The Scarred Woman (Department Q #7) by Jussi Adler-Olsen

Book Description:

Published: September 19, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

Detective Carl Mørck of Department Q, Copenhagen’s cold cases division, meets his toughest challenge yet when the dark, troubled past of one of his own team members collides with a sinister unsolved murder.

In a Copenhagen park the body of an elderly woman is discovered. The case bears a striking resemblance to another unsolved homicide investigation from over a decade ago, but the connection between the two victims confounds the police. Across town a group of young women are being hunted. The attacks seem random, but could these brutal acts of violence be related? Detective Carl Mørck of Department Q is charged with solving the mystery.

Back at headquarters, Carl and his team are under pressure to deliver results: failure to meet his superiors’ expectations will mean the end of Department Q. Solving the case, however, is not their only concern. After an earlier breakdown, their colleague Rose is still struggling to deal with the reemergence of her past—a past in which a terrible crime may have been committed. It is up to Carl, Assad, and Gordon to uncover the dark and violent truth at the heart of Rose’s childhood before it is too late.

Review –

“Whoever struck the blow that killed Rigmor Zimmermann and took 10,000 kroner from her handbag seemed to be copying the murder of substitute teacher Stephanie Gundersen more than 10 years ago, with one important difference: Gundersen’s killer didn’t go the extra mile in humiliation by pissing on her corpse. Carl Mørck, who heads Department Q, seizes the possible connection as avidly as a spaniel on a scent because solving another cold case would be the perfect way to keep Copenhagen’s tightfisted budgeters from shutting his unit down. Unfortunately, Carl’s boss, Lars Bjørn, has his own idea of the perfect way: allow meddlesome TV crime documentarian Olaf Borg-Pedersen unobstructed access to Department Q’s inner workings as they plod from one crime scene to the next. Meanwhile, social worker Anne-Line Svendsen, reprieved from the death sentence she feared her cancer diagnosis spelled, has decided to go ahead anyway with her plan to execute some of the prostitutes she counts among her most worthless clients: Michelle Hansen, Jazmine Jørgensen, Birna Sigurdardottir, Senta Berger, and Denise Zimmermann—some of whom turn out to be quite as homicidally inclined as she is, and one of whom will have a crucial connection to Carl’s cold case. The only thing needed to bring the whole mixture to a full boil is the mental breakdown of sorely tried Department Q staffer Rose Knudsen, whose suicide attempt ends up plunging her into the heart of this banquet of mostly female felonies.

Instead of focusing on a single high-concept case, Adler-Olsen lays out several florid plotlines and sets his crime-solvers the daunting task of gathering all the threads together. It’s such a varied smorgasbord that even readers who’d prefer to skip a given dish will find plenty to sate their appetites.” Kirkus Reviews

I normally love this series, but this one was too convoluted to hold my interest. It kept going back and forth from storyline to storyline, and even though eventually the reader (Me) could connect the dots, it was too laborious .

I’m not finding a #8 in this series so I don’t know if the author was too exhausted after completing  this one to even think of continuing the series. Fingers crossed that he’ll come back even stronger with new ideas and problems worthy of solving by Department Q!

 

 

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Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney

Book Description:

Published: March 23, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:
1. I’m in a coma.
2. My husband doesn’t love me anymore.
3. Sometimes I lie.

Amber wakes up in a hospital. She can’t move. She can’t speak. She can’t open her eyes. She can hear everyone around her, but they have no idea. Amber doesn’t remember what happened, but she has a suspicion her husband had something to do with it. Alternating between her paralyzed present, the week before her accident, and a series of childhood diaries from twenty years ago, this brilliant psychological thriller asks: Is something really a lie if you believe it’s the truth?

Review –

Buckle up and hang on because reading this is like being on an out of control roller coaster .

A pathological liar, a woman in a coma, a childhood diary, an imaginary friend, an evil sister—this is an unreliable-narrator novel with all the options.

Amber narrates most of the book and she starts out in a coma on Boxing Day(it take place in England) and we won’t truly find out what put her there until the end of the book. She can’t remember the accident at all and it’s a story so complicated that even after the truth is exposed, it will take a while to get it straight in your head.

As Amber lies in bed recalling the events of the week that led to her accident, several other narrative threads kick up in parallel. In the present, she’s visited in her hospital room by her husband, a novelist whose affections she has come to doubt. Also her sister, with whom she shares a dark secret, and a nasty ex-boyfriend whom she ran into in the street the week before.

He works as a night porter at the hospital, giving him unfortunate access to her paralyzed but not insensate body. Interwoven with these sections are portions of a diary, recounting unhappy events that happened twenty-five years earlier from a ten-year-old child’s point of view. The author has loaded her debut effort with possibilities for twists and reveals—possibly more than strictly necessary—and they hit like a hailstorm in the last third of the book. Blackmail, forgery, secret video cameras, rape, poisoning, arson, and failing to put on a seat belt all play a role.

The ending will leave you shaking your head and re-reading the passage over and over again!!!!!

Great read!

 

The Widow (Kate Waters #1) by Fiona Barton

Book Description:

Published: February 16, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

When the police started asking questions, Jean Taylor turned into a different woman. One who enabled her and her husband to carry on, when more bad things began to happen…

But that woman’s husband died last week. And Jean doesn’t have to be her anymore.

There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment.

Now there’s no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage.

The truth—that’s all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything…

Review –

The Widow opens in an English university town four years after the alleged abduction and murder of two-year-old Bella Elliott. The prime suspect remains Glen Taylor, a “mild-mannered” delivery driver whose professional aspirations are never realized and whose childless marriage is put under scrutiny. The only problem is, Bella has never been found and now Glen, released after an unsuccessful prosecution, is dead in an accident.

The result is even more press coverage, more police inquiries and much more pressure for the widow, Jean Turner.

Told primarily from Jean’s point of view, The Widow weaves back and forth in time. We also see the story from the viewpoints of Bob Sparkes, the detective who originally worked the case, and Kate Waters, the reporter angling for an exclusive with the widow. But it is only the widow’s actions and thoughts we witness firsthand.

And those thoughts, as well as appearances, can be deceiving.

Old questions arise and new ones emerge. Was it really Glen? Was he innocent? What does Jean know? Is she in denial or was she in league? Was it all a big misunderstanding?

This book is not as good as the blurb would have you believe, so for me is was just “Meh”.
Side Note:
When Detective Sparkes is studying the information pertaining to the abduction of Bella and people of interest he drew Venn diagrams on a white board. Who knew that Algebra would come in handy when reading a crime drama !!!
                                                 ” A Venn diagram (also called primary diagram, set diagram or logic diagram) is a diagram that shows all possible logical relations between a finite collection of different sets. These diagrams depict elements as points in the plane, and sets as regions inside closed curves.”

 

Silent Boy by Sarah A. Denzil

Book Description:

Published: January 22, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

n the summer of 2006, Emma Price watched helplessly as her six-year-old son’s red coat was fished out of the River Ouse. It was the tragic story of the year – a little boy, Aiden, wandered away from school during a terrible flood, fell into the river, and drowned.


His body was never recovered. 
Ten years later, Emma has finally rediscovered the joy in life. She’s married, pregnant, and in control again…… until Aiden returns.

Too traumatized to speak, he raises endless questions and answers none. Only his body tells the story of his decade-long disappearance. The historic broken bones and injuries cast a mere glimpse into the horrors Aiden has experienced. Aiden never drowned. Aiden was taken.

As Emma attempts to reconnect with her now teenage son, she must unmask the monster who took him away from her. But who, in their tiny village, could be capable of such a crime?

It’s Aiden who has the answers, but he cannot tell the unspeakable.

Review –

Silent Child tells the story of a parent’s most fervent prayer answered after their worst nightmare, but with complications.  While Emma Price’s son Aiden is returned to her after ten years, he is far different from the energetic, little boy whose red jacket was fished out of the flood swollen river. His body tells the tale of imprisonment and sexual assault that he can’t bear to utter and so he remains deliberately silent.

By the time Emma received that phone call from the hospital, she’d finally come to terms with Aiden’s disappearance and supposed death.  No longer with his father, her high school boyfriend Rob, she is currently married to a man named Jake and is pregnant with his child.  Aiden’s reappearance back into her life initially evokes obvious joy, but when she realizes how broken her son is, her happiness quickly turns to horror, grief, and an eventual terror and uncertainty about what Aiden might do to his new baby sister.  Her husband and the ex-boyfriend who’s now back in her life only serve to complicate matters more.

Right off the bat, Jake (the husband) comes off as a complete asshole.  There’s a part in the beginning where he fat shames her.  Um, she’s your wife, and she’s pregnant with your fucking child, but it was when Emma mentioned how he had to “train” her that my suspicion meter really went up.

Jake is an excessively tidy person whereas Emma is much messier, but when she moved in with him, she learned that in Jake’s house everything has its place.  Rob (the ex) points this out a bit derisively, and there’s a point where Emma recalls how Jake moved her beloved childhood desk to the garage, replacing it with a newer one (that Emma in no way asked for or wanted), because it didn’t fit in with his perfect scheme.  Throwing a potentially unpredictable Aiden into the mix upsets everything, though Jake does try to be supportive for Emma’s sake.

The author does an excellent job of showing how uncaring the media can be when there’s a story to be had.  The well-being of those involved means nothing, and a perfectly valid outburst is ripe fodder to be used against you, as Emma learns to her regret.

This is one of her many hard lessons.  Some of us are lucky to have a sheltered youth, but then as adults, we have a better understanding of what the world is, but there’s often more than one awakening to this truth, and the lesson Emma learns about masks and the ones who wear them breaks down her trust and that shelter even more.

By the middle of the story, I had a suspect, and the narrative did nothing to discourage me, which I thought was fantastic.  It’s a red herring.  Ms. Denzil wants us to suspect this person. Then later another character seems just as guilty and could there be an accomplice ?
Although the story has a happy ending, it’s muted and not really celebrated. I loved the book and I think any one who appreciates a good psychological thriller will want to add this one the their list to be read.
Five stars!

The Ex-Wife by Jess Ryder

Book Description:

Published: June 5, 2018

Format: Audio/Audible

You’ve got everything she wants …

Newly married Natasha has the perfect house, a loving husband and a beautiful little girl called Emily. She’d have it all if it wasn’t for Jen, her husband’s ex-wife who just won’t leave them alone …

Then Natasha returns home one day to find her husband and Emily gone without trace. Desperate to get her daughter back, Natasha will do anything even if it means accepting an offer of help from Jen. But can she trust her? And do either of them really know the man they married?

If you loved The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl or The Couple Next Door then this dark, twisting psychological thriller from Amazon chart bestseller Jess Ryder is guaranteed to have you gripped.

Review –

The story begins with an intriguing prologue set in a hospital which doesn’t give anything away. The plot then unravels through alternating chapters narrated by Natasha and Anna. Natasha has a wonderful marriage and lives a life of luxury with her husband, Nick and daughter, Emily. The only issue with her picture-perfect marriage is Jen, Nick’s ex-wife, who seems to be in their lives a bit too much. Naturally, Natasha is not too pleased about this. Things take a nastier turn when Nick and Emily disappear. The second narration tells the story of a woman on the run. We don’t get to know much about Anna until later in the story. However, it was easy to feel the tension in her story. I kept wondering who was after her and why.

This story is very well narrated. It is captivating and full of surprises. The plot is masterfully developed and so were the characters. I had some clear favorites from the first page. However, my feelings about other characters kept changing with each new chapter. Not knowing what would happen next is what I enjoyed most in this story. I couldn’t predict any of the twists and I love the fact that the author just kept them coming.

With a fast pace, complex characters and well executed twists, (many that you won’t see coming)this ended up being quite an enjoyable, addictive read. A great read and a great psychological thriller!

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.

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.

Killer by Nature by Jan Smith

Book Description:

Published: November 30, 2017

Format: Audio/Audible

Are we born evil, or do we have evil thrust upon us? This is the eternal question of nature vs nurture at the centre of Killer by Nature, a brand-new psychological thriller from Audible Originals.

Dr. Diane Buckley, a talented freelance forensic psychologist, is drafted in to examine a grisly murder – a body found in a children’s playground. The murder carries all the hallmarks of one of her most famous incarcerated clients, ‘The Playground Killer’ (aka Alfred Dinklage). In a series of intimate 1:1 sessions, Buckley has to race against time to unpick the facts and delve into Dinklage’s often manipulative, complicated mind to understand his past whilst striving to prevent further murders…as someone out there will stop at nothing to complete Dinklage’s work.

Fully dramatized, with an immersive SFX soundscape, Killer by Nature features an all-star cast, including Katherine Kelly (Mr Selfridge), Rob-James Collier (Downton Abbey), Thomas Turgoose (This is England), Angela Griffin (Cutting It) and Will Mellor (No Offence).

Length: 4 hours 31 minutes.

Review –

I didn’t like the SFX sound and felt it really didn’t enhance the experience and  the actors were okay but a lot of times talked over each other which was distracting.

The storyline was good, although, I wish it had stuck to one and not have subplots to muck up things.

My favorite part was the ending because I did not see that coming!

All in all, a short audio mystery is always a good way to kill a few hours.

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.