Author Archives: wendyunsworth

About wendyunsworth

Author of novels and books for children.

Review Wednesday – Last Breath by Robert Bryndza

Robert Bryndza continues with his winning formula in this latest in the Erika Foster series. Last Breath is a breathtaking read, fast and furious as the race is on to find a serial killer who disposes of his victims in the town’s dumpsters.

This is a difficult one to say much about without spoilers but what I can say without giving anything away is that I enjoyed knowing the identity of the killer before the end of the book, seeing the twisted logic and also the costly mistakes. For me, this is a very effective way of story telling when I can see both sides and ultimately observe as the world’s of the killer and police collide.

If anything I think this is my favourite of the series so far. Erika is becoming a little more human after her past tragedy and her relationships within the force continue to develop. I particularly like Moss who is an intelligent and loyal member of the team. Erika is in conflict with her superiors as usual, but then she wouldn’t be Erika without a little bit of her headstrong, the rules don’t apply to me, style.

Thoroughly enjoyable.

Review Wednesday – The Mangle Street Murders by M.R.C. Kasasian

Set in the London of 1882, March Middleton, whose father has died, arrives to live with Sidney Grice who is to be her guardian. Sidney Grice is the most famous and celebrated private investigator of the era but his success is equally matched by his gruff and unapproachable exterior.

March however is not cowed by this bully of a man. She formerly assisted her father who was an army surgeon at the front and has already had a tough education in matters of life and death. When a distraught woman consults Grice on the matter of her son-in-law, who has been arrested for murder, March jumps in to pay the poor woman’s fee for the investigation but insists she must help with the case. So begins the hunt for a killer.

I did enjoy the mystery in the book which was quite convoluted toward the end, but for me, there were some reservations. Sidney Grice is clever, an astute investigator, but also an abominable man, rude and unfeeling. There were some funny moments, he is a dab-hand at a witty riposte and a few of them made me laugh but all-in-all I found the detective to be too unlikeable and his presence actually overshadowed the story. March is an enjoyable character but, I have to say, I was weary of Grice’s nastiness and peculiarities, even his love of tea, by the end of the book.

 

24 Days by Jacqui Murray

Today I am so pleased to feature Jacqui Murray on the blog hop for her new title in her explosive Rowe-Delamagente series 24 Days. This is the second book in the series and follows To Hunt a Sub where all the main characters are introduced. These are exciting, action packed stories with quirky characters and tech details that give the narrative a genuine feel without ever becoming  too overpowering.

Here is the blurb for 24 Days :-

 

An Unlikely team is America’s only chance! 

A former SEAL, a brilliant scientist, a love-besotted nerd, and a quirky AI have twenty-four days to stop a terrorist attack. The problems: They don’t know what it is, where it is, or who’s involved.

And my review:-

As I have only recently read To Hunt a Sub it was great to be able to dive back in and read the ongoing adventures of Kali, Zeke and the rest of the ‘crew’. This time two lethal nuclear subs are hijacked by terrorists and with the latest technology at their disposal are almost impossible to find.

As the days go by the involvement of Kali and Zeke’s old nemesis becomes clear and the stakes become ever higher.

I love stories that have a ‘countdown’ format to them, building the tension as the hours and days go by. And there is certainly no lack of tension in 24 Days. There is quite a bit of technical detail and naval terms that may be too much for some readers but, for me, they added to the feeling of authenticity. Jacqui Murray has a technical back ground that clearly shows through in this series but she also adds a generous cast of characters with all their expertise and failings building a human story as well as a taut thriller that rattles along at the kind of pace that entirely suits the story. I will look forward to more from Kali and Zeke and the increasingly adorable Otto in the future.

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, and the thrillers, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty- four Days. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for TeachHUB, monthly contributor to Today’s Author and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics.

Visit Jacqui at her website  https://worddreams.wordpress.com for all the latest background info and chat.

Review Wednesday – The Woodcutter by Reginald Hill

The Woodcutter is quite an epic story and not what I was expecting at all.

Wolf Hadda is raised in humble surroundings as a woodcutter’s son but he is destined for success and a visit to the ‘Big House’ on the Cumbrian estate where he lives is the catalyst for his new aspirations.

Wolf achieves everything he sets out for. He becomes a wealthy businessman, marries well and has a beautiful daughter. Then one dreadful morning everything comes to an end with a police raid. Wolf is accused of the most heinous of crimes; he is committed to jail and deserted by family and friends.

Then into the story come Alva, a pyschaitrist who is determined to help Wolf to face his wrongdoing and come to terms with it but his overriding reason to continue living is to find those responsible for his predicament and see that real justice is done.

Wolf is the most likeable of characters even though he can be ruthless when crossed. He has a wealth of down-to-earthiness that made me feel that if he was on your side he would never let you down. As in real life, other characters in the book are drawn to Wolf, despite his reputation, by what they find to be, a very genuine man,

This is a really great story, with a bit of everything thrown in and the treachery of those around him made me root for Wolf all the more.

I have to mention that I listened to this title on Audible and the narration by Jonathan Keeble was outstanding. I felt as if a whole cast of actors were involved in the performance.

Review Wednesday – A Dark So Deadly by Stuart MacBride

Sheesh! Where to start here with this bit-of-everything book?  This is my first reading of a Stuart MacBride book, a stand alone that was different and entertaining.

it starts with the discovery of a mummy on a refuse dump. The first assumption is that it has been stolen by pranksters from some local museum. DC Callum MacGregor is given the task of finding out where it came from and returning it safely home. This is not exactly riveting police work but nothing more than he expects after disciplinary proceedings against him.

When more mummies turn up and their origin is discovered to be more sinister (and recent) the real chase is on to find a modern-day serial killer.

This is a real twisty-turny story where so many characters are not what they seem. Amidst the investigation Callum must deal with his own tragic past, lost family members, his present relationship and the disdain of fellow workers and all the time the bodies are piling up.

What made this book really stand out for me though was the gallows humour thrown in amongst some truly gruesome details.

This is a larger-than-life police investigation that was a lot of fun to read and not to be taken too seriously, at least by me!

*Many thanks go to HarperCollins UK, Netgalley and the author for an Advanced Copy of this title *

Review Wednesday – To Hunt a Sub by Jacqui Murray

To Hunt a Sub gets off to a great start with the disabling of a nuclear submarine. The vessel is lost to the authorities who control its movements and the consequences for the crew are dire. Being able to locate and control the American fleet of subs would be a devastating terrorist weapon and this is what one group are attempting.

It’s been a while since I have read a book in this genre but I have read enough to know the format and was expecting a lone deniable agent out there tracking down the terrorists or a team from special ops. However To Hunt a Sub takes a different and surprising slant on this scenario into the world of academia.

Kali Delemagente (you do have to get your tongue around some unusual names in this book) is a research student who has developed an amazing programme to track the progress of early man out of Africa. I won’t pretend to understand all the tech science behind this story but it felt well researched and feasible, if not actually possible. When the true power of her research becomes evident to those who would use it for nefarious purposes Kali and her loved ones are suddenly in danger.

There are plenty of good supporting characters, good and bad and as the action hots up each must decide who to trust

This is a thoroughly enjoyable thriller, a great adventure and, a bonus for me, the first in a series.( I often seem to come into them half way through)

The next book in the series, 24 Hours, has just been published and I am looking forward to reading more about Kali and the adorable Zeke Rowe.

Review Wednesday – Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

I was drawn to this fictional account based around the last months in the life of Agnes Magnusdottir, the last woman to be executed in Iceland.

Recently there seem to have been a number of excellent books whose narrative is set in snowy wastes and that can add great atmosphere to the story. Burial Rites is no exception.

After being convicted and sentenced for her part in the murder of two men, the authorities send Agnes to a remote farm to await her fate. The year is 1829. The family are horrified by this enforced proximity to a convicted murderer and, at first, avoid contact with Agnes as much as possible. But when the summer months give way to the harsh Icelandic winter sheer survival compels all members of the household to work together and the farmer’s wife and daughters, along with Tóti,  a young priest charged with the task of ministering to Agnes during her final days, begin to see that the story of Agnes is not as straightforward as it first may have seemed.

The ending is, of course, already known. It is shocking as is some of the background detail, like the sourcing of the axe and who should pay for the execution.

I have to say that, for me, the beautiful writing failed to bring me closer to Agnes and though I felt a deep sorrow for her she remained a shadowy figure. In contrast that bleak, Icelandic countryside was ever present. Being turned out of an isolated farmstead was nothing short of a death sentence in itself. There was literally nowhere to go, no one to turn to and only the bitter landscape for company. No wonder, in such circumstances, women found themselves bound to their home, no matter what the conditions.

Burial Rites is a good story set around true events and a memorial to Agnes whose true part in the murders is not known. I listened to the audio book and mention must be made of the narrator Morven Christie who did an absolutely outstanding job of switching between English and Icelandic pronunciation. In less capable hands the audiobook would not have had the haunting impact that it did.