Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Scifi #Fantasy Killing Adam by Earik Beann

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Killing Adam by Earik Beann

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3.5 out of 5 stars

A dystopian future, in which most people spend all their time in altered reality, via a chip implanted in their brains: an ARC, on the ARCNet. The world they inhabit is whatever they want to it be, and 23 hours a day may be spent this way, with only 4 breaks of 15 minutes a day to deal with bodily necessities such as eating and washing. All existence is controlled by an artificial intelligence – or ‘singularity’ – called Adam, even the people’s perception of what occurs elsewhere in the world.

Some cannot have the chip implanted, for a variety of reasons. These people are considered ‘disabled’; Jimmy, the main character, is one of these, because of a football injury. Their being left behind in the real world keeps them separate, a minority group.

I found the idea of all this quite exciting, and dived straight in; Earik Beann’s writing was certainly good enough to keep me turning the pages. I enjoyed the first 20% of it very much, as a picture of the world was being built up. I liked the way that the author did not explain much at all, but let the picture of his created world gradually become clear, by what was happening to Jimmy, and going through his mind. However, as I read on, I felt the whole premise needed a bit more thinking through.  For instance, Jimmy’s wife spends 23 hours a day in a catatonic state, as do many. Wouldn’t cities of people who spend all their days lying on sofas create massive health problems? How would the production of life’s essentials be maintained? Would society not just collapse? Or am I over-thinking?

I did like the basic ideas; perhaps it is intended to be a comment on our present lives, and the way in which people are so often plugged into online life that the ‘real’ world has become less and less relevant – especially as the ARCNet and Adam are the work of a corporation: BioCal. I liked the writing style very much, and the characterisation was solid. But there were too many times when I found myself thinking, ‘yeah, but hang on a minute…’. On the other hand, it’s science fiction. Or is it fantasy? I couldn’t make up my mind. Either way, I think how much you enjoy it will depend on how far you are willing to suspend disbelief.

Book description

The world runs on ARCs. Altered Reality Chips. Small implants behind the left ear that allow people to experience anything they could ever imagine. The network controls everything, from traffic, to food production, to law enforcement. Some proclaim it a Golden Age of humanity. Others have begun to see the cracks. Few realize that behind it all, living within every brain and able to control all aspects of society, there exists a being with an agenda all his own: the singularity called Adam, who believes he is God.

Jimmy Mahoney’s brain can’t accept an ARC. Not since his football injury from the days when the league was still offline. “ARC-incompatible” is what the doctors told him. Worse than being blind and deaf, he is a man struggling to cling to what’s left of a society that he is no longer a part of. His wife spends twenty-three hours a day online, only coming off when her chip forcibly disconnects her so she can eat. Others are worse. Many have died, unwilling or unable to log off to take care of even their most basic needs.

After being unwittingly recruited by a rogue singularity to play a role in a war that he doesn’t understand, Jimmy learns the truth about Adam and is thrown into a life-and-death struggle against the most powerful mathematical mind the world has ever known. But what can one man do against a being that exists everywhere and holds limitless power? How can one man, unable to even get online, find a way to save his wife, and the entire human race, from destruction?

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #LadLit #Humour All Those Nearly Fights by @CunliffeRich

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading All Those Nearly Fights by Richard Cunliffe

All These Nearly Fights by [Cunliffe, Richard]

4 out of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book, it’s well-written and jogs along nicely – the plot is fairly domestic with only the occasional surprise, but such was the quality of the writing and that all-important characterisation that it kept me interested throughout.

It takes place over five days in any-town, England, mostly in the downmarket car showroom where Jimmy works, and at his home, which he shares with the beautiful and virtuous but rather bland Charlotte. Few people know that Jimmy won the lottery recently, and Charlotte is not one of them.  Before the win, he was planning to start his own garage with best friend Ash, but his new circumstances have affected his plans – and so have the feelings he still has for the gorgeous and fickle Isabel, who broke his heart.

I’ve read a fair bit of lad lit over the years, and notice that the heroes tend to fall into two categories: the cute nerd who makes a big deal out of the lyrics of songs and is trying to win back the heart of a girl (often called Laura), or the more swaggering jack-the-lad who cheats on women and calls his friends ‘mate’, ‘buddy’ and ‘Big Man’ every time he talks to them.  Jimmy Harris belongs to the second crew, which makes for a livelier read.  The other truism about this genre is that the women fall into two basic types: the beautiful, good-hearted and bland, and the sexy-but-a-bit-nuts.  Kind of the Madonna-whore thing.  Charlotte is the former, while Isabel is the latter.  Jimmy spends his time swaying hither and thither in his feelings for the two of them.

The characters who work in the showroom are great, very real, and the sales scenarios were totally realistic; even though I know nothing of this world, have zero interest in cars and loathe sales patter, I really enjoyed reading this side of it.

I was a little disappointed to find that the book ends with no wrapping up of any of the storylines, to be continued in Book 2, Fault On Both Sides, because there is no indication in the blurb that it is not a complete story.  I like continuing stories and am happy with cliffhangers, if I know what I’m getting, but it is not listed on Amazon as part of a series, either.  I turned the page expecting to carry on reading, only to see ‘The End’.  However, I liked it enough to download the sequel on Kindle Unlimited, which speaks for itself about the quality of the book; I do want to know what happens!

It’s a sound debut novel; I would suggest that Mr Cunliffe adds the term ‘Lad Lit’ to his keywords to make it show up in this category on Amazon, and also lists them as a series, with an indication in the blurb for this one that it is only part one of the story.  At £3.48 for the pair they’ll hardly break the bank, and they’re available on Kindle Unlimited, too.  Yes, I recommend!

Book description

Crafty car salesman Jimmy Harris has bucket-loads of money, but also has more than a few problems on his plate. This one-time Jack the Lad happens to have won millions playing the lottery, but is yet to work out what he wants to do with his life or who he wants to spend it with.

His biggest dilemma is whether to stay faithful to his gorgeous girlfriend, Charlotte, or try hooking up once more with Isabel, his feisty former partner with whom he feels he has “unfinished business”. Then there’s the question of whether he should still open up the car dealership he’d been planning with his best mate, Ash. And if Jimmy didn’t have enough to think about, he finds himself about to hand over a load of money to someone he doesn’t like on account of his slightly barmy ideas about fate, loyalty and kinship.

Christmas is coming, and Jimmy needs to arrive at some decisions. Join him for five rollercoaster days in December as he begins to make his choices.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #shortstory Christmas Once Again by D.K. Deters

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Christmas Once Again by D.K. Deters

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3.5 stars

Madison Knight is an antique consultant with financial problems, a demanding boss, and no one with whom to spend Christmas. She’s looking forward to shutting the door on the snowy season and getting cosy all alone. Then customer Zach Murdock gets in touch to say he wants to retrieve his grandmother’s beloved painting, because he should never have sold it to the company Madison works for. Unfortunately, retrieving it is more complicated than Madison originally thinks it will be.

The snow gets worse, and Madison gets stranded. She seeks help from a local family, but there’s something decidedly odd about them. They seem kind of… old fashioned.

This story is not overtly Christmassy, which, for me, was a plus; it’s not as sugar-coated as some. I love a time travel story; it’s the slow dawning of what has happened, and the gaping chasms in language and technology that never fail to entertain. This is a good story, and nicely plotted, but I felt it could have done with a bit more spit and polish; a bit more re-drafting of both narrative and dialogue, and thinking through of the emotions of the characters when they discover what has occurred. But it was an enjoyable half hour’s reading, nevertheless.

Book description

She’s dead broke. And eviction looms. On Christmas Eve antique consultant Madison Knight takes a phone call from local rancher Zach Murdock. Through a mix-up at an estate sale, Madison’s company purchased his grandmother’s beloved painting. He offers double the money for its return.

Madison risks her job to track down the artwork, but success falls short when she’s stuck in a blizzard. Stranded, she seeks help from a frontier family. Are they living off the grid, or did she somehow travel through time?

Zach’s the only person who knows her plan. He also knows a secret about his gran’s painting. It’s up to him to rescue Madison, but maybe he’s not cut out to be a hero.

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

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading The Swooping Magpie by Liza Perrat

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4.5 out of 5 stars

This is a fictional story about the terrible injustices committed towards young, unmarried mothers in Australia until the 1980s, when they were forced into homes and made to sign papers to give their babies up for adoption, often without even seeing them.  It’s hard to imagine such a crime now, but in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when this book is set, a teenage, out-of-wedlock pregnancy was seen as a disgrace to a family, with the girls made to feel like the lowest of the low.  No consideration was given to their feelings, or the resulting trauma they would experience throughout the rest of their lives.  Liza Perrat lists her research material at the back of the book.

Headstrong, pretty and popular Lindsay Townsend has an unhappy childhood with a weak mother and a bully for a father, when she begins an affair with Jon Halliwell, a teacher at her school.  The first half of the book describes not only the passage of the affair and her belief that Jon truly loved her (I loved this part of the book!), but also her time at the home, during which she is finally beaten down.  On a happier note, though, it is there that she made lifelong friends with the other girls who shared her plight.

Jon’s treachery is worse than she knows, as the middle of the book shows us, with a truly shocking twist; I was gripped.  We then move to the immediate aftermath of Lindsay’s loss, and then to the early 1990s and finally to 2013, as she and her friends aim to right the wrongs done to them.

The books is dialogue-led, with much of the story told in conversation. The emotions are real, and well-portrayed, and there is no doubt that Liza Perrat has in no way exaggerated the effect on the women who were at the home with Lindsay; I admit to shedding a tear or two during the final ten per cent of the book. Most of all, though, for anyone who might think, ‘well, I wouldn’t let that happen to me’, Ms Perrat has depicted so well the hopelessness, the reality of being completely trapped and without options, that the girls experienced. It was, indeed, a different world. Well worth a read.

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.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #HistFic Long Shadows by @ThorneMoore #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Long Shadows by Thorne Moore

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5 out of 5 stars

Three novellas, set in different historical eras, about the same place, Llys y Garn, a rambling Pembrokeshire mansion in which aspects of its former lives still remain ~ and not just within the building itself.

I loved every word of this book; I kept trying to read it slowly, so it wouldn’t end. The stories are haunting and sad, and say much about the sad lot of women in eras in which they are set.

The Good Servant takes place around the turn of the 20th century, and is about an old spinster maid, Eluned Skeel, who has no one and nothing to love but the unwanted nephew of the family she serves, taken in by them when he has no one else. As Cyril Lawson grows up he causes everyone around him pain – but he is Skeel’s reason for being, whatever he does.  

The Witch is the story of 17th century Elizabeth, daughter of a father who cares nothing for her aside from the fortune or social standing she can bring him through marriage. Elizabeth, though, cares only for Llys y Garn, and wonders if she might be a servant of the devil, as ill falls all who would seek to take it from her.

The Dragon Slayer tells of Angharad, in the 14th century, who longs to escape from the brutality, pain and death of her father’s house, and see the world.  

I didn’t have a favourite; they’re all as good as each other.  Beautifully written, marvellous stories.This book reminded me, in subject matter and writing style, of Norah Lofts’ books The House at Old Vine and A Wayside Tavern. Can’t recommend too highly.

Book description

Llys y Garn is a rambling Victorian-Gothic mansion with vestiges of older glories.

It lies in the isolated parish of Rhyd y Groes in North Pembrokeshire. It is the house of the parish, even in its decline, deeply conscious of its importance, its pedigree and its permanence. It stubbornly remains though the lives of former inhabitants have long since passed away. Only the rooks are left to bear witness to the often desperate march of history.

Throne Moore’s Long Shadows: Tales of Llys y Garn comprises a trio of historical novellas that let us into secrets known only to these melancholy birds.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Fairy Tale Style #Fantasy Novella The Tomato Quest by D.G. Driver

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading The Tomato Quest by D.G. Driver

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3 out of 5 stars

In an undisclosed historical era and place, this story is about lowly gardener Dash, who wants to marry the daughter of the noble for whom he works.  Dismissing his request, Lilian’s father sets him a task: he hands him a box of tomatoes and says that if he can make his fortune before they rot, he may have Lilian’s hand in marriage.  Then follows adventure after adventure, as he struggles to complete the seemingly impossible, while Lilian does her best to postpone the engagement to the man her parents want her to marry.

This is a fun idea and a nicely put together story.  I admit to being slightly bothered throughout by the incorrect use of titles; for instance, a ‘Sir’ should be referred to by both first and surnames, never as ‘Sir Barrymore’, and a Duke would be known as the Duke of such-and-such a place, not as Duke followed by his surname.  This sort of thing is easy to find out; I just checked it in a few minutes on Google, to make sure I wasn’t wrong.  Having said that, the story has fantasy elements, so perhaps it doesn’t matter too much!  It should appeal to lovers of fairy tale romance and happy endings.

Book description

Dash and Lillian are in love, but her wealthy father won’t permit them to be married because Dash is not a suitable match. He is nothing but the son of the family’s gardener. To be rid of the young man, Lillian’s father claims that the only way Dash could ever earn Lillian’s hand in marriage is to find his fortune in the time it takes a basket of fresh tomatoes to rot. Naturally, Sir Barrymore isn’t serious about this challenge, but Dash sees it as his only chance to win the hand of the woman he loves. He leaves immediately on a quest to find a way to complete this impossible task. Meanwhile, Lillian is doing her best to make her parents postpone her engagement to someone else in order to give Dash time to return. It is a whirlwind fairy tale adventure full of danger, cunning, magic, true love, and tomatoes.

An original, romantic fairy tale novelette.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #thriller No One Can Hear You by @NikkiCAuthor

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading No One Can Hear You by Nikki Crutchley

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4 out of 5 stars

The book opens with an excellent prologue about Faith, a teenage foster kid being abducted, back in 2001.  It then goes back to the main story, about Zoe, a thirty-something, recently unemployed teacher whose life is all at sea, going back to small town Crawton because her mother has died.  Zoe’s feelings about this can hardly even be called ‘mixed’ ~ her relationship with Lilian was cold and distant, and she hasn’t seen her since she was eighteen.  When she arrives in Crawton, though, she is left wondering what really happened to her mother.

Meanwhile, meth-head Megan has been abducted, and is kept prisoner in a storage cupboard.

Despite the themes of abduction, murder and the sleazy underworld of drugs, I’d describe this as a low-key thriller; much of the novel concerns Zoe’s relationship with her mother and the other issues she is working through, and there is quite a lot of domestic and day-to-day conversational detail which, together with the writing style, lends itself more to a dark drama with gradually unfolding sinister developments than edge-of-your-seat suspense.  It’s nicely written and the characterisation is good, particularly Faith, with whom the book opens.  One of the characters has Alzheimer’s, and I thought this was most realistic.

I had a feeling who the baddie(s) might be about half way through, but that’s probably because I watch a lot of TV of this genre; it’s not at all obvious.  The plot is convincing and cleverly structured, I thought the descriptions of what the abducted girls went through was particularly well done, and the ending was good ~ I do appreciate a well-thought out ending.  I can imagine this being the sort of book you might get into reading on holiday.

Book description

‘He said that they’d let me go on purpose. That they could easily find me if they wanted to. He said that they didn’t want me. That I was too much trouble. He said if I went to the cops, he’d know. If I told Sonya, he’d know. If I talked to friends or teachers, he’d know. He told me to pretend it didn’t happen. He told me to consider it a compliment, that I was too strong. His last words to me were, ‘Just forget’.

Troubled teen Faith Marsden was one of several girls abducted from Crawton, a country town known for its picturesque lake and fertile farmland. Unlike the others, she escaped, though sixteen years on she still bears the emotional and physical scars.

Zoe Haywood returns to Crawton to bury her estranged mother Lillian, who has taken her own life. As she and Faith rekindle their high-school friendship, they discover notes left by Lillian that point to two more young women who recently disappeared from Crawton. But Lillian’s confused ramblings leave them with more questions than answers.

As Faith and Zoe delve deeper into the mystery, they become intent on saving the missing women, but in doing so are drawn into Auckland’s hidden world of drugs, abduction and murder. And then Faith decides to confront the mastermind – on her own.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Philadelphia Set #Thriller Quick Fix by @JGregorySmith3 #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Quick Fix by J Gregory Smith

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4 out of 5 stars

This book has a great opening.  Military contractor Kyle Logan messes up his already messed up life by assaulting his wife’s divorce lawyer, who also happens to be her lover.  He’s then offered a role in the theft of some pieces of valuable artwork, by his friend Ryan.  Kyle is also suffering from injuries caused by an IED when he was in Iraq.

I warmed to the characters and the writing style straight away.  There’s plenty of dark stuff going on, but lots of humour, too – I liked the observations about characters, and often just the way stuff was phrased (‘I hated losing her to a puke like Fenster’).  The guy-on-his-uppers-with-wife-who-has-moved-on-to-a-more-straight-and-successful-new-man thing is an oft-used scenario in this genre in both books and on screen (I’m currently watching the TV series Get Shorty – there it is again!), but it works every time, and J Gregory Smith has painted all participants most colourfully.

When Kyle realises that involvement in Ryan’s criminal schemes means re-acquaintance with childhood chum-turned-gangster Danny ‘Iceballs’ Sheehan, he knows his life is not going to be easy.  Smith has portrayed the atmosphere of the criminal underworld of Philadelphia so well; this book is fast-paced and flows very well, with a convincing plot, and is, basically, a good, solid novel.  I haven’t got anything negative to say about it.  Nice one.

Book description

Military contractor Kyle Logan’s luck has gone from bad to worse ever since he returned home to Philadelphia following an injury by an IED in Iraq. First, his marriage crumbles, then his career after he’s pushed to the brink and assaults his wife’s lover, who is also her divorce attorney.

When Kyle’s shady best friend turns up and offers him a “once in a lifetime” chance to regain his job and his life, all for just a couple night’s work, Kyle figures he’s got nothing to lose. The police, Philly Irish Mob and a couple of drug cartels all think otherwise.

Now forced to fight for his life, and those around him, Kyle must turn to allies from his old neighborhood in a desperate effort to stay alive and out of prison.

Quick Fix is one man’s fall into a world of unintended consequences that seeks to tread the razor-thin lines between right and wrong, loyalty and treachery.

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Real Life Crime A CITY OWNED and KILLING COUSINS by @OJModjeska

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading A CITY OWNED and KILLING COUSINS by O J Modjeska. A two book series: MURDER BY INCREMENTS

5 out of 5 stars

A City Owned was submitted to Rosie’s Review Team list, but after I’d read it I had to read the second book, too; thus, I am reviewing them as one.

This two part series, Murder by Increments, is about the crimes of the Hillside Stranglers, Kennth Bianchi and Angelo Buono, who made LA a frightening place to be in the late 1970s.  The first book, A City Owned, starts with a picture of what LA was like back then.  Such a clever way to start; to understand the lives of the victims and why Bianchi and Buono went undiscovered for so long, we have first to be aware of the culture of the time.  LA was a seedy place indeed, peopled by many who’d arrived seeking the Hollywood dream, only to be sucked into the underworld of prostitution, porn, drugs and crime.  The cops were overworked and jaded, with few resources; these were the days before the internet, before reliable criminal profiling, and before DNA databases.  Reading how carelessly they bungled the investigations, over and over again, made me think that crime solving had moved on very little in the hundred years since the London police tried in vain to identify Jack the Ripper.

O J Modjeska writes about the victims with great respect for each girl’s short life, drawing a heartbreaking picture each time.  These are not just names, and the book is far from being just a list of heinous crimes.  Only towards the end of the book do Bianchi and Buono themselves appear, and by then I had to know the whole story; I went back to Amazon and bought Killing Cousins as soon as I’d finished A City Owned.

I found Killing Cousins the most absorbing of the two books, as I am more interested in the psychological background of killers than the solving of crimes.  The drawn out trial was at times farcical, not only because of Bianchi’s attempts to convince psychiatrists that he suffered from Multiple Personality Disorder, but because of the self-interest and prejudice of many involved.

‘There were the cops who thought the lives of prostitutes were worthless, the officials who wanted to look good in front of the media, the shrinks seeking professional recognition, the prosecutors who assumed middle-aged women were crazy, and the politicians seeking office.  There was stupidity, there was self-aggrandizement, there was sexism and the tyranny of the herd.’ 

This two-book series is everything that true crime should be, without being in any way sensationalised.  O J Modjeska has not only written a riveting account of the victims, perpetrators and law enforcement bodies, but also shown how very different attitudes in general were, only forty years ago; if just a few incidents had not taken place, a few people not spoken up, if a few jurors been swayed by the individuals who defended these two monsters, the outcome might have been very different.

Book description

A City Owned

One after another, they appear by the sides of suburban roads and freeways – the naked, strangled bodies of women who have been raped, tortured and left for dead.

Police begin to suspect that their target is a rogue operator who has emerged from their own ranks. And then, all hell breaks loose in Los Angeles…

An arrest in the strangling murders of two co-eds across state lines finally leads to a break in the case, but the mild-mannered suspect remembers nothing about the crime of which he is accused. His attorney and a team of psychiatrists are convinced this is no lust murderer, but a mentally ill man tormented by an evil alter personality, the terrifyingly malevolent sexual sadist “Steve”. But what if Steve is the final triumphant act in a psychopath’s lifelong career in deception?

None are prepared for the dark journey through the mazes of the human mind it will take to unlock the door to justice.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Book description

Killing Cousins

One after another, they appear by the sides of suburban roads and freeways – the naked, strangled bodies of women who have been raped, tortured and left for dead.

Police begin to suspect that their target is a rogue operator who has emerged from their own ranks. And then, all hell breaks loose in Los Angeles…

An arrest in the strangling murders of two co-eds across state lines finally leads to a break in the case, but the mild-mannered suspect remembers nothing about the crime of which he is accused. His attorney and a team of psychiatrists are convinced this is no lust murderer, but a mentally ill man tormented by an evil alter personality, the terrifyingly malevolent sexual sadist “Steve”. But what if Steve is the final triumphant act in a psychopath’s lifelong career in deception?

None are prepared for the dark journey through the mazes of the human mind it will take to unlock the door to justice.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

 

 

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Relationship novel The Men by @fannycalder #TuesdayBookBlog

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

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading The Men by Fanny Calder

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5 out of 5 stars

Loved this book!  As a member of Rosie’s review team, I look down the submissions list when it’s time to choose a new one, and I usually go for sci-fi, dystopian or something otherwise nice and dark, rarely anything about love relationships or labelled ‘women’s fiction’, but I’m so glad I stepped out of my box with this one – it’s eons away from mainstream relationship dramas.

The Men is a series of thirteen snapshots, all linked so that it’s a continuing story, about the relationships with the opposite sex that have punctuated the author’s life.  It appears they’re part autobiographical, part fiction:

‘It is a tale of urban human connections crafted with no judgement or deep introspection – a window on the author’s own life at that time that will resonate and stay with you.’

Some of them reminded me of my own younger years, the racketing around and caring only about the moment, which is perhaps why I liked them so much; particularly the first one, The Singer.  The writing style is great – witty, sharp, joyful, but melancholy at times, too.  Some of the relationships are sad, some heartbreaking, and some made me think ‘what the hell was she thinking of’ (Rotting Man!), but those made me sad, too; loneliness can push people into all sorts of bad decisions, and I felt that the author was lonely, sometimes.  Never in a victim or despairing sort of way, though she seems to become more so as the book goes on.

I loved how the book concentrates only on The Men, that she was never tempted to give more background, which would have diluted it.  On occasion the writing is quite beautiful; a section about a party with an eighteenth century theme made me want to stay in it.

One point that intrigued me―earlier in the book she clearly has a high-powered job that involves much travel, though we are never told what it is.  I did a bit of digging and discovered that the author is a fairly well-known environmental campaigner; all that and she can write, too.

Highly recommended; I wanted to carry on reading when I’d finished it.

Book description

A darkly brilliant debut novel by Fanny Calder, and arguably essential reading for the feminist hedonist woman in your life. City life in the 1990s. Anonymous, intense, paradoxical and sometimes lonely. A young, haunted woman falls in love with a singer. She finds she has been consumed by the relationship and when it ends – as it inevitably does – she feels unable to quite rediscover herself. Cities can draw you into even darker places, and she embarks on a series of intense relationships with thirteen men of very different types, from a rough sleeper to a millionaire, and from a transvestite to a leading politician. As she is propelled through a series of extraordinary adventures and wild parties she finds she begins to lose her own identity. Is there a way out? A raw and unflinchingly honest narrative with stripped down language that is liberating and sometimes challenging. It is a tale of urban human connections crafted with no judgement or deep introspection – a window on the author’s own life at that time that will resonate and stay with you.

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