“A Talent For Murder”, by Andrew Wilson

WILSON-Adrew_a-talent-for-murder-Author Andrew Wilson has so well slipped in to merge with Agatha Christie the novel reads as grippingly as any of her works. Meticulously researched, he adopts Mrs Christie’s persona in this tale of her famed missing eleven days.

Anxiety and panic attacks fill Mrs Christie as she relates the events of what is readily plausible in that time and in her world of crime novels.

Wilson teases us with characters she meets; we want to keep reading to know them, to know more about them. We are in suspense as we read on and learn more. How each character involves with and revolves around each other, and the plot, is breath-holding – in the sense of building our feelings of foreboding, and character empathy.

So well written I devoted two evenings to completing it. Christie, as character, reads people, actions and settings, and records them in such detail that it is easy to believe this story is truth. She shares her emotions – bereavement, stress, loss, anger, desperation – in reasoned detail. Her voice builds reader empathy

Wilson’s re-creation of Christie’s work is exceptional; and, what good news – he is working on the next Agatha Christie Adventure, A Different Kind of Evil.

Published by Simon and Schuster, UK Ltd, 2017

ISBNs:
Hardback: 978-1-4711-4821-7
Paperback: 978-1-4711-4822-4
eBook: 978-1-4711-4823-1

A Talent For Murder also includes

  • an Editor’s Note, written by John Davison
  • Acknowledgements of the research resources used
  • an Exclusive Extract from A Different Kind of Evil

Teaser video
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Andrew Wilson’s website is behind his portraitWILSON_Andrew

Find him also at Simon n Schuster UK
Tweet him … Twitter @andrewwilsonaw

Released  in NZ in July, via Booksellers NZ Distributors
http://booksellers.co.nz/directory

 

Hide And Seek, by M J Arlidge

ARLIDGE_Hide and Seek_NZArlidge’s style has me determined to get my hands on each novel in the D. I. Helen Grace series of crime stories. His characters – both the police team members, and each title’s new cast members – are well and truly alive on the page – real, and human with their foibles and fancies.

In Hide And Seek our favourite police officer-no-more is in her worst possible place: the world behind the bars of Holloway. Both the guards and the inmates (some of whom are there because of Helen) have already adjudged her as a rotten copper – before her trial – and as just another crim.

When the inmate of the cell beside Helen’s is found dead in her bed, left by her killer in a bizarre and ghastly state, it is Helen who has to remind the inmates that none of them are safe. Helen is driven to watch both guards and inmates alike in her effort to identify the killer.

She faces suspicion and hostility from both sides. The second and third kill creates a frenzy among the inmates. An understandable error of thinking delays her eventual discovery of the murderer, which she learns the hard way. Seriously, the hard way.

The unwarranted (as in, not official) actions of loyal D. C. Charlie Brookes are what decides the sequel*.

Published 2016 by Michael Joseph, for Penguin/Random House
ISBNs:
Hardbound:     978-0-718-18383-7 (NZ ISBN: 978-0-718-18383-7)
Paperback:      978-0-718-18384-4 (NZ ISBN: 978-1-405-92562-4)

Researching Holloway

Arlidge has posted about his research into Holloway prison, carried out almost while conceiving the story for Hide And Seek.

Read about his research at  DeadGoodBooksBlog logo

The Series:

   Eeny Meeny
   Pop Goes the Weasel
   The Doll’s House
   Liar Liar
   Little Boy Blue
   Hide And Seek
   *   Follow My Leader, later in 2017

The New Zealand Cover differs from editions produced for northern hemisphere markets
ARLIDGE_Hide and Seek       ARLIDGE_Hide and Seek_USmaybe

 

 

 

Dear Philomena, by M S Spencer

Dagne, an advice columnist intent on writing a novel.
A former lover who can be a louse. ACover of Dear Philomena parent with a dodgy background. A hero figure who promises romance. A white pickup too often on the scene. Three cousins who are really brothers. The full gamut of emotion from rage to ecstasy.

These components fit in Spencer’s romance cum crime novel in which the action is as well written as any crime or thriller. The descriptive passages of the environment on Chincoteague Island enable the reader to easily visualise a place they may never visit.

The closeness of the community allows the characters to know each other’s lives and family histories, and thus the picture of the motive for crime becomes clearer. Some characters are amusing: Alex, owning many small businesses named after himself, who sees all; Starlyn, desperate to keep her wandering husband on a leash; Bert, snooping to check the neighbourhood, as all elderly citizens feel they should; and more. Others are…worrying, to say the least: jealous, inadequate, confrontational, suspicious, lecherous–not atypical of a small town community.

There are worse traits to emerge from under the veneer of polite, or romantic, interactions. Spencer reveals them all as Dagne tries to write her novel as well as continuing her advice column, while unknowingly being involved in a murder investigation–and nearly a victim. The closure is convincing, and this has been one of the very few romance novels I have enjoyed

Publisher: I Heart Publishing

Published (Print): October 2015
1st ed’n E-book published July 2011
2nd Edition E-book published October 2015 with ISBN: 978-1517770464

M S SPENCER’S BLOG

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Woman of the Dead, x Bernard AICHNER

AICHNER_woman-of-the-dead

If you, at age six, had to begin work in preparing bodies for funeral directors–your parents– what effect would that have on you?

For Brum, it taught her to shut down her emotions, right up to the day she allowed her parents to drown. She took over the family business, reinvented and remarketed it, built it up as a successful business, but always dedicating herself to giving dignity to the deceased.

Her life is gently comfortable, until she sees her husband–police officer and father to their two daughters–killed by a black car slamming into him on his motor bike. Her life is upturned, as she grieves, listens to her late husband’s phone calls on his cell phone, and discovers he was spending time interviewing and calming an aggrieved young woman.

Emotionally bereft, Brum finds comfort in the companionship of her husband’s best friend, police officer Massimo. She is driven to find the woman, and when she does, is horrified to learn of her tormented life as a captive. Gradually she draws more and more information about the woman’s torturous life, who she invites to stay with the family. One morning, the girl goes shopping for the family, and never comes home.

Massimo tells her of the discovery of a drowned homeless woman, whose body is in the police morgue. Brum is driven to track and remove each of the young woman’s tormentors, aided by her mortuary assistant, Reza–a man with his own criminal past. He is detached from emotion after years of creating trauma and serving time, but warms to the welcome Brum’s family have given him.

Her tracking of each of the sadists and what she does when she succeeds makes gut-churning reading, which in turn makes it impossible to put down the book – in case what you imagine is worse than what is written next.

The resolution is a reveal of a shuddering discovery, and handled in the same way as with the first three sadists. I’d have read this in one session, but starting in the late evening made it impossible. Guess what I was reading over breakfast next morning. I hope to be reading more from AICHNER, and soon.

Hatchett_NZ_logoPublishing Date: April 14th 2015
ISBN:
Paperback 978-0-297-60848-6
Case bound 978-0-297-60847-9

BookSellers-NZ_logo     N Z Release Date: 9th April ‘15

Swimming in the Dark, by Paddy RICHARDSON

This merging of the stories of two distinct families from different locations and times into one interacting tale of misery, fear, hate and hurt, resolves the unfolding drama in a most satisfactory way. Between their two stories are common themes – fear of imposed authority and abuse of power. These themes drive characters and events onward towards the inevitable end. 

The Freemans are a dysfunctional family, with no permanent father figure, a mother who seeks comfort in drink and dubious liaisons, two young adult sons who pretend to work but prefer to deal, the older daughter who ran away from home years ago, and Serena, a young girl who is targeted by the town’s sexual predator but cannot face revealing this. 

The Kleins are a family of mother and daughter, the last of a family of refugees from post-Cold War East Germany – Leipzig. Since arriving in New Zealand, age has taken the father, Oma and Opa (grandma and grandad), leaving Gerda, a former maternity nurse, still believing sometimes that old Russian-controlled Leipzig was a better place, but sometimes wracked with guilt by the discoveries of what the Russian Stasi had been doing to the populace without her knowing. Her daughter Ilse teaches at the local secondary school, and has been nurturing Serena’s unrecognized scholastic ability, giving her hope of getting away to university. 

The story’s swimming refers to the river, a gathering place for teens and families in summer, and Ilse’s place for swimming alone at night. Serena realizes the teens are being watched by a respected member of the community from the bridge, but she feels uncomfortable. His attention towards her escalates to the level of sexual abuse, and rape. She hides the resulting pregnancy as long as she can. Ilse, out one evening for her usual swim, discovers Serena in the beginning stages of labour, alone, frightened and in pain. Taking Serena back home to Ilse, Serena is terrified to let anyone know, so Gerda draws on her skills to successfully deliver Serena’s baby. 

The rapist father, still watching for her, discovers where she is in hiding. How Ilse and Gerda deal with his aggressive arrival in their home is a triumph of rights over fear and victimization, leaving this reviewer wanting to yell in triumph. The story’s conclusion leaves the right characters in the right situation for each, in a quietly triumphant ending.

Publishing: 2014, Upstart Press, Auckland NZ; paperback
ISBN: 978-1-927262-05-4

Reviewed for Booksellers NZ 

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