WINTER SISTERS – Robin Oliveira

Mary Sutter #2.

When the 1879 blizzard that devastates Albany, New York, finally releases its killer grip, close family friends, husband and wife, of Dr Mary Sutter and her physician husband, have both lost their lives. But more troubling is the fact that their two daughters of ten and six are missing.

The two doctors and their friends search for weeks, to no avail, until they are unexpectedly found and taken to the home of the doctors. The elder girl has been savagely misused; the younger untouched.

The story is one of family compassion, of defending the weak, of righting wrongs in the face of prejudice and bigotry. It is at once a who-dunnit as well as a look at historical women’s rights and the power of courageous family love attempting to heal the damage caused by arrogant and powerful men.

Robin Oliveira

This is a compelling mystery, at once exciting, shocking and heartwarming. Easy reading as well as gripping, the characters are well fleshed. Going on from the story of Mary Sutter, the midwife who became a Civil War surgeon, it features possibly too many characters, initially confusing, who might not be there if not for the previous book, MY NAME IS MARY SUTTER.

Herewith an honest review. Thank you for this Penguin imprint ARC to PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE, South Africa.

ISBN 9780399564260.

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RUN AWAY – Harlan Coben

Run AwayYour eldest daughter has run away; she does not want to be found. Then you see her in a park, busking. You hardly recognise her, so wasted, so shrunken and filthy is she; but you can’t help yourself reaching out to beg her to come home. Her boyfriend tries to stop you. You punch him, and the crowd turns on you as your daughter flees.

So begins a father’s nightmare search.

Simon Greene is not persuaded by his wife, to leave their daughter alone to the drugged existence she has chosen. After all, they have tried the rehab route before to no avail. But, seeing his determination, she reluctantly comes along to help find her. Gunfire in a filthy tenement block erupts. That’s when his world shatters into even smaller pieces.

Secrets. Just how shocked is he to find who is keeping secrets from him, and how far will he go to keep secrets from even his own nearest and dearest?


Harlan Coben – author

More importantly, would he kill to protect them?

And who is murdering young men all over the USA and what connection do they have to an isolated cult known as The Truth? And to Simon’s daughter?

This is another top-notch Coben twister I could not put down.

Herewith an honest review. Thank you for this Century imprint ARC to PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE, South Africa.

ISBN 9781780894263

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THE SECRETARY – Renee Knight

The SecretaryThe plot is centred on the relationship between the absolutely discreet and loyal secretary, Personal Assistant Christine Butcher, and her driven ruthless boss, supermarket mogul, Mina Appleton. It is Christine’s post-traumatic diary of the events leading up to that present situation. She has fled to a place of safety, so the reasons for that are at once intriguing, and create the read-on fever.

The pace is slow. So slow that the desire to find out what exciting happening is going to be created – for me, anyway – there is temptation to skip ahead.

The characters: the ruthless business woman, whose own father is her first victim, does not hesitate to descend to underhand, if not downright illegal, methods of self enrichment. She is aided and abetted by her obsessively loyal secretary. But somehow they did not quite gel, sadly. Christine unrealistically loses her grip on a loving husband and daughter as she becomes enslaved to her obsession to be the perfect secret keeper. The two characters should have been fictionally real, but they are not totally convincing.

Renee Knight

Renee Knight – author

Three quarters of the story reflects on how Christine gets trapped in a snare largely of her own setting, and the last is what she decides to do about it.

Thank you to Penguin Random House, South Africa for this Doubleday Imprint ARC.

ISBN 9780857522856.

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NEVER TELL – Lisa Gardner

Never Tell.jpgExcellent! A thriller, a whodunnit until the last moment with more twists than a corkscrew. This is my first Lisa Gardner, but wow! Where has she been all my reading life? She has 20 previous novels to her name. Her 10th in the Detective D.D.Warren Series, picks up three main points of view – 2 in the first person present, which I have never encountered before, but I think she got away with it.

There is D.D. herself, a sergeant in the Boston PD, supposedly now a supervisor, but still keen to get her hands dirty at the coal-face.

Her so-called CT, confidential informer, Flora Dane, is maybe even more interesting. She is a survivor, turned vigilante, who here, where she recognises the victim on TV news in a shooting, is forced to confront her own traumatic history for clues to D.D.’s current case. Her memory that her nemesis, the evil now dead but ever-haunting, Jacob Ness, met with the present victim, requires that she revisit the past, despite swearing never to do so.

Then there is the suspect, pregnant Evie, with a smoking gun in her hands as she stands over the body of her husband when the cops break down the door. D.D. recognises her as the same Evie of sixteen years before who accidentally shot her own mathematical genius father with a shotgun. Her guilt seems a slam-dunk, but she is a part of a family capable of keeping a host of surprising secrets, and that includes those of her dead husband.

Lisa Gardner

Lisa Gardner – author

With an intriguing, credible plot of twists, the action is fast, the tension breath-robbing and the characters well-sketched. Bravo! If Gardner hasn’t yet won the title of Thriller Queen, it is high time.

Herewith an honest review. Thank you for this Century imprint ARC to PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE, South Africa.

ISBN. 9781780897738.

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CELTIC EMPIRE – Clive Cussler & Dirk Cussler

Celtic Empire.jpgA DIRK PITT NOVEL – An entertaining adventure packed full of action and our well-known heroes: Dirk Pitt, and all his NUMA team, plus his son and daughter, Summer and Dirk Pitt Jnr. all behaving heroically and surviving, of course. Well, mostly, anyway. Yes, I enjoyed it, more than some.

Adventure? Absolutely! And it rockets around the globe from ancient Egypt to modern Egypt, Scotland and Ireland, by every conceivable mode of transport, with the baddies never far behind, and sometimes ahead.

But, thriller? Not really. To me thrillers entail a real uncertainty as to the survival of folk the reader has gotten reasonably fond of, the demise of whom would be somewhere between sad and heartbreaking… No chance of that here, but I do love the weave of historical links, stolen artefacts and hieroglyphic clues which are the hallmark of a Cussler adventure. Add a dash of deadly disease, purposeful industrial pollution and some maniacs manipulating menacing macho men, and we have nonstop excitement.


Clive Cussler

Dirk Cussler - author

Dirk Cussler – author

Maybe unintentionally, but a case can be made for this plot to be a war of the sexes in a sort of misogynistic way, given the objectives of the baddies. I can’t expand on that without introducing spoilers, but, come to think of it, the tale will be less popular with the ladies that male readers, I fear.

Herewith an honest review. Thank you for the ARC, for this Penguin/Michael Joseph imprint; PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE, South Africa.

ISBN 9780241349588.

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DARKEST TRUTH – Catherine Kirwan

Darkest Truth.jpgAfter awhile, it doesn’t matter that this is no longer a whodunnit; that it issues its own spoiler, but the doubts come and go. Which adds to the tension, of course.

Lawyer, Finn Fitzpatrick, is accosted in the street by a man who claims that his adopted daughter, who committed suicide, is Finn’s younger sister. It takes some convincing, but eventually, it seems to be true. The man was convinced that the sister had changed drastically after meeting Ireland’s famous film director, Jeremy Gill, at the premiere of his first movie shown in Cork six years previously. He was sure that encounter was the cause of changing her from a vibrant, happy student into a withdrawn wretch who eventually took her own life…

Six years until she takes her own life by drowning? Finn can’t buy that, but neither can she abandon an ever-increasing curiosity to know the truth and get some idea about the sister she never knew she had. But her investigations and her confrontation with Gill come at a price. She trends on Twitter as a vindictive bitch as nobody believes her accusations as her threads seem to begin to come together.


Catherine Kirwan – author

Not bloody, not gruesome, but a gripper, all the same. Possibly Kirwin’s greatest strength is her convincing characterisation, as well as her sense of place as the action moves from the little city of Cork to Dublin and back. It also shines another light on male chauvinism which can’t be overemphasized in this day and age.

I enjoyed this; at least a four-star. Especially as a debut; we can look forward to more by this author.

My thanks to PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE, South Africa for this Century imprint ARC.

ISBN 9781529123814.

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NOT FORGIVEN, Araneya Series #2 – Neven Carr

Not ForgivenThis is one of those series where one really needs to absorb the first one first, but, that (FORGOTTEN) being on special at the moment, grabbing it now would be a worthwhile introduction to this one. Both are well worth a read if you like a well-crafted mystery with fully flavoured characters, both good and evil. Adding to the intrigue is the fact that the reader is not always sure which is which…

Claudia Cabriati lost her memory at the age of seven while she was living at the mansion of Araneya. Her father is one of a group of bitter Australian Vietnam War veterans with Italian backgrounds who had formed a gun club. They swear an oath that binds them together in secrecy to protect their nefarious doings from being exposed. Her father tries to claw his way back to some semblance of normality by leaving the group, but their leader, Carlo, now a Senator, views him as a traitor who will reveal their secrets. Secrets that might include the death of a boy shot in a nearby forest, and how Ricky, one of the club, took his own life.

It is mostly Claudia’s story; her attempts to discover what happened to cause the trauma that suspended her memory, and her growing realisation that the truth might have been better forgotten, as men in power move to silence her. At her side, now, is the equally mysterious Saul Reardon, a man with a troubled past of his own.

Neven Carr

Neven Carr – author

The plot is original and the mysteries breed a sometimes almost unbearable tension as we fear for Claudia’s life and even her sanity. Who can she trust? Perhaps not even herself. Who is Lily? Only a return to Araneya may shake loose the recall of the hidden places where the little girls played and saw the secrets they should not.

Colourfully written, this is a gripping mystery thriller with an interwoven love story; well worth the five-star read.

Thank you, Neven Carr. Herewith a completely honest review.

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OUT OF THE DARK – Gregg Hurwitz


Out of the Dark.jpgExcellent. One of the best thriller series around today.



Why is the American President obliterating the agents of the clandestine Orphan Program, especially Orphan X’s very first assassination assignment? Evan Smoak needs to find the answer before the combined forces of Orphan A and the US government catch up with him. Evan needs to assassinate the President himself.




BOOK POSTMORTEM reviewed Gregg Hurwitz’s HELLBENT a year ago.

This is another excellent five-star thriller. This is top drawer for entertaining tension and almost, but not quite, over-the-top action. As well as the convincing depiction of a socially inept hero, the plot includes the mission Evan has set himself to answer a call for help from the desperate. The author handles his knowledge and research with convincing assurance, creating a unique un-putdownable tale.

An Asperger’s afflicted replacement-night watchman at a bonded warehouse, Trevon Gaines, in calling Customs, is the cause of a huge drug shipment going missing. His punishment by the dealer? The massacre of his entire family, excluding his sister who is out of the country, but returning soon as a target.

Trevon is given Evan’s help number, and calls.

Gregg Hurwitz

Gregg Hurwitz – author

Now Evan must juggle his primary mission and the evasion of the forces against him, and dealing with Trevon’s enemy before the sister gets home, as well as a rocky personal relationship that totters on the edge of melt-down.

My thanks to PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE, South Africa for this Penguin/Michael Joseph imprint ARC.

ISBN 9780718185497.

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ONE FALSE MOVE – Robert Goddard

One False Move.jpgOne man’s extraordinary ability to out-think a computer game leads to powerful companies and government agencies vying for the entrapment of that man. An innocent in so many other ways, Joe Roberts is ill-prepared for the dark forces prepared to go to any lengths to capture him.

Nicole Nevinson works for a computer-game company. Her task is to employ Joe, but she is an innocent in her own right when it comes to the ruthless moves of the competition in the shape of a money-laundering scheme and government agents who see solutions to cracking algorithmically generated codes.


Disappearances become corpses, and Nicole is primed to take the fall. Elderly Duncan Forrester, a man with secrets of his own, might be her only hope of survival as she gets to find out things that need to be kept quiet.

Robert Goddard

Robert Goddard – author

From start to finish, this is a delightfully tense thriller; a fire-star must read in every department. The unexpected becomes the norm, but makes complete sense, all the way to the nail-biting finale. The characters – including the naive, the eccentric, the compassionate, the ruthless, the thuggish, the charming – are convincingly painted. Undoubtedly, ONE FALSE MOVE is one of the best thrillers I’ll read this year.

Thank you to PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE, South Africa, for this ARC of a Bantam Press Imprint.

ISBN 9781787630437.

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MarPRHSA_0002.jpgA viciously occult murder.
A curious clue left on the body.
The soundtrack to the murder still playing…

I am a slow reader, but I started this intriguing thriller early and finished it late the same day. If stars were allotted for readability, and believable characters, SLOW MOTION GHOSTS would get a five. If for bowstring tension, an intriguing plot, a four star rating would be more appropriate. An Occult Who-dunnit to the last few pages.

Transferred to a new London station under a cloud after the Brixton race riots and shopping his best friend and fellow officer, who subsequently hangs himself, DI Henry Hobbes is still a marked man treated with disdain, and even hatred from most of his fellows. This attitude does not make for great cooperation when he is tasked with solving the brutal disfigurement and staged death of a glam pop singer.

Jeff Noon

Jeff Noon – author

Through dogged determination, pursued by the demons of his own nightmares engendered by the riots and his betrayal, Hobbes delves into the pop culture of the seventies and eighties, and the links to a group of artistic outcasts who swear an oath of fealty to each other on pain of death. This plot only stretches the imagination overly just a tiny bit, possibly a nod to the author’s Sci-Fi expertise, as the threads get slowly pulled into a discernible pattern. It did not detract from the immense enjoyment, however.

The hardcover cover was an improvement over the one selected for this paperback version, to my mind. I found it messy.

Thank you to PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE, South Africa, for this ARC of a Doubleday Imprint.

ISBN 9780857525628.

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