Escape from the ER
The Darkest Evening - Ann Cleeves

Grabbing the latest book in this series is a no-brainer for a couple of reasons. First, I know I’m in for a well written, twisty murder mystery. Second, I get to spend time with the wonderful Brenda Blethyn. Ever since I saw her portrayal of Vera Stanhope, she’s become the voice in my head as I read these books. And that’s no bad thing.


The story begins when Vera ends up with a baby. But not the usual way. In the middle of a blizzard, she comes across an abandoned car with a tiny person inside. Their only hope is to make it to the nearest house which just happens to be the ancestral home of her father’s estranged family. Awkward.


And so Vera is reunited with snooty matriarch Harriet, her daughter Juliet & son-in-law Mark. She hasn’t seen this side of the family since childhood & it sets up an interesting dynamic. But any chit-chat will have to wait as Vera calls in reinforcements to deal with the baby, the car…..wait, where is the mom? By the time help arrives, there’s another more pressing question: who is the dead woman in the back yard?


And we’re off. Joe, Holly & all the regulars are back as the team tries to identify a killer who is hiding in plain sight. Motive is key to solving the case & as Vera digs with her typical persistence, family secrets & hidden ties are revealed. Appearances can deceive & even the happiest families have fault lines, soft spots that must be protected to maintain a facade.


The plotting is excellent & there are several credible “killers” to choose from. But what elevates the story is the addition of Vera’s personal history & present day interaction with long lost relatives. As local connections are uncovered, she has to wonder if her family knows more than they’re telling. They remember her as the awkward, frumpy daughter of the family’s black sheep. She may still be all those things but now she’s also an intuitive cop with the power to sort through & air their dirty laundry.


Picking up one of these books is like bumping into old friends. I love Vera & enjoy watching as criminals underestimate her at their own expense. Joe continues to be her long suffering righthand man while Holly’s character & relationship with the boss is further developed.


The pages fly by driven by a steady pace, clever dialogue & well rounded characters. By the end, the woman’s death is not the only mystery solved as Vera gains new insight into her father that may help put some of her personal demons to rest.




2.5 Stars
Time to let go....
The Benefit of Hindsight - Susan Hill

About all I can be bothered to say is this was really disappointing. When you find yourself wanting to smack the majority of the characters it might be a sign it's time to let go of a series...



4 Stars
Squeeze Me - Carl Hiaasen

I don’t think I knew how much I needed this book until I started reading. Yes, it’s based in our current reality but Hiaasen has a gift for stretching that reality to ridiculous lengths until you reach a place where you can only look up & laugh. However, fair warning to fans of the Orange One & his posse….you may not find this quite so amusing.


In fact, supporters of those who suffer from inherited wealth, political ambition or general pretension may have trouble locating their funny bone. It’s definitely the blue collar crowd who shine in this warped & twisted tale set in.…where else….Florida.


It all begins when 72 year old Kiki Pew Fitzsimmons disappears during a charity ball. She & her gang of wealthy widows have serious pull in the swanky town of Palm Beach & it’s not long before a full scale search is underway. Alas, they don’t know what we do….what really happened to Kiki (brief time-out here just to say “eeeww”).


Turns out a couple of other people have figured it out. One is professional wildlife wrangler Angie Armstrong, our MC. She specializes in relocating pesky critters & soon puts two & two together as to the whereabouts of the elderly socialite. Not that anyone believes her. But Angela is the persistent, feisty sort & soon ropes in the local chief of police & a weary secret service agent. And hey, maybe they can also help with her crazy stalker.


Hold on to your hat as this takes off in a dozen direction. Pretty soon we’re knee deep in illegal immigrants, angry mobs, dangerous tanning beds & pythons on LSD. This is a little darker & edgier than usual for Hiaasen & you have no doubt where he stands on current issues. But instead of a ranting polemic, he gets it off his chest in the form of an entertaining story full of the colourful characters & bizarre events that have become his trademark. Social commentary is sharply observed & humour ranges from cleverly satirical to ridiculously silly.


This was exactly what I needed in the midst of all the mayhem. Angie is my kind of girl & I enjoyed riding shotgun as the story unfolds. There’s never a dull moment, lots of laughs & characters you’ll root for including one of my personal faves. Sadly, some of the most bizarre bits are probably true.


If your weekend plans include a rally in Tulsa, give this a pass. The rest of you can grab a beverage, relax & prepare to giggle.


Reading tool kit should include: sunscreen, flip flops, pepper spray & vodka (a couple of those little cocktail umbrellas wouldn’t go amiss…).



3.5 Stars
The Inner Darkness - Jorn Lier Horst

When you read the synopsis for this book, you get a pretty good idea of how it all kicks off. Convicted killer Tom Kerr escapes custody & does so in spectacular fashion. Poor Chief Inspector William Wisting…instead of wrapping up an old case, he’s organizing a massive manhunt.


I was initially a bit worried as I thought the blurb sort of gave the game away. Even as you’re reading about events leading up to Kerr’s escape, you already know what happens. Boy, was I wrong. Several elements combine to make this a story that pulls you in & keeps you squirming in your seat.


First, there’s Kerr’s character. Congratulations are due as I formally nominate him for my annual COTY Award (Creep of the Year). Seriously, this guy made my skin crawl from the get-go. Sociopathic   & intelligent…’s a deadly combination.


Then there’s the author ability to tell a story. As with all these books, the plot is layered & smart. It ticks along at a good pace with several scenes that will test your fight-or-flight response. But it’s Wisting who makes it such a pleasure to tag along. No flash or OTT drama here. Just a quiet, decent man who also happens to be a good cop.


Among the returning characters is Wisting’s daughter Line. As usual, she’s a bit too smart for her own good & watching her story line develop caused at least one of the knots in my stomach. Also back is the shifty Adrian Stiller. He may be handy in a crisis but I wouldn’t trust him with lunch money.


Kerr’s impressive bid for freedom marks the onset of a low lying tension that slowly builds as the story progresses. We know what Kerr is capable of & the thought he may be back in business is chilling. But the real question is who’s helping him? Chapters alternate between Wisting & Line & their very different POV’s compliment each other as the story unfolds.


This is a straight up police procedural with several twists that may make you second guess how it all pans out. And if you arrive at the final few chapters just before bedtime, good luck getting to sleep anytime soon. Your reading tool kit for this book should include: a bowl of snacks, night vision glasses, water wings, & Tums.




4 Stars
Bad Turn - Zoë Sharp

I'm behind on reviews & in a brilliant move to remedy the situation, I immediately picked this at random from my kindle & began reading. Yep, my Queen of Procrastinators crown is intact.


Lots of reviews for this so I'll keep it short. Confession: I'd read a previous book in this series & it was just an ok read for me. Times have obviously changed because I really enjoyed this one.


Charlie is a smart, gutsy woman with a snarky sense of humour that kept me grinning while I ducked & covered through all the action sequences. Happily, you don't need to read these in sequence & it kept me more than entertained during 2 night shifts. I'll definitely be watching for the next one & hope to see more of the intriguing Mr. Schade.


Meanwhile, my PA is carefully selecting my next read.....




3.5 Stars
The Constant Rabbit - Jasper Fforde

No one writes like Jasper Fforde. He has the ability to take the absurd & present it in a way that makes his version of an alternate society seems completely normal. So when you open this book & find yourself in an England where the neighbours might be 6 ft. talking rabbits, you merely shrug & think “Oh, right. Forgot that happened.”


That would be the Spontaneous Anthropomorphic Event, an unexplained aligning of elements that resulted in walking/talking rabbits joining society (along with a few other small mammals but please don’t mention the bees). Sure, there are small differences. They tend to settle disputes with duels & have a thing for dandelion brandy (“the diabolical 3-way love child of methanol, crack cocaine & U-Boat fuel”)


The MC & narrator is Peter Knox, a (human) single dad who works for the Rabbit Compliance Taskforce. Although the bunnies are technically integrated, they are subject to slightly different rules. Most live “within the fence”, approved colonies with restricted movement. But some live in town. Peter is one of the few who can actually tell them apart & it’s his job to identify any who have broken laws.


By now, this set-up should have you thinking about real life historical parallels. Now lets add in a prime minister with a secret agenda to transport all rabbits to a government facility in Wales. It’s called the Mega-Warren & PM Nigel Smethwick publicly promotes it as a wonderful place for the furballs to socialize & feel safe. But his party (UK Anti-rabbit Party or UKARP) are avid supporters of segregation. His character is portrayed as a hilariously inept idiot surrounded by henchmen & scary PR people.


Peter’s trouble begins when he bumps into Connie, a stunning bunny he knew in university. His old crush is alive & well & as he gets swept up in her life, he’ll be forced to choose sides as tensions rise.


It’s an entertaining story that can be enjoyed on a couple of levels. On the surface it’s fun, witty satire. Fforde loads it with great characters, ridiculous government acronyms & plenty of that painfully polite British gift for understatement that borders on subversive. But if you look a little deeper, there are thinly veiled jabs at issues that sadly, are prevalent in real life. Fake news, racism, xenophobia & the need for those in power to portray anyone who thinks or looks differently as being “other”.


Dialogue is dryly funny & there are many comic moments that make this a great read, especially during a time when we could all use a good laugh. If you enjoy this, I highly recommend his series featuring Thursday Next, Literary Detective extraordinaire.





4 Stars
Under Pressure - Robert Pobi

So here’s the deal. I need to write this fast because once again, this author has run me ragged & I’m in desperate need of a nap. This is book #2 of the Lucas Page series & as with “City of Windows” you’re in for a wild ride full of mystery, suspense & black humour.


The story begins with a literal bang after a massive explosion at NYC’s iconic Guggenheim Museum. The casualty list reads like a who’s who of millionaires & every level of law enforcement is left pondering the same question. What kind of bomb reduces 702 bodies to ashes but leaves the building upright?


One of those scratching his head is Brett Kehoe, the FBI’s special agent in charge of Manhattan. His first thought is who was the target….one of the victims or all of them? The logistics of investigating over 700 lives is overwhelming & Kehoe quickly realizes he needs someone who can absorb a million facts & spit out an answer. He needs a human computer. Good thing he knows one.


Meanwhile, Dr. Lucas Page has just learned a hard lesson. Never let your daughter experiment with hair dye. On you. He, wife Erin & their herd of kids are enjoying a break at the cottage. Or they were until Kehoe landed a chopper on the lawn.


He knows getting Lucas to join the investigation will be a tough sell but has 2 secret weapons. An irresistibly intricate puzzle to solve & special agent Angela Whitaker. She’s the one colleague Lucas can tolerate & the only one who finds his antisocial behaviour amusing. It’s supposed to be a quick 2 day assignment. But then another bomb goes off. And another.


Grab a comfie chair, peeps, because you’re not going to be moving for a few hours. Pobi knows how to tell a story that grips you from the start. The plot is complex & perfect for readers who love to ride shotgun with an investigation. What elevates it above your garden variety thriller are the characters.


Lucas is an original & complicated MC. His unique brain took him from foster kid to astrophysicist. Then an horrific accident left him with 2 prosthetic limbs. But his sunny personality…..just kidding. He pretty much hates everyone. Blunt sarcasm is his preferred style of communication but it’s also the source of much of the black humour found throughout.


Matching him shot for shot is Whitaker, an intelligent young woman with little time for fools. Their relationship is such an enjoyable part of this series & provides comic relief when we need a breather from the hair-raising action. The dialogue in general is economical but conversations between these two have a dry, edgy humour that adds to the story.


But as much as I enjoy the returning characters I must confess I have a new favourite. That would be Binky. He’s the strong, silent type who never loses his cool. Sure, he’s a bit hairier than his partner but he gets the job done. All he asks is you throw a few olives his way. Total scene-stealer.


The author also takes shots at our increasing dependence on & addiction to smart phones & social media. I don’t want to give too much away as it’s integral to the plot but there’s a hilarious irony to several scenes featuring public demonstrations. And (sadly) they are completely believable.


It’s not long before we identify the target but figuring out the “who” in who-dun-it might take you until the last few pages. At a time when we’re all looking for a little escapism, this book provides a smart, entertaining remedy for the stay at home blahs. I’d love to tag along with these characters again so hopefully book #3 is in the works. Fingers crossed it includes Binky.




Weird but oddly familiar....
The Constant Rabbit - Jasper Fforde


Midpoint update: so......after the Spontaneous Anthropomorphic Event, 6 ft. rabbits live among us. They have a distinct culture, facility with languages, settle disputes with duels & drink dandelion brandy ("the diabolical 3-way love child of methanol, crack cocaine & U-Boat fuel")



3.5 Stars
Muzzled - David Rosenfelt

I don’t know about you but lately I find myself using slightly different criteria to select my next book. I don’t want to read about politics or viruses. I want something that will make me smile, maybe even laugh out loud. So when the latest Andy Carpenter came along, it was perfect timing.


By now fans are familiar with Andy’s doomed attempts to retire. Luckily for us, he fails once again. It all begins with a call from his friend Beth. She puts a lot of time & effort into reuniting stray dogs with their rightful owners & is currently looking after a gorgeous lab she calls Lucy. The good news is she got a call from the owner who is desperate to get Lucy back. Which would be great….except the owner’s face has been all over the news after being killed with 2 others in a suspicious boat explosion. Understandably, Beth is a tad nervous about meeting this guy. Andy has the perfect solution. Have the owner come pick up Lucy at his dog shelter where he & Willie can keep an eye on things.


Ah, the best laid plans. Before the meet is over, police have shown up & Andy has somehow gained a new client. The only silver lining is he managed to piss off cop/buddy Pete Stanton in the process. So not a total loss then.


Pharmaceutical secrets, a mystery girlfriend, mistaken identity, dodgy characters & possible mob involvement…these are some of the stumbling blocks just waiting for Andy. Good thing he not only has Laurie at his side but her colleagues from the K Team as well. He’ll need them. Most of the story takes place outside the courtroom & includes short chapters that introduce odd characters. The trick is to figure out if & where they fit in. And as always, a herd of great dogs are along for the ride.


As much as I enjoyed this, overall I found it missing a tiny somethin’-somethin’ . There was just a little less spark to the dialogue & I wondered if it had to do with the cast. Unlike other instalments, the only member of Andy’s legal crew we hear from regularly is Sam. Instead there is more focus on the K Team as they assist with the case. I guess I just missed all that inspirational positivity we usually get from Edna & Hike.


However….and this is big, people….one scene alone is worth the price of admission. Are you sitting down? Ok. Marcus says a word. And I understood it. That’s right, an actual intelligible word from the English language in his outside voice. Not going to tell you what it was, just that it was used correctly & spoke volumes. If you need to take a moment here, I understand.


Whether you pick up this or one of the others in the series, you know you’ll get a story full of humour, dogs & good guys that is the perfect antidote to the isolation blues. And hopefully by the time book #22 arrives, the world will be a happier place. Now go wash your hands.




4 Stars
Borrowed Time - David Mark

This is a dark & intense story that proves evil doesn’t come with an expiry date. A family secret leads a young man to question everything he thought he knew about himself & ponder that old debate of nature vs. nurture. Are you the product of your childhood or your DNA?


Adam Nunn is an likeable 36 yr. old guy who has spent his life drifting between questionable jobs & relationships. His personal life is bit complicated. He has a daughter with Grace but lives with girlfriend Zara & her 2 kids. It doesn’t leave a lot of time for his aging parents. And visits have become increasingly difficult since his Dad’s dementia took hold. Especially the last one when his father casually mentioned Adam was adopted.


It’s a bombshell that rocks Adam’s world. He’s always been a people pleaser, at the expense of his own sense of self. Now he literally doesn’t know who he is. So Adam hires a shifty PI to search for his birth parents. And he might have got some answers if the investigator hadn’t ended up as landfill on property belonging to an infamous mobster.


This single event brings Adam to the attention of Alison Jardine, daughter & heir apparent to a man who’s ruled the area for decades. But she too, is dealing with an ailing father. Luckily, when she took over the family business she also inherited Irons, a hitman with a terrifying reputation.


Adam’s search for his identity goes screaming off the rails as soon as Alison enters his life. She has a story to tell that feeds his growing obsession to learn the truth. But as he becomes more involved in her world of casual violence, you begin to wonder if there are some things it’s just better not to know. Because this is not a story of happy families. It’s about how secrets only gain power as they fester over time.


We slowly learn about a chilling & poignant event that has haunted Alison, Irons & her father for decades. It has a profound effect on Adam as well & just a heads up, it’s not pretty. The author provides enough description to make you uncomfortable but never stoops to gratuitous detail. From this point, you become desperate for Adam to find the answers that hold the key to his identity.


Once again, Mark has crafted a tale that pulls you in with gripping plot lines & a cast that holds your attention. Some of them you’ll relate to while others are downright repugnant. At the centre of it all is Adam & as his life spiralled out of control, I couldn’t decide what he needed most…..a hug or a good thump upside the head. Of all the characters, I particularly enjoyed Irons. I expect if I saw him on the street I’d either run screaming in the other direction or faint. But as we spend time with him, you realize his persona masks an overwhelming sense of grief & regret. 


And the ending? Well, I’m just going to throw down the gauntlet here & dare you to guess how this winds up. I paid attention the whole way through & never saw it coming. Like Adam, I felt like the rug got pulled out from beneath my feet & had to take a moment. This is the third stand alone book I’ve read by the author. The stories have been incredibly diverse but they all send the same message….this is a writer who is gleefully embracing his dark side.




4.5 Stars
Dear Wife - Kimberly Belle

So this is what happened…..



Goodreads Buddies: Sandy? SANDY!


Moi: What?


GB: OMG, you have GOT to read this!


M: Really? Let’s see….riveting suspense, missing woman, suspicious husband….no. No. No. No.


GB: Just listen! I know you said you were done with the whole domestic drama/do you really know your spouse thing that has spawned a kabillion books since Gone Girl.


M: Aww, so you HAVE read my reviews *blushes*


GB: Em…sure. Anyhoots, this is different. It’s smart, has killer twists & a great MC.


M: Look, I appreciate you wanting to pass on a book you enjoyed. I truly do. But I read a whack of these & I’m going to be brutally honest. At the end of the day, I found most of the stories, characters & titles interchangeable & formulaic. Some of the MC’s really got on my last nerve & don’t even get me started on the credibility of plot lines. In fact I rolled my eyes so much..


GB: Yeah, yeah, you thought they’d get stuck backwards. You mentioned that. Several times. But this is the real deal! And it doesn’t even have “girl” in the title.


M: Valid point. Ok, tell me why you loved it.


GB: Oooh…where to begin. Two missing women, two men searching for them & one cop trying to figure out what the heck happened. The story is told through the eyes of 3 narrators. This keeps things ticking along at a great pace & heightens the suspense until you reach an ending that will knock your socks off. And you’ll love the MC. She’s smart, kickass & doesn’t make one TDTL decision. You’ll be cheering for her so hard you’ll need pom-poms.


M: Pom-poms. Seriously? For the love of….I might be speechless.


GB: *mutters* there’s a first time for everything…


M: Sorry?


GB: We said: you’ll get a thirst from reading this thing. It’s completely addictive & you’ll finish it in a day. So keep a beverage handy, stay hydrated.




GB: Hello?


M: You’re kind of scaring me right now but ok, I’ll give it a shot.



And I did. True story. I’ve had a rocky relationship with this sub-genre & after trying many that were highly rated, came to the conclusion it was simply a mismatch between content & personal preference. But clearly they’re not all the same, just like the people who read them.


So do I recommend this one? From the bottom of my cold, dark heart. Don’t take my word for it. If you head over to Goodreads there are many reviews that make a more convincing & coherent case than anything I could throw together. Once again I have fellow crime lovers to thank for a great read.


BTW, if you pick this up & need a pair of pom-poms….




Sign of the times.....Australian style



4 Stars
Deadly Anniversaries - Marcia Muller

I love anthologies. You can enjoy a fully formed story whenever you have a few spare minutes & It’s such a great way to find new-to-you authors. This volume is in honour of the MWA’s 75th anniversary so it’s only appropriate that all 19 entries have some kind of anniversary to be celebrated. Or not. Because these are crime & mystery writers so don’t go in expecting tales full of roses, cake & karaoke.


The first thing you’ll notice is the stellar line-up of authors. It’s veritable who’s who of the genre including Lee Child, Sue Grafton, Jeffrey Deaver, Meg Gardiner, William Kent Krueger, Laura Lippman & S.J. Rozan to name a few. The wide range of style, location & time period guarantees something for everyone. As usual, readers will have different personal favourites & I’ll just mention the ones that stood out for me.



If You Want Something Done Right - by the late, great Sue Grafton. ‘Nuff said.


Ten Years On - a shortie by Laurie R. King featuring Mary Russell & Sherlock Holmes. I’ve read & loved this series for years so it’s always a pleasure.


Chin Yong-Yun Sets the Date - S.J. Rozan writes the popular Lydia Chin/Bill Smith series but every now & then pens a short story featuring Lydia’s mother, a woman I find frightening & hilarious.


Ten Years, Two Days, Six Hours - the take away message for me was do NOT piss off a woman the day she buries her husband. I’m ashamed to say Wendy Hornsby is a new author for me, something I plan to rectify after reading this.


30 and Out - by Doug Allyn, another author I haven’t read (must crawl out of my cave more often…). A gritty procedural that delivers a gripping & complete story in few pages. And there’s a police dog!


Those were my faves but there’s really not a dud in the bunch. Bring on the next one.




4 Stars
Closing Time - Brenda Chapman

A moment of silence please, as I mourn the passing of one of my favourite series. I’ve enjoyed every one of these books & feel like I’m saying good-bye to old friends….friends with lives waaay more exciting than mine.


In the final instalment, we find Kingston police officer Kala Stonechild at loose ends. She has a good life in the city but can’t deny a growing urge to chuck it all & hit the road. She has some big decisions to make & in an effort to clear her head, she & niece Dawn head off to a cabin in the wilds of northern Ontario. The little resort promises spotty cell service & no wifi but plenty of rivers to explore by canoe followed by quiet starlit nights. Perfect. Or it should have been.


People staying in the cabins only see each other when they gather for meals at the main lodge. Among the staff & guests is Rachel, a pretty 16 year old working as a waitress for the summer. Unfortunately, Kala will only get to know her after her broken body is found on the side of the road. She’s been brutally murdered & the small, close knit community promptly goes into shock.


Enter OPP Officer Clark Morrison, a former colleague of Kala’s when she worked in a northern detachment. And due to staff shortages, he could really use a hand. Would she be interested in a temporary reassignment? This was supposed to be a break from bodies & paperwork but Kala can’t shake the feeling the killer is hiding in plain sight. And they might not be done.


Back in Kingston, boss Jacques Rouleau ok’s her request to join the investigation. But he’s worried. He & her partner Paul Gundersund have sensed Kala’s restlessness for a while & wonder if this is her first step toward saying good-bye.



Readers expect a lot from a final book. You want a great story but usually there are some long running plot lines to tie up as well. This strikes a good balance. The investigative aspect is detailed & loaded with red herrings that keep your brain veering in every direction. When the killer was revealed, I had to do the forehead smack….how could I forget the most basic tenant: cui bono? But in my own defence, my God, some of these people are a hot mess. When Morrison compared their shenanigans to Peyton Place, he wasn’t wrong (something for all you youngsters to google).


But it’s also a very personal read. If you’ve been following along, you know Kala had a rough start in life. It’s affected her ability to form relationships & recognize a home when she finds it. Her friendship with Jacques is the heart of the series & he’s become the father figure she never had. And after some bumps in the road, she & Paul built something solid. Or so I thought. As Kala pondered her future I found myself dreading the final pages as I had very firm opinions about where these characters should end up (one didn’t quite pan out so in my head I added a chapter. Go for it, Vera!).


This aspect of the story is about change, those life altering decisions that are scary. Where you call home, what you hang on to & what you let go. Several of the characters are at a crossroad & the choices they make are reflected in the book’s title. I’m sure the publishers would have loved the series to continue but hats off to the author for going out on a high. Hopefully she has a new gang of great characters lined up & I look forward to whatever comes next.




4 Stars
Exit - Belinda Bauer

Recently I wrote about how my carefully crafted reading schedule goes up in flames every time I get a book by Sharon Bolton. Well, you’ll be relieved to know I gave myself a stern talking to. There’s a proper list to be followed so like a responsible adult I reached for the next book in the queue. Then I got the latest from Belinda Bauer.


*Sigh*….Here’s my review.


I should begin with a trigger warning for those of you passionate about garden gnomes. The book contains a scene that can only be described as complete & utter lawn ornament carnage. It’s not pretty so maybe skim that part. You’re welcome.


This is the story of how one simple mistake alters the lives of a handful of residents in the small village of Bideford. The cast is a mixture of decent folk & quirky oddballs who all weigh in as the book progresses. But the 2 main narrators are Felix Pink & PC Calvin Bridge.


Felix is a 75 year old widower. He lives a quiet, orderly life & has always played by the rules. After watching his wife lose a slow battle with dementia, Felix became an Exiteer… of a small group who witness the death of those who have chosen to end their suffering with assisted suicide. They work in pairs & for his next assignment, Felix is accompanied by new recruit Amanda.


They travel to the home of Charles Cann, an elderly man with cancer. One look & Felix knows it will be a short visit. In fact, he’s more worried about Amanda. Ah well, the first time is always the toughest. All they have to do is sit there so really, what could go wrong? Oh ye Gods, where to start…


In the blink of an eye, Felix goes from upstanding citizen to man on the run. Worse yet, someone called the cops which brings PC Calvin Bridge to the Cann residence.


Calvin is a 27 year old guy who is trying to remember why he became a cop. After a brief stint as a detective under DCI Kirsty King, he’s happy to be back in uniform & patrolling the streets. He knows the local criminal element well so when he gets a call about a home invasion, he figures he’ll have it solved by tea time. And he might have…if only he hadn’t found a body.


This is one of those reads where you should go in knowing as little as possible about the plot so I’ll quit while I’m ahead. But what you’ll find is a story that is just as much about the characters as who-dun-it. Compared to the author’s previous book, this is a slower paced tale full of warmth, humour & surprising twists.


It all kicks off with the body. Then we meet the cast & learn of the events & people that have shaped their lives. The MC’s are 2 men at very different stages but as the story progresses, both begin to reflect on the choices they’ve made. I particularly enjoyed Felix’s journey. When we first meet, he’s a man who is awaiting his own demise as he helps others on their way. But a funny thing happens as events spin out of control. He’s not allowed to passively stand by & is forced to participate in his life.


Bauer excels at characterization & with just a few sentences, even minor characters jump off the page. The dialogue is sharp & economical & as the pace picks up in the second half, it becomes an entertaining mix of mayhem & misunderstandings as characters race to either find or avoid each other.


It’s much more than a cleverly constructed murder mystery. Interspersed with devious twists & wry humour are moments that are poignant & all too familiar for those of us with elderly family members. Through Felix & Charles, we feel the heartache of losing someone bit by bit & frustration over the small things we gradually surrender with age. Multiple story lines eventually intersect & there are plenty of surprises in store. The ending brings the story full circle & I thought it was perfect. Wishing you red skies every night, Skipper.


Oops, I forgot to include a warning for those fond of vending machines. Oh well, you’ll get over it. Now…where did I put that damn list….




4 Stars
The Split - Sharon Bolton

I have a long list of books to read, carefully stacked in proper order. Then I get a book by Sharon Bolton. And all my plans go out the window, along with the list. Every single time.


But here comes the hard part….writing a review. If you’ve read her stuff before, you know you rarely end up where you thought you would & I’ve learned to go in with a healthy dose of paranoia. Her plots are like those puzzles with 1000 tiles…you never know which piece might change the whole picture. In fact, my tip for all her books is to go in knowing as little as possible & just enjoy the ride. So what do I share here without giving the game away? If I follow my own advice it would go something like this.



Part 1: we meet the MC in a unique setting & by 10% in, I’m on high alert.


Part 2: Change of place as we go back 9 months to get some history & meet more characters. Stuff is happening and….wait. What?!


Part 3: Ah, some pieces are starting to click into place. I got this. It’s the guy with the thing, I knew it. Oh no. No, no, no.


Part 4: Ho…lee…crap. Sorry, what I meant to say was more stuff happens, my teeth are chattering and…seriously? Followed by big finale.



Too much detail? Ok, maybe I can expand a bit without spoiling any potential WTF moments.


The story begins in South Georgia, a small island between the Falklands & Antarctica. Felicity Lloyd is a glaciologist & part of a small research team working for the British Antarctic Survey. Their isolation is broken periodically by the arrival of cruise ships during the short tourist season. And Felicity can’t wait for it to be over. Just one more ship & she’ll be safe for another year.


We quickly realize two things about her. This is a woman who’s literally gone to the end of the earth to disappear. And she’s absolutely terrified of who may step off that ship. That would be Freddie Lloyd, her husband. Unfortunately, we already know where he’s been & where he is now. When Felicity sees his name on the ship manifest, her worst fear is realized. But she prepared for this day long ago & it’s time to put her plan into action.


The story is divided into 4 sections & this first one is relatively short. But boy, does it set the tone. The remote setting, frigid weather & Felicity’s fear….all of these are so well described you can feel them in your bones. The tension is palpable & the author has served notice you’re in for an unsettling ride.


Parts 2 & 3 are set in Cambridge, beginning 9 months prior to present day. Here we get some background on Felicity’s life & the people who crossed her path before she fled. As part of the medical requirements for the position in South Georgia, she has to get signed off by a therapist as fit for the job. And so she meets Dr. Joe Grant. Joe is a mild mannered, likeable guy with some interesting history of his own.


More characters & plot lines are added in these sections. A mysterious rollergirl, a troubled homeless man, Joe’s mother Delilah & several others weave their stories into the mix. Connections between them are slowly doled out as we continue to learn more about Felicity’s past.


That’s it, folks. I’m determined to keep this spoiler-free. The stage is set for our return to South Georgia in part 4 & by the time we get there, I guarantee you’ll have more questions than answers. There are tantalizing glimpses of where the story is going. But contradictory & unreliable versions of events make you feel like you’re standing in quicksand. Nothing is predictable & you’re never sure who you can trust or believe. It’s a psychological mind bender of a read that saves some of the best twists for last. Sure, you could argue a few moments stretch credibility & conveniently propel the plot but its strength lies in the author’s ability to create scenes so atmospheric that you feel you’re walking in a character’s shoes.


If you’re in the mood for something comfy, cozy & relaxing, look elsewhere. But if you want to spend a few hours on the edge you’ve found your next read. Your reading tool kit for this book should include: whale music, a Medic-Alert button, thermal underwear & wine.




AMAZON Top 50 reviewerReviews PublishedChallenge Participant Frequently Auto-Approved
Goodreads Authors/Readers's currently-reading b...
Goodreads Authors/Readers 21495 members
This group is dedicated to connecting readers with Goodreads authors. It is divided by genres, an...

Books we're currently reading

View this group on Goodreads »
Kindle English Mystery Book Club's to-read book...
Kindle English Mystery Book Club 834 members
This is a book club for people who love British mysteries both modern and classic. You do not hav...

Books we plan to read

View this group on Goodreads »
Dead Good Crime Book Group's to-read book montage
Dead Good Crime Book Group 1473 members
Dead Good is the home for killer crime books, drama and film. We love reading crime and thriller ...

Books we plan to read

View this group on Goodreads »
Crime Detective Mystery Thriller Group's curren...
Crime Detective Mystery Thriller Group 1011 members
This is a book club/group for ALL books about crime, mysteries, and thrillers. From romantic susp...

Books we're currently reading

Little Black Lies Little Black Lies
by Sharon Bolton
Start date: August 20, 2015

View this group on Goodreads »