The Stranger Diaries @EllyGriffiths

Elly Griffiths has woven together a tale of gothic suspense, psychological terror and marvelous detective work and thrown in a full measure of classical literature, all of which create a beautiful tapestry called The Stranger Diaries. Whew.

9781328577856_3272a

If you think that opening line was a lot to absorb, just wait until you read the book. I’m still trying to untangle my mind from the who’s and who’s nots and what’s real and what’s not! For someone who had an imaginary playmate until she was 10 years old and still has a crush on Harry Bosch, whom I’ve been told is not a real person, trying to decipher a book within a book within a book written by fictional character written by an author with a nom de plume was a lot to comprehend. But, hand on heart, this book – The Stranger Diaries – was worth every single moment spent reading it. It is fantastic!

The book opens with a line from “The Stranger,” a gothic short story written by RM Hammond, whom our main character, Clare, is studying in hopes of writing a book about his life and works.

“If you’ll permit me,” said the Stranger, “I’d like to tell you a story.”

Clare is an English teacher at a school that is nestled in the old home where Hammond once lived. Her fellow teacher and best friend, Ella, is found stabbed to death with a note lying next to her body which reads, “Hell is Empty,” also a line from Hammond’s book. As The Stranger Diaries continues, the body count rises as does the spooky, creepy factor of the entire tale. Folded within the story itself is the re-telling of The Stranger and the more we as readers learn, the more similarity there is between current events and the haunting, gothic tale of the past. <shivers>

The Stranger Diaries reads, at once, both as a ghost story and a gothic suspense. The writing is marvelous, intelligent and might possibly have you scrambling to look up classical literature references along the way. (Note: Hammond is a fictional writer, much to my dismay.) I loved all of the characters, except the ex-husband and even he was the perfect ex. In all, this is a terrific mystery, ghost story, gothic tale that crosses multiple genres and can enjoyed by many. I highly recommend it.

Thank you to #Edelweiss, #HoughtonMiflinHarcout and #EllyGriffiths for my copy of The Stranger Diaries. 

 

Advertisements

She Lies in Wait #GythaLodge

Of all of the genres that I love, and I do love a lot, the one I find myself immersed in most often is police procedurals. Police Procedurals are a sub-genre of “Detective/Crime novels” and are told from the police point of view, often involving several, often unrelated cases that seemingly come together in the end. I give you this definition because She Lies in Wait is, honestly, a perfect example of a British police procedural done well.

cover147450-medium

Thirty years ago, six teenagers went camping in the woods. Only five of them would awaken the next morning. Now, the body of the sixth friend, Aurora, has been discovered in a “grave” in the woods and it is up to DCI Jonah Sheens and his murder squad to uncover the details of what really happened that horrible night, a night filled with too much booze, drugs, consensual and non-consensual sex. Was one of the campers the killer or was it someone who knew they and the drugs would be at the campsite? They aren’t talking which leaves only the 30-year old, decomposed body of Aurora to tell her tale.

She Lies in Wait is a slow burning, methodical detective story where every clue, every person, every detail is thoroughly looked at and discussed. This is not a “thriller” or a “suspense” novel, it is procedural where you – the reader – are along for the ride with the police as they go through their investigation. If you go into this book expecting “edge of your seat” excitement, then you will be slightly disappointed. If, like me, you love and adore well written, hard core detective books, then this will be a winner! Lodge has crafted a story that has a lot of back-story in these once-teens/now-adult characters who have remained unusually close for thirty years. In addition, DCI Sheens was on the peripheral  edges of the group and appears to have a bit of history with them as well, something he would like to keep hidden from the remainder of his squad. His squad, in turn, are an interesting group. The two men are complete opposite of one another: one quiet and thoughtful, the other gregarious, and the newest member, a female, has a few secrets of her own. The intrigue of all of the characters helps to push the storyline along.

I really do hate for books to be compared to one another, but I often thought that She Lies in Wait was quite similar to Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series. No doubt fans of that series would disagree, but the writing is similar and, of course, the methodology of the squad itself is the same. In addition, the way that both authors sink into the personal lives of the characters and weave it into the main story felt familiar to each and it was something I enjoy in both series.

If you enjoy police procedurals, particularly British ones, then I highly recommend She Lies in Wait. If you like a good mystery, I think you will enjoy it as well.

Thank you to #Netgalley, #RandomHousePublishingGroup and @thegyth for my copy of She Lies in Wait which will be published in the US on January 8, 2019.

 

Don’t Let Go: World Noir by Michel Bussi, translation by Sam Taylor

If you’ve read my blog or online reviews, you know that I adore World Noir, particularly Nordic Noir. The darker the plot, the better the book. Don’t Let Go by Michel Bussi is, simply put, one of the best world noir books that I’ve read.

9781609454531_6439c

Set on Reunion Island, the backdrop of tropical and French cultures blend to create the perfect atmosphere for this fast paced thriller. Martial and his wife, Liane, are wealthy Parisians who are enjoying a holiday on the island. However, Liane disappears with no trace except bloods in their room. Setting up the timeline for her disappearance, it appears that Martial was the last one to see Liane before she vanishes. But there are secrets abounding and nothing is quite what it appears. What is Martial hiding and what does the hotel staff know that they aren’t sharing?

The story itself is intriguing and one that constantly keeps the reader guessing. Despite the laid back island setting, the book is fast paced, edge of your seat thrilling as Aja, the female detective in charge, races against time following the trail that Martial is setting down. The characters all are so real and relatable that even when one doubts Martial’s story, you still want everything to be okay in the end. But can it possibly turn out alright with a murderer on the lose? There are twists and turns, all of which lend to the credibility of the story line but serve to keep you turning pages until the very end. This is a fabulous read and one that you will not want to miss!

Thank you to #Edelweiss and #Ingram Publishing for my copy of Don’t Let Go. It is on sale now at your favorite retailer.

The Rain #ECFisher @BooksGoSocial

Beware of The Rain and what it will bring to your town….

cover148207-medium

Thirty years ago, Charlie Hamilton was the owner of High Tide Camp, a youth camp for middle schoolers. However, that fateful summer, the kids took their bullying and pranks too far and one of them ends up dead. Now it is time for revenge and it is coming with…The Rain.

The Rain is a very short story or novella that is creepy and campy all at once. The descriptions and the characters are perfectly drawn allowing the atmosphere to be scary and a bit horrifying. However, the dialogue was a stumbling block for me. No where does it mention that this is a horror book for younger readers but the style of writing suggested that it might be and certainly that is the age level that I would recommend for this story. It is just too campy to be an adult horror read. It wasn’t that it was bad, just not up to the usual standards for adult horror. I did, however, thoroughly enjoy reading it. It had the aura of the old Twilight Zone television show – creepy, scary but a tad bit over the top. It will be book that I think of each time it rains and I bet you will too if you read it!

Thanks to #Netgalley and #BooksGoSocial for my copy of this fun read.

Broken Ground @ValMcDermid

I am such a huge fan of Val McDermid and always look forward to her new releases. If you are like me, you will be excited to know that Broken Ground, her latest in the Karen Pirie series will be released in December in the US next month, December.

39086134

Alice Sommerville’s inheritance is lying at the bottom of a peat bog. However, she gets more than she bargained for when the retrieval specialists discover a body with a bullet hole. Pirie, who is back after a leave, is now working cold case files and is assigned to the case. However, the investigation uncovers more questions than answers.

McDermid is known as the Queen of Scottish Mysteries and there is a reason for this. She writes thoroughly researched, expertly woven intrigue with a hearty dose of atmospheric details about her homeland, Scotland. Her books, including Broken Ground, are not fast paced reads but, rather, good solid sleuthing just as a police procedural should be. There are plenty of twists and more than one mystery in Broken Groundwhich will keep you invested in the story from beginning to end.

This is, of course, part of an ongoing series and, while there are multiple references to past cases, these references also serve as a guideline for any new reader so that the reader will not be confused. It is helpful to read the other books first, but it certainly is not necessary to enjoy the story or follow along with the characters. Whether you are new to McDermid or an avid fan, like me, Broken Ground is a perfect choice for a long winter’s read.

My thanks to #Netgalley, #GroveAtlantic, and #ValMcDermid for my copy of this suspenseful tale.

Deranged by T.R.Ragan

There is a serial killer on the loose and they have P.I. Jessie Cole in their crosshairs.

cover147274-medium

T.R. Ragan is back with her third installment in the Jessie Cole series. Building on the characters from previous books, Cole is still helping car accident/amnesia victim reclaim his past. The son of a convicted murderer, Ben Morrison desperately is seeking to know more about the tragic night when his girlfriend was murdered by his father. As bits and pieces of his memories begin to resurface, he is more confused than ever about the role he may have played in her death. Cole also has been hired to follow a cheating wife but when she is found stabbed to death, the evidence suggests that she is another victim of the killer who is on the loose. How do all of the murders tie together and what do they have to do with Morrison? Cole wants to know, but knowing may cost her own life or the lives of those she dearly loves.

Deranged is solidly written murder mystery/thriller. It will keep you interested and reading to the end. It’s actually a very quick read, lots of dialogue makes it so. Because it is the third in the series, there are multiple throwbacks to past events and characters, things that I should have known but didn’t because this was my first book. Some books in a series work fine as a stand alone, you get enough information woven into the back story that you don’t notice that you’ve not read the previous books. Deranged is not one of those books. I suggest that you go back and read the first two Jessie Cole books if you are interested in this one. Conversely, there are enough spoilers in this one that you should not read it before the others.

If you are a fan of Ragan and this series then I’m certain that you will enjoy Deranged.

*I received an egalley from #Netgalley and #Thomas&Mercer in exchange for a review.

 

 

 

Something Wicked by Kerry Wilkinson

If you enjoy suspenseful tales or creepy books, especially this time of year, then #SomethingWicked could be the read for you!

cover147906-medium

Something Wicked is a re-released UK novel by very popular author Kerry Wilkinson. I have read so many amazing reviews of Wilkinson’s books and I was really looking forward to reading one by him. Something Wicked is the first in the Andrew Hunter series so I thought this would be a great place to begin. And it was.

Andrew Hunter is a sarcastic, interesting PI with a past. His smart, quirky and sassy side-kick, Jenny, helps him along with her techie knowledge and inability to truly sense danger. Together they make a terrific team. Let me say that I would read entire books featuring Jenny alone – she is a great character!

What appears to be a run of the mill missing persons case soon turns devilishly wicked. There are so many twists and turns with a shocking surprise ending that at times it was hard to keep up with who was who and doing what. However, all of that served to keep the suspense building until the climactic conclusion. This is definitely a fast paced thriller!

I did find certain tics rather annoying, things that I seriously doubt many other readers would notice. Andrew Hunter complains about being “old” a LOT. A whole lot. He hurts, cannot bend down, has problems running, etc. etc. I kept waiting to find out how old he was, perhaps he was a retired former cop or maybe he had an old war injury. Nope. He’s in his THIRTIES! WTH!? He also worries incessantly about people perceiving him to be an old pervert because Jenny – his assistant – is a very young beautiful woman. She’s in her 20’s! Okay, seriously, this got to be incredibly tiresome. Nosy neighbors weren’t just “annoying neighbors,” they were old women (40s or 50s) with jiggly, purple lined thighs. Really. When I was in my mid-twenties, I dated a man 15 years older than me. He was 40. Hello!? This is the 21st century and age discrimination and elder shaming should not even be in someone’s wheelhouse! I’m in my mid-50s and if I could not bend down to get something off of the floor without complaining, I would be in a doctor’s office in a nanosecond to find out what the hell was wrong with me and, believe me, I have a lot of things wrong with me! Subtle messages like this serve to re-enforce the stereotypes against aging. I did not like it at all. I liked it even less when I looked up Wilkinson’s bio and read HIS age! Based on this type of stereotyping – needless and unnecessary to the story or character development- I won’t be reading any more of his books. There simply are too many other great writers out there to waste my time on a twenty-something boy who stereotypes people over 30. (See – that was age-bias. It’s not pretty, is it?) With that said, however, overlooking this HUGE drawback, the book is a good mystery and with a strange and wicked ending.

Thanks to #Netgalley and Bookouture for my copy.  Posted on NG, GR, Amazon, Twitter, FB and my blog on October 10, 2018.