The Night Ferry

I have recently finished another of Michael Robotham’s books. This one is called the Night Ferry. This is not in the Jo O’Loughlin series but instead is a stand-alone book.

Detective Alisha Barba is recovering having been badly injured while making an arrest.  . After a very long stay in the hospital, while they fixed her back, she wonders if she will ever run again.  Now she is sufficiently recovered to start running again and it becomes her lifesaver.

The school reunion is coming up and she has no plans to go. But things change when she receives a note under her door from her one-time best friend Cate. The note simply says “Ali, I’m in trouble. I must see you. Please come to the reunion. Love, Cate”. The women haven’t spoken for eight years but Ali decides that she will attend the reunion and find out just what Cate wants her to do.  

Cate is 8 1/2 months pregnant and when the two women have a chance to speak, Cate tells Ali that “they” are trying to take her baby. She does not indicate who they are and why they would want to take her baby. Very shortly after dropping this bomb Cate and her husband are run down and killed, and on arrival at the hospital, it is discovered that Cate is not pregnant at all.

There follows an absorbing tale of people smuggling and forced pregnancies of refugees being paid to provide surrogate children to desperate couples and thereby paying off their debt to the smugglers, murders, IRA links, prostitution, and downright shady characters. It questions the ethics of adoption, the fragility of life faced by orphans in war-torn nations and the inequality of life.

The amount of research that has gone into this book is mind-blowing.  The characters are well written and both they and the scenes are totally believable.

Another great read from this author who seems to have taken over my life currently

The Suspect.

Quite by accident, I came across The Suspect. And I was absolutely fascinated by the protagonist Clinical Psychologist, Joe O’Loughlin. 

 At first sight, he is someone who has it all – a thriving practice, a beautiful and loving wife and a young daughter.  But when he is diagnosed with Parkinson’s, he makes a bad choice as to whom to talk to about this diagnosis and has to face the outcome.

He gets called into a high-profile murder investigation, and soon recognises the victim as one of his former patients, an emotionally disturbed young woman. At first, he doesn’t let Inspector Ruiz the lead investigator know this, and he, Joe, soon becomes the chief suspect in the murder.

At that stage we are or I am, beginning to question just how involved he is. At the same time, Jo starts to suspect another of his patients, but he keeps dismissing these thoughts as fanciful. He also suspects his best friend Jock of having designs on his wife Julianne. Would Hock his long-time friend  turn on Joe to get a woman he has always desired?
The evidence against him mounts and soon Joe finds himself shunned by his wife and colleagues.

This is a book that you really have to read, if possible in one or two long sessions.  Totally fascinating read.  The characters are believable even if they make mistakes.  And the setting in and around London brought me back to when I lived there many years ago.  I gave this book five stars.

Note. I have also read the ninth book in the series – The Other Wife.  It too is reviewed on this blog.

The Other Wife

Joe O’Loughlin is barely coping after his wife’s sudden death just over a year ago and is still struggling to come to terms with his recently diagnosed Parkinson’s disease.

He and his two daughters move from their country cottage to London where he hopes they can all move on and perhaps, make a new life.  Charlie the eldest girl, appears to be coping well and has returned to Oxford to complete her degree in clinical psychology.  but Emma, the 12-year-old is not managing. She refuses to talk about Julienne, her mother and is a cause of concern for her father.

So, Joe’s life is already unsettled when he receives a call from the hospital that his father is in a drug-induced coma.  In answer to his question, he is told his mother is at his father’s side.

But when Joe gets to the hospital, his life spins totally out of control.  The woman sitting at the bedside is not his mother, but she identified herself as William’s wife to the hospital and gave them Joe’s number to call. 

Everything begins to unravel: how his father, a prominent surgeon in his day, led a secret life.  In collusion with his lawyer and best friend, he had two families he kept apart for over 20years.  Did his mother know, and how much? 

But who attacked him so viciously and left him for dead?   Who would want to harm him? Joe reflects on his childhood, and the father he remembers and questions everything he ever believed about his father  The two were never close but as he reminisces Joe sees that perhaps his father was more involved in his life than he realised.

As more details come to light the list of possible perpetrators grows.  There is a schizophrenic step-brother, a drug addict, a former soldier and the brother of a woman badly injured in a medical misadventure.  And of course, there’s the other wife with secrets in her past.  And even his own mother cannot account for why she was in London and not at the family home in Wales at the time of the attack.

There are financial irregularities which the retired police Detective Vincent Ruiz, now a corporate fraud investigator finds.  I enjoy the interaction between these two very different men who have formed a strong friendship. 

The unravelling of Joe’s father’s hidden life is twisting and turning and each new revelation leads to more questions.  Mainly, who is William O’Loughlin? Lies intermingled with truth kept me on my toes and I have to say, I had no idea what was truth or lie.  And the other wife Olivia?  Everything she says is hard to believe. Is she truly a devoted ‘wife’ or does she have another agenda?. There are many possible outcomes to this tale and it’s not until the final pages that the whodunit is revealed.

A great read.  Unputdownable (that word again).  Absorbing story, great characters and an unpredictable outcome.  I didn’t want this one to end.  It’s the ninth in this series and I really hope there will be more.

 And I am left asking the question How well do we know our parents?   

The Diamond Eye

“Now I am looked upon a little as a curiosity,”
she said,“a subject for newspaper headlines,
for anecdotes.
In the Soviet Union, I am looked upon
as a citizen, as a fighter,
as a soldier for my country.”

How often do you come across a book that you can really say is ‘unputdownable’? OK, so that’s not a word, but you know what I mean. I was stopped in my tracks by Diamond Eye. I read for eight hours with only occasional bathroom and coffee/tea breaks.

Mila Pavlichenko AKA Lady Death was married at fifteen to a talented but much older surgeon, who verbally abused her and belittled her at every opportunity. But she did have a beautiful son from the marriage. She worked in the Odessa library while working on her dissertation for her PhD in History. During this time, Mila enrolled in a course for marksmanship instruction and was able to secure a certificate for her undeniable skills as an accomplished marksman and sniper.

In this book, we follow her through her life, first as a trainee sniper, through the horrors of war and eventually to becoming a national hero. Her official tally was 309 but who knows how many Germans she actually killed.

I had not read in such detail about the battles and hardships the Nazis made the Soviets endure during WWII. In other books I have read, the Russians were usually mentioned only in conjunction with the Americans’ entry into the war. But here we read about individual Russians and their absolute determination to keep the Nazis out of the Soviet Union at any cost.
Some of the details about the actual battles were horrendous but made me feel as if I were in the middle of it. And we learn of all the obstacles a female soldier, in a male-dominated army, had to endure.

In 1942 she arrived in the United States as part of a goodwill mission to encourage the US to get into the war and support the Russians. She met and started a lifelong friendship with The First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt. On the tour through the country with The First Lady at a rally in Chicago, she said –

Gentlemen, I am 25 years old and I have killed 309
fascist occupants by now. Don’t you think, gentlemen,
that you have been hiding behind my back for too long?

Kate Quinn uses the official journal for the story and also Mila’s unofficial one, cleverly mixing them to write this fascinating tale,

The characters in The Diamond Eye were well developed and vivid. And once again, Kate Quinn excels in her research and writing skills. My advice to you? If historical novels and great female characters are your thing, drop everything and get a copy of this book.

View all my reviews

The Thursday Murder Club

I heard about the Thursday Murder Club from several people and was keen to get my hands on it.  I read it on Kindle and wished that I had bought a hard copy.

            The story centres around four retirees living in Cooper’s Chase, an upmarket retirement community on the south coast of England.  The four main characters form The Thursday Murder Club.  Thursday because that’s when the jigsaw room is free. The Club gives them an opportunity to still exercise the grey matter while they can, and perhaps in the process, clear up some cold cases. 

            Elizabeth the leader is, we think an ex-spy chief. This is never really confirmed.  Joyce is a former nurse who lives in the complex courtesy of her very clever daughter.  Ibrahim is a retired psychiatrist and Ron is an ex-trade union boss.  So, all very English.

            There is also Penny, who is on life support in the total care part of the complex. And her husband John who sits with her all day and every day, holding her hand and talking to her.
            The four are all keen amateur sleuths and until a murder occurs, they use Penny’s saved files from her days as a Detective Chief Inspector, to attempt to solve unsolved/cold case murders.

            They have limited success, until a murder, or two happens almost in front of them.

Old age is often a burden bringing differences to people’s lives, but the four main characters together form a force to be reckoned with. Over the years of solving or attempting to solve the earlier unsolved murders, they have developed some somewhat unorthodox methods to use in crime solving.

            The owner of the development, Ian Ventham wants to expand it by building additional apartments.  He also plans to move an ex-convent graveyard to build even more apartments. 

            This causes anger among the inhabitants but his decision is made and he has the necessary approvals. Tony Curran, Ventham’s builder who has a 25% stake in the business is murdered. Ventham brings in the diggers to attack the graveyard early the next morning. Only to find the graveyard picketed by retirees. There is a bit of a scuffle and Ventham drops down dead. Also murdered! 

            Not too much later another body is discovered although this one is much older and it takes a while before its relevance to the plot becomes apparent.

            The four amateur detectives go straight to work on these murders. Elizabeth has her varied and very secret sources that cough up much useful information. They also need some pliable police officers whom they can pump for information. DCI Chris Hudson with PC Donna De Freitas is in charge of the investigations and  Elizabeth sets out to organise their involvement.  She promises to share all the four turn up in exchange for being kept in the loop of the police enquiries. These two police officers are utterly helpless to resist the wiles and the offered cakes of the retirees. However, they soon realise that the oldies mean business and can provide many clues to solving the cases.

            There are twists and turns aplenty in this book, and although the theme is murder it is a gentle read.  It is in turn, clever, sad, moving in places and funny throughout.  I quickly warmed to the main characters, felt antagonistic toward others, and wondered about some of the others.

            I understand this is the first in a new series from Richard Osman and I look forward to reading more.

The Word is Murder

The blub, the premie of the book was what called me to read it.  And I am glad I did.

Anthony Horowitz CBE Is an author of renown.  He has written several series including the Alex Ryder series.  He has written for television, including the ever-popular Foyle’s War and now takes himself off in a different direction.  He appears in his own novel.

A woman goes to a funeral home and arranges her own funeral. A few hours later she is murdered. Ex-Detective Inspector Hawthorne, since being fired from the police force,  has been successful in solving crimes before the police force and he becomes involved in this case.

Because of his success in the past, he wants someone to write about the crimes he solves, so he contacts Horowitz to be his scribe; to follow and report on his actions and findings. And so Horowitz gets tangled up in solving the crime.

Horowitz is not at all sure that this is a good idea and in fact, doesn’t know enough about Hawthorne and more to the point, doesn’t really like the man. 

The mystery has all the elements of a clever whodunnit, with a shortlist of suspects, lots of secrets slowly uncovered, and plenty of red herrings. It’s interesting to read a story that includes the author and his take on things.  And because of this, we see the clues through his eyes.  Along with Horowitz, I was totally amazed when the culprit was revealed.

The solution ends up being satisfying and looking back, there were plenty of clues I should’ve picked up on but totally missed.

I wondered about Horowitz writing himself into the book. He includes lots of details about himself and his life. and it blends in seamlessly with the fiction. 

Horowitz has signed a 3 book deal with his agent and sometimes, it seems that he regrets agreeing to be Hawthorne’s scribe and this commitment.  And also it seems, as he sits and listens to Hawthorne interviewing suspects and other people of interest he is uncomfortable/hating the manner in which these people are treated.

The story is interesting but for me, Horowitz’s part, his thoughts and his comments on how he writes are what made this book 5 stars in my estimation.   

I came across the third book in the series and read it first.  i will write the review shortly.

It is interesting to note that Anthony Horowitz was chosen by the Conan Doyle Estate to write a new full-length Sherlock Holmes novel which was published in 2011.  I missed that and will now rectify that.  Watch for the review.

Tell Her

Sweet Home, Oregon is a fictitious town created by Chris Patchell for her Lacey James’ series.  It is a small town but with big problems. Never having lived in a small town, I am fascinated by the lives there that she portrays.

Lacey is a cop who knows everyone in town, but when she is called from a planned family Easter Egg hunt, she doesn’t recognise the victim.

JJ is new to town.  Has been there a few months and is living with his girlfriend Nic, who finds him shot to death on her return from work one morning.  But her story quickly unfolds as lies, and the question arises – where was she between the time she left work at The Pioneer until she called the police some 3.5 hours later.

Together with her partner, the stunningly attractive Eli Davidson, Lacey works her way through a case twisted up in lies, infidelity and more mayhem.  While Lacey and Eli battle their way through the small town mayhem, Lacey’s personal life is becoming adrift.

I don’t like where this is leading but will have to wait to read the next book in the series, when it becomes available..

I will be interested to see how things span out for Lacey and her husband.  Knowing Chris Patchell this may not be as I imagined or hoped, but when it is revealed, we will know that it is right thing.  I also want to know how things pan out with Eli.

And then, when attempts are made on Lacey’s life, it is obvious that  JJ’s killer doesn’t want the truth to come out. 

There are many twists and turns.  Many characters weave in and out of the story. It’s a really good read. And the ending is surprising/unexpected.

Chris Patchell is an accomplished writer of murder and mystery.  Her series are totally absorbing and I for one, feel that the characters are all now part of my life. If you are into murder and mayhem, I recommend you grab a copy of this book soon.

I was given an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) of the book by the author and this is my honest review.. 

I have just discovered there is a town in Oregon called Sweet Home. Sory for the mistake Ms Patchell and the 10,000 plus residents of the city. 

The Pain of Strangers

I am always excited and grateful to receive a new Eddie Collins book as part of Andrew Barrett’s Exclusive Readers Group. And I am never disappointed: Barrett’s writing gets better book by book.

The Pain of Strangers is being distributed as book 1 in the series, when in fact there are several others already published.  I don’t know why this has been decided upon, but..

Eddie Collins, a brilliant Crime Scene Investigator, has often been described by readers as a Curmudgeon. Eddie is a loner (I have often included moaner when describing this character) preferring to work alone rather than as a team member. He is arrogant and sarcastic with a ready and strong use of colourful language. But he does get the job done, always!

And in this new book, Eddie,is younger than in the earlier books.  He has a wife Kelly, who is upset by his lack of caring for his family. She accuses him of putting the Pain of Strangrs before his own family.    He has a daughter whom he loves unconditionally, but suspects his wife is having an affair.  He is overcome when he discovers about the affair by accident -sitting in his van in the wrong place and at the wrong time. 

This book is another winner.  It’s superbly written and the fact that Andrew Barrett is a CSI “in real life” adds to the whole.

We follow Eddie as he tries to get justice for an old man who is robbed among other things, of his bus pass.  He cries that he will not be able to go for his pension. But all is not as it seems.  Eddie takes things into his own hands and then has to get himself out of trouble.

When he learns that a new MCU (Major Crimes Unit) is to be set up he decides to apply as he determines that this unit will take all the best jobs leaving the “also rans” for Eddie. So not only is his personal life in disarray so now too is his working life.  Roz his best friend at work has decided to move on without telling him.

This is a read in one sitting book – make the time.  You won’t want to put the book down.  Apart from the disparaging comments at the beginning of this review, I love Eddie   Andy Barrett has the skill to bring this paper character to life and I would want Eddie on my side always.

Thank you Andy for allowing me to be in your Exclusive Readers Group.

The black tower

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Cover

I decided to start again at the beginning of the Inspector Adam Dalgleish novels by P D James – It is so long since I read the earlier books.

This is the fifth in the Adam Dalgleish series and sees him needing to recuperate, after a stay in hospital, when it was thought his was a life threatening illness. Too much time spent ruminating and reminiscing has led him to question his career in the police force. Should he stay or go and if he goes, what to do then?
Shortly before his hospitalisation he received a message from his father’s elderly curate, asking him to visit. Needing time to recuperate he decides to take him up on his offer and heads off to Toynton Grange, a home for the disabled. He is not sure why Father Baddeley wanted to see him, and by the time he arrives, the old family friend is already dead.
He decides to stay even though the curate is dead and buried and before long, and despite his attempts not to get involved, he starts questioning events at the Grange. Who wrote the poison pen letter that he found among Father Baddeley’s papers? Was the recent death of one of the patients an accident, or is there something to investigate? Obviously, the detective in Dalgliesh still lurks and, before long, he is asking questions and uncovering more strange events, among the assorted group of people who live, and work, at the home. Meanwhile, the Black Tower, on the grounds, looms over the countryside; used mainly by the warden, and owner, Wilfred, who opened Toyton Grange after experiencing a personal cure, which he sees as a miracle.
Dalgliesh, disenchanted by his career, also finds himself vaguely uncomfortable around the inhabitants of the home. This is a personal trait which has occurred in previous books and, although it may be realistic, it is quite uncomfortable for the reader. It makes the dour detective seem both cold and judgemental. His distaste of the odours, his discomfort around the patients, his analytical nature, all tend to make you aware of the faults of the man. The fact he is also aware of them, is cold comfort at times.
This is not my favourite of the Dalgleish mysteries. It starts slowly and proceeds at the same pace and the plot takes a long time to come to its end. And the ending is unpredictable in spite of clues left throughout the book.
The characters are not as interesting as we have come to expect from James. But we do learn more of the character of Dalgleish and I enjoyed rereading the book.


View all my reviews

The Heron’s Cry


This is the second book in Anne Cleeves’ newest/ latest series, Two Rivers. It follows The Long Call. Set in Devon and DI Matthew Venn and his team, DS Jen Rafferty and DC Ross May are tasked with solving the brutal murder of a middle-aged public servant, Dr Nigel Yeo. By all accounts, the good doctor has no enemies and there seems to be no reason for his murder.
Ann Cleeves is so good at creating her characters giving them depth and attraction. Her Vera Stanhope, Jimmy Perez, and now Matthew Venn are likable, somewhat less than perfect, and believable.
On the night of his murder, Dr Yeo attended a party given by Jen Rafferty’s close friend, Cynthia Prior and it seemed that he only attended the party to meet Jen who was, unfortunately, rather high and didn’t really spend much time with him So she is feeling guilty when his body is found in his daughter’s glass blowing studio with a piece of her glass stuck in his neck.
Soon another murder happens, and once again, the weapon is a shard of glass from Eve, Yeo’s daughter’s studio. Is someone setting up Eve as the murderer?
As usual, this is a well-planned story and I particularly like the melding of characters. Matthew Venn, the uptight ex-brethren member, is now ostracized by the cult in which he lived for his early life. He is married to Jonathon, (how much further can you travel from all you have known?). Jonathon is his complete opposite. Jonathon is open, easy-going, and a friend to all. He runs the Woodyard a community hub giving access to a variety of artistic endeavours. Jen is well crafted. The single mother, who is always on the hamster wheel trying to work on high-profile cases while keeping in contact and having some control over her two teenage children. And Ross May, who thinks he is better than Matthew, has his eye on future promotion but worries that his home life is not going as well as it should.
We meet some characters from the first novel. Lucy Braddock is a young woman who has Downs Syndrome but who is just setting out on living a life separate from her father. He, of course, is understandably concerned about her and how she will cope on her own. Two strong, well-defined characters.
And of course, Mrs Venn who in the earlier novel called upon her son to help in finding a missing girl. During the course of this novel, and mostly thanks to Jonathon, she is thawing in her attitude towards her son.
As with all Ms Cleeves’s novels, the investigation is complex, the team is frustrated. the pace is fast and there are many twists and turns. And the awful weather conditions further inhibit the team as they work long hours to solve the sequence of events.
And the murderer? Of all the characters so well set up to be suspects, I never once thought that this could be the culprit. I highly recommend this book to all fiction crime readers.