Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman

Book Description:

Published: June 5, 2018

Format: Audio/OverDrive

A shocking discovery on a honeymoon in paradise changes the lives of a picture-perfect couple in this taut psychological thriller debut–for readers of Ruth Ware, Paula Hawkins, and Shari Lapena.

If you could make one simple choice that would change your life forever, would you?

Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough, Mark a handsome investment banker with big plans. Passionately in love, they embark on a dream honeymoon to the tropical island of Bora Bora, where they enjoy the sun, the sand, and each other. Then, while scuba diving in the crystal blue sea, they find something in the water. . . .

Could the life of your dreams be the stuff of nightmares?

Suddenly the newlyweds must make a dangerous choice: to speak out or to protect their secret. After all, if no one else knows, who would be hurt? Their decision will trigger a devastating chain of events. . . .

Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave?

Wonder no longer. Catherine Steadman’s enthralling voice shines throughout this spellbinding debut novel. With piercing insight and fascinating twists, Something in the Water challenges the reader to confront the hopes we desperately cling to, the ideals we’re tempted to abandon, and the perfect lies we tell ourselves.

Review –

Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave? Wonder no longer. It takes an age. However long you think it takes, double that.”  Those four short sentences make up Chapter One and grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go.

Erin and Mark are on their honeymoon in Bora Bora, and while scuba diving they find Something in the Water.  THUNK, THUNK, THUNK. They have to decide what to do with what they found, turn it in or keep it for themselves. The temptation is strong, since Mark just lost his job. They think no one will be willing to claim it, so why bother trying to find the owners? When the bodies start piling up and they realize they are being followed, the stakes get higher. But once you’ve been sucked in, it’s hard to go back. When you are faced with the greatest temptation is when your true colors come out and you find out what or who is really important to you. It’s also when you discover that maybe that person you love more than anything has a side you’ve never really seen before. You’ll have to read the story to find out who survives in this book.

For a debut novel by an actress, Catherine Steadman played the part of Mabel Lane Fox on Downton Abbey, I thought this went fairly well. The characters had depth, and the writing was well done. I do think that the couple should have been  more middle-class instead of living in a million dollar home. It would have made all the craziness that they went through more realistic and I think the ending was a bit of a let down.

All in all, I enjoyed it very much.

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An Accidental Death (DC Smith #1) by Peter Grainger

Book Description:

Published: October 3, 2013

Format: Audio/Audible

The story opens with the apparently accidental drowning of a sixth form student in the Norfolk countryside. As a matter of routine, or so it seems, the case passes across the desk of Detective Sergeant Smith, recently returned to work after an internal investigation into another case that has led to tensions between officers at Kings Lake police headquarters. As an ex DCI, Smith could have retired by now, and it is clear that some of his superiors wish that he would do so.

The latest trainee detective to work with him is the son of a member of his former team, and together they begin to unravel the truth about what happened to Wayne Fletcher. As the investigation proceeds, it becomes clear that others are involved – some seem determined to prevent it, some seem to be taking too much interest. In the end Smith operates alone, having stepped too far outside standard procedures to ask for support. He knows that his own life might be at risk but he has not calculated on the life of his young assistant also being put in danger. He might still get his man but at what cost?

Review –

For me, one of the biggest treats of  reading is discovering a new series you really, really love and reading all the books straight through. Recently I discovered  a novel called An Accidental Death by Peter Grainger. It’s the first of a series featuring Norfolk Detective Sergeant DC Smith, and I liked it so much I intend to read the seven  other books in the series. DC (short for David Conrad) is a former Detective Chief Inspector in the fictional Norfolk city of King’s Lake, and has chosen a demotion in order to do real police work rather than management. He is an older man of many hidden talents of which most are unknown to his colleagues. He is not afraid to use unorthodox methods to achieve successful results. DC is such an original voice, and the books are complex explorations of character and relationships. 

The current case under investigation is unusual without being sensational. It covers contemporary topics from school briefings on drugs through to international terrorism and is designed to provide as much insight into DC Smith as it does to the causes and execution of the crimes being investigated.

Loved it and look forward to reading the rest!!!!!

 

Side Note:

I’m sure you’re all familiar with the phrase or quote “Don’t let the bastards grind you down”, but in all my reading I have NEVER seen it referenced until THIS book and I thought that was cool.

The Hanging Girl (Department Q #6) by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Book Description:

Published: September 8, 2015

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In the middle of his usual hard-won morning nap in the basement of police headquarters, Carl Mørck, head of Department Q, receives a call from a colleague working on the Danish island of Bornholm. Carl is dismissive when he realizes that a new case is being foisted on him, but a few hours later, he receives some shocking news that leaves his headstrong assistant Rose more furious than usual. Carl has no choice but to lead Department Q into the tragic cold case of a vivacious seventeen-year-old girl who vanished from school, only to be found dead hanging high up in a tree. The investigation will take them from the remote island of Bornholm to a strange sun worshipping cult, where Carl, Assad, Rose, and newcomer Gordon attempt to stop a string of new murders and a skilled manipulator who refuses to let anything—or anyone—get in the way.

Review –

This is by far my least favorite book of the Department Q series and I hoping it’s just a problem with the translation because I really do enjoy this series.

Presumably Carl Mørck, head of the Q Department, is the protagonist, but he comes across as lazy and disagreeable. Perhaps that is how he is supposed to be portrayed, but there is very little reason to cheer for him. Adler-Olsen’s other characters have little, if any, dimension; visualizing them is difficult, (not usual for this series).

There is some description given of Mørck’s assistants Assad and Rose and she has some job responsibilities with her computer knowledge and organizational skills. Assad appears to be the comic sidekick who can’t seem to get the words right: strawstack instead of haystack. Considering that both of these characters have appeared in previous Department Q stories, it must be assumed that the author’s fans are already familiar with them and details are not needed. The other characters in the story all seem to be angry or manipulative—it’s hard to find anyone likable.

The premise of the story—a cold case file that has driven a police officer to suicide, but not until he has left clues for Mørck and his assistants to find in order to keep the cold case alive—would be workable if the story followed that line with fewer diversions.

The Department Q gathering of the mountain of information from the deceased police officer’s home is a little hard to fathom. With the information described as boxes and boxes of papers, magazines, books, letters, photos, etc., all neatly organized by Rose in an extremely short time span, it’s hard to believe that any organization could suddenly reveal the small clues and evidence needed to solve this crime.

Initially, the story does little to encourage the reader to continue listening. The storyline jumps forward and backward in time, and it almost seems that at the beginning of the story there is another storyline with no connection. This is a side story that starts at an earlier time and involves an alternative religious (cult) group. The scenes around this group are more interesting than those about the cold case file, and one must trudge through half of the book before the two issues begin to knit together in the story.

Although Adler-Olsen does a satisfactory job of tying up loose ends, the whole purpose of the story remains elusive. It’s hard to understand why a policeman would gather this large amount of information and leave it behind for others to explore, when the reality is that the police officer already knew the sad answer.

One interesting turn that is difficult to understand is what the author  does with Mørck’s assistant Rose at the end of the book. She has appeared in previous Department Q books, and if his purpose was to write her out of the series, presumably he has succeeded, and she may not be returning in any subsequent Q Department tales. Of course, fiction being what it is, she might come around again. . . . and I hope she does, because I don’t know what Carl and Assad will do without her.

Considering Adler-Olsen is a popular crime writer in Denmark one can only hope that with The Hanging Girl the translation to English is faulty, and in his own language he has painted a much more interesting and vivid picture.

 

 

The Hidden Child (Patrik Hedstrom #5) by Camilla Lackberg

Book Description:

Published: June 20, 2011

Format: Audio/Audible

Crime writer Erica Falck is shocked to discover a Nazi medal among her late mother’s possessions. Haunted by a childhood of neglect, she resolves to dig deep into her family’s past and finally uncover the reasons why. Her enquiries lead her to the home of a retired history teacher. He was among her mother’s circle of friends during the Second World War but her questions are met with bizarre and evasive answers. Two days later he meets a violent death.

Detective Patrik Hedström, Erica’s husband, is on paternity leave but soon becomes embroiled in the murder investigation. Who would kill so ruthlessly to bury secrets so old? Reluctantly Erica must read her mother’s wartime diaries. But within the pages is a painful revelation about Erica’s past. Could what little knowledge she has be enough to endanger her husband and newborn baby? The dark past is coming to light, and no one will escape the truth of how they came to be . . .

Review –

“Three months ago, Erica Falck asked a collector of Nazi memorabilia about a medal she found among her mother’s effects. Now he’s discovered dead from a blow to the head, and the question of who killed him is only the first of many mysteries.

Best-selling Swedish author Läckberg (The Stranger, 2013, etc.) returns with her fourth novel about the crime-solving team of Erica Falck and her husband, detective Patrik Hedström. Their adorable daughter, Maja, has just turned one, Erica’s ready to return to her work writing novels (though she won’t be going far—just to the upstairs study), and Patrik’s embarking on four months of paternity leave. But Erica can’t concentrate, because Patrik keeps interrupting her with parenting questions and her mother’s diaries tempt her like a siren’s call. Maybe the diaries will explain why her mother was so emotionally distant. They’re filled with stories about her friends back in the 1940s, including Erik, the historian recently found dead; Axel, who joined the resistance during World War II, running dangerous missions; Frans, who grew up to be a politically active neo-Nazi; and Britta, a foolish girl who adored Frans. When Patrik takes Maja out for a walk one afternoon, he stumbles upon his colleagues and joins them in examining the crime scene at Erik’s home. Patrik and Erica are pulled deeply into the developing investigation. Soon the line between good and evil blurs as they delve into the complicated history of Swedish involvement in the war. Meanwhile, Erica’s sister Anna tries to broker peace between her new husband and stepdaughter, and Patrik’s gruff boss, Mellberg, adopts a dog and takes up salsa dancing. Läckberg deftly layers the dark details of the crime upon the disturbing seeds of its origin.

Fans of Nordic noir will appreciate this taut, twisty mystery enriched with historical detail.” Kirkus Review

Love this series and looking forward to reading or listening to more installments next year.

The Marco Effect (Department Q #5) by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Book Description:

Published: September 9, 2014

Format: Audio/OverDrive

All fifteen-year-old Marco Jameson wants is to become a Danish citizen and go to school like a normal teenager. But his uncle Zola rules his former gypsy clan with an iron fist. Revered as a god and feared as a devil, Zola forces the children of the clan to beg and steal for his personal gain. When Marco discovers a dead body—proving the true extent of Zola’s criminal activities—he goes on the run. But his family members aren’t the only ones who’ll go to any lengths to keep Marco silent . . . forever.

Meanwhile, the last thing Detective Carl Mørck needs is for his assistants, Assad and Rose, to pick up a missing persons case on a whim: Carl’s nemesis is his new boss, and he’s saddled Department Q with an unwelcome addition. But when they learn that a mysterious teen named Marco may have as much insight into the case as he has fear of the police, Carl is determined to solve the mystery and save the boy. Carl’s actions propel the trio into a case that extends from Denmark to Africa, from embezzlers to child soldiers, from seemingly petty crime rings to the very darkest of cover-ups.

Review –

“A Danish banking scam whose tentacles extend to Cameroon spells trouble for Department Q’s Carl Mørck and a young boy who gets caught in the crossfire.

It’s true: The coverup is always worse than the original problem.

If only William Stark hadn’t gotten suspicious about the ostensibly gibberish text message a Bantu development officer sent from Cameroon just before he vanished, René E. Eriksen, his boss at the Evaluation Department for Developmental Assistance, wouldn’t have had to send him off to Africa to investigate or assented to a shadowy banker’s order to have him murdered on his return. And if only Marco Jameson, a teenage beggar hiding from his uncle Zola, who planned to have him maimed to increase his daily take, hadn’t taken refuge in Stark’s grave, Zola wouldn’t be sending his young corps fanning out all over Copenhagen to find the boy before he can lead the police to the body Zola buried himself. Now Marco is frantically on the run. Eriksen and his old schoolmate and co-conspirator, banker Teis Snap, are headed for a major falling-out. And Carl, who’d be perfectly happy investigating the houseboat fire that claimed the life of Minna Virklund, wouldn’t have been sucked into a series of coverup murders that threaten to go on forever.

These are already tough times for Carl. His girlfriend, psychologist Mona Ibsen, heads off his marriage proposal by breaking up with him; Marcus Jacobsen, the generally supportive head of Copenhagen Homicide, has abruptly retired; and the new acting head, deputy commissioner Lars Bjørn, has saddled Carl with Gordon Taylor, a rookie still in law school, to ride herd on Department Q’s expenses, ruin Carl’s interrogations and report every minor infraction back to his patron. So all parties concerned can expect major drama.

If a scene works, Adler-Olsen never minds reprising it two or three times with minor variations. The result is a tale as big and sprawling as Carl’s first four cases but more diffuse, more like a TV miniseries than a feature film.” Kirkus Reviews

For some reason I can’t pinpoint, I didn’t like this installment of the Department Q series.  It was all a bit convoluted  and rambled a bit, but still a great read.

 

The purity of Vengeance (Department Q #4) by Jussi Alder-Olsen

Book Description:

Published: December 31, 2013

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In 1987, Nete Hermansen plans revenge on those who abused her in her youth, including Curt Wad, a charismatic surgeon who was part of a movement to sterilize wayward girls in 1950s Denmark.

More than twenty years later, Detective Carl Mørck already has plenty on his mind when he is presented with the case of a brothel owner, a woman named Rita, who went missing in the eighties: New evidence has emerged in the case that destroyed the lives of his two partners—the case that sent Carl to Department Q.

But when Carl’s assistants, Assad and Rose, learn that numerous other people disappeared around the same weekend as Rita, Carl takes notice. As they sift through the disappearances, they get closer and closer to Curt Wad, who is more determined than ever to see the vision of his youth take hold and whose brutal treatment of Nete and others like her is only one small part of his capacity for evil.

With The Purity of Vengeance, Jussi Adler-Olsen delivers a thrilling and shocking addition to his bestselling Department Q series.

Review –

Another cold case for the odd team of Copenhagen’s Department Q, together with two more incomplete blasts from the past for Detective Carl Mørck.

Except for the prostitute who reported her missing, no one much cared when brothel keeper Rita Nielsen vanished back in 1987, and it’s no wonder the case languished. Now, however, the mystery assumes new urgency with the news that she wasn’t the only one to disappear. The very same day, attorney Philip Nørvig, fisherman Viggo Mogensen, womens asylum guard Gitte Charles and do-nothing Tage Hermansen also went AWOL. Furthermore—though it takes Carl, his assistant, Hafez el-Assad, and his secretary, Rose Knudsen, quite a while to work this out—they all had links to Tage’s cousin Nete Hermansen, long immured in a Sprogø home for fallen women, whose second chance at a respectable life was dashed when Dr. Curt Wad, a stalwart of the Purity Party, confronted her and her businessman husband publicly with some sordid details of her past. The author cuts back and forth between the fatal day in 1987 when Nete decided to avenge herself on the people who had ruined her life and the present day, when Carl’s investigation of both Nete and Wad is complicated by rumors that Carl helped his cousin Ronny kill Ronny’s father many years ago and further hints of the horrific fatality that first sent Carl to Department Q. Fans of this series can rest assured that neither of these lesser subplots comes anywhere near closure.

There is a surprise twist at the very end that, I dare say, no one saw coming. (I love it when that happens!)

Fantastic read!

 

Closed Circles (Sandhamn Murders #2) by Viveca Sten

Book Description:

Published: March 29, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

It’s a beautiful day for a regatta—until one of Sandhamn Island’s most prestigious residents is killed aboard his sailing yacht.

Oscar Juliander was a rich lawyer and deputy chairman of the prestigious Royal Swedish Yacht Club. While at first his death seems like a tragic accident, there is evidence of foul play. Police detective Thomas Andreasson teams up with local lawyer Nora Linde to investigate. As they work to uncover clues, they face resistance from an elite world where nothing but appearance matters.

When the rich and powerful inhabitants of Sweden’s idyllic island getaway come under scrutiny, Thomas and Nora must work closely and secretively to seek justice.

Review –

The murders destroy the island’s calm and make the resident’s anxious.  Last’s summers murder were, they were sure, an anomaly.  Now there are more.  And worse, respected members of the community.  It is also a closed community, one with plenty of secrets that they don’t want to share with the detective in charge, Thomas.

Thankfully, he’s dedicated and dogged and unlikely to give up.  He’s also really likeable and pretty well balanced, avoiding the many stereotypes of dysfunctional police officers with family issues and drinking problems.  Whilst not everything in his life is perfect, he handles it like a grown up – and manages to set it aside when working on the case.  

His best childhood friend, Nora ,a lawyer at a bank, she spends her summers on Sandhamn so it makes perfect sense for Thomas to ask for her help on the case.  They don’t team up, she is on the periphery of the investigation – though does help it come to it’s conclusion. I could have felt cheated by this if I hadn’t been so caught up in Nora’s own story, which runs parallel to the investigation and isn’t crime related at all but very personal.

This might have been a distraction but wasn’t at all,  and is a testament to how well both characters were developed and how well written (and translated) the book was.  It had a good pace and a good plot – simple but with plenty of twists and turns that kept me guessing until close to the end. And, speaking of the end, it was a total surprise and added a bit of “well, there you go” to the book. 

Fantastic series!!!

A Conspiracy of Faith (Department Q #3) by Jussi Alder-Olsen

Book Description:

Published: May 28, 2013

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Detective Carl Mørck holds in his hands a bottle that contains old and decayed message, written in blood. It is a cry for help from two young brothers, tied and bound in a boathouse by the sea. Could it be real? Who are these boys, and why weren’t they reported missing? Could they possibly still be alive?

Carl’s investigation will force him to cross paths with a woman stuck in a desperate marriage- her husband refuses to tell her where he goes, what he does, how long he will be away. For days on end she waits, and when he returns she must endure his wants, his moods, his threats. But enough is enough. She will find out the truth, no matter the cost to her husband—or to herself.

Carl and his colleagues Assad and Rose must use all of their resources to uncover the horrifying truth in this heart-pounding Nordic thriller from the #1 international bestselling author Jussi Adler-Olsen.

Review –

Inspector Carl Mørck and his raffish colleagues at Copenhagen’s Department Q  go up against a truly fiendish kidnapper.

A few days after he and his brother Tryggve were abducted, Poul Holt managed to scrawl a plea for help in his own blood, deposit it in a bottle and toss it into the sea. Hundreds of miles away, the bottle made landfall and was turned over to Scottish police Sgt. David Bell, who made no attempt to open his discovery. Years passed. Bell died. A computer expert in his station smashed the bottle and immediately contacted Department Q, the perfect venue for the case since “it’s old, it’s unsolved, and no one else could be bothered.”

The group’s assignment begins with trying to figure out, after all this time, what the message says, who wrote it and when. These tasks are made more difficult since no one reported any children missing at the time and place the message indicates. While Carl and his crew are working feverishly on the dead case, the kidnapper is at work bringing it very much back to life by targeting another pair of children, Magdalena Krogh and her big brother, Samuel. (The reason why he prefers to snatch two victims at a time is the story’s most cunning secret, and its most disturbing.) Even after Carl and his Syrian assistant Hafez el-Assad have surmounted the obstacles thrown up by Poul Holt’s parents, who insist that he’s still alive, they’ll have to overcome a much wider conspiracy of silence the kidnapper has been counting on to make accomplices of his victims’ families for all these years.

Fantastic story that will pull at your heart-strings.

I love this series!

 

Still Waters (Sandman Murders #1) by Viveca Sten

Book Description:

Published: October 1, 2015

Format: Audio/Audible

On a hot July morning on Sweden’s idyllic vacation island of Sandhamn, a man takes his dog for a walk and makes a gruesome discovery: a body, tangled in fishing net, has washed ashore.

Police detective Thomas Andreasson is the first to arrive on the scene. Before long, he has identified the deceased as Krister Berggren, a bachelor from the mainland who has been missing for months. All signs point to an accident—until another brutalized corpse is found at the local bed-and-breakfast. But this time it is Berggren’s cousin, whom Thomas interviewed in Stockholm just days before.

As the island’s residents reel from the news, Thomas turns to his childhood friend, local lawyer Nora Linde. Together, they attempt to unravel the riddles left behind by these two mysterious outsiders—while trying to make sense of the difficult twists their own lives have taken since the shared summer days of their youth.

Review-

As you can see, I finally got around to reading the first in the Sandman Murders series and I’m kinda glad I did hear this series out of order.

I learned many things in this book that related back to the two other books that I have already read and it made it more enjoyable. Had I read the books in order the incidents in Book One would have been just that-incidents, but with the background I already have the incidents make others things become crystal clear.

The story starts with the introduction of the setting of a crime. The weather is hot, it’s July and a body is found on one of Sweden’s islands named Sandhamn. The body is a horrible sight to behold as it is entangled in a fishing net. Thomas Anderson is the police detective that has been assigned to the case. He is also the first person to arrive at the spot. A little research helps him identify the victim. The victim’s name is Krister Briggren. Krister has been missing for a number of months or so the official reports say.

Thomas’ investigation leads him to believe that the death was an accident till something happened to change his beliefs. A local bed and breakfast reported another body. The body was identified as Krister’s cousin. Thomas attempts to solve the mystery with the help of an old friend named Nora Linde! 

The story revolves around  a very intriguing plot and  are the  police  right when they believe that the death was an accident? There is a huge surprise twist in the story and makes for a very emotional discovery for  Nora and to me since through reading three books I am acquainted with the character involved and couldn’t believe it!

I love this series and HIGHLY recommend it to anyone who loves a good  murder mystery.

Tonight You’re Dead (Sandhamn Murders #4) by Viveca Sten

Book Description:

Published: November 14, 2017

Format: Audio

Soon to be divorced, attorney Nora Linde is finding her way as a single mother, and even falling in love again, when she’s asked by her childhood friend Detective Thomas Andreasson to help in a disturbing investigation. Marcus Nielsen, a university student, has apparently committed suicide, but it’s what he’s left behind that’s so suspicious and damning: his research into the Coastal Rangers, an elite military group where, in 1976, a young cadet died under questionable circumstances, a sadistic sergeant went free, and a case went cold.

When two of Nielsen’s contacts are also found dead—and diaries of their tortuous training turn up missing—Thomas and Nora are certain that whatever happened three decades ago is unforgivable. And for someone who wants to keep those secrets buried—unforgettable. Now they must fight against time to expose a cover-up that hasn’t yet claimed its last victim.

Review –

I have found another foreign crime fiction series that I really like and again I’m reading the books out of order. The reason is that when I find one available I latch on to it and read or listen to it. I like to have the physical audio book and now they are hard to find so I have to rely on library apps like OverDrive and Libby and audio book apps like Audible.

Tonight You’re Dead is the fourth in the  Sandhamn Murders series of books – a place I love the sound of (multiple murders aside).  It sounds beautiful, set on the coast of Sweden and home to a mix of fascinating characters – not least of which (and central to all the books) is Nora, a single mom to two boys and best friend of Thomas, a local detective (and another central character in the books).

I can tell from the back story that Nora and Thomas have worked together on the solving of the crimes in the previous three books (even though she works for a bank). In this one Nora is hardly mentioned and Thomas works with a another police person, Margit.

The case itself was simple but cleverly conceived.  It starts with a young student found hanged, an apparent suicide.  Thomas is convinced by the young man’s mother to look into it further and, when he does, he finds a connection to another group of young men, Coastal Rangers who trained to be part of an elite fighting unit in the 1970s but are now also turning up dead, again looking like they have taken their own lives.

As Thomas and Margit try to find the connections, time seems to be running out for the men left alive.  It leads to a tense ending, one I didn’t see coming – which is always a plus.

I highly recommend this series.