La Jolla Law

A new book by John Ellsworth is always worth celebrating. So today when I received the ARC copy of the thirteenth book in the Thaddeus Murfee series I couldn’t wait to start reading it.

Thaddeus receives a call from an old law school friend, Jesse Matina corporate counsel to entrepreneur billionaire Reggie Pelham.  Martina cannot represent Pelham in a case brought by Pelham’s wife and needs a lawyer from outside California.

Thaddeus meets with Pelham and agrees to represent him in the lawsuit.

Meantime, we meet  Safari Frye a detective with the San Diego Police Department. Safari has a sexual harassment claim lodged by another detective and now faces a disciplinary hearing. Several other things are happening around Safari at this time. She is Big Sister to Carrie who has been abused by her mother’s live-in boyfriend and looks to Safari for help. Carrie confronts the mother and then shortly thereafter, finds the mother has been murdered.

There are several other murders happening around this time and as usual, Ellsworth juggles all the balls in the air – murder, mayhem, a little girl looking for a safe haven, and are all the murders related? And of course, there’s lots of courtroom drama as Thaddeus not only defends Pelham in his case but acts as Prosecutor in another.

You will have to get a copy of the book once it is published to read how cleverly this story is told. In true Ellsworth fashion, all the characters are well fleshed out and believable; the story runs along at a fast pace, and the ending is satisfactory.

I recommend this book as a thoroughly good read.

 

 

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Bad Turn

I was so excited to receive my ARC copy of Zoe Sharp’s latest book. Bad Turn is book 13 in the Charlie Fox series. Yes, thirteen!

At the end of the last book Charlie gave notice to her Boss Parker Armstrong and as a consequence has no job, nowhere to live and because of a non-competition clause in her contract with Armstrong Meyer, she can’t get another job in close protection in the US. So we find her house sitting in rural  New Jersey, bored with this dull life so different to what she is used to.

However, one day she drives into an ambush and immediately jumps into protective mode, not knowing who the ambushed victims are and as she is unarmed, risking her life.  Her firearms were returned to Armstrong when he gave her notice to vacate the apartment in which she was living

It happens that the ambush victim is Helena,  wife of a well-known arms dealer, James Kincaid and because of the ambush, Charlie is offered the job of protecting the wife. She has no option but to agree. The owners of the house she is house-sitting are due back from Europe shortly and she has no other job opportunities on the horizon.

Enter Conrad Epps, a player in the CIA, NSA, DIA or something connected with Homeland Security. Epps it was, who had tracked Charlie to a nightclub where she worked security in the Meatpacking District in New York. Epps had a job more to her skill set and which she is unable to reject because he can have her deported if she does refuse.

So this is why she is now whiling away her days in rural New Jersey. The house owners return and Charlie takes up residence in the palatial house of the arms dealer.

And this is where we reconnect to the Kick-ass Charlie we know.  She has to use all her skills to protect her principal from several sources who try to get to her husband through her. Charlie outmanoeuvres them.  Epps has an inside person in the Kincaid organisation but doesn’t tell her who it is. and it wasn’t until the end that I realised who that person was. Well written Ms Sharp.

It is well known by my followers that I am a Charlie Fox fan and this book doesn’t disappoint. As always, the characters are well rounded and believable. The plot is fast and furious. Charlie puts herself in danger to protect Helena and at times James as well. Somehow they manage to come out at the end of the story unscathed.

I thoroughly recommend this book and as always, look forward to the next in the series.

 

 

The Last Hope & The Last Lies

The Last Hope is book No 2 in the Kate Murphy series. I read the first book, The Last Lies, some time ago and this review covers both books.

 

 

 

In the first book, we meet Kate Murphy an officer in the Boston PD hoping to become a detective. Following the murder of her parents and baby brother, she is raised by her aunt and uncle. She is married to the abusive Matt, handsome but not caring, and who wants his wife pregnant and home not out fighting crime in the Boston area. She relies on her uncle for some of the emotional support lacking in her marriage.

As with most of the female protagonists we read in novels currently, when all else fails she runs or in her case, jogs.  While out jogging one night, she is attacked and ends up in hospital.

While this is going on in her personal life, she is working on becoming a detective all the while having to contend with male officers who don’t make fitting in easy for her. This may be because she has little empathy or sympathy for others and doesn’t really try to fit in.

And then there is a spate of animal killings in the area that the mayor insists is investigated.  One day. off duty, she is in a park and discovers the killer.

The book dwells much on Kate, her horrible childhood,  her abusive husband, her constant mistrust of others and her desire to be promoted from patrol to detective. It took a while to even like this woman but I began to warm to her particularly when I found she was pregnant and what had led to that way of being. As  I read more I was keen to read the second book.

 

Then in book 2, she is single following a failed marriage, but she is hampered by the people/men with whom she works. Kate has little empathy for others including her uncle who raised her and who is now accused of murder, her childhood friend who now lives close to Kate and is employed in the local crime lab. Well, we already know where this relationship is going very early in the story. Her lack of empathy or sympathy come to the fore again. Her uncle is arrested charged and convicted of murder. And while she is supposedly doing all she can to prove her uncle’s innocence,  she visits her uncle only twice in prison and doesn’t go to see his lawyer until the lawyer contacts her. This is the uncle she loves.

The story then becomes a trifle mixed and rather implausible moving into the realm of sci-fi.

I read the book through to the end, but I didn’t like Kate any more by the end. She seems more taken up with her budding relationship with Luke than with the outcome of her uncle’s pleas of innocence.

Having written a less than glowing but honest reviews, I will read number three in the series as I am keen to see how the author continues Kate’s story.

Note – I was given copies of both books by the author in return for honest reviews. I think there are some good storylines here but, with some copyediting,  I know that they could have been streamlined to make better reading.

 

 

He Will Find You

An ARC from Charlie Gallagher is a reason to celebrate. So relax, fill your coffee cup and sit down to read, I did.

He Will Find You is book 3 in the Maddie Ives series.

Detective Sergeant Maddie Ives is based in Canterbury in the Major Crimes Unit. But one night she is called out to a scene where a young boy has been found running away from something or someone and is covered in blood. Whether his or someone else’s is still to be determined.

Maddie has to connect with the boy who is saying absolutely nothing. Can he be mute? They communicate just yes or no answers to her questions, by his tapping on an empty water bottle, yes and tipping the bottle over for no.

Now, added to this is a grizzly murder that Maddie and her boss, the taciturn Detective Inspector Harry Blaker have to attend. A body is found that appears to have been dragged behind a moving vehicle before being stabbed. Could the two incidents be connected?

But there is more. Several years before, Harry’s wife was killed in a motor accident when a felon trying to escape a police chase slams into their car. And now, the felon, Daniel Wootan is free having served a minimal sentence and when Harry finds out he doesn’t know how he and his two daughters will cope with this new fact.

Through a young checkout operator at a local supermarket, we are introduced to a weird group who claim to follow the ‘left-hand path’. That is they don’t do things the way others do. They make their own rules allowing one to put oneself first above everyone else. And to become a member one has to perform certain tasks starting simply with shoplifting and leading all the way to murder. The young man had performed most of the tasks as ordered and had now been involved in the final task. And now he wanted out, but there was no way out.

While the detectives are involved with the murder they need someone to head up the search for the boy’s parents and where he had been and how he got covered in blood. With the approval of  Detective Chief Inspector, Julian Lowe, Rhiannon, a CID detective,  is tasked with leading this, reporting back to Maddie.

And as the body count continues to mount, Blaker is distracted by Daniel Wootan and a daughter who is self-harming and on one sleepless night, he almost crosses the line.

To find out how all these happenings play out to the conclusion, read the book. It will launch officially on Amazon on 19 July, so get your copy as soon as the book is released.

I recommend this thoroughly engrossing book. Thank you, Charlie, for sending me the Advance Readers Copy.

Other Books in the Maddie Ives Series –

HE IS WATCHING YOU
HE WILL KILL YOU
HE WILL FIND YOU.

Note – THE AUTHOR
Charlie Gallagher has been a serving UK police officer for ten years. During that time he has had many roles, starting as a front-line response officer, then a member of a specialist tactical team and is currently a detective investigating serious offences.

 

 

 

 

Still Alice

 

Having recently read Somebody I Used to Know by Wendy Mitchell, I felt compelled to revisit Still Alice. I was introduced to Alice initially through the film in which Julianne Moore plays Alice and I was so moved that I immediately went out and bought the book. Unfortunately, somebody who borrowed it never returned it but my local library has several copies.

Wendy Mitchell spoke of meeting Ms Moore and being impressed by how well she performed as a person living with this disease. Ms Mitchell is still in regular contact with Ms Moore.

Now to the book. Dr Alice Howland is fifty,. She’s a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a renowned expert in linguistics. Her husband is a successful scientist and her three grown children are moving on with their lives.

At first, Alice is mildly forgetful which she puts down to being premenopausal, the grab bag used by the medical profession for many of the small things that beset women as they age. But things do get worse and eventually, she is diagnosed with Early Onset Dementia. Once she tells her family of the diagnosis they become supportive and in particular her younger daughter, Lydia becomes her champion although in the past there have not been many things on which they agreed.

I was ambivalent about John, her husband,  through most of the book. Yes, he was there much of the time, but often he was away from her physically and even when he was there often he was away from her mentally. And as life becomes harder for her, John is offered a dream job in New York. Of course, he wants to move there. We are told that those living with the disease have a strong sense of place; they know their way around their house and their neighbourhood, most of the time. . And his assumption that he could take Alice from the only home she knew because she wouldn’t know the difference struck me as quite wrong.

But who could blame him for wanting to pursue his dream? As a full-time caregiver for so long, he had a right to do so.  The solution reached was to leave Alice with her children, grandchildren and a paid caregiver while he commuted to New York

Congratulations to Neuroscientist and debut novelist Lisa Genova. Obviously, she has years of experience in her field on which she bases and writes this realistic portrait of early onset Alzheimer’s disease. We know it is a  realistic portrayal from Wendy Mitchell who is living this life.

This is probably the disease we fear most and many of us have had experience of knowing somebody who has been so diagnosed. Note here – Wendy Mitchell says quite strongly she is not a sufferer of EOD but is living with the disease.

I strongly recommend this book and if you have the opportunity, do go to see the movie.

Somebody I Used To Know

Not a fiction book today, but a book written by an amazing woman.

 

 

When she was diagnosed at 58 with Early Onset Dementia, Wendy Mitchell had to say goodbye to the woman she knew, the life she had forged for herself and the plans made for the future, and become a totally different person.

In this book, Wendy tells us how she gets through her days, determined that the disease will not take everything from her. She is open when talking about her feelings and particularly her love for her two daughters and her concern at how her disease is impacting on their lives.  She talks about the medical profession and the lack of understanding many of these professionals have to the disease. She is active in educating these professionals and many others of the problems that living with dementia can bring.

She is clever in how she finds her way around towns that were known to her and new unknown towns while making her way to interviews and meetings. She is impressive at how many things she does accomplish.

Wendy writes a daily blog – www.whichmeamitoday.wordpress.com. In this way, she records her activities so that when they have left her memory they are still there for her to read.

I encourage everyone to read this fascinating book. Who knows what questions may be answered, or questions not even asked yet, in reading this book.

Five stars to Ms Mitchell for allowing us into her life.

House of Thieves

Another book by Charles Belfoure author of The Paris Architect

 

House of ThievesWhat would you do if you were faced with a man demanding you pay your son’s gambling debts and if you refuse you are left in no doubt what will happen to your son?
It’s the end of the 19th century and life is good for the upper classes in New York. But John Cross is faced with this dilemma and finding that his son owes $48,000  (the equivalent of about $1.5 million today), he is at a loss what to do. Cross, like the author, is an architect. He and his family are related to the Knickerbockers and the Astors the creme de la creme of New York Society in the late 19th century.

The code of behaviour for Society is strict and any hint of the son’s problems will mean the whole Cross family will be cut off from Society.

We are offered a small insight into the differences between the upper classes and the hoi poloi  in this intriguing novel. We learn that many children of poor parents are turned out to the streets to fend for themselves, while the rich live in splendour This makes the story all the more interesting and shows the research that Mr Belfoure has put into writing this book.

As an architect, Cross is offered a way to repay his son’s debts. He has to provide the blueprint of a house he has designed so that the gang of thieves can rob the house while the owners are away for the summer months. A percentage of the amount received from the stolen loot will be applied against George Cross’ debt. Cross is required to do the same until all the debt is paid. James Kent, a wealthy, educated man is the leader of the gang of criminals known as Kent’s Gents.  Along the way, Cross finds that he likes the power organising and being involved in these clever robberies give him and he comes to almost admire Kent.

From this beginning, we are lured into a story of complex family and society relationships. Each member of the Cross family independently becomes involved with the lower classes and their activities, all the while trying to keep this secret from the other family members.

This is a cleverly written novel. Ethical dilemmas, family loyalty, the strict codes of the time, and desperation laced with murder, greed and equivocation kept me, the reader, interested right to the end.

I recommend this book almost as much for the insight into the ways of life of the time as for the story.

 

 

 

 

 

The Paris Architect

Another author new to me, and many thanks to whoever suggested this book to me.

We have all read books of the Resistance and how cleverly they outwitted the Germans and how bravely they carried out their given jobs. But this is the first book I have read of an ordinary man getting involved, not through ties to the Resistance but working on his own to make some difference in the life of a few Jews.

It’s 1942 in Paris. The Germans have occupied the city for two years and are everywhere, and everyone is at risk, particularly the Jews. Money and food are both in short supply to the general populace.

Struggling Architect, Lucien Bernard is unable to find work until a wealthy businessman offers him a commission designing munitions factories for The Reich. This will bring him a great deal of money but along with this offer comes the requirement to design clever and ingenious hiding places for prominent Jews.

Anti- Semitism is rife in Paris. Bernard knows no Jews and is untouched by their plight but as he cleverly designs one hiding place after another he gets involved whether he wishes to or not.  Nobody knows of his involvement with hiding Jews: discovery of this work will certainly bring the Gestapo to his door. And his collaboration with the Nazis marks him as a potential target for the French Resistance.  

We watch as Lucien struggles with these two sides of his life, using his talents for good and evil and I found myself asking how I would react had I found myself in Paris in the midst of war.

As the story progressed, I gradually warmed to Lucien. He is certainly not an admirable character in the beginning. He is shallow and self-serving thinking only of himself and his family, but as he gets more involved and meets more Jews, even taking an orphaned Jewish boy into his home and work, we see another side to him. And we can admire him.

I could go on and on about this book, but I recommend you read it. I was totally involved with the story from the beginning to the end. Mr Belfoure has created a character that will stay with me for a long time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Death of Jessica Ripley

Jessica

A new book by Andrew Barrett is always something to make my day.

From my earlier posts, you may remember Andrew’s protagonist is Eddie Collins. Collins is a CSI who’s a bit of a loner and. as I have said before –  a bit of a moaner!

Jessica Ripley is released from prison after spending twelve years for a murder she didn’t commit. Her main/sole focus is in building a relationship with her son who now is 14 years old and living comfortably with his adoptive parents.

But things are not that easy. She has to deal with a lascivious probation officer, a  lover/friend from her past, the antagonism of her son’s ‘parents’, and the anger within herself.

The probation officer arranges a meeting with her son, but at what cost to Jessica?

There is a gruesome murder; it’s her defence lawyer who didn’t defend her at her trial. And then there are other murders of those involved in the earlier case. You will have to read the book to find out who is the culprit.

Meantime our Eddie is dealing with a new boss and two new members of his CSI group – A young overly confident young woman who seriously thinks she is better at the job than she is, and an egotistical young man who thinks he needs no help from the experienced Eddie.

And what of Charlie, Eddie’s father? We learned in an earlier book that he is now living in Eddie’s house but why is he suddenly dressing so well, and why is he so cheerful?

All will be revealed when you read this book and I encourage you to do so.  Andrew Barrett never disappoints. His characters are real, his plots believable and his books keep one on the edge of the seat to the unpredicted ending. Andrew is a CSI, not of the Gil Grissom variety.  He works realtime CSI.

To find more about this, one of my favourite authors, go to his site – https://www.andrewbarrett.co.uk/

Other books in this series that I have reviewed:

The Lock  

No Time to Die and The Hammer Falls

The Third Rule

The Long Revenge

Tell The Truth

This is the final in the Ella Marconi series by Katherine Howell.

tell

 

Again, it centres around paramedics and this time the car of one of them, Stacey, is found by another, Rowan, with the front seat covered in blood. The car is locked and there is no sign of Stacey

Rowan calls Stacey’s husband and the police.
Enter Ella and Murray who are now on the case. While Ella is questioning James he receives a text message from an unknown source.

Tell the truth. You know what this is about. You won’t see her again until you tell the truth. 

James is adamant that he has no idea what it means. In the coming days, James to get the same text messages. He maintains his story – he doesn’t know what it means or what they want from him. But is he telling the truth?

The next morning James disappears from work and he’s not answering his phone. Ella and Murray finally find him at The Gap, a notorious suicide spot on the edge of a cliff above the beach. But he hasn’t jumped. He appears to be devastated by Stacey’s disappearance, declaring she’s his whole world and he just wants her back.

Then the story moves to Stacey’s niece Paris a new paramedic and she is struggling with her new responsibilities.  Stacey’s sister, Paris’ mother, is reacting strangely to the disappearance. Could she be involved?

There are several possible suspects, James, Rowan who seems to be all over the case, Rowan’s son Simon who works for James, and others.

Meantime, we find that Shakespeare is getting married at the weekend and his mind shifts between the case and the wedding.

Ella’s on again off again relationship with Callum seems on an even keel. But really all these external stories acted to draw my mind away from the question – where is Stacey and is she still alive?

Eventually, the pieces of the puzzle begin to fall into place and the story unfolds. I wouldn’t rush to recommend this book. I am pleased I read another in the series before this one.