Thursday, May 27, 2010


Pages: 418
Date: 27/05/2010
Grade: 4+
Details: no. 4 The Medieval Murderers

The Medieval Murderers are Bernard Knight, Ian Morson, Michael Jecks, Philip Gooden, Susanna Gregory and C.J. Sansom, all of whom are historical mystery writers. In this series of books they each write a complete story, in most cases featuring the heroes from their novels all centered around a theme which is introduced in the prologue.
In this book the central theme is a book of prophecies written in the seventh century by an Irish monk named Bran. Over the following centuries the prophecies (seem to) come to pass more often than not accompanied by death and destruction; mysteries that need to be solved by the various heroes of the six authors. 
Five of the stories are indeed set in the past, as you would expect when reading a book by "Medieval Murderers". The last story however, written by C.J. Sansom is set in 2135. Global warming has left most of the world uninhabitable and it looks as if the last of the prophecies my be about to come to pass, leading to the end of mankind on earth.
I enjoyed this book and the introduction it gave me to five authors I hadn't read before and their varied investigators. I was a bit disappointed though that Sansom's story was set in the future since that meant it didn't feature Matthew Shardlake, a character I've grown quite fond.
I will be reading more books in this series as I come across them and may also pick up books by the five authors that were new to me.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Pages: 325
Date: 23/05/2010
Grade: 4+
Details: no. 5 Monkeywrench
            Published in the US as Shoot to Thrill

It has been four long years since the last Monkeywrench thriller, and this was a very welcome return to the world of the computer hackers extra-ordinair and Minneapolis cops Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth.
Murder videos are turning up on the Internet, depicting real murders. Those posting the videos are untraceable through legal means.Desperate to stop the murders the FBI turn to computer hackers to trace the origins of the videos.
And so begins an, at first very uncomfortable, co-operation between grace McBride and three colleagues and John Smit, an FBI agent nearing his retirement.
When one of the online murders takes  place in Minneapolis, Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth get involved in what appears to be an unsolvable crime spree as well.
These books by P.J. Tracy are always thrilling and easy to read. I enjoy going back to these characters with their quirks, and the pages in these books almost turn themselves.
However, this book does have one or two issues; there is at least one story-line too many in this book and the solution to the crime failed to convince me. I can't say more about those issues though without spoiling the book for others, so I won't.
And I'm not sure I approve of the ending of this book. I'll have to see where the P.J. Tracy team goes with that before I make up my mind on that point though.
I also have an issue with the title change this book underwent while crossing the Atlantic. I can't think of one good reason why this book couldn't be called "Shoot to Thrill" over here as well. However, on the upside, the first book in this series was called "Want to Play" when published in the UK and that gave the publishers the opportunity to give this book the subtitle "Want to Play Again?" A subtitle the American version probably doesn't have.
In short, this is an enjoyable, but not flawless, thriller.

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Pages: 122
Date: 22/05/2010
Grade: 4.5

This is more a novella than a novel, but it shows clearly how a story doesn't always need as many words as the average author might use on it. Because despite it's size, this book contains a novel's worth of a story. It is easy to see how the story could have been fleshed out to the point where it would use up 300 pages or more. The point is that this story didn't need fleshing out, it didn't need the extra 200 pages or so and I seriously doubt whether the story would have improved when subjected to such treatment. Rather the opposite I suspect.
This is the story of Sian, who is being troubled by very vivid and gruesome nightmares. While working on an archaeological dig at Whitby Abbey she meets a man, Magnus and his dog, Hadrian. Attraction is instant both to the man and the dog, but past experiences make Sian keep her distance from the man even though an intriguing mystery in a bottle he presents to her, keeps them close.
This was a very well written book, with not a word too many or out of place. It was also a multifaceted story with historical, Gothic and romantic elements. Quite a feat for a book of only 122 pages, some of which  showed lovely pictures.


Pages: 388
Date: 22/05/2010
Grade: 5
Details: Stand-alone

You can always count on Harlan Coben to write a well plotted, fast paced and almost impossible to put down thriller, and he didn't let me down this time.
The disappearance of Haley McWaid is a mystery. Known as a reliable and sensible girl, nobody knows what to think when one morning Haley isn't in her bed, which hasn't been slept in. Three months later, the teenager is still missing.
Wendy Tynes is a television reporter who uses her show to identify and expose sexual predators, which is what she does with Dan Mercer.
But the Dan Mercer is case is far from straightforward and Wendy has her doubts about his actual guilt. And when she witnessed Dan being shot she feels compelled to continue investigating a case that should have been closed.
Things get even murkier when Dan Mercer is linked to the missing Haley and Wendy has to dig deep and hard to get to the truth of both mysteries.
This is a book filled with interesting issues to ponder like what would you and wouldn't you do for your child and whether or not you can and should forget people for past hurts and the costs involved in either option.
Yes, there were one or two minor holes in the plot, but they didn't take away from my enjoyment of the book at all.
And it was fun to have Win play a minor role in this story, even if Myron Bolitar was nowhere in sight.
Coben remains a safe bet when it comes to thrillers.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Pages: 254
Date: 20/05/2010
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 3 Alan Grant

This is a charming little mystery in which the leisurely way in which the story is told perfectly matches the sedate, rural setting of it.
Robert Blair is a middle aged country lawyer leading a very predictable and uneventful life when he receives a phone call from Marion Sharpe who urgently requires his assistance in a police matter. Reluctantly Blair travels to The Franchise, the house where Marion and her mother live. There he meets the local police officer as well as Alan Grant from Scotland Yard and a teenager named Betty Kane who accuses the Sharpe women of abducting her, holding her prisoner and physically harming her. And her story is filled with enough detail about the house and the women to make it sound plausible.
Blair however doesn't believe Betty Kane and takes a shine to the Sharpe women. Although he has no experience in criminal law he decides to help them.
But, as the court date comes closer, it seems less and less likely that Blair will find the proof that he needs to disprove the girls story. The defense team in in dire need of a few miracles.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story even though Alan Grant barely features in it, the solution was predictable fro the start and the pace was a bit to leisurely for me at times.
A very well written and comfortable little book though and I will continue hunting secondhand bookstores for the other Alan Grant mysteries.

Monday, May 17, 2010


Pages: 355
Date: 17/05/2010
Grade: 3.5
Details: no. 9 Women's Murder Club

Two very different serial crimes form the basis of this thriller. A burglar is stealing jewelry from the rich while they are at home entertaining visitors. The press, with Cindy in the lead, have nicknamed the burglar "Hello Kitty" and are having fun with the stories until one burglary ends with a corpse. But did Hello Kitty fire the gun?
The second case is far more serious. Someone is killing mothers and their toddlers. With no clues and no hint at a motive, Lindsay Boxer and her colleagues have no idea how to identify and stop the killer.
With stories lines described like this you would be forgiven for thinking you were looking at an intriguing and heartstopping thriller. You'd be wrong.
Both perpetrators are named and identified from the start of the book, which for me took most of the tension away.
Far worse, in my opinion is the fact that this series has now become so formulaic that if you told me that Patterson had created a computer program that writes the stories for him after he enters a few basic premises, I'd take your word for it and wouldn't be surprised.
Yes, this is an easy to read book with just about enough tension to keep you turning the pages, but there's nothing here to get excited about.
I will probably read the next book in this series when it comes out, hoping that it will be a return to the old standards of the early books. I won't be spending any money on my copy though. Library, here I come.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Pages: 434
Date: 14/05/2010
Grade: 5+
Details: ARC

It is not very often that I get to read a book before its official release date. But, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of FAITHFUL PLACE 3 months before it will be released here in the UK and Ireland and feel very privileged.
A side note for those living in the US and those with little patience though, this title will be released in the US in July.
And, if a book is ever worth waiting for and reading as soon as you can, this is it. 
This is the story of Frank Mackey. When he was 19 years old he was all set to run away from home with his girlfriend Rosie. But Rosie never turned up that night and Frank never saw her or heard from her again.
Twenty-two years later, Frank is an undercover guard in Dublin, divorced with a nine year old daughter. He hasn't been in touch with most of the members of his dysfunctional family since that night more than twenty years ago when a phone call from his youngest sister forces him to retrace his steps back to Faithful Place in Dublin's Liberties and the family he'd hoped to never see again. Rosie's suitcase has been found in a derelict house, and that's only the first disturbing discovery.
Driven by memories of his past and a need to know the truth, Frank sets out to discover what exactly happened that faithful night. A decision that forces him to reconnect with the his past and his family and will lead to more violence and loss.
Yes, this is a thriller and a mystery but this book is so much more than that. It is the story of families and how they can destroy you; a story of the power of first love and the hold it can have on a person. Most of all though, it's the story of working class Dublin in the 1980's. A time of few jobs and great hardships.
Dublin jumps of the pages in this book. I could see the sights, smell the aroma's and hear the voices.
A friend told me the other day that she was listening to an audio version of an earlier French book, narrated by an American and with no trace of an Irish accent. If this book is ever narrated by anyone other than a Dubliner, I'll consider it a crime because in this book Dublin is as important a character as Frank Mackey himself.
Tana French is getting better with each book she writes. Her sense of her place and her descriptions transport the reader to Dublin. Her characters look and sound real, and her story is heartbreaking and thrilling at the same time because you always feel that this could so easily have truly happened.
In short; Read this book. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Pages: 326
Date: 10/05/2010
Grade: 4
Details: no. 1 Sookie Stackhouse

After reading at least three books in this series, I at last get around to reading the first one. Better late than never I suppose.
This is the book that first introduces Sookie Stackhouse, cocktail waitress in Bon Temps, a small town in Louisiana. Sookie has this "disability" which allows her to read people's minds. A disability that forces her to keep part of her mind almost permanently shut down and makes dating almost impossible.
One night, a newcomer, Bill, walks into the bar where Sookie works. Bill is handsome and, amazingly, Sookie can't read any of his thoughts. Bill is the ideal man for Sookie, except that he is also a vampire. And although Bill is trying to fit into human society, his fellow vampires are creepy and dangerous.
Sookie and Bill are quickly getting very close when trouble erupts around them. Someone is killing women known for dating vampires. And not only does this put Sookie in danger, Sookie's brother Jason is also the main suspect for the killings.
By no stretch of the imagination could this be called literature. However, it is a quick, thrilling, sexy and fun read. Sookie is an easy character to like and the story just flies along. These book make for delightful comfort reads; a treat to pick up when I need something lighter.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Pages: 382
Date: 09/05/2010
Grade: 5-
Details: no. 8 Elvis Cole & Joe Pike

Elvis Cole and Joe Pike are asked to look for a young woman who has gone missing by her worried father. The woman is an ex-girlfriend of Pike's and her father still treats Joe as one of the family, so they agree to his request. However, even before they can get their investigation properly going she is found, murdered.
Now the two men are on a different investigation, one which is complicated by Pike's past as a policeman and unsolved issues still lingering from that time. And when another murder is committed and Joe Pike is pointed out as the murderer, the police is happy enough to believe that accusation without question and arrest him. At which point things become really complicated.
Cole's girlfriend, Lucy, has recently moved to L.A. with her young son, but Cole doesn't have as much time for her as either of them would have liked now that his friend and partner is in trouble and in danger.
This is a case that could cost Elvis everything he holds dear.
This was a very good thriller in which apparently unconnected events and people slotted into each other and the story in a completely convincing way. It was fascinating to learn a bit more about Joe Pike, who is very much the dangerous man of mystery up to this point in the series.
The only reason I put a minus behind the five I scored the book is because I never truly enjoy  it when a main character in a series becomes the suspect of a crime. It takes away from the suspense for me because I know from the start that no matter how it looks, somebody else is going to have to be guilty. Other than that, minor, complaint this was a wonderful read though.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Pages: 409
Date: 06/05/2010
Grade: 4
Details: no. 1 The Cousins' War

This is the story of Elizabeth Woodville, set in the second half of the 15th century during the tumultuous times that were the Wars of the Roses.
Elizabeth Woodville is a widow with two young sons when, with the aid of some witchcraft performed by her mother, she seduces and secretly marries King Edward IV of the family of the White Rose of York, the family her first husband fought against when he died.
Although Edward and Elizabeth are happy together, the times they live in are dangerous and violent and their enemies are plenty. Alliances are constantly switching, everybody is hungry for power, betrayal and death are never far away, no matter what your position.
Elizabeth will live a life filled with love and passion, blessed with lots of children but also full of heartbreaking loss, culminating in the disappearance of the young princes in the tower.
This was a fascinating story set in intriguing times. However, Elizabeth as described here, was a very hard woman to like or even feel a lot of sympathy for. Her story brings to mind sayings like: "be careful what you wish for..." and "you reap what your sow..."
I'm not sure yet whether or not I will read the sequels, but they're not out yet, so I can decide that later on.

Monday, May 3, 2010


Pages: 288
Date: 03/05/2010
Grade: 5-
Details: no. 1 Josephine Tey Mystery

Since I own this book and it had been staring at me for a while, it seemed like a good idea to read a mystery featuring Josephine Tey, immediately after finishing one written by her.
The story is set in March 1934 and Josephine travels from Scotland to London by train for the final week of her very successful play "Richard of Bordeaux". On the train, Josephine meets Elspeth Simmons who is a huge fan of hers. The two women get on well and plan to meet again in London. However, shortly after saying goodbye to Josephine, Elspeth is murdered and left on the train. 
Detective Inspector Archie Penrose, a close friend of Josephine's, leads the investigation and is convinced that the murder is connected to the Josephine's play and that the author herself may be at risk.
When a second murder is commited his fears appear to be confirmed. But the solution to the mystery is far more complicated than he could ever have suspected not least because of its links to the past and WW .
This was a very good mystery with realistic and interesting characters, a well plotted story and close links to the realities of Josephine Tey's life and career.
I definitely want to read more in this series.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


Pages: 759 (E-Reader)
Date: 01/05/2010
Grade: 4.5

I have been listening to people raving about this book for such a long time that I got quite frustrated when it seemed impossible to get my hands on a copy. Neither of my libraries had the book, and I couldn't find it in any of the bookshops I tried either. But, the combination of internet and E-Reader came to my rescue and at long last I've read the story. Thankfully, after all the searching, I wasn't disappointed.
This is the story of Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard who is laid up in hospital and growing more bored and grumpy by the minute. To distract him, a friend brings him some pictures of historical figures with some mystery attached to them. Among these is a picture of Richard III and Grant starts wondering how a man who looked liked the man in the picture could end up murdering his two young nephews.
Curious, Grant turns to history books to find out more, only to discover that the more he learns about the king, the less likely it seems he was guilty of the murders.
With the assistance of an American scholar, Grant starts digging deeper and it soon becomes clear that very little of what we think we know about Richard III is actually based on historical fact.
But, is it possible to either prove or disprove a case after 400 years have passed?
This is a charming story and a fascinating investigation of a historical figure I knew little or nothing about. I've got a feeling I'll be revisiting this story at least a few times in the future.