Post Script: Swamp Bones – Kathy Reichs

Masterfully crafted!

Swamp Bones: A Temperance Brennan Short Story

Kathy Reichs

Random House UK, Cornerstone

ISBN: 9781473518131

 

 

Description:

A new, exclusive straight-to-digital Temperance Brennan short story from Kathy Reichs, world leading forensic anthropologist and No.1 bestselling author of Deja Dead, Bones Are Forever and Bones of the Lost.

 

Forensic anthropologist Dr Temperance Brennan has just arrived in Florida’s Everglades for a much-needed break when she is unwittingly thrown into the middle of a deadly case with its roots in the darkest depths of the swamp.

 

Swamp Bones also gives readers the first chance to read the opening chapters of Kathy’s highly anticipated new Temperance Brennan novel, Bones Never Lie, out in September.

 

My View:

Capturing the essence of a story, bringing characters to life and adding mystery and tension to a realistically described setting is difficult enough when you have a full sized novel to build and share you narrative but to be able to condense the word/page count and still achieve the sense of storytelling prevalent in this novella is an outstanding achievement and speaks of the masterful way Kathy Reichs is able to deliver her story in any format. Excellent!

Post Script: One of Us – Tawni O’Dell

One of Us

Tawni O’Dell

Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books

Gallery Books

ISBN: 9781476755878

 

Description:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Back Roads comes a fast-paced literary thriller about a forensic psychologist forced to face his own demons after discovering his small hometown terrorized by a serial killer.

 

Dr. Sheridan Doyle—a fastidiously groomed and TV-friendly forensic psychologist—is the go-to shrink for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office whenever a twisted killer’s mind eludes other experts. But beneath his Armani pinstripes, he’s still Danny Doyle, the awkward, terrified, bullied boy from a blue-collar mining family, plagued by panic attacks and haunted by the tragic death of his little sister and mental unraveling of his mother years ago.

 

Returning to a hometown grappling with its own ghosts, Danny finds a dead body at the infamous Lost Creek gallows where a band of rebellious Irish miners was once executed. Strangely, the body is connected to the wealthy family responsible for the miners’ deaths. Teaming up with veteran detective Rafe, a father-like figure from his youth, Danny—in pursuit of a killer—comes dangerously close to startling truths about his family, his past, and himself.

 

In this masterfully told psychological thriller in the vein of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, the past and present collide to put Lost Creek’s long-lived ghosts to bed.

 

My View:

This is my first experience of reading a Tawni O’Dell book and I must say how impressed I was with this offering! This book has it all:

 

Atmospheric – wonderful creation of settings – of a struggling mining town, of prison, of the extremely wealthy, of the mentally unbalanced… and of a gamut of emotions, this is a fascinating read.

 

Complex – the narrative twists and turns, we have two perspectives – of Danny’s past and present and glimpses of Scarlet’s life – past and present and the intersection of the two lives and the consequences of those interactions. Mixed in with these we have a history of the mining town, of ghosts of the past, of tragic crimes and the darkness of some aspects of humanity.

 

Characters – a range of characters, some you will like, some you will despise as you will despise their sociopathic behaviours and some you will relate to and will embrace. The characters are vividly portrayed, and their conversations or their silences have an authentic feel.

 

Mystery and murder – exquisitely written.

 

And the humour – of the ups of mania…and of course the wonderful doggy psychic – loved him and his contribution to the story!

 

This novel is rich is background, settings, characterisations, plot and has an authentic voice. The narrative is intriguing and engaging and I could not put this book down until I had read the very last word. Perfect!!!

 

Post Script: Dear Daughter – Elizabeth Little

Cleverly written in a self-deprecating, sarcastic, acerbic tone that doesn’t quite hide the sadness of the little girl lost looking for her mother’s killer.

Dear Daughter

Elizabeth Little

Random House UK, Vintage Publishing

Harvill Secker

ISBN: 9781448189915

 

Description:

THE book of the summer. From the publishers of The Never List comes a brilliantly sharp, clever and hugely enjoyable thriller. You might fight with your mother, Janie Jenkins might have killed hers. ‘As soon as they processed my release Noah and I hit the ground running. A change of clothes. A wig. An inconspicuous sedan. We doubled back once, twice, then drove south when we were really headed east. In San Francisco we had a girl who looked like me board a plane to Hawaii. Oh, I thought I was so clever. But you probably already know that I’m not.’

 

My View:

This is a modern, fast paced mystery that speaks in a razor sharp, biting, sometimes cruel and selfish language of the stereo typical spoilt rich girl, the likes we see so much of in the headlines of social media today. This narrative defies you to like the protagonist but you have to admit in the end you do!

 

Jane /Janie Jenkins works hard to discover the truth of her mother’s murder – the one she has been charged and convicted off and one that in the end the mishandling of DNA evidence, frees her; along the way we learn a lot about self-esteem, self-love/self-hate, prejudice and courage. This is a gritty and gutsy modern tale of redemption perhaps aimed at the YA market.

 

Post Script: One Kick – Chelsea Cain

Echoes of Stockholm Syndrome in an action packed narrative.

One Kick (Kick Lannigan, #1)

One Kick

Chelsea Cain

Simon & Schuster

ISBN: 9781476749785

 

Description:

Kick Lannigan, 21, is a survivor. Abducted at age six in broad daylight, the police, the public, perhaps even her family assumed the worst had occurred. And then Kathleen Lannigan was found, alive, six years later. In the early months following her freedom, as Kick struggled with PTSD, her parents put her through a litany of therapies, but nothing helped until the detective who rescued her suggested Kick learn to fight. Before she was thirteen, Kick learned marksmanship, martial arts, boxing, archery, and knife throwing. She excelled at every one, vowing she would never be victimized again. But when two children in the Portland area go missing in the same month, Kick goes into a tailspin. Then an enigmatic man Bishop approaches her with a proposition: he is convinced Kick’s experiences and expertise can be used to help rescue the abductees. Little does Kick know the case will lead directly into her terrifying past…

 

My View:

 

It took me a little while to engage with the protagonist and the narrative – I found the first chapters spoilt by the over the over the top G I Joe action figure known as Bishop who features in this narrative and for a while I was a little confused thinking I was reading a “cosy” mystery rather than the mystery/thriller I was expecting – but only for a little while – then the action started and I was in no doubt what sort of read I was in for –a fast paced, tension filled, explosive narrative with a strong female protagonist who has a gut wrenching personal story of abuse.

Kick Lannigan’s life story is very much a contemporary head lining grabbing example of what we are currently reading so much about in social media today – child abduction, where the victim is missing for many year before escaping or being found. This book will no doubt create much debate and discussion and will be a perfect read for book clubs or individual fans of crime fiction.

Post Script: Working Stiff,Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner

“Don’t jaywalk. Wear your seatbelt when you drive. Better yet, stay out of the car, and get some exercise. Watch your weight. If you’re a smoker stop right now. If you aren’t, don’t start. Guns put holes in people. Drugs are bad…Staying alive is mostly common sense.”

Working Stiff

Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner

T.J. Mitchell, Judy Melinek, MD

Scribner

Scribner

ISBN: 9781476727257

 

Description:

The fearless memoir of a young forensic pathologist’s “rookie season” as a NYC medical examiner, and the cases—hair-raising and heartbreaking and impossibly complex—that shaped her as both a physician and a mother.

Just two months before the September 11 terrorist attacks, Dr. Judy Melinek began her training as a New York City forensic pathologist. With her husband T.J. and their toddler Daniel holding down the home front, Judy threw herself into the fascinating world of death investigation—performing autopsies, investigating death scenes, counseling grieving relatives. Working Stiff chronicles Judy’s two years of training, taking readers behind the police tape of some of the most harrowing deaths in the Big Apple, including a firsthand account of the events of September 11, the subsequent anthrax bio-terrorism attack, and the disastrous crash of American Airlines flight 587.

Lively, action-packed, and loaded with mordant wit, Working Stiff offers a firsthand account of daily life in one of America’s most arduous professions, and the unexpected challenges of shuttling between the domains of the living and the dead. The body never lies—and through the murders, accidents, and suicides that land on her table, Dr. Melinek lays bare the truth behind the glamorized depictions of autopsy work on shows like CSI and Law & Order to reveal the secret story of the real morgue.

 

My View:

This is intriguing story, told in a personable and conversational way, with black humour, personal insights, some interesting characters and plenty of passion. You can feel this doctor’s affinity for her role and the pride she has for revealing the cause of death, particularly in homicide cases where she “speaks on behalf of the dead.”

 

This narrative is told with honesty that sometimes catches you unaware, particularly when the author discusses suicides and neonatal and child deaths; so sad. The life of an Medical Examiner is dissected and probed and all is revealed; the ugliness of death, the stench, the maggots, the sloughing skin, the reek of alcohol, the worry of infection but all is told is a calm and meaningfull manner – this is not “voyeur of the dead” material, this is life (because death also affects the living), death and some deaths are good deaths and some… you really should not ask about.

 

Throughout this narrative the authors’ voices carry you on a journey, you walk side by side with the rookie M.E and take lessons with her, then suddenly the world changes, the tone changes and it is chilling. The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 on the World Trade Centre towers and other threats shake up the world and have a very personal direct impact on Dr Melinek; she sees firsthand the destruction and violation of life. This section of the book is…overwhelmingly sad and horrific, the work of the first responders and the medical staff tasked with identifying the human remains is a mammoth and heartbreakingly poignant. All involved in the rescue and recovery deserve our thanks.

 

This is truly a remarkable book told with respect and passion.

Post Script: Confessions -Kanae Minato

Confessions

Kanae Minato

Mulholland Books

Mulholland Books

ISBN: 9780316200929

 

Description:

Her pupils killed her daughter. Now, she will have her revenge.

After an engagement that ended in tragedy, all Yuko Moriguchi had to live for was her four-year-old child, Manami. Now, after a heartbreaking accident on the grounds of the middle school where she teaches, Yuko has given up and tendered her resignation.

But first, she has one last lecture to deliver. She tells a story that will upend everything her students ever thought they knew about two of their peers, and sets in motion a maniacal plot for revenge.

Narrated in alternating voices, with twists you’ll never see coming, Confessions probes the limits of punishment, despair, and tragic love, culminating in a harrowing confrontation between teacher and student that will place the occupants of an entire school in harm’s way. You’ll never look at a classroom the same way again.

 

My View:

The synopsis sounded intriguing; a story of murder and revenge however I found that I didn’t really connect or find the narrative compelling or thrilling. Perhaps there is a cultural disconnect or maybe something is lost in the translation– I found the style of writing conservative and polite, almost cold and the premise and the actions/reactions, sad.

 

The voice of the teacher I found quite stilted – but then that could be the accepted tone of a Japanese teacher/woman in Japanese society; reserved, polite and unemotional… I do not know. The voices of the children flowed a little better but I found the characters pathetic and childish, I know they are children but so much attention seeking behavior (they were meant to be 13year olds but came across emotionally a lot younger) yet they had understandings of AIDS, the legal system, porn etc. that did not marry with the childlike attitudes; something did not sit quite right for me.

 

I found that a lot of the consequences of actions in this narrative are based on attitudes about respect- for positions in the workplace, positions in the family (male centred), not necessarily about respect earned, about how the opinions of others is so highly valued, that appearance and conformity to social mores are paramount, how what the neighbors or community thinks matters more than what the individual thinks/feels,  that women are still valued by prettiness, youth and manners…so many values and attitudes that did not sit well with me.

 

The story – is deceiving – it began interestingly but in the end left me a little flat. Perhaps the general flatness and unemotional way this story was delivered inspired my lack lustre response, I certainly did not connect with any of the characters or with the plot or with the traditions/social norms or attitudes. There was a twist at the end, but by then I was not really engaged with this story and didn’t really care.   I would not describe this novel as a work of crime fiction or thriller, more a reflection on society – with some crimes.