01 October 2020

Lazarus; Lars Kepler

Lazarus (Joona Linna, Book 7)Lazarus by Lars Kepler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Any book titled Lazarus is a huge spoiler: someone clearly has not died. The question is, of course, who? Given that this is a Joona Linna book, there are only a few suspects that Joona would be interested in and... no spoilers. We do get more about his life and his previous career and training. Saga Bauer has a more prominent role, and it's because of her that Joona needs to make some serious choices and decisions about his life and that of his daughter. Again, no spoilers.

This stepped back from the brink that Book Six left us on, but not by much. So now I have to wait for Book 8 to see if it's going to stay in interesting territory or if I'll be giving future books a miss.

eARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss.

The Well of Ice; Andrea Carter

The Well of Ice (Inishowen Mysteries #3)The Well of Ice by Andrea Carter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An entry in the amateur detective genre, set in a small village in Ireland. Our heroine/detective Ben is a solicitor, working hard to clear her desk before the Christmas Week break. The town has, of course, quirky characters who aren't quite what they appear to be, a pub that mysteriously burns down and a police detective she's having a secret relationship with (or is it secret?). Sounds nearly idyllic, right? No, there's a fly in the ointment: the man who killed Ben's sister has been released from prison and seems to be moving closer to Ben's life.

While there are a lot of references to the previous books, anyone can start here and quickly catch on. There is little actual violence and no gore. This is less dark than I like, but I'd give another one a try.

eARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss.

30 September 2020

The Thursday Murder Club; Richard Osman

The Thursday Murder ClubThe Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a delightful book! (so delightful that I nominated it for my book group)

Any book with a lead who is a self-confessed "acquired taste" is going to find a place on my shelf, and when that lead is--as one character says--playing fast-and-loose with the Official Secrets Act, well, so much the better. The Murder Club was started by a former detective, focusing on cold cases and quite often unofficially solving them. Each member has a unique set of skills, from Elizabeth's much hinted about previous life giving her some unique skills, to Joyce's ability to be one of those elderly women who frequently gets overlooked, to Ron (a former union rabble rouser) and finally to Ibrahim's neat, organized, categorical thinking. Combined, they're a force. An elderly, unofficial force but still... And then there's a real murder, and they manage to worm their way into the investigation. Is it too much of a spoiler to say they beat the police to the solution? or that I'm hoping this becomes a series?

When I move to a retirement community, I hope it's as upscale and filled with interesting people as this one. Perhaps fewer murders, though.

eARC provided by publisher.
PoisonedPoisoned by Jennifer Donnelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another one of Donnelly's new takes on older fairy tales, this time Snow White. Snow - I mean, Sophie - is supposedly killed by her evil stepmother's huntsman. And somehow survives. And then there's the infamous apple. Survives. Etc. What separates this from Grimm, Disney or Perrault is Sophie isn't a passive princess, she's active and strong. She's been told she's too weak to rule, too kind to people. No guesses what happens, because this doesn't deviate that much from the outline of the original story. The motivations of the Evil Queen and Sophie, who the seven tiny guys are and how the author has reinterpreted this make Poisoned one of the best retellings I've read recently.

eARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss.

29 September 2020

The Lies You Told; Harriet Tyce

The Lies You ToldThe Lies You Told by Harriet Tyce
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Part prodecural, part personality study, this story about a British barrister who suddenly moves back from New York to London with her daughter, enrolling Robin in the same snooty, horrible school Sadie herself had attended and living in the house she was raised in by an unloving mother has some surprisingly good, funny bits. Sadie's ability to upend the traditional social networking the school mums do, and her sudden acceptance into their social circle merely because she was an Old Girl (and former Captain) at the school is equally funny. Not so funny are the elitish issues raised in the trial Sadie gets involved with, or Robin's reaction to being at Archers.

Points off for not answering any of the questions we have about why Sadie's mother's will was written the way it was (possibly edited out?) and the very abrupt ending.

eARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss.

The Searcher; Tana French

The SearcherThe Searcher by Tana French
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A one-off by French, not part of her Dublin Murder Squad series.

Here, there's an American, former policeman, who has decided to start over in a remote Irish village. As per usual, the villagers are not completely welcoming and Cal struggles a little fit in. On the other hand, he just wants to be alone in his decrepit house (he's renovating it). Then one day, of course, he's asked to help find a missing brother. This isn't the US, he's no longer a cop and has no access to the usual tools he'd use to find a missing person. Still, he tries, despite the villagers clearly warning him off.

There are some good surprises in this, and lots of description and character building. Tighter editing and better pacing might have helped. As it is, this isn't a Must Read for French's fans.

eARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss.

28 September 2020

They Wish They Were Us; Jessica Goodman

They Wish They Were UsThey Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Who Killed Shaila? That's the mystery at the heart of this rich kids gone bad book: was it Graham (who confessed) or someone else? The whole idea of The Players, the "insider group" at Gold Coast Prep, complete with hazing (aka "pops") and parties and rituals, feels very strange in this day and age. That there are parents and school administrators who would cover bad behavior because they can/are paid to doesn't surprise me. But the tacit approval of hazing and underage parties (where drinking is mandatory) does.

This Town Is Not All Right; M.K. Krys

This Town Is Not All RightThis Town Is Not All Right by M.K. Krys
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What's wrong with Driftwood Harbor? All the children are polite (or, to quote Garrison Keeler, "above average"), and while the town looks in need of some TLC, people seem happy there. But there are those vitamin shots... and a drowning girl who never drowned... so something is clearly Not Quite Right. Beacon can't believe the changes in his twin sister Everleigh, and his new science-loving friend Arthur suggests they figure out the big secret to Driftwood Harbor. No spoilers, but this is more Twilight Zone/horror than Stepford Kids.

27 September 2020

Snow Drift; Helene Tursten

Snow DriftSnow Drift by Helene Tursten
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After reading Winter Grave I wanted to read more Embla Nystrom and Snow Drift lived up to the promise of that first. I'm still not clear why the special unit she belonged to was disbanded, but it's great that she can call on them when necessary. Of course the murder she gets involved with is far more complicated than originally thought, and there's even a personal connection. The twist at the end, however, leads me to think that the next book will be darker, perhaps closer to Scandi Noir than standard procedurals. And I can't wait!

eARC provided by publisher via Netgalley.

The Only Black Girls in Town; Brandy Colbert

The Only Black Girls in TownThe Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

At first I thought this was going to be like Dreamland Burning but it's not - the secret is different and one that poses questions that we might struggle with even today. It also presents us with two very different black girls, one (Alberta) a surf-loving seventh grader who feels as though she's losing her BFF, the other (Edie) a goth-alike recently moved from Brooklyn. There are discussions about "kinfolk vs skinfolk" and what makes a friend, what constitutes microaggressions and how people can be very different from each other. Plus, there's a great librarian.