Unpunished (Gardiner and Renner #2)  by Lisa Black

Unpunished (Gardiner and Renner #2) by Lisa Black

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Unpunished (Gardiner and Renner #2)

by Lisa Black

I’ve been given the chance to review Unpunished – Lisa Black’s second book in the Maggie Gardiner series. I have not read the first book, so this review may benefit people who are looking at the novel as a whole, rather than part of a series.
The plot is one of a classic detective novel, only the hero is a rather grey police worker and not an all mighty DC or DCI: Gardiner is a forensic expert who studies the crime scene and handles the post death technicalities. The other main character is Jack Renner, a homicide cop who’s a vigilante serial killer “at night”, but one with an ethical code of disposing only of the bad guys. If you had read “That Darkness” you would have known this by now as well as the fact that Gardiner is the only living soul who shares Jack’s secret.
The mystery revolves around the murder of a copy editor at the Cleveland Herald, who is found hanging above the grinding wheels of the newspaper assembly line. When more newspaper employees are killed, Maggie and Jack continue their unholy partnership, in an effort to uncover the eluding killer.

I liked “Unpunished”. It has the elements of a classic thriller, and Albeit it is secretly an exaggerated editorial advocating for the dying American news industry, it was still fun to see murders taking place above and under the printing press wheels. Sure, the journalistic facts (told mainly by the suspects) were tedious and all too lecture-y, but the story is well written and like any good thriller you’ll find it nearly impossible to guess who is the culprit.

The one thing that I thought the book had lacked, and that’s something I tend to look for in a series within the crime detective genre, is whether the novel can stand alone or not. And to be honest, it can’t. I immediately wanted to find out more about the incident that entangled Maggie Gardiner with Jack Renner – and even though on its own that’s not a bad thing – it still goes to show that if we take the element of their relationship out of “Unpunished”, it might have been a bit boring and one dimensional.

Having said that, the killer and now accomplice crime fighters are there, and “Unpunished” is interesting and gripping. I especially liked Gardiner as a CSI grey-worker who is the centre of things, and would have loved to see her character evolve a bit more… Luckily it’s a series 🙂 3 stars .. 3.5 on a better day.

 
No Evil (DCI Jack Callum #1)  by Maynard Sims 

No Evil (DCI Jack Callum #1)  by Maynard Sims 

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No Evil (DCI Jack Callum #1)

by Maynard Sims

CI Jack Callum investigates the murder of 14 year old Frances Anderton found with her eyes and lips sewn shut and her ears filled with candle wax. A letter is left showing a drawing of the three monkeys (hear no evil, see no evil, say no evil), and the murders continue, all victims are young and innocent but no link between them can otherwise be found. In short, the police hasn’t got a single lead.
It’s 1958, methods of investigation as well as people’s views and conduct are quite old fashioned, and Jack is an old fashion guy, but with a liberal mind.

The scenery and imagery are appealing, it’s an old fashioned town, back in old fashioned England. It’s fun. The characters are believable and likable, even though they sometimes engage in very flat conversations. The Plot of the thriller is a bit lacking: sure you want to find out who has done it and once the perpetrator is discovered you are invested in it as much as Jack (i.e. I really wanted to see the bastard pay). However, in general the plot is also kind of “flat”, the motive is far-fetched and even the way the police gained a lead that brings them closed to the conclusion, is by a mere chance, you would expect something a bit smarter there as well.
It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the book, I did, it’s a light read in general and is well written, it’s just that the plot and the conclusion did not convince me, and then, at the end of the day, I rather do something else with my time than reading about dead mutilated teenagers… I found the link to Cullum’s family (no spoilers don’t worry) a ploy to get us further emotionally invested in the fa-fetched script, and wasn’t impressed.
In conclusion – it’s an okay read. Literary wise very accomplished, story-wise, could have been much better in my humble opinion.

 
A Twist in Time (Kendra Donovan, #2)  by Julie McElwain 

A Twist in Time (Kendra Donovan, #2)  by Julie McElwain 

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A Twist in Time (Kendra Donovan, #2) 

by Julie McElwain

Let me first start by saying that it’s been long over-due for me to read an Historical Fiction Novel. The last time, was about three years ago, finishing an excellent fictional series of novels about Churchill, written by the uncanny Michael Dobbs.
I was a bit worried about Julie McElwain’s “A Twist in Time” which I was approved to review by Netgalley – time travel? Georgian England? can these mix?
Well they certainly do!
Kendra (a very untypical name to 19th Century England, to emphasize her alien-ness) Donovon is stuck in the past. She is a capable FBI agent, and a very much free woman of the 21st Century. So, when her benefactor and protector (the Duke of Aldridge) needs her help proving his nephew Alec is innocent from murder allegations of the promiscuous Lady Dover – she immediately accepts the challenge.
It is fortunate that the Duke is a is an all-powerful figure in the classes society of PRE-Victorian England, but it is also an inconvenience to Kendra, who finds herself bound by Victorian gowns, the need for a chaperon outdoors, and the underestimation of people. She is resentful to a society that thinks less of women, especially those who do not find a good husband, and do more than to raise children and stay at home… the novel takes place in filthy 19th Century London, but is Kendra up for the challenge?
I found the book a fresh breath of air. There aren’t too many temporal mambo-jambo, and the differences between our society to Georgian England’s sticks out through Kendra inaptness to the strict rules enforced on the women of the era.
in a Poirot fashion, she will slowly cross off suspects from her blackboard, while employing modern day form of investigation, on an almost lawless society. She is aided by bow street runner Sam Kelly, who’s authority is weak at best, and is torn between her attraction to Alec, to the need of getting back home.
I found the novel is not over-sophisticated, it is a fun murder-she-wrote, that tics all the boxes for me. I will most definitely read the first book at some point (which says it all), Thumbs up!

(not to be confused with “Cinderella A Twist in Time” the 3rd sequel to Cinderella who left me and my little girl traumatised…!)

Goodread page for A Twist in Time (Kendra Donovan, #2) 
Amazon Link 

 
The Promise (DC Gary Goodhew Mystery #6) by Alison Bruce

The Promise (DC Gary Goodhew Mystery #6) by Alison Bruce

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The Promise (DC Gary Goodhew Mystery #6) 

by Alison Bruce

I was given the opportunity to Review the Promise, the newest Goodhew Novel by Alison Bruce. This being my first Goodhew novel, I must first say that I did not feel left out or disoriented by the fact that I did not read any other of Goodhew novels, so this will do perfectly as a standalone novel as well.

I enjoyed “the Promise” – it is a good thriller, and Bruce’s writing is flowing and interesting.
First the plot: DC Gary Goodhew returns to Cambridge police force after a body of a homeless person that acted as his informant for years, had been found on market hill. Aided by Sue Gully, Gary feels that this murder is part of a larger, more sinister work, and being the station’s “trouble maker” pursues this line of inquiry in spite of his superior’s instructions.
Meanwhile we meet Kyle, an injured ex GI, who came back from Afghanistan only to have his life shuttered: he split with his girlfriend, he can’t see his son, and something have made him lay low and keep clear from his Mom and sister. It appears that Kyle has come across something as well, and without telling the police, manages to get his family tangled right in the middle of this mess…
As I said I enjoyed the book, and was actually holding my breath to find the details of the crime mystery as they turn out in the end. Having said that the book does not lack its problems: Bruce takes her time to set the scene, the introduction is messy at best, and I actually needed to go back and reread the first 3 chapters to fit them in the story. Not what you would want from a detective mystery in which the introduction needs to draw you into the entrails of the plot.

I was also a bit disappointed from the climax of the story, without revealing any details, I had the notion that things got “wrapped up” a bit too fast, and since at some point the story was so gripping I expected a bit more. I am aware that Bruce is not your typical boom-bang-shots kind of author, still there was room to make the ending a bit longer, I felt, with slightly more suspense…
At the end of the day, the Promise is a very thrilling novel. The story itself is well placed, and makes you wonder how the author came out with such a plot! I enjoyed the book profoundly, though as I said the beginning and the end could have used some brushing up. 4.5 stars.

 
the Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne

the Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne

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The Ice Twins

by S.K. Tremayne

The Ice Twins is a book that I did not intend to read… I have received it for free from The Times Plus+ book of the month, and since I didn’t have anything to read I went along with the choice. As a father of two the plot summery was enough to unnerve me: Angus and Sarah Moorcraft are mourning the death of their daughter Lydia, an identical twin to their living daughter of 7, Kirsty. To try and recover from this tragedy and due to a financial ordeal, they decide to live on a remote Scottish Island, Which Angus inherited. The twist starts when Kirstie asks “why do you keep calling me Kirstie mummy? I’m Lydia…”
The plot then becomes heavier, as we discover that the relationship between the couple is hardly ideal and that life on the remote Scottish isle is contributing to Kirsty/Lydia’s identity confusion.

The book is written by Sean Thomas, aka Tom Knox, who I guess decided he wanted a new kind of fan base for this triller, otherwise I do not know why use a third pseudonyms… He sets the scene superbly and I especially liked the twist where we hear the story from alternating narrators: Sarah, the mother, who accounts for the story from her own view, whilst when we see things from Angus’ side, it is told by a third omniscient narrator. This little twist is only understood at the end as essential for keeping us readers in the dark.
For me, the novel plunges into disarray when the second half of the story begins. On one side, it’s good that the writer started wrapping thing up on a faster pace because there’s not much more to say, any new fact would have just contributed to the readers perplexity. On the other hand, the story did have a certain pace which is broken when they reach Scotland – it also feels that also the language/writing is inferior to the start of the book.

As a thriller, the Ice Twins does the trick. It’s hard to conceive of the truth and only when we read the (too short) conclusion does things start to make sense. I Did enjoy the book profoundly and finished it within a few days, as the story as a whole is very good. Highly recommended to creepy mysteries lovers, maybe less for stormy nights 🙂

 
The Fire Child by S.K. Tremayne

The Fire Child by S.K. Tremayne

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The Fire Child

by S.K. Tremayne

The Fire Child is the second book of Sean Thomas (Tom Knox) writing as S K Tremayne. This, I guess, is to distinguish his new thrillers series, all so far revolving around children that suffered a personal trauma, from his earlier works.

In The Fire Child we meet a similar desolated surrounding as we did in the ICE TWINS; this time a mansion house in Cornwall called Carnhallow, home of David Kerthen a successful Lawyer and a descendant of a long line of English aristocrats, who used to own mines in gloomy Cornwall back in the days when mining there was profitable.
David and his son Jamie had suffered a major tragedy when the wife and mother, Nina, had fallen down a mine shaft on Christmas two years before our story takes place, and died – her body never to be found.
To that scenario enters Rachel Daley – David’s new wife, who is forced to juggle between her new status as the lady of Carnhallow, her loneliness in Cornwall and an impossible grieving step-son who is convinced that his mummy is still alive. Is he right? Is there a ghost dwelling in Carnhallow? or is Rachel, who has a dark past as well, growing slowly insane?

The book is gripping, the writing is flawing and superb as always. The setting is just what a thriller needs, although not much different than the isolated Scottish isle of the ICE TWINS story… The reason this novel got only 3.5 stars for me is the fact that the climax was less than i expected. The answer to the twists and clues in the plot was well.. disappointing, especially after the ICE TWINS’ ending which was so surprising in my opinion. The truth about Rachel (don’t worry no spoiler here) could have been deeper, and even the process of her alleged insanity, was too flat and one dimensional. As if the writer wanted to “wrap things up”.
Still this is a decent read and I’d recommend it. The author is extremely talented, and the desolated England imagery – makes you want to pack up and visit the place he is writing on.