18 December 2017

Review: A MAIGRET CHRISTMAS, Georges Simeon

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 4021 KB
  • Print Length: 214 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; 01 edition (November 2, 2017)
  • Publication Date: November 2, 2017
  • Sold by: PEN UK
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B073XXGDJ3

Synopsis (Amazon)

It is Christmas in Paris, but beneath the sparkling lights and glittering decorations lie sinister deeds and dark secrets...

This collection brings together three of Simenon's most enjoyable Christmas tales, newly translated, featuring Inspector Maigret and other characters from the Maigret novels. In 'A Maigret Christmas', the Inspector receives two unexpected visitors on Christmas Day, who lead him on the trail of a mysterious intruder dressed in red and white.

In 'Seven Small Crosses in a Notebook', the sound of alarms over Paris send the police on a cat and mouse chase across the city.

And 'The Little Restaurant in Les Ternes (A Christmas Story for Grown-Ups)' tells of a cynical woman who is moved to an unexpected act of festive charity in a nightclub - one that surprises even her...

My Take

Maigret and Madame Maigret become very aware of the fact that they don't have children every Christmas. Maigret tries to avoid reminding her of the fact by following a ritual on Christmas morning. However in the first story Madame Maigret becomes very involved in the case of a bedridden child who lives near them and wakes to find Father Christmas in her bedroom early on Christmas morning, seemingly making a hole in her bedroom floor.

Seven Small Crosses is set on Christmas Eve in a police control room that monitors events occurring in the various arrondissements. In particular they are waiting for a murder to strike for the 9th time. This story does not feature Maigret himself, but a couple of his colleagues.

The third story does not feature Maigret either. A man walks into a bar on Christmas Eve and shoots himself dead without warning.

This e-book contains a bonus short story in which Maigret is taking an enforced three week holiday and decides to spend it at home.  The discovery of a body at a nearby doctor’s surgery provides interest in what he sees as an interminable stretch of boredom.

These stories have apparently been extracted from a longer collection of nine stories, and the first three are quite long.
They are carefully written, characterised by Simenon’s usual economy of expression, and very enjoyable to read.

My rating: 4.4

I've also read
4.4, MAIGRET & the MAN on the BOULEVARD
4.3, LOCK NO 1. Maigret #18
4.2, A MAN'S HEAD 

Travelling again

This blog may be a little erratic for the next 3 weeks as we have gone to Tampa in Florida to spend Christmas and New Year with our family. Travelling with us are our daughter Alison and her two girls. So in Tampa there will be 5 adults and 5 children aged 3 to 7. What fun!

So book reviews will take a back seat although I am sure reading will take place.

16 December 2017

Review: FOR BETTER OR WORSE, Donna H. Murray

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • source: review copy from author
  • #8 in the Ginger Barnes series
  • File Size: 2305 KB
  • Print Length: 238 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publication Date: January 10, 2018
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
Synopsis (Amazon)

Finally back to her spunky self after the loss of her husband, men have once again become an issue for amateur sleuth Ginger Barnes—men who mistreat their wives, men accused of murder, and men who ask her out.

While working on a DIY project at her newlywed daughter’s house, a bag of bricks is thrown from the neighboring third-story window. Next, pops that sound like muffled gunshots have Gin racing for her phone. Eric, who lives in the house with his grandmother, claims she’s obsessed with mystery novels. Yet after the septuagenarian falls down a flight of stairs, she’s so frantic to keep Eric away that Gin must intervene. Was the fall actually attempted murder?

In her husband’s eyes, Cissie Voight can’t do anything right. Gin occasionally helps the frazzled young mother, and when she needs a dresser carried upstairs, Gin brings Eric along. Bad move! The electricity between the two new acquaintances sparks a chilling premonition. This time Gin’s good intentions will produce grave consequences—for everyone involved.

My Take

I spent my time in this book exasperated by Ginger Barnes and her tendency to interfere in the lives of others, and in admiration of her willingness to do so.

There is another plot strand: Ginger agrees to take on some childminding while a young mother seeks work. However the child's father is at first opposed to the scheme and then reluctant in his agreement. Gin has the feeling that he is following her and watching her.

The three main plot lines intermingle nicely with the connecting point being Gin's daughter.

There is a lot in this book about how men treat their wives, some thought provoking stuff.

A good read. Probably better if I had met Ginger Barnes before.

Due for publication January 10 2018, available for pre-order. (Amazon)

My rating: 4.3


Donna Huston Murray's eight cozy mysteries feature a woman much like herself, a DIY headmaster's wife with a troubling interest in crime. FINAL ARRANGEMENTS, set at Philadelphia’s world famous flower show, achieved #1 on the Kindle-store list for both Mysteries and Female Sleuths. The first in Murray’s new mystery/crime series, WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU, garnered Honorable Mention in the 23rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards.

At home, she assumes she can fix anything until proven wrong, calls trash-picking recycling, and, although she should probably know better, adores Irish setters.

Donna and husband, Hench, live in the greater Philadelphia, PA, area.

15 December 2017

Books read on holiday

The lovely Blogger App that I used to use to keep my review system up to date when I am travelling is no more.
Blogger has not kept it up to date. So I am using a new one and I am going to simplify the system if I can.

What I intend to do is just create a post for each book, but it won’t be necessarily show much more than the name of the book and the author. 
Perhaps a rating and a comment or two.

11 December 2017

Review: MURDER IN THE NIGHT FINAL, Peter Bartram

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 415 KB
  • Print Length: 179 pages
  • Publisher: The Bartram Partnership (July 3, 2017)
  • Publication Date: July 3, 2017
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B073PYW644
  • Text-to-Speech:  
  • #3 in the Morning, Noon and Night Trilogy

Synopsis (Amazon)

Welcome to Brighton, England - where they do like to murder beside the seaside…

Don't you just hate it when you've shaken off a murderer - and then find two more want to kill you?

Ace crime reporter Colin Crampton believes he's uncovered the stunning motive behind a train robbery that ended in murder. But that was before he uncovers unexpected clues.

With his feisty Australian girlfriend Shirley Goldsmith, Colin sets out on his most daring ever adventure. If he can nail this story, editors will be beating a path to his door. But only if…

As he faces up to a new threat, he meets a doorman with a cauliflower ear, a hairdresser's assistant turned motorcyle rocker's moll, and a ruthless killer who keeps chickens.

If you enjoy books by authors like Janet Evanovich, M C Beaton and Simon Brett, you'll soon be hooked by the mix of murder, mystery and mirth in this third book in the Colin Crampton Morning Noon & Night trilogy. Come and join the fun…

My Take

Colin Crampton of the Brighton Chronicle returns from New York where #2 in this series took him. Now he attempts to track down the mind behind the Great Train Robbery, and in the process concludes that the main target was not the money after all.

Under pressure always by his editor to come up with a good story, Colin puts himself and his girlfriend Shirley in incredible danger.

A good, light, entertaining and short read. Recommended.

My rating: 4.2

I've already read

Author's website 

Review: FATHERLAND, Robert Harris - audio book

Synopsis (Audible)

Fatherland is set in an alternative world where Hitler has won the Second World War. It is April 1964 and one week before Hitler's 75th birthday. Xavier March, a detective of the Kriminalpolizei, is called out to investigate the discovery of a dead body in a lake near Berlin's most  prestigious suburb.

As March discovers the identity of the body, he uncovers signs of a conspiracy that could go to the very top of the German Reich. And, with the Gestapo just one step behind, March, together with an American journalist, is caught up in a race to discover and reveal the truth - a truth that has already killed, a truth that could topple governments, a truth that will change history.

My Take

Alternative histories are fascinating. As Hitler's 75th birthday and the state visit of President (Joseph) Kennedy to Berlin loom, then the last thing that the authorities want revealed is a series of deaths linked to a policy enacted during the war. Xavier March is an SS officer investigating the murder of a Nazi government official who was one of the participants at the Wannsee Conference. In so doing, he discovers a plot to eliminate all attendees of the conference in order to help Germany establish better political relations with the United States.

Most German citizens were unaware of this conference held in 1943 to ratify "the final solution" to the Jewish problem and now Germany is trying to proved that it was never acted upon.

Excellently read by Michael Jayston.

My rating: 4.5
I've also read

See more about this book at Wikipedia

10 December 2017

Review: THE NEIGHBOUR, Lisa Gardner

  • this edition published 2009
  • printed in Australia by Griffin Press
  • ISBN 978-1-4091-0103-1
  • 369 pages
Synopsis (author website)

This is what happened …

It was a case guaranteed to spark a media feeding frenzy-a young mother, blond and pretty, disappears without a trace from her South Boston home, leaving behind her four-year-old daughter as the only witness and her handsome, secretive husband as the prime suspect.

In the last six hours …

But from the moment Detective Sergeant D. D. Warren arrives at the Joneses’ snug little bungalow, she senses something off about the picture of wholesome normality the couple worked so hard to create. On the surface, Jason and Sandra Jones are like any other hardworking young couple raising a four-year-old child. But it is just under the surface that things grew murkier.

Of the world as I knew it …

With the clock ticking on the life of a missing woman and the media firestorm building, Jason Jones seems more intent on destroying evidence and isolating his daughter than on searching for his “beloved” wife. Is the perfect husband trying to hide his guilt-or just trying to hide? And will the only witness to the crime be the killer’s next victim?

My Take

In the  "About the author" at the end of the book, Lisa Gardner is described as a research junkie. There are definite signs of that in this book, in fact, I think, a little too much of the research about computers, the internet, and deleting files has found its way into the book. Perhaps back in 2009 when it was all a bit new, this went down well with readers. But today it all feels a bit too much.

The other thing which the author tried to do I think was trick the reader too much and too often. There were just too many red herrings. I've read a couple of "missing wives" books this year: A STRANGER IN THE HOUSE, Shari Lapena and DON'T LET GO, Michel Bussi, and I think both created more credible scenarios than this one did.

Nevertheless, I did read it to the end, and there was a final twist.
I just think the plot wandered in places, and perhaps too many devices were used.

It also appears that the novel is 3rd in a series (9 novels?). Perhaps I would have fared better with an earlier introduction to D.S. D.D. Warren.

However it is a book that people took notice of when it was published:
Awarded Best Hard Cover Novel from the International Thriller Writers – July 2010
Top 10 of Best Books of 2009 – Suspense Magazine
Best Adrenaline Novel 2010 Reading List – American Library Association
Best Thriller of 2009 Nominee – Library Journal
Awarded Grand Prix des Lectrices de ELLE 2011 : prix du policier – “La maison d’à côté” – Elle Magazine

My rating: 3.9


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