Short Book Reviews of My Recent Reads
Here are short book reviews of the books I’ve enjoyed lately:
Death on the River by Clare Chase
As I was reading this, I was put in mind of Agatha Christie’s Murder is Easy and, indeed, Clare Chase declares in her note at the end that the Christie novel was her inspiration. She’s done a good job of putting a modern spin on the classic theme and skilfully manages quite an array of suspects.
This is the second Tara Thorpe mystery. When it became clear at the end of book one that journalist Tara would reappear in book two as a police constable, I had doubts about how that would work. However, the transition is seamless and Tara retains her tenacious independence and unerring knack of getting into trouble. Her tense relationship with DI Blake also continues and we learn more of his heart-breaking backstory. We also get more on-page time with Tara’s mentor and protector, ex-cop Paul Kemp. I hope he returns in book three. There’s a touch of Jackson Brodie about him. Never a bad thing…
The Lynmouth Stories by L.V. Hay
This collection of three crime short stories is currently available free of charge on Amazon. All are well written and the third story in particular is stunning. The description of the rising sea stayed with me long after I’d finished the book. I will now look out for this author’s full-length thrillers.
Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus
A fast-paced Young Adult thriller that should appeal to adult readers too. The story is told from the viewpoints of two engaging lead characters. Ellery, newly arrived in Echo Ridge, but with tragic family connections to the town. (Her aunt disappeared there 20 years earlier on the night of the Homecoming ball.) Our other narrator is Malcolm, the brother of Declan, chief suspect in a murder case. Declan was drummed out of town 5 years earlier when his girlfriend – the Homecoming Queen – was found strangled to death.
As this year’s Homecoming approaches, weird and threatening things start to happen in Echo Ridge and life doesn’t look promising for the three Homecoming Princesses.
Ellery and Malcolm set out to discover who’s behind the threats, and also what happened in the town 5 years and 20 years earlier.
There is no shortage of suspects for their investigation although some seasoned readers may have an inkling of the culprit early on. The author skilfully handles a cast of siblings, other family members, friendship groups and police officers.
The writing is smooth and evokes the setting without excessive description.
The Lost Man by Jane Harper
The star of this story is the Australian Outback. I’d heard about its remoteness, about cattle stations, flying doctors and education delivered by radio etc etc, but Jane Harper’s description makes you “feel” the dust, the heat, the vastness and the danger.
The other main character is loner Nathan, ostracized by the inhabitants of the nearest town three hours away because of a mistake he made ten years earlier. He is summoned from his small, failing farm to the neighbouring property that belongs to his family. Middle brother, Cameron, has been found dead in the desert, miles from his homestead.
Jane Harper cranks up the tension as Nathan spends time with the rest of the family. This is a family with secrets. Each member hides something from the others, and sometimes also from themselves.
A Promise to the Dead by Victoria Jenkins
This is my first King and Lane story and, although it was fine to read as a standalone, I’d recommend readers to start at book 1 as there is clearly a longer story arc for the two lead detectives.
The author made good use of the South Wales setting to create atmosphere.
It is a complex story that weaves together several crime threads so probably best read over a short space of time to keep track of the various storylines. I enjoyed it and would read another book by this author.