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Reviews Published

Friday, December 03, 2021

A slow fire burning

"A slow fire burning" is the third novel by Paula Hawkins, and it's as different from its predecessors as "Into the Water" was from "The Girl on the Train". Which, of course, is a very good thing. After all, if I wanted to read "The Girl on the Train" or "Into the Water" again, I could just - wait for it - read them again.

So, it's a psychological thriller as well as a murder mystery. The characters are damaged and flawed, yet you like being in their company. The unusual friendship between a retired widow and a much younger woman was a lovely touch.

Warning: dark themes.



Thursday, November 11, 2021

Better Off Dead by Lee Child and Andrew Child

This is book 26. Jack Reacher, the modern-day non-fantasy superhero, is back - and don't let other reviewers' opinions prevent you from spending a few days in his company. As usual, Reacher travels from state to state, taking in the countryside, sampling diner cuisine and minding his own business, until he sees somebody else's business he feels compelled to mind.

He's sharp, fast on his feet, and you really really want him on your side. Because he's on the side of the good, the exploited and the downtrodden. Exactly as a superhero should be.

Blurb: That morning he was heading west, walking under the merciless desert sun - until he comes upon a curious scene. A Jeep has crashed into the only tree for miles around. A woman is slumped over the wheel.

Dead? No, nothing is what it seems.

The woman is Michaela Fenton, an army veteran turned FBI agent trying to find her twin brother, who might be mixed up with some dangerous people. Most of them would rather die than betray their terrifying leader, who has burrowed his influence deep into the nearby border town, a backwater that has seen better days. The mysterious Dendoncker rules from the shadows, out of sight and under the radar, keeping his dealings in the dark.

He would know the fate of Fenton’s brother.

Reacher is good at finding people who don’t want to be found, so he offers to help, despite feeling that Fenton is keeping secrets of her own. But a life hangs in the balance. Maybe more than one. But to bring Dendoncker down will be the riskiest job of Reacher's life. Failure is not an option, because in this kind of game, the loser is always better off dead.





Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Covid 19: An Extraordinary Time (Creative Responses to the 2020 Pandemic Book 1)

What an extraordinary way to pay homage to a truly extraordinary time. The book (edited by Debz Hobbs-Wyatt and Gill James) is a collection of fictional stories, vignettes, true accounts and poetry - all of them bearing witness to the months of the 2020 Covid pandemic. 

Important. Entertaining. Historic legacy. Time capsule.



Sunday, October 03, 2021

Last Girl Ghosted by Lisa Unger

This is a fantastic book. It has everything a psychological thriller needs to make it to the number one spot: an excellent premise, multi-dimensional characters, swift pace and issues to think about once the reader turns the last page. 

On the surface, the book is about a woman who finds her perfect match on a dating site, only to have him disappear in mysterious circumstances. However, the book is also about topical issues like loneliness caused by the lack of face-to-face interaction, family love, guilt, forgiveness, return to nature, healing.

Probably Lisa Unger's finest yet.



Saturday, September 11, 2021

First Cut by Judy Melinek and T.J. Mitchell

"First Cut" is the couple's debut thriller, and yet it doesn't read as a debut. Everything is there: the page-turning plot, the character development, the originality. Highly recommended for thriller fans not bothered by detailed descriptions of autopsies.

Blurb:

For San Francisco’s newest medical examiner, Dr. Jessie Teska, it was supposed to be a fresh start. A new job in a new city. A way to escape her own dark past.

Instead she faces a chilling discovery when an opioid-overdose case contains hints of something more sinister. Jessie’s superiors urge her to close the case, but as more bodies land on her autopsy table, she uncovers a constellation of deaths that point to an elaborate plot involving drug dealers and Bitcoin brokers.

Autopsy means “see for yourself,” and Jessie Teska won’t stop until she has seen it all—even if it means that the next corpse on the table could be her own.




Wednesday, September 08, 2021

"Apples never fall" by Liane Moriarty

 "Apples never fall" by Liane Moriarty starts almost conventionally, but if you're familiar with this author's work, you will soon realise that nothing is quite as it seems. The bored retired couple used to be tennis stars, for starters, and their marriage is far from boring or retired. As the - unpredictable - plot unfolds, flicking between the past and the present, you'll get to know and love the characters. You won't be able to turn the pages fast enough, yet you won't want the book to end.

It's difficult to avoid spoilers. Some of the issues you'll think about include family bonds, the influence and power parents yield over their children, the meaning of success.



Sunday, August 15, 2021

Choose Me by Tess Gerritsen and Gary Braver

"Choose Me" by Tess Gerritsen and Gary Braver is a bit different from the usual Rizzoli and Isles thriller. Tess Gerritsen fans will still find her traces in the detailed description of autopsy and the clever plot twists, but the book is not written in her voice. 

The characters are three-dimensional and likeable, and readers will feel invested in a happy ending.

Warning: the contents may not be suitable for people with triggers for suicide and teacher-student relationships.

Burb:

Taryn Moore is young, beautiful, and brilliant…so why would she kill herself? When Detective Frankie Loomis arrives on the scene to investigate the girl’s fatal plunge from her apartment balcony, she knows in her gut there’s more to the story, especially after the autopsy reveals that the college senior was pregnant. It could be reason enough for suicide—or a motive for murder.

To English professor Jack Dorian, Taryn was the ultimate fantasy: intelligent, adoring, and completely off limits. But there was also a dark side to Taryn, a dangerous streak that threatened those she turned her affections to—including Jack. And now that she’s dead, his problems are just beginning.