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What Are We Reading And Reviewing in January 2020?

Mystery and Suspense

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1Carol420
Dec 21, 2019, 10:17am Top



Solves some mysteries...tell us what you are reading.

2Carol420
Edited: Jan 24, 10:34am Top



📌 - ★
Carol and Frosty Will read until January is Over

Group Reads
📌Evil Games - Angela Marsons - 5★
Painted Doom - Kate Ellis - ★

Pick A Winner Make A friend
📌The Haunting of Rookward House - Darcy Coates - 3★

Others
📌Silence - Thomas Perry - 3★
📌Thin Ice - Paige Shelton - 4★
📌The Empty Bed - Nina Sadowsky - 4.5★
📌Daisy in Chains - Sharon Bolton - 5★
📌Little Black Lies - Sharon Bolton - 4★
📌Dead Woman Walking - Sharon Bolton - 4★
📌The Night Stalker -Robert Bryndza - 5★
📌The Girl in The Woods - Gregg Olsen - 4★
📌Black and Blue - Anna Quindlen - 4★
📌The Weight of Blood - Laura McHugh - 4★
📌Good Girls Lie - J.T. Elliston - 4.5★
📌The Hiding Place C.J. Tudor - 4.5★
📌The Wolf in Winter - John Connolly - 4★
📌Murder in County Tyrone - Padraig O'Hannon - 4★
📌Exit Unicorns - Cindy Brandner - 3★
📌Silver Lake - Katheryn Knight - 4.5★
📌The Seal King Murders - Alanna Knight - 4★
📌The Doll's House - M.J. Arlidge - 5★
📌Crow Road - Ian Banks - 4.5★
📌Where The Crawdads Sing - Delia Owens - 1★
📌The Magpie Tree - Katherine Stansfield - 4.5★
📌The Other Girl Erica Spindler - 4.5★
📌The secrets of Roscarbury Hall Ann O'Laughlin - 4.5★

3Olivermagnus
Edited: Jan 23, 9:42am Top



Lynda and Oliver's January Reading List

Mystery Suspense

🍡 Buried - Ellison Cooper - 4.5 Stars - 1/1/20
🍡 Carrion Death - Michael Stanley - 3.5 Stars - 1/17/20
🍡 Conspiracy in Death - J. D. Robb - 4.5 Stars - 1/21/20
🍡 Evil Games - Angela Marsons - 5 Stars - 1/13/20
🍡 Murder Served Simply - Isabella Allen - 3.5 Stars - 1/4/20
🍡 On What Grounds - Cleo Coyle - 3 Stars - 1/2/20
Painted Doom - Kate Ellis
🍡 Paradise Lost - J. A. Jance - 3 Stars - 1/8/20
🍡 Red Russia - Tanya Thompson - 3 Stars - 1/5/20
🍡 Redemption Road - John Hart - 4.5 Stars - 1/18/20
Stamped Out - Tonya Kappes

Other
🍡 1984 - George Orwell - 4 Stars - 1/3/20
🍡 Annihilation - Jeff Vandermeer- 3.5 Stars - 1/15/20
🍡 Bad Seed - William March - 4 Stars - 1/20/20
🍡 Cinder - Marissa Meyer - 3 Stars - 1/12/20
🍡 Disappearing Earth - Julia Phillips - 4 Stars - 1/14/20
🍡 Hamilton, the Revolution - Lin-Manuel Miranda - 4 Stars - 1/23/20
🍡 Hillbilly Elegy - J. D. Vance - 4 Stars - 1/6/20
🍡 Jurassic Park - Michael Crichton - 4.5 Stars - 1/22/20
🍡 King Solomon's Mines - H. Rider Haggard - 3 Stars - 1/19/20
🍡 Mistress of the Art of Death - Ariana Franklin - 3.5 Stars - 1/1/20
🍡 Morning Glory - LaVyrle Spencer - 4 Stars - 1/7/20
🍡 Safe From the Sea - Peter Geye - 4.5 Stars - 1/16/20
🍡 Susan Hayward - Beverly Linet - 3 Stars - 1/9/20
🍡 This Tender Land - William Kent Krueger - 5 Stars and 💖💝💋 - 1/10/20

4Carol420
Jan 1, 9:56am Top


Daisy In Chains - Sharon Bolton
5 ★

He’s a serial killer. A murderer of young women, all killed in brutal attacks. But despite Hamish Wolfe’s conviction, he’s always stuck to his story—he’s innocent and he’s been wrongly imprisoned. And now he wants someone to investigate and, more importantly, to write his story. Maggie Rose is a notorious defense attorney and writer whose specialty is getting convictions overturned. At first, Maggie is reluctant to even acknowledge Hamish’s requests to meet, ignoring his letters. But this is a very charismatic and persuasive man, good-looking and intelligent. Eventually even she can’t resist his lure.

It can only be described as 100% suspenseful with a dark and unexpected twist at the end. I never saw it coming and never expected it to happen. I like an author can can pull off a stunt like that. Secrets run rampant through out the entire story. Everyone involved has them… from the detective who knows more about Hamish than one would expect. Then there is Maggie who appears to be a total blank slate that shares nothing that doesn’t benefit her career. Even Hamish's own mother who is active in her son's appeal attempt is hiding more than one secret. Sharon Bolton has created a psychological masterpiece in this one.

5Carol420
Jan 1, 12:40pm Top


The Night Stalker - Robert Bryndza
DI Erika Foster series Book # 2
5 stars

If the Night Stalker is watching, you’re already dead… In the dead of a swelteringly hot summer’s night, Detective Erika Foster is called to a murder scene. The victim, a doctor, is found suffocated in bed. His wrists are bound and his eyes bulging through a clear plastic bag tied tight over his head. A few days later, another victim is found dead, in exactly the same circumstances. As Erika and her team start digging deeper, they discover a calculated serial killer – stalking their victims before choosing the right moment to strike. The victims are all single men, with very private lives. Why are their pasts shrouded in secrecy? And what links them to the killer? As a heat wave descends upon London, Erika will do everything to stop the Night Stalker before the body count rises, even if it means risking her job. But the victims might not be the only ones being watched… Erika’s own life could be on the line.

Erika Foster is a gritty, determined and strong female lead. .Any fans of a good police procedural will become completely engaged in this series. I first made Erika’s acquaintance in The Girl In The Ice and was quiet impressed with how Robert Bryndza portrayed her. She reminds me a great deal of Angela Marson’s Kim Stone in how she carries out her investigations and how she relates to her co-workers which are mostly male. She’s willing to take risks and not afraid to go against those that think they know better when she knows she’s right. I can’t wait to read the next one to see how her and Isaac’s friendship is coming along. A really great series you have going here, Mr. Bryndza

6Carol420
Jan 2, 11:47am Top


Thin Ice - Paige Shelton
Alaska Wild series Book #1
4★

Beth Rivers is on the run – she’s doing the only thing she could think of to keep herself safe. Known to the world as thriller author Elizabeth Fairchild, she had become the subject of a fanatic’s obsession. After being held in a van for three days by her kidnapper, Levi Brooks, Beth managed to escape, and until he is captured, she's got to get away. Cold and remote, Alaska seems tailor-made for her to hideout. Beth’s new home in Alaska is sparsely populated with people who all seem to be running or hiding from something, and though she accidentally booked a room at a halfway house, she feels safer than she’s felt since Levi took her. That is, until she’s told about a local death that’s a suspected murder. Could the death of Linda Rafferty have anything to do with her horror at the hands of Levi Brooks? As Beth navigates her way through the wilds of her new home, her memories of her time in the van are coming back, replaying the terror and the fear―and threatening to keep her from healing, from reclaiming her old life again. Can she get back to normal, will she ever truly feel safe, and can she help solve the local mystery, if only so she doesn’t have to think about her own?

A good story with an unusual location but I thought that in the end there were still more questions than answers. Since this was the first book in the series hopefully the next one will provide more answers.

7Carol420
Jan 3, 11:46am Top


Silence - Thomas Perry
Jack Till series Book #1
3★

Six years ago, Jack Till helped Wendy Harper disappear. But now her ex-boyfriend and former business partner, Eric Fuller, is being framed for her presumed murder in an effort to smoke her out, and Till must find her before tango-dancing assassins Paul and Sylvie Turner do.The Turners are merely hired to do a job, though, and prefer to remain anonymous. When they find that a middleman has let the true employer know their identities, finishing the job is no longer enough. Their fee just went up. And now they must double-cross the man who wants Wendy dead before he can double-cross them--if their jealousy and cold-blooded calculations don't result in a fatal lovers' quarrel first.

I don't believe that it was his best book.but it was still enjoyable. Some of the characters need more depth and more information about who they were and why they did some of the things they did. For example: Are there really husbands that make bargains to go off to the other side of the country with paid female surrogates? Do said surrogates hang around for years waiting in case they get a chance to go off with the husband...who actually brings the kids with him??? I also would have liked to have known why the bad guys were so eager to kill Wendy although there were times that I would have happily killed her for them. Oh...where in the world do you find a "tango-dancing assassin"? Not a bad book but not as good as The Butcher's Boy.

8Andrew-theQM
Jan 3, 2:58pm Top

The next Group Read will be Evil Games, Book 2 in the DI Kim Stone Series, starting Thursday 9th January.

9Carol420
Jan 3, 4:57pm Top

>8 Andrew-theQM: I have them both. Looking forward to them.

10Carol420
Edited: Jan 4, 10:08am Top


Murder in County Tyrone – Padraig O’Hannon
The Irish Mysteries Volume 1
4★

Fourteen years on, the crime that rocked County Tyrone in Northern Ireland remains unsolved, but hardly forgotten. Its tentacles reach the shores of America when John Costa, a once-prominent attorney who has all but given up on life, is questioned by the police. They’re asking about the person he’d least expect: the enigmatic Irish woman he secretly admires. His heart tells him she’s innocent, but new evidence hints at a sinister past. Will he be able to exonerate the woman of his dreams, or is he destined to become another victim? Learn the truth in this compelling tale of love, intrigue, and murder!

My mother and my grandmother were born in County Tyrone and I still have an aunt and several other relatives that remain there…so not only the challenge in the Mystery & Suspense group on LibraryThing but the connection with family intrigued me to pick this up at a book sale. As if I needed any excuse to read about Ireland:)

Lawyer John Costa, gets the chance to clear the girl he’s secretly in love with of a dreadful murder charge. Seems that she’s supposed to have been involved in a bomb attack in Northern Ireland years ago that claimed the life of more than 30 people. If Angela is innocent or just an accomplished liar remains the question throughout the entire story. John and his team begin to work on a defense for her but very soon find that there are layer after layer of half truths and forgotten truths that rear their ugly heads. It presents a fascinating story that may never tell the entire truth. The characters are many…some innocent…some guilty…most of them emotionally scarred. The need for justice drives both John…who wants to see Angela cleared…and the Northern Irish cop who wants to see Angela convicted. The book is a tragic look at the time of the Irish Troubles. I grew up hearing first hand how this issue still lives on in the people that my grandmother left behind and in the very heart of this beautiful, magnificent land.

11Carol420
Jan 5, 8:49am Top


The Seal King Murders - Alanna Knight
The Inspector Faro Series Book #16
4 stars

The year is 1861 and Inspector Faro's rest is disrupted when he is given a special assignment by old friend, Detective Superintendent Macfie. Macfie’s cousin-in-law, a champion swimmer, has drowned in mysterious circumstances. Could his death have really been an accident, or is something more sinister going on? Arriving in Orkney to investigate, he is met with rumors of missing artifacts, the myth of the seal king, a dead body under the floor of Scarthbreck, his first love, and a mother who is determined to find him a wife. But, in Faro’s opinion, no matter how distracting the local legends are or how valuable the artifacts, one man’s life or needless death, is truly beyond price.

It’s a good piece of historical detective fiction with plenty of action and twists to keep the reader interested. There are two plots going which sometimes becomes a little hard to follow but the outcome is not too hard to guess. Overall it was well written and a very enjoyable read.

12gaylebutz
Jan 5, 5:41pm Top

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
3.5 ★

When she stumbles across the ad, it seems like too good an opportunity to miss--a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten--by the luxurious "smart" home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family. What she doesn't know is that she's stepping into a nightmare--one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Rowan got herself in over her head with difficult children and parents who left for a business trip right away leaving Rowan on her own. The parents were quite questionable and Rowan also didn’t seem as competent as she said she was. The house was loaded with technology, which was another problem. When objects started going missing or disappearing and reappearing, it was due to who or what? The tension and Rowan’s anxiety slowly increases as the story goes along. Parts of the book were drawn out too long and lost some of the suspense for me but overall an entertaining story with several big twists in the end.

13Carol420
Jan 6, 6:23am Top

>12 gaylebutz: I also liked this one. Ruth Ware books go up and down the scale for me for some reason. When will the heroines of these stories learn that the "staggeringly, generous salary" is a dead give-away that it's going to be a disaster going somewhere to happen? :)

14Carol420
Jan 6, 7:10am Top


Good Girls Lie - J.T. Elliston
4.5★

Perched atop a hill in the tiny town of Marchburg, Virginia, The Goode School is a prestigious prep school known as a Silent Ivy. The boarding school of choice for daughters of the rich and influential, it accepts only the best and the brightest. Its elite status, long-held traditions and honor code are ideal for preparing exceptional young women for brilliant futures at Ivy League universities and beyond. But a stranger has come to Goode, and this ivy has turned poisonous. In a world where appearances are everything, as long as students pretend to follow the rules, no one questions the cruelties of the secret societies or the dubious behavior of the privileged young women who expect to get away with murder.


I've been a fan of J.T. Elliston for many years. Her books are always well written with multiple possible outcomes. I have learned that no matter what I think will happen...something else always does. This one was no exception. I began to suspect what happened in the end was a possibility but never put the entire picture together. The only thing I can say negatively about the book is that it was about 100 pages too long. What I can tell the future reader is a quote from the book itself that sums it up very well..."look closely…because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened."

15Carol420
Jan 7, 9:23am Top


Silver Lake - Kathryn Knight
4.5 Stars

Rain Anderson can't decide which is more unsettling--encountering the ghost of her missing friend, or reuniting with the man whose love she foolishly rejected. But one thing is certain: the past has come back to haunt her, quite literally. Five years ago, Rain's tight-knit group of high school friends unraveled when one vanished during their senior year. Now, a parent's deathbed request has reunited the friends at Silver Lake, including Jason Lansing, the man Rain discarded. Rain and Jason discover the powerful attraction between them has survived, but though Jason is willing to forgive, he can't let himself forget. The possibility of falling for Rain again is too risky. Slamming doors, crashing objects, and flaring fires--clearly the ghost has a message to share. As Rain and Jason struggle to unravel the truth, they must face a desperate spirit in need of help--and a burning passion that refuses to die.

This is the first book by this author that I have read. Of course it was the promise of a ghost story that prompted me to read it. It’s part mystery and part romance with visits from Brandy, the ghost of Rain’s friend that went missing many years ago. I wondered if the ghost of Brandy hadn’t been tied to Rain all the time but it took the friends getting together again at Silver Lake to make her appear and become active. Whatever it was it made for a very good ghost story. I could even overlook the romance. I will be searching for more of Kathryn Knight’s books.

16Carol420
Jan 7, 1:30pm Top


The Girl in the Woods - Gregg Olsen
Waterman & Stark series Book #1
4★

A schoolgirl found it on a nature hike…a severed human foot wearing pink nail polish. A gruesome but invaluable clue that leads forensic pathologist Birdy Waterman down a much darker trail—to a dangerous psychopath whose powers of persuasion seem to have no end. Only by teaming up with sheriff’s detective Kendall Stark can Birdy hope to even the odds in a deadly game. It’s a fateful decision the killer wants them to make. And it’s the only way Birdy and Kendall can find their way to a murderer who’s ready to kill again

What begins as the mysterious discovery of a foot wearing pink nail polish quickly escalates into so much more. As Kendall Stark, the sheriff’s detective, and Birdy Waterman, the local pathologist, begin their investigation things seem odd but not as odd as they will become. I had read this book when it first came out but had forgotten most of it. One good thing about ageing is that you get to often be surprised over and over again:) If you like well thought out crime novels with well developed characters who all manage to be reasonable…rational… and entertaining…you should like this book as well as Gregg Olsen’s others.

17Andrew-theQM
Jan 8, 2:58pm Top

Schedule for Group Read of Evil Games, #2 in the DI Kim Stone Series.

Thurs 9th Jan : 1 - 12
Fri 10th Jan : 13 - 30
Sat 11th Jan : 31 - 43
Sun 12th Jan : 44 - 57
Mon 13th Jan : 58 - 75

18Carol420
Edited: Jan 8, 4:16pm Top


Dead Woman Walking - Sharon Bolton
4★

The sole survivor of a hot-air balloon crash witnesses a murder as the balloon is falling. Just before dawn in the hills near the Scottish border, a man murders a young woman. At the same time, a hot-air balloon crashes out of the sky. There’s just one survivor. She’s seen the killer’s face – but he’s also seen hers. And he won’t rest until he’s eliminated the only witness to his crime. Alone, scared, trusting no one, she’s running to where she feels safe – but it could be the most dangerous place of all.

It begins with a spectacular balloon ride over Northumberland National Park in Scotland. Soon crime rears it's ugly head as Jessica and Isabelle...two sisters aboard the balloon...witness a man chasing a woman and then murdering her. All 13 passengers in the balloon sees this happen so now the killer has 13 more victims that he has to silence. About a quarter of the first part of book takes the reader along for the events in the balloon basket that you know has no chance of ending well...but it was an amazing journey. There is flashbacks and added excerpts of the lives of some of the passengers that really could have been left out since their only purpose seemed to be unneeded filler. Overall it was another good read from Sharon Bolton.

19Carol420
Jan 10, 2:41pm Top


The Wolf In Winter
Charlie Parker series Book #12
4★

The community of Prosperous, Maine has always thrived when others have suffered. Its inhabitants are wealthy, its children’s future secure. It shuns outsiders. It guards its own. And at the heart of Prosperous lie the ruins of an ancient church, transported stone by stone from England centuries earlier by the founders of the town. But the death of a homeless man and the disappearance of his daughter draw the haunted, lethal private investigator Charlie Parker to Prosperous. Parker is a dangerous man, driven by compassion, by rage, and by the desire for vengeance. In him the town and its protectors sense a threat graver than any they have faced in their long history, and in the comfortable, sheltered inhabitants of a small Maine town, Parker will encounter his most vicious opponents yet. Charlie Parker is been marked to die so that Prosperous may survive. Prosperous, and the secret that it hides beneath its ruins.

Charlie Parker has taken on the task of finding a long-lost daughter of dead homeless man in Prosperous, Maine. This time Charlie may have bit off more than he can chew. Prosperous, Maine is a place where dark secrets are a dime a dozen and outsiders are regularly escorted to the town’s limit...that is if they’re lucky. One of the biggest secrets is how the town of Prosperous became so prosperous. This secret will be protected at any cost by every citizen of the town. One of the things that I really like about this series is that even though it has a supernatural flavor...the stories are always filled with good old common mystery. They will appeal to the fans of things that go bump in the night as well as the fans of the more traditional suspense genre.

20Carol420
Jan 11, 12:10pm Top


Little Black Lies - Sharon Bolton
4★

In such a small community as the Falkland Islands, a missing child is unheard of. In such a dangerous landscape it can only be a terrible tragedy, surely. When another child goes missing, and then a third, it's no longer possible to believe that their deaths were accidental, and the villagers must admit that there is a murderer among them. Even Catrin Quinn, a damaged woman living a reclusive life after the accidental deaths of her own two sons a few years ago, gets involved in the searches and the speculation. Suddenly, in this wild and beautiful place that generations have called home, no one feels safe and the hysteria begins to rise. Three islanders―Catrin, her childhood best friend, Rachel, and her ex-lover Callum―are hiding terrible secrets. And they have two things in common: all three of them are grieving, and none of them trust anyone, not even themselves.

The murder mystery is almost secondary here. Instead we learn a great deal about The Falklands...which was interesting but may not be exactly what some people are looking for in a murder mystery. If you can get past the travel guide it has some very good psychological elements. The story is told from three different view points and it's left to the reader to decide if they believe any one of them is telling the entire truth or any of the truth for that matter. It didn't just focus on the search for the missing children but also on love, friendship, loss and loyalty.

21Carol420
Jan 12, 9:37am Top


Black & Blue - Anna Quindlen
4★

For eighteen years Fran Benedetto kept her secret, hid her bruises. She stayed with Bobby because she wanted her son to have a father, and because, in spite of everything, she loved him. Then one night, when she saw the look on her ten-year-old son’s face, Fran finally made a choice—and ran for both their lives. Now she is starting over in a city far from home, far from Bobby. In this place she uses a name that isn’t hers, watches over her son, and tries to forget. For the woman who now calls herself Beth, every day is a chance to heal, to put together the pieces of her shattered self. And every day she waits for Bobby to catch up to her. Bobby always said he would never let her go, and despite the ingenuity of her escape, Fran Benedetto is certain of one thing: It is only a matter of time.

It's the the story of Frances (Fran) Benedetto. On the surface a successful nurse with a handsome policeman husband and adorable son. All seems well and the marriage seems perfect but there are dark threads woven throughout and they are about to become unraveled. Fran is the victim of physical abuse from her husband Bobby. Bobby's job as a policeman is to protect...but who is going to protect Fran? Because Bobby is liked and respected by his peers...Fran fears that she'll lose her son so she puts her off reporting and hides her injuries. Bobby eventually went beyond the hidden bruises and breaks her nose, Finally Fran decides that enough is enough, and contacts a mysterious woman who runs an 'underground' service for battered wives. The woman gets Fran and her son relocated but her problems and her fears never completely go away. Running from New York to Florida she fights to stay one step ahead of the husband who's hunting her...perhaps with murder in mind this time. A well written story about a horrible subject that is too often on the other side of fiction.

22Carol420
Jan 13, 2:24pm Top

The Hiding Place - C.J. Tudor
4.5★

Joe never wanted to come back to Arnhill. After the way things ended with his old gang—the betrayal, the suicide—and what happened when his sister went missing, the last thing he wanted to do was return to his hometown. But Joe doesn’t have a choice, not after a chilling email surfaces in his inbox: I know what happened to your sister. It’s happening again. Lying his way into a teaching job at his former high school is the easy part. Facing off with onetime friends who aren’t too happy to have him back in town—while avoiding the enemies he’s made in the years since—is tougher. But the hardest part of all will be returning to the abandoned mine where his life changed forever, and finally confronting the horrifying truth about Arnhill, his sister, and himself. Because for Joe, the worst moment of his life wasn’t the day his sister went missing....It was the day she came back.

Going home is not always a great idea as Joe soon finds out. Some things are just best forgotten and never brought back into the light of day. This story had all the creep-factors that make for a good mystery with a paranormal flavor. If you are one that enjoys a well-written crime story with a strong dose of horror...then this is diffidently for you.

23Carol420
Jan 13, 3:10pm Top


Evil Games - Angela Marsons
D.I. Kim Stone series Book #2
5★

The greater the Evil, the more deadly the game … When a rapist is found mutilated in a brutal attack, Detective Kim Stone and her team are called in to bring a swift resolution. But, as more vengeful killings come to light, it soon becomes clear that there is someone far more sinister at work. With the investigation quickly gathering momentum, Kim finds herself exposed to great danger and in the sights of a lethal individual undertaking their own twisted experiment. Up against a sociopath who seems to know her every weakness, for Detective Stone, each move she makes could be deadly. As the body count starts to mount, Kim will have to dig deeper than ever before to stop the killing. And this time… it's personal.

I loved everything about the first book, Silent Scream, where we first met D.I. Kim Stone and her team that functions like a well oiled machine. Kim is such an interesting character. She sees things in black or white… there are no shades of grey. If someone is guilty they are guilty regardless of the circumstances. Kim believes in the system and that people should be held accountable for their crimes. The subject of this one was almost unbelievable…at least you hoped that it wasn’t possible…yet Angela Marsons made it work beautifully. In Alex…she has created the perfect adversary…one that the reader will love to hate…one who pushes Kim’s buttons and leads her into danger…which she can see but can’t avoid. The way they played off each other was very clever and made Alex a very chilling character. Kim Stone is going to find a permanent home on my bookshelf.

24Carol420
Jan 14, 1:57pm Top


The Crow Road - Iain Banks
4.5★

It was the day my grandmother exploded. I sat in the crematorium, listening to my Uncle Hamish quietly snoring in harmony to Bach's Mass in B Minor, and I reflected that it always seemed to be death that drew me back to Gallanach. Prentice McHoan has returned to the bosom of his complex but enduring Scottish family. Full of questions about the McHoan past, present and future, he is also deeply preoccupied: mainly with death, sex, drink, God and illegal substances.

This story almost literally begins with a bang. Two things brought me and this book together...well actually three...,many of you know by now that I will read strange things in order to fulfill a challenge. Other than the challenge...I had to see if grandma literally exploded...and it was written by one of my favorite authors, Iain Banks. I had read about half way through and thought that Prentice must surely be a long lost cousin of mine. He would have fit in perfectly with my big, gruff Scottish grandfather. His exploits in this eccentric Scottish family are funny and so desperately true. You will find a bit of everything in here...mystery, magic, myths and it conveys it all with a first hand account that could only have been told the better if wee Prentice were telling you the story himself over a dram or two. Not a dull moment in it and always surprising. This book is definitely worth reading. Oh...and don't forget to find out about grandma:)

25ScoLgo
Jan 14, 4:00pm Top

>24 Carol420: I'll have to look this one up. Currently reading Complicity by Banks and finding it really engrossing. Have you read that one yet, Carol?

26Carol420
Jan 14, 5:33pm Top

>25 ScoLgo: Haven't read that one but the library has it so I will have to ask them to hold it for me.

27Jenson_AKA_DL
Jan 15, 10:49am Top

I read and reviewed Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson which is a young adult murder/mystery and am on the second book of the trilogy, The Vanishing Stair. I'm enjoying them so far.

28Carol420
Jan 15, 11:04am Top


Exit Unicorns - Cindy Brandner
3★
The journey begins in the 'terrible beauty' of Northern Ireland during a time when conflict reigns and no one is spared from tragedy and sorrow, the time known as The Troubles. It is the spring of 1968 in Belfast and James Kirkpatrick has just lost his father under suspicious circumstances, Casey Riordan is released from prison after five years and Pamela O'Flaherty has crossed an ocean and a lifetime of memories to find the man she fell in love with as a little girl. All three lives are on a collision course with each other against the backdrop of the burgeoning civil rights movement and a nation on the brink of revolution. They come from disparate backgrounds-Jamie a wealthy aristocrat whose life is like an imperfect but multi-faceted jewel-brilliant, flawed and with a glitter that is designed to distract the observer. Casey, a card-carrying member of the Irish Republican Army, who must face the fact that five years away has left him a stranger, a misfit in his own neighborhood where not everyone is sympathetic to a convicted rebel. Pamela has come to Ireland in search of a memory and a man who may not have existed in the first place. Through it all runs the ribbon of a love story. Love of country, the beginning love of two people unable to resist the pull of each other regardless of the cost to themselves and those around them…and the selfless love of one man who no longer believes himself capable of such emotion. It is an electrifying tale of a people divided by religion and politics, a tale of love and danger, of triumph and tragedy. Ultimately it is the story of that 'terrible beauty' herself-Ireland-and how nation is bound to one's identity, woven into the weft of all we become.

You have got to either really be interested, or have someone that was invested first hand in the period known as “The Troubles” to really appreciate this book. My grandparents were gone from Ireland by 1968 when the horror flared up again, but the family my gram left behind was still there in the thick of it. While the writing is excellent I believe the author tries too hard to make it into a love story using the political/religious situation as a backdrop…but it just doesn’t work if you spent everyday watching someone you love try to deal with what was happening with the people and land that she loved. I believe I would have liked the book more if I hadn’t had this situation. I gave it 3 stars…it’s well written and I certainly would encourage you to read it…if you don’t carry this excess baggage.

29ScoLgo
Jan 15, 2:34pm Top

>26 Carol420: I finished Complicity last night and I highly recommend it. My hardcover copy is only 299 pages but there is a lot of story contained in such a relatively short book. Banks' writing and characterization skills are top notch. I need to read more of his non-SF books.

30Carol420
Jan 15, 5:14pm Top

>26 Carol420: Thank you for the recommendation. The library has it on hold for me.

31ScoLgo
Jan 15, 5:22pm Top

>30 Carol420: I hope you like it!

32EadieB
Edited: Jan 15, 5:23pm Top

>29 ScoLgo: >30 Carol420: Read Complicity in 2016. It's actually on the 1001 books to read before you die list. Gave it 4 stars.

This was my first Iain Banks book. I thought his writing was excellent but if this was suppose to be a murder mystery, I would have to say that it is lacking in that department. I would classify this book as a good character study as the characters were well-drawn but the murderer was quite obvious. I also found the descriptions of the murder and sex scenes a bit over the top. Now you may be asking why I gave him 4 stars. Well, it's his memorable language, great one-liners and his ability to go from past to present so effectively. All in all, a very enjoyable book if you like great writing.

33gaylebutz
Jan 15, 5:42pm Top

Evil Games by Angela Marsons
4 ★
When a rapist is found mutilated in a brutal stabbing, Detective Kim Stone and her team are called in to bring a swift resolution. With the investigation gathering momentum, whilst also trying to expose the secrets of a sick pedophile ring, Kim finds herself in the sights of a lethal individual undertaking their own twisted experiment. Pitted against a dangerous sociopath who seems to know her every weakness, for Detective Stone, each move she makes could be deadly.

Kim is great at her job and has good instincts about people but hard to like due to her disturbing childhood. When she meets psychiatrist Alex Thorne, she thinks something’s off and it only gets worse as she finds out more. I grew to like Kim as the story went along and hate Alex. The story definitely drew me in. The second storyline was interesting too. There were some good twists and surprises. I plan to read more from Marsons.

34gaylebutz
Jan 15, 8:30pm Top

Deep Blue by Randy Wayne White
3.5 ★

On a moonless night on Sanibel Island, Florida, marine biologist Marion "Doc" Ford carefully watches a video of a hooded man executing three hostages. The man is an American working with ISIS, and in the next few days, it'll be Ford's job, as part of his shadowy second life, to make sure he never kills anybody else again. But a lot can go wrong in a few days, and Ford has no way of knowing that not only will the operation prove to be a lot more complicated than he has anticipated, but that he'll end up bringing those complications back with him to the small community of boaters, guides, lovers, and friends in Dinkin's Bay, where he's long made his home.

Doc Ford is a marine biologist when he’s at home in Florida. When he’s on assignment from the government, he assassinates the bad guys. There were surprises and excitement as he strategized and carried out his assignment. His home on Sanibel Island had a laid back atmosphere with quirky and somewhat odd but likeable characters. It contrasted nicely with the tension of the job he was doing. Although a bit over the top, a fun read.

35ScoLgo
Jan 16, 12:27am Top

>32 EadieB: I agree with everything you say. I had the culprit figured at about the halfway point but was hoping it would turn out to be someone else. I did not expect a Fight Club type of scenario though. I wonder if Palahniuk 'borrowed' the concept from Banks? This book was published several years prior so... hmmm...? And yes, there is a fair amount of graphic sex and lots of graphic violence but... that's pretty standard for Banks. Since Carol mentioned that he is a favorite writer, I figured she won't find those aspects too shocking, (I hope... O_o).

Didn't realize it was on the 1001 list. Thank you for mentioning that.

36Carol420
Edited: Jan 17, 10:22am Top


The Empty Bed – Nina Sadowsky
The Burial Society series Book #2
4.5★

Eva Lombard is being followed. Or so she suspects. . . . Eva and her husband, Peter, are in Hong Kong on a romantic getaway from London when Peter wakes up in their hotel room to an empty bed, his wife gone without a trace. His worst fears are confirmed: Eva wasn’t imagining things. Suddenly, he finds himself the number one suspect in his wife’s disappearance, trapped in a foreign country with no one to turn to. He calls his boss, Forrest “Holly” Holcomb, who enlists the help of Catherine, his ex-flame and the enigmatic operator behind the darknet witness-protection program known as the Burial Society. As a favor to Holly, Catherine sends her team of highly trained Society members on a dangerous chase through Hong Kong to find Eva—while Catherine takes care of pressing business at home. Not only is she tasked with a mission in Mexico City, protecting a family that knows too much from a vengeful pharmaceutical company, but an FBI agent tracking down the missing wife and child of a charismatic businessman is about to come dangerously close to exposing the Society’s secrets. In these intertwining story lines that converge in unexpected ways, not everyone is who they appear to be—and not everyone who is lost wants to be found.

I found Catherine and her mysterious network to be impressively connected and intriguingly motivated. I thought the plot line that the Burial Society rescues people that find themselves in dangerous situations was fascinating and the author has build on this theme to produce an exciting, well done story. Catherine herself is an outstanding character that excels in empathy and efficiency. The short chapters make for easy reading and the action defies logic. It’s a whirlwind adventure through Hong Kong. I understand this is book#2 in the series so I will be looking for book #1. Some of the background from the first book would have gone a long way in aiding with understanding some of this one.

I received an advance copy of this book from Chronicle Books in exchange for an honest review. The opinions are entirely all my own.

37Carol420
Edited: Jan 17, 10:22am Top


The Doll's House - M.J. Arlidge
Helen Grace series Book #3
5★

Ruby wakes up in a strange room. Her captor calmly explains that no one is looking for her. No one wants her. Except him. When the body of a woman is found buried on a secluded beach, Detective Helen Grace is called to the scene. She knows right away that the killer is no amateur. The woman has been dead for years, and no one has even reported her missing. But why would they? She’s still sending text messages to her family. Helen is convinced that a criminal mastermind is at work: someone very smart, very careful, and worst of all, very patient. But as she struggles to piece together the killer’s motive, time is running out for a victim who is still alive.

I don't know how I missed this one since I've read all the others. Glad I discovered it and corrected that mistake. I can't say that any one of the Helen Grace books is my favorite since I loved them all but this one comes very close to holding that place of honor. As usual in this series there is a serial killer in the story and this time he has Ruby...but she wasn't his first. A body has also been found buried on the beach that is at least 3 years old and has been determined that it is more of his work. No one has been real concerned about the missing girls since they were getting text messages on a regular basis. It's a good story and well told with enough excitement to keep the reader involved in the search and race against time.

38gaylebutz
Jan 17, 4:53pm Top

>36 Carol420: That sounds entertaining and I like the idea of a witness protection program and what the Burial Society does. I'm putting it on my TBR list.

39Carol420
Jan 18, 11:33am Top


Where The Crawdads Sing - Delia Owens
1★

For years, rumors of the "Marsh Girl" have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life--until the unthinkable happens.

I thought the story was totally unbelievable. We meet a little girl…now keep in mind that she is 6 years old. She has been left alone in a shack in the middle of the North Carolina swamp. Now here is where I had many problems with it. She raises herself. She lives in that same shack all this time. No one lifts a hand to help her or check on her or even misses her in more than 20 years? In all that time nothing ever needs repairs or breaks down? What does she do for clothes? I don’t think she could wear the same clothes all this time. My two kids were lucky if they could wear the same clothes for 6 months when they were 6 years old. The whole thing just fumbled and stumbled around…maybe it was searching for a place to end its misery. I am a member of the minority here I know...as I see almost 800 people rated it 4 or 5 stars. Sorry, but I just don't see it. Oh yeah…there was a murder.

40Andrew-theQM
Jan 18, 12:35pm Top

>39 Carol420: So you enjoyed it then . 😂

41Carol420
Edited: Jan 18, 1:32pm Top

>40 Andrew-theQM: Oh yes...can't you tell? :)

42Andrew-theQM
Jan 18, 1:40pm Top

>41 Carol420: Sounds as if it has some big flaws.

43Carol420
Jan 18, 4:02pm Top

>42 Andrew-theQM: I can't figure out how nearly 800 people didn't question the abilities that were attributed to this 6 year old girl. Maybe I look for too much realism in a book...says the person who devours ghost stories:)

44Andrew-theQM
Jan 18, 4:38pm Top

>43 Carol420: What ghosts aren’t real? 😱🤯 You can sometimes suspend disbelief but there ARE limits to this. Sounds as if this one well and truly crossed this boundary.

45Carol420
Jan 19, 8:57am Top

>44 Andrew-theQM: It depends on who you ask and how good your imagination is. I'm not going to go looking to find out their reality. I'll just enjoy reading about them.

46Carol420
Jan 19, 8:58am Top


The Weight of Blood - Laura McHugh
4★

The town of Henbane sits deep in the Ozark Mountains. Folks there still whisper about Lucy Dane’s mother, a bewitching stranger who appeared long enough to marry Carl Dane and then vanished when Lucy was just a child. Now on the brink of adulthood, Lucy experiences another loss when her friend Cheri disappears and is then found murdered, her body placed on display for all to see. Lucy’s family has deep roots in the Ozarks, part of a community that is fiercely protective of its own. Yet despite her close ties to the land, and despite her family’s influence, Lucy—darkly beautiful as her mother was—is always thought of by those around her as her mother’s daughter. When Cheri disappears, Lucy is haunted by the two lost girls—the mother she never knew and the friend she couldn’t save—and sets out with the help of a local boy, Daniel, to uncover the mystery behind Cheri’s death. What Lucy discovers is a secret that pervades the secluded Missouri hills, and beyond that horrific revelation is a more personal one concerning what happened to her mother more than a decade earlier. The Weight of Blood is a look at the dark side of a bucolic landscape beyond the arm of the law, where a person can easily disappear without a trace.

It’s composed of two parallel stories that are set almost two decades apart. Although it can often be confusing to have a story that is told from multiple points of view…I didn’t find that to be the case here. Each chapter clearly indicates whose viewpoint it is. The author also very nicely conveys the atmosphere of this small, Ozark community…or for that matter any small community where everyone knows everyone else’s' business and superstitions are a normal part of everyday life. This is not a “whodunit”… nor is it a thriller with over the top situations and one-dimensional characters. It is really more about the relationships between people and the secrets they keep and why. There are a few TSTL moments but otherwise it is a worthwhile read.

47Carol420
Jan 20, 3:19pm Top


The Magpie Tree - Katherine Stansfield
Cornish Mystery series Book #2
4.5★

Jamaica Inn, 1844: the talk is of witches. A boy has vanished in the woods of Trethevy on the North Cornish coast, and a reward is offered for his return. Shilly has had enough of such dark doings, but her new companion, the woman who calls herself Anna Drake, insists they investigate. Anna wants to open a detective agency, and the reward would fund it. They soon learn of a mysterious pair of strangers who have likely taken the boy, and of Saint Nectan who, legend has it, kept safe the people of the woods. As Shilly and Anna seek the missing child, the case takes another turn – murder. Something is stirring in the woods and old sins have come home to roost.

Loved the atmosphere of this story. It created a dark and macabre atmosphere that any spooky mystery lover could appreciate. The woods are dark and mysterious and the sounding of a bell when danger arises could be that of the long dead St. Nectan...or simply the warning bell from the nearby slate quarry that blasting is about to take place. Beautiful descriptions throughout as we follow Anna and Shilly to a hidden valley where magic has spirited away a child. The story draws heavily on folk tales and your vivid imagination. The only thing I found a bit taxing was the use of Cornish phrases that were unfamiliar to me. This is the second book in the Cornish Mystery series and I am off to find the first book.

48Carol420
Jan 21, 6:59am Top


The Haunting of Rookward House
3★

When Guy finds the deeds to a house in his mother’s attic, it seems like an incredible stroke of luck. Sure, the building hasn’t been inhabited in forty years and vines strangle the age-stained walls, but Guy is convinced he can clean it up and sell it. He’d be crazy to turn down free money. Right? The house is hours from any other habitation, and Guy can't get phone reception in the old building. He decides to camp there while he does repairs. Surely nothing too bad can happen in the space of a week. But there’s a reason no one lives in Rookward House, and the dilapidated rooms aren’t as empty as they seem… A deranged woman tormented a family in Rookward forty years before. Now her ghost clings to the building like rot. She’s bitter, obsessive, and jealous… and once Guy has moved into her house, she has no intention of ever letting him leave.

As most of you know...I am the ghost story junkie and will l freely admit to being a devoted haunted house story fan. I have read some really good ones by this author. Having said that...I was rather disappointed to find that this one was so predictable. I just knew in advance everything that was going to prevent Guy from leaving and always lead him back to Rookward. It was a worthy 3 star read but it was more creepy than actually scary.

49Carol420
Jan 22, 7:07am Top


The Other Girl - Erica Spindler
4.5★

A horrific crime. One witness―a fifteen year old girl from the wrong side of the tracks, one known for lying and her own brushes with the law. Is it any surprise no one believed her? Officer Miranda Rader of the Harmony, Louisiana PD is known for her honesty, integrity, and steady hand in a crisis―but that wasn’t always so. Miranda comes from the town of Jasper, a place about the size of a good spit on a hot day, and her side of the tracks was the wrong one. She’s worked hard to earn the respect of her coworkers and the community. When Miranda and her partner are called to investigate the murder of one of the town’s most beloved college professors, they’re unprepared for the brutality of the scene. This murder is unlike any they’ve ever investigated, and just when Miranda thinks she’s seen the worst of it, she finds a piece of evidence that chills her to the core: a faded newspaper clipping about that terrible night fifteen years ago. The night she’d buried, along with her past and the girl she’d been back then. Until now that grave had stayed sealed…except for those times, in the deepest part of the night, when the nightmares came: of a crime no one believed happened and the screams of the girl they believed didn’t exist. Then another man turns up dead, this one a retired cop. Not just any cop―the one who took her statement that night. Two murders, two very different men, two killings that on the surface had nothing in common―except Miranda.

I've read almost everything that Erica Spindler has written and always found that she crafted a story sprinkled with characters that you can both love and hate...feel empathy for and want to strangle... sometimes at the same time. Miranda was a character that fell into a world that was against her seemingly from the very first. I became frustrated..(4.5 stars instead of 5) with the people in authority and the way they treated her as a 15 year old girl and later the way these same people treated her as a decorated police officer. I knew who the "other girl" was early in the book but the perpetrator was a well kept secret almost to the last page.

50Andrew-theQM
Jan 22, 4:14pm Top

Next Group Read will start Tuesday 28th January, A Painted Doom by Kate Ellis

51Carol420
Edited: Jan 24, 10:17am Top


The Secrets of Roscarbury Hall- Ann O'Laughlin
4.5 ★


Secrets can’t last forever. . . .In a crumbling mansion in a small Irish village in County Wicklow, two elderly sisters, Ella and Roberta O’Callaghan, live alone in Roscarbury Hall with their secrets, memories, and mutual hatred. Long estranged, the two communicate only by terse notes. But when the sisters are threatened with bankruptcy, Ella defies Roberta’s wishes and converts the mansion's old ballroom into a cafe. Much to Roberta’s displeasure, the cafe is a hit and the sisters are reluctantly drawn back into the village life they abandoned decades ago. But gossip has a long life. As the local convent comes under scrutiny, the O’Callaghan sisters find themselves caught up in an adoption scandal that dates back to the 1960s and spreads all the way across the Atlantic Ocean. Only by overcoming their enmity and facing up to the past can they face the future together—but can they finally put their differences behind them?


A novel filled with both joys and sorrows. I really like how Ann O'Loughlin made the reader care about the characters...how she intertwined Irish history into the story to give us a better of understanding of why things happened as they did. The author just keeps putting twists into the plot so that when you think you are almost at the end...you realize you have a long way to go to unravel the pieces of this puzzle.

52rhinemaiden
Jan 25, 3:06am Top

Here's a link to a delightful piece I think members of this group will enjoy:

https://crimereads.com/your-guide-to-not-getting-murdered-in-a-quaint-english-vi....

53Andrew-theQM
Edited: Jan 25, 5:06am Top

>52 rhinemaiden: Thanks for the link. These quaint English villages are deadly!

54Carol420
Edited: Jan 25, 11:48am Top

>52 rhinemaiden: I love it! I was already panning to stick with the dog. Think I'll find one on it's own and not take a chance on it's owner being one of people I should avoid. The beer vat reminded me of one the Midsommer Murder DVD's that i just watched.

55rhinemaiden
Jan 25, 12:00pm Top

>54 Carol420: I love Midsommer Murder! Was the one you just saw that ended with Barnaby saying "well, well, well"?? Midsommer Murder is always on my must watch list! Speaking of villages to avoid... I think of Agatha Christie's A Murder is Announced... one of my favorite Agatha's!

56Carol420
Edited: Jan 25, 1:23pm Top

>55 rhinemaiden: It was the very first on on set 20...The Ghost of Causton Abbey.
"The ancient Causton Abbey is now a brewery, but the old curse is still active: one person is found boiled to death in one of the vats shortly after a party to launch a new ale."
I hope they never run out of ideas for this show. Love it.

57rhinemaiden
Jan 25, 2:55pm Top

>56 Carol420: The one I was thinking of was "country matters" or was it "dead letters" anyway... I think the series is better than the books... what say you?

58Carol420
Yesterday, 7:29am Top

>57 rhinemaiden: Absolutely agree with you. it is one of my favorite mystery series. I have found that BBC does a marvelous job of turning out outstanding mystery series.

59Carol420
Yesterday, 11:03am Top


I Will Always Find You Willow Sanders
I Will Always Find You Book #1 of a 2 part series
3★

Cammie Saint isn’t a victim. Sure, she’s had a string of bad luck, the apartment break in then the attack in the parking lot. Sometimes life hands you lemons. Why is everyone so interested in her case? Even the new neighbor is sniffing around for clues. There are things she wants from the neighborhood Officer Hottie, but an interrogation wasn’t what she was thinking of. Always That’s Special Agent Vaughn, DEA. Of all the places he thought he’d be, Kansas City wasn’t one of them. . While Agent Vaughn searches for answers, Cammie finds herself thrown into a world she never expected. How will secrets from her past, compromise her future? What happens when someone who never wanted to be found, is discovered?

It's not a bad story at all but not exactly my cuppa tea. I did however find that it was extremely easy to be entertained with this book. I liked the character of Agent Vaughn who is on the hunt for a notorious cartel leader. He doesn’t have the time for entanglements and Cammie was indeed an entanglement. The story was told from both Cammie's and Agent Vaughn's point of view which worked very well but it was just too much on the romance side for me but well worth 3 stars.

60gaylebutz
Yesterday, 5:46pm Top

Harbour Street by Ann Cleeves
3.5 ★
Margaret Krukowski is fatally stabbed on the metro during the busy holiday season. Why would anyone want to harm this reserved, elegant lady? Arriving at the scene, DI Vera Stanhope is relieved to have an excuse to escape the holiday festivities. Soon Vera and Joe are on their way to where Margaret lived to begin their inquiry. Then, just days later, a second woman is murdered. Vera finds herself searching deep into the hidden past led by clues that keep revolving around Harbour Street.

There were many suspicious characters as is usual for an Ann Cleeves book. Vera, Joe and Holly did a lot of investigating to uncover the secrets and lies. This was a decent story but Vera was not as interesting as in an earlier book so I was a bit disappointed.

I also enjoyed reading the LT Group Read discussion of this book as I went along. Thanks for saving those Carol!

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