This novel is my introduction to a well-known mystery
writer. Jumping into the last book of Ann Cleeves’ Shetland Island series with
DI Jimmy Perez, I found the story easy to read as a stand-alone and will likely
go back and read more of her work.
The author’s depiction of the setting makes me want to visit
the small village on a remote island in the far north UK. The characters are
equally well defined. A family has moved to the island from London, in part to
provide a better life for their two children. Christopher, their autistic son
who has a liking for fire, is one of the main characters in the story. He finds
the body of a neighbor’s nanny hanging from the rafters of their shed, where
the previous owner of their home committed suicide.
The mystery stays unsolved until the end. The suspects are
many, beginning with the family and including a bitter town gossip who becomes
the next murder victim.
I would recommend this well-written book to anyone who loves
a good mystery.
I decided to read this nonfiction book after reading the
author’s novel, Scrublands. I wanted
to learn more about Australia and the area where the story took place. I’ve
never visited Australia, but I can picture the drought-ridden area of
Queensland and New South Wales now that I’ve read The River. Chris Hammer is an excellent writer.
Hammer spent weeks and months traveling the Murray-Darling
river basin. He introduces us to the residents of this harsh land, tells their real
stories, their memories, and their yarns. He covers the heartbreak of failing
towns and farms, the determination and humor of the people who live there.
There are lessons in this book about water and how we use
and abuse it. Hammer doesn’t preach, he gives us the differing opinions of the
people living with the lack of water. Some of those lessons are relevant to the
US as well as Australia.
I just returned from an awesome trip into the Amazon
rainforest without leaving my home. All my senses are on overload. Erica
Ferencik not only excites sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch, she introduces
you to a variety of alien cultures and characters, pulls at your emotions, plucks
your heart strings, and teaches you about the unique environment of the jungle.
She is an extraordinary storyteller.
Into the Jungle is
my favorite read this year.
I haven’t read a Dan Brown novel in years. I gave up after The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. As you can read in
many of the reviews, he’s not the best writer. But a friend gave me a copy of Origin recently, so I read it.
Where do we come from? Where are we going?
These are the two questions to be answered by the “big reveal” that is the central plot of the novel. There is lots of philosophical discussion about the questions and the differences between religion and science—some interesting, some repetitive. But in my opinion (and maybe the author’s), the big reveal doesn’t truly answer either question. And I guessed the villain of the story early on, so the ending fell flat for me.
enjoyed Spain. Brown’s description of the art, architecture, landscape, and
culture made me want to visit. But even some of this was repetitive.
it was an interesting read, but it could have been much shorter.
The author takes us into Riversend, a small dying settlement
in Australia’s interior, in the middle of a summer drought. The river running
through the town has dried into cracked earth. You can feel the heat and see it
rising off the baked land.
A priest shot five men in front of the church and was killed
by the local policeman. Martin Scarsden’s editor at the newspaper sends him to
visit Riversend a year after the shooting to write a piece about how the locals
are coping with the tragedy. At first, Martin is a typical newsman interviewing
residents—outside looking in. The town is full of secrets and rumors, which
cause Martin to write articles for his paper with incorrect facts, gaining
enemies. As he gets to know them, people ask why a priest that many admired and
loved did such a terrible act. Martin’s curiosity and desire to find the truth
have him looking for the answer. This is the central question in the story.
Hammer’s characters are varied and complicated, not always
who or what they appear to be at first meeting. He even gives us insight into
the dead priest.
The plot is complicated, with many twists and turns. It kept my interest from beginning to end.
Off the Grid is a murder
mystery/police procedural/international thriller set on the big island of Hawai’i.
The story starts with “bang” when a woman’s car is crushed
by a dump truck. As the police and firemen close in, there is a massive
explosion, which turns out to be a bomb. Chief Detective Koa Kãne leaves the
scene to investigate a body found in the volcano Pele’s lava flow. The two
victims are a man and woman who have been living off the grid on the island for
twenty years with little interaction with other people. Who are they, who
murdered them, and why?
Koa meticulously tracks the complicated answers, with his
instincts helping to point him in the right direction. His chief, CIA, MIA, and
island politics all try to block and interfere with his investigation. He
continues to uncover secrets about the two victims, the military, the CIA, the
Chinese, and the locals.
Koa Kãne has secrets of his own that he shares with no one,
not even his girlfriend. The author paints a picture of Hawaii and its people
that is fascinating. You can feel the heat and smell the sulfur of the volcano,
sense the lush rainforest, connect with the variety of people who inhabit the
island. All of McCaw’s characters are interesting.
A great read by a talented author. Thanks to Oceanview
Publishing for sending an advanced reader’s copy of this book.
The Current is a
strange story written in a strange style, and it leaves unanswered questions at
the end. It’s closer to real life where everything doesn’t get neatly tied up. There
is mystery here, but not your typical “whodunit” mystery, maybe a literary
I enjoyed the story, but it took a little while to
understand the flow. At times Johnston writes stream
of consciousness, sometimes he uses second person POV, head-hopping from
one character to another, and he skips back and forth between timelines. But he
digs deep into the psyches of his characters—love, hate, grief, curiosity, need-to-know,
vengeance—and tells all that is going on around them—sights, smells, heat and
cold, sounds, skin sensations.
I enjoyed the book but only gave it four stars. It grabbed
my attention, my heart, and my mind. But the author could have made it a little
easier to follow without losing the grip of the story.
I have not read any of the previous books in this series, which
may be a disadvantage in reading Kingdom
of the Blind, but it reads well as a stand-alone.
The cozy comfort of the small town of Three Pines stands in
stark contrast to the back streets of Montreal. Some of the gatherings of Gamache’s
family or friends in the village, discussing the murder or just babbling about
life, at times seemed confusing or unnecessary, possibly due to my
unfamiliarity with the characters. But these gatherings were comfortable,
friendly, and humorous. The story is filled with family connections (both
relational and families of friends or coworkers), some full of love and
understanding and some underlined with distrust.
One unusual thing about Penny’s writing is her use of
omniscient point of view. You might even call it “head-hopping.” She often jumps
POV from one character to another and back. I found it distracting at times,
but overall, she did a reasonable job of making it feel seamless.
The setting in Canadian winter made me feel the chill and
the crunch of the snow underfoot. The plot was interesting. Occasionally I was
ahead of the story and guessed what would happen, other times I was surprised.
I may go back in time and read other novels in Ms. Penny’s Gamache
Barry Eisler is one of my favorite authors. It feels strange
to me that I like his writing, because many violent thrillers completely turn
me off. But Eisler gets into his characters’ heads, and we get to know them. He
also does a great job with settings.
I won’t go into the storyline here, since it’s readily
available in other reviews. I will say that having read other books with these
characters was an advantage, but you could probably enjoy it as a stand-alone.
The author brought together a large group of characters from previous novels.
I intended to read this book years ago and finally got to
it. I won’t go into great detail. There are plenty of reviews available with so
much detail you almost don’t need to read the book.
There are two plots. The story begins with Mikael Blomkvist’s
conviction for libel for an article he wrote about billionaire businessman
Wennerström. This plot line stays in the background until late in the book.
Mikael is then hired by Vander, another rich man, to write a family history as
a cover to find out what happened to his granddaughter, Harriet, who
disappeared almost forty years earlier. This is the plot that consumes most of
The book covers many subjects including business greed and
crime, abuse of women, twisted family relationships, journalism ethics, Swedish
Nazism, computer hacking, and more.
There are also two main characters: Mikael Blomkvist and
Lisbeth Salander, (the girl with the dragon tattoo). Lisbeth doesn’t get
involved with the investigation until about halfway through the story, but we
follow what she is doing before that. Larsson gives us great detail about both
of these very different characters.
I enjoyed the book from the beginning, even though the first
half was rather slow with too much detail about clothes, meals, and day-to-day
minutia. Mikael spends a lot of time on the family history and very little on
the missing girl until way into the book.
The climax of the story occurs about three-quarters of the
way through. The rest of the book ties up all the loose ends, including the first
Larsson’s writing kept me interested from beginning to end.