Book review: Dirt Town by Hayley Scrivenor

Wednesday, June 15, 2022 Permalink

Dirt Town by Hayley Scrivenor won several awards before it was even published, taking out the Kill Your Darlings (literary magazine) Unpublished Manuscript Award and being shortlisted for Penguin’s Literary Prize. And it’s certainly worthy of those accolades, in addition to the glowing reviews I’ve been seeing on social media.

Scrivenor’s writing is stunning and her character development and story arc (here) perfectly paced. She manages to offer readers both a sense of urgency – in the search for a missing girl – but also recreate that small-town (claustrophobic) laconic pace so you can feel the town, its occupants and secrets, dragging you down.

four-half-stars

Book review: Into the Dark by Fiona Cummins

Thursday, April 7, 2022 Permalink

Into the Dark by Fiona Cummins is the fourth book I’ve read by the English author and she certainly does domestic noir brilliantly. I was fooled here for much of the novel and quite surprised by the direction it takes. I note in my review of When I Was Ten I commented on her adding in a few twists when we assumed we had all of the answers and she does the same thing here. It takes a clever writer to keep secrets from her readers when her narrators are seemingly telling us everything we need to know.

four-stars

Book review: Dream Town by David Baldacci

Monday, April 4, 2022 Permalink

Dream Town by David Baldacci is the third in the Aloysius Archer series featuring former soldier, turned inmate, turned private investigator. A couple of years (in book-land, one year in real life) have passed since we last met Archer in A Gambling Man and he’s obviously been honing his detecting skills under stalwart and old-school PI Willie Dash.

We (along with Archer) are reunited with wannabe starlet Liberty Callahan here – though she’s more of a sounding board (and object of desire) than involved in Archer’s case.

four-stars

Book review: The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Saturday, March 12, 2022 Permalink

The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen is the fourth book I’ve read by the editor/writer duo and all four books have a place on my bookshelf which is a clear indicator I’ve enjoyed them enough to decide to keep them – which I don’t often do nowadays.

Their latest is another twisty and intriguing tale that I very much enjoyed. It wasn’t quite what I expected which is a good thing. At its centre is a disgraced therapist and I was expecting someone dodgy with nefarious motivations which is not at all the case.

four-stars

Book review: The Vacation by John Marrs

Sunday, January 9, 2022 Permalink

The Vacation by John Marrs is a difficult book to write about. It’s certainly an addictive read as I was desperate to see how it ended – or more accurately – how our characters all fared.

In some ways it’s a bit like a Woody Allen-esque movie featuring a series of vignettes with an array of characters, all with their own stories that come together in some unbelievably coincidental way at the end.

three-half-stars

Book review: Mercy by David Baldacci

Wednesday, October 27, 2021 Permalink

One of the first things you’ll be told as a budding writer is to ‘show’ not ‘tell’. Because apparently audiences (ie. readers) find it boring (or at least less engaging) and feel patronised. At least that’s why I’ve always assumed you don’t provide laborious detail in your prose.

David Baldacci very much breaks that rule in the beginning of his latest novel, Mercy, providing backstory on FBI Agent Atlee Pine and her sister, kidnapped three decades earlier. And I for one appreciated it because, even though I’ve read the entire series AND re-read my review of Mercy’s predecessor, Daylight, I was a bit murky on the details. So Baldacci’s summary – succinct yet informative – hit the spot.

four-stars

Book review: The Hiding Place by Jenny Quintana

Monday, April 5, 2021 Permalink

The Hiding Place is the third novel I’ve read by Jenny Quintana. Looking at my ratings and reviews, my appreciation of her books is pretty consistent. I enjoy them and usually read them in a sitting.

I notice I’ve commented before on the pacing or found their conclusions unsatisfying however, and it was the same here.

It was only when I was in bed after I’d finished reading, that certain factors played on my mind. If you’ve read the book you might also have wondered about Connie’s luggage including the letter from her lover. Why did Quintana make the current tenant of flat one so elusive and felt like an unfollowed thread? And why did Marina try to talk to everyone but Mrs Hyde?

Of course the fact I was pondering it hours after closing the book is probably also a good thing.

three-half-stars

Book review: A Gambling Man by David Baldacci

Friday, April 2, 2021 Permalink

I wasn’t a fan of David Baldacci’s Camel Club series* but have loved almost everything he’s published since. Indeed, his books take up quite a bit of real estate on my bookshelves. I particularly love his Amos Decker and Atlee Pine series but somehow I missed the first in his new historical crime fiction series featuring ex-con Aloysius Archer.

And I enjoyed this so much I’m going to be hunting down its predecessor, One Good Deed.

four-stars

Book review: Daylight by David Baldacci

Wednesday, October 28, 2020 Permalink

I’ve really been enjoying David Baldacci’s series featuring FBI agent Atlee Pine. Daylight is the third in the series and pairs her up with another of Baldacci’s regulars, Army CID officer John Puller.

Although the first two books in this series have also featured stand-alone investigations, they’ve been set against a backdrop of a mystery spanning thirty years and one driving Pine. She made some significant progress in the last book in this series A Minute to Midnight and she’s got time off to follow through here. Those who haven’t read any other books in the series need not worry however, as Baldacci recaps Pine’s backstory easily and most of this book is devoted to a new investigation.

four-stars