Tag Archives: mystery

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.

 

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 – The Devil You Know by Terry Tyler

img_1982The question at the heart of The Devil You Know by Terry Tyler is ‘Do we ever really know anyone, even our nearest and dearest? The answer, clearly, is no. We can’t ever know for sure what goes on in someone else’s mind but also they can never know what goes through ours and so there is a vast capacity for misconception.
The story is split into parts that go beyond viewpoint. We meet The Wife, the Colleague, The Mother etc and at first I thought each was connected to the Lyndford Strangler who is terrorising the local area  but no, each person had a separate story to tell and the links back to the crime  were sometimes direct, sometimes tenuous. This was the whole point, to keep the reader guessing and to contemplate the real identity of the killer through the eyes of ordinary people who feared him.

It took me a little while to get to know the characters of each part of the story but once I did I wanted to know how each little scenario would play out. This is a really original and clever modus operandi for a crime mystery. We peek into the lives of different groups and I was invested in every one. I loved the way the author played on the worries, fears and the shortcomings of the characters, (some of them quite sinister), making the story multi-layered.

The narrative is straightforward and fluid and the dialogue spot on.

Very enjoyable.

Wednesday Review – Cast Iron by Peter May

img_1969*Many thanks go to Quercus books and Netgalley for an advanced review copy of this book*

The ‘Cast Iron’ of the title refers to the term often used for an alibi when it is deemed to be beyond question. But can an alibi ever be considered so, until the case is solved?

Enzo Macleaod, forensic expert, has been involved in a bet to unravel the details of a series of cold cases that have thus far baffled investigators. The sixth case is the mystery of what happened to young Lucie Martin, who goes missing from her home one evening, her remains discovered some years later, after a long, hot summer, in the bottom of a dried up lake. The modus operandi indicates the work of a killer already behind bars but he denies involvement.

In the course of the investigation to try to identify Lucie’s killer, Enzo soon realises that there is more than one person who would prefer that  the truth never come out. His life is in danger and his family are at risk.

In the past couple of years I have read and reviewed several books by Peter May. I thought I knew his style but found this book, set in France, a little different and, to be honest, a little difficult, at first. Enzo’s complex family life had probably developed over the previous books and so, coming new to the series I found myself backtracking at first to keep the threads of his convoluted relationships clear in my mind. However, the story is a good one, well worth the effort and the investigation a solid standalone that requires no previous knowledge.

For me at least, endings are so often a bit of a let-down even after a very enjoyable rest-of-the-book, so I would also say bravo to Peter May for bringing the elements together in an ending that did not rely on sheer luck or a happy coincidence or a massive and unbelievable hunch. The twist that brings the main characters together in the crucial scene did not disappoint and left a very satisfying aftertaste to an enjoyable read.

 

 

Review Wednesday – The Journal of Reginald Perigar by David Haynes

img_1943I downloaded this book when I saw it on a free promotion because it looked interesting but it was only after it arrived on my Kindle that I realised it was by David Haynes, an author I have read and enjoyed in the past.

This short book did not disappoint. Basil Jenkins is the collector of ‘intriguing objects’ so when he acquires a boxed chess set along with a journal recording matches played by Reginald Perigar, clearly a master of the game, he immediately begins to re-enact the matches one by one.

This Victorian Gothic story is perfectly pitched; the icy streets of London so apt. That the story was fairly predictable didn’t matter at all. Tales such as these are to be savoured in the telling. The twist at the very end is a really nice touch.

Best enjoyed on a cold winter’s night, along with a glass of rich mulled wine.

Review – Killing Jane by Stacy Green

img_1942The story starts with a killing so brutal that the attic where the body is discovered is reminiscent of a Jack The Ripper murder scene. And so it starts…

Called in as lead investigator for the first time is Erin Prince. It soon becomes clear that Erin has a whole bucket full of issues to deal with in her private life, most prominent of them the rich and privileged upbringing she has rejected, choosing not to work in the family firm but to make her own way in life. Even so she is given the nickname Princess by some, including unwanted attention from the media where the handle can be twisted anyway they need it to fit. There are also underlying, but mercifully, less well known reasons for Erin’s insecurities.

I didn’t find Erin very easy to connect with at first, she tends to whine and moan and her attitude is only made worse when compared to the solid and likeable figure of Todd Beckett, her new partner. Todd is a winning character, not afraid to say when he thinks Erin is wrong but sensitive to her lack of experience and willing to protect her public image.

There are plenty of twists and turns in this story, connections are everywhere and more grisly murders follow. The identity of the killer was fairly obvious as the book came to around the half way mark but more exciting for me than the identity was how the author was going to explain so many loose ends and if there could be a plausible link to the murders in Whitechapel so long ago. It could have been a huge letdown.

This for me was the strength of Killing Jane. The author did a very good job of tying up all aspects of quite a large cast of characters, all with something to hide, and what I thought might become a messy or unsatisfactory end was actually quite perfect, if horrific.

Hopefully Erin will move on from the tragedy and trauma of the past and in subsequent books we will see a more affable character. Whilst she has so obviously suffered there was some resolution in this first book; in my opinion, a nice touch.

Final note – what a superb cover; it really stood out for me.

To be published in January 2017

*Many thanks to Netgalley for providing an ARC of this book*

Review – The Good Mother by A L Bird

img_1934This story has all the hallmarks of a winner. Susan wakes in a room where she is being held captive; she has no idea why. To add to her terror she soon realises that her daughter, Cara,  is being held in the adjacent room. They make contact but they must be very careful not to be overheard.

The story is told from two viewpoints, that of Susan and her captor, a man who she believes she recognises from somewhere but she is confused and can’t pinpoint how she knows him.

Thre were lots of twists, as per the subtitle which promises them and the story is clever, a great idea. It was a hard one to nail, though. Difficult I think because we were privy to the captor’s thoughts and actions as well as those of Susan and that made the storyline confusing unless… he was who he was.

I did conclude early on who the captor must be, it was the only explanation that could possibly work. His actions were pretty reprehensible at times, even given the extreme circumstances, but it brought some kind of sense to the story.

The book was enjoyable and well written, maybe a little repetitive in the Susan parts and perhaps a few too many twists but it was a good read for the idea alone.