Last Breath by Robert Bryndza 

34368544He’s your perfect date. You’re his next victim.

When the tortured body of a young woman is found in a dumpster, her eyes swollen shut and her clothes soaked with blood, Detective Erika Foster is one of the first at the crime scene. The trouble is, this time, it’s not her case.

While she fights to secure her place on the investigation team, Erika can’t help but get involved and quickly finds a link to the unsolved murder of a woman four months earlier. Dumped in a similar location, both women have identical wounds – a fatal incision to their femoral artery.

Stalking his victims online, the killer is preying on young pretty women using a fake identity. How will Erika catch a murderer who doesn’t seem to exist?

Then another girl is abducted while waiting for a date. Erika and her team must get to her before she becomes another dead victim, and, come face to face with a terrifyingly sadistic individual.

I think it’s fair to say that Robert Bryndza has done it again with this, the latest, in the Erika Foster series. Still stuck behind a desk in Bromley, Erika is missing her former role in the murder investigation team. Her application to go back, though, has been turned down – and she’s angry about it, no more so than when she’s summarily dismissed from a crime scene.

The scene – the body of a young woman has been found in a dumpster, badly beaten and tortured.  She has been missing for only a few days and Erika’s gut is telling her that the killer is likely to strike again.  The problem is no one wants to hear, not least the head of the murder investigation team (and her former adversary), even when she gets as close to begging as she can get and uncovers evidence his team haven’t.

Then, in twist I won’t share for spoilers, she gets given the opportunity to become senior investigating officer and the chase is on for a killer who is becoming more prolific and more violent.  As a reader, you know who he is, what he plans to do next and you see him spiralling.  It all adds to the tension as you also watch Erika and her team struggle to follow the clues, hoping for a lucky break and praying that they get to the latest missing girl in time.

And it is tense, from page one, and not letting up right until the very end.  The killer is suitably evil and just to say smart enough to keep ahead of the police (for a while at least), making my skin crawl more than a little.  And Erika is her usual brilliant self, trying hard not to be self-destructive for once but not doing too well at it.

The mix of tough and vulnerable in her is something I like in my characters.  She isn’t a complete hard-ass, is liked and admired by her team, but her past has left her damaged and with a hard outer shell.  She wants to break out but it’s hard.  Still, we get to see a little of that in this story, making her and her team more real than ever.

As for the story itself, you couldn’t ask for more really.  It’s a cracking read from start to finish.  These are all things I’ve said about other books in the series but here it is again – it was well written, had great pace (I read it in a day which is rare for me), great characters – event the bad guy was well rounded (see creepy killer above), and kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.  Can I say any more? I don’t think so – I loved this and really recommend it.

Enjoy!

Emma

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Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: 12th April, 2017 (yes today! cutting this review fine)
Pages: 281
Format: ebooks
Genre: crime, mystery
Buy now: Amazon UK / Amazon US

Note: I received a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own.

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Driven by James Sallis

14623750Seven years have passed since Driver ended his campaign against those who double-crossed him. He has left the old life, become Paul West and founded a successful business back in Phoenix. But walking down the street one day, he and his fiancee are attacked by two men and, while Driver dispatches both, his fiancee is killed. Sinking back into anonymity, aided by his friend Felix, an ex-gangbanger and Desert Storm vet, Driver realises that his past stalks him – and will not stop. He has to turn and face it

One of the many things I love about James Sallis is that he writes his characters as he finds them.  They are dysfunctional, not always likeable, definitely broken but also incredibly compelling.  So it is with Driver, who you meet as he watches his fiancé get gunned down in the street, seemingly for no reason.

In Driver’s world though, there is always a reason, and so there is here if he can just figure it out in between fighting for his life and constantly trying to stay one step ahead of a seemingly endless supply of hired guns determined to earn their money.   It involves talking to shady people, hitting shadier people and never giving up.  I like that about Driver – he doesn’t stop.

Like him, this book is relentless, never letting up for a second.  It’s dialogue heavy with not much in the way of descriptive scenes bar the odd flashback to his childhood or earlier life, before he tried to start again.  And it’s short (only 155 pages), meaning there isn’t much time to breath.

The language seems simple on first reading but then you realise that a picture is being painted, of men (mainly) who believe in action versus trying to talk things out.  It’s not a world I understand but it’s lived by a code and it’s best not to break it.  It’s a world where you don’t go to the police, you sort out your own problems. And it’s a world where people live with the idea of an eye for an eye.

It’s a world I was drawn into quickly and was quite sad to see the end of, especially as it was left open so you don’t know what is going to happen to Driver next and whether it will be good or bad.  Perhaps it’s good for me as I will get to meet him again…I just hope it’s not another seven years before I get the chance.  Loved this one and a recommended read!

Enjoy!

Emma

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Source: Library
Publisher: No Exit
Publication Date: 1st January, 2012
Pages: 155
Format: ebook
Genre: crime, mystery
Buy now: Amazon UK / Amazon US

Tuesday intro: Driven by James Sallis

Once again I’m linking up again with Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea who hosts a post every Tuesday for people to share the first chapter / paragraph of the book they are reading, or thinking of reading soon. In really enjoy these tasters when I read them on other blogs so wanted to join in.

This week I am reading Driven by one of my favourite authors, James Sallis.  It’s a follow up to Drive, which I loved so I have high hopes for this.  Here’s what it’s about…

14623750Seven years have passed since Driver ended his campaign against those who double-crossed him. He has left the old life, become Paul West and founded a successful business back in Phoenix. But walking down the street one day, he and his fiancee are attacked by two men and, while Driver dispatches both, his fiancee is killed. Sinking back into anonymity, aided by his friend Felix, an ex-gangbanger and Desert Storm vet, Driver realises that his past stalks him – and will not stop. He has to turn and face it

And here’s how it starts

Chapter 1

They came for him just after 11: 00 on a Saturday morning, two of them. It was hot going hotter; sunlight caught in the fine sheen of sweat on Elsa’s forehead. A hint of movement in the side of his eye as they passed a short side street—and the first one was there. He spun, slamming his foot and the whole of his body weight against the outside of the man’s right knee, and heard it give. By the time the man was down, that same foot hit his throat. He shuddered twice, trying to pull in air through the shattered windpipe, and was still. The second had come up behind by then, but Driver was down, rolling, and behind him, left arm clamped around his neck, right elbow locked over the wrist.

It was all over in minutes. He understood then what had delayed the second man’s attack. Elsa lay against the wall of an abandoned café, blood pumping from the wound beneath her breast.

She had been trying to smile up at him as the light went out of her eyes.

And that’s the whole chapter – he is not a man of many words.  What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Regards

Emma

Buy now: Amazon UK / Amazon US

 

 

 

 

The Murder Game by Julie Apple

29619695Ten years working as a prosecutor have left Meredith Delay jaded and unsure of what she wants out of life. She’s good at her job, but it haunts her. Her boyfriend wants her to commit, but she keeps him at arm’s length. Then Meredith is assigned to a high-profile prosecution involving the violent murder of a fallen hockey star. At first, it appears to be just another case to work. But when her old friend Julian is accused of the murder, it takes on a whole new dimension.

Meredith, Julian, Jonathan, and Lily were a tight-knit group in law school. But now, Jonathan’s defending Julian, and Lily’s loyalties aren’t clear. And when Julian invokes a rare—and risky—defence, Meredith is forced to confront their past.

Has something they played at as students finally been brought to death?

So, for those who aren’t already aware, Julie Apple is the pseudonym of Catherine McKenzie, who happens to be one of my favourite authors, and The Murder Game is a book written by one of her characters (the same Julie Apple) in the book Fractured.

In Fractured, The Murder Game is a huge hit.  It is about a group of law students who play at planning murder.  Then a fellow student is murdered. The question is just how much did the students know – did they manage to plan a perfect murder after all?  Although a work of fiction, there was a death at Julie’s college and so fans and critics alike want to know just how much of her book was real, just how involved she was in the murder of a fellow student.  And by the end of Fractured, you, the reader, are also wondering just where the truth lies.

At no point, though, do you get to read the book or find out a huge amount about it (Fractured is more about Julie fitting into a new neighbourhood and running from her past).  And you don’t here, at least not quite – because the murder victim isn’t a college student but a former hockey star, one convicted of molesting a child.  The killer, though, is one of a group of law students, a group of four who sat around planning just how they would kill someone and get away with it.

The students are Meredith, the central character and whose voice you hear throughout as she is also the story teller; Julian, the killer who owns up to the murder and finds himself on trial; Lily, his sometimes girlfriend who has an IQ of 164 and strives for perfection in all things; and Jonathan, Meredith’s on again / off again boyfriend and Julian’s defence attorney.  As characters, all four are fascinating to read about and get to know.

They are so well drawn that I felt I knew them….and disliked them, even Meredith who felt like the underdog, the odd one out and the one I should be rooting for (especially as she was looking to put her friend away for murder).  Whilst I did at first, slowly, through flashbacks to their college years, I started to realise maybe she wasn’t as innocent as she first appeared. She has a darker side, one that makes her more interesting but definitely less likeable.  Or maybe that darker side was more about her not being confident in herself, which meant she was easily led and I should feel more sympathy for her.  Throughout the book, right till the end, I went back and forth and am still not sure how I feel about her.

It’s one of the things I love about Catherine McKenzie – she creates complicated people that seem to leap out of the page.  And it wasn’t just Meredith, it was all four characters,  Each had so many quirks and character flaws, so many things that might make you love or hate them – that made you wonder if their behaviour was because they were young or spoilt or just too bright for their own good or if they were fundamentally flawed as human beings.  Again, I went back and forth throughout the book about how I felt.

For me, the flashback scenes were the best as I felt I was getting to know each of them more and I had the chance to put the pieces together, figure out if it was a game or just a coincidence that they had all ended up where they had, in a courtroom facing off against each other.  The whether Julian was guilty of not, which took place mainly in the courtroom, was almost secondary (though probably shouldn’t have been).  I wanted to know how they had gotten there and why.  Plus, if I’m honest, I am not the biggest fan of courtroom dramas and so these bits, which lots of questioning of witnesses and the stand aren’t something I normally enjoy reading.  Not enough action.

Thankfully I got the action in the college scenes and the chapters on Meredith’s life, which kept me more than satisfied.  And I learnt something about the Canadian legal system, and a little learning is never a bad thing.  I also got a great story with plenty of twists, turns and red herrings  – things that kept me guessing.  It wasn’t my favourite Catherine McKenzie book but it was still a really good one.  I liked this a lot – a recommended read!

Enjoy!

Emma x

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Source: Purchased
Publication Date: November 1st, 2016
Pages: 300
Format: ebook
Genre: crime fiction / mystery
Buy now: Amazon UK / Amazon US

You might also like…

Fractured

Smoke

Hidden

 

 

 

 

 

The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

The murder was meant as a punishment – but what sin could justify the method?

The only person who might have answers is the victim’s seven-year-old daughter, found hiding in the room where her mother died. And she’s not talking.

Newly promoted, out of his depth, detective Huldar turns to Freyja and the Children’s House for their expertise with traumatised young people. Freyja, who distrusts the police in general and Huldar in particular, isn’t best pleased. But she’s determined to keep little Margret safe.

It may prove tricky. The killer is leaving them strange clues: warnings in text messages, sums scribbled on bits of paper, numbers broadcast on the radio. He’s telling a dark and secret story – but how can they crack the code? And if they do, will they be next?

The Legacy is the third book I’ve read now by Yrsa Sigurdardottir, the author whose name I will never be able to pronounce, and one I was eagerly looking forward to reading given how much I have enjoyed the other two.  I have to say I wasn’t disappointed in what I got for my money (well, not really my money as this was a review copy but you know what I mean – hopefully), though it probably wasn’t the favourite of the books I’ve read.

Why not? Because it didn’t have the spooky element the other two books had and which I thought set them apart from others in the genre.  I thought it would with the prologue – three children sat on a bench, not moving whilst a group of adults talk about the horrible things that have happened to them and how it is best they are given new lives and know nothing of their past.  This is the extent of it though and, with the story proper, it moves into a more traditional police procedural / piece of crime fiction.

That said, this doesn’t make it a bad book, not by any stretch of the imagination.  In fact, once I got over my slight disappointment at the lack of spookiness, I became completely absorbed in the story.  It has everything I like in my Nordic noir; it is dark and gritty, the world is cold (there is always snow) and the people slightly dour and depressed (sorry but it’s true – though it doesn’t put me off reading).  Plus there is the structure and social mores in which they live and work, so different to ours and so fascinating.  I can never resist.

As for the book itself, it is well written and well translated and nice and complicated, though it didn’t feel like it would be at first.  With each murder and each twist in the tale I found myself more confused as to what was going on and who the killer was (I didn’t get this one until it was revealed – a good thing for the author in the keep ’em guessing stakes but bad for my ego as I really like to be the one who figures things out before the police).

The silver lining to that is that the police were just as confused as me, no closer to figuring out the truth than I was as they scrambled to find clues and connections between the victims.  I should have had more of a clue given I knew more than them.  Not only was I privy to the children in the prologue, I was only following Karl, a CB radio enthusiast who is picking up broadcasts that seem to be targeted directly at him (and pointing him towards the victims).  Knowing they were all connected didn’t help me though,  I just couldn’t put it together no matter how hard I tried.

Maybe I would have tried harder if I hadn’t been distracted by what I hoped was a burgeoning relationship between the lead detective (Huldar) and Frejya who works for the children’s service and is trying to keep the first victim’s daughter (and only witness to her murder) safe.  Huldar and Frejya have history, meaning she isn’t his biggest fan, but I couldn’t help hoping they would figure it out because, despite Huldar’s social ineptitude, I really liked him and Frejya.  I thought they were complicated but well rounded characters and, as this is the first in the series, I really hope to get to know them better.

Maybe I’ll be lucky in the next one and get a bit of the spooky back but, even if not, I’ll keep reading because I liked this one a lot and would definitely recommend it.

Enjoy!

Emma x

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Source: Net Galley
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date: 23rd March, 2017
Pages: 464
Format: ebook
Genre: crime fiction
Buy now: Amazon UK / Amazon US

Note: I received a copy of this book from Net Galley in return for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own.

 

 

Where My Heart Used To Beat by Sebastian Faulks

30738612On a small island off the south coast of France, Robert Hendricks – an English doctor who has seen the best and the worst the twentieth century had to offer – is forced to confront the events that made up his life. His host is Alexander Pereira, a man who seems to know more about his guest than Hendricks himself does.

The search for the past takes us through the war in Italy in 1944, a passionate love that seems to hold out hope, the great days of idealistic work in the 1960s and finally – unforgettably – back into the trenches of the Western Front.

I have been a huge fan of Sebastian Faulks since reading Human Remains over ten years ago.  After I had, I went on a bit of a Faulks binge and read everything he’d written up to the that point and have read every book he’s written since.  Some I’ve loved, some I’ve not.  None have been boring and one, Engleby, is one of my favourite books of all time. Why, then, it’s taken me over a year since it’s release to read Where My Heart Used to Beat is beyond me – other than there are too many books on my shelves and my kindle for me to keep up.

The book opens in the early 80’s with Dr. Robert Hendricks’ leaving New York in a hurry.  Why he’s in a hurry is never completely clear, though as you start to get to know him you wonder if he isn’t always slightly on the run – from his past and from his life in general.  Back in London, he decides to respond to a letter that he received weeks before from a Dr. Pereira, inviting him to visit the doctor at his home on a small island off the coast of France.  Faulks likes France and a lot of his books are set there (even if just in part); the way he writes about it, with affection, is so clear I felt that I was there with him.

He is drawn to the Pereira because he says he knew Hendricks’ father during WWI and has things to tell him.   Hendricks never knew his father, he died when he was two, and has mixed feelings about knowing more but feels compelled to accept the offer of a visit.  In fact, he has mixed feelings about everything to do with his life.  He seems incapable of forming lasting relationships, keeping himself at a distance from those who try to become friends and pulling away from romantic relationships as soon as they become serious.

Pereira instinctively sees this in Hendricks and, over the course of several weeks and several visits, slowly draws out the story of his past, what in it has led him to become the man he is in the present.  It’s a past that starts with his dead father before focusing on his experiences in WWII and his lost love, Louisa, a woman he has never been able to forget.  Weaving between past, present, his time in France and his time in England, slowly the story that emerges is of a man who is in pain, and always has been.

The irony in it is that he is a psychiatrist, he should have been able to see and understand his behaviours, yet it takes a stranger to bring him out of himself and help him try and maybe find some peace during the last years of his life (Hendrick is 64 in the present).  I found this side of it very sad and the story overall very touching.  Faulks has an amazing ability to paint a picture of what a person is thinking and feeling without beating you over the head with it.  I felt like I was discovering the truth at the same time as Hendricks.

The story itself focuses on themes that are familiar to a lot of Faulks’ writing.  His books look at love, loss, the war and also mental illness.  Faulks’ description of the battlefield is unflinching and unflattering at times.  The men he writes about were heros but the war itself was not a heroic time.  How men and women lived, how they behaved, in order to survive is shown here in all its glory and tragedy.  His description of how mental illness was seen over a period of around 80 years was also fascinating, especially as I work in the mental health field.  There is tragedy in this too, in how people were treated – especially things like PTSD – and how they were judged.

In fact, tragic could sum this book up in many ways – I felt a lot of sadness whilst reading it, as Hendricks laid himself bare and I came to understand just how he had never truly lived despite having an interesting life and successful career.  Don’t get me wrong, there are moments of joy in his memories and light at the end of the tunnel as he comes to terms with his past, but this is not a happy book.  Because of that, it won’t be for everyone I’m sure.  I know other reviews I have read have said as much.  For me, though, it was a wonderfully written window into a damaged soul and I really liked it a lot.

Enjoy!

Emma

 

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Source: Library
Publisher: Vintage Digital
Publication Date: 30th June, 2016 (first published 10th September, 2015)
Pages: 337
Format: ebook
Genre: Literary fiction
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

 

Don’t Look Behind You by Mel Sherratt 

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She got into bed but sleep didn’t come easily. Every creak in the house made her alert. She was waiting for him to come and get her.

The small city of Stockleigh is in shock as three women are brutally attacked within days of each other. Are they random acts of violence or is there a link between the victims? For Detective Eden Berrisford, it’s her most chilling case yet.

The investigation leads Eden to cross paths with Carla, a woman trying to rebuild her life after her marriage to a cruel and abusive man ended in unimaginable tragedy. Her husband Ryan was imprisoned for his crimes but, now he’s out and coming for her.

As Eden starts to close in on the attacker, she also puts herself in grave danger. Can she stop him before he strikes again? And can Carla, terrified for her life, save herself – before the past wreaks a terrible revenge?

So I want to start this review not with an overview of the story but with a comment on the tagline “He destroyed your life once. Now he’s back to do it again.” because I don’t think it – or the overview above – do this book justice.  They suggest this is the story of one woman at risk from one man, a popular theme in the books I read at the moment and I have to say that it caught my eye when requesting.  These books tend to follow a pattern though that Don’t Look Behind You doesn’t, which for me was a welcome change and a nice surprise.

What it is does have in common with other books is men’s behaviour towards women, how it can often be violent and how abuse isn’t always physical but emotional, with the effects lasting long after the violence stops or a relationship ends.  It’s a powerful topic that leads to a powerful book, one that doesn’t just entertain as a police procedural / piece of crime writing but makes you pause and think about how much more commonplace attacks on women, by strangers as partners, might be and how hard it is for them to stay safe and live full lives afterwards, lives not shrouded in fear.

Sherratt shows it here with two stories running side by side. The first is Detective Eden Berrisford’s search for a man attacking young women on their way home at night; the attacks are escalating and she needs to figure out who is responsible before someone ends up dead. The second focuses on Carla, who works at a women’s refuge but is also in hiding from her ex-husband Ryan, recently released from prison and out for revenge, blaming her for putting him there despite the fact that he had nearly killed her before he was arrested.

Both stories are compelling and well plotted, alternating in chapters and occasionally crossing over into each other. Because Eden knows Carla through her own work with the shelter she is the common theme running through each but I liked that I heard Carla’s voice too. She is a strong women with a sad history who is trying to rebuild her life – I admired her and wanted her to be happy and safe.

Each story could have probably been expanded into books in their own right but they did work well together and I didn’t find it distracting or difficult to move between the two. I did wonder if they would come together in a big twist at the end and was quite happy when they didn’t because I think that would have spoilt it and the conclusion to both was just right.

For me, it was much more satisfying than my first outing with Eden (and the first book to feature her) The Girls Next Door, where I struggled with some of the characters. Here, I didn’t have any of those problems so was able to settle in and enjoy the book and get to know Eden, who I think could become a firm favourite of mine – and not just because she wears doc martins (the best footwear ever) and drives a scooter (the coolest thing ever).

She is kind, caring, passionate about her job but there is a darker side too potentially, one that is hinted at when she and her daughter are threatened and I do wonder if that will come out in future books? There definitely seemed to be some teasers for what might happen next in her life in this book that I can’t wait to see develop.

I said at the beginning of this post that it was the tag line that caught my eye but it wasn’t the main or only reason. The other was Mel Sherratt, whose books I really enjoy and who is probably starting to rank as a favourite author. Her books have all the elements I love – crime, drama, twist, turns and strong female characters. They are well written, well plotted and keep me turning pages. I never know quite what to expect and I have – so far – always been pleased with what I’ve gotten. You can’t ask for more than that from an author or a book really, leaving me liking this one a lot.

Enjoy!

Emma

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Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Bookouture 
Publication Date: 31st January, 2017
Pages: 287
Format: ebook (Kindle)
Genre: crime fiction

Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in return for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own.

Interested in what I thought about other Mel Sherratt books, check out my reviews below:

The Girls Next Door (Eden Berrisford 1)

Only The Brave

Follow The Leader

Taunting The Dead

(Revisiting) A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton

64863A tough-talking former cop, private investigator Kinsey Millhone has set up a modest detective agency in a quiet corner of Santa Teresa, California. A twice-divorced loner with few personal possessions and fewer personal attachments, she’s got a soft spot for underdogs and lost causes.

Eight years ago, Nikki Fife was convicted of killing her philandering husband. Now she’s out on parole and needs Kinsey’s help to find the real killer.

If there’s one thing that makes Kinsey feel alive, it’s playing on the edge. When her investigation turns up a second corpse, more suspects, and a new reason to kill, Kinsey discovers that the edge is closer―and sharper―than she imagined.

Although I’m a little early for the birthday celebrations, Kinsey Millhone is turning 25 this year, or rather her detective stories are.  Finding this out made me feel more than a little old but also nostalgic – this is the one series I have never missed an instalment of, having first picked them up in the mid-80’s.  It got me thinking as to whether the early books had stood the test of time and whether my memories of them were founder than my current feelings might be if I read them again.

There are many reasons you stay with a series I think but the main one, for me, is the characters and this definitely applies here.  I remember when I first read A is for Alibi thinking that Kinsey was great, a strong female character and someone I would want to be in another life (one where I lived in California and knew how to shoot a gun).  I loved that she lived this minimalist life in her elderly landlord’s garage, drank Chardonnay, drove a beat up VW, and didn’t need anyone else to make her happy.  I have to say, after re-reading A is for Alibi, I still wish I could be her and am seriously thinking of studying for my private investigator license.

Although written and set in the 80’s Kinsey as a character didn’t feel dated.  I could see her in many of the female detectives I read nowadays.  They all share the same traits of living alone, not wanting to be tied down, and not being able to let something go even if their life is on the line.  A lot of them also seem to share Kinsey’s love of running for fun (which I’ll never quite get) and into danger without seemingly meaning to.  Possibly Kinsey is a little less hard around the edges than some of her more modern counterparts but that doesn’t make her any less interesting (though possibly a little easier to like).

Her elderly landlord Henry is a great addition to the books and a wonderful character in his own right.  I know from future books he becomes more central to some stories but even here you could see the spark and wanted to get to know him more.    He seems a perfect fit for Kinsey and her life, which is really well drawn so that you feel you know her and the world in which she lives.

The story itself doesn’t feel dated either and this might in part be because it always reminded me of another age anyway.  There is something about the traditional gumshoe in the Kinsey Millhone stories and I really enjoyed that.  This doesn’t mean the plots aren’t complicated.  They have plenty of twists and turns to keep you interested but there aren’t any serial killers on the loose here, more jilted women and jealous husbands.  Very much like real life, the people who die in A is for Alibi know their killers.  They are good, old-fashioned, works of crime fiction and all the better for it I think.

Over the years I have seen Kinsey develop and Sue Grafton has definitely stretched herself as a writer more with future books.  She has also kept the character moving on in pretty much “real time” for her so the books are still set in a time before mobile phones and easy access to the internet.  It’s amazing the work a detective had to do to find things about pre-google but also a nice change of pace.  Things aren’t as fast in 1982 and I like it.

I am relieved to say I still liked the book too, always a risk when revisiting one you have fond memories of.  In my head, I imagine everyone has read this series but I’m sure that isn’t the case and for those who haven’t I can really recommend them – still liked this one a lot!

Enjoy!

Emma

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Source: Library
Publisher: Various (my edition was Pan)
Publication Date: 15th April, 1982 (original publication date)
Pages: 320
Format: ebook (Kindle)
Genre: crime fiction

 

The Trapped Girl by Robert Dugoni

30226698When a woman’s body is discovered submerged in a crab pot in the chilly waters of Puget Sound, Detective Tracy Crosswhite finds herself with a tough case to untangle. Before they can identify the killer, Tracy and her colleagues on the Seattle PD’s Violent Crimes Section must figure out who the victim is. Her autopsy, however, reveals she may have gone to great lengths to conceal her identity. So who was she running from?

After evidence surfaces that their Jane Doe may be a woman who suspiciously disappeared months earlier, Tracy is once again haunted by the memory of her sister’s unsolved murder. Dredging up details from the woman’s past leads to conflicting clues that only seem to muddy the investigation. As Tracy begins to uncover a twisted tale of brutal betrayal and desperate greed, she’ll find herself risking everything to confront a killer who won’t go down without a deadly fight.

In the early hours of a summer day in Seattle, a teenager out to make a little extra money by illegally crabbing manages to net more than he bargained for – much more. Instead of crabs in his cages, he pulls up the body of a young woman.  How she got there isn’t clear but what is is that it wasn’t an accident, she was murdered.  Enter Tracy Crosswhite , who is fast becoming one of my favourite female detectives.

Tracy is a great character.  She’s tough but not hard, loved by her team and by her boyfriend Dan (who unfortunately I didn’t get as much of as I would have liked in this outing).  She’s also got history that means she starts to feel connected for the woman she thinks has been found and the life she lived.  Like Tracy (who lost her sister 20 years previously) the dead woman’s life has been touched by tragedy, nothing it seems has gone right for her.

I said “thinks” and “seems” because, determined to find out what happened to the young woman, the more Tracy digs the more confused she (and you as a reader becomes).  Nothing is as it seems.  For Tracy, it’s frustrating, especially when her path is blocked by a neighbouring police force who believe they have jurisdiction and a boss who can’t be bothered to fight for her.  For me, as a reader, I loved the confusion.  I really didn’t know where the story would take me next as it took one twist after another.

And, unlike other books I have read, where the twists sometimes just seem to be there for the sake of it, here every one made me go “of course” and nod my head knowingly as if it had been obvious from the beginning (when, of course, it hadn’t been at all).  The whole story was really cleverly plotted, with nothing rushed, and right until the end I was convinced it would end one way, only to find out I had been completely wrong all along…brilliant!

Liking and rooting for Tracy is an obvious plus and selling point for me in this series but, in this book, it was also nice was getting to know her team more than I have in any other story – her partner, Kins, already felt pretty solid and well rounded to me but, here, I also got to properly meet the two other members of her team (or family as they call themselves), Del and Faz.  They are great characters, full of life and personality and good cops in their own right. I want more in the next book as they make a great team.

And I do hope there is a next book as, for me, this series is just getting better and better with each book.  It says something that, after only discovering it last year thanks to a review on bibliophile book club, I have read every book in the series.  Not only do they have the great characters I have mentioned but they are great stories, well written with twists and turns a plenty and a real sense of place – I want to visit Seattle now despite the death count.  I can’t recommend them highly enough (and for those who don’t want to go back to the beginning, don’t worry they can be read as standalone I think) – loved this book!

Emma

loved-it

Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: 24th January, 2017
Pages: 378
Format: ebook (Kindle)
Genre: crime fiction

Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in return for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own.

For my other reviews of Robert Dugoni books:

My Sister’s Grave (book 1)

Her Final Breath (book 2)

Have realised I never wrote a review for book three but, trust me, it’s good (I’ll now have to see if I can get one written up!)

 

Tuesday Intro: Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner

Once again I’m linking up again with Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea who hosts a post every Tuesday for people to share the first chapter / paragraph of the book they are reading, or thinking of reading soon. In really enjoy these tasters when I read them on other blogs so wanted to join in.

This week, I’m featuring a book I’ve just finished, Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner, a well known and well loved author.  I won’t say much yet (review to follow) other than – in my humble opinion – it’s well worth a read.  Here’s what it’s about…

img_0495Is he a hero?

Eight years ago, Sharlah May Nash’s older brother beat their drunken father to death with a baseball bat in order to save both of their lives. Now thirteen years old, Sharlah has finally moved on. About to be adopted by retired FBI profiler Pierce Quincy and his partner, Rainie Conner, Sharlah loves one thing best about her new family: They are all experts on monsters.

Is he a killer?

Then the call comes in. A double murder at a local gas station, followed by reports of an armed suspect shooting his way through the wilds of Oregon. As Quincy and Rainie race to assist, they are forced to confront mounting evidence: The shooter may very well be Sharlah’s older brother, Telly Ray Nash, and it appears his killing spree has only just begun.

All she knows for sure: He’s back.

As the clock winds down on a massive hunt for Telly, Quincy and Rainie must answer two critical questions: Why after eight years has this young man started killing again? And what does this mean for Sharlah? Once upon a time, Sharlah’s big brother saved her life. Now, she has two questions of her own: Is her brother a hero or a killer? And how much will it cost her new family before they learn the final, shattering truth? Because as Sharlah knows all too well, the biggest danger is the one standing right behind you.

And here’s how it starts…

Prologue

Had a family once.

Father. Mother. Sister. Lived in our very own double-wide. Brown shag carpet. Dirty gold countertops. Peeling linoleum floors. Used to race my Hot Wheels down those food-splattered counter-tops, doubleloop through ramps of curling linoleum, then land in gritty piles of shag. place was definitely a shit hole. But being a kid, I called it home.

What do you think? Would you keep on reading?

Emma

Note: text taken from proof copy.