Limelight: a review

Limelight by Emily Organ (Penny Green #1)

Synopsis

How did an actress die twice?

London, 1883. Actress Lizzie Dixie drowned in the River Thames, so how was she murdered five years later in Highgate Cemetery?

Intrepid Fleet Street reporter Penny Green was a friend of Lizzie’s and Scotland Yard needs her help. Does Penny unwittingly hold clues to Lizzie’s mysterious death? Penny must work with Inspector James Blakely to investigate the worlds of theatre, showmen and politicians in search of the truth.

But who is following her? And who is sending her threatening letters?

Penny is about to discover that Lizzie’s life was more complicated, and dangerous, than she could ever have imagined.

Review

I finished this one yesterday and found myself trying to figure out how I felt about the book. I mean, I didn’t HATE it, but I didn’t like it either. Penny, our MC, has an interesting back story, but I still thought her actions didn’t make a lot of sense.

In the end, I think it was just that writing was pretty – well, average. We only got to really know 2 characters in the book, and they were still a little flat. The pacing was off, all the action occurs in the beginning and the very end. There was a lot of telling, a lot of dialogue, but not much to hint at what characters were actually feeling.

I do enjoy this time period, and I admit to being intrigued by the female reporter angle. But really, there are better Victorian era mysteries out there. I would not recommend this one and I don’t plan on reading more by this author. However, it is a first novel, so it’s possible the series gets better as it goes on. I won’t be bothered to find out.

Advertisements

Burning Ridge – a review

Burning Ridge, Timber Creek K9 #4

By Margaret Mizushima

Mattie Cobb is a police detective with a K9 partner working on a small town in Colorado. Her latest case turns out to have a very personal connection and her past will hold the answers she needs to solve the crime.

This is the 4th book in the series, but I didn’t feel lost for long. I really liked Maggie’s relationship with her dog, Robo. That was the best part of the book. I would definitely read more in this series.

Back from vacation!

My trip was great! Of course, I was worn out when we got back, and I had a lot of catching up to do. But I’ve been away from my blog for too long so I wanted to share a couple of reviews with you.

I didn’t get as much reading in this week, but I do have 2 books I DNFd.

The first was a debut mystery, Turnstone by Graham Hurley. Based on Portsmouth, England, the book description said it was about a missing man. But after reading to a while, there was no indication of that case and I had found five typos. Not interesting enough to continue.

Then I found Zero Limit, which sounded like a cross between Artemis and Armageddon. Unfortunately, I guessed the disaster and who would die first long before it happened. The idea sounded good, but the writing wasn’t up to it.

I got both of these from Kindle Unlimited, so maybe it’s just a case of you get what you pay for. Luckily, I had a fun Net Galley book up next. I’ll get to that review later.

 

Whispers Underground – a review

Whispers Underground by Ben Aaronovitch
Rivers of London series book 4

So much that I love about this series. The world building is really different. This is urban fantasy set in London, but what sets it apart from most UF is that our main character, although he is part of a supernatural crime section, remains very much a policeman. He acts like a cop, he thinks like a cop. He just deals with weird stuff. I like that.

What I didn’t like was amount of profanity. I know I’m really conservative about that, but it is a real annoyance for me. My library only has this book as digital audio books, so unless I want to buy them, this is the only way to consume them. Which is great for all the variety of accents in here, but not so great as hearing the profanity is worse for me than reading it. I don’t like being sworn at repeatedly. Undecided if I want to continue this series

Bosch: A Review

bosch

Have you watched this Amazon show? I only saw the first episode, but since I mentioned it in a blog post recently, I thought I would rerun my review of the first book in the series by Michael Connolly.

The Black Echo by Michael Connolly

This may be the only time I can remember that I am giving a book 5 stars, but I’m not planning to read anymore in the series.

It’s not the main character. I really liked Harry Bosch. Maybe he’s a bit cliched, but I found him a likable sort of loner with a messed up past. A crummy childhood, combined with some serious PTSD from the Vietnam war, has left him unable to trust anyone. It’s a good thing, really, because with just a couple of exceptions, everyone in this book is exclusively working for himself.

When the body of a fellow Tunnel Rat, a guy from Harry’s old army unit, is found apparently dead of an overdose, Harry feels like he owes his old buddy more than the cursory glance the rest of the police force wants to give the case. Add to that some guilt Harry feels about letting his old buddy down, and he’s just not about to let things drop. So when his investigation leads to a connection with a major bank heist that the FBI is still investigating, he starts asking questions. A lot of questions. And now he’s being followed by two guys from Internal Affairs who can’t wait to shut him down.

This all sounds pretty good, so what am I complaining about? It’s just the general feel of the book. It’s unrelentingly pessimistic – life stinks, you can’t trust anyone (and Harry can’t), everyone is hiding something, and there’s no such thing as a happy ending for anyone. It’s Harry against The World. And I’m just not going to read more of that. My own life is complicated enough; I don’t want to read somethings this dark when it’s supposed to be reading for fun. So I guess I’m saying that it’s a good book; it’s just not the right book for me.

Murder Among the Pines

Murder Among the Pines by John Lawrence Reynolds

I got this one from Early Reviewers for free in exchange for an honest but fair review. My opinion remains my own.

Police chief Max Benson is busy enough with the summer visitors to her sleepy Canadian town, but when her ex-husband becomes the chief suspect in a murder investigation, she might have to clear up her schedule. This was a very quick read. The ending was not really a surprise, but if you like mysteries, I think you’d like this. Perfect for beginning readers. It is the third in the series, but that didn’t keep me from enjoying it.

Australian Police Mystery

815139

Title: The Dragon Man, DI Challis #1

Author: Garry Disher

Setting: Australia present day

Off the Shelf challenge

Meet Hal Challis, Detective for the Mornington Peninsula police force in Southeast Australia, in the first investigation in this prize-winning crime series

“A serial killer is on the loose in a small coastal town near Melbourne, Australia. Detective Inspector Hal Challis and his team must apprehend him before he strikes again. But first, Challis has to contend with the editor of a local newspaper who undermines his investigation at every turn, and with his wife, who attempts to resurrect their marriage through long-distance phone calls from a sanitarium, where she has been committed for the past eight years for attempted murder—his.”

The police procedural is a name for a type of mystery which is pretty much like the name implies – it centers around a group of police officers and one or more crimes they are trying to solve. Generally there’s one central case and a few others minor ones. Depending on the writer, there’s also some stuff about the officers, about their home lives, their relationships, their backgrounds. It’s like Law & Order or NCIS.

Normally I like police procedurals. I’ve read a lot of them, set throughout the 20th century up until modern ones. My favorite authors tend to be out of print, but there are some writers who are still producing first class books.

This one was not one of them.

I see that it won quite a few awards and has all kinds of blurbs on the back. What can I say? I was not impressed. It wasn’t that I hated all the characters. DI Hal Challis, the MC, is interesting with quite the back story.

It’s just that I got bored. I thought this was about a serial killer, but the writer wound up spending so much time on other crimes, on the personal lives of the police officers, on accusations of police misconduct, that the serial killer case got lost. I think if I had been in a different mood, I might have enjoyed it more.

I did like the setting. I don’t read much Australian fiction, so it was nice to get out of my comfort zone and see what else is out there. So that part did work for me.

Overall, I don’t know if I’d recommend this one or not. Maybe if you want to try a police novel and are looking for an unusual one, you could give it a try. Also, it’s the first in the series, although it doesn’t necessarily read that way, and it’s possible the series gets better as it goes. Unfortunately, I don’t think I could find any more by this author if I wanted to. And I guess that’s OK. I think I’ll just call it quits here and move on. 2.6/5 stars

Trigger Warning: sexual violence

 

 

The Sans Pareil Mystery

Title: The Sans Pareil Mystery (Detective Lavender #2)

Author: Karen Charlton

“On a cold February night in Regency London, a dark curtain falls on the Sans Pareil Theatre following the death of April Clare, a promising young actress, whose body is found in mysterious circumstances.

Detective Stephen Lavender and his dependable deputy, Constable Woods, quickly discover that nothing is quite as it seems. As successive mysteries unfold, they soon realise that it is not only the actors from the Sans Pareil who are playing a part.”

It’s funny how sometimes your books align. I just finished 2 books about Regency England and crime. I already reviewed Newt’s Emerald  (verdict = good)  and now this one. Unlike the first book, this one does not have a fantasy element. It’s strictly mystery, with a little romance.

Let me say that I rated this 7/10, but I’m still looking forward to the next book. The writing could be better – too much telling, too much exposition in parts. I swear the characters must be dumb to have to have things explained to them! But the characters and the world building make these rewarding books. Detective Lavender is not your conventional copper. He is a Bow Street Runner, but he’s also more of a gentleman. Then there’s his lady love, Dona Magdalena, recently escaped from Napoleon’s invasion of Spain. I love her, and she gets a big part in this book. Constable Woods and his family are great too.

I mostly listened to this, but if you get it on Kindle Unlimited, you can switch back and forth between book and audio, which is awesome. The narrator did a really good job with the men, not so hot with the women. I’d recommend this one if you enjoy historical mysteries. But start with the first book, The Heiress of Linn Hagh.

 

Hole in One

golf

Reading Decathlon book 6

Hole in One

by Catherine Aird

mystery

audiobook

Story: The local golf club’s beginners tournament comes to a halt when a competitor discovers a head in the sand trap. Detective CD Sloan has to identify the body, find a killer, and get the tournament moving again so his boss can win that trophy.

Pros: Old-fashioned mystery

Cons: Old-fashioned mystery

I love that this series sticks to the standard detection model of crime-solving – no unrealistically accelerated forensics, no conveniently useful social media, no hidden spycams everywhere. Just interviewing suspects, using some logical deduction. But just as the cops are pretty much 20th century, their attitudes are out of date too. Why are the witnesses repeatedly introduced as “lady golfers?” Why not just golfers? I don’t play golf, so maybe that distinction is still typical of country clubs and private courses. But it was irritating. And what’s with the wives who only join the club so they can keep an eye on their husbands?

I listened to this one yesterday and it was short and enjoyable, but it wasn’t really outstanding. 3.0 stars