Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Vintage #Mystery HIGH WIRE IN NUALA by @harrietsteel1

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

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading High Wire In Nuala by Harriet Steel

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The racecourse in Nuala was busy, but not for the racing. The Russian circus had come to town with its colourful wagons and big top. Excitement had built with the appearance of posters advertising trapeze artists, jugglers and high wire, even a snake charmer—de Silva’s dislike of the reptiles causing him to shudder at the thought—along with several other acts.

It was full house for opening night and all was going well with the dance troupe opening the show, followed by the rest of the acts, until there was what looked like a terrible accident during the high wire walk. Inspector Shanti de Silva was in the audience with his wife, Jane and their friends, Doctor and Mrs Hebden, so de Silva and Dr Hebden were able to be first on the scene.

“So tense that you could almost touch it, a hush had fallen over the audience. The low, pulsing beat of the drums heightened the apprehension that filled the air. Every time Tatiana paused, there were gasps of alarm. A pain throbbed behind de Silva’s eyes. He felt as if he was making the slow walk with her. At last, the end of the wire was not far away. Tatiana turned her head a fraction towards the audience; he glimpsed a smile of mischievous triumph on her face. She took another step closer to the tower, and the audience exhaled a collective sigh of relief. Soon she would be safe. Clapping began to swell.
And then it died.”

De Silva suspects this was no accident and that he was looking at a murder, but wonders if his hands are tied as his superior, Archie Clutterbuck, believes the suspicious death of a foreigner isn’t a matter for the Nuala police. But as de Silva was questioning the circus folk another body was discovered.

High Wire in Nuala is another enjoyable mystery, set in the evocatively described Ceylon of the 1930s, capturing the sense of place and the contrast between cultures. The rich, multicultural way of life is still evident but also with the possibility of changes on the horizon. It was lovely once again to get reacquainted with the engaging characters at the heart of the series.

The well thought through plot unfolds at a steady pace as de Silva’s investigation leads him to uncover much more than he initially expected.

Book description

Much to the delight of the locals, a colourful Russian circus rolls into Nuala, but the fun ends abruptly when, on the opening night, a tragic accident takes place.
Shanti de Silva and his wife, Jane are among the crowd to witness the accident. Or was it an accident? Inspector de Silva senses murder, and soon, he’s juggling with the evidence. Will the trail lead to the circus’s dashing stunt rider and master of horse, Alexei Goncharov, or to Alexei’s brother Boris, its boisterous ringmaster? Throw a string of jewel thefts and some deadly snakes into the mix and the list of suspects grows.
De Silva will need to keep his wits about him to unravel yet another absorbing puzzle in this charming and addictive mystery series set in the 1930s in exotic Ceylon.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Family Drama BLIND TURN by @caraachterberg

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

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading Blind Turn by Cara Achterberg

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The book description gives an idea of the bare bones of the story, which is not very complicated, at least on the face of it. The novel follows the aftermath of a terrible accident, although perhaps not a totally ‘accidental’ accident, as the girl driving, Jess, was ‘allegedly’ texting while driving. The girl, who suffers a concussion, can’t remember anything about the accident, but her friend Sheila, who was with her in the car, has plenty to say. The victim is a well-known town coach and a friend and mentor of the girl’s father. Let’s say there’s not much love lost for the girl and her family in the town (Jefferson, Texas) after that happens. The novel falls into the categories of family drama (or women’s stories, as the story is told by the two women, Liz, the mother, and Jess, her daughter, in the first-person) as well as a coming of age story. Jess is only sixteen when the accident happens, and she grows up considerably during the next few months, while she discovers who her real friends are, reorders her priorities, gains a new appreciation for both her parents, learns about guilt, and more than anything, about forgiveness. She is not the only one who grows up in the process, and her mother also learns a lot about herself and about those around her.

I’ve mentioned some of the themes discussed in the book, and there are others: disappointed expectations, second chances, the risks of texting and driving (of course), parenting, split-up families, the nature of guilt and forgiveness, the way all lives are interconnected and all actions have consequences, unplanned parenthood, looking after the elderly (especially our parents)… This is not a novel full of secrets and twists, devious characters and bizarre motives, but rather one that we could imagine happening to our own relatives and/or friends (or ourselves). That is one of its strengths. The plot does not require any suspension of disbelief (or not much. At times, I wondered if in real life things wouldn’t have got even more difficult for those involved, and especially some of the male characters seem very understanding and forgiving, although that is refreshing), and as the book is not heavy on details or descriptions, it is even easier to imagine its scenario taking place around us.

I liked all (or most) of the characters. Although I have little in common with Liz or Jess, I found them both easy to empathise with. They are not perfect but are fundamentally good people trying to get on, and they love each other deeply, though at times it might not be that evident even to themselves. The rest of the characters are also pretty decent despite their flaws, and this is not a book where good and evil are clearly separated. Sometimes a mistake can have terrible consequences, and sometimes good people can do terrible things. If I had to choose some of my favourites, I quite liked Katie, Liz’s sister; her friend Avery; their neighbour, Dylan; Ellen, the counsellor; and Fish, a boy Jess’s father knows. Both of their love interests are endearing, although at times they appear a touch too perfect (but things happen that qualify that impression), and even the characters whose behaviour is not exemplary are not despicable. Through the main characters’ narrations we get to share in their doubts, hesitations, fears, defence-mechanisms, disappointments, expectations, hopes, guilt feelings; and it’s impossible not to wonder what we’d do in their place. I have no children, but I could easily imagine what Liz might feel like, and as somebody who’s driven for years and has been lucky enough not to be involved in any serious accidents (none involving injuries), Jess’s plight was instantly recognisable. Their thoughts and their emotions felt true, and the way they behave and eventually grow suits perfectly the kind of human beings they are.

The use of the first-person narration by the two main female characters works well, as we get both sides of the story, with access to more background into the changes and the actions of each character than the other has, and it also provides us with some distance from each woman and an outsider perspective on them, and we come to realise that they are more alike than they think. The author is both skilled and thoughtful enough to avoid common-places, and she does not give her characters an easy way out. They have to work through their issues and earn the hard lessons they learn. Saying that, I loved the ending that manages to be both, open and hopeful.

The writing flows easily, and although the novel is not full of action or a page-turner in the standard sense, there are very emotional moments. We become so involved in the lives of the characters that it’s difficult to put the book down, as we care too much for them to rest until we know what happens. I read a review written by somebody from Jefferson, Texas, who felt somewhat disappointed because she had expected to recognise some of the landmarks, so beware if you have similar expectations. On the other hand, I got a good sense of what it felt like to live there (or at least in the Jefferson of the novel) and to know the characters personally, and that worked perfectly well for me.

I thought I’d share a few of the passages I highlighted (although, remember mine was an ARC copy, so there might be some slight changes in the final version):

Why does forgiveness require a sacrifice? That piece of Christianity never made sense to me. That sounds more like making a deal than offering forgiveness.

I am the roadrunner, running in thin air, moments from smacking into reality.

Sometimes it feels like I’m in a dystopian novel being controlled by a cosmic author who makes the characters do things no one would ever dream they would do —especially themselves.

I am different too. I am finished withholding forgiveness and clinging to my anger and fear like some kind of sick armor to shield my heart.

I recommend this novel to readers who love realistic/plausible coming-of-age stories and family dramas that don’t fall into the trap of trying to make everything right or easy for the characters while at the same time avoiding unnecessary twists used simply for effect. If you’re looking for an inspiring story you can connect with and characters you’d love to have as neighbours or friends, this is your book. There is heartache, tears, and also a process of growth and lessons to be learned, and you’ll feel better for having read it. And what more can we ask for! (Oh, I almost forgot! There are dogs as well!)

Book description

In the aftermath of a fatal texting and driving accident, a mother and daughter must come to terms with the real meaning of forgiveness.

Liz Johnson single-handedly raised an exemplary daughter. Jessica is an honor-student, track star, and all-around good kid. So how could that same teenager be responsible for the death of the high school’s beloved football coach? This is Texas, where high school football ranks right up there with God, so while the legal battle wages, the public deals its own verdict.

Desperate for help, Liz turns to a lawyer whose affection she once rejected and attempts to play nice with her ex-husband. Jessica faces her angry peers and her own demons as she awaits a possible prison sentence for an accident she doesn’t remember.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #BookReview Of THE DILAPIDATED DETECTIVES by Paul Weinberger

THE DILAPIDATED DETECTIVES (Warning: contains jeopardy, treachery and comedy) by [Paul  Weinberger]THE DILAPIDATED DETECTIVES by Paul Weinberger

3.5 stars

The Dilapidated Detectives contains three mystery stories, each one solved by semi-amateur sleuthing duo Claude and Marjorie.

The first story is set in a retirement home and involves the suspicious death of one of the residents, while the second story concerns sex trafficking and the third involves a suspected serial killer. There is some humour as well as some good detective work from this pair of octogenarian investigators.

The actual investigations were the best part of this book, even if some of the action and events were rather convenient at times. However, I didn’t feel that choice of narrative style supported the solid mystery base. There tended to be a lot of ‘telling’ rather than ‘showing’ of the story from an all seeing omnipotent narrator which led to some confusing head hopping in places, while the quantity of cliches used took away the opportunity for the author to impress the reader with his own writing skills. 

I liked the idea of this book, but I really think it could benefit from the help of a good editor to lift  the way the story was told to the higher standard of the detective work.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

When an elderly lady is found dead in her bed at the Fern Lea retirement home, nobody suspects foul play. Nobody except two fellow residents, Claude Simmons and Marjorie Watson. Since no-one will listen to them, they form a detective duo and begin their own investigation – each at the age of eighty. They infuriate the retirement home manager, aggravate the local police force and along the way place themselves in considerable jeopardy. Against all the odds they solve the murder, leaving behind them a trail of considerable mayhem.

But they don’t stop there. Given their success, Claude and Marjorie are asked to investigate two more cases. They continue to develop their trademark technique of placing themselves in harm’s way and continue to create mayhem wherever they go. The perfect way to solve five more grisly murders.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

THE DILAPIDATED DETECTIVES (Warning: contains jeopardy, treachery and comedy) by [Paul  Weinberger]

Rosie’s #Bookreview Of #YoungAdult #HistoricalFiction BLOOD AND SILVER by Vali Benson

Blood and SilverBlood and Silver by Vali Benson

3 stars

Blood and Silver is a young adult historical fiction story set in the silver boom town of Tombstone, Arizona, in 1880.

This is the story of twelve-year-old Clarissa, the daughter of a prostitute who is shown kindness by the town doctor, the sheriff and in particular the notorious China Mary, a lady who has eyes and ears everywhere.

Clarissa is desperate to get her mother away from the brothel and its dangerous owner. With help from China Mary, Clarissa gets a job in a new hotel where she can earn her own money. But danger is never far away and Clarissa must be brave and work hard to make a better future for herself and her mother.

I was intrigued by the setting and the storyline. The author provided a good mix of real life and fictional characters. The writing style tended towards ‘telling rather than showing’ which was a shame and in some areas the plot felt rather rushed and over simplified. However, I am aware that I’m not the target audience for this. Overall a good story, but the style of delivery needed a bit more tweaking for this to stand out for me.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

What is a twelve year old girl to do when she finds herself in the silver boom town of Tombstone, Arizona, in 1880, and her only home is a brothel and her only parent is a drug-addicted mother? If she is Carissa Beaumont, she outsmarts the evil madam and figures a way out.

After tricking the madam, Miss Lucille, into summoning a doctor for her mother, Lisette, she discovers that Miss Lucille has been drugging her. She and the kind doctor make a plan to try to save Lisette by dosing her down on the drug.

Doctor Henderson tells Carissa that the only source for the drug is a Chinese immigrant named China Mary, who lives in Hoptown, at the other end of Tombstone. Carissa has no choice but to go to the powerful woman for help. Many say that China Mary is the one who really controls Tombstone.

China Mary admires Carissa’s brave spirit, and uses her influence to get her a job at the new Grand Hotel, which will free Carissa from her many duties at Miss Lucille’s. She will work along with Mary’s twelve year old niece, Mai-Lin. The two girls become fast friends.

Then, disaster strikes, and the two girls must work together to stay alive.

With a host of colorful characters and meticulous attention to period detail, Blood and Silver is a story of the best and worst of human nature, the passion for survival and the beauty of true friendship.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #BookReview Of THE GROSTON RULES by Mark Binder, a coming-of-age American high school drama.

The Groston RulesThe Groston Rules by Mark Binder

3.5 stars

The Groston Rules is a coming-of-age American high school drama.

This is the final school year for Isaac and his diverse group of friends; it should be an easy coast to the end. However, a catalogue of disasters befalls the friends and their school; it looks like the only memories they’ll have of their final year will be bad ones. So they work together to create The Groston Rules and design their own commemorations.

Isaac and his friends are a lively bunch, the dialogue flows well, filled with teenage slang and plenty of swearing. I thought that the author did a great job making the male characters come alive; however, the female ones, particularly Helen, lacked enough feminine mannerisms to make them plausible.

Each chapter has a colour photo heading accompanied by a quote from one of the characters from the book, while the episodes are peppered with footnote markers; their explanations are located at the end of each chapter. I found the footnotes irritating when reading this in kindle format. In my opinion this style would suit a paperback version better. 

Overall, this is a humourous adolescent tale suitable for older young adult readers. Although I was invited to read this for review purposes, I know that I’m not the target audience. The story was okay, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

All they wanted was to get high and graduate…
Isaac, Adam, Helen, Charlie, Sean, Jésus and Rover had planned on coasting through their final semester at Ashby Bryson High. They called themselves Team Bomb Shelter, and their plan was simple, get stoned, play video games, get into college, and get the hell out of Groston.
Instead, they get caught up in chaos.
Adam assaults two football stars. Fat Charlie’s father nearly dies of a heart attack. Jesus can’t make his art while chauffeuring his siblings. Rover’s never had a date. Helen’s house is destroyed in a flood. Sean is coming out of the closet. And Isaac can’t get into college to save his life.
The last straw is when Ashby Bryson High School is suddenly shut down, and they’re bussed to Fectville Regional, which sucks. Big time.
But every time Team Bomb Shelter gets knocked down, they get up again, come together, and solve their problems. They throw the rules out the window and make up their own.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #Mystery JANE IN St. PETE by @CynthiaHarriso1

Today’s team review is from Barb, she blogs here https://barbtaub.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Barb has been reading Jane In St. Pete by Cynthia Harrison

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When Sherlock Holmes, Lord Peter Wimsey, Harry Bosch, or James Bond get older (or at least the actors playing them do), they just brush back a few (distinguished, of course) gray hairs and carry on carrying on with younger (beautiful, also of course) women. But what happens when female detectives get older? Is there a stop between teenage Nancy Drew and little old Miss Marple with her knitting?

Author Cynthia Harrison gives us a mature woman as amateur detective in her latest cozy mystery, Jane in St. Pete. Following the mostly unlamented demise of her workaholic husband Stan—whose only redeeming feature seemed to be that his unexpected death saved her the time and expense of filing for divorce—Jane left her old job and life in Detroit to move to Florida. She’d spent decades in a loveless relationship for the usual reasons. “She stayed for the kids. For the financial security. For the insurance. For the appearance of a normal family.”

Instead of the divorce she always promised herself, Jane became more like Stan, throwing herself wholly into first raising her two children and then into her career as an art lecturer. When we meet her, Jane is literally standing at the door of her new Florida life, having left job, house, and identity as ‘Stan’s wife’ behind in Detroit. Before her is a vibrant Florida lifestyle in Winding Bayou, an “over-fifties” community in which her mid-fifties age makes her one of the youngest residents.

Although she’s left her art career behind, Jane is instantly captivated by the outsider art created by a local native artist, Waylon Silvercloud. But Jane and her new friends at Winding Bayou are stunned when the artist is found brutally murdered. As more of her new friends are drawn into the investigation, a Jane is asked to help detective Jesse Singer with the art-related aspects to the crime.

And that’s where, for me, this book became interesting. There were plenty of red herrings along the way, including a disconnected and basically superfluous romantic subplot involving a younger neighbor and an FBI agent. But the solution to the crime was fairly obvious, and the motive frankly unlikely. That didn’t really matter beside the gift of seeing Jane slowly unfold like one of the local Florida blossoms. 

When she first arrives in Florida, Jane is almost shocked by how comfortable her new “senior” neighbors are with emotions she’s locked away—attraction, lust, romance, jealousy. It’s interesting to follow Jane’s emotional journey as she opens herself to these soul-shaking feelings of pain mixed with fragile but growing romantic attraction. In addition, we see Jane navigate her archetypal role as mother to her angry daughter, and daughter to her own wise mother. And of course, there’s the fun of seeing fish-out-of-water Jane trying to adapt to her new Florida surroundings. When shots ring out during a trip to a local restaurant, Jane is stunned as everyone around her brings out their gun, from her friends to the waitress and the musicians.

‘I don’t own a firearm,’ Jane said. George and Kim turned amazed faces toward hers. ‘This is Florida, everybody owns a gun,’ Kim said.

If it wasn’t for the pleasure of following Jane’s character change and develop, this would be a far less interesting and entertaining book. But seeing a mature woman step up to help and defend her friends, investigate a crime, and build a new life while slowly accepting herself as worthy of sexual feelings and romantic emotions is what, for me, makes Jane in St. Pete a recommended read.

4 stars.

Book description

Widowed art lecturer Jane Chasen is not an impulsive woman. Why, then, does the formerly methodical workaholic quit her job, sell her house, and move from Detroit to Florida? Instead of pondering her atypical behavior, she takes a closer look at a neighbor’s intriguing outdoor art installation. Days later, Detective Jesse Singer discovers the murdered artist in his studio. With Jane’s help, Singer finds the victim’s bloody shirt, inexplicably located within Jane’s gated community. Singer knows nothing about art, and as he closely questions Jane, she offers to help with the art angle of the case. Singer soon takes Jane up on her offer. Then, Jane begins to receive anonymous threats. Singer, determined to protect Jane, keeps her closer to his side than ever—she’s not complaining.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #FamilyDrama BLIND TURN by @CaraAchterberg

Today’s team review is from Jenni, she blogs here https://jenniferdebie.com/the-miscellaneous-drawer-blog/

#RBRT Review Team

Jenni has been reading Blind Turn by Cara Achterberg

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I suppose this review should start with a disclaimer: I’m a Texan.

Not only am I a Texan, I’m a northeast Texan. I was born and raised roughly 50 miles from the city of Jefferson, where Cara Sue Achterberg’s Blind Turn nominally takes place. This setting is what drew me to her novel in the first place, despite tight family drama’s like this laying way outside my usual genre.

For fellow Texans out there looking for loving descriptions of the historic red brick post office, the Beauty and the Book hair salon, Big Cypress Bayou, or the annual Krewe of Hebe Mardi Gras parades, I’m afraid you will have to look elsewhere. Achterberg’s “Jefferson” is a kind of Anytown USA, rather than specifically Jefferson TX, zip code 75657.   

For me, the weakness of Achterberg’s work can be found in this. In a novel where one of the biggest hurdles is that the entire town turns their backs on the protagonists, the absence of that uniquely Jefferson spice is felt keenly. A weekend jaunt through Jefferson, the B&B and antiquing scenes are fabulous!, or even an afternoon stint on Wikipedia would have helped lend the novel local flavor and enriched the setting and the story immensely. When someone tries so hard to write a generic small town, they lose some of the DNA that makes every small town unique.

That said, there are some universal truths in Achterberg’s novel. Truths like small towns are places were “people mistake proximity for intimacy”, and frequent musings on the “invisible and impossible ways” people’s lives intertwine. There is beauty in these universalities, and in the ways that a mother’s love can transcend even doubt about her child’s innocence, in the redemption and of a flawed father, the generosity of a near-stranger who becomes a part of a family, and the maturing of a teenager.

There is beauty in forgiveness, of the self and of others, and that too lies at the heart of this very human novel full of very human characters.

The great strength in Achterberg’s work lies in this humanity, in the ways she makes her characters stumble and fall as they struggle to grow into themselves. There are no perfect people in this novel, but they’re all trying, and damn do we love to watch them try.

When Jess runs away from home, all of sixteen and crumbling beneath the weight of the world, our hearts run with her. She has been through so much, physically and emotionally, how can we begrudge her this escape?

And when she comes home? When her parents find her and finally realize how much hurt their child has been hiding and they break with the weight of it? How can an empathetic reader not break as well?

Despite the story taking place across several months, Blind Turn is a rapid read. The inciting incident, a horrific car crash that upends everyone’s lives, happens about page three and the punches keep coming from there. Courtroom drama, complicated family dynamics, small-town histrionics, and workplace politics all come into play in Achterberg’s story, just as they do in real life.

And just like in real life, the ending is messy. A man is killed in the opening car crash and there is no un-ringing that bell. Jess, who was driving the car, her parents, who have alternately fallen together, apart, and together-ish again throughout the novel, the dead man’s widow, and the town as a whole all have to learn to live with that. Lines of love and loyalty are tangled, but everyone we care about as readers is working towards better. Working towards being whole.

There’s no riding off into the sunset here, but there is satisfaction in the conclusion both in redemption well earned, and in completing a story well written.

3.75/5 for fellow Texans who see what it could be with a little research.

4/5 for everyone else.

Book description

In the aftermath of a fatal texting and driving accident, a mother and daughter must come to terms with the real meaning of forgiveness.

Liz Johnson single-handedly raised an exemplary daughter. Jessica is an honor-student, track star, and all-around good kid. So how could that same teenager be responsible for the death of the high school’s beloved football coach? This is Texas, where high school football ranks right up there with God, so while the legal battle wages, the public deals its own verdict.

Desperate for help, Liz turns to a lawyer whose affection she once rejected and attempts to play nice with her ex-husband. Jessica faces her angry peers and her own demons as she awaits a possible prison sentence for an accident she doesn’t remember.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #CrimeFiction MY HANDS ARE TIED by Seam Campbell

Today’s team review is from Sandra, she blogs here https://www.firthproof.co.uk/index.php/book-reviews

#RBRT Review Team

Sandra has been reading My Hands Are Tied by Sean Campbell

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In My Hands Are Tied, DCI David Morton and his wife, Sarah, are invited at the last minute – only a fortnight before – to their son’s wedding, and find themselves at Terra Farm; home to the Collective, and now to Stephen and Abigail, the future daughter-in-law they have yet to meet. The entrance is hidden behind high hedges and a security gate where they are asked to surrender their mobile phones. This level of security all seems a bit much to DCI Morton, but he goes along with it, not wishing to rock the boat. His relationship with his son is difficult enough already without him ruining the ceremony that is about to take place.

When they eventually get inside, Terra Farm is not what they were expecting. It is more like a small village tucked away in a valley, hidden from sight, but actually very close to civilization in SW London. At the centre is the barn, where the ceremony is due to take place, surrounded by eight bungalows, most of which are a bit ramshackle and rundown.

What follows is a bit of a homage to classic detective stories and the ‘country house’ mystery where all the characters are trapped inside, and the detective has his work cut out discovering who the killer is. Here it is a gated commune, dedicated to living an alternative lifestyle, where everyone has something to hide.

Having had a few too many beers after the ceremony, DCI Morton is forced to stay the night. He is woken in the morning by the sound of gunshots; one of the commune members, Guy Rosenberg, has been murdered. Worried that his son might end up being wrongly charged with the crime, he goes against protocol and carries on investigating, when he should have handed the case over to another officer, hoping to find the killer before the weekend is over. Losing his job doesn’t seem to bother him as he was near retirement anyway, but I thought his lack of concern over losing his pension, if found out, was a bit unbelievable.

The story is well written and the characters fleshed out and believable, even though some of them are decidedly weird, but something about this book just does not work for me. This is number seven in a series, but the police officers working on the case did not convince me that they were part of a team. One striking omission is the lack of humorous banter usually found in crime novels.  

I have not read any of the other books in this series, but, while the story worked perfectly well as a standalone, perhaps I would have gained some insight into why this team were not convincing if I had read the series from the beginning.

Book description

A last-minute wedding invite drags DCI Morton and his wife to the grounds of Terra Farm to watch his son marry the fiancée they’ve never met.

Nerves about meeting the bride prove to be the least of their worries when they’re awoken by gunshots and one of the guests – the bride’s ex – is found dead.

When Morton’s son becomes the prime suspect, the choice is simple: sit back and let another detective work to imprison his son, or work outside the rules to clear the family name.

As if he had any choice.

MY HANDS ARE TIED is the 7th and final instalment in the DCI Morton series of crime novels.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #Thriller GHOST by Michael Jack Webb

Today’s team review is from Sherry, she blogs here https://sherryfowlerchancellor.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Sherry has been reading Ghost by Michael Jack Webb

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This book had a good story, buried in way too much minutiae and exposition. The characters had interesting backgrounds and the premise of the story was great. Sadly, the action was interrupted constantly by overlong descriptions and encyclopedia “dialogue” being inserted way too often. The periods of natural dialogue were good, but there was not enough of that to satisfy this reviewer.

The heroine’s parents disappeared, and rather than being upset and focused on finding them (she’s an FBI profiler), she’s more concerned with what the local cop is wearing when he shows up and that he looks like Chris Pratt. There’s a long section on Chris Pratt and how she binged watched his movies in grad school. This was the first of many such interruptions in the flow of the story.

At one point, the main characters are driving along investigating the case of the serial killer that takes her attention away from finding her parents. She mentions a winery and stopping to get a bottle of her favorite wine. She then goes into a long one-sided discussion of the history of the winery. This totally took the reviewer out of the story and was not the only time such exposition did so.

Each time the characters went to another location, one of them would go into great detail about the history of the area (to the point it was laughable as it appeared whole sections of the encyclopedia were cut and pasted into the text.)

Another time, they ate at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park and we got the whole history of the hotel as well as the town. These numerous interruptions of the actual plot of the story—that added nothing to moving the tale along—began to grate on this reviewer’s nerves and caused the focus of the tale to meander off on tangents.

I kept reading as I was interested in how the story would turn out, but sadly, the author seemed to get in his own way. What could’ve been a tight, taut, thriller turned into a slog of too much information. Research is important to add richness to the story line, but telling the reader everything that was learned in the research for the novel takes away from the pacing and excitement of the story unfolding in a thrilling manner. Little tidbits sprinkled in to add authenticity to the settings/circumstances is good, but wholesale chunks of research take the reader out of the story.

I’d give this one three stars.  If it was tighter and there was not so much dialogue that sounded more like recitation from the encyclopedia, I would’ve rated it much higher. I most likely won’t read the next in the series even though I like the storyline. The information-dump style is not for me. I much prefer a tightly written, fast paced story. For those who like an intense history lesson while reading a novel, this one may be right up your alley.

Book description

Enter a world where nothing is what it appears to be, and every clue leads an extraordinary young woman deep into the heart of darkness and beyond.

Kate Justice, FBI’s youngest Profiler, is assigned to find a serial killer with supernatural abilities.

The killer is elusive, cunning, and seemingly invincible.

Kate races against time to discover who or what is behind the gruesome murders and prevent another brutal killing.

She soon fears she’s in over her head as stunning revelations about her mysterious ancestry surface.

Hunter becomes the prey as the Ghost in the Darkness killer plays a vicious cat and mouse game, drawing Kate into a deadly confrontation.

Uncovering the truth will challenge her beliefs about the world around her and her understanding of what is real, what is a myth, and what is something in between.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #Humour THE CHEF WHO MADE ONIONS CRY by Chilli Kippen @kiplingpress

Today’s team review is from Sue. She blogs here https://suelbavey.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Sue has been reading The Chef Who Made Ionions Cry by Chilli Kippen

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The Chef Who Made Onions Cry: A Goldfarb Adventure is a fun-filled story set onboard a ‘wellness’ cruise with a cast of wonderfully quirky characters. It is the second in a series about Pushkin Goldfarb, a professional gambler from New York, but it is not necessary to have read the first book in order to enjoy this one.

We are introduced to each character chapter by chapter and each one seems more unusual than the last. The chapters are all written in third person POV, occasionally even from the point of view of the pig and also from a mischievous albatross that also travels with the ship.

Chef Armand the titular chef, hails from Marseilles, where he lives alone with only his beloved pet truffle-hunting pig for company. Due to a misunderstanding with the local imam he fears for the life of his pig, which he antagonistically named ‘Arafat’ and decides to bring her on the cruise with him. This is much to the disgust of the other kitchen staff, since this means there is a pig in the galley most of the time while they are preparing food.

We are introduced to ex-psychiatrist turned assassin Major Barbara Cock who has been retained by a mysterious island-dwelling man called Mr Rufus whose spouse, Mrs Rufus just happens to be a dog. He wants Major Cock to kill the mysterious Sheikh Hasim. 

“A stocky woman severely dressed but not unattractive with shoulders of a weightlifter.”

Sheikh Hasim travels with his double who he claims to need for security purposes, due to death threats. 

“At the Captain’s table, the Saudi reclined, like a pile of freshly washed laundry next to Captain Svensen”

Animal rights groups are threatening the sheikh’s fast food chain due to the unethical manner in which his sheep are transported. It is this animal cruelty which has led to Mr Rufus hiring the assassin.

Gold digger Pamela Lawson-Groves III is also onboard, searching for her next husband and she sets her sights on the sheikh. Unbeknownst to her all of her romantic dealings with him are actually with his double, a penniless out-of-work actor whose desperate state of unemployment led him to undertake plastic surgery in order to take on the role of the sheikh’s double.

We also meet Pushkin Goldfarb, who is there to win big at Blackjack. The previous year (in the previous book in this series) he stole away both one of the sheikh’s wives and also a large amount of his money during a game of Blackjack on a cruise. Goldfarb encounters a bunch of elderly bridge players onboard and decides to teach Blackjack so that he can relieve them of their retirement funds.

Mahmoud is a member of the kitchen staff on the ship and is the nephew of the imam in Marseilles, who has declared a fatwa on the chef’s pig. When Mahmoud finds favour with the chef and is made sous-chef he is faced with a difficult choice – obeying his uncle by carrying out the fatwa and killing the pig he has grown fond of, or a possible glittering career working alongside the pig’s owner. 

Mahmoud’s unfriendly uncle the imam has persuaded a congregant, Ahmed to also take a position on board the ship in order to ensure Mahmoud gets rid of his pig nemesis, thus completing the fatwa during the cruise. 

The story unfolds with many opportunities for farcical humour. A strawberry birthmark on the left buttock of the sheikh’s double, with the words ‘lick don’t bite’ tattooed below it is the only difference between them. So how is Major Barbara Cock going to find out which sheikh has it? She actually comes up with a good plan but is foiled by the truffle-hunting pig who thinks the double’s discarded underpants smell like a truffle and follows her very sensitive nose into their cabin.

This was a delightfully amusing story, full of unexpected twists and turns. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking to be entertained by a quirky cast of entertaining cariacatures and stereotypes and the nonsensical events they get wrapped up in.

An assortment of recipes made using truffles are included at the end of book.

I will be on the lookout for any subsequent ‘Goldfarb Adventures’ and will be recommending this one to family and friends.

Book description

As on all cruise ships, the most important person on board the Pacific Belle, apart from the Captain is the Master Chef. It is the quality and yes indeed the quantity of food that makes or breaks a cruise.

The reader is introduced to Master Chef Armand Barrique – twice Michelin starred – dreamt recipes, who is not only a Master Chef but also a man of sensitivity and devoted to his trainee expert truffle-hunter pig. Chef is also central to the plot and his planning and delivery of the spectacular Versailles dinner is a highlight, not only for the cruise guests, but also for the reader.

Our old friend Alexander Pushkin Goldfarb continues his run of luck in the ship’s casino as he observes the foibles of his fellow passengers while new characters such as Major Barbara Cock, a retired army psychiatrist and now assassin for hire, introduce elements of intrigue and revenge and somewhat paradoxically humour and sympathy for her cause.

As in her previous novel, as the plot twists and turns in Ms Kippen’s hilarious and deliberately absurd trademark style, she tackles another important social issue and delivers a powerful blow to the proponents of Live Animal Transportation. The marked contrast of sober descriptions of this cruel practice brings home the message that it must be stopped! Now!

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