crime fiction

Waiting for Wednesday

Although I’m not sure if TBYL Reviewer Carolyn was completely convinced when I gave her Nicci French’s crime novel Waiting for Wednesday (Penguin) to read and review, I get the feeling from this review that she’s starting to come around…

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Today’s review is of Waiting for Wednesday by crime writer Nicci French. It’s a very well written book and takes the reader on many twists and turns before the crime is solved.  This novel is one that I suspect lovers of crime fiction will enjoy.

waiting for wednesdayAlthough it took me a little bit of effort to get into this book, upon finishing it I can honestly say that I thoroughly enjoyed it, and that it has contributed to my growing interest of this genre.  I discovered early on that this novel belonged to a series. The storyline was new but characters had already been introduced in previous books in the series. As you might expect, this meant it took me a little to grab hold of the context, but once I got to know the characters, it was no obstacle to my enjoyment of the novel.

Ruth Lennox, beloved mother of three, is found by her daughter in a pool of her own blood. Who would want to murder an ordinary housewife? And why? 

Psychotherapist Frieda Klein finds she has an unusually personal connection with DCI Karlsson’s latest case. She is no longer working with him in an official capacity, but when her niece befriends Ruth Lennox’s son, Ted, she finds herself in the awkward position of confidante to both Karlsson and Ted.

When it emerges that Ruth was leading a secret life, her family closes ranks and Karlsson finds he needs Frieda’s help more than ever before.

But Frieda is distracted. Having survived an attack on her life, she is struggling to stay in control and when a patient’s chance remark rings an alarm bell, she finds herself chasing down a path that seems to lead to a serial killer who has long escaped detection. Or is it merely a symptom of her own increasingly fragile mind?

Because, as Frieda knows, every step closer to a killer is one more step into a darkness from which there may be no return…

Waiting for Wednesday is the third instalment of the Frieda Klein series.  The novel opens with a horrific murder of an ordinary middle-class wife and mother of three, which, on its own captivated me and had me re-reading passages looking for clues.  I was to some degree left wanting, as not many clues are given at the beginning of the story; instead the writer takes her time recapping incidents that occurred in the previous two novels, reintroducing characters and their relationships.  As a first time reader to this series, I found it hard to get into the story because of this ‘revisiting’ and kept putting the book down to find something else to do.  However, as Mandi was waiting for me to write this review, I knew I had to persevere and devote my time to psychotherapist Frieda Klein no matter what terrors she had experienced in the other books. I’m glad that I did.

Waiting for Wednesday is written by two people, Nicci Gerrard and Sean French. Together they write under the pseudonym of Nicci French.  I had no idea until after I finished the book that this author was in fact a married couple.  The writing is seamless and they are able to get into the head of the main character very well. The further into the novel I got and the more I got to know Frieda, the more I wanted to stop the book and start the Frieda Klein series from the first book, Blue Monday.  The second in the series Tuesday’s Gone suggests that there will be seven in this series and judging from how Waiting for Wednesday was written, I think it will be great.

If we take a look at this book on its own and not as one in a series, the crime that occurs takes up only a small part of the story and is a fairly straightforward case.  Waiting for Wednesday spends a lot of its time developing characters that have featured earlier in the series and I’m assuming will be present in future books.  This book is very much the hump day in the series.  It appears that a climax will happen when Frieda Klein gets to the weekend.  Nicci French touches on something dark and frightening, waiting in the shadows, which had me wanting to know more.

You can read Waiting for Wednesday as a stand alone book however I think it would be more enjoyable to read the other two books in the series first. I know that reading this latest instalment has made me want to go back and read the first two, and I’d certainly do just that before reading the next in the series.

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If you’d to find out more about Nicci French’s Waiting for Wednesday you can visit the Penguin website here…

 

 

In the wilds of Maine: The Poacher’s Son

Over the last month, I’ve been really lucky, recruiting a bunch of new TBYL Reviewers who, without exception love to read, read and read!

Today’s review is from our newest additions to the crew, Jennie Diplock-Storer. You can find out more about Jennie here, and today, you can read all about what she thought of The Poacher’s Son by Paul Doiron (Allen and Unwin)…

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I have a litmus test when it comes to assessing whether I’ll read books by authors unknown to me: I read the first couple of paragraphs. They have to grab me. Paul Doiron’s, The Poacher’s Son, did just that!

the poacher's sonSet in the wilds of Maine, this is an explosive tale of an estranged son thrust into the hunt for a murderous fugitive – his own father. Game warden Mike Bowditch returns home one evening to find an alarming voice from the past on his answering machine: his father Jack, a hard-drinking womanizer who makes his living from poaching illegal game. An even more frightening call comes the next morning from the police: they are searching for a cop-killer – and Mike’s father is their prime suspect.

Now, alienated from the woman he loves and shunned by colleagues who have no sympathy for the suspected cop killer, Mike must come to terms with his haunted past. He knows firsthand of his father’s brutality, but is he capable of murder? Desperate and alone, the only way for Mike to save his father is to find the real killer – which could mean putting everyone he loves into the line of fire…

The Poacher’s Son is placed in the genre of crime, but Doiron’s manner of writing makes it much more than that. His beautiful and detailed description of the Maine countryside through the eyes of the protagonist Mike Bowditch, is displayed throughout the book and adds much to it’s readability.

There is also much humour, a wonderful use of analogies, fulfilling descriptions of characters, (often making me smile), and a gentle prose.

Mike Bowditch is a Warden in Maine, legally protecting flora and fauna, and ensuring law abidence in waterways and hunting. Here is the obvious difference between father and son. Jack Bowditch is a poacher, estranged from his son since Mike was nine. The two occasions on which they were reunited stay stained in the memory of Mike by alcohol, violence, disrespect and blood.

It is obvious from the start that Mike has purposefully chosen a career in complete opposition to all his father stands for. Yet they both share a desire for seclusion, even if for different reasons. Jack has pathological differences with people of all walks of life and Mike chooses a “solitary & morbid profession” to avoid looking into himself and his past. Much of Mike’s decision to become a Law Officer was to make amends for his father’s petty crimes and violence.

So why then, when Jack Bowditch is accused of a double homicide, including the murder of a police officer known to Mike, then aggravated assault of a second officer as he escapes arrest, does Jack reach out to Mike and Mike fervently defend his father’s innocence?

Here is where things speed up, as Mike makes decisions impacting everything in his life to prove his father innocent.

History and storytelling amidst the chase of a suspect colours the book beautifully and is a bonus for the reader. The incredible description of the nature of Maine and the precise attention to detail stops this being a black and white crime book. We follow Mike Bowditch, who sees himself as not on the side of his dad or the cops but ” the rope in a tug of war”, as he tries to find the truth. It’s fast-paced, as Mike tries to find his father before the police do.

Published overseas in 2010, this was Doiron’s debut novel, met with much acclaim. He has since written two more. Now, with this Australian publication I highly recommend The Poacher’s Son to crime lovers, and to those who enjoy a good, well written book. Doiron hs certainly made it to my list of authors.

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If you’d like to find out more about The Poacher’s Son by Paul Doiron visit the Allen and Unwin website here…

Green equals Classic Crime

Of course, I love all my books, my book collection is my pride and joy, but I’ll admit to having a some favourites…

I love Popular Penguins, and I have shelves of the orange lovelies. It’s been a fantastic way to add some must-haves to my library and they look fantastic all shelved together. I have recently added a sweet little collection of Pink Popular Penguins too, released earlier in the year to raise funds for the McGrath Foundation.

This week I added a new colour – classic green penguins, full of classic crime tales…

The Green Popular Penguins are a new generation of iconic, instantly recognisable Popular Penguin books. With a nod to the design for Penguin’s original ‘Mystery and Crime’ series, these new titles have been dressed to kill with a sharp price of $9.95 and a bold green cover twist on the iconic Penguin triband.

green popular penguinsWith fifty collectable crime classics available from 38 acclaimed crime writers, the Green Popular Penguins collection features classic stories from favourite authors such as Edgar Allan Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle as well as the gritty detective fiction of Raymond Chandler and the hard boiled work of Dashiell Hammett.

Victorian era writer Mary Elizabeth Braddon (the sister of an ex-Premier of Tasmania) features in this collection, as does British Spy novel specialist Eric Ambler and the contemporary husband and wife crime writing duo Nicci French. Much loved characters make a return including Erle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason, a defence attorney and Francis Durbridge’s ever gentlemanly Paul Temple.

Crime as a genre has always been a specialty of Penguin Books. In fact, on that fateful day in 1935 when Allen Lane stood on a British railway platform looking for something good to read on his journey (consequently creating Penguin and the Popular Penguins books), he was returning from a visit with the doyenne of crime fiction herself, Agatha Christie.

The Green Popular Penguins will reintroduce a whole new generation of readers to the magical world of crime fiction throughout the ages with their suspenseful, compelling plots and captivating characters.

You can find out details of all 50 titles here…

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to start my collection!

Screen shot 2013-07-26 at 1.30.34 PMOn the release of this new collection, I was lucky to receive three titles in the mail, hot off the press. I’m going to read and review one of them, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, but the other two are up for grabs for two lucky readers!

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If you’d like to go into the running to win a copy of Blood and Judgement by Michael Gilbert or Edgar Wallace’s The Door with Seven Locks all you need to do is email info@thatbookyoulike.com.au and let me know which of the 50 titles you would pick as your favourite. Include your name and address, and use the subject line CRIME THRILLERS. I’ll draw two winners at random next Friday, 2 August 2013. Please note, this competition is open to those with an Australian postal address and that each winner will win one title, which will be allocated at random.

Good luck, and happy reading!

 

I like it: Web of Deceit

I’ve discovered a little something about myself – much to my surprise, I quite like crime fiction.

Up until now, I thought that the few crime novels that I’d read and enjoyed had been a bit of a fluke. I read Kathryn Fox’s Cold Grave last year and loved it, and earlier, thoroughly enjoyed The Siren’s Sting, by Miranda Darling. I thought they must just have been particularly good examples of the genre.  I’ve since read others, and enjoyed them equally.

Web of DeceitAnd now, I’ve just finished reading Web of Deceit, by Katherine Howell (Pan Macmillan) and found myself unable to put it down, I was enthralled by the mystery and entertained by the action. I couldn’t wait for the truth to be revealed…

So on reflection, I think it’s fair to say that a pattern has emerged. I really like crime fiction, and in particular those that have a ‘speciality’ to which the author can write authentically from personal, professional experience. In this case, Katherine Howell is a former paramedic and brings to the story all the drama, trauma and heroism that the work of a paramedic involves.

Web of Deceit is the latest in the Ella Marconi series…

When paramedics Jane and Alex encounter a man refusing to get out of his crashed car with bystanders saying he deliberately drove into a pole, it looks like a cry for help. His claim that someone is out to get him adds to their thinking that he is delusional.

Later that day he is found dead under a train in what might be a suicide, but Jane is no longer so sure: she remembers the terror in his eyes.

Detective Ella Marconi shares Jane’s doubts, which are only compounded when the case becomes increasingly tangled. The victim’s boss tries to commit suicide when being questioned, a witness flees their attempt to interview her and a woman is beaten unconscious in front of Jane’s house.

Ella is at a loss to know how all these clues add up and then a shocking turn of events puts even more people in danger…

Howell’s novel twists and turns relentlessly, leaving the reader guessing right up until the very end. It’s not only unclear who is guilty for these crimes, but it’s also uncertain until the close, just who is going to be the hero of the hour.

There’s romantic relationships and personal conflicts, all of which allow the reader a chance to get inside the head of the fantastic characters in this story. These relationships; lover to lover, father to daughter, ex-wife to new wife, are all handled brilliantly – creating interest, diversion and introducing additional complexity to the already complicated scenario unfolding around the characters of Alex, Jane, Ella and Murray.

There’s plethora of clues to gather and assess and in keeping with the formula of many a quality crime story, Detective Marconi is not only pushing against time to solve this puzzle, but also against her penny-pinching, clock-watching boss. The reader is kept wondering – will his lack of commitment to solving this mystery cost Ella the chance to prove that Marco was a victim of foal play? Will Ella have the back-up required to make sure that she too doesn’t become a victim of this web of deceit? It’ll have you on tenterhooks.

You can enjoy an excerpt of Katherine’s novel on Pan Macmillan blog’s here.

I really enjoyed this book, I’ll be adding the previous Katherine Howell titles to my collection. If you’d like to find out more about Katherine and her books, you can visit her website.

Have you ever been surprised to find that you quite liked a particular genre, perhaps one you’d dismissed in the past?

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