Glass House (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #13) by Louise Penny

Book Description:

Published: August 29, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

When a mysterious figure appears in Three Pines one cold November day, Armand Gamache and the rest of the villagers are at first curious. Then wary. Through rain and sleet, the figure stands unmoving, staring ahead.

From the moment its shadow falls over the village, Gamache, now Chief Superintendent of the Surete du Quebec, suspects the creature has deep roots and a dark purpose. Yet he does nothing. What can he do? Only watch and wait. And hope his mounting fears are not realized.

But when the figure vanishes overnight and a body is discovered, it falls to Gamache to discover if a debt has been paid or levied.

Months later, on a steamy July day as the trial for the accused begins in Montreal, Chief Superintendent Gamache continues to struggle with actions he set in motion that bitter November, from which there is no going back. More than the accused is on trial. Gamache’s own conscience is standing in judgment.

In Glass Houses, her latest utterly gripping book, number-one New York Times bestselling author Louise Penny shatters the conventions of the crime novel to explore what Gandhi called the court of conscience. A court that supersedes all others.

Review –

I love this series,The Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Series, because of the  group of close knit quirky characters and the quaint village of Three Pines where they reside. Within the characters there is a baker, a painter, a book seller, a B&B owner, a bistro owner,  an old, no holds barred poet and Armand Gamache, now chief of the Sûreté du Québec.

There is a murder in the village caused in part by the emergence of a Black Robed Figure (the conscience) stalking someone in the hamlet.  But did the dark thing come for a villager or for one of their guests? The appearance of the black thing coincides with the visit of four out-of-town guests. They are friends from the Université de Montréal who meet for a yearly reunion at the B&B in Three Pines, usually in August but this year it happens to be November first.

All of this is being related by CI Gamache, on the  witness stand in a horribly hot Summer, explaining how over the course of a few days the masked man grew into a fixture on the village green and morphed slowly into an omen.

Conscience is an overarching theme in Penny’s latest Gamache novel, seeping into the courtroom narrative as Gamache grapples with an enemy much larger than the dark thing, a war on drugs and two separate drug cartels, he took on as the new Chief Superintendent. His victory depends on the outcome, and the path, of this murder trial.

While certain installments in Penny’s bestselling series take Gamache and his team to the far reaches of Québec, others build their tension not with a chase but instead in the act of keeping still—this is one such book. The tension has never been greater, and Gamache has sat for months waiting, and waiting, to act, with Conscience watching close by.

Fantastic story and on the edge of the  seat suspense  and a lot of tears when I feared that a favorite character might have met their end in  gun battle that occurred in the bistro. Thankfully, at the end of the book the character in still in critical condition in the hospital with brain damage but I have every faith in the author, Louise Penney, that she will bring this character back to us in the next installment of this series, which comes out in August of this year.

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It’s Always the Husband by Michele Campbell

Book Description:

Published: May 16, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

Kate, Aubrey, and Jenny. They first met as college roommates and soon became inseparable, even though they are as different as three women can be. Twenty years later, one of them is standing at the edge of a bridge . . and someone else is urging her to jump.

How did things come to this?

As the novel cuts back and forth between their college years and their adult years, you see the exact reasons why these women love and hate each other—but can feelings that strong lead to murder? Or will everyone assume, as is often the case, that it’s always the husband?

Review –

What a roller coaster ride! My head is still spinning from all the twists and turns this book took to relate the journey of three girls who meet their Freshman year at college and became roommates and friends/enemies for the next 20 plus years.

One girl gets way with murder and one girl is later murdered and you don’t find out the killer until THE VERY END.

Loved it. Highly recommend it!

Five stars!!!

The Frozen Woman by Jon Michelet

Book Description:

Published: September 21, 2017

Format: E-Book/OverDrive

A frozen body, a murdered biker, and a lawyer with nothing left to lose. In the depths of the Norwegian winter, a woman’s frozen corpse is discovered in the garden of a notorious ex-lawyer, Vilhelm Thygesen. She has been stabbed to death. A young biker, a member of a gang once represented by the lawyer, is found dead in suspicious circumstances. Thygesen starts receiving anonymous threats, and becomes ensnared in a web of violence, crime and blackmail that spreads across Northern Europe. Does the frozen woman hold the key?

Review –

I always LISTEN to foreign crime fiction because I prefer a narrator with the correct accent and pronunciation of words and cities involved to be correct rather than stumble over the vowels and consonants myself.

I was not so lucky with The Frozen Woman in that all I could find was an e-book and so I stumbled my way through it and it was not a pleasant journey.

The storyline was good but I thought the plot was a bit convoluted. I may try this author again IF I can one of his books on audio.

The Witches’ Tree (Agatha Raisin #28) by M.C. Beaton

Book Description:

Published: October 3, 2017

Format: E-Book/OverDrive

Cotswolds inhabitants are used to inclement weather, but the night sky is especially foggy as Rory and Molly Devere, the new vicar and his wife, drive slowly home from a dinner party in their village of Sumpton Harcourt. They strain to see the road ahead—and then suddenly brake, screeching to a halt. Right in front of them, aglow in the headlights, a body hangs from a gnarled tree at the edge of town. Margaret Darby, an elderly spinster, has been murdered—and the villagers are bewildered as to who would commit such a crime.

Agatha Raisin rises to the occasion (a little glad for the excitement, to tell the truth, after a long run of lost cats and divorces on the books). But Sumpton Harcourt is a small and private village, she finds—a place that poses more questions than answers. And when two more murders follow the first, Agatha begins to fear for her reputation—and even her life. That the village has its own coven of witches certainly doesn’t make her feel any better…

Review –

Another quirky murder mystery involving  the aging, unmarried, chubby, woman with small bear like eyes, Agatha Raisin. I have felt sorry for Agatha in past books but this one takes the cake. In between looking for clues to solve numerous murders she always has her eye out for a new man and a new romance.  Sir Charles Fraith, her old friend, comes in and out of her life and  uses her for sex when he fancies and Agatha, looking for a man’s comfort allows herself to be used. 

The murders seems to be secondary to Agatha’s plight for a new man and that’s sad. She does solve the crimes, with help and still ends up unhappy at the end.

The author needs to do something in the next book to turn Agatha around and into the confident woman she once was or I’m afraid her following is going to drastically dwindle.

I’m a huge fan so I will continue to read the next when it comes out but fingers crossed that the author sees the light!

I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll

Book Description:

Published: October 1, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

What would it take to make you intervene?

When Ella Longfield overhears two attractive young men flirting with teenage girls on a train, she thinks nothing of it—until she realises they are fresh out of prison and her maternal instinct is put on high alert. But just as she’s decided to call for help, something stops her. The next day, she wakes up to the news that one of the girls—beautiful, green-eyed Anna Ballard—has disappeared.

A year later, Anna is still missing. Ella is wracked with guilt over what she failed to do, and she’s not the only one who can’t forget. Someone is sending her threatening letters—letters that make her fear for her life.

Then an anniversary appeal reveals that Anna’s friends and family might have something to hide. Anna’s best friend, Sarah, hasn’t been telling the whole truth about what really happened that night—and her parents have been keeping secrets of their own.

Someone knows where Anna is—and they’re not telling. But they are watching Ella.

Review –

This page turning mystery is about the circumstances relating to a missing sixteen  year old girl who traveled to London with her best friend one year in the past. We start on the train where Ella, “the witness,” sees two teenage girls flirting with two men who were just released from prison. Her mothering nature kicks in and she thinks she should try to figure out who these girls are and warn their parents that they might be up to no good. She ignores that instinct and feels haunting regret the next day when the news reports one of those girls has disappeared. Each chapter of this story is told between the varying perspectives of Ella – the witness, Henry – the father of Anna, the missing girl, Sarah – the friend, Matthew – the private investigator, and occasional interludes by the “watcher.” The bulk of the book takes place around the one year anniversary of Anna’s disappearance when everyone is hoping with renewed interest Anna will be discovered.

Every chapter ended with a mini cliffhanger but they never really went anywhere. Not until the final minutes of the book/recording do we find out who the “watcher/killer” is. There are twists and turns but none that give anything away until the end.

It’s an okay mystery and it’s a fast read or listen. Give it a try if you life this genre.

 

 

Chase by K.R. Dwyer (aka Dean Koontz)

Book Description:

Published: June 10, 2014 (first published in 1972)

Format: Audio

Ben Chase is a war hero, but a reluctant one. He struggles with bitter memories and feels alienated from the culture to which he has returned. When he claims that a psychopath is stalking him, he has by then made such an outsider of himself that no one believes him. He must resurrect the repressed warrior within to save himself and a woman he comes to love. Heroes need monsters to slay, and they can always find them—within if not without.

Review –

I love Dean Koontz but he wrote this one very early in his career and under a different name so the plot was very predictable and it also failed to give me the shiver than I get from many of his works. The pacing of the story was good after the half way point and we see the character of Chase soften around the edges after having met Glenda.

This was far from a favorite but having rad it (listened to it) I can truly see how much Mr. Koontz has grown as a storyteller.

I’d only recommend this for die-hard Dean Koontz fans.

The Night Season (Archie Sheridan and Gretchen Lowell #4) by Chelsea Cain

Book Description:

Published: March 1, 2011

Format: Audio/OverDrive

He captured the Beauty Killer, one of the most deranged serial killers in the country. Now, Portland police detective Archie Sheridan faces a different kind of killer – a brutal rain season that has flooded the Willamette River, claiming several lives. As water levels rise, so does the fear. Because some of the victims didn’t drown;they were murdered.

The first body contains a rare poison. Three others prove to be murders as well. And with each gruesome discovery the medical examiner uncovers, Archie begins to realize he has not escaped his nightmares, even with his deadliest enemy behind bars. The flood has washed up old skeletons from the past. And a ruthless new serial killer rules the night…

Review –

Archie is finally free, at least physically, of his former lover and crazed torturer, Gretchen Lowell, The Beauty Killer,who’s behind bars, Portland Detective Archie Sheridan vies with a slightly more mundane serial killer in Cain’s latest installment in the series.

This time the villain is a  largely unseen male menace. Accompanied by a nine-year-old boy who was stolen from his parents 18 months ago, this serial killer carries around small, blue-ringed octopuses in baggies,https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue-ringed_octopus

subjects his victims to their poisonous bites and tosses the corpses in the river.

The killings begin after the discovery of a skeleton points back to the Vanport flood of 1948, which wiped out an entire public-housing project and claimed the lives of many residents who were tardily warned by authorities of the impending disaster. Sixty-two years later, with the overflowing Willamette River about to wreak havoc on Portland, two people close to the still-shaky Sheridan are touched by the octopus killer’s evil: Henry Sobol, a fellow cop, and Susan Ward, a hungry crime columnist with wild hair. 

The story is deftly handled, the suspense is plentiful and the author’s description of the gloomy atmosphere and Portland setting is superb. Gretchen fans will be pleased when she shows up at the end and with a glance tells us we haven’t seen the last of her.

Excellent read!!!

Devil’s Cut (The Bourbon Kings #3) by J.R. Ward

Book Description:

Published: August 1, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

At first, the death of William Baldwine, the head of the Bradford family, was ruled a suicide. But then his eldest son and sworn enemy, Edward, came forward and confessed to what was, in fact, a murder. Now in police custody, Edward mourns not the disintegration of his family or his loss of freedom . . . but the woman he left behind. His love, Sutton Smythe, is the only person he has ever truly cared about, but as she is the CEO of the Bradford Bourbon Company’s biggest competitor, any relationship between them is impossible. And then there’s the reality of the jail time that Edward is facing.

Lane Baldwine was supposed to remain in his role of playboy, forever in his big brother Edward’s shadow. Instead he has become the new head of the family and the company. Convinced that Edward is covering for someone else, Lane and his true love, Lizzie King, go on the trail of a killer—only to discover a secret that is as devastating as it is game-changing.

As Lane rushes to discover the truth, and Sutton finds herself irresistibly drawn to Edward in spite of his circumstances, the lives of everyone at Easterly will never be the same again. For some, this is good; for others, it could be a tragedy beyond imagining. Only one thing’s for certain: Love survives all things. Even murder.

Review –

This was the last book I finished in 2017 but I wanted to review it so here goes.

In this, the last in The Bourbon Kings series, many things happen. Edward Bradford Baldwine, eldest of the Bradford family, awaits arraignment in Washington County Jail for the murder of his father, William. He’s losing any hope of pairing up with Sutton Smythe, the love of his life. Chantal Baldwine is plotting to leverage her pregnancy—by William—into a heftier settlement in her divorce from William’s son Jonathan Tulane. And the entire Bradford clan is grieving, less over William’s death than the loss of the millions that he embezzled.

Easterly, The Baldwine mansion and compound build high on a hill, could be lost because of the huge debt owed to many creditors and banks because of the greed of William.

We learn the true killer of William, Chantal loses her baby will Lizzie becomes pregnant , Gen tells Samuel T. that he is Amelia’s father and also tells her daughter about her father (this causes one heart moment) Edward is not a true Baldwine and we find out who his father is and he and Sutton have their hea. To sum it all up – the author successfully ties every thread of romance-tinged Kentucky drama into several sparkly bows. 

The Bourbon Kings is a fantastic series that I highly recommend.

Touch & Go (Tessa Leoni #2) by Lisa Gardner

Book Description:

Published: February 5, 2013

Format: Audio

This is my family:  Vanished without a trace…

Justin and Libby Denbe have the kind of life that looks good in the pages of a glossy magazine. A beautiful fifteen-year old daughter, Ashlyn. A gorgeous brownstone on a tree-lined street in Boston’s elite Back Bay neighborhood. A great marriage, admired by friends and family.  A perfect life.

This is what I know:  Pain has a flavor…

When investigator Tessa Leoni arrives at the crime scene in the Denbes’ home, she finds scuff marks on the floor and Taser confetti in the foyer.  The family appears to have been abducted, with only a pile of their most personal possessions remaining behind.  No witnesses, no ransom demands, no motive.  Just an entire family, vanished without a trace.

This is what I fear:  The worst is yet to come…

Tessa knows better than anyone that even the most perfect façades can hide the darkest secrets.  Now she must race against the clock to uncover the Denbes’ innermost dealings, a complex tangle of friendships and betrayal, big business and small sacrifices. Who would want to kidnap such a perfect little family?  And how far would such a person be willing to go?

This is the truth:  Love, safety, family…it is all touch and go.

Review –

Five stars.

Fantastic read!

“Ever since Libby Denbe caught her husband, Justin, a handsome and wealthy Boston construction czar, cheating on her, their marriage has been on life support. Their experimental night out turns into a nightmare when they return to find three masked men in their Beacon Hill home terrorizing their 15-year-old daughter, Ashlyn. Swiftly overpowered and driven off in the kidnappers’ van, the family can only wonder why they’re being held in an unused prison in northern New Hampshire. At the same time, corporate investigator Tessa Leoni, whose firm had been hired by Denbe Construction to handle security problems, and New Hampshire county cop Wyatt Foster wonder why all three of them were kidnapped when Justin is clearly the one worth the most money—and why long hours pass with no ransom demand. The clues point to an inside job masterminded by one of Denbe Construction’s top brass: chief financial officer Ruth Chan, chief operating officer Anita Bennett, or construction manager Chris Lopez. Alternating, as in Catch Me (2012), between third-person installments of the search for leads in the case and the beleaguered heroine’s first-person accounts of her torment at the hands of the bad guys, Gardner generates such irresistible momentum that most readers will forgive the combination of cool-eyed professional investigation and heavy-breathing domestic soap opera as a family even Libby describes as “three mere clichés” begins to disintegrate still further under the grueling pressure.

Even readers who figure out the ringleader long before Tessa and Wyatt will get behind on their sleep turning pages to make sure they’re right.” from Kirkus Review

I HIGHLY recommend this book!

 

When Secrets Strike (House of Secrets #2) by Marta Perry

Book Description:

Published: October 27, 2015

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In Laurel Ridge, Pennsylvania, a community once united must suspect one of their own.

Amish quilter Sarah Bitler’s dreams no longer feature a husband and family. Instead, she searches for success in the quilt shop within Blackburn House, a place once tarnished with deadly secrets. She refuses to let the past influence her future…until an ominous fire forces them to collide.

Firefighter Aaron King was the first to touch Sarah’s heart—and the first to break it. Now a widower and father of two small girls, his return to Sarah’s life brings her buried feelings to the surface. As a string of horrific incidents tears apart their community, an arsonist’s wrath threatens to destroy them all. With Aaron as the only suspect, Sarah must follow her instincts to find the truth. But to protect an innocent man, she might risk her heart to Aaron again…and risk her life to an unknown killer.

Review –

Amish Sarah Bitler is a single businesswoman, partnering with Allison Standish (the  heroine in the previous book, Where Secrets Sleep) to run a quilt shop. The love of her life, Aaron King, married someone else and is now a widower with two daughters, and she assumes she’s lost any chance of gaining his affection. They’re brought closer together by a series of arsons that seem to be targeting local farms, which also puts Aaron’s life at risk, as he’s a volunteer firefighter. As the investigations continue, with subplots involving a shady real estate deal and an aging widow, the stakes rise. Perry weaves a deft tale, taking a solid traditional cozy mystery plot and melding it nicely with a largely chaste romance. The spatterings of Amish culture and German phrases (“that makes gut sense,” “was ist letz”) are either explained contextually or explicitly, and they serve the story well.  

Excellent series.