Saturday, 12 August 2017

Dream Walk by Melissa Bowersock

I had mixed feelings when I started this…pleased and eager to rejoin Sam and Lacey, PI partners with a difference, but a little sad too, because this is the final book in the quartet. Whilst I had no doubt that their last case would be enthralling, I was, of course, curious to find out how their relationship would progress. Or not. My lips are sealed on that one.

Our duo’s swansong is a bit of toughie…Sam’s ex-wife’s brother makes an appearance in one of Sam’s dreams…but not in a peaceful way. He was an addict, whose end was probably inevitable, so Sam and Lacey head to his last known address to uncover the reasons for his torment.

This book is half the length of most of the books I read, but there’s no short-change here. Bowersock’s prose is neat, tidy, tight…all the right words in the right quantity for a well-rounded and  extremely satisfying story.

It may well be farewell to Sam and Lacey, but it’s very definitely au revoir to Bowersock, who will undoubtedly delight with her next work, whatever it may be.

See also:

Thursday, 3 August 2017

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

A psychological suspense thriller this certainly is. The plot is ridiculously implausible, but okay, it’s fiction, slack must be cut, but I found myself wrestling with its increasing implausibility as it went on.

Jake and Alice are very much in love, and when they marry they're given the most unusual wedding present: membership to a club which ensures their marriage will be long and strong. Seems like a bit of fun, so why not? And they sign on the dotted line. Little do they know, however, that they're signing themselves into a living nightmare.

The club….’The Pact’…is based on a manual of encyclopaedic proportions listing the dos and donts of marriage. That right there started my cynical clock ticking…some ridiculous rules and regulations. Failure to adhere result in barbaric…and disturbing…punishment. So why don’t Jake and Alice leave, you may ask? One doesn’t. One does not leave The Pact.

It was very well written…in a style that ensured gripping suspense. There were definitely a few matchstick moments late at night as I eagerly turned the pages, and despite having to suspend disbelief, this isn't far off being a first-rate thriller, but the ending was a let-down. I was niggled by the present-tense narrative of the story; it just didn’t work, and that was endorsed by the inconclusive ending.

Can I recommend it? Despite my misgivings, yes, I think I can. It’s taut, it’s tense and I have to say it’s addictive. Try it and tell me what you think!

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Two Nights by Kathy Reichs

Sunday Night. No, not the day before Monday, the name of the main character in this book. Yes, really. Too cheesy for me, but I tried to overlook this. However, Sunday…or Sunnie (who is anything but) is totally unengaging. She’s a war veteran and ex-cop with some serious issues. A traumatic past has moulded her somewhat, but it never actually becomes clear exactly what that was…the flashbacks are woolly and unclear. Present-day Sunday is a rather dour, personality-less, fun-less, passionless loner and is now a PI, partnered with her twin brother, Gus. (Two Nights...hmm.)  Although the ‘twin’ part of it seemed to raise a few eyebrows. Gus is quite a bit more likeable, thank goodness...I would have liked to see more of him.

So, Sunday is enlisted to find out who was responsible for a bombing that resulted in the death of two members of a family and the disappearance of another…Stella, the sister of one of the deceased. It’s certainly a case that needles Sunnie, making her determined to find all the answers.

The story moves at a reasonable pace, and if I’m honest, it held me enough to want to get to the end. However, I wanted to like Sunday, but she was just too colourless. The author adopts a clipped style…which I don’t like. I prefer verbs to have a subject…that style of writing just smacks of laziness. My copy was a pre-release copy, so I do hope the many, very irritating, editorial oversights were picked up. Hopefully, the editors spotted that the past tense of ‘must’ is very definitely not ‘must’.

I’m reluctant to recommend this if this author is new to you. If you’ve read previous books by her, you may be familiar enough with her to enjoy this.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Star Walk by Melissa Bowersock

I really don’t know what to say about this…that isn’t going to differ from what I've said before about this very engaging series!

This is Book 3 of the Lacey Fitzpatrick and Sam Firecloud mysteries, and by now, it’s like meeting up with old friends. The ever-growing ease of Lacey and Sam’s relationship extends towards the reader and not only do you feel comfortable in their company, they’re almost like neighbours you've known a long time. That’s how Bowersock writes: effortlessly convincingly. 

What I particularly liked in this story…apart, of course, from the couple's task of releasing the anguish from some ghosts who are making life a little difficult for the owner of a larger mansion…is that Lacey has some normal (as in not paranormal!) investigations to undertake. We finally get to meet her criminal ex boyfriend and we get to know a bit more about her life before partnering up with Sam.

Lacey and Sam’s relationship is largely professional…though her presence in his private life is increasingly relaxed. I’m starting to hope things progress…if you know what I mean.

I’m going to have to wait till Book 4, I guess, to find out if they do.

If you’ve read Books 1 and 2, you’ll be delighted with this third book and like me will be waiting eagerly for the fourth.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Stay Tuned by Lauren Clark

Melissa, producer of a news programme, is in a marriage which has lost its mojo…husband is never home and communication is on a yellow-Post-It basis. Added to which, her news anchors have a live fisticuffs on the evening show, resulting in both being dismissed and Melissa having to spruce herself up and fill in. Oh, and one more thing: her mother has dementia.

This all sounds all rather tame for a plot, if I’m honest. BUT…I really, really enjoyed this. What could have been a somewhat schmaltzy, boring, clichéd story was actually a very well-written one that kept me interested from start to finish, and I found myself really looking forward to picking up the story every night for my pre-beauty-sleep read. No schmaltz, no boring, no clichés. Written articulately with style, it was actually quite wholesome with some down-to-earth, believable characters. Every relationship was handled with skill and insight…they were diverse, relatable and sometimes touching.

And how refreshing to find a well-edited book for a change…quite the icing on the cake. A light and easy read, yes, indeed, but one that doesn’t skimp on balance or sincerity.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Complicit by Gillian E. Hamer

This was a compelling story that kept my nose firmly between the pages…I did actually guess ‘whodunnit’ before the revelation, but it didn’t mar my enjoyment at all, although I felt ten chapters dedicated to a war some two millennia earlier were rather boring and unnecessary. The relevance of the war to the plot could have been woven into the story in other ways.

Descendants of the Druids involved in that war hold secrets that one person wants to know…badly. So badly, in fact, that serial killings become the urgent focus of three detectives. A killer is at large who will stop at nothing to unearth these very closely guarded secrets.

It was a surprise to me to discover that this book is actually the third in a series, so I was particularly impressed how well it stood alone. The characters and plot are well developed (perhaps just a tad muddled towards the end). I also had to suspend disbelief…Druids might have had ‘seers’ in their midst in 60 AD…but in the twenty-first century? I don’t think so.

For all that, it was a gripping book and deserves a five-star rating, but sadly, the editing wasn’t up to scratch. Grammatical errors, some odd phrases verging on Malapropisms and a bunch of punctuation faux pas (too much reliance on software editing) means I have to knock a star off.

Notwithstanding, I like this author and will certainly hunt out more of her books.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Splinter by Michael Bussa

A pleasant hour’s reading. This is a short story…but packed with punch. In this mini psychological thriller, Adam has been wheelchair-bound for twenty-one years after a tragic incident and lives with Ada, his sister. His psychiatrist wants to help this young man who has remained troubled, seemingly traumatised by the event. Believing that finding out what actually happened will help this young man, he makes every effort to uncover the truth. But it’s not plain sailing.

Writing a short story requires technique. There isn’t much time to captivate the reader and every sentence has to count. There still has to be a start, a middle, an end, the plot has to have some meat on it, and the reader has to care about the characters. With the requirement of economy of words, they have to be carefully chosen.

Bussa has achieved all of the above in little under eight thousand words and managed even to throw in suspense. There are a couple of twists. I’ll be honest…I did actually guess them early on, but I must stress this wasn’t because they were obvious...more like an intelligent guess!

If you like short stories and psychological thrillers, you need look no further.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The blurb describes this novel as being ‘a small story’. It is…but it’s a small story over a big number of pages! Five hundred and sixty-two of them, in fact. It did require a bit of a commitment from me, but it was worth every single moment.

It’s told in quite a unique way and narrated by Death. As the book is set in Nazi Germany, Death was pretty busy. The story focuses on Liesel, a nine-year-old, fostered by a family living in Himmel Street. And she steals books.

It’s a beautiful story evoking a multitude of emotions amidst the tragedy that was Nazi Germany that saw the deaths of six million Jews and many, many others. By contrast you have a touching relationship between Liesel and her foster parents…her foster ‘papa’ in particular. Then there's the awkward, but tender friendship between Liesel and her peer, Rudy. This is a story like no other, crafted in an original style.

Ultimately, I rather enjoyed the fact that it was a long book. How many times have you reluctantly reached the end of a book with that mixture of joy to have finished a good story but sad to have to leave the world of the characters you love therein? It was rather comforting to know that for many pages, I wouldn’t be leaving the very endearing Liesel and the wonderful voice of Death.

Read it. Just read it.