The Sister In Law by Sue Watson

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Description

‘You don’t think Jamie and I have secrets, do you? No, we tell each other everything.’ She smiled. ‘Including your dirty little secret. So, thinking about it, maybe it’s time to start being nice to me?’

THE WIFE: Clare is ready for a break. It’s been a tough year and now she wants to put her feet up. Arriving at the Italian villa for their summer holiday, she decides it’s high time her husband and his family did some of the work. After all, her husband owes her…

THE HUSBAND: Even though Dan had his head turned by someone else, he’s realised the error of his ways. He’s here now, and he says it’s for keeps. Clare can trust him, can’t she? At least he’ll have his brother there, to keep him in line…

THE BROTHER: Jamie is the prodigal child, back in the family fold again, after years of travelling abroad. But when he gets to the villa, he’s not alone. He’s brought a wife, someone none of them have met before.

THE SISTER-IN-LAW: Ella is everything Clare isn’t. Glamorous. Young. Influential. But she knows a secret about Clare. Something that has the power to break the whole family apart.

And there’s someone who will do whatever it takes to make sure that this deep secret never comes to the surface.

An utterly unputdownable, gripping, twisty psychological thriller perfect for fans of Before I Go To Sleep, The Girl on the Train and Date Night.

My thoughts

My goodness, this was a page turner!

Clare’s marriage is already under pressure when Ella, the sister in law no one knew about, arrived at the villa where Clare and her husband’s family are staying for their annual joint holiday. Almost from her first words to Clare Ella makes it clear that she has no interest in being friends, and sets about subtly alienating Clare from her family and causing tension in the villa.

In Ella, the author has created a truly awful but somewhat admirable antagonist. You have to read through to find out her agenda, while becoming more and more angry at her tactics and (in my case) more than a little angry at Clare for her handling of things.

I really liked the ending. It tied things up well and redeemed Clare and drove home that every action has consequences, even when you think you’ve got away with something.

Façade by Helen Matthews

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Description

A drowned child. Estranged sisters. A once-perfect home.

Silence echoes louder than truth.

When seventeen-year-old Rachel’s baby brother drowns and her older sister, Imogen, escapes to live abroad with Simon, her musician boyfriend, Rachel must face the family’s grief and disintegration alone.

Twenty years later, Rachel is a successful businesswoman, with a daughter of her own, supporting her parents and their elegant Georgian home, The Old Rectory, that shackles them to the past.

Simon’s sudden death in Ibiza brings Imogen back, impoverished and resentful. Her family owes her, and she will stop at nothing to reclaim what she believes is rightly hers.

The rift between the sisters seems permanent. While Imogen has lived a nomadic life, filled with intrigue, in Spain and Tunisia, Rachel’s has appeared stable and successful but, behind the veneer, cracks are appearing. Now, she is vulnerable.

As the wall of silence and secrecy crumbles, danger stalks Rachel’s family. She must re-examine her baby brother’s death, find out what happened in Tunisia, and fight to hold onto everything she’s achieved –or risk losing it all.

Façade is a gripping tale of loss, guilt and danger.

My thoughts

The title is perfect for this story of a family presenting themselves to the world and to each other only as they want to be seen. The story is told in alternating points of view – Rachel, the care worn daughter, sister and mother who is trying to juggle a lot of balls, and Imogen the free spirit who carries a chip on her shoulder her shoulder and sees life as a glass half empty.

I felt a bit distant from this very privileged family for a short while until the cracks slowly started to show us what was hiding behind the façade, but the family members slowly gained individual identies as their struggles were shown. The secrets were revealed slowly throughout the book and the story was cleverly done and definitely had an air of suspense in places. I was genuinely worried for one character!

The author’s last book was a good read and I think this one is even better!

The Searcher by Tana French

Description

One of the most compulsive psychological mysteries since Donna Tartt’s The Secret HistoryTHE TIMES

Cal Hooper thought a fixer-upper in a remote Irish village would be the perfect escape. After twenty-five years in the Chicago police force, and a bruising divorce, he just wants to build a new life in a pretty spot with a good pub where nothing much happens.

But then a local kid comes looking for his help. His brother has gone missing, and no one, least of all the police, seems to care. Cal wants nothing to do with any kind of investigation, but somehow he can’t make himself walk away.

Soon Cal will discover that even in the most idyllic small town, secrets lie hidden, people aren’t always what they seem, and trouble can come calling at his door.

Our greatest living mystery writer weaves a masterful tale of breath-taking beauty and suspense, asking what we sacrifice in our search for truth and justice, and the dangers of finding what we seek.

My thoughts

The last book by this author that I read was Broken Harbour and it was so good that I worried I might be disappointed. But, if anything, I enjoyed this book even more! The book is written in present tense so the plot feels dynamic and atmospheric. The setting of rural Ireland is beautifully described and the characterisation is flawless. I love her writing. She can draw such incredible imagery with her words that scenes, and even the emotions of them, stay with me after I’ve finished reading. I’d say this book was more about the character development and the writing than the plot. The mystery tied up well at the end but I enjoyed this book more for the reading of it than for the resolution, and that for me is a five star read.

The Last Campaign by Martin L. Shoemaker

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Description

A colony on Mars becomes home to a killer conspiracy in a Near-Earth Mystery by the award-winning author of The Last Dance.

Brazilian investigator Rosalia Morais, and her husband, revered American spacer Nicolau Aames, are building a life together in Mars’s Maxwell City, the fastest-growing settlement on the planet. Good news: there are no natural predators. Bad news: there are humans. That means the crime rate is growing, too.

To ensure public safety, Rosie’s appointed by the mayor as the Red Planet’s first sheriff. No sooner does she build a law enforcement squad than the biggest challenge looks to be internal. Policing the police for graft and corruption is one thing. But when an industrialist is found among the chars of an arson, it’s murder.

The fire leads to questions that can be answered by only one man—Nick’s former officer on the Earth-to-Mars vessel the Aldrin. And Nick is still duty bound to keep the officer’s secrets. As loyalties shift, trust breaks, and the tide of a political conspiracy rises, Rosie must solve a mystery that could doom the future of humanity on Mars.

My thoughts

This was a very enjoyable follow up book to The Last Dance. I was very glad I had read The Last Dance first, because if I had jumped straight into reading this I would not have had the understanding of Rosalia Morais and Nick Aames’ characters and back story, both of which are very important to know who they are now. I wasn’t keen on the first person narrative from Rosalie’s POV, not because I don’t like her but because I couldn’t feel her and therefore think it would have been better told in third person. The plot was very good. I love the politics and Rosalia’s character arc and, although everything tied together well at the end, there is plenty of scope for the continuation of the series. I really like the writing style, and even though there were technical terms I am not familiar with, they were used in a context where I could at least grasp what I needed to know.
I’m looking forward to the next book in the series!

#NetGalley #MartinLShoemaker #TheLastCampaign

The Palace Of The Stars by Karina McRoberts

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Description

This richly realised and highly evocative novel will appeal to crime, mystery, and romance readers alike. In 2014, Michael Harker, rookie ex-cop, has been badly beaten but is determined to re-invent himself as a crime fighter. While convalescing with the spry, quirky bookshop owner Mari Linden, an earthquake opens a time portal and Mike finds himself over a hundred years in the past. He befriends JT Gordon, the magnanimous impresario of The Palace of the Stars, a grand musical hall theatre. Mike battles with strange shifts in consciousness, sleepwalking, restrictive dress standards, and the strict morals of the time. And, his love for a beautiful dancer and stage musician, Mae Belle. Mae has a strange bond to her on-stage magic partner, the mysterious Chan Li. Her off-stage lover? The mother of his young children? She says no, but Mike hears otherwise. Should he stay or go back? Can he go back? Does he have any right to take Mae with him, even if he can convince her he’s not a nut case? Before Mike can sort out this dilemma, Mae begs him to solve a series of gruesome murders. Mike joins with his friends from the Palace to trap the murderer, but realises no justice will be done and he must make a horrible choice. In the present day, Mari must deal with a cunning book thief and a bureaucrat who would shut down her shop. If the building’s condemned, the portal will close and Mike will never be able to return! Welcome to the Palace – you’re in for a treat!

My thoughts

This is a very interesting book to try and review because I’m not sure what genre to put it under. It has elements of fantasy, history, romance, and murder.

Mari is an ex nurse who now has a bookshop called Book Nook and also does work for the “Red Cross (though this isn’t really explained) through which she has taken in a young man, Michael. Mari was without a doubt my favourite character. As a nurse myself I was convinced the author must have been a nurse herself to write her and the hospital scene so convincingly.

Michael is given into Mari’s care after waking up from a six month long coma, with no apparent next of kin and amnesia. All that is known about him is that he was a rookie policeman who had been badly beaten. Mari is warned he will be difficult and he certainly proves himself to not be very likeable, to the extent that Mari is a bit afraid of him.

Mari finds a portal in her bookshop which she wants to explore herself, but can’t because it causes her pacemaker to play up. So Michael goes through and immediately discovers he can’t get back because in the era of 1904 Mari’s bookshop had not yet been built.

The rest of the book is divided between Mari’s vigil in her bookshop, waiting for Michael to be able to return, and Michael’s experiences in 1904 York where he is taken in by the owner of the Palace, an entertainment hall.

I really enjoyed Mari’s chapters, possibly because I found her very real and relateable in many ways. I didn’t feel as invested in Michael’s as he falls in love at first sight with a woman in one of the acts, but I did enjoy his story arc. The pieces of history that were skilfully inserted into the story were very interesting.

Checked Out For Murder by Allison Brook

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Description

Carrie Singleton and Evelyn the ghost sleuth the slayings of a starlet and a star-crossed psychic in Agatha Award nominee Allison Brook’s fourth Haunted Library mystery.

Daphne Marriott strolls into Clover Ridge and informs librarian Carrie Singleton that she’s a psychic. But had she foreseen what fate awaited her, Daphne would have steered clear of the quaint Connecticut town. Evelyn, the library ghost, tells Carrie that there’s more to Daphne than she lets on.

The mysterious woman grew up in Clover Ridge with her no-good dad, who apparently met his end at the hands of Daphne’s brother, Billy. Still, Daphne proves a welcome distraction when Carrie’s overbearing mother hits town. Mom’s much younger husband, Tom, is in a movie that’s lensing locally, and she’s there to keep an eye on him: Tom’s costar, sultry Ilana Reingold, is also his ex-fiancée, and there’s no denying the chemistry is still there. Soon after mingling with the moviemakers at a meet-and-greet, Daphne is found dead.

Carrie and Evelyn investigate, assisted by bushy-tailed library cat Smoky Joe. But the suspect list could overflow the library shelves. Has Billy killed another relative? Is their long-missing mother involved? Or Daphne’s mean ex-husband? Carrie’s sure she knows who committed the crime, but can she bind together the clues before the culprit Dewey-decimates the town?

My thoughts:

This was the fourth book in a series and I jumped into the series with this book, so perhaps that had some bearing on how I feel about it. The setting of Clover Ridge is lovely and makes me want to go and live there. And I really liked the residents. For those starting the series anywhere but the beginning just a tiny bit of backstory would help new readers to get to know the characters, especially ghost Evelyn. I didn’t get much of a sense of her at all. There were a lot of characters too. All in all it is a nice, cosy mystery and everything wrapped up well at the end.

Arcadia by Di Morrissey

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Description

A modern mystery born in a timeless Tasmanian forest from Australia’s favourite storyteller, with new novel The Last Paradise out now.

In the 1930s, in an isolated and beautiful corner of southern Tasmania, a new young wife arrives at her husband’s secluded property – Arcadia. Stella, an artist, falls in love with Arcadia’s wild, ancient forest. And when an unknown predator strikes, she is saved by an unusual protector…

Two generations later, Stella’s granddaughter, Sally, and her best friend, Jessica, stumble over Stella’s secret life in the forest and find themselves threatened in turn.

What starts as a girls’ adventurous road trip becomes a hunt for the story of the past, to solve the present, and save their future…

A breathtaking Tasmanian tale of ancient forests; of art and science; of love and, above all, of friendship.

My thoughts

The plot was good. I enjoyed the environmental and ecological messages. I liked the characters and the setting. Points were lost for me because there was so much filler that it blurred the actual story, and lots of dialogue that seemed to serve no purpose. If the filler was removed and the story allowed to shine I would have enjoyed it more. I think the book could stand to lose about 100 pages.

The Survivors by Jane Harper

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Description

The compelling new novel from Jane Harper, the New York Times bestselling author of The Dry.

Kieran Elliott’s life changed forever on the day a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences.

The guilt that still haunts him resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal community he once called home.

Kieran’s parents are struggling in a town where fortunes are forged by the sea. Between them all is his absent brother, Finn.

When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away…

My thoughts

“I think the person responsible is probably in this room. I think it’s one of you.” There was silence. “But maybe not. I don’t care, I just want the truth. So either way, no stone left unturned. If you’re out there – ” she scanned the room again, not so slow and steady now. “If you’re hoping this will go away, you’re going to be waiting a long time. Someone hurt Bronte. I want to know who. So unless you want every secret in this place dragged to the surface, I recommend everybody in this room opens their mouths and starts talking.”

“I mean, is it a celebration of the people who made it, or a memorial to the ones who didn’t?”

I had decided who did what and why reasonably early in the book, and because I am usually fairly good at guessing these kinds of things in books I spent part of the book feeling a bit disappointed. After all, I absolutely loved Jane Harper’s previous books and expected to love this one too.

But then came revelations that didn’t tie in with my theories and the guessing game was on again. As it turned out, I was completely wrong in so many ways and nothing I had guessed came to pass or was what I thought it was.

In my opinion it isn’t quite as good as her previous books. I found the dialogue quite dry and I didn’t engage with the characters as I usually do. But this was still a very good read and I recommend it,

The Monsters We Make by Kali White

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Description

For fans of Rene Denfeld and Shari Lapena comes a rich, atmospheric family drama set in the 1980’s following the disappearances of two paperboys from a small midwestern town.

It’s August 1984, and paperboy Christopher Stewart has gone missing.

Hours later, twelve-year-old Sammy Cox hurries home from his own paper route, red-faced and out of breath, hiding a terrible secret.

Crystal, Sammy’s seventeen-year-old sister, is worried by the disappearance but she also sees opportunity: the Stewart case has echoes of an earlier unsolved disappearance of another boy, one town over. Crystal senses the makings of an award winning essay, one that could win her a scholarship – and a ticket out of their small Iowa town.

Officer Dale Goodkind can’t believe his bad luck: another town and another paperboy kidnapping. But this time he vows that it won’t go unsolved. As the abductions set in motion an unpredictable chain of violent, devastating events touching each life in unexpected ways, Dale is forced to face his own demons.

Told through interwoven perspectives–and based on the real-life Des Moines Register paperboy kidnappings in the early 1980’s–The Monsters We Make deftly explores the effects of one crime exposing another and the secrets people keep hidden from friends, families, and sometimes, even themselves.

My thoughts

What an intense story. Right from the beginning there is that sense of danger for the young boys of Des Moines. The author is very clever in that nothing is laid out for the reader, and yet we are not left wondering what is happening. I particularly loved Crystal’s story. I thought her character’s thoughts and actions were perfectly and realistically portrayed and she was very relateable. The tension was well maintained thoughout the book and was even a little creepy.

Where I felt the story fell a bit short was in the way Crystal and Sammy seemed to be handle an extremely traumatic incident a little too well. That felt a little unreal in an otherwise extremely realistic story. Having said that, it was still a fantastic read!

By The Gods Of Babylon by Sin Leqi Unninni

By the Gods of Babylon | SIN LEQI UNNINNI | 9781733360722 | NetGalley

Description

From the lands of Sumer and Babylon … lands that birthed writing, the first author, and the first epic story.

Mesopotamia, 2300 BC.

Sargon is reveling in a casual banquet days before he is to be crowned king of kings, when the court jester steps forward and recites a song (“Genesis” Sumerian style) that is fiercely denounced as blasphemy by a priest, and the cheerful feast turns into a gory scene.
It is a bad omen for Sargon who anticipated a smooth transition to power, only to be embroiled in a chain of bloody events that spiral out of control, inciting many of the city-states he rules to the verge of rebellion.

Adding to anarchy is a host of unsavory characters with deadly grudges and ambitions for power.

The paranoid king knows that this most ancient of civilizations, despite its cultural advances, also provided a fertile ground for savagery which always promised a most ugly fate for leaders who lose their battles.

My thoughts

This is difficult because I don’t like giving poor feedback. The premise intrigued me and although there was a warning that people with religious beliefs might not want to read it, what should also have been mentioned was the amount of sex, sexual violence, and sadism in the content.

Perhaps the ending was fabulous, but I don’t know because I was unable to finish the book.
Two stars for a clever premise but the story was completely overshadowed by the above.