Cops Lie! by Leonard Love Matlick

35683982When I was asked to review Cops Lie! I spent a bit of time on Amazon reading the reviews because I have to be honest here and say that the title didn’t appeal and neither did the cover (which you know is a big thing for me, shallow as I am).  The reviews convinced me though that it was a worth a go with three and four-star ratings and promises of a gritty book about dirty cops. 

There is definitely grit in this book.  The story revolves around two honest cops in a sea of police officers on the take or up to no good, shaking down drug dealers and making false arrests.  There is a reference in the book to Serpico and I wonder if that is what the author was trying to do, tell a similar story. 

The Language of Dying by Sarah Pinborough

The language of dyingThe Language of Dying is one of those books I saw at the library and picked up for he cover alone. Then I realised it was written by Sarah Pinborough, who I haven’t read but I know has written other books other bloggers have loved.  I had high hopes, hopes which were originally met – at least for the first half of the short book (it’s only 131 pages).

It starts with a woman – whose name we never get to know (or if we did, I missed it) – sitting by the bed of her dying father.  She is alone, thinking back over her life and how she has ended up where she is, and waiting for her brothers and sisters to arrive to say their final goodbyes.

I found this bit so well written and the language, whilst it might have been about dying, was beautiful.  The thoughts going through the woman’s head, her inner monologue as her family arrives and she thinks back on their childhood and move into adulthood and how, somewhere along the way, it all went wrong for them, completely drew me in.  I was convinced that I had found a perfect book for me.

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

Truly madly guiltySix responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?

Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.

Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.

Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

Liane Moriarty is one of those authors I have always felt slightly guilty and embarrassed not to have read.  I have seen rave reviews of her books online and there was so much hype around Big Little Lies when it came out earlier this year that I felt I had to be missing out on something.  So, I finally got my act together and got myself a copy of Truly Madly Guilty.  Why this one?  Because it was the only one available at the library if I’m honest and that’s where I was when the determination to read her at last struck.

The Dinosaur Feather by Sissel-Jo Gazan

10240235How could one man inspire such hatred?

Professor Lars Helland is found at his desk with his tongue lying in his lap. A violent fit has caused him to bite through it in his death throes. A sad but simple end. Until the autopsy results come through.

The true cause of his death – the slow, systematic and terrible destruction of a man – leaves the police at a loss. And when a second member of Helland’s department disappears, their attention turns to a postgraduate student named Anna. She’s a single mother, angry with the world, desperate to finish her degree. Would she really jeopardise everything by killing her supervisor?

As the police investigate the most brutal and calculated case they’ve ever known, Anna must fight her own demons, prove her innocence and avoid becoming the killer’s next victim.

So The Dinosaur Feather is the oldest book I own and haven’t read.  I bought it in October 2012 and it has languished on my Kindle ever since. Inspired by reading the book that was previously the oldest unread book I owned (The Dead Room by Chris Mooney) and how I wish I hadn’t waited as long, I set myself a personal challenge this year of reading the books at the bottom of the reading pile.  This one was next on my list and, unfortunately, the results weren’t as good as I might have hoped.

The Dinosaur Feather sounds like it should be right up my street but I just couldn’t get into it.  There is a slow start, where Anna (the main character) is caught up in a dream before it moves onto pages and pages of explanation of who she is and why she was having the dream – she is due to finish her doctorate on whether birds are descendent from dinosaurs.   The pace never picks up.  I didn’t check the page count but it has to be 100 or so pages before we get to the murder Anna has to solve to prove her innocence.

Which brings me to my next problem with the book – the blurb saying Anna must “prove her innocence and avoid becoming the killer’s next victim”.  Neither of these things are true, unless I missed a bit of the book (it’s possible it was on a page I skimmed in order to keep going).  The detective (Soren) in charge of the investigation doesn’t think she did it and Anna’s life is never under threat.  I felt slightly cheated as a result, and even less inclined to try to like the book.

The third thing that caused me issues was Anna herself…she is really unlikeable, even her friends as good as say it.  It’s passed off as a fiery personality but it wasn’t.  She was selfish to the core, leaving her daughter at the drop of a hat and treating her friends and family like they were there to serve.  I have to say I kind of hoped she was guilty so they would arrest her – serving her right for being a pain.

Add to this a series of sub-plots around Anna’s childhood and Soren’s past and it was all very confusing and very long.  The book is over 500 pages and I felt every one.  I hate being scathing about books because I know the authors have put a lot of work into them, but here I am really struggling to find something positive to say.

The writing was o.k., though it was too wordy for me (I don’t know how much of that was down to the translation?), and I think in there was a good story if the “extras” could have been cut out – the sub-plots but also the pages and pages of the science behind bird feathers.  It didn’t add to the book and it made me want to skip ahead, never a good sign.

So, all in all, I am sorry to say, this wasn’t a book for me and not one I can recommend.

Sorry!

Emma x

not-for-me

Source: Purchased
Publisher: Quercus Books
Publication Date: 2008
Format: ebook
Pages: 536
Genre: mystery / crime
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

All These Perfect Strangers by Aoife Clifford

29713036

You don’t have to believe in ghosts for the dead to haunt you.

You don’t have to be a murderer to be guilty.

Within six months of Pen Sheppard starting university, three of her new friends are dead. Only Pen knows the reason why.

College life had seemed like a wonderland of sex, drugs and maybe even love. The perfect place to run away from your past and reinvent yourself. But Pen never can run far enough and when friendships are betrayed, her secrets are revealed. The consequences are deadly.

‘This is about three deaths. Actually more, if you go back far enough. I say deaths, but perhaps all of them were murders. It’s a grey area. Murder, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. So let’s just call them deaths and say I was involved. This story could be told a hundred different ways.’

When Pen leaves home, taking a bus to her new life at university, her mother doesn’t even bother to say goodbye – instead, it’s her mother’s latest boyfriend that drops her at the station.  When she arrives, fellow students can’t believe she has only one suitcase – and shows a gullibility beyond that of most new students.  You know this because she tells you, writing in a journal her psychologist has encouraged her to write.  It has all happened in the past and it is her version of events – something even she admits – though she says this version is the truth.

As a reader, you have to decide if it is – the truth – or if it’s a story to gain your trust and your sympathy, both of which Pen seems to think it’s important to gain as she slowly reveals why she is visiting a psychologist and why she is writing a diary.  The reason is death – it seems to surround her.  Her college friends died and her best childhood friend is in prison after killing a police officer.  In both instances, Pen says she is an innocent bystander but – with so much death surrounding her – you have to wonder if that is the case.

As far as a plot goes, this sounded like a good one to me.  I was eager to read the book and imagined plenty of twists, turns, red herrings and questions – my type of story.      Unfortunately, I got so many twists I couldn’t keep up and, at least two weeks after finishing the book, I still am not sure exactly what I read or what I was supposed to get from the story.

The main problem for me was how it was told.  There is Pen in the present, talking to her psychologist and sharing snippets of her life (having moved back at home after the murders of her friends), the Pen of the past writing about her life in college, and the Pen of the past past, writing about her friend’s murdering of a police officer.  Then there’s the story Pen is telling her psychologist, which is different from her diary and which she admits isn’t the truth.  Confused?  I was.

Normally multiple threads don’t bother me and I like unreliable narrators.  I am used to books that hop between past and present or have more than one voice telling the story and I love having to find out the truth – it keeps you engaged as a reader.  Here though I didn’t know where I was in time and whether I was reading Pen’s diary or hearing her speak to her doctor.  Part of the reason was that there was no break in the chapters to let me know the voice had changed.  Text in italics or dates to head up the chapter would really have helped.  Instead, I kept backtracking to try and figure out where in time I was.

As soon as I start doing that I lose the connection to the book, it takes me out of the story, and that is what happened here.  I found that I really didn’t care, about Pen or what happened to her or her friends.  If I’m honest, even if it had been easier to follow, I may not have cared anywhere because I didn’t like any of them.  I really couldn’t find anything positive in their characters – they were all selfish and self-centred – or anyone to relate to.  I think I was supposed to feel sympathy for Pen and understand how her behaviour in college was impacted by the death of the policeman but it took so long to get to the “what happened” there that I couldn’t pull anything back.

For all that, it wasn’t all bad.  The first third wasn’t bad and I did find myself drawn in.  I did want to know what happened and did see myself enjoying the book.  However, as more secrets were revealed I just couldn’t keep up as I said and so my enjoyment turned to frustration, partly because I feel like there is a good story in here – I just couldn’t find it.  A bit of a shame but it happens and does mean that this one wasn’t for me – sorry!

Emma

not-for-me

Source: Library
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Publication Date: 25th August, 2016 (first published 1st March, 2016)
Pages: 400
Format: ebook (Kindle)
Genre: mystery, thriller
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

A Different Class of Murder by Laura Thompson

23510407On 7 November 1974, a nanny named Sandra Rivett was bludgeoned to death in a Belgravia basement. A second woman, Veronica, Countess of Lucan, was also attacked. The man named in court as perpetrator of these crimes, Richard John Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan, disappeared in the early hours of the following morning. The case, solved in the eyes of the law, has retained its fascination ever since.

Maybe it’s being a child of the 70’s but I have always been slightly fascinated by Lord Lucan and the fact that he disappeared so completely after so obviously (or so I thought) killing his nanny when he meant to be killing his wife.  Maybe it’s that his name still appears in the papers, magazines and books regularly as people try and figure out just where he went after that fateful night.

Whatever the reason for my fascination I’ve never not read an article I’ve come across but till now I’ve never read a book on the subject.  So, when I came across this at the local library and given my recent interest in reading true crime books I thought I would give it a go.  I can’t say it was the best decision I have ever made, though I did learn some interesting facts about Lord Lucan and understood a little more about him and his wife by the end of the book.

Why wasn’t it the best decision?  Because the book is long, it is overly wordy and it flits around so much that I struggled to keep the story straight in my head.  Tales of Lord Lucans of the past and their own misdeeds are woven throughout – this was confusing and, at times, didn’t seem to easily link back to the period in which the Lucan I was interested in way living or his actions (though I think that was the point).

It doesn’t help that Thompson uses language that is academic at times before slipping into a conversational tone and then back again.  Her sentences can be long and I found I was re-reading some passages just to understand exactly what she was saying…and when I did understand I’m not sure I exactly got the point.  It felt like she had so many facts, so much detail, had done so much research that she was determined to get everything in regardless.  A 100 pages shorter and this book might have been a lot more interesting.

The final thing that frustrated me is that, whilst I didn’t expect to get any closer to the answer, Thompson seems to have her own opinion on what happened but doesn’t want to just come out and say it so she skirts around it.  I wanted to either be presented with the facts to make my own decision or be presented with a scenario, an argument that I could either agree or disagree with.  I got neither.

It isn’t all bad, like I said, I did find out some things about Lucan I wasn’t aware of before and I did get a feel for the life he and his friends were living – one outside of that most people were living at the time – but it just feels like it could have been so much better.  A shame but I was left feeling deflated by the book and disappointed – not for me.

Emma

Mr Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt

imageSo whilst this isn’t technically part of my Spring into Horror read-a-thon reading, as it is billed as a gothic horror, I had thought that reviewing it today would be a good way to start the week.  Thought being the operative word as a) I’m not sure I would call it a horror, gothic or otherwise and b) it wasn’t that good, which I find myself really disappointed by as I was so looking forward to it when I started reading.

It starts off really well, with the oppressive atmosphere of an overly religious orphanage and two late teens – Ruth and Nat – talking to the dead, parents of other children left to basically rot in the upstate New York childcare system. It is a way of trying to take control of their lives and hide from the fear of not knowing what comes next (they are 18 in a year and will be without any home – good or bad – at all).

Then, one day, they meet Mr. Bell – a man without a home but with a vision of the lives they can all lead thanks to Nat’s ability to see dead people…or at least pretend to see dead people because it isn’t real (or is it? the book, on this part, keeps you guessing for a while).  As with all things in this book, however, Mr. Bell isn’t quite what he seems.  And neither is Zeke, Ruth’s suitor who appears out of nowhere.  Or Ruth or Nat or the Father who runs the orphanage with religious zeal.  It’s all a bit too much.

And then it gets more complicated because Ruth and Nat’s story is in the past and it’s running alongside Ruth and Cora’s story in the present.  Cora is Ruth’s niece, pregnant and persuaded by Ruth to walk across New York state without any reasons given.  They walk and walk and come across random strangers who behave in random ways.  Not one person in this book is normal or undamaged and, again, it’s all too much.  I feel like I was supposed to get something from it, from the ways they spoke, the things they said, that I just couldn’t because I was just so confused by what was going on.

The language, which was flowery and wandered, didn’t help and neither did the characterisations…I didn’t like anybody…but my main problem was my just not understanding what was happening or why.  Characters like Zeke came, went and then came back as someone else (without a nose which was never properly explained and didn’t seem to do much for the plot).  They all spoke a certain way, meaning people blurred into one, and their motives were questionable at best when revealed.   In fact, I’m not sure why I even finished reading, other than I hate putting a book down before the end.  Maybe I should have left this one alone and I wouldn’t have felt quite so disappointed – not one for me – Sorry!

Emma