Post Script: The Missings – Peg Brantley

A great read at a bargain price!

The Missings

Peg Brantley

Bark Publishing, LLC

ISBN: 9780690002737

 

Description:

Aspen Falls, Colorado.

Secrets.

Secrets within a community.

Secrets within a family.

Detective Chase Waters finds himself working the most interesting case of his career—one that comes closer to home than he could ever imagine.

Are the mutilated bodies of young men and women the result of cult… or commerce?

My View:

A very engaging and page turning read. I was totally involved in this story and ripped through the pages at a great pace and read in one sitting.  I thoroughly enjoyed the main characters – Detective, husband and father Chase Waters and his team of fellow investigators, all were realistic, empathetic, diligent and courageous in their private and business lives.

This is a great police procedural where the main story and sub plots are interesting and contemporary. The language and conversations in this narrative flowed easily and authentically, the plot was interesting and the tension was palpable, the characters engaging, really what more could you want in a murder/thriller? I will certainly look for more books by this author.

Post Script: The Seance Society – Michael Nethercott

One for the lovers of Agatha Christie.

The Seance Society

Michael Nethercott

St. Martin’s Press

Minotaur Books

ISBN:9781250017390

 

Description:

It’s 1956, and Lee Plunkett has taken over the family business as a private investigator despite his reluctance to follow in his father’s footsteps. When murder intrudes on a group of ghost seekers, Lee is asked to solve the case by a cop on the verge of retirement. At the urging of his perpetual fiancée Audrey, Lee enlists the help of Mr. O’Nelligan, a scholarly Irishman with a keen eye for solving mysteries. The duo is drawn into a murder investigation involving the “Spectricator,” a machine designed to communicate with the dead. Soon, Plunkett and O’Nelligan are knee-deep in a suspect pool that includes a surly medium, a former speakeasy queen, a mysterious Spanish widow, and a whole slew of eccentric servants. Engaging, charming, and smart, The Séance Society by Michael Nethercott is a fresh take on the traditional mystery genre for readers who love original characters, witty dialogue, and a great whodunit.

My View:

This is an interesting story, written in the style of the times of the event (the 1950’s); it is genteel, polite, charming and all sleuthing is done without the benefits and gore of modern forensics.  To me this writer is paying homage to the late Agatha Christie in his writing style and plot devices; the narrative is a classic “whodunit”, those involved with the murdered man are interrogated, notes are made, the scene of the crime is reviewed and the reader is given clues as to who may have or may not have dunit. Part way through the novel one of the original suspects dies because they have somehow stumbled across the identity of the real murderer or a clue that points to his name (or at least the murderer believes this to be so and thus must silence this person) and finally the entire cast are called together at the scene of the crime, facts of the crime are explained, secrets revealed and the murderer is finally announced!  These devices are typical Christie’s style though this novel is set in America, and focuses on the American middle class, not the British.

I particularly liked the character of Mr O’Nelligan, the investigator’s associate; he is intelligent, gentle, quotes classic poetry and shows great common sense, wit and humour. He is very endearing and empathetic; his story is interesting and sad. Lee Plunkett is feisty and likable, together O’Nelligan and Plunkett make a great team.

Setting this tale in a haunted house is clever, it allows the writer to involve a variety of minor characters; various seers, psychics and other eccentrics aplenty, add to this an interesting story, with a few twists and turns and a solid likable detective team and you have a very decent read that will certainly entertain you. 

Post Script: Police – Jo Nesbo

Back at his brutal best!

Police

A Harry Hole thriller (Oslo Sequence 8)

Jo Nesbo

Random House Australia Pty Ltd

Harvill Secker

ISBN: 9781846555978

 

Description:

The victims are carefully chosen. The locations former crime scenes. The killings no accident. The target: police.
After recovering from a near fatal shooting, Harry Hole has finally retired from active duty. He hears about the case but keeps his distance, determined to protect those he loves from the danger that he can never seem to escape.
But as the media pressure intensifies, Harry finds himself advising an unofficial task force investigating the murders. Drawn into a dangerous web of cold cases and precarious allegiances, Harry can’t guarantee protection for anyone. Least of all himself.

My View:

Jo Nebo has returned with a book that is outstanding and gripping. It is full of red herrings, grim and grisly murders, and the self doubts, recriminations and guilt that Harry Hole is renowned for. This book returns Jo Nesbo to the top of the tree! He has written a masterpiece of crime fiction that will leave you guessing, and has delivered an ending that has you counting down, holding your breath, fearful, and waiting for the next installment in this series.  A great read!

Post Script: Burned – Persephone Nicholas

Burned

Burned

Persephone Nicholas

Random House

ISBN: 9780857981240

Description:
One tragic event connects four lives in this haunting story of loss, love and renewal. Burned is the winner of the National Seniors Literary Prize 2013.

Noah Daniels is an innocent young boy who treasures the telescope his father bought him and who daydreams of one day travelling through space …

His mother Kate nurses bittersweet memories of her marriage to Richard and deeply regrets moving the family from Sydney to England …

Malcolm Martin is still paralysed with grief twenty years after the death of his son. Home for him now is a park bench by the canal …

And then there’s Matthew Hooper – a classmate of Noah’s – who has come to suspect his older brother, Tom, has a dangerous obsession with fire…

Four people, from opposites sides of the world, are about to be brought together by one horrifying event that will burn them forever.

My View:

This novel provides an interesting and thought provoking discussion on a number of issues – including a major contemporary issue, bullying. Bullying and the effect this has on all those involved, be it that the one doing the bullying, the bullied, those in the immediate vicinity (family, friends, colleagues) and those on the periphery; communities as a whole including school teachers, police officers etc. It is a big issue with huge ramifications for all those scorched by this touch and this book admirably demonstrates the extent of the influence one person can make to the lives of so many.

This is a story that delves into many issues; death is paid particularly attention; death of a child, death of a parent, and death of a love affair, death of a relationship.  Death impacts on those in the immediate vicinity and those in the surrounding in many and varied ways. Some cope and move forward, for some lives are negatively impacted and forever changed.

But this is not an altogether negative book; it is a book of hope (for some but not all) and ultimately a book of new beginnings. I particularly enjoyed the sections of the book that dealt with Kate and her affinity with the ocean. They are some beautifully evocative descriptions of the ease she felt with and the restorative nature of the ocean.

Post Script: Redemption – (also known as A Conspiracy of Faith) – Jussi Adler-Olsen

Redemption (Department Q, #3)

Redemption (also known as A Conspiracy of Faith)

Jussi Adler-Olsen

Penguin Books Australia

Penguin

ISBN: 9780141399997

 

Description:

Two young brothers wake tied up and gagged in a boathouse by the sea. Their bonds are inescapable. But, just perhaps, there is a way to cry for help . . .

In Copenhagen’s cold cases division, Detective Inspector Carl Mørck has received a bottle. It holds an old and decayed message, scratched in blood, from two boys. Is it real? Who are they and why weren’t they reported missing? Can they possibly still be alive?

Though the investigation initially appears hopeless, soon Carl and his team find themselves on the trail of not just these missing children – but others. Boys and girls taken – never to be seen again.

And a cold-hearted killer unable to stop . . .

My View:

Although this is the 3rd book in the Dept Q series and I have not read the first books I had no problems slipping into this story of misery and crime. I loved the quirkiness of the main characters – imperfect, interesting, unusual… real, are the immediate terms that spring to mind. Each has a background of equally intriguing interest and the 3, investigator and assistants in Dept Q  – Copenhagen’s  Cold Case Division, are also likable, show a sense of humour, are dedicated and I am pleased that the author allows them to indulge in their uniqueness. My favourite is Assad –I love his sense of humour, his brilliant comedic timing, his misquoted/misunderstood phrases, his wit, mystery and his intelligence. As the book progresses he continues to surprise.

The villain in this piece is a true socio path – superficially charming, callous, lacks empathy, lacks remorse or guilt, with shallow or feigned emotions … (http://www.mcafee.cc/Bin/sb.html), Adler-Olsen has written a perfectly evil anti hero of the worst kind – one who kidnaps and murders children. This is a fascinating character based read, with great interaction between the incumbents of Dept Q, mixed with wit and humour and portrays a real sense of setting that is emotional, visual and believable.

So we have an interesting set of unique characters (not a stereo type hidden here anywhere), and a great hook (kidnapping/message in a bottle), an intriguing complex plot, and crimes that are heinous and realistic (given the villains background), what more could you ask for? A great read.

Post Script: The Narrow Road to the Deep North – Richard Flanagan

The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan

The Narrow Road to the Deep North

Richard Flanagan

Random House Australia Pty Ltd

Vintage Australia

ISBN: 9781741666700

 

Description:

A novel of the cruelty of war, and tenuousness of life and the impossibility of love.

 

August, 1943. In the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Thai-Burma death railway, Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his love affair with his uncle’s young wife two years earlier. Struggling to save the men under his command from starvation, from cholera, from beatings, he receives a letter that will change his life forever. This savagely beautiful novel is a story about the many forms of love and death, of war and truth, as one man comes of age, prospers, only to discover all that he has lost.

 

My View:

This is destined to be an award winner!

Brutal, passionate, inspiring, remarkable, emotional and complex; a love story, a story of relationships, a story of war, The Narrow Road to the Deep North is all these things and more. Flanagan’s writing is poetic, is humbling, is revealing and is at times horrifyingly realistic, cruel and brutal and overwhelming and I have never felt so many contradicting emotions reading a book!

This man can write! At first I was lulled into a false sense of security thinking I knew where this narrative was heading; a coming of age tale, a story full of youthfulness, excitement and passions on fire, a young man discovering his potential, striving for betterment, an old man reflecting on a life that was, but these were just elements of this complex story.  The introduction lulled me into a sense of false comfort that was quickly shattered with the brutal truths of a Japanese Prisoner of War camp charged with building the Thai- Burma railway in impossible, inhumane conditions (my response fuelled by the many black and white images burnt into my retina from documentaries and still photographs of WW2) I almost could not bear to read any further, the images were too real.

This novel asked many questions – about the brutality inflicted during war and who carries the responsibility for war crimes, it discusses the meanings of culture, of reverence to ones political and sovereign leader, of who should pay the ultimate price for sins inflicted in that leaders name (and maybe didn’t), of when punishment becomes a sadistic pleasure and why/how onlookers allow these terrible acts to happen or joins in…The novel offers rational meaning for such behaviour that effectively discredits such behaviour…

But this is not just a story of war – it is also a story of love and of the meaning we place on relationships/family and love.  “There grew between him and Ella a conspiracy of experience, as if the raising of children, the industry of supporting each other in ways practical and tender, and the sum of years and then decades of private conversations and small intimacies – the odour of each other on waking; the trembling sound of each other’s breathing when a child is unwell……as if all of this were somehow more binding, more important and more undeniable than love, whatever love is. For he was bound to Ella. And yet it all created in Dorrigo Evans the most complete and unassailable loneliness, so loud a solitude that he sought to crack its ringing silence again and again with yet another woman…  ” (p.373-374), such beautifully evocative writing amid such tales of horror and amazing ability to survive you cannot help but be moved.

And then we have the beautiful poems scattered amongst the prose.

Surrender to the influence and emotions of this book. Read this book, and then re read this book!

Post Script: The Vale Girl – Nelika McDonald

The Vale Girl, Nelika  McDonald

The Vale Girl

Nelika McDonald

Macmillan

Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Ltd

ISBN: 9781742612423

 

Description:

“I had seen every last secret laid bare in my own house, every briefcase in Banville gaping open.

But I had missed one.”

Fifteen-year-old Sarah Vale has disappeared from the small town of Banville.

Resident copper Sergeant Henson attempts to find the missing girl but the locals dismiss his investigations. What would you expect with a mother like hers anyway?

No one cares except teenager Tommy Johns – for Sarah Vale takes a straight line t his heart.

A delicate and layered exploration of secrets and lies, forgotten children and absent parents, and the long shadows of the past.

An extraordinary debut from a talented new writer.

 

My View:

A solid debut performance by author Nelika McDonald. I really enjoyed this fast paced contemporary novel that features astute character development and brilliant observational qualities depicting small town middle class Australia in the 1980’s. As Edmund Burke is reputed to have said “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”, and this theme is very evident and relevant in this narrative. Neighbours and community members ignore ongoing domestic violence, bullying is prevalent in the behaviours of children and adults alike and rumour and innuendo prescribe how individuals are perceived and treated. Thankfully we have several heroes in this book who do not sit idly by and let the past totally dictate the future.

This is a multi-layered sensitive narrative that is an introspective analysis of contemporary attitudes largely still relevant today; of family histories and values, of secrets and lies, of children exchanging roles with the adults in their lives, a story  that discusses the meaning of love and family and a wonderful coming of age narrative. This narrative is so many things but most of all it is an impressive, engaging debut novel.