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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-03-20 16:06
The Cater Street Hangman (Charlotte and Thomas Pitt #1) - Anne Perry
The Cater Street Hangman - Anne Perry

I'm still here! We've had a crazy few months at my place. I've had three sets of tonsils removed from various people in as many months. The two five year olds weren't so bad. The 33 year old? That was a special kind of fun. Seriously, the adult caregiver in charge should get drugs too. And I still have that full-time job thing that requires my attention. Unfortunately for me, the 33 year old from my house who just had surgery is also the head of the department I work in. Apparently since we share a mortgage, children, and weddings rings I get to do all of his work on top of my own work. I'm not really sure I get paid enough for that. Actually, I'm 100% positive I don't get paid enough for that. 


I have read books since I last reviewed. I think. I'm pretty sure I have. Maybe not. I don't really know. I'm not really even sure what day it is. 


My latest task for Historical Mystery Clue was to read a book with a black cover. I bought this book nearly two years ago for my Kindle when it was 99 cents. The goal was to read it when I bought it. The book came fairly highly recommended by people with similar tastes to my own. This book is also on The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List's Classic Historical Mysteries list. To me that implies it is a must read for fans of that particular genre. The other two books on the classics list are A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters and The Crocodile in the Sandbanks by Elizabeth Peters. I have now read all three classics. I was not impressed with any of them. I haven't even continued with the series in the case of the later two. 


So what was my problem with the book? It wasn't an overly complex book. I could have easily polished it off in a day if I had the time or the desire. The fact of the matter is, I didn't have the desire. Early on I found myself annoyed with the sisters. It was like Mean Girls meets Victorian London. The bickering and the nit-picking was almost more than I could take. I had the mystery figured out pretty early on. What kept me reading was the need to know if I was right. I was right. However, to find out I was right, I had to deal with pages and pages of sisters bickering, grandma bickering, and mom fighting with the mother-in-law. It was tedious. 


Based on how the book ended, I'm going to guess there's less of sister bickering in the coming books. Hoping this is true, I'm going to pick up the second book in the series to see if this series really does live up to the hype. 

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review 2018-03-17 23:49
Hangman - Daniel Cole

Sooo….book #2. A daunting task, particularly when the first one was a huge hit. But this author really upped the ante by leaving out his popular MC William “Wolf” Fawkes & switching the focus to another character.


That would be DCI Emily Baxter. She worked the Ragdoll case with Fawkes & is still reeling from the fallout. To make matters worse, her professional life is a nightmare. Fawkes is AWOL, former colleague Edmunds transferred to Fraud & she got promoted. She just wants to forget it ever happened but it seems the universe has other plans.


FBI Agents Curtis & Rouche land on her doorstep with news of a copycat murder in the US. It’s a double homicide designed to attract maximum attention & they want her help. They don’t know it yet but it will be the first of many in New York & London as they join forces to find the mastermind behind the carnage.


So here’s the deal. I loved Ragdoll. From the first page, I was firmly in its grip & became seriously cranky if interrupted. Alas, I can’t say the same about this one. I think part of the reason was how much I enjoyed the black humour served up by Fawkes’ character. It gave the reader little moments of  humorous relief from the grisly tension & I keenly missed his presence here.


Baxter is a compelling character but she’s also a physical & emotional hot mess. I desperately wanted to take Thomas (her doormat…er…boyfriend) out for a chat over a pint. She & Rouche spend the majority of their time haring around New York & London as a legion of bodies pop up on both sides of the pond like some macabre game of Whack-a-Mole. Bruised & bloody from multiple attacks, it’s defies belief they’re even breathing let alone leading a multi-agency manhunt.


One thing that hasn’t changed is Cole’s ability to come up with new & inventive ways for people to die. Practice your “ewwww”…you’re gonna need it. I was happy to see Edmunds return & enjoyed his input as Baxter secretly keeps him in the loop. But i just didn’t find Baxter to be fleshed out or layered enough to be the star of the show. Without a strong MC to hang the story on, it became a succession of frenzied action sequences until the final chapters revealed all.


As always, it depends on what keeps you turning the pages. For me there was a certain spark or something that was missing. But if you’re a fan of full on action, grab this & settle in for a fast paced read.







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review 2018-02-21 02:35
Hangman - Jack Heath

Whoa…what did I just read? Before I start my blab, first things first. This is a well written & gripping crime/suspense story with a compelling MC. But…it’s not for the squeably. Seriously. Ok, we’re going in.


Timothy Blake is not your typical FBI consultant. He has little education, lives with a paranoid drug dealer & has about $5 to his name. Years ago he had a run-in with a cop named Peter Luzhin that left a lasting impression on both of them. Luzhin is now director of the FBI office in Houston & when a case can’t be cracked, he calls Blake. A successful resolution means Blake gets paid with the only kind of currency he wants.


It all begins with a missing teenage boy. There are plenty of red herrings & inconsistencies but eventually Blake is sure he’s got it sussed. Besides, he really needs to collect his fee. Unfortunately it’s not that simple & Blake is soon caught in a complex web designed by a devious & intelligent killer. Being partnered with a new handler is not helping. Special Agent Reese Thistle is not thrilled about her new assignment, either. She doesn’t understand why Luzhin has brought in this odd outsider who looks likes a homeless guy. But then she sees him work.


Blake is a master at solving puzzles. His sharp, analytical mind notices the tiny details everyone else has missed. Anything out of place, something missing & all the little facial tics & vocal tells that make up a lie. Initially you wonder how this brilliant guy ended up in such dire straits. But through flashbacks interspersed with the story we get the 411 on Blake’s childhood & begin to piece together how the little boy became this man.


The investigative aspect of the story is fast paced & layered, But what really kept me reading was Blake. And believe me, given his proclivities, that’s no small feat. He’s smart, complicated & dryly funny. His history & present circumstances are heartbreaking at times. Then reality would come crashing in & I’d be utterly repelled by his behaviour. No matter what you end up thinking about him, you have to be impressed by the author’s ability to make you feel such polarized emotions so keenly.


So there you have it. It won’t be for everyone & no doubt there will be lots of chatter about this one. My best advice if you’re thinking of cracking the cover is choose a brightly lit room, take your heart medication & maybe keep a wee beverage nearby. You’ll probably need it.





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review 2018-01-13 21:12
Review: Naming The Hangman
Naming the Hangman - Eric Plume

I enjoyed this one even more than the first, Margin Play.  Probably in part because the case here involves a murder.

I really love spending time with Amber.  She's so realistic.  And there's a vicarious satisfaction when she really, really wants to kick someone's ass who really has it coming.  But she's smart enough to restrain herself too, well, the times that is the smart thing.  I also really enjoy the sarcastic humor among the characters, and how each of the supporting cast feel like individuals with their own personalities.  I laughed out loud in several places.  I also may have cheered a couple times.

Amber's friend Mattie is hilarious, and I enjoyed their interaction.  Both are smart, tough, take-no-shit women with hearts in the right places.

In this story Amber catches a case which involves the death of a woman the local police rule a suicide surprisingly quickly and with only a very cursory investigation.  Soon Amber finds evidence the death was indeed a murder, evidence the police should have caught if they'd bothered to give the body an adequate examination before closing the case.

Why would someone want this woman dead, and then stage the death to look like a suicide?  Are the local police lazy and inept, it is a small town after all, or is there something more sinister going on there?

Amber pokes around, and unsurprisingly someone who doesn't want the truth uncovered doesn't appreciate it.  And soon there's action and danger in the mix.

This is another book I really didn't want to put down once I started.  It draws you in, and moves at a steady pace, but not so fast that you don't get a good feel for the characters.

This is a murder mystery, and the details of the murder are sad and unpleasant.  Although we're not shown the murder as it occurs, we do learn about the harm done to this poor woman in the aftermath, and it's not pretty.  But it's handled with respect, and isn't anything out of the ordinary for this genre.

And there's just enough humor and likable characters mixed in with the dark crime and heart-pounding danger to give the reader some comic relief here and there.

Disclosure: The author is one of my GoodReads Friends.  I bought this book with my own money and of my own free will.  And as soon as he gets around to writing #3 I'll buy that one too.

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review 2017-08-11 16:24
"The Weed That Strings The Hangman's Bag - Flavia de Luce #2" by Alan Bradley
The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag - Alan Bradley

This is the second book about eleven-year-old Flavia De Luce, who was first introduced in "The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie", where she put her considerable talents to work in solving a murder her father had been accused of.


In this instalment, Flavia becomes involved with a travelling puppeteer who has a show on the BBC, a shocking murder and ripples from the death of young boy, alone in the woods.


It's a decent mystery in its own right, steeped in the atmosphere of rural England after the Second World War, but what makes it exceptional is Flavia De Luce herself.

She is a wonderfully wrought character: dauntless, clever, manipulative, and eccentric in the great English aristo tradition. She is fascinated by and skilled in making poisons. She knows how to get people to tell things they would never otherwise reveal and she is relentless in her quest to find out who did what and why.


All this makes her rather intimidating. Flavia knows this of course. At one point, when she shows too much insight into the affairs of a young woman she is helping, the young woman points it out to her:

“You are terrifying,” Nialla said. “You really are. Do you know that?” We were sitting on a slab tomb in the churchyard as I waited for the sun to dry my feverish face. Nialla put away her lipstick and rummaged in her bag for a comb. “Yes,” I said, matter-of-factly. It was true—and there was no use denying it.'

During the denouement, Flavia reveals a crucial piece of information to the Detective Inspector debriefing her. When he turns to his team, demanding to know why they didn't know this,  the response is:

"With respect, sir." Sergeant Woolmer ventured, "it could be because we're not Miss De Luce

For all her ferocious intellect and startling precocity,  she is still an eleven-year-old girl. She is observant enough to uncover an affair but innocent enough not to be entirely sure exactly what is involved in such an undertaking.


She is also a lonely girl without enough love in her life. Her elder sisters treat her badly. Her father is distant, repressed and as obsessed with stamps as Flavia is with poisons. Her mother is dead and her only connection to her is to sit in the Rolls she owned or to ride the bike she used, which she has rechristened Gladys and sometimes treats as if it were sentient.


Flavia is not a girl who is trying to be older. Above all, she seems to be trying just to be herself which she does with great self-assurance. When she turns up late (again) and her father describes her as "Utterly unreliable:" she thinks to herself

Of course I was! It was one of the things I loved most about myself. Eleven-year-olds are supposed to be unreliable.


Flavia knows that she is willing to overstep the bounds of politeness and perhaps even decency, to get the infomation she wants but she's reconciled to that aspect of herself. She says:

Sometimes I hated myself. But not for long.

This was a delightful read and a pleasing sequel. I will be back for more.

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