Books/book review/fiction/law enforcement/crime fiction/net galley

Taken for an unusual reason

The Taken Girls Book Cover The Taken Girls
GD Sanders
Thrillers, Crime, British Detective, Police Procedural
Avon; Digital original edition
(21 Feb. 2019)

Someone is watching them…

When a missing teenage girl reappears unharmed but pregnant, the case falls to DI Edina Ogborne, the newest recruit of Canterbury Police. But Ed’s already got her hands full with a team who don’t want her, an ex who won’t quit, and terrible guilt over a secret from her past.

As Ed investigates the case, she discovers Canterbury has seen this crime not once, but several times before. And when Ed and her detectives encounter missing historic police files, falsified school records, and Ed’s new lover as a prime suspect, it becomes clear that the system has been corrupted.

Can Ed find the kidnapper behind these depraved crimes before he strikes again? Or has time already run out?

This is a solid police procedural with the frustrations of modern policing and the requirements for solid evidence well portrayed. Not to mention the fact that the senior officers want good press coverage even when what you have is more speculative than fact and contradicts the above …
I found this new DI (a debut novel) to be a believable character – and fallible too, and was intrigued by the perpetrator and motives.
This is a series I think that will develop well and I look forward to reading more.

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Books/book review/Fantasy/Sci-Fi/net galley

Not so godly as it would seem

Orphanage of the Gods Book Cover Orphanage of the Gods
Helena Coggan
sci-fi, horror
Hodder & Stoughton
September 19, 2019

 In the glass city of Amareth, on a hill above a river, is an orphanage patrolled by soldiers with guns. Inside are the children left behind by the long-ago war in which humans all but wiped out their gods. Until they grow up, no one will know which are human, and which are not. Children who reveal hidden powers vanish from their beds. The Guardsmen discover every god, in the end. No one has ever escaped - until now. One day Hero, a seventeen-year-old half-god, breaks out of the orphanage and flees north with her brother Joshua. But the murderous Guard are on their tail, and they have something Hero wants desperately: her sister Kestrel, held captive in a towering stone prison in the northern sea. To survive and rescue Kestrel, Hero must outwit more than just the Guard. Lying in wait for them are a ragged band of gods-in-hiding, who promise help in exchange for eternal loyalty. Hero does not want to trust them - but as winter draws in and even Joshua begins to turn against her, her world starts to feel impossibly dangerous . . . ************ Praise for Helena Coggan's 'The Catalyst' 'This year's Divergent' - Sun 'A phenomenal achievement . . . assured, frightening, action-packed' - Observer 'A pulsing, labyrinthine, emotionally visceral plot' - Metro

I tried very hard to read this book as it seemed like a great concept and storyline. However, in my opinion, the actual writing style and complicated plot lines that confused me, made it a difficult read. I abandoned it about 50% of the way through as I felt it was not worth trying to complete.

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Books/book review/fiction/net galley

aka Hedgehog

Needlemouse Book Cover Needlemouse
Jane O'Connor
women's literature
Ebury Digital
(1 May 2019)

Time to come out of hibernation...

Sylvia Penton has been hibernating for years, it's no wonder she's a little prickly...

Sylvia lives alone, dedicating herself to her job at the local university. On weekends, she helps out at a local hedgehog sanctuary because it gives her something to talk about on Mondays - and it makes people think she's nicer than she is.

Only Sylvia has a secret: she's been in love with her boss, Professor Lomax, for over a decade now, and she's sure he's just waiting for the right time to leave his wife. Meanwhile she stores every crumb of his affection and covertly makes trouble for anyone she feels gets in his way.

But when a bright new PhD candidate catches the Professor’s eye, Sylvia’s dreams of the fairy tale ending she has craved for so long, are soon in tatters, driving her to increasingly desperate measures and an uncertain future.

Sylvia might have been sleep walking through her life but things are about to change now she’s woken up…

(actually a hog – a pig relative)

Whilst I quite liked this rather sweet novel about obsession and its consequences – and how stalking can come about – I wish stories about universities were a little more realistic.

Unless ‘her’ Professor was working in an Oxbridge university or was a ‘name’ and thus bought in for prestige, the whole concept of a personal administrator has long gone. Universities just can’t afford them. Nor can they afford Professors who sit around their offices all day writing without producing. It would be nice – but generally speaking, Professors are busy on committees, holding seminars, seeing multiple research students, and networking, as well as lecturing. Administrative staff are usually not required to submit students’ work to any conference – and a conference would require several months notice of submission due to the peer reviewed process it would need to go through. Sometimes they will book flights and accommodation but often these days, staff do this themselves and then get reimbursed.

So a lovely view of what university life must have been like some 20-30 years ago perhaps?

That said, I liked the hedgehog component. It was the saviour of the story really – they really are blameless creatures who are totally dumb, and sanctuaries deserve all the support they can obtain. We once found a nest of babies in our greenhouse. The mother had gone in there, late in the year and had got herself killed by getting tangled in support wires for tomatoes. The babies were too small for hibernation and we took them to Tiddlewinkles and gave a generous donation for their care.

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Books/book review/net galley/crime fiction

The Consequences pile up

A Banquet of Consequences


Elizabeth George

A NetGalley (honest) review
For me, this one of her best novels so far...
A complex story with a multitude of who dunnit and why?
Lots of, ‘Just what was the relevance of that?’ too which all meant that you had better have your memory caps on when you read this story or you might forget the relationships and potential rationales each one had for murders and more.
This book was set in a part of the countryside of which I am quite familiar so I decided to do some online exploration to see just what I could show visitors to this webpage who had not been there what it was like.
It’s hard to choose as the small towns – YetminsterYetminster – SherborneSherborne_the_green - in this part of the SouthWest of England are very cute and beautifully built in local stone which is golden in colour. And the coast has sandy beaches and high – very crumbly – cliffs – Golden Cap Golden Cap overlooking Lyme Bay– over Lyme Bay.
The area was noted for its wool trade and the grass is kept well clipped by the sheep that wander there and their wool is used in carpets.
And then there is Spitalfields in London which still has the houses that the silk weavers used with the high windowed lofts Spitalfieldsin which they spun and wove their cloth, and of course our famous Petticoat Lane market petticoat-lane-wentworth-street-market-london-east-end-e1-england-A845FMof the East End which sells colourful, often ethnic, clothing at reasonable prices.
The other parts of this book which interested me was the concept of anyone training a cat to walk on a leash! I have heard about this but still... but I found a great article about this with good photos and videos.
We have never attempted this, but we did used to have a cat which went on walks with us – of her own accord. Never too far, but round the block or two.
And finally the great psychological assistance dog – the Havanese. Not a breed I was familiar with – Havanese but looks really cute.
Havanese are good for this purpose as they are known as a ‘velcro’ dog. A dog that stays glued to your side and the breed has been also been used in the circus and for dog sports as well as for handicap assistance.
When I looked the reed up, there was a long list of dog attributes to look for in any dog which relate to its purpose and the ones that make Havanese so useful for handicap work are:
  1. It adapts well to apartment living;
  2. It is good for novice owners;
  3. It has good sensitivity;
  4. It is friendly;
  5. And good with a family;
  6. As well as other dogs;
  7. And strangers;
  8. It is easy to train;
  9. Doesn’t need masses of exercise;
  10. And is a good companion and playful.
I didn’t guess who was the real murderer until they were revealed in the very final chapter, which is unusual for me and which is one of the reasons I am awarding this novel a 5 star.
I have read just about all of George’s novels but found myself getting bogged down in one or two, and others had such terrible story lines (in the issues that befell their characters), that you wondered if you could stomach reading on as they were so emotionally harrowing.
That was not the case here. This was a more traditional tale of murder where the means were explicit but who they were intended for, when they could have been administered, by whom and so on were really far from explicit and as the story progressed an alternative explanation and more alternatives were explained and explored as each new piece of data was revealed.

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Books/book review/net galley/crime fiction

May the Ghostly Writers become Visible

A Cozy Mystery.

Cosy mysteries, also referred to simply as "cosies", are a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community according to Wikipedia.
The community in this novel being that of Ghostwriters.
Now ghostwriters are rarely acknowledged and it is rare for them to be even mentioned in the acknowledgements of books that they have written. Yet it is often well known that a number of high profile people have had their memoirs written by ghostwriters.
James Patterson has now got to the point where he acknowledges his ghostwriters as co-authors eg Peter de Jonge.
It is interesting that if you Google ghostwriters you are immediately faced with a number of companies offering such services.
And one is very blatant – Andrew Crofts who, according to his website,  has published more than eighty books, a dozen of which were Sunday Times number one bestsellers.
He has also ‘guided’ a number of international clients through this genre and is said, to be the UK ghostwriter.
He has written his own book ‘Confessions of a Ghostwriter’ and also a handbook for those who want to be one.. He says that ghostwriting gives him the opportunity to write, be paid and to stay at home when the ‘author’ has to undertake the hard work of publicity. If they are lucky they will also split the profit 50/50.
So you can be a professional writer with little or none of the uncertainty and lots of cash. Hence the fact that in this novel, the ghostwriters swan around in high fashion labels and clearly have money to spare – or at least the more successful ones do.
And is this point where I thought the novel showed its age.
I found out that it had originally been published in 1999 because the fashion that is discussed is very clearly of that age and it is a shame that it was not updated when republished. The same goes for the style of the interiors. Both of these I found off-putting in a novel due out in 2016.
Now Wikipedia says that the detectives in cosy stories are nearly always amateurs and women. Here we have one of the ghostwriters herself taking on this role.
They are typically well educated, intuitive, and often hold jobs that bring them into constant contact with other residents of the surrounding region.  Well the ‘detective’ is a member and friends with all the local ghostwriters as they all go to socials together and even have their own version of alcoholics anonymous to deal with their feelings of being out of the limelight – unlike Andrew Crofts.
Now in cosies the murderers are typically neither psychopaths nor serial killers, and, once unmasked, are usually taken into custody without violence. They are generally members of the community where the murder occurs, able to hide in plain sight, and their motives—greed, jealousy, revenge—are often rooted in events years, or even generations, old.
In fact in this book there were 2 deaths before we were 30% of the way through – and I thought ‘o oh do we have a Midsummer’s Murders, here?’, but no we didn’t kill off 90% of the cast before the end of the book!
Apart from my criticism over the fashion I thought this was a well written book of the genre. I didn’t guess the murderer at all so to me this is a sign of excellent craftsmanship.
I also liked a number of the characters especially the medium – she was wonderfully kooky and you were left wondering whether or not she really did contact the dead.
4 stars

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