Whisky in Small Glasses by Denzil Meyrick

Whisky in Small Glasses by Denzil Meyrick is the first book in the DCI Daley series, set on the west coast of Scotland. Loaned to me by a friend with an excellent recommendation, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this book as I’d recently discovered the Stuart Macbride DS Logan series set in Aberdeen and felt a great deal of loyalty towards that. How silly am I! I should have known that just because one write creates fabulous characters and plots in a part of the world you love doesn’t mean another cannot! And boy, does Meyrick create some terrific characters and a cracker of a story. When a body is washed up in the remote township of Kinloch on the West Coast of Scotland, DCI Daley is called in to investigate. Carrying his own emotional baggage in the form of a rocky marriage, DCI Daley and his wonderful side-kick, the heavy drinking and smoking DS Scott, have to put up with the suspicion and parochialism of the locals – especially the constabulary. But DCI is a no BS kind of guy and soon earns the enmity and respect of various people. But when the prime suspect in the murder is killed and more bodies start appearing, and the DCI Daley’s wife and the man he suspects is her lover also turn up unexpectedly, the plot doesn’t just thicken, it becomes both personal and deadly. filled with rich and evocative language, characters you quickly grow to care about and a page-turning plot, this is a wonderful first in what I quickly discovered (because I swiftly read all four books in the series thus far) is a compelling new series. Highly recommended....

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Close to the Bone: Logan McRae #8 by Stuart Macbride

Another cracker of a read from Stuart MacBride featuring DS (now Acting DI) Logan McRae and the cast of regulars that readers of the series have grown to love: the inappropriate (“we are not home to Mr Fuck-Up”) but somehow loveable DCI Steele, prone to stuff-ups, Rennie, “Dildo”, Wee Hamish, Finnie etc. This time, a feature film based on a successful supernatural book, Witchfire, is being shot in and around Aberdeen. Former DI Insch is involved in the production and the cops and population are bewitched. When a gruesome murder that has clearly been based on those described in the book occurs, the cast and crew come under scrutiny. When the body count starts to grow and even one of McRae’s own disappears, the stakes become high; but this is an elusive and clever criminal McRae’s seeks, one who is above all convinced they are righteous and that makes them doubly dangerous. Apart from the occasional bursts of humour amidst quite dire circumstances, the interpersonal relationships between the police and the great dialogue, what makes these books so compulsive is Logan himself. A man with a head and heart, he is simultaneously vulnerable, heroic, resilient and kind. Whenever I finish one of the books, I promise myself I’ll read something else for a while, but I find myself returning to the series, needing and wanting to know how his tale pans out. Highly recommended....

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The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly

Can this guy write a bad book? If The Wrong Side of Goodbye is anything to assess the others by (and it is) the answer is a categorical and resounding “NO!” Frankly, this crime series is one of the most consistently terrific I have read, and over so many instalments.  Just when you think Harry Bosch, can go no further, do no more, fail to surprise you, Connelly takes your expectations and dashes them. He takes Bosch and thus the reader to the most unexpected heights and thrilling of places – emotionally, physically (even for an ageing cop) and psychologically, but without once asking you to suspend your disbelief. Working in a part-time position for the San Fernando PD, Harry, who also has a Private Investigator ticket, is asked by an ageing, wealthy tycoon to find out if he has an heir from a love affair he had many years ago. With no family to leave his billions, the reclusive old man hopes to leave his estate to family as opposed to the board of directors currently in line to inherit. Harry is to work only with this man and reveal anything he discovers only to him. Unable to refuse a cold case that may as well have come out of a freezer (and a decent pay cheque), Harry accepts, and it’s not long before he discovers a connection to the man during the VietNam war. Before he can pass on the information, the billionaire dies. When the circumstances of his death turn out to be suspicious and Harry is warned off pursuing the notion of an heir further, Harry does what he does best: refuses to be bullied or threatened. When Harry asks his half-brother, the Lincoln Lawyer, Mickey Haller, to help him, the ante is upped and...

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The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

This book was recommended to me by a dear friend with whom I often exchange reading ideas. Actually, she was staying with me as she was finishing this and I watched as she gasped, sighed and looked altogether satisfied with what she was reading, barely able to put the novel down. She didn’t need many words to persuade me to enjoy this book as well. When I first started reading this tale, I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy it. Based on true stories of “fasting girls” from history, those who refused food and remained alive, claiming it was God’s work, this is a about an eleven-year old, clever and very sweet Irish girl who, though not eating for months, remains alive, claiming to be nourished by God. A British nurse, Lib, along with a Catholic nun, is sent to remain by her bedside for a fortnight to see whether or not the girl is fraudulent or a miracle. The story of what happens is told through Lib’s eyes. To be sure (couldn’t resist), the writing was lovely, lyrical, and it was easy to be swept away by vivid descriptions of the Irish midlands, the brusqueness and almost fanatical devotion of the locals and the resistance to the British woman’s presence among them and the suspicion she brings in her wake. Now that I have finished the book, it’s hard to remember why I felt that way. I think it might have been the religiosity underpinning the tale, the blind faith and the painful accuracy with which this was painted. It is frustrating indeed. Though, having said that, the wonderful superstition and pagan practices that were still extant in this period were marvellously realised. The reader sees the family, the wee girl at the heart, and the neighbours...

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I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

I was doing a book signing at a sensational book store (Petrarch’s in Launceston, Tasmania Australia) when the owner, Peter, and I began to discussing books we love. Apart from me being a huge fan of sci-fi and fantasy, our tastes were very similar. We started waxing lyrical about great historical fiction and crime fiction/thrillers. He asked me if I had read, I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes and when I confessed I hadn’t (I hadn’t even heard of it), he insisted I must. He pointed out the book even came with a “satisfaction guaranteed or your money back” clause. Well, how could I resist that? So, I started reading the novel. Written in the first person, it follows the life of, and investigation into, a terrorist plot by a man who has had many identities but in this book is mainly known as “Pilgrim”. Working for a top-secret US government organisation, Pilgrim, a man who has been involved in so many operations and worked all over the world, is forced back from premature retirement to find and halt a lone-wolf terrorist who plans to bring down the USA and its allies in the most diabolical of ways. Taking the reader all over the world and into the hearts, minds and histories of both “pilgrim” and the lone-wolf, as well as different cultures and countries, the novel is vast in scope and very hard, once you get past the initial set up and what appears to be a red-herring murder in the USA, to put down. Parts of it are very well written, you feel like you are part of the action (Hayes’ screen-writing background is put to good use as the book is very cinematic) and the heart-racing consequences of some of the decisions both the “good” guys...

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Hades by Candice Fox

I read this book, Hades, by Candice Fox, a while ago now and, frankly, forgot to review it (My. Bad). Not because I didn’t like it – on the contrary, I thought it was an absolute cracker of a read and found it hard to tear myself away from. No, the reason I delayed was because I wanted to think about what to say but I thought so hard, I really thought I’d written a review and was quite shocked to discover I hadn’t. I am making up for that now. Hades is such an accomplished novel – well written, tightly plotted with fascinating characters that are fifty shades of grey and then some. It’s hard to credit it’s a debut novel, but it is. For fans of the TV series (and books) Dexter, there are parallels to be drawn, but the story of tough, beautiful and mysterious cop, Eden Archer and her wise-cracking, over-protective dangerous cop brother, Eric, and how Eden’s new partner Frank Bennett tries to understand the dynamic between the two and the dark secrets they’re clearly keeping, offers many surprises and depths. A great deal of that depth comes from the back story of Eden and Eric and their father, who gives his name to the title of the book, Hades. As underworld as his name suggests, Hades is a bad man with a bad past. But, he also believes in a criminal code of conduct and the honour that accompanies it and it’s this belief that sets the course (along with a major trauma) for Eden and Eric’s life in the future. Again, I know much of this also happened to Dexter, but I loved reading about a similar (but not the same) set of circumstances, set in Sydney and with all the tension...

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An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears

An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears is a book I resisted reading for a while for the simple reason I thought it a tad too long. There were other books I wanted and needed to read, so it kept being moved to the bottom of a very big pile. Even owning a Kindle was not reason enough to embark on such a journey. Well, more fool me. An Instance of the Fingerpost (which is taken from a larger quote by Francis Bacon) refers to the way in which a fingerpost points in only one direction and how, when presented with “facts” and “truths” in relation to a situation, humans tend to only see one solution/suspect. So it is with this simply marvellous tale of murder and intrigue set in 1663, during the reign of Charles II, who was restored to the throne on the back of the Interregnum after the death of the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell and the failure of his son, Richard, to hold power. Set in Oxford, it basically tells the story about the murder of a university don, a Dr Grove, who appears to have been poisoned. Told in four parts from four different points of view (a Venetian medical student and traveler, Marco Da Cola; a passionate and angry young man, John Prescott who is trying desperately to prove his father isn’t the traitor to the crown he was believed to be; Dr Wallis, a stern and unbending cryptographer and, finally, Anthony Wood, an archivist and historian), the tale unfolds slowly, in detail, allowing time for the reader to understand not only the incredible narrative being told, but the person telling it. Rich in detail, philosophical insights and human observation, other characters become significant, such as the bold and assertive Sarah Blundy...

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Pepy’s London: Everyday Life in London 1650-1703 by Stephen Porter

Short, sharp and interesting, if sometimes a little dryer than the title might suggest, Porter’s brief history of London as it was immediately after the execution of Charles I, throughout the Interregnum and Oliver Cromwell’s reign, the leadership (!) of Richard Cromwell to the restoration of Charles II, James II’s time on the throne, the Glorious Revolution and the beginnings of the reign of William and Mary, is packed full of facts and observations. Though the title suggests this is London as Samuel Pepys experienced and wrote about it, it’s more than that. It’s also a London on the brink of religious and political upheavals as suspicion and faith caused many tensions and riots. It’s a city enduring and moving with swiftly changing economic circumstances and robust and exciting scientific discoveries, as well as a place that was culturally enterprising and rich, as theatre, music, writing and art underwent another Renaissance. Using Pepy’s life as a yardstick by which to measure the altering moods and landscape of the city, Porter offers a keen insight into the various people and events that helped to fashion London into what it is today. Whether it was intolerance for immigrants, appreciation and exploitation of other cultures, growing literacy, expanding borders as the Empire grew, trade, war, frosts, plague or fire, what is clear is that London was rarely if ever dull – whether you were gentry or from the lower classes. The just over half a century covered really does encompass an amazing array of transformations  – and not just in terms of leaders and governing styles. Porter is such a good historian, my only beef with the book is that it is so dry at times and when you use the name Pepys in the title, I think it’s dryer than it...

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Arctic Chill by Arnaldur Indridason

Arctic Chill by Arnaldur Indridason is the third book in the Reykjavik mysteries I’ve read and proves what a consistently strong series and masterful writer Indridason is. The book opens with the city in the grip of a bleak and icy winter. Winds are blowing from the north, ravaging the landscape and making outdoors decidedly unpleasant. When a young Thai immigrant is found dead not far from his home, his little body stuck to the ice and anorak torn, Detective Inspector Erlendur and his team suspect a racially motivated crime. As they delve further into the child’s tragic death, and get to know the nuclear family of which he was a part, they come to understand what it means to leave one’s motherland, family and culture to start afresh on the other side of the world and the commitment and desire that drives such a relocation. They also unleash a nest of bigots who make the immigrants’ life a misery and who rail against what they perceive as a threat to Icelandic traditions and culture and language. Is the desire to maintain a status quo motivation for murder? The closer Erlendur gets the truth, the more tragic this tale of xenophobia, desperation to preserve Icelandic history and culture becomes. This novel resonated so strongly with the current political and cultural climate, not just in Australia, but in many other countries around the world who have experienced waves of immigration and those who harden their hearts and close their minds to both the plight of refugees and Otherness and the positive experiences that can be had by welcoming them. Erlendur and his team are dogged and loyal; the questions they ask of suspects and themselves are real and probing and while the book is about a crime, perhaps the greatest...

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The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Reading all the hype around Shari Lapena’s debut novel, The Couple Next Door, I was expecting a sort of Gone, Baby Gone of Dennis Lehane fame… Only, this isn’t in the same league. Described as a thriller and using different points of view, it tells the story of young, married couple, Anne and Marco Conti, who leave their baby in her crib while they attend a dinner party at their next-door neighbour’s.  With a baby monitor on the table and checking on their daughter, Cora, every thirty minutes, what could go wrong? When they return home worse for drink to find their baby, well, gone, panic erupts. Police are called and an investigation ensues. As hours turn into days and suspicion falls on the distressed parents and every aspect of their lives and those closest to them are forensically examined, more than skeletons and motives for the crime tumble out of the closet. Skeletons that some would do anything to ensure stay buried… I had great hopes for this book. A fantastic and uncomfortable premise that resonates in the real world (think the poor McCanns) and which preys on deeply held fears – the idea that someone could be so cold and ruthless as to steal into your home and not only violate that sanctuary but take your beloved child – is a chilling basis for a novel. The writing is mostly taut and the first part of the book maintains a great pace. But at some point, it not only became a little repetitive (the number of times Cora is referred to as “fussy”, how often we’re told Anne doesn’t trust her husband, adores her father, how wealthy her parents are, how it’s her mother’s money, how much her parents hate Marco, are just some examples), but a...

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Karen Brooks's books on Goodreads
TallowTallow (Curse of The Bond Riders, #1)
reviews: 29
ratings: 489 (avg rating 3.79)

VotiveVotive (Curse of the Bond Rider #2)
reviews: 10
ratings: 154 (avg rating 4.25)

The Gaze of the GorgonThe Gaze of the Gorgon (Cassandra Klein, #2)
reviews: 1
ratings: 14 (avg rating 3.78)

The Kurs of AtlantisThe Kurs of Atlantis (Cassandra Klein, #4)
ratings: 15 (avg rating 4.12)

Rifts Through QuentarisRifts Through Quentaris
ratings: 12 (avg rating 3.56)