Book review: Still Life by Val McDermid

Sunday, August 23, 2020 Permalink

It’s great to see DCI Karen Pirie and her cold case underling DC Jason Murray back again in Still Life, the sixth in the series by Val McDermid.

Here Pirie’s Historic Case Unit team (of two) is paired with an inexperienced crime squad in Fife when a new murder has ties to a past crime.

I particularly enjoyed the introduction of DS Daisy Mortimer from the crime squad. She’s keen to learn and I appreciated the honest ‘we’re-in-over-our-heads-and-happy-for-help’ approach with which McDermid portrays her and her boss Charlie. Rather than any petty rivalry cos that bastard-ry and competitiveness between cops can get a bit old.

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four-stars

Book review: Blunt Force by Lynda LaPlante

Tuesday, August 18, 2020 Permalink

In my review of the previous book in the (young) Jane Tennison series (The Dirty Dozen) I commented that I thought Jane was finally becoming more accepted by her male colleagues. Of course in that book she’d been appointed to the Flying Squad (the Sweeney) and very excited about it until she learned she was part of an experiment and—of course—things didn’t go as planned.

When Blunt Force opens she’s still a Detective Sergeant but posted to a small station and bored shitless. She’s there with colleague Spencer who’s also in the bad books and been sidelined. On a positive note… though she still seems to be the one fetching lunch and making tea and coffee, she and her abilities as a copper seem to be respected by her new colleagues.

Happily for Jane (and Spencer) they pick up a grisly murder case so get to escape the boring pickpockets and petty thefts.

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four-stars

Book review: Cry Baby by Mark Billingham

Thursday, August 13, 2020 Permalink

I’m a fan of Mark Billingham and Detective Tom Thorne. I read the sixteenth in the series (Their Little Secret) last year and assumed this would pick up where it left off. In fact, I didn’t read the backcover blurb at all before I started the book and found it a little strange that the series was set in the past and I didn’t remember that being the case.

I knew I disliked his partner or girlfriend and was relieved she seemed to be moving on; and here Tom’s separated from his wife. So it made sense but it didn’t. And, as it happens, there’s nothing in the book until the very end that references that this is a flashback of sorts*. It meant that I read the book amidst some puzzlement worrying that my memory was even worse than it is and that I’d just not remembered the books were set in the 1990s.

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four-stars

Book review: Sticks and Stones by Katherine Firkin

Tuesday, May 26, 2020 Permalink

I suspect Sticks and Stones by Katherine Firkin will eventually become Detective Emmett Corban #1, but as this is Firkin’s debut novel it’ll probably be updated once the next book in the series comes along. And—in case you’re wondering—I believe there will be another book as Emmett is eminently likeable and Firkin creates an engaging support ensemble to assist in the series’ longevity.

I read Sticks and Stones before Buried by Lynda La Plante and in that review I commented on the fact that our lead detective (Jack) was kinda ungrateful for the opportunity he’d been given in the Serious Crimes Squad. I said that with Emmett in mind… as he’d been keen for a place in the Homicide or Cold Case Squad after a promotion… instead finding himself heading up the Missing Persons’ Unit which he ‘finds’ (#sorrynotsorry) less-than-exciting.

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four-stars

Book review: Buried by Lynda LaPlante

Thursday, May 21, 2020 Permalink

I adore Lynda LaPlante’s Prime Suspect series, along with her ‘young’ Jane Tennison prequels (set in the 1970s) so was excited to see her new release Buried – kicking off a brand new series.

Here we’re introduced to Detective Jack Warr. He’s a bit of an unlikely lead character: he’s not really ambitious and somewhat ambivalent about his career in the Met’s Serious Crimes Squad though many would probably envy the opportunity.

His team is presented with a case however, that intrigues him a little. Even more so when it seems to have personal links to his own family history.

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three-half-stars

Book review: Red Dirt Country by Fleur McDonald

Sunday, March 29, 2020 Permalink

I LOVE Fleur McDonald’s Dave Burrows series’. And yes, that apostrophe is meant to be there—I think—cos there are two of them. In case you’ve been living under a rock, McDonald is basically releasing books in two timeframes as if we’re in some weird Sliding Doors-like timewarp thingy.

In addition to an interrelated series set in the present, which features Burrows though he’s not always the headline act, McDonald takes us back in time a couple of decades (kicking off in the late 1990s) to Burrows’ early years as a cop.

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four-stars

Book review: The Good Turn by Dervla McTiernan

Thursday, February 20, 2020 Permalink

I’ve heard Irish-born Australian-dwelling author Dervla McTiernan speak on a number of occasions, met her briefly and follow her on social media. She’s confirmation of my belief that authors (whose books I enjoy) are always likeable and engaging ‘off’ the page as well as on.

Though I liked her debut, The Ruin (the first in the Cormac Reilly series) I didn’t love it as much as most. Of course it went on to win a million awards so it says something about my judgement!

I actually preferred her second novel, The Scholar, again featuring Cormac. And now that I’ve read her third book in the series, it’s knocked its predecessor of its mantle. The Good Turn, is easily my favourite of the three (to date); so readers need not fear McTiernan has peaked!

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four-stars

Book review: All The Rage by Cara Hunter

Friday, January 17, 2020 Permalink

When I shared that I’d be reading this book a few people commented on how much they love Cara Hunter’s books and the DI Adam Fawley series. I was embarrassed that I’d not heard of them before. It may be because they’re more popular overseas than here in Australia. Either that or I live under a rock, I’m not sure.

But although I’ve started with number four (and I hate entering series’ part way through) I very much enjoyed this book. I suspect I’ve been privy to some spoilers from previous outings but I’d definitely still be interested in reading some earlier books in the series.

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four-stars

Book review: The Night Fire by Michael Connelly

Monday, October 21, 2019 Permalink

I was very excited when Michael Connelly started pairing long-time fan favourite Harry Bosch with newcomer Renee Ballard. It is interesting though as I think Ballard’s character is sufficiently strong and charismatic enough to carry a series on her own. Having said that the pair are perfect foils for each other. Partners but not partners. Officially, anyway. And I like there’s a recognition of what it is the other does well (or not) and a mutual respect continuing to grow between the pair.

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four-stars