The WORD is MURDER – Anthony Horowitz

The WORD is MURDERKeeping in mind that the author is the hugely talented author of a James Bond novel as well as being a Sherlock Holmes expert and screen-writer of some fame, with FOYLE’S WAR, one of my all-time favourites, to his credit, this offering does live up to demanding expectations.

The Word is Murder was more than an unputdownable whodunnit; it was a reading experience so on the edge of reality, linked to so many real people, with the author playing the part of himself, that the line between reality and fiction got so faint as to almost disappear.

Anthony Horowitz

Anthony Horowitz

As the blurb puts it, to the unpleasant detective, Daniel Hawthorne, fired from Scotland Yard, Horowitz reluctantly becomes the Watson to his Holmes. The Hastings to his Poirot. Hawthorne wants him to write a book about Hawthorne solving the mystery of a woman who arranges her own funeral and then is murdered a few hours later. There is one slight drawback – the mystery hasn’t yet been solved…

The plot is well twisted, the characters sharply sketched and the writing almost Conan-Doyleish. A seriously entertaining read.

My reviews are strictly honest. Thanks to Penguin Random House South Africa for this ARC.

 

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TROUBLE AT RED PUEBLO – Liz Adair

Five Stars! I loved this whodunnit.

Trouble at Red PuebloDeputy Sheriff, Spider Latham takes time off to go the Red Pueblo Museum for a friend to find out who is behind the efforts to wreck the museum financially. His wife Laurie goes along for the trip and, unsuspectingly they find themselves, and the community, up against a murderer.

It is quite awhile since I have come across such a huge group of valid suspects! There are a dozen possible perps and as many motives. Love, rejection, greed, ambition, desperation, hate, jealousy. The depths are well plumbed and the characters are real and recognisable. There is as least one character there just for the humour and warm eccentricity. So many of them are just plain real.

The raw Western US setting is described by an author with a great love of the country and a marvellous sense of place and history. The blood and the sex is subtly understated, which is a trait that suits me well. She has an equally fine ability to tune a mystery to the last surprising twist, but what I found overwhelming was the warm humanity of her principal protagonist, and his vulnerability to self doubt.

Liz Adair

Liz Adair

After never having heard of LIZ ADAIR, I now cannot wait to get my hands on more of her whodunnit stories.

My review is a Thank You to her free promo for the eBook copy.

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HERE and GONE – Haylen Beck

Here and Gone - BeckYou are on the run from a manipulative and heartless husband, just looking for a place for the night for yourself and your two kids. You have been pulled over on a lonely road by the sheriff who finds a baggie of ganja in your luggage. His deputy arrives to take the children to a place of safety while you are booked into the cells. Terrified, you demand to know where your children are going.

“What children?” queries the sheriff.

That’s when I started hyperventilating…

Brilliant stuff!

Haylen Beck

Haylen Beck, alias Stuart Neville

Haylen Beck is a pseudonym of the best-selling Irish author, Stewart Neville whose thriller, RAT LINES was reviewed with great enthusiasm back in April 2013 on MEAN STREETS book reviews.

 “What have you done with your children?” The sheriff, the FBI, child services, the reporters and the public demand to know. It hits the news country-wide. Across the country, a man who lost his daughter in strangely similar circumstance and whose wife committed suicide under the pressure of the accusations, decides to come and take a look. In no time he is drawn into the search for what he becomes convinced are abductees.

Despite knowing who the baddies are right from the get-go, the tension is screwed up tight simply by everyone’s disbelief in her tale. She has a reputation for being a drunk and a druggy, while the sheriff and the deputy seem spotless.

Five star thriller entertainment, this one! Well written, solid character sketches and a believable plot.

Thank you to PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE, SOUTH AFRICA for this ARC for an honest review.

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MOVING TARGET – Lynette Eason

Elite Guardians #3.

Moving Target - Eason

There is nothing that helps the making of successful video games better than filming the hunting of real fleeing prey with cross-bow bolts and digitalising the action. Recipe: Drug Maddy McKay and Detective Quinn Holcombe, and take them to an isolated private island when you can hunt them down as they flee, a hundred cameras catching the action and mics to hear them scream…

Detective Quinn and his team are sniffing out clues to the whereabouts of a killer. But there is a list of who has to die and in what order.

Being the third in a series in which these two main characters feature is not a setback to starting here, as I did. What was unusual, and a little odd for a crime-fiction addict was the solid romantic thread, as well as the spiritual thread. It felt out of place in that Maddy seemed to almost be making it a condition of their relationship that Holcombe admit to needing some prayer and faith in his life.

Lynette Eason

Lynette Eason

Still, I enjoyed it and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this tale to thriller addicts, regardless.

ARC from Revell Publishing of the Baker Publishing Group, via Michele Misiak through NetGalley. Thank you, and also to Karen Steele, US Publicist.

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PURGATORY ROAD – Samuel Parker

Purgatory Road - ParkerThe portrait of the city slicker’s arrogance and inferiority complex is scarily realistic causing one to want to smack him at the same time as sympathizing. The cruel and accurate reading of his vulnerability by the unsavoury pump attendant as the last person to see the couple before they take a drive into the unremitting Mojave Desert is very well portrayed, as is his wife’s loyalty and support until she finally needs to act.

The couple’s rental car stops, cuts out in the middle of nowhere in the sizzling heat and the wait for someone – just anyone – to rescue them is moisture-sappingly brilliant. It seems to be more of a road to Hell, but at least Purgatory holds out some hope of redemption. They are finally rescued by a wizened desert hermit who takes them to his isolated caravan and promises to take them out of there when he – and they – are ready. When he decides…

Samuel Parker

Samuel Parker

That the pump attendant is a psycho serial killer comes as no surprise. He has a cave way out in the desert with chains plugged into the floor where he entertains his blood lust, and the Devil at his elbow to spur him on.

The two tales take awhile to collide, and when they do, all hell breaks loose.

It took me some time to come to terms with the supernatural aspects of the story, but looking back, I would have it no other way. The title is more than apt; and redemption has its price.

ISBN 978-0-8007-2733-8. www.revellbooks.com

ARC from Revell Publishing of the Baker Publishing Group, via Michele Misiak through NetGalley.

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TWO NIGHTS – Kathy Reichs

I am a Tempe Brennan fan, but not to rake up old bones, this is a stand-alone diversion. A fast moving exciting tale for whom, if it was for a debut novelist, I’d be encouragingly optimistic.

Two Nights

But Kathy Reichs is a furnace-cured seasoned author of some stature and, unfortunately, this tale is not up to her usual standard.

The plot is satisfactory. Tough ex-Afghanistan Vet, ex-cop, a feisty woman by the name of Sunday Night with psychological issues and physical scars living as recluse, is called on to investigate the missing, maybe dead, teenaged grandchild of a wealthy Chicago woman. After much soul searching she sets out to so. No spoilers.

kathy-reichs

Kathy Reichs

The flow is interrupted, rather than punctuated, by the scenes of a young girl in the captivity of what appears to be a religious cult. It is gripping, though, and there is plenty of biting humour. The subsidiary characters, however, are not as well portrayed and I found the appearance of her twin brother, seemingly out of nowhere, puzzling, although they made a great team.

There are twists but not devastatingly so.

ISBN 978-0-434-02112-3.

A William Heinemann imprint from Penguin Random House UK. Thank you to Penguin Random House SA for the ARC.

www.kathyreichs.com

www.penguin.co.uk

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LEDSTON LUCK – Andrew Barrett

EDDIE COLLINS series # 4.

Andrew Barrett is now on the top shelf and compares well with any of the best in the crime thriller genre. I am a fan.

Ledston Luck - E C #4

He is striking a nice balance with enough necessary expert detail which is so easy to over-do when the writer really knows his subject.

His protagonist, Eddie Collins, is a singularly stubborn character who sticks his nose, and often to its detriment, his whole face and even his life, where it doesn’t belong. He doesn’t have a life, except his job; a CSI or Socco, rooting out the tiniest of indicative details from a crime scene and hounding them to death. He skates on the edge – nay, beyond the edge – of his superiors tolerance for insubordination.

Andrew Barrett

Andrew Barrett

The tension is drum-skin tight, the characters, good and evil, are well drawn and credible, the finale is explosive. The couldn’t-put-it-down cliché is spot on. This is highly recommended crime fiction. More please, Mr. Barrett!

Thank you for this Kindle Edition from the author.

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INTO THE WATER – Paula Hawkins

Much expected from the successful author of  highly proclaimed THE GIRL on the TRAIN!

Into the Water - Hawkins 

A small community living on a river bank flanked by a cliff is, and has been, a site for drowning women as far back as the days of the witches. Hence the local name, “The Drowning Pool”.

Fifteen year old Lena’s best friend joins the list, and worse, Lena’s mother, Nel, with a compulsive interest in the history of the pool, is soon also a victim. Nel’s sister Jules, having ignored several calls from her estranged sibling, arrives to try and reconcile her own bitter past relationship with her memory of Nel. It begins to dawn on her that, ill-equipped as she is, she now must also take responsibility for Lena. And Lena doesn’t like or trust her.

The characters are each quite well sketched, but to my mind there are too many of them. I won’t list them as that would require an explanation as to how they all fit together, and that would drown the reader in the pool as well. Ten-plus points-of-view; so that none blossom completely. If I have to pick a hero, it won’t be Jules who seems to be put forward as the main protagonist, but Lena who behaves with a maturity beyond her years.

Paula Hawkins

Paula Hawkins

It is not a spoiler to assume that the drownings are not all suicides, as is at first supposed, but the police are involved in the investigation, and in the story, in more ways than one.

If I was handing out merit stars, three would be my max.

My thanks to Penguin Random House, South Africa for this review copy.

 www.penguin.co.uk

A Doubleday imprint – ISBN 978-0-857-52443-0

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NIGHTHAWK – Clive Cussler & Graham Brown.

As true to the Cussler tradition of high adventure as any of his best. Another one from the NUMA Files; a gripping ride from one dire situation to the next.

Nighthawk - Cussler.jpg

An American space craft is high-jacked just after re-entry and goes off the radar somewhere near the Galapagos Islands. The Chinese, the Russians and the USA all scramble to find it and secure the craft and its cargo. Kurt Austin of NUMA and his team get on the trail of the underwater debris field with one narrow escape after the other only to find themselves with just enough clues to lead them to a lake in the mountains of Peru where the antagonists find themselves all dancing to the skilful fingers of a master puppeteer as he manipulates a disaster to the world far beyond anyone’s imagining.

 

By now, the ZUMA team are old friends and the reader joins them with a sense of belonging, part of the crew, to save the world. A thoroughly satisfying read with a plausible deadly plot that flows from cliff to precipice to freefall and a nerve-snapping finale.

clive-cussler

Clive Cussler

Graham Brown 2

Graham Brown

A Penguin/Michael Joseph Imprint from Penguin Random House, South Africa for review by Book Postmortem. www.penguin.co.uk

ISBN 978-0-718-18289-2

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DEAD LETTERS – Caite Dolan-Leach

A fairly satisfying mystery, but by no means a thriller, following an electronic and real paper chase amongst a series of multi-hued herrings awash with wine and pills.

Dead Letters - Dolan-Leach.jpg

Summoned home to the news that a fire has destroyed the barn on the family vineyard, Ava is told that her twin sister, Zelda, was sleeping in the loft there and the police and forensic investigators are sifting through the wreckage to establish whether the remains contain her body.

 Twins, yes; but Ava the neat and orderly A, through the alphabet to Zany Zelda. Ava must follow the trail laid by her crazy sister, picking up threads of clues embedded in historic and current relationships, including those of their divorced parents who are temporarily forced back together for the tragic loss of Zelda. Added to the chaos is their mother’s disease which needs constant attention, supervision and drugs, washed down with several glasses of wine.

Phone messages from Zelda days after the fire convince Ava that her sister is leading them all a merry dance, but she dare not divulge her conclusions to the police or her family for fear of raising both hopes and suspicions, because there is a body in the blackened embers, and the doors were chained and locked. Murder is the obvious answer, but where Zelda is concerned, nothing is obvious.

 The nose will quickly define an intriguing blend of characters; quirky, maybe, but real and earthy. Unfortunately not always particularly likeable. Mum, whose money made it possible to keep the vineyard going, despite a continued succession of less than successful years, remains there, her alcoholic cushion both exacerbating her disease and making life bearable for herself if for nobody else. Their dad heads for California for new pastures, and vineyards. And women. Ava flees to Paris and Zelda is left trying to hold the fort.

Caite Dolan-Leach

Caite Dolan-Leach

The writing is like a really good dry red, there is a smooth flow and it is mostly easy to swallow, but with a dictionary nearby. And the next glass promised keeps the palate asking for more. It is not easy to put this bottle away until the last drop. And the denouement cannot be construed as dregs.

Surely, with promise like this, the author can look forward to another year of even better vintage.

 

Thanks to the Penguin Random House marketing team for this review copy.

A Corvus Imprint of Atlantic Books, London.

www.corvusbooks.co.uk

ISBN 978-1-78649-130-5

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