Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore Matthew Sullivan

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The Bright Ideas Bookstore is more than a book shop. This independent book seller is the home for an eclectic bunch of people, The staff that work there, the customers and the bookfrogs.

Bookfrogs?

It was a new word for me as well, but I think it’s a great name.

What are they? They are the people who populate the store, day-in-day-out, reading books in the comfort of the store, sometimes even buying a book, but only when they’re on special offer. They remind me of the coffee shop Bedouins who populate tables with their laptops making a small coffee last for hours. Some of the Bookfrogs are homeless people looking for shelter, some are lonely singletons who prefer the shop to their empty homes, some are just book lovers.

Each Bookfrog has a story and Joey is no exception. Unfortunately Joey’s story comes to an end when he hangs himself in the store.

But why hang himself there, and why now.

The main protagonist of the book is a 30 year old bookish, bookstore worker Lydia. Lydia is one of the last staff in the store and discovers Joey hanging in a secluded section of the shop just before a late close. Whilst she holds his legs and calls for help she notices a photo sticking out of his pocket. The photo is of Lydia, and her two school friends, at Lydias 10th birthday party.

But Lydia has only known Joey from his visits to the shop, and she has never seen this photo before.

Not many people have known Lydia since she was that 10 year old. In fact there is a very good reason why nobody in her life knows anything about her childhood or her family. Just after the photo was taken Lydia was the only survivor of a gruesome crime and went into hiding with her Dad. The man who committed the crime was never found and has haunted Lydia ever since.

So why has Joey got her picture?

As she starts to look into Joeys life she is astonished to find out that she has “inherited” his belongings. Amongst the belongings are some books which have been cut up. Why would Joey cut up books, they were the only thing that seemed to mean anything to him?

Lydia goes on a journey into her own past and starts to piece together Joeys history. It’s a great journey and makes for a really good story.

I’ve read some of the reviews for this book on Amazon. I have to say they are either neutral or negative. I have to disagree. This is a great book to just pass away the summer afternoon and long evenings.

If you are looking for sex and violence then this book won’t be for you.

If you want to read a book that makes you engage with the characters; that has a slightly socially awkward main protagonist; that has a simple but engaging storyline; this book is for you.

Pages: 336

Publisher: William Heinemann

Published: Available from 24th August 2017.

Available on Amazon to pre-order now

Nemesister Sophie Jonas-Hill

 

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A deeply complex book, with many twists and turns, this book will never be described as bubblegum for the brain. Dark and sinister from the start to the end it kept me engrossed from page 1.

It starts with a woman with no memory stumbling into a shack in deepest Louisiana. Barely conscious she holds the male occupier at gunpoint, he sees she’s hurt.

From that point on the story gets dark. Not unlike the Bourne Identity the main protagonist starts to regain her memory and the story of what leads to her appearing in the shack starts to unfold.

As the title suggests the girl has a sister. The mystery woman starts to remember the sister, or is it implanted memories of someone else’s life, or maybe even memories of her own life.

The story moves rapidly and switches, in some places confusingly, between the present and the memories. But this is good, this is very good; because for the first time, for a long time, I read a book that kept me on my toes. It kept me hooked like no other book has for years.

The man in the shack takes care of the girl. But who is he, and why is he helping her.  A couple of Freudian slips, when he is talking to her, puts the girl on her guard. Is he spinning her a false story, or is her memory loss causing her to be forgetful or misunderstanding.

As her paranoia grows his activities seem become more intimidating in their innocence. Why would a complete stranger help somebody with no memory who has stumbled into his remote shack.

When the shack is attacked it seals the woman’s faith in her helper. She is after all free to leave if she wants to, then he locks the doors and puts the key in his pocket.

Exploring the house when he’s asleep the woman makes a discovery and starts to piece things together in her mind. Should she escape, or is she safer where she is, does she have a choice.

I loved this book. It finishes on a cliff hanger, and I was pleased to see that Sophie Jonas-Hill is working on the sequal.

Hurry up Sophie I can’t wait for Broken Ponies

Pages: 304

Publisher: Urbane Publications

Publication Date: 6th July 2017.

Available to pre-order from Amazon

I Know a Secret Rizzoli and Isles Book 12 Tess Gerritsen

 

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This is one of those books where I admit to an excited anticipation in waiting for it.

The Rizzoli and Isles books have been a staple of my reading for years and every new release has a lot to live up to. This one is yet another that does not disappoint.

Boston PD’s Detective Jane Rizzoli is doing what she does best, investigate murders with the help of her best friend Medical Examiner Maura Isles.

The unlikely pairing of the no nonsense Detective, with the professionally prim and proper Medical Examiner, is a partnership which never gets old.

When a series of seemingly unconnected deaths occur, nobody is looking for a serial killer. In fact, nobody is even sure that one of the of the deaths is suspicious.

Slowly Rizzoli and her partner Detective Frost start to realise that the deaths are connected, but how, and by what, or who.

The complex plot has a third protagonist, Holly. Holly was caught up in an investigation as a child, an investigation which made the career of the Prosecutor who took it to Court.

The sections of the book seen through Holly’s eyes is written in the first tense, and gives a different view on the happenings of the investigation. This gives the reader the view of the investigation from the outside. It allows Tess Gerritsen to show the anxieties of people involved in anon the peripheries, whilst Rizzoli and her team try to link the deaths and find who is responsible.

Gerritsen visits a time in Americas recent History where there was a feeling that radical religious groups were running amok, and the insecurities it brought to the general-public. How assumed dangers influenced investigations, and jury’s.

This book is fictional; but reading it provokes that feeling of “this cannot be far from the truth”

It’s not just the story of the crimes that make this book so good.

Rizzoli and Isles have become like close friends to Gerritsen’s readers. With every book, I look forward to renewing old acquaintances and finding out what is happening in their lives.

The Rizzoli family is never a disappointment and the relationships within and around it are always intriguing to read. Maura’s life is as fascinating as her character and is full of moral dilemmas brought on by her “black and white” scientific approach to her thinking.

All the way to the end this book kept me changing my mind as to who was the perpetrator, and how the investigation was going to be resolved.

336 pages came and went in no time. Now I have to wait for Rizzoli and Isles 13.

Not too long I hope

Pages: 336

Available to pre-order on Amazon

Publishing Date 10the August 2017.

 

The Crow Girl Erik Axl Sund

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The Crow Girl     Eric Axl Sund.

I had heard a lot about this trilogy of books before it was amalgamated into one, and at 786 pages it is a big book.

Not only is it big but it is tough reading at times, not because it is badly written, it isn’t, but because of the subjects it covers.

This book looks at systematic child abuse, generational abuse, peer abuse, multiple personality disorders, child trafficking, kidnapping and manipulation of vulnerable people.

Jeanette Kihlberg is an Investigator in the Stockholm Police. Married with a teenage son life at home is not good. Her aspiring artist husband is not pulling his weight and she is having to borrow money from her father. She is becoming more alienated from her son as she spends more time at work.

Then the murders start. The bodies of young men who have been, very severely beaten and mutilated start to turn up around the city. As Jeanette becomes embroiled in the investigation she identifies a suspect, a man already under investigation for child abuse, but her investigations keeps being thwarted by a senior prosecutor.

Meanwhile psychotherapist Sofia Zetterlund is interviewing people who have been accused of, and victims of, child abusers. One of the people she is interviewing is Karl Lundstrom, Jeanette’s main suspect.

When Jeanette is refused permission to interview Lundstrom personally she talks to Sofia and strikes up a close friendship.

Another of Sofia’s clients is Victoria Bergmann, a victim of abuse from a young age. Through interviews between Sofia and Victoria, and flashbacks to Victoria’s early life, the reader is introduced to a very disturbed girl, turning into a very disturbed young woman

Another strand of the story sees a young illegal immigrant boy drugged and held captive. He is abused and brainwashed until he becomes a machine carrying out the whims of the person holding him. Through this manipulation, the boy becomes a killing machine, but is he as under control as his kidnapper thinks, and can they really control him.

As Jeanette’s marriage continues to break down, and her professional life become more frustrating she turns more towards Sofia for solace and friendship.

The more Sofia becomes involved with her clients, the more she cognitively deteriorates. She finds herself blacking out when listening to tapes of interviews with her clients. Falling asleep at night her dreams are filled with the implanted memories of Victoria.

I don’t give spoilers beyond halfway through the book, so I won’t comment on who of the main protagonists has the multiple personality syndrome, or how it affects them and endangers those close to them, but it’s one hell of a story line.

This book is not for the feint-hearted. Some of the abuse scenes are amongst the toughest I’ve read. They are graphic but don’t go all the way, just far enough to leave the reader in no doubt as to what happens, or is happening to people.

It is one of the best psychological thrillers I have ever read.

I think I would have preferred to read it as the tree separate books. I took a break after part one, feeling slightly uneasy about the story; but I soon picked the book back up to finish it off.

I have read a lot of other reviews which say the book is too long. I disagree, it tells the story with no slack. It has to be as long as it is.

I think readers are going to have to find a new name fort this genre, Nordic Noir doesn’t seem right.

Maybe Nightmare Invoking Nordic Noir would be more appropriate.

A great book, but not a relaxing read for your holidays.

 

Pages 786

Publisher Vintage

Available for the Kindle via Amazon

The Man Who Played Trains Richard Whittle

 

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The Man Who Played Trains. Richard Whittle

The style of writing, and the story, took me back to my days reading Hammond Innes and early Robert Ludlum in the late 70’s early 80’s. Grown up boys own stories. Stories of ordinary men pushed into unusual circumstances in subtle ways that are totally realistic.
In the modern day Mining engineer, and consultant, John Spargo, receives a phone call to tell him his mother is in hospital. Rushing to her bedside he finds she has been beaten up in a home raid. Sadly she dies and John sets out to find out what the person that raided her house was after. The house is in the little run down mining village of Kilcreg, a cul-de-sac town on the Scottish coast. The town used to have a mine, run by Spargo’s father, but since it closed there has been no work and the elderly population wouldn’t be responsible for the attack.

Meanwhile in 1944 a German U-boat captain, Theodore Volker is trying to get home to see his young son. He is a good man whose wife had been killed during an air raid, he looks after his crew, and speaks his mind about the state of the German war effort, and the way they are beginning to lose the war.
When Volker is confronted on a train, by a stranger, and taken to a Luftwaffe base in Berlin, it becomes obvious he is being recruited for a secret mission. A mission to the UK.
As things start to gather pace Sparo’s daughter is kidnapped and he takes on his own mission, to find his daughter and discover why his mother was killed, by who, and why.
It’s no supplies that the happenings during the end of World War 2 are connected with the happenings in modern day Scotland, but how.
This book blends the two story-lines together in an intriguing novel that has been an absolute pleasure to read.

This style of book has gone missing over the last few years in favour of unrealistic adventure thrillers. It’s good to have it back

Thank you Richard Whittle.

Pages: 480

Publisher: Urbane Pulications

Available on Amazon for the Kindle

the lighterman Simon Michael

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Charles Holborne. A Barrister that changed his name from Charles Horowitz to improve his chances in the legal profession.

Charles Holborne, the man whose morals and ethics keep him sane.

Those morals and ethics are about to be tested.

In the previous two books in this series Charles Holborne has acted as a defence Barrister in some high profile cases. He has lost his wife, who he was arrested for murdering; he has gone head to head with crooked Police Officers; annoyed the Kray Twins, and been alienated by his peers. He has started relationships and lost his families trust.

In this book, we find out more about Charles. How his family were bombed out of their home during the blitz. How the young Charles ran away from being a refugee in Carmarthen, and returned to his bombed-out home. How he ended up working with family on tugs and barges on the Thames before joining the RAF to become a fighter pilot.

When, in 1964, one of the boat crew is accused of murder Charles is immersed in the working boat world of the Thames again.

The story looks at the gangland culture of London. Examines the bribery and corruption by, and off, Police Officer’s in and around Soho. Delves into the Gay culture of the mid 60’s, and its dangers.

In 1964 Charles is just beginning to attract clients again, but is living under the threat of being on Ronnie Kray’s “list”.

Merlin is accused of Murdering a Waterguard, a 1960’s river Policeman, come Customs Officer, and Charles is manipulated into representing him in Court: But who is Merlin and why has Charles been made to represent him.

The answers, to those question, lie in this marvellously written story. Not only does this book stand alone as a good novel, but it complements the two previous books. The reader will learn more about Charles, his youth, his family, and his private life.

I love books which have me reaching for the internet to research things that are mentioned in them. I spent ages looking at the world of the boat workers of the Thames. I found myself reading about the London gang wars of the 1960’s.

I picked this book up and was immediately hooked, 5 hours later I put it down, finished.

I can’t remember the last time I read a book, from front to back, in one sitting.

Pages: 400

Publisher: Urbane Publications

Available on Amazon for the Kindle.

The Stolen Girls

 

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The Stolen Girls   Patricia Gibney

I’ve been looking forward to this book since finishing the first in the series, The Missing Ones, which was one of the best debut novels I’ve read for a while.

In her first book Patricia Gibney tackled some daunting subjects and she hasn’t shied away from them this time.

Human trafficking for the sex trade, illegal organ farming, war crimes, teenage self-abuse, prostitution and alcohol, all play a part in this story.

Lottie Parker is back. The troubled Detective Inspector, widowed, mother of 3 teenage children, and struggling to stay off the booze, she had it tough in the first book, and things get no better for her in this one.

The daughter of one of Ragmullin’s criminal head men has gone missing. Exiled in Spain he sends his right-hand man to try to locate her.

Meanwhile the bodies of young girls are beginning to turn up in the trenches of the road works which are being carried out all over the town. Is one of the girls the daughter of the Godfather.

Banded back together with her team, and partnered with her trusty confidante DS Mark Boyd, Lottie is tasked with finding the murderer of the girls in the trenches.

Whilst she is investigating the murders a young woman turns up on her doorstep with a little boy. Who is she and why does she appear to know Lottie’s dead Husband

The investigation leads her to a privately-run detention centre for asylum seekers. The man in charge of the centre served with Lottie’s husband in Kosovo. Was Parkers husband as good a man as Lottie thought. It was a terrible war, with terrible atrocities, have some of these crimes moved to the small Irish town of Ragmullin.

What a book. Patricia Gibney may have arrived on the book shelves recently but she’s going to stay on them for a long time.

This story had me hooked from the beginning. From the rape, and murder, of a family during the War in Kosovo, too the teenage angst suffered by Parkers youngest daughter, this book is beautifully written. Not once did I feel like the author was stretching the bounds of reality. Not once is there a lull in the action. Not once did I want to put it down.

Bring on the next Lottie Parker book. I can’t wait to see how she is coping; and I can’t wait to see what crime Ragmullin will suffer, and how the team will investigate it.

Pages: 455

Publisher: Bookouture

Available: On Amazon from the 6th of July or to pre-order now.