of view that drives the book.

Is their father delusional or is he a canny harbinger of the truth? He's written a manual to follow, for just about anything that could occur. Almost. And it is this treatise that Haley refers to with every event, occurrence, interaction that takes place in the compound. But there's not an answer for everything that transpires. 

I quite like dystopian tales and I found the physicalities of Morrison's setting to be intriguing. The idealism and regimen that the members try to live by and follow start to take their toll as the book progresses. Are they delusional? Or far seeing?

Wound into the tale is the unpredictable factor - people. There are others inside the gates as well. The dynamics of a small society cannot be predicted. I loved Haley's recounting. She's torn between her beliefs and what her father is telling her, her burgeoning attraction to one of the other residents, her love for her mother and more.

How to Survive Everything was a page turner for me. I couldn't wait to read the ending, to find the answers for the questions I had. And I did - but certainly not what I imagined.

This was a five star read for me. See for yourself - read an excerpt of How to Survive Everything.
How to Survive Everything is more than a little frightening to read, given our world today.  



Tuesday, November 29, 2022

A Ghost of Caribou - Alice Henderson

A Ghost of Caribou is the latest entry in Alice Handerson's  Alex Carter series.

Alex is an wildlife biologist who travels Canada and the US tracking species that are in danger. And, it seems like wherever she goes, Alex attracts danger as well.

This time around, she's looking for confirmation that the reported sighting of a mountain caribou is real, as they are extinct in the contiguous United States. I've quite enjoyed learning about each of the featured animals in this series. Henderson's facts are real and she is a dedicated wildlife researcher who walks the talk.

I really like Alex as a lead character. She's strong, resilient, curious, intelligent, adventurous, and courageous. She doesn't back down from anything. But she's smart about it. Supporting players are her dad and her best friend Zoe. Because of her job, contact is usually over the phone. Their lives are interesting as well and there's usually a mystery one of their lives. 

The setting this time is in the Selkirk mountains of Washington state. Henderson does a fantastic job with her setting details. There's a lot going on in this forested area. Missing women, logging disputes, mysterious tunnels - and mysterious inhabitants. Alex has landed right in the middle of things.

The plot is very good. There are a few grains of salt needed with some of the happenings, but just go with it. There's lot of action and many a dangerous situation, characters to like, and many to dislike (strongly) And the end pages brought a surprise. Those who have read the first two books will be surprised as I was.

I chose to listen to A Ghost of Caribou. The same narrator, Eva Kaminsky, has read the previous two books as well. I really appreciate the continuity. Her voice absolutely matches the characters. Kaminsky captures the tone of A Ghost of Caribou. Her voice easily portrays the danger, the action and emotions of the book. Her voice is clear, easy to understand and pleasant on the ears. The speed of the narration is just right. I often find myself more drawn into a book when listened to, rather than a print copy. And that's the case with A Ghost of Caribou. Hear for yourself - listen to a sample of A Ghost of Caribou. 

Friday, November 25, 2022

The Best American Mystery and Suspense 2022 - Edited by Jess Walter and Steph Cha

I've always meant to pick up one of the annual mystery and suspense year end compilations. This year I finally did! (And now I know what I've been missing.) This is actually the 26th entry in the Best American Mystery and Suspense 2022 yearly collections. 

Jess Walter is the guest editor, who, with series editor Steph Cha were charged with choosing 'the twenty short stories that represent the best examples of the form published the previous year.' The process to try and narrow the field down to just twenty entries is detailed in the editor notes. I wouldn't want to be the one making those decisions.

There were entries from authors than I'm familiar with, such as Dennis Lehane and S.A. Paris. I know their style and knew I would enjoy their entries. (I did) There were many 'new to me' authors and I was excited to experience new voices. This format lends itself to new discoveries. Where was such a wide variety of styles, locales, length, protagonists and more! 

I'm always fascinated by this style of story telling. How to fit in characters, a protagonist, a beginning and an end into a limited time or space. It's nice to pick the story you have time for at lunch - and escape into a book for a short period of time, but with a sense of satisfaction.

I chose to listen to this book. A number of narrators were used for this compilation - Desean Terry, Lindsey Dorcus, Max Meyers, Frankie Corzo, Christopher Salazar and Chanté McCormick, Each and every one was excellent. The readers change their tone, cadence, accent, etc. to suit the stories being told. The speed of speaking was good and all spoke clearly. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

The Obsession - Jesse Q. Sutanto

The Obsession is a teen listen from Jesse Q. Sutanto.

What's the premise? The cover says it all. Boy meets girl. Boy stalks girl. Girl gets revenge.

Sutanto puts her own spin on how that revenge plays out. This was a nice addition to a premise I've read before. 

Logan's mindset is definitely off kilter and quite frightening in his thinking. An incident in his past is alluded to that lets us know this isn't his first obsession. There's lots of warning here for younger readers. There's just as much warning in Dee and her mother's situation. That twist changes things for both of them.

 There is a dual point of view narrative.

Now, I know I should be on Dee's 'side' given what's happening to and with her. But. Yeah, there's a but. I just didn't like her at all. Her actions are no better than Logan's. Actually, hers are worse. I just couldn't get behind her at all. And I even started to feel sorry for Logan. I saw him as someone with a mental illness and Dee as an opportunist. 

The narrative ended up being somewhat repetitive for me. The ending seemed to be somewhat abrupt, leaving the door open for the second book in this planned series. 

Catherine Ho was one of the narrators. She speaks low and seemingly close to the microphone. Her voice for me was that of an adult and didn't fit my mental image and tone of Dee. David Lee Huynh read the Logan role. He spoke clearly and his voice was pleasant. I thought he captured the Logan character really well. The voice matched the character in this case. Hear for yourself - listen to an audio excerpt of The Obsession. 

Gentle listeners, there are triggers in this book. This was an okay listen, but not a stand out. 

Monday, November 21, 2022

Small Game - Blair Braverman

I admit - I have watched a few (okay, more than a few) survival shows. They're great escapist television that I'm happy to watch from the couch.

I was intrigued by the premise of Blair Braverman's new book - Small Game. 

Four participants, three men, two women, six weeks and the last one standing wins it all. For Mara, it sounds like an easy win. After all, she's been brought up with a survivor mind set and she actually teaches survival skills as her job. 

The book is told from Mara's point of view. We meet the others through her experiences and interactions. I was immediately on board with Mara. We are privy to her inner thoughts, doubts, and reasons for coming on the show. Braverman takes a deeper view with Mara's experiences. The others? Their actions speak volumes. Now, the first bit is as you would expect - setting up camp, getting to know the competition - and the behind the scenes machinations. I've always wondered about how much is scripted on this type of show. 

But things change with startling event - is it real or is it scripted? This is the part where I couldn't stop listening. Why? Well, their continued survival of course. But the second half of the book delves deeper into the here and now., leaving the past behind and hoping for more from life. If they survive. This facet was also well written.

Here's the  neat bit - Braverman herself has been on a survivor show and she's an adventurer and dog sled racer. Her writing benefits greatly from that experience. And I like the title that can be taken more than one way.

I chose to listen to Small Game. I find some books are just better for me in an audio format. This was very much the case with Small Game. I become immersed in the tale when I listen. The reader was Kristen Sieh and she did a fantastic job interpreting and presenting Small Game. Her voice suited the mental image I had drawn for Mara perfectly. Sieh's voice is crisp, clear, and easy to understand. She has a well modulated tone to voice that matches Mara's personality and demeanor. The speed is just right for this characters. She also provides different, believable voice for the other characters. She captures the emotions of the players very well. Hear for yourself - listen to an excerpt of Small Game

Thursday, November 17, 2022

The Twist of a Knife - Anthony Horowitz

Oh, I was so happy to find that Anthony Horowitz had penned a fourth entry in his absolutely wonderful Hawthorne and Horowitz mystery series. The Twist of a Knife has just released. 

I can't recommend this series enough. It's clever in so many ways. The protagonist is the enigmatic Hawthorne, let go from the police force and now working as a P.I. Hawthorne is such a great character - a brilliant detective, but somewhat lacking in personal interactive skills. I quite like him. And playing Watson to his Holmes? Anthony Horowitz. Uh huh - Horowitz has written himself in as a character in the series! He plays himself, writing about Hawthorne's cases. The relationship between the two is...interesting...

There have been three books written about Hawthorn's cases, thereby fulfilling the publishing contract between the two. Tony has no desire to continue the agreement and lets Hawthorn know it. But....when Tony is arrested on murder charges for a death at a local theater, he reluctantly has to call on Hawthorn for help.

I often find myself stopping to check out the literary references related to Horowitz. They're all there and woven into these fictional accounts. And I wonder what it be like to characterize yourself. Horowitz certainly doesn't paint himself as perfect! Hawthorne has been an enigma over the course of the first three books. Slowly, but surely, we're seeing behind the protective barriers he's put in place. 

The choice for whodunit has a 'locked room' feeling, as there is a finite list of suspects who could have done the deed. The mystery itself is excellent. Each and every player is a suspect at some point. I really enjoy Hawthorne's investigative techniques. Alongside Anthony, I question his methods and the information he is gathering. Much seems irrelevant, but as readers we just know there are answers hidden in the interactions. The reader (and Tony) just aren't seeing what Hawthorne does. The journey to the 'ah hah' moment is an excellent read. And the final reveal is a delightful homage to Christie.

Will there be more in this series? I most certainly hope so! See for yourself  - read an excerpt of The Twist of a Knife. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Bleeding Heart Yard - Elly Griffiths

Bleeding Heart Yard is the third book in Elly Griffiths' Harbinder Kaur series. 

For me, it is Griffiths' characters that that have made me such a fan. Yes, Ruth Galloway is my fave, but Harbinder is a close second. She too, is not a cookie cutter character. She's 'real'and her personal life has been moving forward. I really like her inner dialogue. Her professional life is moving forward as well.  She's landed in London with her own squad as a Detective Inspector. The squad is a mixed bag of new players - that I hope will become regulars.

Harbinder's first 'in charge' case is a puzzle for sure. A MP is found dead at his school's twenty-first reunion. There are a number of suspects to choose from for the whodunit. But the focus ends up on the members of 'The Group' - an 'elite' group of students.  It took me a few chapters to solidify who was who in the group, specifically the women. 

Bleeding Heart is written from a number of viewpoints - Harbinder's and group members Anna and Cassie. Anna and Cassie's past entries give the reader background, memories and motives - for each and every player. They're all hiding something. Present day chapters let us see how the investigation is proceeding, even as events from the past take on more of a motive for the current day crime. I did find the numerous interviews a bit repetitive.

The settings descriptions are well drawn and I quite liked the lore behind some of them - especially Bleeding Heart Yard. I think Harbinder's change of locale will open up a lot of opportunities for future cases and plots. And for Harbinder's personal life!
 
All in all, Bleeding Heart Yard is another great entry in this series. A little bit slower than the previous two books but still a very entertaining read. See for yourself - read an excerpt of Bleeding Heart Yard. And a quick P.S. - that cover is fantastic!

Friday, November 11, 2022

A Sliver of Darkness: Stories - C. J. Tudor

I'm a big fan of C.J. Tudor's writing. She's got a vivid (and darkly creative) imagination that has hooked me with every book she's written. I was thrilled to see that her latest, A Sliver of Darkness, is a collection of short stories. 

I like the portability of short stories, the ability to pick out a tale, and have a satisfying start to finish experience. But, with A Sliver of Darkness, I couldn't just read one....I binge read all eleven tales in a day. They're all so so very different and I just had to see what the next one would be about.

Tudor writes a detailed description of how each story came to be, what triggered the idea. I really liked knowing the 'why/how/what behind every story. It's fulfilling for readers like me that wonders where an author finds or imagines their idea for a book or a tale. Some of them are innocuous comments, a memory from years gone by, a location or a personal event. 

Did I have a favorite? Besides all of them? The first one, End of the Liner was apropos - what would happen if a cruise ship escaped the plague by not ever docking? Or being dared to go inside that abandoned building. How about graffiti art - that's just a tad too good? A name that just pops up in your brain - right Ted? Or a reprise visit from a character that briefly appeared in one of Tudor's past books. Anyone else remember Gloria from The Hiding Place? How about a beautiful butterfly sanctuary on an isolated island that ends up being much different than a group of people imagined - or hoped? Tudor has hinted that this last tale might be fleshed out in the future. I hope so! 

An easy five stars for A Sliver of Darkness. See for yourself - read an excerpt of A Sliver of Darkness. 

Wanting more from C.J. Tudor? Me too! Can't wait for her new book - The Drift - coming out January 31/23.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

The Couple at the Table - Sophie Hannah

Sophie Hannah's latest book, The Couple at the Table, is a 'locked room' mystery - one of my absolute favorite premises.

Five couples are enjoying their their getaway at a small, luxury resort. It's all wonderful - right up to the moment when of the guests turns up dead. Ten guests and limited staff are on site. Only eight of those guest are suspect though. It turns out that one couple - Simon and Charlie - are police officers. The investigation begins immediately. You'd think it would be easy to suss out the culprit with such a limited pool of suspects - but you'd be wrong.

Hannah is a master at this style of tale. Things start to unfold and the  listener might feel they've got a handle on the whodunit....only to be proven wrong, over and over again. Hannah is a clever, clever writer. If you love a twisty, turny narrative, this one's for you. Although all is explained by the final pages, if you like to try and solve the case before the end, you'll have to pay close attention. You can't trust any of players!

Simon and Charlie are part of a series, but this could absolutely be listened to as a standalone. The two play off each other well, with two differing mindsets and skill sets. 

I chose to listen to The Couple at the Table. The reader was Julie Maisey and she did a terrific job. Her voice is pleasing, her accent lovely and the speed of reading is just right. She speaks clearly.  Maisey has movement to her voice, easily capturing the emotions of the characters and the actions of Hannah's plot. It was easy to know who was speaking. I often find I become more in a book when I listen and that was definitely the case with The Couple at the Table. Hear for yourself - listen to an excerpt of The Couple at the Table.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

The Last Party - Clare Mackintosh

Bestselling author Clare Mackintosh's newest book, The Last Party, has just released. 

Rhys Lloyd, a partner in a contentious luxury home development close to a small village in Wales, is found dead on On New Year's Eve, in his condo in that development. 

The village is on the dividing line between England and Wales and jurisdiction is murky. Two investigators are tasked with the case - local copper DC Ffion Morgan and English based DC Morgan.

The Last Party has a 'locked' room feel to it. The village is small, with everyone in each other's pocket. There is only a small group of condo dwellers as well. We come to know all of the possible suspects through gossip, flashbacks and an ever changing point of view. Honestly, each and every one of them has a reason to not like Rhys...but to kill him? My answer for the whodunit changed with every revelation. There are some really good twists throughout the book as well. I like being kept guessing in a book, especially in a murder mystery. The timeline does flip from present to past and back, so watch the chapter titles.

The setting is well described and I could easily imagine the water, the forest, the village and The Shores.

The two leads are very different from each other in their methodology, creating more than a little friction. At the same time, both are struggling within their personal lives. I enjoy knowing more about the protagonists as it gives the characters more depth. It looks like we might be seeing more of DC Morgan. The Last Party is listed as DC Morgan number one. But I really hope Ffion is also part of future books. 

Another great tale from Mackintosh. See for yourself - read an excerpt of The Last Party. (Gentle readers - there are some trigger situations.)

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six - Lisa Unger

Okay, so I've been a fan of Lisa Unger's writing for many years. But I think her latest novel - Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six - is hands down my favorite. Honesty, I stayed up soooo late to finish it.

What had me burning the night oil you ask? Well, the plotting is crazy (and I mean crazy) good! Three couples are headed off to a 'get away from it all' weekend. Where? As the title says - to a secluded, luxury cabin. And that descriptor (secluded), immediately brought to mind a locked room mystery. You just know it - things aren't going to play out the way they've all imagined. Why? Well, there are undercurrents running through every relationship of the six. The husbands, wives, boyfriend, girlfriend and friends - each and every one is harboring a secret, some darker than others. Who else is suspicious? Well, the owner of the cabin for one. And there are other narratives from unknown, but named characters.  Who are they? What is their connection to those in the cabin. Whoa! You're going to be surprised when the pieces click together. And there's one piece that I don't want to spoil. But I'm sure a lot of us will wonder if our own choice was wise....

Now, yes you might have to suspend disbelief at a few twists, but just go with it. Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six was a page-turner for me. Great escapist reading. See for yourself - read an excerpt of Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six. 

(Gentle readers - there are definitely some triggers in this book. 


Monday, November 7, 2022

Now is Not the Time to Panic - Kevin Wilson

Now is Not the Time to Panic is Kevin Wilson's latest book. And it's one of the most unique, offbeat, complex, additive, perfect books I've read in a long time.

Frankie is sixteen and lives in the small town of Coalfield, Tennessee. She's a loner by choice. When Zeke moves to town, she finds a kindred soul. Frankie writes and Zeke is an artist. They decide to collaborate on a project - a poster that they'll anonymously post around town. Frankie's words are oddly powerful and unsettling. Zeke's illustrations are also compelling and disconcerting. But soon the project grows in dangerous leaps and bounds...

"The edge is a shantytown filled with gold seekers. We are fugitives, and the law is skinny with hunger for us."(Say it a few times - it is addictive and intriguing, isn't it?)

That small town summer is seen through Frankie's thoughts, actions and experiences. The poster is important, but its not all of the story. The book is also a coming of age tale, an exploration of family, young love, self, friendship, and yes, art. Bookending that summer is the grown up Frankie's voice, twenty years on. 

I was immediately drawn to Frankie. Zeke was harder to get to know. I'm sure that Wilson's depiction of teenage angst will spark memories for many readers. But the supporting players are just as interesting and offbeat. Frankie's mom appealed to the adult in me. 

I think Wilson has written a wonderful story, remarkable in so many ways. His insight captured me. As for how it ends - not what I expected, but suits what has gone before. See for yourself - read an excerpt of Now is Not the Time to Panic.

Friday, November 4, 2022

Desert Star - Michael Connelly

Michael Connelly is hands down one of my favorite authors. I've read all of his books and can't recommend them enough.

His latest is Desert Star. It's the fifth book that pairs up Harry Bosch and Renée Ballard. (And is the 36th to feature Harry!) Connelly has kept things moving forward in his series, with his protagonists aging and lives changing. Harry is now retired, but is the proverbial war-horse. With Renée heading up the the newly revived LAPD Open-Unsolved Unit, Harry has a chance to volunteer and clear the 'white whale' case of his career at last. "Everybody counts or nobody counts."

I was so eager to see where Harry's life was now. Long time readers, there's an opening chapter that will have you already cringing. Enough said.

There are literally thousands of unsolved cases to tackle. The one Harry wants cleared is the murder of an entire family of four. The one they need to solve to keep the unit open is the death of a politico's sister many years ago. The methodology of working on decades old cases is fascinating. New techniques can be used on old evidence. DNA is prominent in investigations. But it still needs someone who can put the pieces together, ask the right questions and follow the right clues. And that's Harry Bosch. But, he's not a rule follower and continues to work things in his own fashion, ruffling feathers along the way.

I devoured Desert Star, immediately caught up again in Connelly's writing and plotting. Both are outstanding. Connelly knows what he's writing. The dialogue, interactions, investigation and more have the ring of authenticity. 

An easy five stars. See for yourself - read an excerpt of Desert Star. More please.  

And I'll leave you to ponder this.... is it ever okay to do the wrong thing for the right reason?

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Going Rogue - Janet Evanovich

Going Rogue is the 29th entry in Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. 

And although it's a series, you can easily read or listen to Going Rogue as a stand alone. There's lots of background provided to let you know who's who etc.  

I've missed a few along the way, but the Plum books are my choice for some escapist, light hearted, comfort listening that doesn't take itself serious at all. The characters are familiar and you just know things will work out in the end. 

Stephanie works at her cousin Vinnie’s Bail Bonds in Trenton, New Jersey. When she arrives at work morning, the door is locked and the office manager is not there. Connie never misses a day of work. Or forgets to bring the donuts. Something isn't right. That supposition is cemented when she receives a call from Connie's kidnappers and the hunt to find Connie is on for Stephanie and her partner Lula. Is the plot over the top? Yep, but that and the characters are what make this series comfort listening for me.  

Recurring storylines include love interests. Yes, that's plural - Stephanie's love life has more than choice, but she seems to have finally decided on who she wants to be with in this latest. Maybe. (Me? Team Ranger) Stephanie's long suffering parents and her Grandma Mazur make appearances in every book as well. I must admit that Grandma is my favorite - I like her take on 'aging gracefully'. There's a plethora of supporting characters that have been fleshed out over the years. And the descriptor quirky could be applied to any and all.

I chose to listen to Going Rogue. I'm so happy that Lorelei King is again the reader. She's been the voice of this series for many years. The continuity is wonderful as it feels like jumping right back into life in the 'Burg'. King has a very versatile and expressive voice. She has created different voices for the characters and it's quite easy to know who is speaking. The voice for Stephanie is pretty calm, no matter what's going on. Lula however is always big and loud. Grandma Mazur's has a perpetually happy voice, always seeing the bright side. Each of the love interests have distinct voices as well. Babe. There's many more and they all fit the mental images I've created for all the players. King speaks clearly, she is easy to understand and her pace of delivery is just right. She brings the action, emotions and calamities of the plot to life with her voice, changing up the tenor and tone to match what's going on. A great performance. Hear for yourself - listen to an excerpt of Going Rogue.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Racing the Light - Robert Crais

Robert Crais pens another of my favorite series - the Elvis Cole and Joe Pike crime novels. The 19th entry is the newly released Racing the Light

Elvis Cole is a private investigator in Hollywood, California. Cole's methods are sometimes unorthodox, and his manner is irreverent, but he's a dogged detective who sees every job to it's conclusion. I love his tenacity. His partner is Joe Pike, a man of few words, but lots of action. Jon Stone also has a role in this latest. 

Their newest client is Adele, who comes to the office with no appointment and two 'minders'. Her adult son is missing and she's brought payment in cash. According to her, the cops aren't doing much, so he hears her out. She starts talking about conspiracies and he almost....almost says no. But he's intrigued.

Well, kudos to Crais for this 'absolutely no way I could have ever predicated' plot! Multilayered, intriguing and yeah - conspiratorial. I don't want to give anything away, so I'll stop there. 

The case is great, but for me it's the characters that are the stars. They have personal storylines, with Elvis's taking the stage in this book. His past is back in the form of an ex-girlfriend and her son. And again - the 'I got your back' relationship between Elvis and Joe. 

Crais' writing is wonderful. I can't put his books down. They're action filled and move very quickly as one clue leads to another. But there's also humor woven in - Elvis's dialogue is often not what you have expected. 

Another great read from Robert Crais that I finished too quickly. I'm looking forward to Robert Crais' next book. See for yourself - read an excerpt of Racing the Light. And if you're a fan of John Sandford's Davenport and Flowers books, you need to read Robert Crais. 

Thursday, October 27, 2022

A Murder at Balmoral - Chris McGeorge

A Murder at Balmoral is Chris McGeorge's new 'locked room' mystery. I absolutely adore this format!

The setting is of course, the Royal Castle at Balmoral. McGeorge's Royal Family is fiction, based on Edward VIII not abdicating the throne. One of his progeny - Eric - is the current King. Although, there are a few sly similarities to some current Royals. (But no disrespect in regards to the recent passing of the Queen)

It's Christmas and the King has directed that his immediate family come to Balmoral for the holidays. The staff are sent home - excepting the head of security and Jon, the chef. And what else is needed for that locked room mystery? A blizzard of course, which completely cuts off anyone coming in or going out. 

From the publisher's description: "The king is dead. The killer is in the family. Solving this murder will be a royal pain."

The book is told through Jon's eyes, ears and actions. He is to act as the de facto investigator as directed by the other family members. Here's where the Agatha Christie and Hercule Poirot feel kicks in. He begins with individual interviews. But he really doesn't know what to ask. Jon has his work cut out, trying to still wear his chef's hat, remember his station - oft reminded by some of the Royals - and enduring some blatant racism. Where things go next is influenced by many unexpected twists and turns. Some of them are a bit unbelievable, but just go with it - those somewhat over the top moments make the book a lot of fun to read.

The culprit is indeed known by the end chapters. But the whodunit and epilogue surprised me with a situation that there's no way to predict. And the prologue now made sense to me. 

I enjoyed A Murder at Balmoral. McGeorge is a new to me author and I'll happily pick up his next title. See for yourself - read an excerpt of A Murder at Balmoral.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Livid - Patricia Cornwell

I really enjoyed Autopsy, Patricia Cornwell's last Scarpetta novel. The publisher described the book as a 'relaunch' of this long running series, taking Kay Scarpetta back to her roots in Virginia as the state's Chief Medical Examiner. I thought it was a great read and I was looking forward to the next entry in this series. 

Well, it's here. Livid (#26)  has just released and it's a great read!

Livid opens with Kay giving evidence at a contentious trial. The trial is being telecast and the prosecutor is putting on one heck of a performance. (I was livid on Kay's behalf!) Bu the day isn't over yet for Kay - she's called to a death that has ties to the case. 

The recurring, supporting cast all seem to have an interest in the death as well. Cornwell has kept the characters moving forward in life with successes and sadness. Kay's Secret Service forensic psychologist husband Benton, her FBI niece Lucy and my personal favorite - Pete Marino, who works for/with Kay. 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 the old boss and quite resentful of Kay.

The plotting is wonderful, with no obvious whodunit. I love not being able to figure out an ending until it's revealed. Facets of the crime had me going on line to see if a piece of weaponry that comes up in the case was futuristic or already here. The answer is quite frightening. Livid takes place over the course of a few days with another body being added to Kay's caseload.

What I've always enjoyed with the Scarpetta books are the detailed forensics. I'm fascinated by how the smallest discovery can provide clues. 

Cornwell's writing makes for addictive reading with lots of action, lots of head butting from many sources, unexpected turns, revelations and more. There are pockets of domestic life that let us see Kay as more than her job. In a few past books, I found there was too much, but the ratio is spot on in these last two books. 

There's a sense of completion and satisfaction at the end - but the door is open for the next entry. Which I will be waiting for! And while this is a series, it can absolutely be read as a stand alone. See for yourself - read an excerpt of Livid. 

Monday, October 24, 2022

The Favor - Nicci French

The Favor is the latest release from writing duo Nicci French

Dr. Jude Winter has not seen her old high school boyfriend Liam for eleven years. She is quite surprised when he turns up at her workplace. He asks Jude for an odd favor, but she feels she can't say no, as he did her a favor many years ago. He asks her to drive his car to a cottage he's rented about an hour away, then later pick him up at a nearby train station and take him to cottage. He'll explain why when he gets there.

Okay, so that premise - there are so many paths the plot could take. I did wonder to myself why she would agree to this odd request - and lie to her fiancé about it. 

But it's the police who arrive at the train station - not Liam. And after eleven years, Jude is immersed in Liam's life - his family, his friends and their tangled relationships. And again, I had to question her decisions and motives. It's just too odd a dynamic to be taken at face value. I can see visit to the house,  but she keeps returning over and over again. And the same toxic interactions repeat themselves. This is where the book really bogged down for me - it was repetitive. I also think I expected more of a crime novel or police procedural. Instead, the book seemed to be an exploration of the relationships of the myriad residents of the house, which are dysfunctional with a capital D. This group also feels like a lot of stereotypes were brought into play. 

The ending brings an unexpected answer for the whodunit and the reason behind it that I appreciated. But it wasn't enough to bump this higher than a three for this listener.

I did choose to listen to The Favor, as the narrator was a favorite of mine. Imogen Church has such an expressive voice. Her voice is clear, easy to understand and well paced. Her intonation moves, rising and falling as she captures the tone of the French's plot and the demeanor and emotions of the characters. She provides many different voices for the characters, making it easy to know who is speaking. Her delivery of dialogue is exemplary, giving me the creeps many times. A wonderful performance. Hear for yourself - listen to an audio excerpt of The Favor. 

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Meredith, Alone - Claire Alexander

Meredith, Alone is Claire Alexander's debut novel. 

In the opening pages, we meet Meredith - who has not left her home in over 1214 days. Now initially, I thought oh, Covid. But no, the book was written prior to that. 

She has a remote job, wonderful friends who understand, an online support group, hobbies such as jigsaw puzzles and baking and a cat named Fred. There is a reason that Meredith has not left. But it's not revealed until we've come to know her better. A then and now narrative allows the listener to see behind the barriers she's erected to stay 'safe'. And the barriers are under siege as the 'then' is knocking on her door, threatening her sanctuary.

Meredith is a wonderfully likeable protagonist. Despite her own issues she's kind, thoughtful and engaging. She has a wonderful circle of support that is just as likable. On the flip side is her family. Especially her mother. Oh, I had a hard time with her. She's deliberately cruel, manipulative and abusive. As the past continues to reveal itself, the trauma Meredith has weathered is so saddening. (There's other trauma besides her mum, but I don't want to supply spoilers, so I'll let you discover those on your own.

Now, that being said, I don't want you to think the narrative is all negative. It's quite the opposite actually. Meredith's journey will have you reaching out for the tissue box, urging her on.  And it's not just Meredith - the supporting players all have their own issues. And that's the thing - everybody has 'something'. 

Alexander has done a wonderful job of bringing difficult scenarios to life in a realistic, believable manner. Gentle readers, there are a number of triggers in this book.

I chose to listen to Meredith, Alone. The reader was Freya Mavor and she was a wonderful choice. Her voice fit the mental image I had for Meredith. Her diction is clear and easy on the ears. She enunciates well and the speed is just right. She has perfectly caught the emotions, actions and situations of the book, bringing the characters to life. This is one of those books that is better having listened and become immersed in the book. Hear for yourself - listen to an audio excerpt of Meredith, Alone.

Monday, October 17, 2022

The Night Ship - Jess Kidd

I've enjoyed Jess Kidd's previous novels and happily picked up her latest - The Night Ship.

Kidd's new novel takes inspiration from an actual historic event - the sinking of the Dutch ship Batavia in 1628. Historical figures are part of the book as well. Our narrator, a nine year old girl named Mayken, is fictional.  

Three hundred years in the future (1989), a nine year old boy named Gil comes to visit his grandfather on the island that was the site of the sinking of the Batavia. He is the narrator of this time as well. 

I found myself more drawn to Mayken and her time span. I am fascinated by this point in history and this book being partially true, drew me in. Mayken also has a feistier attitude, she's clever, bold and brave. Gil has had a difficult upbringing so far. The island is not a refuge for him and his grandfather is distanced. But....I really had a hard time trying to find empathy for Gil. He is the author of many of his own problems. Again, I reminded myself he has had a traumatic childhood. I found a number of the supporting cast in this time period to be overdrawn and over the top. Some of Mayken's actions also require a few grains of salt - but I found I was happy to do that. 

Tying the two together is a mythical creature and a relic that has survived the years. That, and the fact that they are both children struggling in difficult situations. I have to admit, as the book progressed, I was expecting something more, something more concrete or hoping for something more concrete, something bigger, but it never materialized.

I wish the protagonists would have been older and in their teens. I would have found the narratives more believable. Nine year old protagonists are a bit too young for me.   

This was a mixed bag for me. I really enjoyed the historical chapters, but I wasn't drawn to Gil's narrative at all. It's almost like there are two books being told in alternating chapters with not enough to tie them together. I'm an outlier on this one I think. I encourage you to take a look at the other reviews on Goodreads. 

I chose to listen to The Night Ship. The narrators were Fleur De Wit and Adam Fitzgerald. De Wit narrated Mayken's story and Fitzgerald voiced Gil's. De Wit has a pleasant voice that is easy on the ears. She enunciates well and speaks at a measured pace. Her voice has movement. I did find her esses to be a bit sibilant. She provides a child's voice for Mayken. Unfortunately I found it became annoying about halfway through the book and too cutesy. Fitzgerald has a strong Aussie accent that I loved. Some may find it takes a bit getting used to. His reading is expressive and captures the plot. He does not provide a different, younger voice for Gil. Instead this time period is told in one voice. Hear for yourself - listen to an audio excerpt of The Night Ship

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

The White Hare - Jane Johnson

If you enjoy historical fiction steeped in a lovely gothic atmosphere, then you need to pick up Jane Johnson's new novel, The White Hare. It's a fabulous read!

1954, deep in a valley named The White Valley in the Cornwall District of England. We meet mother, daughter and grandchild, Magdalena, Mila and young Janeska as they arrive at a broken down house in the valley. It hasn't been lived in for many years and needs quite a bit of work done. Work also needs to be done on the relationships between the members of the family.

What other elements make this such a good read? All those gothic bits. First off is the house, of course. The atmosphere/setting was incredibly detailed and depicted. The forest, the shores of the sea, the darkness and the isolation. The rumors, beliefs, signs  and inexplicable events and portents that envelope the valley. A mysterious handyman who guards his privacy. Women in distress. Surly villagers. A romance perhaps. Or maybe a death. And so much more...

Johnson does a wonderful job with her story. I was caught up in the opening pages and literally couldn't put it down. Best read on a rainy night, with a pot of tea and a dog by the fire. See for  yourself - read an excerpt of The White Hare. 

Monday, October 10, 2022

We Spread - Iain Reid

I've read all of Iain Reid's books. Each one has brought something different, unusual and unexpected. And that's also the case with his latest - We Spread
 
Penny has been living in the same apartment for fifty years. Her partner has passed on. Penny has been getting out, but really has no contact or relationships  with others, excepting her landlord. She has a bit of memory loss (and sure, doesn't everyone her age?) So, my thinking was that We Spread would be an lament for aging. It was and it is. But it's much more.  

As an observer we are witness to Penny's failing memory and her deteriorating  physical condition until the inevitable happens - she has a serious fall. 

Unbeknownst to Penny, her partner had arranged for just this eventuality. Penny is moved to Six Cedars Residence, a small long term care facility in an older house, surrounded by trees. There are only four residents and two staff members at the home. Penny, although distressed by the move, is impressed.  

 And it's wonderful. Or is it? What we come to know of the other residents and staff is through Penny's eyes and experiences. The reader is left to their own imagination and interpretation of what she encounters. And my mind had more than one outlook and outcome happening. The tension rises with every page turned. Reid's dialogue is sharp and short and is very effective in 'speaking' for Penny. Out loud and internally. Aging, art and relationships and more are also explored. There's much food for thought for everyone in We Spread - whether it's yourself or a family member. 

As the book neared the final pages, I still had not made up my mind as to what was really happening. And the ending? Perfectly Iain Reid. See for yourself - read an excerpt of We Spread.

We Spread - Iain Reid

I've read all of Iain Reid's books. Each one has brought something different, unusual and unexpected. And that's also the case with his latest - We Spread. 
 
Penny has been living in the same apartment for fifty years. Her partner has passed on. Penny has been getting out, but really has no contact or relationships  with others, excepting her landlord. She has a bit of memory loss (and sure, doesn't everyone her age?) So, my thinking was that We Spread would be an lament for aging. It was and it is. But it's much more.  

As an observer we are witness to Penny's failing memory and her deteriorating  physical condition until the inevitable happens - she has a serious fall. 

Unbeknownst to Penny, her partner had arranged for just this eventuality. Penny is moved to Six Cedars Residence, a small long term care facility in an older house, surrounded by trees. There are only four residents and two staff members at the home. Penny, although distressed by the move, is impressed.  

 And it's wonderful. Or is it? What we come to know of the other residents and staff is through Penny's eyes and experiences. The reader is left to their own imagination and interpretation of what she encounters. And my mind had more than one outlook and outcome happening. The tension rises with every page turned. Reid's dialogue is sharp and short and is very effective in 'speaking' for Penny. Out loud and internally. Aging, art and relationships and more are also explored. There's much food for thought for everyone in We Spread - whether it's yourself or a family member. 

As the book neared the final pages, I still had not made up my mind as to what was really happening. And the ending? Perfectly Iain Reid. 

The audio version of We Spread is so very good. The reader was the fabulous Robin Miles. She has such an expressive voice. Her voice is easy to understand, clearly enunciated and has movement in every sentence. Miles embodied the character of Penny perfectly! I could believe I was listening to an older women with memory issues. I could feel her fear and frustration of the changes of herself, as the atmosphere at Six Cedars. The pace of her reading matches the story, with pauses at significant points. Miles excelled at depicting the emotions of Penny. A fabulous performance of a stellar book. Hear for yourself - listen to an audio excerpt of We Spread.

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Righteous Prey - John Sandford

What's better than a Lucas Davenport book? Or a Virgil Flowers book? The answer of course is - a new book with both of John Sandford's fantastic protagonists. Righteous Prey has just released. This is #32 and the series hasn't lost any ground over the years. Instead it's has just better and better. 

Sandford opens the book with a heinous crime. Five wealthy billionaires have decided to pass judgement on those they deem as a blight on society. But they're not being quiet about the murders. Instead they send missives to the media, celebrating their actions and encouraging others to take a stand. (Sounds frighteningly familiar doesn't it?) "We’re going to murder people who need to be murdered."

Lucas is now a US Marshall and Virgil is with the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA). They've worked together before and both singly and together they have high solve rates. And they both despise the FBI, who also have been called in. This pair have their own way of investigating and sometimes a few corners are cut...

The banter and dialogue in Sandford's books is razor sharp and so much fun to read. The tension never lets up in this latest. The plotting is absolutely fantastic. Lucas and Virgil are on the right track, but keep missing the perpetrators by a sliver. The clues, the intuition and sometimes just luck all play a part on the way to the final pages. There's a nice surprise in the final pages. 

Fans of this series will appreciated a cameo from Kidd. And Virgil now has a side gig - and I'm very curious to see if there's more to it in future books. 

An easy five stars. See for yourself - read an excerpt of Righteous Prey. 

I'm always looking forward to the next book from John Sandford. Keep your eyes out for Dark Angel - the second Letty Davenport book coming out in  April 2023.

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

One Woman's War - Christine Wells

It was the subtitle of Christine Wells' new book One Woman's War that caught my eye. 'A Novel of the Real Miss Moneypenny'. Uh huh, I was curious too. With so many WWII books being penned now,  I find am getting a bit choosy on which one I choose to listen to. 

Here's the facts...

"Dame Victoire Evelyn Patricia Ridsdale, Lady Ridsdale, DBE (née Bennett; 11 October 1921 – 16 December 2009), known as Dame Paddy Ridsdale, was a British secretary and intelligence operative. She was author Ian Fleming's secretary during World War II and was the model for the character Miss Moneypenny, being M.'s loyal, long-suffering secretary, who is smitten with James Bond."Isn't that fascinating? 

Wells builds her story on a actual event that took place in WWII. I'm going to let you discover what that is on your own. Wells adds a fictional twist to that event with the addition of a double agent with their own agenda. I quite enjoyed the subterfuge on both sides. 

But it's not all spy stratagem. Wells gives the main characters rich personal lives as well, making them easy to imagine.

Wells' settings are wonderfully depicted through her descriptions of offices, restaurants, dance clubs, homes, food, clothing, social expectations and more. 

I liked how Wells took these factual bits and actual events to bring us an entertaining and realistic look at the past. 

I chose to listen to One Woman's War. The choice of narrator was another reason I chose to listen.  Saskia Maarleveld is an award winning narrator and a favorite reader of mine. Her voice is pitch perfect for this story. She has a rich, lower toned voice that is easy on the ears and well enunciated. The accents she provides for the characters are real and easily identify the players. Her reading has lots of movement, easily capturing the tone and action of the events and the feelings of the characters. Another excellent performance. Hear for yourself - listen to an audio excerpt of One Woman's War.

Monday, October 3, 2022

The Winners - Fredrik Backman

Fredrick Backman has just released The Winners - the third book in his 'Beartown' trilogy. Backman is hands down one of my favorite authors. I have been (not so) patiently for this final chapter. 

Quick catch up for those who haven't read the first two. Beartown is a hard core hockey town where winning is everything. Beartown has a long standing rivalry with a neighboring village. The drive and animosity between the two has had shocking repercussions over the last few years. The basis of the novel is hockey, but at it's heart it is the story of the players, their families and supporters. It's the story of their plans, hopes, dreams, schemes wins and losses. And it is this exploration that has made the first two novels five star books for me. 

It is two years on in The Winners and the book takes place over the span of two weeks. Much can happen in a short time - and does. The cast of all three books is large and diverse, with the young players affecting me the most. In this latest the parents and adults are featured as well. Each and every story is poignant and so well written. And hard to listen to. Backman's books make the reader feel - and again I was moved to tears, shaking my fist in anger and my head in disgust. 

The books have an unnamed narrator who delivers some bombshell sentences that you don't see coming. The foreshadowing is razor sharp - and I was torn. I wanted to know what was next for the town, its rivals and residents. But, on the other hand, I didn't want to confirm it. 

I chose to listen to this latest. The reader was Marin Ireland - one of my favorites and a very versatile reader. She has a clean, clear voice that's easy to understand and pleasant to listen to. She's chosen a voice that suits the unnamed narrator - the bearer of good and bad. Sometimes her delivery is dispassionate with a factual tone. Other times the emotion is palpable. Ireland does a wonderful job in delivering both. She has a lot of motion in her voice. She provides some believable and easy to identify voices for the many characters. I'm so glad that the same narrator has been used with each book - the continuity is much appreciated. I've said it before and I'll say it again - listening to a book often draws me deeper into the story. And that's most definitely the case with The Winners. Absolutely recommended. Hear for yourself - listen to an excerpt of The Winners.  And take a minute or two to think about the title...

Friday, September 30, 2022

How to Survive Your Murder - Danielle Valentine

How to Survive Your Murder is new from YA author Danielle Valentine

Okay, if you're a fan of slasher and teen horror movies, you're going to want to pick up this one. There are so many references to 90's film culture that I recognized or knew. 

Alice and her sister Claire go to a high school Hallowe'en party held at....wait for it....a cornfield. (What's rule one? Stay out of the cornfield and look out for chainsaws!) Well, Claire ignored that caveat and died. A year has passed and Alice is attending the trial of the killer. She is the lone witness - and the Final Girl. And then there's a Cinderella moment - Alice is knocked out and when she wakes, it is Halloween night a year earlier, the same day Claire was murdered. Alice has until midnight to save her sister and find the real killer.

At first I wasn't totally sold on the Cinderella twist, but I quickly changed my mind and embraced it. There's a lot of leeway afforded to the plot with that twist. But best of all, the ropes keep coming and the choices for whodunit change rapidly. 

Valentine's dialogue and depiction of high school life, relationships, romance, teen culture and more rings true. (At least they do from my experience. ;0) 

And that ending? Did not see that coming! There's a couple of ways it could be interpreted and personally I would have liked a less nebulous finale. But I applaud the last page twist.

With Hallowe'en in the near future, this would be a perfect (and fun) seasonal read! See for yourself - read an excerpt  of How to Survive Your Murder. Just remember - stay out of the corn maze....or basement.....or check your backseat or....

Thursday, September 29, 2022

The Shadow Murders - Jussi Adler-Olsen

Department Q is back! I've enjoyed each and every book in Jussi Adler-Olsen's wonderful series. The latest entry (#9) is  The Shadow Murders.

For those who haven't heard of this series...Carl Mørck is the head of Copenhagen’s Department Q - a small unit of four that investigates  cold cases. They're an eclectic bunch and do things their way - which has not endeared them to the rest of the police department. But, what no one can argue, is their success rate. Their latest case is foisted on them by Carl's superior, Marcus Jacobsen. One of Marcus's first cases has haunted him for decades. When a woman from that case dies, he wants them to have another look. I'll stop there...

Adler-Olsen has crafted a dark, disturbing and devious plot. Parts of it are not so far from some of today's newspaper headlines. We're given a insider look at the perpetrator and their mindset. Scary...

The tension grows with each page turned. There's a deadline in place. Will Carl and the crew solve the whodunit it in time to save a life? Their investigation is hampered by a number of factors, making it even more of an 'edge of your seat' read. 

Adler-Olsen has kept the lives of the four characters current and moving forward in every book. I've always enjoyed the banter amongst this eclectic four. And especially Assad and his proverbs. I find their personal lives are as much of a draw for me as the cases are. 

While there's a satisfactory ending to the case, the door has been left open for the next book. Actually it's a bit more than the door being open. Metaphorically, Carl has fallen down the basement stairs. I can't wait to see what the next book brings. See for yourself - read an excerpt of The Shadow Murders.