Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Olga reviews Psycological #thriller Justice Gone by N. Lombardi Jr.

Today’s team review is from Olga, she blogs here https://www.authortranslatorolga.com

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading Justice Gone by N. Lombardi Jr.

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This is not an easy book to categorise, and it could fit into a number of classifications, but it goes beyond the standard examples many of the readers of some of those genres are used to come across. When I heard about this book, my interest was piqued by several elements: the book features as one of its main characters a female therapist who has specialised in counselling war vets (many of them suffering from PTSD), and as a psychiatrist (and I did work with military personnel, although not from the US) I’m always intrigued by the literary portrayals of psychologists and psychiatrists and of mental health difficulties. There is a mystery/thriller element, and because I’m an eager reader (and writer) of those genres, I’m always keen to explore new authors and approaches. The novel also promised a close look at the US judicial system, and having studied criminology and the British Criminal Justice system, that aspect of the book was also intriguing. Could the novel deliver in so many levels?

Dr. Tessa Thorpe is an interesting character, and it seems that the author is planning to develop a series of novels around her. She is described as insightful and compassionate, with strong beliefs (anti-war), morals, and a trauma of her own. She is not the perfect professional, and at times her trauma affects her behaviour to a point that I thought would have got her into trouble if she were working in a different environment. We are not given full details of what has happened to her before, but the hints we get through the novel (where other characters in possession of that information refer to it) give us a fair idea. She is much better at dealing with others and understanding what moves them to act as they do than she is at dealing with her own issues, but that is a fairly realistic aspect of the book (although considering how insistent she is in getting others to talk about their difficulties, it is surprising none of the colleagues take her to task). What I was not totally convinced about was the fact that at some point she decides to support the vet going to trial accused of murder, and she leaves her practice and patients unattended for weeks. As she works in a private clinic and we only meet one of her patients, we don’t have sufficient information of her day-to-day tasks, and it’s quite possible that this is not a problem, but it felt counterintuitive to me. Tessa plays an central part in the plot in more ways than one, because although she is an expert in some aspects, she is totally new to what happens in other parts of the novel, like court procedures, and at those points she works as a stand-in for the readers, asking for clarifications and being walked through the process in detail.

The mystery and thriller elements, as I said, are dealt with differently to in many other books. The novel starts at an earlier point than many of the books that give advice to writers would recommend. It does not start in the middle of the action, or the crime (what the real crime is here is one of the main questions). We get the background to the events, down to the phone call to the police about a homeless man, which gets the ball rolling at the very beginning of the book. The police, who have been fed the wrong information, end up beating the man, a war-vet, to death. This causes a huge uproar, and we hear about the way the authorities try to sweep it all under the carpet, then the apparent revenge killing of the three policemen, the chase of a suspect, the hair-raising moment when he gives himself up (with some help from the doctor and others), and then we move onto the court case. There are moments where the book leans towards the police procedural, and we get plenty of details about the physical evidence, the investigation and those involved, we witness interrogations, we are privileged to information even the police don’t have, we get red herrings, and dead ends. The ending… there is a twist at the end, and although some might suspect it is coming, I was so involved in the court case at that point that I had almost forgotten that we did not know who the guilty party was.

I think this is one of the books I’ve read in recent times that best manages to bring to life a US court case, without sparing too many details and at the same time making it gripping. I will confess that the defense attorney, Nathaniel Bodine, is my favourite character, one of those lawyers who will happily cross the line for their client, and he seems, at times, a much better psychologist (and manipulator) than the doctor is. The judicial process is realistically reflected and at times it reads as if it were a detailed film or TV script, with good directions and fantastic dialogue.

And, we also follow the deliberations of the jury, in a few chapters that made me think of Twelve Angry Men, a play I remember watching many years back, although in this case we have a more diverse jury (not twelve men and not all Caucasian) and a more complex case. I thoroughly enjoyed this part of the novel as well, and I could clearly see the interaction between the sequestered jury in my mind’s eye. (It would make a great film or series, as I have already suggested).

The story is told in the third person by an omniscient narrator that at times shows us the events from the point of view of one of the characters, mostly from Tessa’s perspective, but at times from others, like her co-workers or members of the police force. At some points, the story is told from an external and fairly objective perspective (like the jury deliberations); although at times we glimpse the personal opinions of that unknown narrator. I know readers dislike “head-hopping”, but I was never in any doubt about whose point of view I was reading, and the alternating perspective helped get a more rounded view of events and characters. Although the style of writing is factual and to the point (some of the descriptions reminded me of police reports, in their matter-of-factness), that does not mean the book fails to produce an emotional reaction on the reader. Quite the opposite. Rather than emphasising the drama by using over-the-top prose, the author lets the facts and the characters’ actions talk for themselves, and that is much more effective, in my opinion.

I recommend this book to anybody who enjoys a mystery/thriller/police procedural novel which does not obey by the rules and is keen to engage readers in controversy and debates that go beyond a standard genre novel. (The author explains he was inspired to write this book by an incident not dissimilar to the death of the veteran at the hands of the cops at the beginning of the novel). The novel goes into more detail than most readers keen on those genres will be used to, and also follows the events from the very beginning to the very end. This is not a novel only interested in thrilling readers by highlighting the action scenes and ignoring the rest. Readers who always feel there are aspects of a story missing or underdeveloped will love this book, and also those who like complex characters (plenty of grey areas here) and a story that lives beyond the page. I also see book clubs enjoying a great discussion after reading this book, as there is much to debate and ponder. An accomplished novel and the first of a series that we should keep a close eye on.

Book description

When a homeless war veteran is beaten to death by the police, stormy protests ensue, engulfing a small New Jersey town. Soon after, three cops are gunned down. A multi-state manhunt is underway for a cop killer on the loose. And Dr. Tessa Thorpe, a veteran’s counselor, is caught up in the chase. Donald Darfield, an African-American Iraqi war vet, war-time buddy of the beaten man, and one of Tessa’s patients, is holed up in a mountain cabin. Tessa, acting on instinct, sets off to find him, but the swarm of law enforcement officers get there first, leading to Darfield’s dramatic capture. Now, the only people separating him from the lethal needle of state justice are Tessa and ageing blind lawyer, Nathaniel Bodine. Can they untangle the web tightening around Darfield in time, when the press and the justice system are baying for revenge? Justice Gone is the first in a series of psychological thrillers involving Dr Tessa Thorpe, wrapped in the divisive issues of modern American society including police brutality and disenfranchised returning war veterans. N Lombardi Jr. is the author of compelling and heartfelt novel The Plain of Jars.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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#NewRelease Rosie’s #Bookreview of Mild #Thriller The Secretary by Renée Knight @TransworldBooks

The SecretaryThe Secretary by Renée Knight

4 stars

The Secretary is a mild thriller set in the UK. Christine Butcher is a secretary, a really good one, and she is proud to call herself a number one PA.

The book opens with Christine being offered a job as the secretary to Lord Appleton and his daughter Mina. They own Appleton’s supermarket chain, a business which Lord Appleton runs with strong ethical themes. He believes in fair prices for quality products.

Mina is an ambitious woman who wants to make Appleton a market leader. Christine is about to find out how much Mina wants and how far she will go to get it. Her role as loyal secretary is tested by a controlling Mina. But what will happen when Mina asks too much?

This was an intriguing tale of loyalty, betrayal and revenge. It throws a little sinister shiver over the potential role of any secretary.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Look around you. Who holds the most power in the room? Is it the one who speaks loudest, who looks the part, who has the most money, who commands the most respect?

Or perhaps it’s someone like Christine Butcher: a meek, overlooked figure, who silently bears witness as information is shared and secrets are whispered. Someone who quietly, perhaps even unwittingly, gathers together knowledge of the people she’s there to serve – the ones who don’t notice her, the ones who consider themselves to be important.

There’s a fine line between loyalty and obsession. And when someone like Christine Butcher is pushed to her limit, she might just become the most dangerous person in the room . . .

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#NewRelease Rosie’s #Bookreview Of #Histfic Family Saga Sweet Bitter Cane by @GS_Johnston @ryderswriters

Sweet Bitter CaneSweet Bitter Cane by G.S. Johnston

4 stars

Sweet Bitter Cane is an historical family saga set in Australia.

The story begins in Italy during 1920. Amelia is getting married but her brother stands in as proxy, because Amelia’s husband lives in Australia. Wishing to escape from the limitations of village life, Amelia agrees to set sail for Queensland as a mail order wife.

Upon her arrival in Brisbane, Amelia is disappointed when Italo, her new husband, is not there to meet her. This is her first experience of being second-place to the mighty sugar cane crop. Instead, oddball and war veteran Fergus Kelly has been sent to escort Amelia to her new home.

Few women live in the area where Italo farms. It is a rough place. There is a small Italian community, but they are despised by the local Australians, white people who ironically want to oust those they see as immigrants.

The story continues through Amelia’s life: the hardships of growing sugar cane, the lead up to World War Two, and the troubles Amelia experiences during it.

I took out most of the paragraph above, as I think it gave away too much of the plot, and was getting into the realm of synopsis rather than review!

The author paints a great picture of the landscape and the hardships of the times. I thought the characters were well-written with a depth which made them believable. I do enjoy stories which feature the vast Australian terrain. This book reminded me of another epic tale that I like, The Thorn Birds.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

One woman. Two men. A war.

Twenty-year-old Amelia marries Italo, a man she’s never met. To escape an Italy reeling from the Great War, she sails to him in Far North Queensland to farm sugarcane. But before she meets her husband, she’s thrown into the path of Fergus, a man who’ll mark the rest of her life.

Faced with a lack of English and hostility from established cane growers, caught between warring unions and fascists, Amelia’s steady hand grows Italo’s business to great success, only for old grudges to break into new revenge. She is tested by forces she couldn’t foresee and must face her greatest challenge: learning to live again.

Sweeping in its outlook, Sweet Bitter Cane is a family saga but also an untold story of migrant women – intelligent, courageous and enduring women who were the backbone of the sugarcane industry and who deserve to be remembered.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview of #MagicalRealism The Four Women by Michelle Keill @michkeill #TuesdayBookBlog

The Four WomenThe Four Women by Michelle Keill

4 stars

The Four Women is an unusual book to define; I have chosen to call it magical realism.

It is set in Paris and revolves around a young couple who are deeply in love. Mats is an artist from Germany, and Grace is a writer. Grace has been befriended by four Parisian women: Ludivine, Marion, Véronique and Eléonore. They are an eclectic mystical group who know details about Grace and Mats that leave Grace feeling uncomfortable.

Mats has been lucky, and Paris has inspired his art; Madam Dumas will take every painting he can create. Grace leaves Mats alone each day while she roams Paris in search of her own muse. Unable to speak French, Grace is persuaded by her new friends to take lessons from a revered teacher, Alexander Martel. His teaching methods are bizarre; if Grace is to accept his help, he tells her, the lessons will be free but the cost may be ‘priceless’. A statement that puzzled Grace , but one she would understand later.

The four women made me think of the Greek furies as well as the role of the fates in a person’s life. I appreciated the author’s choice of character names, particularly when I investigated their meanings. The story is both simple and complex, leaving me with unanswered questions and thoughts of the story long after the ending. An interesting read which may leave the reader quite mystified.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

‘Go inside, Alexandre is expecting you…’

It is the height of summer in Paris when Grace, a young British writer, and her artist boyfriend move to the French capital. Grace is captivated by the glamour of the city and yearns to be part of chic Parisian society. Before she knows it, Grace is befriended by four enigmatic women who represent everything she longs to be. But Grace can’t recall where she met these women, when they entered her life, or how they seem to know so much about her.

The four women insist she seek out Alexandre Martel. He is a French tutor par excellence, and could not only teach her the language, but his influence could also open the door to the exclusive Parisian elite she so admires – although, the women warn her, Alexandre’s methods are not for the faint-hearted.

Her instincts warn her not to get involved, but Grace soon becomes embroiled in Alexandre’s world. He is a brilliant, unsettling teacher. But for his lessons there will be a price to pay…

The Four Women brings a cold shiver to a hot Paris summer in a dark, supernatural fairy tale about the choices we make, the lies we tell, and the inescapable force of destiny.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #WomensFiction #Romance ONE? by @JLCAuthor

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading One? By Jennifer L. Cahil

One? by [Cahill, Jennifer L.]

“One” is a light hearted, easy read, set in 2005. The first of a trilogy, this retro contemporary novel will remind you of the simpler life of work, friends and relationships in the “noughties.” Focused on Penelope, a 28-year-old investment banker, we share her search for a significant relationship while maintaining a high-powered job and enjoying time with her friends. In parallel we meet Zara, her young house-mate, newly arrived from the country and struggling with London life.

We also encounter Charlie, a musician, who was at University with Penelope and also shares their house; Richard, an annoying ex-Uni friend of conspicuous wealth and Alyx, an irresistible, handsome young lawyer, who travels widely with a successful pop group.  The fact that both Alyx and Richard own castles in Scotland is hard to believe and it is no wonder that Zara feels out of her depth amongst such an affluent group.

Each of these young people are looking for good relationships and successful careers but juggling these is not easy and we see the possibility of Penelope being dragged into the life of a stay-at-home wife and mother. It is clear that in the last 14 years women’s roles have moved on.  It is easier to identify with Zara and encouraging to see her increased confidence as she learns to navigate the underground, finds a new job and gains friends.  The books conclusion is dramatic, leaving the reader longing to know how the next few years will pan out for this colourful group.

Book description

It’s London in the mid-noughties before Facebook, iPhones and ubiquitous wifi.
Zara has just moved to London for her first real job and struggles to find her feet in a big city with no instruction manual. Penelope works night and day in an investment bank with little or no time for love. At twenty-eight she is positively ancient as far as her mother is concerned and the pressure is on for her to settle down as the big 3-0 is looming. Charlie spends night and day with his band who are constantly teetering on the verge of greatness. Richard has relocated to London from his castle in Scotland in search of the one, and Alyx is barely in one place long enough to hold down a relationship let alone think about the future. One? follows the highs and lows of a group of twenty-somethings living in leafy SW4.

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One? by [Cahill, Jennifer L.]

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #crimefiction Hometown Boys by Mary Maddox @Dreambeast7 @ryderswriters

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here https://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Hometown Boys by Mary Maddox

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4.5 out of 5 stars

I liked this book a lot.  It’s listed under crime/mystery and women sleuths, and the plot is intricate, convincing and interesting, but it was the characters and relationships between them that kept me turning the pages without being tempted to skip-read.

Kelly Durrell returns to her hometown of Morrisson in Illinois when her aunt and uncle are brutally murdered, supposedly by her ex-boyfriend, Troy.  Although he has confessed, some people think there is more going on behind the scenes, and that Troy was merely a hired hit-man.  This storyline is interspersed with complications within Kelly’s own family; gradually, the two intertwine.

The book begins with the murder, when Troy is egged on, and it is clear that others had an interest in what he is about to do, but as the story unravels it becomes clear that there is far more to it.  Mary Maddox paints the picture of claustrophobic, small-town life so well, from the depressing existence of Kelly’s blinkered mother, to the criminal trailer trash, to the old schoolfriend who wanted to be a model but is now an overweight housewife.  In Morrisson, everyone knows everyone else’s business and, more problematically, makes immediate and often uninformed judgements about it.

This is the sequel to Dark Room, which I read and reviewed for Rosie’s Book Review Team back in 2016, i.e., so long ago that I might as well not have read it (I have a shocking memory), but this did not hamper my enjoyment or understanding of the plot.  There are a few instances in which it is clear that there was a book preceding this one, but enough information is given, in a concise fashion, for there to be no doubt about what is going on.  It might have been a good idea to put a recap in the front of the book, though, all the same.

The novel has a neat ending, with all threads tied up except one, that is left dangling…. for Book 3?  Nice one, I recommend.

Book description

Sometimes going home is the most dangerous thing you can do.

Junkie burnout Troy Ingram murders an elderly couple outside small-town Morrison, Illinois. He’s supposed to make it look like a robbery, but there’s so much blood he panics and flees. When he’s caught by police, he falls back on Plan B: tell everyone who will listen his motive was revenge on the Durrell family.

See, twenty years ago, Kelly Durrell broke his heart and ruined his life.

When Kelly returns to Morrison for the funerals, leaving her life in Boulder still packed in boxes and her relationship with detective Cash Peterson in its infancy, local gossip is quick to reach her. Troy’s story doesn’t make sense, but everyone in town seems happy to blame Kelly.

She can’t even turn to her family for consolation: she and her mother get in an argument every time they talk, her dad doesn’t want to make waves, and her cousins are too busy fighting over their inheritance to care about anything else.

But Troy’s lawyer, Lizzy D’Angelo, is sure someone forced Troy to commit the murders, and that Kelly is the key to finding out who. With Lizzy’s help, Kelly starts digging. Soon she discovers just how many secrets a small town can hide.

Can Kelly shine a light in her hometown’s dark corners without getting herself and her family killed?

Hometown Boys is a smart, tension-filled thriller that will keep you riveted until the surprising, satisfying end.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Horror #shortstory CALL DROPS by @john_f_leonard

Today’s team review is from Olga, she blogs here https://www.authortranslatorolga.com

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading Call Drops by John F Leonard

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I won’t keep you guessing, I loved this story. After reading several longish novels in a similar genre, I fancied a break. And what better break from reading than reading something completely different?

I had read some great reviews of another one of Leonard’s novellas (also from the Dead Boxes Archive series) from members of the review team and knew I was in for a treat.

The story starts innocuously enough. An old man of means, Vincent Preece, (he used to have a business, one of the early businesses in mobile phones, and he sold it making a big profit) who likes to go to second-hand shops and car-boot sales finds something rather unusual and impossible to resist for him. It looks like an old mobile phone, but he does not recognise the model and cannot find any indication of how it works. Still, he has to have it.

If, like me, you loved the old Friday the 13th TV series with its creepy objects, or other similar stories (including some of the films in the Conjuring series), you will have guessed by now that things are going to take a turn for the interesting. And they do.

I don’t want to spoil the read, but let’s say the phone does not keep silent for long, and the atmosphere gets creepier and darker as it progresses. The story, told in the third person but almost totally from Vincent’s point of view, gets deeper and deeper into the protagonist’s psyche. When we meet him, he is a lonely man, somewhat embittered and opinionated (although he keeps those opinions to himself), who has suffered losses in his life, from his business and his cat, to his wife and daughter, but he seems settled and has learned to enjoy the little things in life. He is a keen and witty observer, has a quick mind, and a sharp sense of humour. I am not sure I would say she is the most sympathetic character I’ve read about, but he comes across as a grumpy but amusing old man, and his wit and the plot are more than enough to keep us engaged and turning the pages. If you’re a reader of the genre, you’ve probably guessed that things are not as clear-cut as they seem, but I won’t give you any specific details. You’ll have to read it yourselves.

Is it a horror story? It is not a scary story that will make you jump (or at least I don’t think so), but there are some horrifying scenes in it, graphically so (although no people are involved), and they’ve put some pictures in my mind that will probably remain there for a long time, but it is more in the range of the darker The Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock Presents type of stories than something that will have you screaming out loud. If you read the description of the series, you’ll get a good sense of it, and the epilogue and the closing warning to the reader are very well done and reminded me of both these TV programmes.

The writing style is crisp and to the point, and the author manages to create a credible character with recognisable personality traits despite the briefness of the story. There are also moments when the writing reaches beyond functional storytelling, as if the character had dropped his self-protective shell and his stiff attitude and was talking from the heart.

Here, talking about his wife and daughter:

Their departure had left Vincent mystified and empty. As if the marrow had been sucked out of him. Hard to stand with hollow bones.

But also:

However liberal you tried to be, some folk were simply a waste of good organs. There was no denying it.

I won’t talk about the ending in detail. There is a twist, and although some readers might have their suspicions, I think it works well, and I enjoyed it.

I recommend this book to people who like dark and creepy reads, have a twisted sense of humour, and don’t mind some horrifying scenes. If you love The Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock Presents and are looking for a short and quick-paced read, give it a try. Perhaps we don’t need Dead Boxes’ objects in our lives, but we definitely need more of their stories.

Book description

Vincent likes nothing more than rootling round second-hand shops in search of the interesting and unusual. Items that are lost and forgotten.
Why not? He needs the diversion. Time on his hands and money to burn. His life is affluent and empty. Little on the horizon and memories tinged bittersweet.
That’s all about to change. He’s about to find something that is perhaps better left unfound.

CALL DROPS is a darkly swirling mix of horror and mystery that will stay with you long after the reading is done. It’ll maybe make you think twice about impulse buying, those moments when you simply must have something, even though you don’t need it.
It might cause you to look again at the apparently mundane and everyday …and possibly, just possibly, wonder at what twisted marvels lurk within your mobile phone.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Call Drops: A Horror Story by [Leonard, John F]

#ThrowbackThursday Rosie’s #Bookreview of Cold War #Thriller THE LEIPZIG AFFAIR by Fiona Rintoul @fifikinrocks

The Leipzig AffairThe Leipzig Affair by Fiona Rintoul
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Leipzig Affair is a cold war thriller.

The story opens with Bob recalling the death of Marek, for which he blames himself; this sets an intriguing, dark tone to the book.

The story then turns to 1985, Leipzig, East Germany. Magda is training to be an English interpreter and translator; her hopes are pinned on winning a place on a study programme in Great Britain, so that she may escape the strict socialist regime she rebels against.

Magda once believed in socialism, but when her brother, an Olympic athlete, fell seriously ill, she thought there was a cover-up and for her, a dangerous disbelief set in. For a while she tried to break free, but her father held a powerful position, so she pretended to conform, whilst plotting her escape.

Robert McPherson has a one year study visa for East Germany. He becomes a target for Magda’s plans, but when the Stasi arrest him and throw him out of the country he becomes consumed with guilt, convinced he’s signed a man’s death warrant.

This is the story of two people: Robert who spent years hiding in a drunken haze of guilt, and Magda, whose life was tossed around by others in a dangerous cloak and shadow game. The mind games of the Stasi are notorious and this book gave an interesting insight. Even after ‘The Wall’ came down it didn’t instantly solve all the problems, nor could it wipe away the events which scarred many lives. This isn’t a thriller filled with gruesome murders but the chilling feeling left by twists and turns of spies, when you really don’t know who you can trust. Ideal for those with an interest in tales from the cold war era.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

The year is 1985. East Germany is in the grip of communism. Magda, a brilliant but disillusioned young linguist, is desperate to flee to the West. When a black market deal brings her into contact with Robert, a young Scot studying at Leipzig University, she sees a way to realise her escape plans. But as Robert falls in love with her, he stumbles into a complex world of shifting half-truths – one that will undo them both.
Many years later, long after the Berlin Wall has been torn down, Robert returns to Leipzig in search of answers. Can he track down the elusive Magda?
And will the past give up its secrets?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Social drama The Swooping Magpie by @LizaPerrat

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading The Swooping Magpie by Liza Perrat

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I had not read the preceding book by this author, also set in 1970s Australia, but based on a review by another member of Rosie’s book review team, I decided to delve into this one, The Swooping Magpie, purchasing the book for review.

Having lived through the 1970s sexual revolution, the core theme of the book was one I was intimately familiar with, and my memories heightened the tension and my connection to the unfolding story.

Lindsay Townsend, a beautiful and popular sixteen year old high school student, comes from a home where her father beats her and her mother ignores her. Her teenage hormones fuel her irresistible urge to attract one of her teachers, Jon Halliwell. Much to her surprise, he returns her interest and their interaction blossoms into a physical relationship. As a result of their affair, Lindsay finds herself pregnant. Pregnancy was a huge fear of teenage girls at that time, and parents took a variety of steps to deal with babies conceived out of wedlock. Lindsay’s parents take a truly drastic step and Lindsay is thrust into a world unimaginable to her – one of deprivation, bone-deadening work and dark despair.

While I found myself frustrated by Lindsay’s naiveté and stubbornness in the first part of the book, her strength of character in the face of horrible circumstances was impressive. She does indeed make lemonade from the lemons of her life, until about mid-book, when a truly terrible twist finally beats her down – and the reader along with her. Her trauma defines her future, when she and other women like her work to right the wrongs done to them. Thus the story ends with a message of hope.

The author uses first person to tell Lindsay’s story, which is very effective. The use of constant dialogue heightens the emotions and the tensions. The other young women who fill Lindsay’s world are each unique in their own way; the author does a marvelous job creating them. The anger this book rekindled in me, derived from the Jon Halliwell character, was my anger at that time: men escaped all responsibility, leaving the women to pay the price. The author definitely achieved that goal! While the story is set in Australia, its theme is universal.

I highly recommend this book, especially for younger women who needs to recognize how far we have come.

Book description

The thunderclap of sexual revolution collides with the black cloud of illegitimacy.

Sixteen-year-old Lindsay Townsend is pretty and popular at school. At home, it’s a different story. Dad belts her and Mum’s either busy or battling a migraine. So when sexy school-teacher Jon Halliwell finds her irresistible, Lindsay believes life is about to change.

She’s not wrong.

Lindsay and Jon pursue their affair in secret, because if the school finds out, Jon will lose his job. If Lindsay’s dad finds out, there will be hell to pay. But when a dramatic accident turns her life upside down, Lindsay is separated from the man she loves.

Events spiral beyond her control, emotions conflicting with doubt, loneliness and fear, and Lindsay becomes enmeshed in a shocking true-life Australian scandal. The schoolyard beauty will discover the dangerous games of the adult world. Games that destroy lives.

Lindsay is forced into the toughest choice of her young life. The resulting trauma will forever burden her heart.

Reflecting the social changes of 1970s Australia, The Swooping Magpie is a chilling psychological tale of love, loss and grief, and, through collective memory, finding we are not alone.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Cosy #Mystery Picture Not Perfect by @dehaggerty #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Picture Not Perfect by D.E. Haggerty

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In Picture Not Perfect we are reacquainted Terri, school librarian, and Melanie, school guidance counselor. Melanie’s ex, Owen, is trying his best to rekindle their relationship but Melanie is reluctant. Her over abundance of energy and lack of consideration for others is down to her ADHD and make her a complex and sometimes irritating character. She is aware not many people can cope with her hyper personality and recklessness. Afraid of Owen’s reaction to her diagnosis, she prefers to keep him at arm’s length rather than be let down.

When creepy Alfred Schultz, a social sciences teacher at the school, is found dead, Melanie is in the frame for his murder. The police found photos of her at Schultz’s house and believe he’s been stalking her.

“But he wanted to know you. Was he stalking you?” Davis’ harsh tone was in direct contradiction with Meyer’s gentle enquiries.

[Quote] “Stalking me! If he were stalking me, you’d know about it because I would have filed a police report. Duh. I’m a guidance counselor. I know exactly what steps I need to take when I’m being harassed, which I wasn’t.” By the time she finished her tirade, she was nearly screaming. [Quote]

Melanie is determined to find the real murderer in order to get the police off her back, and draws Terri and new English literature teacher Pru, into her far fetched, madcap, and sometimes dangerous, schemes as she follows up on her suspicions and speculations. The friends manage to uncover more than they’d imagined but will the police believe them?

Being Melanie’s friend would tax many people but Terri especially, and Pru, take her at face value. Terri is used to her antics and Pru is learning fast. Owen’s doing his best to convince Melanie he’s in it for the long haul, but she’s not easy to convince. There’s a good mix of characters and I enjoyed the chapter headings.

Picture Not Perfect is a light, fun cosy mystery, perfect for whiling away an hour or two.

Book description

A picture tells a story. But is it the truth?When the police find pictures of Melanie hanging up at her murdered colleague’s house, they’re convinced he was stalking her. Maybe she even killed him. Melanie was not being stalked! And she certainly didn’t kill her supposed stalker – as if. But Mel – always up for a bit of drama – jumps at the chance to go search for the real killer. When Mel’s ex-boyfriend, Owen, discovers her plans, he pulls out all the stops to ensure she’s safe and to win her back. No matter what happens with the murder investigation, he’s not letting her go. With the police setting their sights on Mel, he may need to jeopardize his own career on the police force to protect her. Will Mel find the real killer before the detectives arrest her for murder?

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