Saturday, September 24, 2022

Hoping you don't even know I'm gone: THE LOCKED ROOM.

The Locked Room (Ruth Galloway Mysteries, #14)The Locked Room by Elly Griffiths
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

The pandemic comes to Norfolk, finding Ruth sorting through her late mother's things. She is surprised to find a photo of her cottage--from quite some time ago. Why would her mother have a picture of Ruth's place long before she lived there? As the pandemic forces Ruth and her daughter Kate to shelter at home in said cottage, they befriend a new neighbor, Zoe, a nurse working at a nearby hospital. But soon Nelson needs Ruth's help in investigating an ancient murder-suicide and before they know it, a more modern one.

A Ruth Galloway book is perfection, as always. I was dreaming of more Ruth and Nelson drama (updates, progress?), but this was an excellent read with a surprising and twisty modern mystery that kept me guessing! There were the usual appearances from the superb supporting cast, but Cathbad and Judy really had a main role in this one--Griffiths' characters are truly friends, and at points, this book had me in tears as I care for everyone so deeply. I also very much love Nelson and his sarcasm, which provides the perfect antidote of humor.

ROOM gives us a chance to explore more about Ruth's family and her past friendships, which was different and interesting. Nelson is still grappling with the future and potential retirement, and we get to see his wonderful and diverse team at work helping him solve cases.

Overall, this is a great, atmospheric mystery featuring a beloved group of characters that blends the pandemic well into the setting. Please note a trigger warning for mentions of suicide. 4.5 stars.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and Mariner Books in return for an unbiased review.

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Thursday, September 08, 2022

Strung out on a feeling, my hands are tied: BURN DOWN, RISE UP.

Burn Down, Rise UpBurn Down, Rise Up by Vincent Tirado
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

As more teens disappear from the Bronx, sixteen-year-old Raquel tries not to let it get to her. But when the most recent disappearance hits close to home (the cousin of her friend Charlize), she starts to wonder what is really going on. Things get even worse when a mysterious illness befalls her mom, putting her in the hospital in a contained ward. Raquel and Charlize work together to find out what's going on and soon discover that everything may be linked to a horrifying urban legend called the Echo Game, where people disappear under the subway. Quickly, Raquel isn't sure if they'll be able to save anyone--including themselves.

I seem to be an outlier but this one just didn't work for me. There were potential glimmers of real brilliance, but simplistic writing and lots of plot holes marred it all. Now I'm sure some of it is that I do not read a lot of fantasy and horror, but this book was just strange. I actually liked the idea of the plot (weird game luring people into a strange underworld, basically), but the writing was just basic and the story had so many plot holes, even if it was a horror tale. You can tell a good fantasy story without leaving gaps in the plot or failing to wrap up loose ends. The Echo/train challenge could have been really great--especially because the way it was linked to the history of Bronx was well-done--but overall, it was mostly just confusing and fizzled out at the end.

I really liked Raquel's friendship with Aaron, another schoolmate, but there's no real backstory to her sapphic friendship with Charlize, which was such a bummer. So much wasted potential there. The book's strength is its exploration of the history of the Bronx and its examination of the racism the area has faced and continues to face. Unfortunately, the overall story was fairly uneven and just didn't work for me. Others enjoyed it and hopefully you will too. 2.5 stars.

I received a copy of this book from Sourcebooks Fire and Netgalley in return for an unbiased review.

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