crime fiction

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Book Tag – Shelfie By Shelfie #2

Published November 12, 2017 by bibliobeth

Image edited from: <a href=”http://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/frame”>Frame image created by Jannoon028 – Freepik.com</a>

Hi everyone and welcome to a brand new tag – Shelfie by Shelfie that I was inspired to create late one night when I couldn’t sleep. If you want to join in, you share a picture (or “shelfie”) of one of your shelves i.e. favourites, TBR, however you like to organise them, and then answer ten questions that are based around that particular shelf. I have quite a large collection and am going to do every single bookshelf which comprises both my huge TBR and the books I’ve read and kept but please, don’t feel obliged to do every shelf yourself if you fancy doing this tag. I’d love to see anything and just a snapshot of your collection would be terrific and I’m sure, really interesting for other people to see!

For my very first Shelfie by Shelfie please see my post HERE.

Anyway – on with the tag, here is the second shelf of my first bookshelf:

Back Shelf

Front Shelf

And here are the questions!:

1.) Is there any reason for this shelf being organised the way it is or is it purely random?

There’s kind of a theme going on here. Erm…kind of! The back shelf is mainly crime fiction with a mixture of authors including Thomas Harris, Chelsea Cain, Karen Rose, Cormac McCarthy, Belinda Bauer and a small collection of books by one of my favourite British crime authors, Mark Billingham that I really need to get back to reading! The front of the shelf has a few recent acquisitions like Sugar Money by Jane Harris and The Bright Edge Of The World by Eowyn Ivey which I’m reading very shortly. There’s also my collection of Roald Dahl short stories which all have the most stunning covers. (More on that later!).

2.) Tell us a story about one of the books on this shelf that is special to you i.e. how you got it/ a memory associated with it etc.

After much deliberation, I think I’m going to tell you about 2 A.M. At The Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino. My boyfriend and I had recently moved into our new flat in Surrey, finally getting away from the chaos of London. It was nearly Christmas time (our first Christmas in the new flat), I was feeling so much more relaxed and happy and I had recently started getting a book subscription box called Book And A Brew which I highly recommend by the way! Then my second box arrived with this book in it and a wonderful black tea called Baby, It’s Cold Outside by The Teashed, perfect for Christmas with cardamom, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon and ginger. I still haven’t read the book (yet!) but it brings back a lovely memory.

3.) Which book from this shelf would you ditch if you were forced to and why?

Ugh. I hate my own question. Okay, I think it would have to be The Busker by Liam Murray Bell. I quite like the look of it but it’s probably the book on this shelf that I’m least excited about out of all of them.

4.) Which book from this shelf would you save in an emergency and why?

This however is a very easy one! It would have to be my Roald Dahl collection of short stories. There were originally only four out and then recently, Penguin brought another four out so obviously I had to have them. The titles of the collections are Deception, Lust, Trickery, Innocence, War, Fear, Cruelty and Madness, the cover art by Charming Baker is completely gorgeous and I just wanted to show you some of my favourites.

5.) Which book has been on this shelf for the longest time?

That would be The Beach by Alex Garland. Can you believe I still haven’t got around to this book?!

6.) Which book is the newest addition to this shelf?

Sugar Money by Jane Harris. I’m a huge fan of her previous novels, The Observations and Gillespie And I and am eagerly anticipating this one.

7.) Which book from this shelf are you most excited to read (or re-read if this is a favourites shelf?)

The Bright Edge Of The World by Eowyn Ivey. I absolutely adored her debut novel, The Snow Child and have been a bit scared about reading this as I’ve got such high expectations. It WILL happen, and soon!

8.) If there is an object on this shelf apart from books, tell us the story behind it.

I have my five year Jane-A-Day diary on this shelf purchased from Waterstones a few years ago. I try to use it to keep track of all the blog tours/reviews I’ve promised to write for a certain time but sadly, don’t make as much use of it as I should. It has a quotation from a Jane Austen novel for each day of the year and I love that it’s five years as well – it’s lasting me so long!

9.) What does this shelf tell us about you as a reader?

I think it shows that l like my crime fiction (or anything else slightly disturbing) and that I’m a sucker for interesting covers.

10.) Choose other bloggers to tag or choose a free question you make up yourself.

Anyone who wants to do this, please feel free, I’d be delighted but please tag me in your post so I can see your shelfie in all its glory. This time round I’m going to choose a question for myself:

Is there a book on this shelf that you’re more intrigued to pick up? Perhaps you’ve forgotten it’s there?

For sure this would be The Beautiful Dead by Belinda Bauer. I had actually forgotten this was on my shelf (it’s so difficult when books are hiding at the back and you can’t see them every day!). I read The Shut Eye by her quite recently and really enjoyed it so keep meaning to pick up some more of her work.

 

COMING SOON on bibliobeth : Shelfie by Shelfie #3

 

 

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The House – Simon Lelic

Published November 4, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

What if your perfect home turned out to be the scene of the perfect crime?

Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it.

So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake.

Because someone has just been murdered. Right outside their back door.

And now the police are watching them…

What did I think?:

I remember reading one other novel from Simon Lelic in my pre-blogging days which was called Rupture or alternatively A Thousand Cuts and really enjoyed it, giving it four stars on GoodReads so goodness knows why it’s taken me so long to get round to another one of his books! I borrowed The House from my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads after a bookish trip to Bath when she was reading it and she had so many different facial expressions and reactions whilst she was reading that I was instantly intrigued and begged to borrow it from her. The House has everything you would want from a gritty thriller – unreliable narrators, suspense, mystery, twists and turns and a gripping plot that makes it pretty much impossible to put the book down.

One of my favourite things about this novel is the way in which it is initially written. We hear in alternate chapters from a couple, Jack and Sydney as they recount recent events in their lives that began with them buying a house in London and ended with a murder and the suspicion of the police landing firmly on their doorstep. We learn a little bit about their past lives, in particular Sydney’s traumatic childhood which led to her abusing drugs and unable to trust anyone until she meets the love of her life, Jack. We also learn how they came to buy the house in London, their concerns and misgivings about the process and, crucially, the gruesome discovery that they find when they begin living there which precipitates a host of other events leading to the turbulent situation that the couple find themselves in at the present moment.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot as the beauty of this novel is to go in knowing as little as possible to make the surprises the author springs upon the reader as deliciously astonishing as possible. Luckily, Chrissi didn’t tell me anything (she’s good like that!) but as soon as I saw some of her facial expressions, as I mentioned, I knew I was in for quite the ride and I was right. Simon Lelic writes a fascinating tale where you have no idea what on earth is happening, who to trust/believe and what the possible outcome of such a situation could be and he had me on tenterhooks from the very beginning to the very satisfying conclusion. For me, Sydney felt slightly more fleshed out as a character and I found her back story to be incredibly powerful and moving, especially one scene in particular involving a male character in her life and a gun which sent shivers down my spine. Reading The House has made me definitely want to seek out the author’s other two novels and additionally, makes me hugely excited for anything else he publishes in the future.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Kill The Father – Sandrone Dazieri

Published October 29, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

‘The rock cast a sharp, dark shadow over a shape huddled on the ground. Please don’t let it be the boy, Colomba thought. Her silent prayer didn’t go unanswered. The corpse belonged to the mother.’

THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN STOP HIM IS THE ONE WHO GOT AWAY…

Dante Torre spent eleven young years in captivity – held by a man known only as The Father – before outwitting his abductor. Now working for the police force, Torre’s methods are unorthodox but his brilliance is clear. When a young child goes missing in similar circumstances in Rome, Torre must confront the demons of his past to attempt to solve the case.

Paired with Deputy Captain Colomba Caselli, a fierce, warrior-like detective still reeling from having survived a bloody catastrophe, all evidence suggests The Father is active after being dormant for decades, and that he’s looking forward to a reunion with Dante…

What did I think?:

Kill The Father was translated from the original Italian by Antony Shugaar and is the first in a crime series involving a female detective called Colomba Caselli. It was chosen by TV personalities Richard and Judy as part of their Autumn book club here in the UK and is quite a hefty tome compared to other pieces of crime fiction, weighing in at just over 500 pages. I love that Richard and Judy are including a lot more thrillers on their recommended reads recently and usually, I highly enjoy all their choices in this genre. Kill The Father has had some terrific reviews on GoodReads with an average rating of 4.12 which, as I’m sure you know is high praise indeed. So, here comes unpopular opinion time – I really didn’t enjoy it as much as other people seem to have done. There’s so much to appreciate about it (which I’ll go into later) but for some reason, everything just felt a bit too frantic and overly convoluted for me which didn’t make it a particularly enjoyable reading experience.

Our female protagonist is Deputy Captain Colomba Caselli, officially on leave from her work with the police after an incident where she barely escaped with her life. She is vulnerable, damaged but determined and is soon pulled (unofficially) into a new case where a mother has been decapitated and her son has disappeared. The husband is charged for his wife’s murder and questioned over his little boy’s whereabouts but it is not until Colomba starts to investigate further and finds strange parallels with an abduction case twenty-five years previously. The victim in this case, Dante Torre is also psychologically scarred from the years he spent in captivity but as soon as he learns that The Father may once again be active and abducting children, he works tirelessly alongside Colomba, both using their individual specialist knowledge and personal experiences to bring the perpetrator to justice.

There are so many positive things to take away from this book and that’s why I’m wondering if it’s simply a case of wrong person reading it, not necessarily bad book. The characters are magnificent, especially our female lead who is just the right mixture of flawed and fragile but beautifully committed and hell-bent on getting the right result. However, I may have had to suspend my disbelief slightly too much on whether Dante as a civilian would be allowed that much access to a case such as this, especially as he was directly involved with the perp and considering how psychologically damaged he was from both his past traumatic experience and his daily struggles as he works on the case in the present time. I mean, would you really put someone through hell with the constant risk of coming face to face once more with a person who stole eleven years of your life? I mean, really?

If you can get over this however, the thrills don’t stop coming. This is an incredibly fast-paced book where the action doesn’t seem to let up, not even for a second and I have to admit at points I did find myself gripped, wanting to know what would happen next. Then there’s the other points where it all just seems a bit too crazy and chaotic, too much of a whirlwind of information and plot twists and endless questions to the point where it left me feeling quite exhausted just trying to keep up with it all. I have to say again with the suspension of disbelief, I couldn’t quite bring myself to believe the reasons behind why The Father was doing what he was doing. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of mystery and a juicy motive to get my teeth into but it has to be credible and I have to think: “Yes, that could happen.” Unfortunately, there was too much to try and understand and the validity of the story just didn’t ring true for me personally speaking. However, I can’t fault the brilliance of the characterisation and the general pacing of the novel which was excellent.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

Short Stories Challenge 2017 – A Place For Violence by Kevin Wignall from the collection The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime Volume 7

Published October 28, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s A Place For Violence all about?:

A Place For Violence follows our male protagonist on an apparent holiday in Bali but the reasons why he is there are a lot deeper than we are first led to believe.

What did I think?:

The Mammoth Book Of Best British Crime has been a really interesting reading experience as part of my Short Stories Challenge. Generally, I love a collection that hosts so many different authors, many of whom I had never heard of before and it has been fascinating sampling the variety of their writing styles. Of course, as with most collections that involve such an array of authors there are going to be some stories you don’t get on as well with but so far, I’ve always looked forward to the next story in the collection. Kevin Wignall was another author that I hadn’t come across previously and it was a pleasure to experience his work for the first time. The only problem with talking about this story, A Place For Violence is that I really can’t say too much about it as to do that would give far too much away!

What can I say? Our protagonist, Dan Borowski is on a break in Bali but from the very beginning of the story, the reader senses that he might either have a big secret he isn’t telling us or that he is on the holiday for reasons other than rest and relaxation. He comes into contact with a young man called Luke Williams who is wheelchair bound following a horrific accident where he was hit by a car driven by an erratic and selfish man that has never been charged for his offence. Dan and Luke also come into contact with another resident of the hotel that they are staying in, Brian Tully – a despicable bully of a man on holiday with his cowed wife and two children and determined to make as much fuss and as much of a nuisance of himself as possible.

A Place For Violence is shorter than your average short story and it isn’t long before things kick off, tempers ignite, justice is served and revenge is sweet. But you may have guessed from the title and the fact that this is crime fiction, that this wasn’t necessarily going to be the happiest or most joyful of tales! Overall, I did enjoy this, I think Kevin Wignall has written a story that does everything it says on the tin. It has interesting characters that you are either rooting for or loving to hate, and an eye popper of an ending that makes you wonder what would happen next if the author had chosen to write on. It also cleverly dulls the lines between essentially what makes a man “good,” and what makes a man “bad,” and, I have to admit, tested my morals slightly as I struggled with my feelings towards certain characters. I’d definitely be interested to read more of this author’s work in the future.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

NEXT SHORT STORY: Best New Horror by Joe Hill from the collection 20th Century Ghosts.

 

Western Fringes – Amer Anwar

Published October 1, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

THE HARD-EDGED DEBUT THRILLER SET IN THE HEART OF WEST LONDON’S ASIAN COMMUNITY

A SIKH GIRL ON THE RUN. A MUSLIM EX-CON WHO HAS TO FIND HER. A WHOLE HEAP OF TROUBLE.
Southall, West London.
Recently released from prison, Zaq Khan is lucky to land a dead-end job at a builders’ yard. All he wants to do is keep his head down and put his past behind him.
But when he has to search for his boss’s runaway daughter it quickly becomes apparent he’s not simply dealing with family arguments and arranged marriages as he finds himself caught up in a deadly web of deception, murder and revenge.
With time running out and pressure mounting, can he find the missing girl before it’s too late? And if he does, can he keep her – and himself – alive long enough to deal with the people who want them both dead?

If you like gritty action, sharp dialogue and pacy plotting, then you’ll love this award winning action thriller from Amer Anwar.

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to the author Amer Anwar for providing me with a copy of his hard-hitting, award winning debut thriller in return for an honest review. When he reached out to me by email with a teasing glimpse of the synopsis I was instantly intrigued and knew it was a novel I had to get on board with. I have to admit it took me a little while to get into the story but there was a certain point in the narrative when the action ramped up extraordinarily and from then, I found myself hooked and completely invested in the novel until the end.

Our protagonist for the story is Zaq who has recently got out of prison with a fearsome reputation and is working a menial job for his boss, Mr Brar at a building supplies company. However, his life is about to change forever when Mr Brar calls him into his office one day (accompanied by his brutal sons, the “heavies,” Rajinder and Parminder). Mr Brar is a Sikh and his only daughter, Rita appears to have run off with a Muslim man, bringing shame and embarrassment on the family. He wants Zaq to find his daughter again with the least fuss and hullabaloo possible and threatens him with a return to prison if he does not co-operate. With the help of his loyal friend Jags, Zaq is instantly pulled into a murky criminal world of deception, extortion, violence and murder that puts him in an incredibly dangerous situation that could have deadly consequences for him, anyone that helps him and threaten the life of the woman he is working so hard to protect.

Western Fringes won the CWA Debut Dagger award and it’s easy to see why. The author focuses on the Asian community of Southall, West London and the vibrancy of their culture, tradition, religions and beliefs is portrayed beautifully. Of course, it’s crime fiction and this novel has a bitter and quite frightening dark side. In fact, I wasn’t in any way prepared for how dark the author was going to take it and although parts of the story were graphic and extremely horrific to read, I couldn’t help but be captivated by the plot and was at all times, compelled to see it through to the final pages. After a bit of a slow start, this novel became an easy page-turner for me although I did feel terribly sorry for the character of Zaq whom the author constantly subjected to a never-ending circle of violence and brutality! I approached this novel anticipating something a bit different and hoping to learn a few things about Asian culture/traditions and Western Fringes fulfilled all these things for me, personally speaking. Amer Anwar has a clear, obvious talent for writing an exciting, gritty plot and I look forward to seeing what he’s going to do in the future.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

Short Stories Challenge 2017 – Go Deep by Karin Slaughter (stand-alone)

Published September 13, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s Go Deep all about?:

A hallucinatory noir short story from the No.1 bestselling author of the Will Trent novels. (‘Go Deep’ is also available as part of a bundle with ‘Remmy Rothstein Toes the Line’ and ‘Necessary Women’)

Growing up dirt poor, Charlie Lam worked his ass off to make something of himself, no thanks to his deadbeat father or his long-suffering mother. And now a lot of people depend on Charlie: by his last count, sixty-eight employees at his Atlanta auto dealership, eleven shiftless brothers and sisters, an ungrateful wife, a spoiled daughter, a shameless girlfriend. Who could really blame him for wanting a little extra?

The arrangement is simple: Charlie picks up a suit from the dry cleaner’s. In the suit pocket is the name of a very important man. The next day, that man walks into the dealership, drives out in a new car, and Charlie gets a fat envelope full of cash. Everyone’s happy. No one gets hurt. So long as Charlie doesn’t cross his business partner. But with one twist of a knife, the unthinkable happens. And suddenly Charlie is in deeper trouble than he could have possibly imagined.

What did I think?:

Just when I thought Karin Slaughter couldn’t get any more warped and twisted, Go Deep comes along. Ahem, well…I think the name of the novella speaks for itself doesn’t it? Do I really have to go into full, gory detail? I’ll try and keep it relatively clean. Being one of my all time favourite authors, I have high expectations when I come to read Karin’s work, whether it is a novella or one of her full length novels and am rarely disappointed. So why am I still processing how I feel about this particular story? It’s not that it wasn’t compelling, it certainly was and the author definitely has the gift of the shock factor and making you feel slightly uncomfortable but for some reason, I just can’t rate it as high as I have her previous novellas. It wasn’t that it was sexually explicit, it wasn’t the characters – I can’t explain it, something just felt a bit too strange for me personally and I usually love a story with a bit of an edge.

Our protagonist is a middle-aged man called Charlie Lam who hasn’t had the best start in life with a troubled family originating from a very impoverished background. He has managed to change his life around and now owns a successful car company and looks after all his siblings (even though they try to take advantage of him emotionally and financially on a number of occasions). You’d think a character like this sounds all kinds of lovely, right? Wrong. Charlie is a bit of a wrong ‘un. He associates with mob bosses, does dodgy deals and worse of all is a disgusting misogynistic pig. He has both a wife, daughter and girlfriend all of whom he treats with equal derision and takes pleasure in embarrassing women he meets through work on a daily basis. However, when Charlie has a run in (quite literally, using his car) with a homeless man, his life is turned upside down and he may never be the same man again.

Ugh, Charlie as a character really was hideous. I did love to hate him at points and Karin Slaughter did a marvellous job of creating such an unlikeable, despicable individual. Yet (as with many of the authors works) there are multiple twists in the tale that you will not see coming and by the end, you might even end up sympathising with Charlie as he ends up in quite a horrific situation. I can only applaud the author for making me feel this way, seriously, I really did hate this guy at the beginning of the novella! There are strange, almost mystical things going on that give Charlie a taste of his own medicine and whilst you may think that he deserves it, the situations he is placed in are pretty brutal and quite graphic – again, perhaps not one for the easily offended. Once again, she does pull a blinder of an ending and despite my misgivings about the story in general, I have to admit to being desperate to know what would happen next. Hmm, maybe I did enjoy this novella more than I let on?!

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

NEXT SHORT STORY: The House On The Hill by Kate Mosse from the collection The Mistletoe Bride And Other Haunting Tales.

Short Stories Challenge 2017 – The Murders In The Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe from the collection The Best Short Stories Of Edgar Allan Poe.

Published September 6, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s The Murders In The Rue Morgue all about?:

C. Auguste Dupin is a man in Paris who solves the mysterious brutal murder of two women. Numerous witnesses heard a suspect, though no one agrees on what language was spoken. At the murder scene, Dupin finds a hair that does not appear to be human.

What did I think?:

I approached this short story with slight trepidation – I’m afraid I didn’t have a brilliant experience with the first story in this collection, The Gold-Bug and I have actually read The Murders In The Rue Morgue before, many years ago and don’t have particularly fond memories of it either. On reading it for the second time I’ve found that I can appreciate some aspects of Poe’s writing and I can agree that the entire mystery behind the murders and unmasking of the murderer is intriguing enough but I can’t seem to get past some parts of the narrative which really annoy me. I find it far too detailed (and hence, dull) for my liking and think in some instances, certain parts of it are wholly unnecessary.

The story involves two men – Dupin and his unnamed friend whom in the main part of the story, are investigating two brutal murders that happened on the Rue Morgue in Paris and are completely foxing the authorities. The two women killed are mother and daughter and there appears to be no apparent motive for the crime. In fact, 4000 francs of the women’s money has been left behind in the room where they were killed so robbery is highly unlikely. There are a few other strange occurrences in this investigation – namely the sheer violence that the perpetrator used to commit the crime. The daughter’s body appears to have been throttled to death and then pushed up a chimney with immense force and the mother’s body has been viciously mutilated and practically decapitated. The Paris police are stumped and although they have arrested a man in connection with the murders, Dupin proves them wrong when a curious clump of hair is found in the hands of Madame L’Espanaye’s corpse.

I’ll start with the negative aspects of this story because I was pleased to discover on my second reading that there were some positive points to be taken! First of all, at the beginning of the story, our narrator goes on and on about the analytical mind and describes a walk he takes with his friend Dupin which surprises him when Dupin manages to figure out exactly what he has been thinking. Although this might set up the story and describe how Dupin unravels the mystery of the Rue Morgue murders I really did think it was unnecessary and rather tedious. If it hadn’t been for knowing how the story was going to pan out having read it years ago, this may have been the point where I gave up and just put the book down. However, the plot does get a lot better when Dupin takes us through what happened the night of the murders and then eventually, the identity of the true murderer which is a bit unique to say the least! Again, I did find things were analysed in much more detail than was necessary….is an entire page about a nail really that important to the plot for example? However, I am giving it a higher rating than I might normally purely because I found the mystery incredibly interesting in itself (although I have to say, it’s no Sherlock Holmes!) and Poe certainly doesn’t shy away from the more grisly components of a story.

Would I recommend it?:

Maybe!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

NEXT SHORT STORY: Little Radish by Angela Slatter from the collection Sourdough And Other Stories.