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review 2018-05-22 03:58
A Murder. A Reporter. A Police Detective. Maybe the beginning of a beautiful friendship
The Tv Detective - Simon Hall

This was posted as part of a Book Tour stop on my main site -- I'm giving away 2 copies of it, too. Click here to learn more about the book and/or enter.

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The first interview with a witness.

 

Or, as Breen had put it, ‘Initially a witness, anyway.’

 

‘Meaning?’ Dan asked, as they walked down the stairs from the MIR.

 

‘It’s remarkable how quickly a witness can become a suspect in this business.’

 

All it needed was a musical sting to emphasise the drama of the detective’s words. Dan was beginning to suspect his new colleague was a frustrated actor. He certainly enjoyed a little theatre.

 

Dan deposited the thought safely in his mental bank. It might just be useful.


Carter Ross, I. M. Fletcher, Annie Seymour, and Jack McEvoy are my favorite reporters who happen to find themselves in the middle of criminal investigations ("find themselves" is typically code for throw themselves into, slip past the all the blockades surrounding, etc.) -- I think Dan Groves has added himself to the list. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

 

Dan Groves is a TV Reporter for Wessex Tonight, covering environmental news. With the Christmas holiday rapidly approaching, he's forced to help cover the latest in a string of attacks on prostitutes. He and his cameraman/friend Nigel are found taking a less-than by-the-book approach to getting a colleague of the latest victim on camera (really, Nigel didn't do anything -- but he didn't stop Dan, either). The story they aired was good, but their tactics were reported -- between his editor's need, his skill, and his editor's fresh material for leverage -- Dan's taken off the Environment beat and made the program's new crime reporter.

 

The problem is, he knows nothing about reporting on Crimes. And demonstrates it with a facepalm-worthy performance at his first crime scene (a murder, of course) after getting this assignment. So he pitches this idea to his editor, who in turn runs it by the local police. The police haven't been looking good to the (and in the) press lately, Dan needs a crash course in detective work -- so why doesn't he shadow the investigation, giving the police some good coverage and PR while he learns on the job from the best around. DCI Breen -- and (the underused) DS Suzanne Stewart -- aren't crazy about this idea, but they aren't really in a position to argue with the brass, so they bring him on. Tolerating his presence largely at the beginning, but gradually finding ways to use him.

 

This is one of those cases that the police would probably be okay with not solving -- at least most of the police. Edward Bray was in Real Estate -- he owned many buildings, treated his tenants horribly and evicted them when he could find a way to make more money off of the land/building. He was heartless, notorious, and had an enemies list worthy of a, well, an unscrupulous land-owner. Yet, he also gave generously to a local hospice -- so generously that many people had a reflexive notion to commend him while they suffered cognitive dissonance between his perceived nature as a shark, and his obvious and selfless good work with the hospice center. The list of suspects is long -- former tenants, an employee, competitors he profited from and ruined, his own father -- and the head of the hospice center who chafed under his authoritative hand.

 

So there's the setup -- a pretty good hook, I have to say. It's an interesting pairing -- Castle-ish, but not as goofy. I could totally buy this without suspending a whole lot of disbelief. The reactions of the other police officers help ground this. So who are the investigators?

 

First is Dan Groves -- he seems to be a decent reporter, we're told repeatedly that he has a history of looking out for the little guy in his news stories. He's into the outdoors, hiking and whatnot. He's very single and has been for some time -- there's a hint of something significant in his past that put him there, but we don't get into that in this book. I've never read about a reporter not wanting the crime beat -- it's the most interesting, right? I just didn't get his rationale for quite a while. But by the time we've heard about a few of his past stories, I guess I could see it (and have to admit that Environmental News sounds pretty dull, but wouldn't have to be in the right hands). Lastly, Dan has a German Shepherd named Rutherford, who seems like a great dog. This speaks volumes for him.

 

DCI Adam Breen is your typical driven detective -- stern, unbending (at first, anyway), not that crazy about the unusual staffing on his inquiry. He has a flair for the dramatic (as noted above -- but it's worse), seems to spend more time and money on clothing than most (somewhere, Jerry Edgar is fist pumping the idea that he's not alone). We eventually get to know a little about him outside the job -- and it seems to go well with the character we've met. He seems like the kind of detective most police departments could use more of. Breen will warm to Groves (and vice versa) and will find ways to use his strengths, as Groves finds ways to flex them.

 

DS Suzanne Stewart, on the other hand, is little more than a name and a presence. Hall needs to find a way to use her character in the future or drop her. This character is the biggest problem with the book. Not an insurmountable one, or one that greatly detracts from the book, but still. I get that Hall's priority was establishing the relationship between Groves and Breen -- and he nailed that. But he could've given us more of Stewart along the way. We could also use a little more development with Nigel and Dan's editor, Lizzie -- but I honestly didn't notice how underused they were. Stewart stuck out to me.

 

Hall does a really good job of balancing the murder inquiry and dealing with the characters outside of the case -- Breen off-duty, Dan's blossoming personal life, another story or two that Dan works on. The suspects are well-developed and interesting -- and there are times that you could totally buy all of them (well, maybe all but one) as the actual perpetrator. That's really hard to pull off, many writers will start off with a long list of suspects and really only have one or two that you can believe being the killer after one conversation. They all have similar but individualized reasons to want Bray dead. Most of them also have strong alibis, because you don't want this to be easy. The solution to the case is clever -- and better yet, the way that Groves and Breen have to work together to get the solution proven is well executed.

 

Hall's writing is confident and well-paced. He knows how to use characters and plot to strengthen each other. There are occasional turns of phrase that will really make the day of readers. I have a lot of "oh, that's nice" notes throughout the book. This is a solid start to a series -- the kind that makes me want to read more. I'm looking forward to finding out a little more about Dan's history as well as seeing the relationship between he and DCI Breen grow and change (and be challenged, I assume). Good stuff.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2018/05/21/the-tv-detective-by-simon-hall-a-murder-a-reporter-a-police-detective-maybe-the-beginning-of-a-beautiful-friendship
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review 2018-05-20 15:46
PARDON MY GHOULISH LAUGHTER by Fredric Brown
Pardon My Ghoulish Laughter - Donald E Westlake,Fredric Brown

 

PARDON MY GHOULISH LAUGHER is a collection of mystery stories from the detective pulps. Most of these tales were originally written back in the 1940's. What fun!

 

All of these stories have the possibility of being supernatural tales, but all end up having a perfectly reasonable explanation. What's fun is the getting to the explanation! I enjoyed every single tale here, but I think my favorites were:

 

TWICE KILLED CORPSE- which had a nice little twist as well as a hero that wanted to be a detective.

 

PARDON MY GHOULISH LAUGHTER- which had a lead character that reminded me of Jimmy Olsen. (I'm showing my age here!)

 

DEATH IS A WHITE RABBIT- which was a strange little tale with a remote hint of Dr. Moreau and his experiments. These things never go well.

 

This book was a boatload of fun and reminded me of my pre-teen and early teen years when I read these types of collections. The old Ellery Queen's and Alfred Hitchcock's were always a source of entertainment, but somehow I missed Frederic Brown back then. With this collection and NIGHTMARES AND GEEZENSTACKS, (which I listened to last year), Mr. Brown has made made my list of memorable and witty short story writers. I'll be on the lookout for anything else of his I can get my hands on.

 

*I received this book as a gift from my friend Tigus, at Booklikes, with no strings attached. Thank you once again, sir! *

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review 2018-05-14 04:08
The Soldier's Scoundrel (The Turner Series #1) by Cat Sebastian
The Soldier's Scoundrel - Cat Sebastian

This was my first by the author and it for sure won't be my last. Oliver and Jack were from opposite sides on the social scale and yet they found a way to make it work in a totally believable way. Even though Jack was kind of a jerk at times he was still lovable and charming and oh, so sexy. Definitely an enjoyable, satisfying story. 

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review 2018-05-10 17:53
Fantastic Book 2 in Superintendent Battle Series
The Seven Dials Mystery - Agatha Christie

Wow. This was so good. I took a while to read this one since the first few pages didn't grab me at all. However, when I finally went back to it, I was totally engrossed. We have the second book in the Superintendent Battle series. I read "Cards on the Table" a few years back and realized that was considered the 3rd book in his series and decided to work back from book 1. I finished "The Secret of Chimneys" and just gave it three stars. Christie does such a great job with not showing her hand until the very end. Believe me I went what the what at the ending and had to go back and re-read after all is revealed.

 

"The Seven Dials Mystery" starts off with house guests staying at Chimneys. It seems to be a lively group of bright young things who decide to play a joke on one of the young men who seems to oversleep every day. The joke goes off without an issue, but then a young man, Gerry Wade, is found dead. 

 

"The Seven Dials Mystery" for the most part follows two characters throughout. Lady Eileen Brent (otherwise known as Bundle) and  Jimmy Thesinger. Jimmy was staying at Chimneys when Gerry died, and many think it was an accidental overdose. However, when Bundle comes across another man who was staying at Chimneys who was shot to death, she and Jimmy team up to figure out what connection there is between these deaths and a place called Seven Dials. 

 

Bundle was awesome. I loved her. I wish that we got another book starring her. She was definitely a mini-Miss Marple/Poirot. Once she realizes that something is going on, she is determined to do whatever it takes to solved the mystery of Seven Dials. She does go and meet with Superintendent Battle who I liked way much more in this one than in book #1. 


Jimmy Thesinger seems happy to play a fool (not an ass) and realizes that things are pretty deep when Bundle brings him the connections between two deaths and Chimneys. He starts investigating and starts suspecting some higher ups in society.

 

The book's ending was so freaking awesome I had to go back and re-read this as soon as I finished. 

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text 2018-05-09 23:31
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
The Seven Dials Mystery - Agatha Christie

What the what!!!

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