Posted in 2021, ARC, Contemporary Fiction, Crime Fiction, NetGalley, Novel, Richard Osman, thriller

#TheManWhoDiedTwice by @richardosman

It’s the following Thursday.

Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague, a man with whom she has a long history. He’s made a big mistake, and he needs her help. His story involves stolen diamonds, a violent mobster, and a very real threat to his life.

As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a ruthless murderer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn’t that be a bonus?

But this time they are up against an enemy who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can The Thursday Murder Club find the killer (and the diamonds) before the killer finds them?

***

‘I was talking to a woman in Ruskin Court and she said she’s on a diet’ says Joyce, finishing her glass of wine.

PART 1, 1

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(@VikingBooksUK, 16 September 2021, ebook, 432 pages, #ARC from the publisher via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed)

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GET A COPY

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I really enjoyed the first book, The Thursday Murder Club and took part in the blog tour when it was launched last year. I couldn’t wait to read the club’s next adventure. I wasn’t disappointed. This was everything I expected and I look forward to the next adventure. The Man Who Died Twice like the previous book is a blend of cosy mystery and thriller with a group of elderly amateur sleuths finding themselves in the middle of a real crime involving spies, stolen diamonds and grisly murders. I love the characters, especially Joyce. Due to their age they are assumed to be feeble and doddery and I love it when they kick ass and show they are more intelligent than the criminals and police combined. This is a delight.

Posted in 2021, Chris Beckett, Contemporary Fiction, library book, Novel, Science Fiction, Top Books

The Holy Machine by @chriszbeckett

George Simling has grown up in the city-state of Illyria, an enclave of logic and reason founded as a refuge from the Reaction, a wave of religious fundamentalism that swept away the nations of the twenty-first century. Yet to George, Illyria’s militant rationalism is as stifling as the faith-based superstition that dominates the world outside its walls.

For George has fallen in love with Lucy. A prostitute. A robot. She might be a machine, but the semblance of life is perfect. To the city authorities, robot sentience is a malfunction, curable by erasing and resetting silicon minds. But George knows that Lucy is something more.

His only alternative is to flee Illyria, taking Lucy deep into the religious Outlands where she must pass as human because robots are seen as mockeries of God, burned at the stake, dismembered, crucified. Their odyssey leads them through betrayal, war and madness, ending only at the monastery of the Holy Machine…

***

Perhaps I should start this story with my escape across the border in the company of a beautiful woman?

1

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(@CorvusBooks, 1 July 2010, ebook, 289 pages, borrowed from @GlasgowLib via @OverDriveLibs)

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AMAZON

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I came across the author’s work recently because I liked the covers of his books and have become quite a fan. Like other books I’ve read by the author, The Holy Machine is not what you expect from science fiction. It’s a brilliantly written, dazzling and original book. I loved everything about it. I loved the way the book explores the development of AI. I look forward to reading more of this author’s work.

Posted in 2021, Anne Holt, Contemporary Fiction, First Read, Novel, Prime Reading, thriller

Blind Goddess by Anne Holt

A drug dealer is battered to death in the outskirts of Oslo. A young Dutch student, covered in blood, walks aimlessly through the streets of central Oslo. He is taken into custody, but refuses to speak.

Five days later a shady criminal lawyer called Hans Olsen is murdered. The two deaths don’t seem related, but Detective Inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen is unconvinced. Soon, she uncovers a link between the bodies: Olsen defended the drug dealer.

But there are powerful forces working against Hanne; a conspiracy that reaches far beyond a crooked lawyer and a small-time dealer. The investigation will take her into the offices of the most powerful men in Norway – and even put her own life at risk…

***

The man was dead.

PROLOGUE

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(@CorvusBooks, 1 July 2012, ebook, 354 pages, borrowed from @AmazonKindle, #PrimeReading, translated by Tom Geddes)

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AMAZON

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The author has been on my radar for a while but this is the first chance I’ve had to read her work. I love thrillers. I tend to really enjoy Nordic noir so I was looking forward to Blind Goddess. I wasn’t disappointed. This offers everything I enjoy from thrillers; great characters, lots of action, twists and turns and great plotting. I thought this was a great book.

Posted in 2021, Contemporary Fiction, First Read, literary fiction, Novel, Suchen Christine Lim, Top Books

The River’s Song by Suchen Christine Lim

Ping, an American citizen, returns to Singapore after many years and sees a country transformed by prosperity. Gone are the boatmen and hawkers who once lived along the crowded riverside and in their place rise the gleaming towers of the financial district.

Her childhood growing up among the river people had been very different, and leaving her first love Weng, a musician, for America, had been devastating.

Now that she is back in Singapore, can she face her former lover and reveal the secret that has separated them for many years?

***

The man had come to play the bamboo flute.

1

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(@AuroraMetro, 1 April 2014, ebook, 290 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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AMAZON

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I stumbled across this book by chance when it was offered as a freebie on Amazon a while ago. I loved the cover and the blurb piqued my interest. I really enjoyed fiction by Japanese, Singapore authors and the like so I was looking forward to The River’s Song. I was pulled into Ping’s story from the first couple of paragraphs and didn’t want to stop reading. I loved the way the story develops starting with Ping’s memories of her childhood and coming to the present when she finds herself back where she grew up in a city much changed. I really loved the characters and the setting and how effortlessly it all comes to life. I couldn’t recommend this enough.

Posted in 2021, Contemporary Fiction, First Read, Horror Fiction, Kevin Lucia, Short Fiction

Things You Need by @KevinBLucia

The things we want are so very rarely the things we need.

Clifton Heights, a modest Adirondack town, offers many unique attractions. Arcane Delights sells both paperbacks and hard-to-find limited editions. The Skylark Diner serves the best home-cooked meals around, with friendly service and a smile. Every August, Mr. Jingo’s County Fair visits, to the delight of children and adults. In essence, Clifton Heights is the quintessential small American town. Everyone knows everyone else, and everyone is treated like family. It is quiet, simple, and peaceful.

But shadows linger here. Flitting in dark corners, from the corner of the eye. If you walk down Main Street after dark, the slight scrape of shoes on asphalt whispers you’re not alone, but when you look over your shoulder, no one is there. The moon shines high and bright in the night sky, but instead of throwing light, it only seems to make the shadows lengthen.

Children disappear. Teens run away. Hunters get lost in the woods with frightening regularity. Husbands go mad, and wives vanish in the dead of night. And still, when the sun rises in the morning, you are greeted by townspeople with warm waves and friendly smiles, and the shivers pass as everything seems fresh and new…

Until night falls once more.

Handy’s Pawn and Thrift sits several blocks down from Arcane Delights. Like any thrift store, its wares range from the mundane to the bizarre. By daylight, it seems just another slice of small town Americana. But in its window hangs a sign which reads: We Have Things You Need. And when a lonely traveling salesman comes looking for something he desperately wants, after normal visiting hours, after night has fallen, he will face a harsh truth among the shelves of Handy’s Pawn and Thrift: the things we want are rarely the things we need.

***

How’d I end up here?

1

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(@crystallakepub, 28 September 2018, ebook, 306 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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AMAZON

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This is a new author for me. I have a few of his titles that were on offer for free a while ago and I look forward to reading more of his work. This is more like a collection of short stories linked by a man who finds himself in the town by chance in the thrift store where he stumbles across some of the darkness at the heart of the town. I really enjoyed the stories but wanted to know more about the narrator. The thrift store reminded me a lot of the store in Stephen King’s Needful Things.

Posted in 2021, ARC, Blog Tour, Contemporary Fiction, Grainne Murphy, literary fiction, Novel

#TheGhostlights by @GraMurphy

Can we ever truly escape our past?

The Ghostlights is the poignant story of a family of Irish women who are each looking for the real meaning of home. This is a novel about family, obligation, identity and small-town life, written with deftness and sensitivity by the author of Where the Edge Is.

When a stranger checks into a family B&B – in a small village in rural Ireland – no one takes too much notice… at least until his body is found in the lake four days later.

The identity of the unknown guest raises questions for polar opposite twin sisters Liv and Marianne and their mother Ethel, all of whom feel trapped by the choices they made earlier in life. They each find themselves forced to confront their past, their present and what they really want from their future.

The new novel from Gráinne Murphy, whose short fiction has been longlisted for 2021 Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award.

***

It was too early for breakfast.

GOOD FRIDAY

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(@Legend_Times_, 1 September 2021, 233 pages, ebook, #ARC from the publisher and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 12 September)

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GET A COPY

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I’ve enjoyed other books from the author and was looking forward to The Ghostlights. I expected the book to focus on the dead guest in the B&B but this is not the main focal point of the story. The death instead serves as the catalyst for Liv, Marianne and Ethel to reassess their lives and choices. I really enjoyed the way the stories gradually come together and the way the author brings the small village where they live and the foibles of such places to life. I got a real sense of place from this book and fell in love with the vivid characters. This is a sad, beautiful book.

Posted in 2021, Contemporary Fiction, Elena Ferrante, library book, literary fiction, Novel

The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante

Giovanna’s pretty face has changed: it’s turning into the face of an ugly, spiteful adolescent. But is she seeing things as they really are? Into which mirror must she look to find herself and save herself? She is searching for a new face in two kindred cities that fear and detest one another: the Naples of the heights, which assumes a mask of refinement, and the Naples of the depths, which professes to be a place of excess and vulgarity. She moves between these two cities, disoriented by the fact that, whether high or low, the city seems to offer no answer and no escape.

***

Two years before leaving home my father said to my mother that I was very ugly.

1

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(@EuropaEdUK, 1 September 2020, ebook, 329 pages, borrowed from @GlasgowLib via @BorrowBox)

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AMAZON

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Ferrante has been on my radar for ages since I read and loved My Brilliant Friend but her books are always on loan at the library. The Lying Life of Adults was featured on the TV show Between The Covers and sounded good so I was delighted it was available. I don’t know if the same translator works on all the book but I loved the language, characters and use of imagery. I loved the way the book explores Giovanna’s coming of age and the relationship between her and her parents who seem to be self-obsessed. I didn’t want to stop reading the book. I really need to read her other books.

Posted in Adrian Tchaikovsky, Contemporary Fiction, First Read, Novel, Prime Reading, Science Fiction

Cage of Souls by @aptshadow

Humanity clings to life on a dying Earth in an epic, far-future science fiction novel from an award-winning author.

The sun is bloated, diseased, dying perhaps. Beneath its baneful light, Shadrapar, last of all cities, harbours fewer than 100,000 human souls. Built on the ruins of countless civilisations, Shadrapar is a museum, a midden, an asylum, a prison on a world that is ever more alien to humanity.

Bearing witness to the desperate struggle for existence between life old and new is Stefan Advani: rebel, outlaw, prisoner, survivor. This is his testament, an account of the journey that took him into the blazing desolation of the western deserts; that transported him east down the river and imprisoned him in the verdant hell of the jungle’s darkest heart; that led him deep into the labyrinths and caverns of the underworld. He will meet with monsters, madman, and mutants.

The question is which one of them will inherit this Earth?

***

Where to begin?

A GAME OF CHESS

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(@HoZ_Books, 4 April 2019, ebook, 559 pages, borrowed from @AmazonKindle, #PrimeReading)

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AMAZON

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I’ve heard of the author but never got round to reading his work before. Cage of Souls sounded like a terrific read so I decided to give it a shot. I had a great time reading it. I don’t often read science fiction but have started to read more in recent years, expanding my tastes. I was impressed by the world-building in the book and the way the author brings Shadrapar to life, making it so real. The book is narrated by Stefan and I enjoyed being inside his head as he goes through life altering events. This is a very definition of ‘epic’.

Posted in 2021, Contemporary Fiction, First Read, kevin ansbro, Novel, Top Books

The Fish That Climbed a Tree by @kevinansbro

Following his savage murder in a London vicarage, Reverend Ulysses Drummond embarks on an epic odyssey in the afterlife, wrestling with his conscience and misguidedly spurning the obvious advantages of a free ticket to Paradise.

His ten-year-old son, Henry, is left to muddle through life, encountering school bullies, big-hearted benefactors and cold-blooded killers on his passage to adulthood. Will Henry find love, success and happiness in his life – or will he suffer the cruel and agonising death that was foretold?

***

Due to his being dead for the past decade, Ulysses Drummond could only look on in horror as his son was doused in petrol.

PROLOGUE

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(2QT Limited, 7 December 2018, ebook, 242 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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AMAZON

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This is a new author for me. I stumbled across his work by chance when I saw this title promoted by Amazon. I loved the title and decided I had to read the book. I barely even glanced at the blurb. I really loved The Fish That Climbed a Tree. I’m a book freak and read a lot and can honestly say I haven’t read anything quite like this before, unique, engaging from the first line and entertaining. The book is the perfect blend of comedy and darkness. It touches on some dark subject matter but there are some comic gold moments as well. I can’t recommend this enough.

Posted in 2021, Contemporary Fiction, Novel, Sarah Hilary, thriller

Never Be Broken by @sarah_hilary

Noah Jake has seen dead bodies before but when a young woman falls to her death from a London tower block, landing in the bonnet of his car, everything changes for him. Has he witnessed an accident, suicide, or something worse? Whichever, it affects him deeply.

London’s young people are being trafficked into gangs, exploited, and killed. Thirteen-year-old Raffa Jordan was shot in the street, an innocent bystander in a gang war, or so it seems. It looks as if Samantha Haile is just the latest victim in the wave of violence sweeping the city. Only Noah feels the need to treat her differently, to chase down the truth of what happened that day.

Marnie Rome wants to help, but even she cannot grasp why Noah is risking so much for the sake of this stranger he never knew. As Marnie finally finds peace with her own past, she is faced with the far harder task of bringing Noah back from the brink of self-destruction.

***

The car alarm was still shrieking when Marnie reached the crime scene.

1

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(@headlinepg, 16 May 2019, ebook, 380 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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AMAZON

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I thought this was a riveting, fast-paced and intense read. This picks up quite soon after the last case, Come and Find Me with Noah struggling to cope with his brother’s Sol’s death, stabbed and left to die alone in a prison yard. I was impressed by the way the author handle’s Noah’s grief and his coping mechanism which I won’t discuss as it’s a major spoiler. I thought this was a unique angle to take and worked really well. I also liked the fact Marnie and her team clash with the people involved in the case, especially Raffa’s father whose grief manifests as anger, rage and racism which threatens to become something darker. This is a definite page-turner.