The Thirst by Jo Nesbo – Harry Hole #11

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is the first book I have read in the Harry Hole series. This made me a bit worried since I felt that I would be missing out on a lot of details but a lot of people assured me that I would still enjoy the story as a standalone. With these reassurances, I began my journey into the world of Harry Hole … and here is my review:

In the latest novel featuring Inspector Harry Hole, Harry is hunting down a serial killer who uses Tinder to find his victims. Each victim is a self-declared Tinder addict. On examination of the body, there is only one clue: fragments of rust and paint in her wounds. Harry does not want to get involved with this case; he promised himself that he would never go back into the field. But there’s something about these murders that grabs his attention. Despite his promises, and in spite of all the risks, Harry throws himself back into the chase, in search of the monster who got away.

As someone who is completely unfamiliar with this series, I felt I was at a disadvantage. There were all of these subplots and character interactions that I didn’t feel like I grasped 100%, so my experience fell a bit short. That being said, this is still a very well-written and engaging thriller. I was swept up in the chase from the beginning and could not put this book down. I really liked Harry’s character; he is so flawed yet so perfect in his role as a detective. The mystery itself was really well executed and I enjoyed watching it all come together. All of the characters were well developed and I enjoyed finding out how everyone was connected, even if my understanding was superficial compared to that of a fan of the series. This novel has definitely shown me what I am missing, and you can bet that I will be getting myself into this series as soon as I possibly can!

Happy reading ~

 

Visions by Kelley Armstrong – Cainsville #2

It’s been a while since I read Omens by this author but I really enjoyed that foray into urban fantasy. I hadn’t planned on waiting so long to read the sequel but … life … happens. Anyways, I finally got around to it so here is my review:

In Omens, Olivia Taylor-Jones discovers that she is the daughter of notorious serial killers. She finds an ally in Gabriel Walsh, a selfish, morally ambiguous lawyer. Together, they were able to find a devious killer and partially cleared Olivia’s parents from their crimes. Their success, however, doesn’t last long. While Olivia continues to take refuge in Cainsville, Gabriel’s past comes back to haunt both of them.

When Olivia finds a dead woman in her car, dressed just like her, she is shocked. What makes it worse is that the body disappears before anyone else sees it. Olivia is convinced it’s another omen. But when she learns that a real young woman went missing just a few days ago, it makes Olivia question whether the body she saw was just a simple omen – or a message. Who would have left this kind of warning and why? As Olivia tries to uncover the truth, she finds herself in the crosshairs of old and powerful forces that have their own agenda and secrets.

It took me a while to get into this novel because I couldn’t really remember what had happened. But after just a chapter or two, everything started to fall into place. It helped that the author provided recaps of important events from the first book to help set the tone for this novel. Again, we are thrown into a murder mystery that has some supernatural elements to it. I liked that the novel actually managed to answer some of the underlying questions that I had had from before. She also added a whole host of new elements that led to more questions. I will say that there is a whole new level of romance seen in this book that I was not expecting so …. readers be prepared! The dynamic between Olivia and Gabriel gets better in this novel and you really start to admire their witty friendship. One of the things that made me really happy about this novel is that the supernatural elements of the story were a lot more visible, even though it still maintained its main murder mystery plot; what drew me to the series in the first place was a promise of fantasy, and the author definitely delivered on that account. Overall, this is a novel filled with intrigue, supernatural forces, and an interesting murder mystery. If you liked Omens, you will definitely enjoy Visions!

Happy reading ~

The Roses of May by Dot Hutchison – The Collectors #2

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

You might recall that I read The Butterfly Garden a while back. That novel had its fair share of criticism and praise, with some readers finding it too unbelievable and others finding it right up their alley. In the case of my opinion, I fell into the latter category. I was super excited to hear that there would be a sequel to it and I requested it as soon as I could through NetGalley! Here is my review:

It’s been 4 months since the Garden was discovered, a place where young women were abducted and kept as Butterflies. FBI agents Eddison, Hanoverian, and Ramirez are still dealing with the aftermath, trying to help the survivors adjust to life on the outside. But while the butterflies go through their recovery process, the agents have their hands full with a new case: a serial killer who leaves the dead bodies of young women in churches, throats slit and bodies surrounded by flowers. Priya Sravasti’s sister was one of the victims, and it has broken the family. Now, Priya and her mother move every few months, hoping for a brighter day. But soon Priya finds herself in the killer’s crosshairs. Priya may be the only person who can help find the killer – but at what price?

At first, I was very confused with this novel. I was under the impression that this book would be a sequel to the first book, and I wrongly assumed that the serial killer mentioned in this novel was somehow connected to the Butterfly Garden. However, that was not true; these 2 novels, while sharing the same themes, are not really connected in terms of plot. Once I realized this, the novel began to make more sense. The author still made mention of the Butterflies, but it was more in passing than anything significant.

I quite enjoyed the story here, with its similar yet unique plot. Once again, we read about a madman who hunts women, but the reasons behind his behaviour are different from the madman in the first book in the series. The novel has excerpts from his perspective, but is mostly told through the voice of Priya and FBI agent Eddison, both likable characters. I had a vested interest in Priya and could understand why Eddison and the other FBI agents wanted to protect her so much.

The plot itself wasn’t as dramatic or as dark as The Butterfly Garden. In fact, this book resembled more of the usual thrillers that you see. It was still very well written and highly engaging, which is why I couldn’t stop flipping the pages. However, it lacked some of that dark maturity that I associated with the first book, and I missed that. There were also some recurring themes that were a bit overdone; literally every page was filled with something related to the theme and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at times. The other flaw in this novel is the completely unrealistic relationship between Priya and her mother. It just … didn’t make sense. I understand that the author wanted Priya’s mother to be more like a friend; my own mother and I are very close, and we bicker and fight like best friends/sisters. However, a mother is still a mother and there are certain behaviours and actions that a mother would never approve of or do. While the relationship between Priya and the FBI agents was also quite unbelievable, I didn’t mind it as much because it worked.

Overall, this novel was a compelling read that was fast-paced and thrilling. However, it wasn’t as dark or mature as its predecessor and had certain characteristics that were a tad bit far-fetched. I would give this a 4/5 stars and would recommend it to anyone looking for a dark thriller on serial killers!

Happy reading ~

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

I read the debut novel by Ruth Ware In A Dark Dark Wood when it first came out, but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped, and I chalked it up to the fact that it had been compared to Gone Girl. This new novel has received a lot of positive reviews, so I decided to give it a real shot without any prejudices.

Lo Blacklock is a travel journalist who has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on an intimate luxury cruise. This is the perfect break for her, especially since she had just been a victim of a burglary. At first, Lo’s stay is pleasant: the cabins are beautiful, the dinner parties are extravagant, and the guests are all very posh. But as the week goes by, things begin to fray at the seams. When Lo witnesses a woman being thrown overboard, she is beside herself and reports the incident right away. The only problem is, all the passengers on board are accounted for. As the ship sails on unperturbed, Lo cannot shake off the feeling that something has gone terribly, terribly wrong.

In the beginning, I was intrigued by the way the author started with the story. Unlike other novels where we are just told that the main character has gone through something traumatic, the author lets us be a part of that traumatic experience. I appreciated this, and liked how it segued into the rest of the story. However, once Lo got onto that cruise ship, the story began to falter for me. I didn’t really like the other characters, and never felt like I got a good understanding of any of them. I also found Lo to be quite annoying and stereotypical, with her excessive drinking. The idea that her memory is not to be trusted because she takes medication and drinks a lot is a story line that I’ve seen many times, so I didn’t really care much for it. I also didn’t care for the ending, which felt rushed and not well planned; I really had to stretch my imagination to allow for things to play out in the manner that they did and I prefer having at least a little bit of realism. The one thing that I did enjoy was that at random points in the story, we would see how Lo was herself in danger through newspaper articles and messages on social media; that was a really cool aspect and the author did a great job of integrating it into the story. Overall, this was an okay thriller with nothing that lends it praise but nothing that causes me to hate it. I give this a 3/5 stars and would recommend it to people who like Ware’s style of storytelling.

Happy reading ~

Shadows of the Dead by Jim Eldridge – DCI Stark #2

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

London, 1921. Lord Johnny Fairfax has just been discovered dead in his study, along with another victim: an American man who was visiting Fairfax unexpectedly. For DCI Paul Stark, this case is more personal than just a heinous crime: he’s currently in a relationship with the former Lady Fairfax, Lady Amelia. And she is one of the top suspects. However, Lord Fairfax had his fair share of enemies, which means the suspect pool is large. And nobody knows who the American is and what his connection is to Lord Fairfax. As Stark digs deeper, he uncovers evidence of a shocking conspiracy that could mean doom for the British Establishment.

When I first read this novel, I was unaware that it was the second book in a series. However, that wasn’t too much of an issue as the author provided enough detail about everything that I didn’t feel like I missed out on much. This was an interesting historical mystery in that it involved more detail than many historical fiction novels I’ve read. There was a lot of name-dropping of historical figures, which at first was cool but eventually got tedious, especially since they weren’t always that important for the story. I also found that this book was more about DCI Stark’s private life than the mystery itself, which isn’t always a bad thing, but in this case, it made me lose interest in the story. So while the novel had an intriguing plot and was well-written, it just didn’t do it for me. I’d give this a 3/5 stars and recommend this to someone who is really interested in historical fiction (like… REALLY interested)!

Happy reading ~

A High Mortality of Doves by Kate Ellis

It’s been a while since I’ve read a classic historical fiction crime novel. I’ve heard about this author’s work but I’ve never had the pleasure of reading anything by her, so I thought this would be a good time to accomplish both goals. Here is my review:

It’s 1919 and the village of Wenfield is still trying to recuperate from 4 terrible years of war, as it comes to terms with the loss of so many men. The last thing this place needs is the brutal murder of a young woman. When Myrtle Bligh is found stabbed to death in the woodland, with her mouth slit to accommodate a dead dove, everyone is horrified by the nature of the crime. During the war, Myrtle spent time as a volunteer nurse with Flora Winsmore, the daughter of the local daughter; along with other volunteers, the girls cared for wounded soldiers at the nearby big house, Tarney Court. After 2 more women are murdered and left in the same circumstances, the village calls in Inspector Albert Lincoln from London, a man who is also suffering from the aftermaths of war. With rumours of a ghostly soldier with a painted face being spotted near the scene of the murders, the village is thrown into a state of panic – and with the killer still on the loose, who will be the next to die at the hands of this vicious soldier?

This was definitely an interesting novel. The author did a good job of creating a realistic impression of the historical time period, replete with examples of the social issues and prejudices that were prevalent in those days. The writing style was interesting, flitting between different characters. Flora had her own designated chapters that read more like diary entries, and Albert’s chapters were in 3rd perspective. At first, I didn’t really enjoy this style but it stopped mattering as I focused more on the story. The plot was intriguing and there were many avenues of investigation that the author explored. The ending definitely took me aback, as I wasn’t suspecting this direction; however, it wasn’t satisfactory for me and felt more like the author chose to do this just to add a thrill element. In other words, it wasn’t as well thought out as it could have been. The relationship between the two main characters was also not something I enjoyed; I don’t usually like novels where infidelity is accepted and I also felt as if the romance was not too well developed. Overall, a nice historical fiction with an interesting crime twist. This novel didn’t wow me but it wasn’t terrible, so I would give this a 3/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

Under The Harrow by Flynn Berry

I was promised a thriller. This novel did not deliver.

When Nora decides to visit her sister in the countryside, she is looking forward to a nice relaxing weekend. Instead, she walks into a murder scene – with her sister as the victim. Stunned by this shocking discovery, Nora cannot move on. She takes it upon herself to find her sister’s killer, especially since her faith in the police has been shaken because of past events. Haunted by the murder and the secrets surrounding it, Nora begins to show sings of obsession…. until she becomes just as unrecognizable as her sister.

When I first started reading this novel, I was intrigued by the writing style. It seemed a bit dark and poetic, with many intricate details added in here and there. I found it charming at first. But it soon got old. After a certain point, I realized that the writing style did nothing to enhance the plot and the little details were a bit pointless. As for Nora, our protagonist, I strongly disliked her. She had no real personality and was severely underdeveloped and lacked a voice. I couldn’t care less about her and her memories of the past or her obsession. She had no real reason for going about things the way that she did, and while at first I wanted to figure it out, by the time I got to the middle of the story, all I really wanted was for the story to end. The plot moves so slowly that it put me to sleep; literally nothing happens. And the ending, while not what I expected, was not at all a good twist. Just because you explain why someone is the killer doesn’t mean it works! Overall, this is one of the most disappointing books I have ever read and I would not recommend this to anyone interested in thrillers or mysteries. At least it was short!

Happy reading ~

Plague by C. C. Humphreys

I really like historical fiction novels but I don’t read many books in this genre. Perhaps it’s because I always find myself being recommended thrillers or fantasy novels. I was looking at what book to read next and decided that this historical fiction had an interesting enough premise to give it a shot… so here is my review:

London, 1665. It has been 5 years since Charles II was restored to the throne, and he has spent these years enjoying everything London has to offer. Cockpits, brothels, and the theatre run rampant, with both women and men performing alongside each other. But not everyone is happy with these developments. Some see this “liberation” as a new Babylon and decide that it is time to clean up London… through murder. And no one is spared from the scalpel of this cruel killer, be it a royalist member of Parliament or a whore. But they all have 2 things in common: they are found with gemstones in their mouths and it is evident that they have been … sacrificed. Amidst all of this pandemonium comes the plague, back in full force leaving no one safe… and so, murder has found a new friend.

I thought I would enjoy this novel a lot more than I did. The characters were quite interesting, and I really liked the way the author introduced each one, giving them all their own chapter and spotlight at the very beginning of the book. The language of the book was perfectly written to fit in with the surroundings; the author did a great job setting the scene. However, I felt that the plot itself was lackluster, at times dragging and at times rushed. Some parts of the plot were quite unnecessary and that just made it harder for me to get through this novel. I thought that the plague would play more of a role than it did but it just served to set the scene. Overall, this book had interesting characters and a perfect setting, but lacked in a strong and interesting plot. I would recommend this to anyone looking for an adventure story.

Happy reading ~

House of Names by Colm Toibin

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I really wanted to read this novel because of its connection to Ancient Greece. I don’t know much in this area as I always focused on Ancient Egypt, but I was eager to step into this area, even if it is through a retelling.

“I have been acquainted with the smell of death.” So begins Clytemnestra’s tale of the tragic saga that occurs in her life: how her husband, King Agamemnon, sacrificed their daughter, Iphigeneia, because he was told that would help him win the war against Troy; how Clytemnestra sought revenge against him by collaborating with a prisoner named Aegisthus, who became her lover; how Agamemnon returned from 9 years in the war with his own lover; and how Clytemnestra finally achieved vengeance – and faced the dark consequences of her actions.

This story was told from 3 perspectives: Clytemnestra, Electra (her other daughter), and Orestes (her son); this was unique and unexpected, as I had thought the story would just be from Clytemnestra’s point of view. It was an interesting story that really took the time to evaluate the various repercussions of each action. However, nothing really resonated with me. For some reason, the actions and the characters and the emotions … it all seemed very removed. Nothing stirred my heart or made me feel sympathy or empathy; it almost felt like I was reading an interesting history book. This is definitely more of a literary fiction than anything else, and I think the author really tried to do indepth character analyses for all of the protagonists involved in the story. However, there was no connection felt between me and the characters, and this lack of caring caused me to lose interest in this story. I would recommend this for anyone who likes to read retellings based on Greek tales.

Happy reading ~

The Cutaway by Christina Kovac

When TV news producer Virginia Knightly receives a notice about the disappearance of a beautiful young attorney, something about the image stays with her. Despite what her colleagues think, Knightly suspects that there may be something sinister about this case, especially since she was last seen leaving an upscale restaurant after a domestic dispute. Knightly takes it upon herself to investigate this case, risking her career and her life as she dives into the dark underbelly of Washington, DC business and politics.

I thought this novel was quite interesting because it takes a different perspective in the mystery/thriller genre. This is the first time I have read a novel with the main character being a news producer, and it really gave me an insight into the reporter world. In her bio, the author mentions that she has a great deal of experience managing newsroom, and it is evident from the detail given to the setting; it made for a very enjoyable and interesting read, and I definitely learned a lot about what goes into making the news!

I really liked Virginia’s character. She has her eccentricities, like her obsession to find out the truth about everything. She is also a very strong and independent character, which I absolutely adored. Here was a character who did not really need to rely on others to do the job. She highlighted the gender disparities in the workfield very well, and was just such an intelligent character. There was a romance aspect that felt a bit weird to me; the characters had a history that I was unaware of, which led to some confusion in terms of understanding how this relationship worked and where everyone stood. The other characters in the book were also quite interesting and had their quirks, making them stand out.

Throughout the novel, I kept waiting for that dark side to come out. I was really excited to read about the “underbelly” of Washington, DC. I didn’t really get any of that. Most of the action was reserved for the newsroom, and the times when it happened during the investigation were a bit lackluster; it was just thrown together at the end and wasn’t well fleshed out. It was the one disappointing factor in an otherwise interesting read.

Overall, this novel gave me a unique perspective in an investigation and had very strong characters, which made me very happy. However, the thriller itself could have been better established. For those reasons, this book gets a 3/5 stars from me.

Happy reading ~