Persons Unknown (DS Manon #2) by Susie Steiner

Book Description:

Published: July 4, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Manon has settled back into life in Cambridgeshire with her adopted son, Fly. She’s perfectly happy working on cold cases until a man is stabbed to death just yards from the police station, and both the victim and the prime suspect turn out to be much closer to home than she would like. How well does Manon know her loved ones, and are they capable of murder?

Review – 

When we last saw Manon, she had adopted Fly, an orphan closely related to her last case, Missing, Presumed, and they were moving in with Manon’s sister, Ellie, and her toddler, Solomon, in London.

A year or two has passed, and the unlikely family unit has moved back to the familiar world of Cambridgeshire, where Manon is stuck working cold cases—and she’s five months pregnant, having decided to give up the wait for “Mr. Right” and take matters into her own hands.

She’s concerned about Fly, now one of the only black kids in the neighborhood, and the fact that he’s 12 going on 20. When a wealthy London banker is found stabbed in nearby Hinchingbrooke Park, Davy and Harriet, Manon’s friends and co-workers, quickly discover that he’s Ellie’s ex-boyfriend—and Solomon’s father. But before they can fully investigate this connection, their Chief Superintendent shuts them down and strongly suggests, instead, that they arrest Fly, who’s been caught on camera walking through the park at the time of the murder.

As in her previous novel, the author does not shy away from exploring the racist aspects of the justice system; this only works because she has crafted such complex and believable characters. There is no doubt that Manon is barely making it from day-to-day, but her heart is always in the right place, and for all her awkwardness, she once again proves to be a great cop—and a fierce mother.

A second adventure that strikes all the right notes—layered mystery, incisive cultural context, and a delightful protagonist who deserves a place alongside other beloved literary detectives.

I truly love this series and can’t wait for the third installment, and hopefully it will be out soon. Hint, hint… write faster, Susie Steiner!

 

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Beartown ( Bjornstad #1) by Fredrik Backman

Book Description:

Published: April 25, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

Review –

This novel concerns a Swedish youth league hockey team and its  place in a declining town. “Hockey is just a silly little game,” he writes. “We burn and bleed and cry, fully aware that the most the sport can give us, in the very best scenario, is incomprehensibly meager and worthless: just a few isolated moments of transcendence. …But what the hell else is life made of?”

Beartown quickly turns dark as the author exposes the one-track hearts and minds of some of Beartown’s residents. The isolated community in the novel is in Sweden, but “Beartown” is a universal story of homophobia, sexism and politics that could take place anywhere.

“Small towns need a head start if they’re going to have any chance in the world,” Backman writes, and, as readers soon learn, covering up a heinous crime is not up for debate if the town is going to make economic and social advances. It’s why Backman’s descriptions of screeching hockey parents who yell at coaches and other parents during games — we’ve all seen them — seem almost comical set against the ugly group mentality that takes over after a teen is raped and the Beartown Ice Hockey Club’s star player is accused of the crime.

Current fiction may have no more courageous young female character than Maya, who faces hate and threats after she comes forward about the rape. Backman writes a gritty, heart-stopping account of the sexual assault after which the novel then pivots into even more ominous territory as the town turns on her and her family.

Beartown is not just about a sexual assault; it’s also about Beartown families closing ranks and perpetuating falsehoods to protect themselves and the hockey team. It’s also about the all-encompassing culture of youth sports — the physical, mental and emotional commitment demanded of the players (not necessarily a bad thing) and the way that team sponsors, coaches and fans treat players like products rather than human beings.

So, although the book initially seems to be about the sport of hockey in a very small Swedish town, it is about sooo much more than that.

Five stars and I highly recommend it.

 

The Missing by Caroline Eriksson

Book Description:

Published: January 1, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

An ordinary outing takes Greta, Alex, and four-year-old Smilla across Sweden’s mythical Lake Malice to a tiny, isolated island. While father and daughter tramp into the trees, Greta stays behind in the boat, lulled into a reverie by the misty, moody lake…only later to discover that the two haven’t returned. Her frantic search proves futile. They’ve disappeared without a trace.

Greta struggles to understand their eerie vanishing. She desperately needs to call Alex, to be reassured that Smilla is safe, or contact the police. But now her cell phone is missing too. Back at her cottage, she finds it hidden away under the bedsheets. Had she done that? Or had someone else been in the cottage? But who, and why? As Greta struggles to put the pieces together, she fears that her past has come back to torment her, or she’s finally lost her grip on reality…

In this dark psychological thrill ride—with more twists than a labyrinth and more breathless moments than a roller coaster—Greta must confront what she’s always kept hidden if she has any hope of untangling the truth.

Review –

Like a lot of thrillers, this book is told  POV (point of view) style from an unreliable narrator–in this case, Greta, a young Swedish woman. Greta is on vacation with her boyfriend, Alex, and his four-year-old daughter, Smilla, staying in a cabin in the woods. They decide to take a boat across the appropriately named Lake Malice to an island. Greta waits on the boat while Alex and Smilla explore the small forested space, but as it grows dark, she becomes concerned when they don’t return.

This is a very small island–not the sort of place a grown man and a child can hide. And no one else is coming or going. So where the hell did Alex and Smilla go?

I was pulled into the mystery immediately  but as the book unfolds I became absolutely addicted. It turns out Greta has a complicated past–she tells us her father disappeared, too. And Greta isn’t behaving like I’d expect someone to given the situation. She isn’t calling the police, but rather is searching herself while becoming increasingly untethered.

I can’t say more about this book without ruining it, but I will say that it offers some excellent “Not Sorry Not Sorry Female Rage”, as well as reflection on the relationships women have with their mothers. Trigger warnings need to be issued for depictions of domestic violence and animal abuse (the latter happens off screen).

The Missing is a dark, dark book, but a deeply satisfying one. 

 

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Book Description:

Published: January 31, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Why is everyone talking about the ending of Sarah Pinborough’s Behind Her Eyes?

Louise is a single mom, a secretary, stuck in a modern-day rut. On a rare night out, she meets a man in a bar and sparks fly. Though he leaves after they kiss, she’s thrilled she finally connected with someone.

When Louise arrives at work on Monday, she meets her new boss, David. The man from the bar. The very married man from the bar…who says the kiss was a terrible mistake but who still can’t keep his eyes off Louise.

And then Louise bumps into Adele, who’s new to town and in need of a friend, but she also just happens to be married to David. David and Adele look like the picture-perfect husband and wife, but then why is David so controlling, and why is Adele so scared of him?

As Louise is drawn into David and Adele’s orbit, she uncovers more puzzling questions than answers. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong, but Louise can’t guess how wrong―and how far a person might go to protect their marriage’s secrets.

Review –

FIVE STARS !!!!!!

Just finished listening to this book and my heart is pounding so hard I feel like it’s going to come through my chest.

The author’s story is told from two perspectives, neither of which we are sure is reliable. There’s Adele, the beautiful, fragile wife of psychiatrist David. She loves her husband – “I will never fall out of love with him. I won’t give that up. I can’t” – and hopes their fresh start in London will mend both the cracks in their marriage and a past about which we get only hints. Then there’s Louise, a single mother who only discovers that the man she meets and kisses in a bar, David, is going to be her new boss when he’s given a tour of her workplace, along with his wife.

Louise is easier to warm to: friendly, kind, hideously embarrassed by her actions but still drawn to David. But she has her own secrets – what are the origins of the night terrors that send her wandering through her home? And why is she getting to know both David and Adele without explaining what she’s doing to both parties? “I don’t want it to stop. That’s the honest, unpleasant truth. I want to have my cake and eat it.” She’s not as straightforward as she seems.

Adele, meanwhile, is more intriguing with every chapter, as her past is slowly revealed, and glimpses of the truth at the heart of her marriage are given (at one point, David is described, brilliantly, as “a walking Agatha fucking Christie plot”). “The past is as ephemeral as the future – it’s all perspective and smoke and mirrors. You can’t pin it down, can you?… The truth is different to different people,” muses Adele.

“Questions, questions, questions,” ponders Louise. “It seems that ever since David and Adele came into my life I’ve been filled with questions. They’re like weeds in water. Every time I think I can swim away another one tangles around my legs to drag me back down.”

When the first of the author’s  twists is revealed, it is fantastically creepy, if not entirely unexpected. The second twist turns the creepy factor up to eleven and is a total wrong.. #WTFthatending indeed – the sort that makes you go back to the beginning to check if it all pans out. And it does.

FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!

You HAVE to put this book on your TBR list.

 

Missing,Presumed(DI Manon #1) by Susie Steiner

Book Description:

Published: February 25, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Mid-December, and Cambridgeshire is blanketed with snow. Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw tries to sleep after yet another soul-destroying Internet date – the low murmuring of her police radio her only solace.

Over the airwaves come reports of a missing woman – door ajar, keys and phone left behind, a spatter of blood on the kitchen floor. Manon knows the first 72 hours are critical: you find her, or you look for a body. And as soon as she sees a picture of Edith Hind, a Cambridge post-graduate from a well-connected family, she knows this case will be big.

Is Edith alive or dead? Was her ‘complex love life’ at the heart of her disappearance, as a senior officer tells the increasingly hungry press? And when a body is found, is it the end or only the beginning?

Review –

DI Manon Bradshaw  is sad and lonely, estranged from her sister and something of a misanthrope. She is single, 39-years old and  listens to her police radio to help drown out the loneliness while she goes to sleep, But she’s also funny and clever, and interesting. Going to watch a Swedish film at the cinema, alone, she muses: “The Swedes are a nation who appreciate morbidity, unlike the British, who are just as depressed as everyone else but who like to project their darker feelings, saying to people in the street, ‘Cheer up, it might never happen!’

Her personal life seems a complete disaster, but her professional interest and energy are piqued when the beautiful graduate-student daughter of a famous physician goes missing, apparently the victim of foul play. As the investigation into free-spirited Edith Hind’s disappearance uncovers no strong leads, Manon finds herself drawn to two unconventional males: one, a possible romantic partner, plays a tangential role in the investigation when he finds a body; the other, a young boy with a tragic home life, mourns the death of his brother, who also might have ties to Edith or her family.

As Manon draws nearer to the truth about Edith, aided by her idealistic partner, Davy, and their team of homicide detectives, she also has to face the fact that she might not be destined to follow the traditional domestic model. Though it follows all the typical twists and turns of a modern police procedural, this novel stands out from the pack in two significant ways: first of all, in the solution, which reflects a sophisticated commentary on today’s news stories about how prejudices about race and privilege play out in our justice system; and second, in the wounded, compassionate, human character of Manon. Her struggles to define love and family at a time when both are open to interpretation make for a highly charismatic and engaging story.

There is a HEA for both Edith and DI Bradshaw, but not in the way of a fairytale.

Looking forward to reading more in this series.

 

 

Lies She Told by Cate Holahan

Book Description:

Published: September 12, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Sometimes the truth is darker than fiction.

Liza Jones has thirty days to write the thriller that could put her back on the bestseller list. In the meantime, she’s struggling to start a family with her husband, who is distracted by the disappearance of his best friend, Nick. With stresses weighing down in both her professional and her personal life, Liza escapes into writing her latest heroine.

Beth is a new mother who suspects her husband is cheating on her while she’s home alone providing for their newborn. Angry and betrayed, Beth sets out to catch him in the act and make him pay for shattering the illusion of their perfect life. But before she realizes it, she’s tossing the body of her husband’s mistress into the river.

Then the lines between fiction and reality begin to blur. Nick’s body is dragged from the Hudson and Liza’s husband is arrested for his murder. Before her deadline is up, Liza will have to face up to the truths about the people around her, including herself. If she doesn’t, the end of her heroine’s story could be the end of her own.

Review –

Manhattan author, Liza Cole, the protagonist of this engrossing psychological thriller from author Cate Holahan, is under pressure from her editor, Trevor, to write a romantic suspense novel that will get her back on the bestseller lists. In the past, Trevor has settled for a rough idea; now he wants an outline, which Liza has never done, and he has given her exactly thirty days to produce one.
On the personal side, Liza and her lawyer husband, David, are trying to conceive a baby, and their sex life has suffered. In addition, David’s best friend and law partner, Nick Landau, has been missing for a month and is almost certainly dead.
Over the next month, as her deadline approaches, Liza draws on her suppressed emotions and memories to create the heroine of her new book, Beth, a young mother who suspects her husband of being unfaithful. Beth’s story line soon takes turns that echo sinister developments in Liza’s own life. Holahan keeps the suspense high by leaving it unclear who’s telling the truth and who’s lying until the surprising denouement.
I’m not going to tell you what happens but it’s a roller coaster of a ride with a great and satisfying ending.
Loved it!

The Likeness (Dublin Murder Squad #2) by Tana French

Book Description:

Published: July 17, 2008

Format: Audio/OverDrive

The haunting follow up to the Edgar Award-winning debut In the Woods

Tana French astonished critics and readers alike with her mesmerizing debut novel, In the Woods. Now both French and Detective Cassie Maddox return to unravel a case even more sinister and enigmatic than the first. Six months after the events of In the Woods, an urgent telephone call beckons Cassie to a grisly crime scene. The victim looks exactly like Cassie and carries ID identifying herself as Alexandra Madison, an alias Cassie once used. Suddenly, Cassie must discover not only who killed this girl, but, more importantly, who is this girl? A disturbing tale of shifting identities, The Likeness firmly establishes Tana French as an important voice in suspense fiction.

Review –

I am experiencing a wicked headache so I am borrowing words from KIRKUS REVIEW. I loved this book and gave it five stars on GoodReads.

“The discovery of her murdered doppelgänger leads a Dublin detective to insert herself into the victim’s life.

Cassandra Maddox, the Irish cop introduced in French’s In the Woods (2007), gets an urgent call from her homicide-detective boyfriend Sam O’Neill. She is to drop everything, disguise herself and hustle to a murder scene that has clearly left Sam shaken. His distress is understandable. The corpse in the abandoned cottage outside the depressed suburban village of Glenskehy is a dead ringer for Cassie. Stranger still, the name on the victim’s ID is Lexie Madison, the same name Cassie used during a long, dangerous, undercover operation. Before she was stabbed, Lexie was one of five residents, all Trinity University students, living in Whitethorn House, a mansion inherited by one of the students. Frank Mackey, Cassie’s tough supervisor from her days in undercover, thinks the best bet for solving the Lexie murder case is to withhold news of the death from the public. This way, Cassie can pose as Lexie and perhaps get to the bottom of what happened. There are enough clues to Lexie’s life in her phone camera that Cassie, against Sam’s better judgment, takes the challenge. Several days later, armed and wired for sound, Cassie is dropped off at Whitethorn, where she is taken back into what proves to be a very tightly knit group. There is dark, brilliant Daniel, who owns the house, gay Justin, clever Abby and beautiful Rafe. Using the formidable acting skills that made her so successful in undercover work, Cassie seems able to convince the friends that she is Lexie. As she begins to reconstruct the events leading up to the murder, she finds herself sucked into the group, and her loyalties begin to shift.

Police procedures, psychological thrills and gothic romance beautifully woven into one stunning story.”

Me again -While the crime is solved, the killer is presumed to be Daniel BUT I’m not too sure and there were a few other things that were left hanging too, like who was the father of Lexie’s baby?  But that aside, it is a fantastic read/and the audio book narrator was delightful to listen to.

The Child by Fiona Barton

Book Description:

Published: June 29, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

As an old house is demolished in a gentrifying section of London, a workman discovers a tiny skeleton, buried for years. For journalist Kate Waters, it’s a story that deserves attention. She cobbles together a piece for her newspaper, but at a loss for answers, she can only pose a question: Who is the Building Site Baby?

As Kate investigates, she unearths connections to a crime that rocked the city decades earlier: A newborn baby was stolen from the maternity ward in a local hospital and was never found. Her heartbroken parents were left devastated by the loss.

But there is more to the story, and Kate is drawn—house by house—into the pasts of the people who once lived in this neighborhood that has given up its greatest mystery. And she soon finds herself the keeper of unexpected secrets that erupt in the lives of three women—and torn between what she can and cannot tell…

Review –

Although the author relies on multiple points of view to tell (and retell) the larger story of the “Building Site Baby” as the unidentified infant comes to be known. Three other female characters get drawn into this story by learning about that same news item that piqued Kate’s curiosity. First to appear is a nervous young woman named Emma who’s married to an older professor; like Kate, Emma spots the story in the evening paper and reacts in a gush of purple prose: “I keep reading it over and over. I can’t take it in properly, as if it’s a foreign language. . . . [T]error is coiling around me. Squeezing the air out of my lungs. Making it hard to breathe.”

Then there is Jude, Emma’s mother, a narcissist, who quickly puts an end to the conversation by saying, “Well, we don’t want to talk about dead babies, do we?”

And finally, Angela, an emotionally fragile older woman, is the most sympathetic of the trio. Back in 1970, she gave birth to a baby daughter whom she named Alice. The next day, Alice disappeared from her cot in the hospital. When Angela spots the building-site baby article in the newspaper, she shouts out loud and then insists to her husband, “It’s just after [Alice’s] birthday. That could be a sign.” But the couple has been down this road too many times before. “It will be more heartbreak if you get your hopes up,” advises Angela’s husband. “It’ll make you ill like before.”

How do these three women fit together or do they? Who is the “Building Sight” baby and what happened to it all those years ago?

This was a great read with a great twist at the end.

Loved It!

 

 

 

The Trespasser(Dublin Murder Squad #6) by Tana French

Book Description:

Published: October 4, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Antoinette Conway, the tough, abrasive detective from The Secret Place, is still on the Murder squad, but only just. She’s partnered up with Stephen Moran now, and that’s going well – but the rest of her working life isn’t. Antoinette doesn’t play well with others, and there’s a vicious running campaign in the squad to get rid of her. She and Stephen pull a case that at first looks like a slam-dunk lovers’ tiff, but gradually they realise there’s more going on: someone on their own squad is trying to push them towards the obvious solution, away from nagging questions. They have to work out whether this is just an escalation in the drive to get rid of her – or whether there’s something deeper and darker going on.

Review –

I don’t know if it was the narrator or the fact that this is number six in the series and I have only read the first one, but it just seemed to go on and on and I felt oppressed under the weight of it. Not until the last two chapters did I really enjoy it. 

While the premise is good and I did like the ending I was glad when it was over. That being said, I plan to find earlier books in the series and give them a try. I don’t like to give up on a good murder wh0-done it!

 

Force of Nature ( Aaron Falk #2) by Jane Harper

Book Description:

Published: February 6, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

Five women go on a hike. Only four return. Jane Harper, the New York Times bestselling author of The Dry, asks: How well do you really know the people you work with?

When five colleagues are forced to go on a corporate retreat in the wilderness, they reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking down the muddy path.

But one of the women doesn’t come out of the woods. And each of her companions tells a slightly different story about what happened.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk has a keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing hiker. In an investigation that takes him deep into isolated forest, Falk discovers secrets lurking in the mountains, and a tangled web of personal and professional friendship, suspicion, and betrayal among the hikers. But did that lead to murder?

Review –

A great story with so many things going on it’s hard to know where to begin.

Federal Police Agent Aaron Falk and his partner, soon to be married, Carmen, had been using Alice, the murder victim as an inside source to solving a huge money laundering scheme within the company she worked for. Now that she’s dead, they have to figure out if her murder had something to do with their investigation or she was just a random choice. As the investigation continues they discover that she was disliked by the majority of her co-workers, so that could be something to look at. On the other hand, years ago the same area of wilderness had been the killing grounds for a serial killer and his son is still out there, or so some people say. Could he have killed Alice? So many people to consider and motives to sift through.

Eventually the killer is found out and the reason(s) behind the act discovered and the book ends on an upbeat note after having learned a bit more about the quiet, hermit-like Aaron Falk.

Now I’ll just have a wait until next year for the next installment of the Aaron Falk series. That’s one reason why I don’t usually read a just released book, the wait for the next in line is soooo long!

Great book and I highly recommend it.