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 Twilight Wife by A. J. Banner

Book Description:

Published: December 27, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Thirty-four-year-old marine biologist Kyra Winthrop remembers nothing about the diving accident that left her with a complex form of memory loss. With only brief flashes of the last few years of her life, her world has narrowed to a few close friendships on the island where she lives with her devoted husband, Jacob.

But all is not what it seems. Kyra begins to have visions—or are they memories?—of a rocky marriage, broken promises, and cryptic relationships with the island residents, whom she believes to be her friends.

As Kyra races to uncover her past, the truth becomes a terrifying nightmare.

Review –

What if everything you remember is a lie?

A diving accident causes marine biologist Kyra Winthrop to lose her memory of the previous four years, and her husband Jacob tries to help her rebuild her life. The Twilight Wife is a psychological suspense thriller set in an isolated community called Mystic Island, and fans of the genre will already know what to expect.

Flashes of memory return to Kyra that don’t quite match up with what she’s been told. She and Jacob have a happy marriage, but why does she have memories of intense attraction to one of his friends? She and Jacob were trying for a child, but why is there a condom in her wallet? Who is the odd man on the island who seems to recognize her but refuses to say why? And why does she dream of a third diver in the accident, when all the newspaper accounts mention only her and Jacob being involved? Add to that the locale of a remote island, which has no Internet connection apart from the line Jacob managed to rig up for their home, and Kyra can turn to only a tiny circle of friends whom she barely remembers.

The Twilight Wife is a quick read/listen and finished it in one sitting. The twists and turns are packed right in, and to Banner’s credit, she doesn’t go overboard with the red herrings designed solely to build suspense.  The ending felt rushed, and the last two chapters seemed disconnected from the rest of the story and seemed to come from nowhere. But overall, it’s a fun and fast-paced read that’s a perfect weekend treat for fans of the genre, and i must admit-it is one of my favorites.

My favourite part of this novel was the atmosphere. The isolation of the island adds to the dreariness of the plot and as trouble ensues, a storm begins to brew on the island. I loved this use of pathetic fallacy and found myself completely absorbed into Kara’s struggle.  

Fantastic read!

Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

Book Description:

Published:

Format: Audio/OverDrive

“The bad man, Daddy. The bad man is after us.” 

Clara Solberg’s world shatters when her husband and their four-year-old daughter are in a car crash, killing Nick while Maisie is remarkably unharmed. The crash is ruled an accident…until the coming days, when Maisie starts having night terrors that make Clara question what really happened on that fateful afternoon.

Tormented by grief and her obsession that Nick’s death was far more than just an accident, Clara is plunged into a desperate hunt for the truth. Who would have wanted Nick dead? And, more important, why? Clara will stop at nothing to find out—and the truth is only the beginning of this twisted tale of secrets and deceit.

Told in the alternating perspectives of Clara’s investigation and Nick’s last months leading up to the crash, master of suspense Mary Kubica weaves her most chilling thriller to date—one that explores the dark recesses of a mind plagued by grief and shows that some secrets might be better left buried.

Review –

Mary Kubica delivers an impressive storyline told in the alternating perspectives of Clara’s investigation into the death of her husband, Nick and in Nick’s voice of his last months leading up to his accident.

I found it a really interesting story that explores when are minds are so tormented with grief it can really mess with our psyche and how we ultimately perceive things as being the truth or fiction. I have to admit that the character of Clara got on my nerves. I know she lost her husband in a horrific accident, that she doesn’t believe is an accident and that her daughter is acting outing as a result of also being in the car at the time of the crash, but her mind just assumed the worst case scenarios ALL THE TIME. She couldn’t sleep, eat or think straight.She couldn’t function normally and had an overactive imagination and obsessive behaviour most of the time.

Nick on the other hand was a loving husband and father but tried too hard to keep up with the Jones and kept NURMEROUS secrets from his wife. If he had been open with Clara the outcome of the story would have been totally different.

As it is, the ending will surprise many and many may not like it but I thought it was PERFECT.

To sum it all up it was an entertaining, fast-paced, and an easy read with an unexpected but satisfying ending. Highly recommend!!

Caught by Harlan Coben

Book Description:

Published: March 23, 2010

Format: Audio/OverDrive

17 year-old Haley McWaid is a good girl, the pride of her suburban New Jersey family, captain of the lacrosse team, headed off to college next year with all the hopes and dreams her doting parents can pin on her. Which is why, when her mother wakes one morning to find that Haley never came home the night before, and three months quickly pass without word from the girl, the community assumes the worst.

Wendy Tynes is a reporter on a mission, to identify and bring down sexual predators via elaborate—and nationally televised—sting operations. Working with local police on her news program Caught in the Act, Wendy and her team have publicly shamed dozens of men by the time she encounters her latest target. Dan Mercer is a social worker known as a friend to troubled teens, but his story soon becomes more complicated than Wendy could have imagined.

Review –

This book will grip you tightly around the throat just after the first sentence and won’t let go until the end.

I knew opening that red door would destroy my life.

There are so many things going on in this book, the disappearance of a seventeen year old girl,  and a man being cast as a pedophile, but is he?  He is one of five Princeton roommates who have had their lives destroyed in the last year. Who is behind it?

What really happened to Haley and is it connected to Dan Mercer?

So many questions, but I’ll never tell. If you want to know, you really need to pick up this stand alone novel by Harlan Coben. You will not be disappointed.

Fantastic!!

 

The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

Book Description:

Published: August 25, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

“The Dollhouse. . . . That’s what we boys like to call it. . . . The Barbizon Hotel for Women, packed to the rafters with pretty little dolls. Just like you.”

Fiona Davis’s stunning debut novel pulls readers into the lush world of New York City’s glamorous Barbizon Hotel for Women, where a generation of aspiring models, secretaries, and editors lived side-by-side while attempting to claw their way to fairy-tale success in the 1950s, and where a present-day journalist becomes consumed with uncovering a dark secret buried deep within the Barbizon’s glitzy past.

When she arrives at the famed Barbizon Hotel in 1952, secretarial school enrollment in hand, Darby McLaughlin is everything her modeling agency hall mates aren’t: plain, self-conscious, homesick, and utterly convinced she doesn’t belong—a notion the models do nothing to disabuse. Yet when Darby befriends Esme, a Barbizon maid, she’s introduced to an entirely new side of New York City: seedy downtown jazz clubs where the music is as addictive as the heroin that’s used there, the startling sounds of bebop, and even the possibility of romance.”

Over half a century later, the Barbizon’s gone condo and most of its long-ago guests are forgotten. But rumors of Darby’s involvement in a deadly skirmish with a hotel maid back in 1952 haunt the halls of the building as surely as the melancholy music that floats from the elderly woman’s rent-controlled apartment. It’s a combination too intoxicating for journalist Rose Lewin, Darby’s upstairs neighbor, to resist—not to mention the perfect distraction from her own imploding personal life. Yet as Rose’s obsession deepens, the ethics of her investigation become increasingly murky, and neither woman will remain unchanged when the shocking truth is finally revealed.

Review –

In The Dollhouse, debut novelist Fiona Davis begins with a simple premise. But as the book advances, through alternating looks at Rose’s world in 2016 and Darby’s in 1952, the story becomes increasingly complex. Davis layers on relationships and intrigue, while building tension through her story structure. Each glimpse at Darby’s world leaves both Rose and the reader yearning for more, and eager to understand exactly what shaped the ladies at this women’s residence. The pace quickens as the story hurtles to its surprising—but satisfying—end. 

Fantastic book full of twists and turns and sub-plots and makes for a great Summer read!

Five stars.

The Lost Girls by Heather Young

Book Description:

Published: July 26, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In the summer of 1935, six-year-old Emily Evans vanishes from her family’s vacation home on a remote Minnesota lake. Her disappearance destroys her mother, who spends the rest of her life at the lake house, hoping in vain that her favorite daughter will walk out of the woods. Emily’s two older sisters stay, too, each keeping her own private, decades-long vigil for the lost child.

Sixty years later Lucy, the quiet and watchful middle sister, lives in the lake house alone. Before she dies, she writes the story of that devastating summer in a notebook that she leaves, along with the house, to the only person to whom it might matter: her grandniece, Justine.

For Justine, the lake house offers a chance to escape her manipulative boyfriend and give her daughters the stable home she never had. But it’s not the sanctuary she hoped for. The long Minnesota winter has begun. The house is cold and dilapidated, the frozen lake is silent and forbidding, and her only neighbor is a strange old man who seems to know more than he’s telling about the summer of 1935.

Soon Justine’s troubled oldest daughter becomes obsessed with Emily’s disappearance, her mother arrives with designs on her inheritance, and the man she left behind launches a dangerous plan to get her back. In a house steeped in the sorrows of the women who came before her, Justine must overcome their tragic legacy if she hopes to save herself and her children.

Review –

The foundation of the story rests with the disappearance in 1935 of Emily, a six-year-old child, and the resulting destruction of a family unit when the child is not found. As the story opens, it is the end of the 20th century and Lucy, the last living member of the family, writes the story of the tragedy, set during the summer of 1935 at a remote area in northern Minnesota that is the gathering spot for summer and weekend vacations. Its residents arrive at the beginning of summer and leave with the onset of autumn. They are all known to one another, and their relationships ebb and flow. 

Knowing that she is dying, Lucy feels compelled to explain the mystery of Emily’s disappearance as it unfolded that summer. She has made arrangements to leave the home and property that she and her older sister, Lilith, have lived in until the last of their family has died out, to a grandniece, Justine, who is Lilith’s granddaughter. Her journal story is written in the first person and immerses us into that long-ago summer.

With each alternating chapter, we follow Justine as she migrates from San Diego to Williamsburg, Minnesota, with her two daughters. The move is fraught with anguish as Justine leaves her live-in boyfriend, packs the few belongings she and the girls have, and sets out to learn about her inheritance. Her story is told in the third person.

Young is skilled at creating tension and conflict both in the journal (Lucy) chapters and in the Justine chapters.

 Her characters are vivid and come to life as the story unfolds.

Justine’s mother, Maurie, is a hippy-style mother who disappears and then reappears every few years when her life falls apart and she needs financial support. When she learns that Justine has inherited the family summer home, she comes sniffing around searching for anything she can sell for profit. She is a woman older than she believes herself to be and her boisterous and flirtatious ways create pain and embarrassment for Justine.

Patrick, Justine’s boyfriend, is a manipulative man, set on controlling Justine’s life and that of her daughters. She left him with no indication where she was going, but she knew he would find her and come for her . . . and he does.

The characters in Lucy’s journal are equally complex in their relationships with one another. The two older daughters just emerging into their teens, Lilith and Lucy, are inseparable, while the younger child, Emily, is held close and pampered by their mother.

The parents are estranged: the father, a pharmacist in town, comes to the summer home on weekends with his religious bellowing; the mother expresses an overpowering attachment to Emily and a distance from her husband.  

Matthew and Abe Miller are the sons of the man who owns the lodge in the vacation area where tourists come and reside for short periods of time. The boys are mixed race, part white, part Indian, and while the lodge is accepted as a gathering point for the summer residents, the fathers watch the boys with a careful eye. These two characters travel back and forth between the journal, as young men, and Justine’s story as old men.

In Lucy’s journal, Young expresses the angst of young boys and girls as they are entering adulthood and the dances they do around one another with varying degrees of results. She is equally good at reflecting the anger of Justine’s two young daughters who have been ripped away from the small amount of stability they had in San Diego, as they are relocated to a cold, northern, unforgiving environment in Minnesota.

Both stories travel a parallel path of pain with the summer of 1935 heading toward a tragic end and the winter of the end of the 20th century heading on a collision course of battered relationships.

Young drops hints throughout Lucy’s chapters as to what really happened to Emily that summer and in two thrilling scenes packed with tension at the end, she pitches several situations only hinted at earlier, but activities that nonetheless prove vital to the final result. She cleverly draws these parallel stories together as Justine resolves issues and takes her place as the strong protagonist she is meant to be.

Five stars!  Fantastic read.

The Lost Girls by Heather Young

Book Description:

Published: July 26, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In the summer of 1935, six-year-old Emily Evans vanishes from her family’s vacation home on a remote Minnesota lake. Her disappearance destroys her mother, who spends the rest of her life at the lake house, hoping in vain that her favorite daughter will walk out of the woods. Emily’s two older sisters stay, too, each keeping her own private, decades-long vigil for the lost child.

Sixty years later Lucy, the quiet and watchful middle sister, lives in the lake house alone. Before she dies, she writes the story of that devastating summer in a notebook that she leaves, along with the house, to the only person to whom it might matter: her grandniece, Justine.

For Justine, the lake house offers a chance to escape her manipulative boyfriend and give her daughters the stable home she never had. But it’s not the sanctuary she hoped for. The long Minnesota winter has begun. The house is cold and dilapidated, the frozen lake is silent and forbidding, and her only neighbor is a strange old man who seems to know more than he’s telling about the summer of 1935.

Soon Justine’s troubled oldest daughter becomes obsessed with Emily’s disappearance, her mother arrives with designs on her inheritance, and the man she left behind launches a dangerous plan to get her back. In a house steeped in the sorrows of the women who came before her, Justine must overcome their tragic legacy if she hopes to save herself and her children.

Review –

Justine is living in a shabby apartment with her two daughters and live in boyfriend,Patrick, who is VERY controlling so when an attorney calls saying that her great-aunt Lucy has left her a house and a stock portfolio of $150,000.00, she packs the basics, picks up the girls from school, and starts the long drive to Minnesota.

In her mind the summer-house on the lake looks the way it did when she was nine years old. It was the only Summer she was there and the only time she met Lucy. When they arrive, it is Winter in Minnesota and the house is drab, falling apart and in desperate need of a full restoration.  The inside is not much better with the rooms heated by radiators fueled by a propane tank only one-third full and a stove in the kitchen so old the oven can not be fixed. Meals have to be made on top of the stove or in the microwave.  Justine’s only comfort is that maybe Patrick won’t be able to find them since she told no one where she was going and she left her cell phone behind.

The only neighbors are brothers who were childhood friends of her grandmother, Lilith and great-aunt Lucy, who now run the Lodge for the Summer people. Abe is a bit slow so doesn’t venture out much so Matthew is the one  the Evans girls sees most and they all consider him “creepy”.

There is a box of composition books full of stories written by Lucy, all dealing with the little sister, Emily, who went missing in the summer of 1935. There is also another composition book with the truth behind Emily’s disappearance, but Justine doesn’t know about it until almost the end of the book.

I won’t tell you what happened to Emily or if Patrick shows up, or about the fire  so you’ll have to read the book to find out. There is so much more to this story than just a missing child!

It is a fantastic book and I couldn’t stop listening,

Five stars *****

Faithful by Alice Hoffman

Book Description:

Published: November 1, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.

What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.

Here is a character you will fall in love with, so believable and real and endearing, that she captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding yourself at last. For anyone who’s ever been a hurt teenager, for every mother of a daughter who has lost her way, Faithful is a roadmap.

 

Review –

This wasn’t as good as I thought it would be and I really did not like the character of Shelby. Granted, she went through a horrendous ordeal, but get a grip, girl and move on!

I knew she was just stringing Ben along and when she dumped him for the vet, I knew she would regret it. The vet was just too good to be true. I did like James from the very beginning and think he and Shelby match and cried when I read that he hadn’t given her the tattoo she wanted, but instead, a black butterfly, which had a very special meaning.

The ending was perfect. They pack up and head to California with no hint from the author of an hea. Now, that is real life!

 

 

 

Four Letter Word (Dirty Deeds #1) by J. Daniels

Book Description:

Published: October 4, 2016

Fate. Hate. Love. Lies.

Which four letter word will change their lives forever?

Sydney Paige was never so mortified to hear the words “wrong number” in her life. She meant to tell off the guy who broke her best friend’s heart but unleashed her anger on a perfect stranger instead. And now her world is turned upside down by the captivating man who wants to keep her on the line.

Brian Savage is living a life he’s quickly come to hate-until Sydney’s wild rant has him hooked and hungry for more. Soon the sexy woman on the phone becomes the lover in his bed. But Brian has secrets, and the closer he lets Syd get, the harder it is to shield her from the devastating mistakes of his past . . .

Review –

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I  LOVE this book!!

If you’re a fan of sexy, tortured Alpha heroes who will make you combust with their hotness, break your heart with their pain, and then melt you with their sweetness, this is the book for you! 

This is the first in the Dirty Deeds series by J. Daniels and I had read the second one first, which  was Hit the Spot,(are you with me?) Jamie McCade was the male focal point in it and I hated his surfer dude character. In this book he plays a minor role and is much more likable so maybe I should have read the books in order. Who knew?

The male character in Four Letter Word is Brian (Dash) Savage and he is a honey. When Syd calls his number by mistake and chews his ass out thinking he was the man who broke the heart of her best friend by lying about being married, he was captivated by her sass and heat. A couple of days later he texted her and so their phone relationship started. He is going through a very rough patch, feeling guilt for an accident that put a young boy in a wheel chair. He’s been doing porn to make extra money to give to his family for the medical and care bills. But once he decided Syd is for him he quits but the films on the internet for anyone to see, Of course he hadn’t told her and of course she finds out. That was almost the end of their relationship but with the help of his sister the film company owner was persuaded to take the movies down. The book ends with an hea and it was perfect.

Sebastian York did the narration for Brian’s part and it was swooney. (I know, not a word, but it should be.)

This is fantastic book and I highly recommend the audio version, but the e-book would be almost as good, but  you wouldn’t be listening to Sebastian’s sexy voice.

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Drunken Fireworks by Stephen King

Book Description:

Published: June 30, 2015

Only on audio! A brand-new, never-before-published Stephen King short story unavailable in any other format!

Alden McCausland and his mother are what they call “accident rich”; thanks to an unexpected life-insurance policy payout and a winning Big Maine Millions scratcher, Alden and his Ma are able to spend their summers down by Lake Abenaki, idly drinking their days away in a three-room cabin with an old dock and a lick of a beach.

Across the lake, they can see what “real rich” looks like: the Massimo family’s Twelve Pines Camp, the big white mansion with guest house and tennis court that Alden’s Ma says is paid for by “ill-gotten gains” courtesy of Massimo Construction. When Alden’s holiday-weekend sparklers and firecrackers set off what over the next few years comes to be known as the Fourth of July Arms Race, he learns how far he and the Massimos will go to win an annual neighborly rivalry—one that lands Alden in the Castle County jail.

Read by beloved Down East storyteller Tim Sample—praised by Stephen King for his “wit and talent and good-heartedness”—Drunken Fireworks makes for explosive audio listening.

Review –

Fantastic short story about the trials and tribulations of one-upmanship (my made up word for the day.

The characters were brought to life by narrator, Tim Sample, who did a magnificent job with the Maine dialect and made listening to the story a real pleasure. So like Stephen King, you never see the end coming. I loved it!!!

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