Liz has been reading Trouble In Nuala by Harriet Steel
Trouble in Nuala by Harriet Steel
Trouble in Nuala is the first in a series of investigations by Inspector Shanti de Silva in colonial Ceylon. Although a Sri Lankan himself, Shanti is married to Jane, an Englishwoman whom he had met after she came to the island as a governess. They mix in the “best” social circles of Nuala, up in the hills far from the busy city of Colombo. An experienced policeman, he may feel frustrated by his junior police officers and by the patronising attitude of Clutterbuck, the assistant government agent, but he is determined to investigate all cases without preference.
Although mainly concerned with minor offences such as neglected horses running wild, the sudden death of a bombastic, unpopular tea planter strikes de Silva as being suspicious, so he quietly makes inquiries into all the circumstances. The lonely widow and the planter’s stepson were not happy, the plantation was making a loss and a young lawyer had recently accused the planter of mistreating his workers.
Interspersed with the gradual investigation is a delightful description of the beauty of Sri Lanka and of the pretentious social life of the British community living there in the 1930s. Shanti and Jane have a respectful relationship based on love and consideration, so he willingly eats cucumber sandwiches when he would much prefer a spicier snack.
This gentle, intelligent policemen could well become renowned for his careful and thoughtful approach to crime in an enthralling environment. A very enjoyable and relaxing book to read. I look forward to his next investigation.
The Devil You Know is a thriller in a fictitious town in Lincolnshire, England. The book opens with the murder of a young woman by an unknown man. The story-line revolves round the possible perpetrator of a mounting series of murders. I like this author’s style of writing so I jumped at the chance to read an ARC of this book as she takes her writing and her readers on a bold move with this genre.
After the opening scene, events turn back to a year earlier, 2015. We are introduced to key characters who all discover that those close to them have valid suspicious actions which make them all capable of being the one the police are after. Juliet’s husband is a bully and regularly goes out late at night claiming it’s for business meetings. Steve’s friend Dan, is the spitting image of the e-fit photo of the man the police suspect. Tamsin’s liked colleague Jake Fallon for ages and when they finally get together she wants more than a one night stand. But why is Jake giving her the brush off and avoiding her? Maisie’s Mum has a new boyfriend, but just how loyal is he? Dorothy’s routine loving son Orlando, starts staying out late and not attending club meetings he’s always been to.
The plot is character driven, building the layers in delicious anticipation with plenty of red herrings which had me mentally accusing the most obscure characters of the deadly deed, then just when I had convinced myself I’d solved the case a new piece of evidence was dropped into the story-line and off my thoughts went on another tangent. My mind doesn’t work methodically like a police detective, and when the body count began to grow I needed to eagerly read on as I pointed my accusing finger at yet another character.
By the end I wanted to have a cuppa and a chat to Dorothy, who seemed a little lonely and I found Juliet very intriguing, which just shows that even with a dark genre, readers can still empathise with really well written characters. The last fifth of the book had some marvellous twists and complimented the different approach to thriller writing that made this a superb read.
Terry has been reading The DCI Jones Casebook: Ellis Flynn by Kerry J Donovan
THE DCI JONES CASEBOOK: Ellis Flynn by Kerry J Donovan
3 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by me as a member of Rosie Amber’s Review Team
I’ve read a couple of this author’s other books, and still like On Lucky Shores best, which I recommend highly. This one is a standard sort of British detective crime thriller, generally well planned out. I liked the plot itself, and thought the baddies were suitably horrible, very convincing. From what I can see, Mr Donovan certainly knows his stuff about police procedures, no problems there. Some reviews say the plot is a bit far-fetched, but this is fiction, isn’t it? It wasn’t a problem for me.
I thought where this book fell down was the characterisation/dialogue, which was, at times, almost like a something out of a comic book, or a spoof; Captain Jean-Luc, the French detective (‘Jean-Luc, the same as your Captain Picard inStar Trek’), came across like something out of 1980s comedy series ‘Allo ‘Allo; he and Jones’s sidekick Alex, a Swedish Brigitte Nelson type, preface their English phrases with ‘how do you say‘ every five minutes, not forgetting Alex’s ‘ja‘ at the end of too many sentences, and their misunderstandings of English phrases ‘is this what is called in England being a butter-fingers?’ and something about uncovering ‘the Ring of theVice‘. We know they’re French and Scandinavian; it’s not necessary to remind the reader every time they open their mouths. I couldn’t decide if it was meant to be spoof-like or not; I just found it irritating.
The book begins with the wonderfully depraved Ellis Flynn’s grooming of young teenager Hollie Jardine; this made for an excellent opening to pull the reader straight in, but was, alas, was let down by poor proofreading, and by the fact that part of the initial detective work hinged on the discovery of some photo booth pictures of Hollie and Ellis. Hollie was so excited about these, persuading Ellis to have them taken. This leapt out at me: do teenagers do the photo booth thing any more? I thought that was more something of 15 or 20 years ago; these days, teenagers take photos and videos on their phones, constantly. I know this is set in 2011, but virtually all teenagers had camera phones/smartphones by then.
I’m sorry not to give a better review, because Mr Donovan is a jolly good writer in so many ways, and I can see by others that this book has been received very well, so perhaps it’s just me! As far as the plot and suspense go it’s fine; it’s just the dialogue and proofreading that let it down—and I’d still read another book by him, especially if he wants to revisit Chet Walker from On Lucky Shores!
Breaking East is a YA dystopia story set in futuristic Wales. The book opens with an introduction to B-One a 25000 acre settlement on the west tip of Wales filled with criminals and their families who are there to work in a toxic power plant.
Known to the inhabitants as Bone, it is a derelict place with people living as best they can in rough conditions, scavenging, hungry and under careful watch each day from guards and The Law. Children of the criminals are allowed limited access out across the bridge to special areas near The Burrows and classes in re-education.
Atty is seventeen years old, she lives alone since her mother was killed in the last riots and her father vanished. Left under the watchful eye of Joe, who heads up the Bone resistance. When kids start going missing, Joe gives Atty the job of watching a brother and sister from The Burrows. She’s soon on the trail of some nasty individuals as she dodges both the law and ruthless people outside of Bone.
The book opened well with the descriptions of the dystopia world, and there are some good ideas in the story line. I would have liked more about the sinister events at The Manor and less about the journey there, plus a bigger play on the resistance. Lots of good ideas with room to push some ideas to the edge of writing in this genre, not sure that the teen romance thread was necessary and the book maybe a tad too long for the YA market.
The Wright of the subtitle of this book is Kara Wright and the Tran is Tien Tran. They are now private investigators having been combat veterans for an elite intelligence unit and I found that this is an action, rather than character, led tale. The story opens with a killing and a brutally efficient one at that and it is this part of the story, and the ongoing police investigation into the death, that takes place in Huntingdon.
Wright and Tran are hired by siblings Michael and Zoe to look into the disappearance of their parents and as a consequence they get to use their former training and while there is much to like about this book I think it was this that interested me most.
Wright and Tran have an extensive network of skilled help they can call on and I really enjoyed the detailed description of how they went about their investigation. There is extreme military precision at play here, a solid knowledge of correct procedure for covert surveillance, following suspects and obtaining the information needed to lay a trap to expose a network of crime and corruption. Clearly Andrew is an author who knows what he is talking about.
Alongside all of this the reader is kept abreast of the ongoing police investigation back in Huntingdon as the net tightens on the killer and I kept wondering all the way through how the first death was going to tie into the rest of the story as it seemed a little abstract but it did all eventually fit together and I thought the ending worked well. Although this is the first in the series be assured that there is a satisfying dénouement here along with a perfect set up for the following book(s).
This story would be enjoyed by all those who like plenty of realistic action along with well-written military style investigation that exposes a seedy world of crime and this author has done a great job.
Suraya has been reading Trust Me I Lie by Louise Marley
Trust Me I lie
This review is written as part of Rosie’s review team and I received the book for free.
This novel starts predictably when the hero, policeman Ben, and heroine, heiress Milla stumble across each other on a stormy night. She is on the road, wet and bedraggled.
‘He hit the brakes and then he hit her.’ (11)
This is policeman Ben’s first encounter with Milla.
He was fuming over his tense meeting with his ex-wife and distracted. It all sounds familiar right down to his seeing through Milla’s lies and not trusting her. And as always the case in these scenarios the feeling is mutual.
She steals from him and disappears. Meantime, he is called to investigate the murder of Camilla Graham who is laid out in a four poster bed dressed in a gown by Dior. When he is told the victim is Camilla Graham, he knows this is not true, or is it? If this is Camilla Graham who was the woman he met on the road and took in for the night? The story twists and turns as Ben tries to unravel the true identities of Camilla, Kiran and Milla. They are related but how?
The plot twists and turns, drawing on events eighteen years before and weaving them into the present raising questions about Camilla Graham’s family as it does. It has pace and the characters are well drawn.
And of course the right two people get together at the end although at times it seems this could never happen, giving the reader a reason to keep turning the page.
I recommend it as a read to escape life’s mundane realities. After all who can resist a troubled but fully independent heiress who does not do a thing she is told and in doing so takes big risks all in the name of finding out who killed her mother and family.
She is sharp witted, intelligent and a match for senior police officer Ben Taylor.
Noelle has been reading The Dead City by Dylan J Morgan,
This is a review based on an advanced reader copy from the author; the book.
The Dead Lands, which I recently reviewed here, is the prequel to this book by Dylan Morgan – The Dead City. In the first book, a team of highly trained soldiers from Erebus are sent in response to a radio signal from the sister planet Hemera, indicating that the President of Hemera and his family are awaiting rescue after being in stasis since a nuclear war one hundred years prior. They are sent by the avaricious and pig-like Colonel Paden, who features prominently in this second book. Rather than a barren land with no surviving inhabitants, the team finds a baking, dusty, rubble-strewn wasteland populated by murderous thugs and a completely destroyed capital city of Magna, overrun with hordes of horrifying and ghastly mutants. The sole interest of these mutants is killing and eating the organs of their prey.
In The Dead City, another crack team is heading to Hemera and Magna, accompanied by Colonel Paden. He wants to find the treasure in gems said to be hidden within the capitol city, ostensibly for Erebus but in reality for himself. He brings with him physicians to tend to his health and three prostitutes to tend to his other needs. The team is led by Lieutenant Marshall, a much-decorated soldier revered by his men. Among the team members are Ryan and his sister Jayde, who is also a soldier and very close to her brother, and also the loathsome Murdoch, who has hated Ryan since their training and fantasizes in graphic ways about what he will do to and with Jayde, if he ever gets the chance.
This time the soldiers are aware of what awaits them, and the trek to the capitol’s palace is a running of the gauntlet, with the gruesome deaths of both soldiers and mutants. The mutants, who have deadly aim with sharpened metal blades, are held off by a plasma guns (Berserkers), which blow them into bloody bits but which cannot stem their unending tide. Eventually some of the groups into which the team has been split reach the deepest level of the palace, where the President and his family, long since dead, were once housed. Paden then follows in relative safety, at the cost of more men, and the search of the building and sewers for the gems begins.
The Dead City has an inherently interesting story line with characters you can really love or hate. My dislike of Colonel Paden was so great, I prayed for a mutiny. While Ryan is suitably indomitable and brave, the author has also created many minor characters who grabbed me emotionally. As I said about The Dead Lands, this is not a story for the faint of heart. There were times when I was overwhelmed with the repetitive and gruesome slaughter; there’s a limit to the amount of gore I can handle. Luckily, each time when I thought I’d reached that limit, the story and characters kicked back in and I kept reading. The ending was a total surprise and made it more than worth reading the book. I want the sequel!
Two things. I wish there had been more of a transition between the previous book and this one – seeing what happened to the first team when the remnants of it returned to Erebus, for example. I also wondered why the mutants never killed and ate each other.
The relentless gore aside, the author does a great job of describing his world and drawing the reader into it. This book should appeal to everyone who likes strongly written, post-apocalyptic thrillers.
Cathy has been reading Need To Find You by Joseph Souza
Mikiela Bellows, an undergraduate student in Portland, Maine, has discovered a hidden memoir written by Robert Cornish, a deceased but still important literary figure, whose novel is required reading in schools and colleges. After taking photos of the last batch of papers on her phone she is chased by two thugs. Mikiela runs to a club where she knows her new friend, Yasmine Weeks performs in a brilliantly named band. As the thugs grab Mikiela she throws her phone to Yasmine and yells at her to run. Yaz recognises one of the men as a monster from the horrific past which left her mentally scarred and set on revenge. Now she has to fight for her life all over again.
Whip Billings, an ex police officer, is returning to Portland for his mother’s funeral. Undercover work trying to catch the drug lord known as The Viking went terribly wrong when his cover was blown, turning him to alcohol and drug addiction. Now, straight out of rehab, Whip has been clean and sober for a year although he knows it probably won’t last. His mother is dead and his fiancée is set to marry another man. While he waits to be reinstated he’s offered the job of looking into the disappearance of Mikiela Bellows, which brings him into contact with Yaz and the mystery of why everyone wants Mikiela’s phone and why The Viking is after Yaz. Or is it the other way around?
I enjoyed this book despite having to suspend belief as the body count rose at a rapid rate. The violence was graphic and, for me, sometimes unnecessarily so. And I have to mention the sexual encounter between the two main protagonists, which I felt was awkward and didn’t add anything to the story. But that said, the narrative held my attention completely and I couldn’t read fast enough to get to the conclusion. It’s well paced and thought through, action filled and suspenseful with a good mix of very well drawn characters, who are all complex and flawed and had, in the most part, distressing backstories. I loved the realistic and believable dialogue which characterised each person perfectly.
Having each chapter begin with a quote from the (fictional) author at the centre of the plot is a great touch. The story plumbs ugly depths, encompassing sex trafficking, corruption at every level, dark family secrets and drug smuggling. I didn’t know what was going to happen next, and was kept guessing right to the end result who The Viking actually was. After all the terrible things that happened it was good to have a sense of optimism and promise for the future. Great stuff.
Luccia has been reading Google You Husband Back by Julie Butterfield
Humorous and feel good contemporary women’s fiction.
Kate is a busy, young mother. Her daughter, Millie, takes up all her time and energy. She neglects her own need and her husband’s too. Alex feels ignored and unloved by his wife, so he falls into the arms of a colleague and leaves a devastated Kate, without any type of explanation.
As her life falls to pieces, Kate spends most of the novel figuring out why he left, because her only aim is to get him back, in spite of the reason and the way in which he left. She has the help of Google’s search engine for suggestions, as well as her friend Fiona and her mother’s advice. Kate gradually gets her life back on track thanks to their support, her salsa classes, and Josh, her salsa partner.
Fortunately, Kate meets Josh, another, more mature type of man. We’ve all come across immature and selfish men like Alex and sensitive and understanding men like Josh, although both extremes did seem at times a little stereotyped.
Kate eventually realises she needs to take charge of her life, get a job, ask her mother for help and support with Millie, and stand on her own two feet before she can decide what she really wants out of life. Does she want her husband back, does she need to move forward into another relationship, or does she need to get on with her life on her own?
Kate’s story is narrated in the third person, mostly from her point of view. It’s told with a great deal of humour and feeling. It’s a well written, easy and quick to read. I’m sure most women can relate to Kate and her predicament. I enjoyed reading this novel very much. It was mostly funny and poignant a times. The ending is satisfactory and hopeful, although the best part of the conclusion is Kate’s own journey to empowerment and self-discovery.
World Of Britannia is a non-fiction companion book to the Roman Britain historical fiction series called Britannia. I would recommend having this along side as you read the Books in the Britannia series, in order, as this will provide details like maps, place names and character information to secure the plot lines firmly in the readers mind.
This book takes you through timelines, locations, Roman buildings, Gods and more about how the Roman Britain interacted with the local people and shaped the future.
I was particularly interested in the parts which were local to where I live. I’ve been to the Roman remains at Silchester several times and once during Reading University’s summer archaeological dig, and I accompanied a school on a trip to Fishbourne Roman Palace which I think I found more interesting than the children.