HelenEdith's Blog

The minutiae of my life, plus website updates and book reviews

Archive for the ‘Crime Fiction’ Category

Police procedurals, thrillers, detective stories, mysteries

Book Review: Tess Gerritsen – Whistle Blower

Posted by HelenEdith on April 5, 2010

Catherine Weaver is driving to her friend Sarah’s place when Victor Holland runs into the path of her car. She takes him to the nearest hospital and continues on to Sarah’s place, but it appears that she’s got herself caught up in something deadly: so deadly that she finds Sarah dead on her driveway next morning.

Cathy runs for her life – with Victor in tow. They are in this together now! Victor has uncovered something so deadly at work that people will kill to stop it getting out; and Cathy has inadvertently picked up Victor’s evidence.

So begins a mad chase across Los Angeles, with Cathy using her skills as a make-up artist to keep Victor and herself one step ahead of the killers and the FBI agent that neither of them trust.

This was a suspenseful book of the standard I’m come to expect from Tess Gerritsen – just as well, as I bought a whole joblot of her books at a car boot sale and have rather a lot of them left to enjoy!

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Book Review: Nora Roberts – Sanctuary

Posted by HelenEdith on April 4, 2010

I’m way behind on my book reviews, as I read this book a good couple of months ago. Having been on non-library books for a while, I haven’t had an incentive to keep my book reviews up to date, as the books haven’t had to go anywhere once they’re read – although this one will probably find its way to the charity shop eventually.

Sanctuary is the house where photographer Jo Ellen Hathaway grew up. She escaped many years ago and carved out a career away from the island where Sanctuary stands. However, now she is back, because somebody is sending her pictures, and she needs to face her past, including the murder of her mother.

Architect Nathan Delaney has also returned to the island. Like Jo, he was still a youngster when Jo’s mother was killed, but his family were on the island at the time, too.

When it becomes apparent that Jo is facing danger at Sanctuary, she questions whether Nathan is safe or a part of the danger. In typical Roberts fashion, we get kept in suspense right to the very last page. The key players remain on the island during a hurricane and the final chapter to a tale of murder unfolds along with the storm.

This book is a little dated. Jo’s career is photography; and since 1997, when this book was copyrighted, there has been a digital revolution. Some of it almost reads like a historical novel, with scenes taking place in a darkroom. However, it didn’t affect my enjoyment and I will continue to lap up the output of Nora Roberts at every opportunity.

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Book Review: Michael Jecks – Dispensation of Death

Posted by HelenEdith on December 8, 2009

(A Knights Templar Mystery)

I was introduced to Michael Jecks when I read “Sword of Shame” by The Medieval Murderers, of whom Michael Jecks is one. When I found one of his individual titles on a bargain book table at Polhill, I had enjoyed his part of “Sword of Shame” sufficiently to pick this book up.

The Knights Templar Mysteries are a long-standing series and this is nowhere near the first book in the series, but I found that it was possible to read it as a stand-alone title. It did take me a while to get through the book, and I did read some other books at the same time, but that had at least as much to do with not wanting to mark the dust jacket by cramming a beautiful hardcover edition in my backpack as the content of the book.

This book sees Sir Baldwin de Furnshill and Simon Puttock investigating a murder which takes place in the court of Edward II in 1325. Compared with modern Police stories, the action in this book proceeds at a much more leisurely pace.

Michael Jecks has written a well-researched historical mystery where the politics of the time forms at least as much of the story as the investigation of the murder does.

I will probably look out for some more books from this series.

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Book Review: Nora Roberts – Birthright

Posted by HelenEdith on September 9, 2009

This is the fascinating tale of Callie Dunbrook and her ex-husband Jake Graystone.

The book starts with a prologue in Santa’s Grotto, where a baby disappears without a trace. Then we fast-forward to where prehistoric bones have been dug up on a building site in Woodsboro, the town where the snatched baby lived. Callie is an archaeologist, and she gets called in. When she appears on local television, the mother of the snatched baby, who has never given up hope that she will find her child, is convinced that Callie is that long-lost child.

Callie denies that she could be, but when she checks into her background, she discovers that she isn’t the natural child of her parents after all. As she continues to dig, both archaeologically and personally, it becomes apparent that she has stirred up a number of topics which other people would prefer to remain buried. The builder wants her gone, as he wants to continue building. However, he turns up dead before long. It seems that her delving into her past is attracting the wrong sort of attention, and the story of her adoption becomes murkier and murkier the more she looks into it.

This is a good book because there is the archaeological interest which gives the book its cornerstones; then there is the dangerous story of baby snatching and havey-cavey adoptions; and finally there is the chemistry between Callie and Jake, who married in haste, divorced in haste, and are now thrown back together.

I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

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Book Review: Kay Hooper – Stealing Shadows

Posted by HelenEdith on August 23, 2009

There are some books which you know, right from the first page, will be easy and satisfying to read, and this book is such a one.

Psychic Cassie Neill gets into the minds of abductors and murderers and helps law enforcement agencies to find them and bring them to justice. However, sometimes she is more successful than other times; and a mistake made in Los Angeles causes Cassie to run three thousand miles to Ryan’s Bluff in North Carolina, where she has inherited a house from her Aunt Alex.

After six months in Ryan’s Bluff, she finds herself in the mind of a murderer. She goes to the Sheriff Matt Dunbar; and to the Public Prosecutor Ben Ryan and tells them of the murder to come, but they are sceptical. However, the body turns up as she describes.

So starts a killing spree with the murderer staying one step ahead of Cassie for a long time. Matt the Sheriff is gradually brought around to believing in Cassie; and Ben the Public Prosecutor falls in love with her as events continue to unfold and draw to a conclusion with a surprising twist to it.

I have a fascination with books about extra-sensory perception, whether it is the telepathic abilities of Cassie or the telekinetic abilities of the characters in Anne McCaffrey’s Talent and Tower and Hive series. Some people might like a little more realism and a little less ESP and romance in their crime novels, but I am well satisfied with this one.

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Book Review: Edward Marston – The Painted Lady

Posted by HelenEdith on June 25, 2009

(A Christopher Redmayne Mystery)

Christopher’s less than savoury brother Henry and three of Henry’s friends have been in pursuit of a beauty by the name of Araminta Jewell, and not even her marriage to Sir Martin Culthorpe will deter them.

Sir Martin commissions Jean-Paul Villemot to paint Araminta’s portrait, which is how Christopher Redmayne’s path crosses Araminta’s – as Christopher has been commissioned by the painter to design him a house in London.

When Sir Martin is found murdered in his own garden, suspicion falls on Villemot, but a number of people are convinced of his innocence. Chistopher has good reason to help Villemot prove his innocence as Villemot’s house won’t get built if Villemot hangs for murder.

Christopher and his Puritan constable friend Jonathan Bale set about investigating the circumstances of Sir Martin’s murder and endeavour to come up with a better suspect than the already incarcerated Jean-Paul Villemot. Their investigations lead them into some interesting places in Restoration London, but they do eventually unravel the mystery of what really happened.

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Book Review: Denise Mina – Garnethill

Posted by HelenEdith on June 21, 2009

(The first Maureen O’Donnell mystery)

I picked this book up and started reading and knew that it was going to be an easy book to read. It’s a crime novel set in Glasgow, and either my year in Scotland taught me more local phraseology than I realised or this book is so well written that when it ventures into dialogue which you wouldn’t hear south of the border, it only adds to the reading enjoyment.

Maureen O’Donnell is an incest survivor who still sees a therapist. She also sleeps with a therapist, albeit not the same one. Unfortunately, she discovers him in her living room, tied to a chair, and with his throat cut.

She gets taken in for questioning and released, but is so worried that she’s an obvious candidate for blame that she feels that she needs to try and find the real killer in case the Police don’t look past the obvious.

She finds some very murky goings-on in the process, and decides that she must deal with them herself.

The action culminates with a trip to the Isle of Cumbrae, off the Clyde coast from Largs, which is an old stamping ground of mine from the aforementioned year spent in Scotland. I did think that Denise Mina got one thing wrong about her trip to Cumbrae, as she referred to the ferry turning around and backing in, and even back in my day, the ferries didn’t do that. Back then, one was roll-on-roll-off with a door that lowered at each end, so no need to back anywhere, while the other was an ex-landing craft with one door at the bow. Those two ferries have since been replaced by two larger RORO ferries, so I think that unless the ferry service to Cumbrae has been degraded recently that a little more research was needed!

Apart from that one possible inconsistency, this was a good read, albeit with an ending that I wasn’t expecting. The inside of the back cover indicates that there are more books featuring Maureen O’Donnell, so it looks like I’ve found myself another series to read.

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Book Review: Nora Roberts – Blue Smoke

Posted by HelenEdith on June 2, 2009

This is yet another of Nora Roberts’ crime thrillers. This one is about Reena Hale, who witnessed an arson attack on her family’s restaurant and went on to become an arson investigator.

Then some of the fires she investigates start to have personal implications, and Reena must find out who is setting them and why.

There is lots of background associated with an Italian family running a pizzeria; and lots of pressure on Reena to settle down and marry, along with the more serious plot of the arson investigation, and the book kept me interested right to the end.

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Book Review: Nora Roberts – Angels Fall

Posted by HelenEdith on May 31, 2009

Nora Roberts’ books are being categorised by the library more often these days as ‘Cri’ or ‘Fan’ than as ‘Rom’ and this one falls under the ‘Cri’ label.

Reece Gilmore survived a brutal crime and has since decided to go away on a journey of discovery. She fetches up in a small town called Angel’s Fist because her car breaks down; and when she finds out that the local diner needs a short order cook, she decides to stay a while and repair her finances.

There are some entertaining moments associated with someone who used to be a restaurant chef taking on the job of short order cook, not the least of which is the running battle with the owner over what herbs and spices are absolutely essential to have in a kitchen – and whether they should be dried or fresh!

The main plot of the story concerns a murder which Reece witnesses, but for which no evidence and no body can be found. The local writer, Brody, is the only person who believes Reece, but when strange things start happening to Reece, it seems that Reece really must have seen something that she wasn’t meant to.

Reece does eventually get a lead to follow up with Brody, and it draws the book to its climax, and eventually uncovers a murderer.

An enjoyable read.

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Book Review: Fern Michaels – The Marriage Game

Posted by HelenEdith on May 1, 2009

I have been reading Fern Michaels’ “Sisterhood” series, which is about revenge, and this book showed all the hallmarks of being about revenge, too, even though the library had classified it as “Rom” rather than “Cri”.

Samantha Rainford gets back from her 3-week honeymoon to discover that her new husband with whom she has just shared an idyllic honeymoon has served divorce papers on her. A trip to the law firm of Prizzi, Prizzi, Prizzi and Prizzi alerts her to the presence of three further ex-Mrs Rainsfords, who had apparently also suffered the 3-week honeymoon then divorce scenario. There’s not much Samantha can do about it right then, so she and her model friend Slick, who has just been replaced by a younger longer-legged model decide to join the FBI and spend the next six months in a training school at Quantico.

Both Sam and Slick don’t make the cut at the end of the course, and neither does Eric Hawkins. Sam, having a suspicion that she was going to wash out anyway, has been using FBI facilities to track down the other Mrs Rainfords, and when she duly washes out, along with Slick, they contact the other three Mrs Rainfords to make plans about getting even.

They also get recruited by a secret organisation who thinks that some of the FBI’s and CIA’s rejects have potential after all. In fact, all four Mrs Rainfords get recruited, and so does Eric Hawkins, the other FBI dropout. They all go off to Big Pine Mountain to start their training.

The training is tough, but the four Mrs Rainfords, plus Slick and Hawkins make an awesome team. When they get a week off before Christmas, Sam spends most of the week in a cyber café, tracking down further Mrs Rainfords. She suspects that there are more, and indeed she is correct. The problem is that she can’t track down Mr Rainford, who doesn’t seem to exist.

Enter the step-brother of one of the Mrs Rainfords. He’s a cop, and they put him onto the case while they go back for six months more of training. When they come out, he’s come up trumps for them, and it’s time to work out some payback.

There’s rather more than that to the story, and the “Rom” sticker on the back of the book’s spine does turn out to be justified as Sam falls in love with her instructor on Big Pine Mountain, although I wouldn’t really describe this book as exactly a romance. It was a satisfying read, though.

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