The Brutal Telling

Another great Louise Penny novel. In The Brutal Telling we see a local Three Pine’s resident, Olivier, secretly visiting an old hermit. (Spoilers) It pained Chief Inspector Gamache and Inspector Beauvoir, but all the evidence pointed to their favorite bistro owner and Olivier was arrested and convicted of killing the old man in the woods for his beautiful treasure. I’ve been wanting to read this book, since in many later books this crime is referenced as the reason why Gamache and Olivier have such strained relationship.

The next novel in the series, must pick up with this crime as well, since I know how this story ultimately turns out.

Great story!

Read July 2016

The Lost Boy

The Lost Boy is the second Camilla Lackberg novel that I’ve read. Previously, The Ice Princess focused on Erica Falck who just moved back to Fjallbacka, Sweden and discovered a childhood friend dead.  Years later, Erica has married Detective Patrik Hedstrom and The Lost Boy is told from both their perspectives, as well as many other characters surrounding the death of Mats Sverin, Fjallbacka’s Financial Director.

Mats was brutally attacked months beforehand, and then after moving back to his childhood town, he is gunned down in his own apartment. Are these two events related? That’s what Patrik is trying to uncover. Meanwhile, Erica is home on maternity leave with her twins and is intrigued by the local lore about “Ghost Isle”, where Mats old high school girlfriend, Nathalie, is living.

Lackberg weaves multiple, seemingly unrelated story lines in and out, including an old story about a couple living on “Ghost Isle” in the 1870s. Like many other crime novels, underlying the current crime is a social layer of violence against women and how mothers can and will protect their children. Theres such a general denial about these attacks against women, that even the police are horrified when they read the personal files of women at a Goteborg woman’s shelter.

While some of The Lost Boy is difficult to read, the novel is full of truth. Society turns a blind eye to women in certain situations and Lackberg shines a light so we can view the truth in all its ugliness. I really enjoy Lackberg’s style and her stories. I recommend this to any crime novel lover.

Read January 2015.

Awakening

S.J. Bolton’s novel Awakening creeped me out. There are a lot of snakes in this book, venomous and not, and this novel should not be read by anyone who is terrified of snakes. With that said, I’ve never been particularly bothered by snakes and yet while reading this novel I saw snakes everywhere!! In the rain drops that moved the grass on the side of the road. In the roots that gnarled their way across my hiking trail. And I live in an area that doesn’t have many snakes, and yet I was freaked out.

So, with that disclaimer, this book was fantastic! Our heroine, Clara, was disfigured as a child and now tries to limit her experience with fellow humans and focuses her energy on her wild animals that she treats at the veterinary clinic. Unfortunately, her quiet village is being terrorized by venomous snakes and her neighbors seek her out for her reptile knowledge. When a non-indigenous, very deadly snake turns up in a neighbor’s home, Clara works with Matt, the local detective, and Sean North, a TV star who works with wild animals, to try to determine how these wild snakes are getting into homes and killing people.

Bolton include many elements into this mystery. Clara is also psychological mess allowing her disfigurement rule her life. Clara in her quest to understand how the victims are tied together, also uncovers a religious cult that many neighbors were part of over 50 years ago. As she tries to tie the past and present together, she becomes a target.

This was a great, scary crime novel!

Read November 2014.

Her Fearful Symmetry

Audrey Niffenegger tells the story of beautiful twins and how twin-ness can consume them. 20 years ago, Elspeth and Edie parted, never to be together agin, when Edie left her twin and England under strange circumstances that no one quite understood. Edie and her husband have twin daughters who are beautiful mirror images of each other, outside and inside. Julia is the strong willed twin and Valentina is more timid and sickly, and both are currently stagnating in their parents house.

When Elspeth receives a terminal diagnosis, she writes her will so her nieces will inherit everything with a caveat being that the girls must live in Elspeth’s apartment for a year and their parents are barred from entering the apartment.

Niffenegger creates a gothic novel with Julia and Velentina living a warped life, totally codependent on each other and their twin-ness. Once they move into Elspeth’s apartment, right next to the famous Highgate Cemetery, Niffenegger begins to show the differences between the 2 girls. Their symmetry and closeness only allows for one personality to thrive but there are 2 of them to contend with.

To add more strangeness to the story, Elspeth, who passed away early on, begins a second life trapped within her apartment walls. While the twins and Elspeth get to know each other, the story about why the mom and aunt are estranged remains a secret.

This ghost story delves into the supernatural and creates a reality that many hope exists, life after death. Although I cannot imagine anyone hoping that when they die they get trapped in their home to watch the next generation of twins living out a replica of their life. This is a strange, compelling story that I had a hard time putting down. And unlike many horror books that lose their audience with the final horrific reveal, in Her Fearful Symmetry, Niffenegger keeps the reader engaged and the story plausible until the end. Creepy as the end is, I still bought it and all the characterization throughout the novel lead the characters to making the choices they made and created the ending.

Great read! Read October 2014.

Evidence of Murder

Evidence of Murder is the second in Lisa Black’s series about forensic scientist Theresa MacLean. Theresa goes with her police detective cousin to investigate a missing person case, only to have the victim show up days later in a freezing Cleveland park. Theresa has nothing but contempt for the victim until the forensic evidence doesn’t show a cause of death. No signs of hypothermia, drugs, foul play, nothing. It looks as if Jillian Perry walked into the park without proper clothing, sat down and stopped breathing. Since that’s not how most people would be able to control their body’s reflexes in the intense cold to commit suicide, Theresa keeps investigating the physical evidence until she’s able to figure out what cause Jillian’s death.

The cast of possible suspects include her former escort service boss, her stalker best friend, and her internet-game developing husband. All have a possible cause to murder her, but Theresa finds it hard to pin point the murderer until the method of murder is discovered.

This novel kept my interest but there are many plausibility problems for me. First, how would a forensic scientist who’s been kept in the lab find the time to do this investigation. Also, she investigates almost all on her own, hardly ever bringing in her cousin who’s the detective on the case. Throughout the story it is clear that Lisa Black has a strong background in forensic science, and the details about the murder and cover up are great! Its the rest of the investigation that cause me trouble. Its still a decent read if you can let some of the plot problems go.

Read July 2014.

Belong to Me

De los Santos’s Belong to Me is definitely in the Chick Lit category for me, but its still a great read. I think part of what makes it Chick Lit are some common themes that can be found: affable main character, female driven drama (strong friendship, relationship problems, pregnancy, etc.), charming significant other or love interest, and most importantly everything working out in the end. None of these traits necessarily make for a bad read, in fact, just the opposite can be true.

“Belong to Me” is the story of Cornelia Brown and her move from her hip urban life to suburban yoga mommy-hood. Of course Cornelia is charming and wears down the most hard of critics, her neighbor and self proclaimed queen bee Piper. De los Santos has several narrators to break up the perfect life of Cornelia (which we all know won’t turn out to be as perfect). We get to hear from Piper as she deals with her best friends cancer and from a wonderfully refreshing brilliant teenager, Dev.

All the stories are interesting and they are nicely intertwined, so no emotion overrides the story. It was an enjoyable glimpse into these characters lives and a light easy read.

Read March 2013