Monday 19 December 2016

The Bone Collection by Kathy Reichs

One of things I enjoy most about stories written by Reichs is the way she combines fiction with fact. I feel as if I always come away knowing just a little bit more, especially with the short stories. Reichs often uses the shorter format to highlight, educate and inform her readers.

The Bone Collection is, as the title implies, a collection of four short stories. It includes Bones in her Pocket (15.5), The Swamp Bones (16.5), Bones on Ice (17.5) and First Bones (0.5). The numbers represent the reading order in the Temperance Brennan series.

I had read all but First Bones before, however I read the stories again, because they are always fascinating.

First Bones is actually a prequel to the very first Brennan story. It explains how she discovers her true calling and real passion. Crime calls her name softly and entices her towards the all consuming darkness of mysteries and murder.

Bones in her Pocket brings mystery to what should be a simple identification. Why are the remains of a young woman found with the skeletal remains of a small animal. This amateur killer has made the kind of mistakes an experienced killer wouldn't have made.

The Swamp Bones is an excellent example of how Reichs incorporates important environmental issues into her stories, both short and full-length ones. Burmese Pythons play a pivotal part in this novella.

Bones on Ice is about the body of a young woman who died during a climb up Mount Everest. Reichs discovers that all is not what it seems with this case. She also gives readers an insight into just how dangerous the climb is and how many people have died during said climb. Their bodies lie unclaimed as a testament to how lethal Mount Everest can be.

Not everyone can turn a novella into a tiny novel or give readers the feeling that they have just read the equivalent of one on a smaller scale. It is something Reichs does very well.

Buy The Bone Collection at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read The Swamp Bones, Bones Never Lie or Speaking in Bones by Kathy Reichs.

Read Exposure by Kathy Reichs and Brendan Reichs.

Read Two Nights by Kathy Reichs.

Blue Light Yokohama by Nicolás Obregón

Obregón manages to capture a specific noirish Japanese quality, which is infused with his very own style.

Blue Light Yokohama is an intricately woven web of crime, lies, corruption and emotions. It is an exceptional read.

One of the aspects I really found intriguing was the inspiration for the book. Taking a forgotten cold case and building an entire story around it with the sole purpose of giving the victims closure or some sort of ending to the horrendous murder of an entire family.

Iwata is driven mainly by his denial and fight or flight response. Trying not to dwell on his miserable childhood and his even more tragic adult life, makes him even more determined to solve the crimes that have landed n his lap.

His coping mechanisms are barely keeping him above water. The guilt he feels about his wife and child are overshadowed by the anger he feels towards his wife. I'm glad Obregón didn't try and make it a cotton candy issue. The emotions Iwata feels are honest and raw. He has a right to be angry and a right not to forgive her, despite perhaps being the catalyst for her actions.

Simultaneously the reader gets an insight into his childhood and quite a few unresolved issues, which play a part in the development of his psychological well-being. His personal life flows in and out of the crime story to the point where both storylines are seamless and become one and the same. Iwata and his strong enigmatic personality dominates the other characters. His refusal to give up and walk away is a reflection of his past experiences. No matter how hard it gets there is always a way forward.

It's interesting that his character actually manages to endear himself to others. Instead of turning their back on the troublemaker and lost cause, a lot of his encounters become friends and confidantes.

Although Iwata is a fascinating main character I wouldn't be doing the story any justice if I gave him all the dues. The plot is cleverly woven from the past into the future with plenty of red herrings and political intrigue.

Nicolás Obregón is definitely an author to watch, and I can't wait to read the sequel to Blue Light Yokohama.

Buy Blue Light Yokohama at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Tuesday 13 December 2016

Nothing went as planned, but hey I'm back!

I just thought I would explain my online absence over the last 10 days...

I had to have surgery and it didn't exactly go the way I expected it to.

Unfortunately I think I am superwoman sometimes and was convinced that major surgery would be a minor setback.

In my head I had it all planned out. In one day, have surgery and out the next day, which is quite the norm in the UK even for major surgery. In theory it sounded great.

In reality I had to beg, wiggle and worm my way out of a longer stay due to the fact I hadn't ticked all the medical boxes for my release. Then I completely underestimated the pain, the fact the pain meds didn't work and how much time I would spend in a semi-unconscious mode.

Again, my great plan also said I would be catching up with all my reading and reviews. None of that happened either. 'Sigh' I think I managed a grand total of one and half books over a 10 day period, as opposed to the at least one a day I usually read.

My brain has been a bit like scrambled eggs on toast without a slice of bread in sight. So much for best laid plans eh?

Anyhoo, I'm back and have a pile of reading and reviews to catch up with!

Friday 2 December 2016

The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent

Aside from being a Sunday Times top ten bestseller The Loving Husband by Christobel Kent has also been picked as a Richard and Judy Book Club Autumn Pick. So let's give a little bit of well-deserved bookworm love to both Kent and the book.

About the author
Christobel Kent was born in London in 1962 and now lives in Cambridge with her husband and four children; in between she lived in Florence.  She worked in publishing for several years, most recently as Publicity Director at Andre Deutsch. Her debut novel A Party in San Niccolo, was published in 2003.

About the book
Fran Hall and her husband Nathan have moved with their two children to a farmhouse on the edge of the Fens - a chance to get away from London and have a fresh start.

But when Fran wakes one night to find Nathan gone, she makes a devastating discovery. As questions about her husband and her relationships start to mount, Fran's life begins to spiral out of control.
What is she hiding from the police about her marriage, and does she really know the man she shared her bed with?

It is certainly planned out meticulously. Right to the very end, I certainly cannot fault Kent for that, and aside from a few blips it is a good read. Saying that, the beginning is a wee bit confusing and the random mention of the secret society was superfluous.

Fran lives a seemingly happy rural life with her two children and her somewhat distant husband. Everything appears to be perfectly normal until one evening she awakes to find her husband dead. The police find some bizarre inconsistencies in her statement, which places her firmly on their radar.

Kent has managed to weave quite a few hot topics in here, in particular one that has been in the media for the last few years. Without giving away part of the plot, all I will say is that the police and other investigative services charged with solving crime and protecting the public, often overstep the boundaries of what is deemed necessary. Leaving innocent victims and unknown emotional casualties in their wake.

Another element of the story is the blatant misogyny, sexism and sexual harassment in the police force. Regardless of whether it happens to fellow police officers or to suspects and/or victims. Ali is the Family Liaison Officer and finds herself harassed, insulted and black-balled by the men she works with. It isn't anything personal, because they do it to every skirt on the force. If you say anything you find yourself marked as an informant, and if you keep quiet the abuse gets worse.

This misogyny is also in play in the investigation into Nathan's death. It's as if the police refuse to see any other person as a suspect other than Fran. Left with no other option she decides she wants to know the whole truth. No matter how dirty or terrifying.

It is a slow-burner with quite a few twists and turns, and Kent manages to keep it interesting until the end.

Buy The Loving Husband at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

You can win a signed copy of The Loving Husband by retweeting this tweet or commenting below. The winner will be contacted after the 8th of December. Good Luck!