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review 2020-04-02 16:06
The Benefit of Hindsight
The Benefit of Hindsight - Susan Hill

Please note that I received this book via NetGalley. This did not affect my rating or review.

 

I am so annoyed at myself. So I like most of Susan Hill books so I saw this on NetGalley and went gimme without realizing this is part of a series. I really wish that NetGalley would let you send books back. Totally my fault, and for now on I am going to cross-reference books on Goodreads to just check for things like that. That all said, I can't really help here at all. Since this is book # 10 I was totally confused about past events and who was what and why things were important. I loved the cover though! Seriously though this dragged for me at times and I found myself rushing through it. 

 

"The Benefit of Hindsight" follows DCS Serrailler after he has has returned to work after losing one of his arms.  With crime rates down, Lafferton has been quiet, until one night when two men open their front door to a distressing scene. Serrailler makes a serious error of judgment when handling the incident, and the stress of this, combined with the ongoing trauma of losing his arm, takes its toll. 

 

So Serrailler seems like an okay character. I don't know what to say here since this is the first book starring him I have read. All of the characters seem fine and have past and current connections. I did like that Serrailler messes up and the book follows through on the theme on in hindsight what could he have done better. 

 

I did like the writing and thought the flow was fine. I just was not engaged since I came into this series at book #10 and did not care about the characters in the same way I would have if I started off with book #1. Because of this, I am going to go back and read this series and will update this review after I finish books #1-9. 

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review 2020-04-01 22:30
TRUE CRIME by Samantha Kolesnik
True Crime - Samantha Kolesnik

TRUE CRIME was a brutal novella which, to my mind, was about the cycle of violence abuse engenders within families, and which then ripples outward to the world.

 

Being a novella, every single word counts and Ms. Kolesnik masterfully used those words to impact the reader.

 

Recommended to those who can stomach severe abuse, (though most appears off-screen), so to speak.

 

*I bought this novella with my hard earned cash.*

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review 2020-04-01 15:15
THE SOUTHERN BOOK CLUB'S GUIDE TO SLAYING VAMPIRES by Grady Hendrix
The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires: A Novel - Grady Hendrix

Evil in a small town is one of my absolute favorite horror tropes and THE SOUTHERN BOOK CLUB'S GUIDE TO SLAYING VAMPIRES aces it!

 

Set in the 90's, we begin with a southern ladies book club, (surprise!), that turns from reading fiction to true crime. These are rather old fashioned ladies for the 90's, they're stay at home wives, some with children and they feel their lives are complete. Until one day, one of them, (Patricia), is attacked by an elderly neighbor. Patricia is okay, but the neighbor later dies. Soon thereafter, the neighbor's nephew comes to town and so begins this terrific tale of a vampire in a small town. Will Patricia and the rest of her book club survive? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I couldn't help but be reminded of Salem's Lot while reading, but I have to say, in many ways, this book was better than that one. 400 pages never went by so fast for me. Also, we didn't have to sit through a lot of description about the town and all of its inhabitants. There was just enough so that the reader has a good idea of what life is like for the town's inhabitants-those on both the good and bad sides of town.

 

Even though most of the horror here is quiet, there were a few scenes that definitely reminded me of horror's heydey and authors like James Herbert; and even the "quiet" scenes were filled with suspense and dread. I think Mr. Hendrix has this horror thing down pat.

 

I've been a fan of Grady Hendrix since PAPERBACKS FROM HELL came out and with this book, he has made me his bitch. I will read anything this man writes from here on out. He has the writing chops, his work always seems to have a bit of humor and in a way, some of it seems like an homage to those authors from the horror boom of the late 70's and 80's. To that, I say Huzzah! (And keep them coming!)

 

My highest recommendation!

 

 

Available April 7, but you can pre-order here: THE SOUTHERN BOOK CLUB'S GUIDE TO SLAYING VAMPIRES

 

*Thanks to Edelweiss and Quirk Books for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2020-03-31 14:17
Yes -- Still a Favorite
Miss Silver Comes to Stay - Patricia Wentworth,Diana Bishop

I'm getting to the point where I'm beginning to revisit "Miss Silver" books because I've read almost all the books in the series at least once.  (There are only some five or so books left that I've yet to read for the first time.)  So I figured, I might just as well start my rereads with the very first "Miss Silver" book I ever read, even before Tigus got us all hooked on the entire series, to see how my first impressions hold up now that I've encountered Maudie a good many times.  And I'm happy to say that yes, this is definitely still a favorite installment.

 

Some quick comments:

 

* Miss Silver should have brought cough drops on her visit to her friend.  I mean, we all know those little meaningful coughs are an indelible part of her character, but jeez, she really can't open her mouth without beginning virtually every statement with one of them here.

 

* There are no less than two professionals who should have recused themselves from having anything to do with the matter (one of them on multiple grounds, at least one of which they're openly discussing, albeit not under the headline of a conflict of interests).  The story wouldn't be what it is without them (and their conflict), so obviously recusal can't enter into things from a writerly point of view, but I'd still at least have liked to at least see it addressed for what it is -- especially in light of the very active part that one of these persons takes in the action, which would be uncalled-for even under normal circumstances and is plainly inexcusable from a professional perspective here.  For however much I otherwise like the book, this is one of the reasons I'm withholding a higher rating.

 

* I love the fact that this book, for once, doesn't focus on Wentworth's panoply of young protagonists (strong and independent, TSTL, or otherwise), but rather, on middle-aged people.  There are a few twenty-somethings as well, but they are decidedly less interesting (and with one exception, also less important) than the real MCs, who are all in their 40s or above.  I wish Wentworth had focused on that age group in a few more of her books; she did it really well.  (I love the way how she creates characters anyway, but this book contains some of her strongest yet.)

 

* The plotting is rather well done here, too; similar to the way in which Agatha Christie might have done it, in fact.

(And to those who would accuse Wentworth of dropping the solution deus-ex-machina-style, having revisited the book I'll respond that there actually are enough clues spread throughout the book to allow you to at the very least form a suspicion as to the "who", "why", and "how", if not actually solve the case, applying the same sort of logic that Miss Silver does.  This is all the more true as, even though Wentworth applies a technique similar to Christie's, she does so somewhat less dexterously than Christie, so while it's very obvious which conflicts she is interested in and why she presents the story the way she does, not every reader will necessarily be taken in entirely.)

(spoiler show)

 

* Frank Abbott still remains my favorite policeman in the series.  Randal March is nice enough, but no dice compared to Frank -- whom even the profoundest respect for Miss Silver won't stop from making fun of her every so often.

 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2020-03-29 17:10
Reading progress update: I've read 100%.
The Case Is Closed - Patricia Wentworth,Diana Bishop
The Case Is Closed - Patricia Wentworth

Well, this was enjoyable.  As in some of Wentworth's other books, the mystery wasn't much to write home about (spoiler tags nevertheless, because at least one participant of the buddy read is still reading the book) --

 

the principal villains are known pretty much from the word "go", as is the way the whole thing was worked (there's one huge clue fairly early on which essentially gives the game away, and the false alibi is based on a trope that wasn't even new any longer when the book was first written); it's also clear that the fact that the guy currently languishing in prison is actually innocent of the crime; and so, too, in the "romance" compartment, it's being telegraphed literally from page 1 which one is the relationship we're following --

(spoiler show)

 

but at least Miss Silver makes more of an appearance than in book 1 (and she is decidedly more recognizable here as the character we know from later books than in book 1), and you can't help but love and root for Hilary, the female MC, and her "inner imp".  (The imp's poems had me laughing out loud -- every single one of them.)  Whatever made Hilary pick Henry, of all people, as her heart's desire beats me as much as everybody else in this buddy read; though I'll grant that he redeemed himself ever so slightly towards the end, and with liberal doses of frying pans and Hilary's imp I do see some hope for him ... he's just got learn to listen to his better / true instincts and not to what he believes others expect him to think and feel, and what therefore must be the "right" (i.e., socially acceptable) response.  (Incidentally, I loved how Diana Bishop in the audio version read the passages from inside Henry's head with an undeniably ironic subtext, thereby suggesting that Wentworth is mocking him for being the idiot he is.  This worked very well for me.)

 

Now having read the majority of the books in the series, I can also safely say I'm not a fan of "Wentworth does Gothic".  This book's "foggy road" episode was one of the better-executed examples, but I still wish she'd left "young heroine thoughtlessly puts herself in a sinister situation that she can't control (and which a wiser head would either have avoided or at least not entered alone)" behind at some point.  Unfortunately, that wasn't to be; almost every book of the series contains at least one example of this sort of thing.  So, unlike others in the buddy read, I'm not a fan of the "foggy road" episode.  Maybe if this had been the first book by Wentworth I read, I would feel different about it (and as I said, for what it's worth on its own, it's comparatively well done).  But as a recurring event in almost every book ... thank you, but no.

 

By and large, though, I enjoyed being back in Miss Silver's world -- I only missed Frank Abbott --, I still love how Wentworth creates characters, and this book is also a marked step up from Gray Mask; less reliant on tropes (even if some are still present), and for once, thankfully also devoid of TSTL females.

 

As a final side note, I wonder (have been wondering for a while) whether Wentworth ever heard from her contemporary / fellow mystery novelist and great-niece of Tennyson (the poet), F. Tennyson Jesse, on Miss Silver's unquestioning adoration of "Lord Tennyson".

 

(I already finished this book last night, btw, but life intervened earlier today, so I'm only getting around to posting my summary now.)

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