Prodigal Son by Greg Hurwitz

I really like Evan Smoak, I like his attitude, his cool apartment and his uncomplicated stance on right and wrong. This latest offering takes us into the past, the time when Evan is in an orphanage, where he is spotted by Jack, although the way he ends up being Jack’s protege is not straightforward, and we wouldn’t want it to be.

Evan gets a message from someone who appears to be his long lost mother, but how could that be, he has never met her, she has never been in touch with him. This woman sets him a task which of course will be dangerous and life threatening, I mean it has to be, thats how these books work. So, despite Evan’s compulsory retirement, by order of no less than the President, he is back on task, investigating and protecting and being shot at and beaten to a pulp as per usual.

Another great addition to the series, best of all I love that you can dip in and out of the series and still get the gist. Evan is a machine with a heart. The boys and staff at my high school love these books. We all hang out for a new one. I’ll be recommending this one very highly.

The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan

The-Good-Turn-High-Res-151119A new book by Dervla McTiernan is to be celebrated. Our hero Cormac Riley has been ostracised and criticised by his fellow police officers. He is always on the outer and things seem to have just gotten worse for him over time. He is lonely and isolated and at the same time his girlfriend seems to have become more distant, spending time away from him for work.

Cormac’s only friend in the force Peter Fisher goes to investigate a crime scene and is set upon and indeed set up. Someone dies and Peter and Cormac are in the spotlight for being the cause of the death, both of them are suspended from work, Cormac heads to Europe to be with his girlfriend and Peter is banished to the village he grew up in and forced to work with his belligerent father as a punishment for messing up. He begins tidying up the final threads of a death in the village which becomes so much more than it is at first thought and he risks alienating the entire village. Meanwhile Cormac is struggling from afar to prove corruption in the force and enlists the help of an old friend.

What I like about these Cormac Riley books is the way they deal with moral dilemma, always giving you much to think about as well as a good juicy crime, in this case several of them. The threads seem so unconnected in this story that I couldn’t see links right up until the end. This author is my new crush, she hooks me in and pulls me along for the ride with skill. I’m now looking forward to the next one with anticipation.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for access to this awesome book.

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

Any book which is recommended to people who like Ruth Ware is probably going to be right up my alley, I think this is better than the Ruth Ware novels I’ve read but it does have a similar feel. I loved the concept and I think it was pulled off incredibly well. 

A bunch of people who have been friends since university have a New Year holiday every year, they take turns at organising it and this time it is Emma who has done the job. She has chosen an extremely remote hunting lodge for them to spend New Year in the Scottish highlands. They are a volatile group of people, some get along better than others but a tradition is a tradition and they all turn up for these holidays. It is a classic scenario, remoteness in a lovely wild place, all kinds of disparate people trapped there in a snowstorm, no way in or out, no way to contact the outside world or get help when one of them turns up dead in the middle of the night. It could have been written by a modern day Agatha Christie. Along with the guests you have a young woman, running away from her previous life and a dour man who is riddled with his own secrets. These two run the lodge and the only other person on the scene is a handyman who doesn’t live on site. So, who was killed and why and who did it! 

This book is clever, chapters from various points of view leave you unsettled as secrets are revealed but which look different from other people’s perspectives. Of course, there are secrets between the couples, stories which have never been told and things which are buried deep in the past, the tension is so well played. It is really hard to pick who is going to die and even harder to figure out who committed the crime. Information is metered out cleverly and gradually. 

This book has a great deal to recommend it, the vocabulary is fantastic. I love the short chapters which keep you pushing forward to find out what will come next. This is a fantastic book. Highly recommended to those who like their thrillers full to the brim with tension.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me access to this excellent read. I’ve gone out and bought a copy for our library, I know lots of people will love it.

Into the Night by Sarah Bailey

NightI like Gemma Woodstock. She is nicely flawed, has the potential to get herself thoroughly into trouble in her personal life as well as in her police work. She pines for her little boy who is living with his Dad. Gemma has moved to Melbourne to live, to continue to climb the career ladder after the events of her first book The Dark Lake. She is a troubled soul. She has a new police partner who isn’t entirely easy to get along with, who tries a bit too hard and she has befriended the homeless woman down the street from her flat. It is a good set up for a story about a murdered homeless man and Gemma is keen to get the lead investigator role. Next minute there is another murder, a young star has been killed on the set of a zombie movie. Two cases which seem so different both complicated investigations and Gemma has too many suspects!

Sarah Bailey writes Australian landscape really well, her descriptions of small town life is so evocative far more successful than her Melbourne descriptions I think. This is one of those crime novels where you have to suspend your disbelief and just read it for the story, if you do that, you’ll have a great time with these very contemporary crime novels. I’m keen for the next one.

The Impossible Dead by Ian Rankin

It’s been about 8 years since I read an Ian Rankin novel.  I loved his Inspector Rebus character who is now departed, I’ve now been prodded to read the latter ones of that series having read read The Impossible Dead. This is the second of his books featuring his new guy, Malcolm Fox, who works for The Complaints department of Internal Affairs, investigating police irregularities.  I’m a bit keen on Malcolm, he is a genuine, straight up, hard working nice guy.  Lots of stuff going on in his life, a Dad who is suffering from altzheimers, a sister who is bitter that  Malcolm is paying for his Dad’s care but who doesn’t have the time to spend with him (or her), the fighting between Malcolm and his sister feels really genuine.

Plenty of things to deal with in his personal life without the re-connection with a woman he had a brief fling with, and who is useful to him in his current case.  A case which harkens back to the past.  A past where Scottish politics were rife, where the lines had been drawn and where activists were involved in all kinds of illegal protests, guns, bombings and more.  The case the Complaints is investigating brings up lots of these tensions from the past and it seems that the hatchet may not have been buried.  Fox and his team from The Complaints are in unfriendly turf and dealing with a case which threatens the police team which are hosting them.

There is a lot going on but it is told in such a gentle way, this book just grabbed me and swept me along.  A really great crime novel and I’m now looking forward to reading the first Malcolm Fox book The Complaints, Foxy and I are going to be firm friends!  If you want to see a rather nice interview with Ian Rankin have a look at the video below.


Trick of the dark by Val McDermid

Val McDermid is one of the most reliable crime writers around.  She always manages to keep me guessing till the end and she holds on tight to your attention, disrupts your sleep, disrupts sunny afternoons when you should be out doing other things.  I probably should confess to owning a copy of every book Val McDermid has ever written.

This one took a little while for me to get totally hooked but once I was there I was constantly reading it.  There is a very strong lesbian theme which she doesn’t explore in too many of her other books so it was quite unexpected for me. It is great to read a book with lesbian characters which treats them as real people and which doesn’t turn them into some guys fantasy.  This is gritty and real.   I really liked the main character Charlie Flint, and she is the sort of character who could easily appear in a series, nicely flawed and not dissimilar to someone you might actually meet in real life.

This is a story about a series of murders which are all linked to one person but the twists and turns lead you on a wild goose chase of multiple suspects and good guys who may not be so good. It is set in Oxford and London far from the grim North of England and Scotland where most of the books Val writes are set, and I enjoyed the change of scenery.  I liked the relationship between Charlie and her partner, I liked their conversations which seemed very ‘real’ and although I could pick a few holes in the story in a couple of places I found it a good satisfying read and I’m ready for a new book now please Val, I think you are great.

Started early, took my dog by Kate Atkinson

I completely love it that Kate Atkinson is now a crime writer albeit a ‘literary crime writer’ her version of a crime novel is one where there is no gore but plenty of thought, mulling over of things, and beautifully plotted humorous wonderfulness (I’m  gushing), this is crime for grown-ups of a certain age who like a thinking novel.

This is the fourth in the series which begins with Case Histories where we first met Jackson Brodie (but which I have only just read see this post) and whom we have now come to completely adore as he bumbles his slightly depressed way through life and love and sorts out the odd criminal along the way.  His new life as a private investigator hasn’t gone so swimmingly and he has been ripped off by his most recent wife who has absconded with a sizable chunk of his fortune, he is back into it again though searching for Hope McMaster’s parents.  She was adopted and the family moved to New Zealand and wants to find her roots.  Add to that story Tracy who is a recently retired cop who accidentally ‘buys’ a small child and also Tilly who is an elderly actress whose mind is fracturing.  There are these three separate stories which will ultimately connect, but it is the getting there that is the thing.  She weaves her story and you are completely taken on a journey, it is all so real, so beautifully done and this is a crime novel that doesn’t read like a crime novel.

My favourite thing about her writing is that you feel totally inside the heads of the characters, you understand how they feel and why, even though it may be totally bizarre that they act the way they do, but you get why they are being bizarre.  It should be set reading for everyone in the world!

The sweetness at the bottom of the pie by Alan Bradley

Oh Gosh!  What a charming read!  Set in a crumbling manor house called Buckshaw, with an 11 year old chemistry wizz heroine who solves crimes, escapes from certain death and is bold and brave beyond measure this is a lovely book.  When a body is found in the cucumber patch Flavia decides to investigate.  England in 1950, was gripped in the post war poverty for the previously monied classes and maintaining one’s large family home was somewhat of a challenge, there is no money for entertainment so the sisters Ophelia, Daphne and Flavia are left to their own devices and this only enhances their quirky personalities.  Flavia is busy, she is trying to torture her sisters (poison in the lipstick!) in response to their torture of her, and trying to solve the mystery of her deceased Mother, the facts about Dogger, the man of all trades about the house, and their mysterious, vague and isolated Father.

The book is written by an American which is interesting, his tone is that of a bygone age (nearly all the time) and the long last art of philately gets a good outing in this book.

I didn’t love this book until the action really hotted up and then I found myself speeding madly towards the end.  It is flawed, but perfect.  Will be reading the next one which is fabulously called The weed that strings the hangman’s bag.