Monday, January 23, 2017

The Girl Before

Title: The Girl Before
Author: J.P. Delaney
Expected Publication: January 24th 2017 by Ballantine Books
Format: eBook, Hardcover, 320 pages
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Random House Publishing Group - Ballantine for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.

The reader has to separate the truths and the lies. Truths are not fully true and the lies are not fully lies, and thus, the reader is brought into One Folgate Street, an experiment in living with all the warmth of a mausoleum, which in itself is another character in this book.

Edward Monkford, who is pathologically unable to cope with defiance or independence, is the designer of the home. After the deaths of his wife and son, he will only rent to a very select few. It is in this lengthy selection process, complete with pages of questions and dos and don’ts – about 200 stipulations in all, that he finds his version of perfection. Emma Matthews, having reported a brutal attack and in a precarious relationship with Simon moves in and this is where her dark tale is revealed. Within months, there is a death. Three years later, Jane Cavendish suffers the stillbirth of her daughter. She needs a fresh start – One Folgate Street is her answer.

This is a story of damaged people and how manipulation is the key, and the length, each is willing to go to for answers and redemption. There are times that you might have to put the book down and take a breath to reanalyze what you have just read, but that will not stop you from picking it right back up and diving into this twisted psychological thriller with both dread and anticipation.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Mephisto Club

Title: The Mephisto Club
Author: Tess Gerritsen
Published: September 12th 2006 by Ballantine Books
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Genre: Police Procedural
Series: Rizzoli and Isles #6

I am late to this read, but it is good to see that I am not the only one that compared it to Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series. By this, I mean, that you have to pay attention to all the symbolism, iconology and the points of time that bring the clues together.

Dr. Maura Isles seems to take center stage in this book, Jane Rizzoli is an active character with her own family troubles brewing, but with Maura’s side story involving Father Daniel she has more playtime and therefore the reader sees more sides to her guarded character.

When Peter and Amy Saul welcome their 15-year-old nephew Dominic into their home after his mother ran off and the death of his father, they had no idea that they were actually bringing Damien from the Omen in. In short order, three of the four original family members are dead and Lilly Saul is running for her life.

With backward mirror writing, ritualistic killing and symbolism, the women are way out of their league and for most of the book Jane is playing catch up. In steps the Mephisto Club, a group named after the evil spirit to whom Faust, in the German legend, sold his soul, consisting of amateur investigators that have been studying the field and all forms of evil for decades - reminiscent of the 'The Vidocq Society'.

This is an odd group and Tess Gerritsen uses that against them in pointing the reader inward. When they start dying, the reader is left with very few clues considering Dominic had died in a drowning years prior, Lilly will only say that a demon is after her, Anthony Sansone, the head of the Metaphiso Club is his own form of creepy and Maura is too wrapped up in getting the priest into bed.

The ending feels rushed with a character that admits to being behind all this nonsense having barely been mentioned at all. Try as she may, this book was too much of a grasp and though it could have been read as a standalone, since very little of the previous books was mention, the reader will walk away wondering what Gerritsen was thinking.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Perilous Undertaking

Title: A Perilous Undertaking
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Published: January 10th 2017 by Berkley Books
Format: Hardcover, 352 pages
Genre: Historical Mystery
Source: My thanks to Netgalley and Berkley Publishing Group for an opportunity to read an advanced copy of this book.
Series: Veronica Speedwell #2

When reading this book, you almost forget that it is about a murder. Deanna Raybourn is so adept at dialogue that you find yourself more attuned to the bantering between Stoker and Veronica than worrying about the dead body in the bedroom.

Backing up to the first book in the series, ‘A Curious Beginning’, the reader is introduced to Revelstoke Templeton-Vane and Veronica Speedwell, a natural historian and a lepidopterist brought together after a failed kidnapping and a secret that could affect the royal family.

In this second installment, Veronica is invited to the Curiosity Club, “founded for the purposes of free discourse amongst accomplished ladies without the strictures of society limiting their conversation”, where she is introduced to Lady Sundridge. It did not take long for Veronica to suss out the true identity of her host, yet she was curious as to why a member of the royal family was getting involved in the Ramsforth case.

Myles Ramsforth stood accused of murdering his mistress, a talented artist named Artemisia, who was carrying his child. Since Ramsforth had discovered her body and was covered in her blood, the case was open and shut. Yet Ramsforth had an alibi; unfortunately, he would rather go to his hanging than speak the truth and ruin more lives.

Sir Hugo Montgomerie of Scotland Yard’s Special Branch, a department within the Metropolitan Police that handles matters involving the royal family, is front and center with Stoker and Veronica. His main job is to protect the family, but he does seem to spend most of his time protecting Veronica from herself and to run interference when it comes to the rather loud and mind boggling antics of Veronica and Stoker.

The humor is what makes these books. The banter between the characters is exceptional -- and the bawdy humor is laugh aloud funny. Veronica is very matter of fact when it comes to her personal life and that keeps the proper Stoker a bit wobbly on his feet. When it comes to the grotto, a place of organized debauchery, you wish that you could be there to see the looks on their faces. Veronica comments that Stoker, more than anyone, walks with ghosts and it is this comment that helps to prepare the reader for a surprising fact from Stoker’s past.

For me, who the murderer was slightly obvious in the beginning, but Ms. Raybourn goes to such lengths to show all the characters that you want to discount what you have read in hopes that you jumped to the wrong conclusion. As I said, the murder is secondary to the relationships.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Real Murders

Title: Real Murders
Author: Charlaine Harris
Published: December 4th 2007 by Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 290 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Aurora Teagarden #1

Aurora Teagarden is a librarian in the small town of Lawrenceton, Georgia who enjoys hosting a monthly Real Murders club consisting of a dozen true crime buffs that study and discuss famous unsolved crimes. What they never expected, was to be in the middle of their very own.

On the evening of the meeting, one of their own goes missing; Aurora discovers her body laid out in a very familiar pattern. Now she is trying to explain this to the local detective and when he is not quite on board, another murder happens and this too is reminiscent of a real unsolved murder that is decades old. Roe is beginning to look more like a suspect than the helpful person she is trying to be.

Aurora is getting too close and someone is out for her. This time it is too close to home. She knows that the true killer has to be a member of her club, but who could it be. Maybe it is the newest visitor, a crime writer, but she is not sure since her own feelings for him might be getting in the way. This is a bit confusing for this staid librarian since she also seems to be capturing the interest of the police detective.

As the deaths pile up, Aurora is determined to find out who and why old crimes are copycatted and why she is being set up as the scapegoat. What comes out in the end is somewhat surprising since the whole book was rather sedate, by Harris standards, and then the realities appear. Who knew that the mildest amongst them could be hiding such darkness?