Monday, November 28, 2022

With a love that has no chance to grow: BLEEDING HEART YARD.

Bleeding Heart Yard (Harbinder Kaur #3)Bleeding Heart Yard by Elly Griffiths
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Detective Inspector Harbinder Kaur is now living in London--and away from her family. She has a promotion and is leading her own team. Her first big case involves the murder of a MP, Garfield Rice. When Harbinder arrives at the scene, she discovers one of her own team already there: DS Cassie Fitzgerald. Cassie and Garfield were at their school reunion, joining back up with a group of friends with whom they share a close past friendship... and secrets. Now Harbinder must figure out if Garfield's death is tied to those friends, or his political leanings.

I'm so glad Harbinder Kaur is in my life. Elly Griffiths tells all of her stories with such ease, and I love getting to know her characters. This is the third Harbinder book and while it certainly can stand-alone, I recommend reading the first two as well: both because they are excellent and because you can pick up on some nuances of her character. Plus, I just love Griffiths for writing a lesbian Sikh lead character.

I will admit, I was a little slow to follow the beginning of YARD due to its early emphasis on English schooling and politics. That's just my own ignorance. Everything made sense in time. There are a lot of characters introduced quickly (all of Cassie's friends at the reunion), but you soon learn who's who. The story is told not just from Harbinder's POV but Cassie and others, which adds an extra level of intrigue.

Griffiths gives us an interesting and timely tale filled with apt political aspects. I absolutely adore Harbinder (and her dry wit and sarcasm). Garfield's murder is a fascinating case that keeps you guessing. 4+ stars.

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

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Sunday, November 20, 2022

And she don't care when you're down: THE WIDOW.

The WidowThe Widow by Kaira Rouda
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Jody Asher defines her life by her husband, Martin, a well-known congressman. She loves the status that comes with his position. Jody is throwing a wedding for their daughter and it's about to be the event of the year. But everything changes when scandal hits Martin--there's a rumor he's sleeping with a young intern and has dirty political ties to other countries. Then Martin dies and Jody truly stands to lose everything.

Ugh, I hate when I do not care for a book, but I just did not like this one! I almost DNF'd this one, but I kept hoping it would improve. And it did pick up a bit near the end, but things never truly gelled for me. THE WIDOW featured stilted writing, despicable characters, and--worst of all--nothing happened for the first half of the book! It's called THE WIDOW, but nothing happens to Martin until the halfway point (despite it appearing in the book summary and title). I just kept waiting and waiting for something exciting to happen!

Jody is billed as a psychopath character, but THE WIDOW did not take it far enough for me. If you are going to go that path, own it! The plot jumps around, trying to play spy thriller, lobbyist saga, and then tossing in their daughter and her wedding occasionally. Even better, somehow everyone went to school together! Martin, Jody, the Vice President, his wife went to college together, and then magically, Martin and their daughter's father went to high school together. Oh, the coincidences abound! It was way too much to believe.

There was a decent enough wild twist here at the end, but it couldn't redeem this story. There are boring "tips for congressional spouses" thrown in between every chapter that I eventually started to skim. Overall, I wish I had skimmed the whole thing. 2 stars.

I received a copy of this book from Thomas&Mercer and Netgalley in return for an unbiased review.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2022

Don't you come knocking on my door: THE LAST PARTY

The Last Party (DC Morgan #1)The Last Party by Clare Mackintosh
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

The locals of Cwm Coed have an annual New Year's Day swim in the freezing Mirror Lake each year. But they'll never forget this swim... when the body of Rhys Lloyd washes up on shore. Once a local, Rhys left town for fame and fortune as a singer and only recently returned to start a fancy lakeside community known as The Shore on the "English" side of Mirror Lake. Suddenly DC Ffion Morgan of the North Wales Police has a dead body on her hands, a New Year's Eve party full of suspects, and an unwanted partner in DC Leo Brady from the Cheshire Constabulary.

"Out of the mist floats a man. Face down, and quite unmistakably dead."

I am a sucker for a good police procedural, but this one took it up a notch, as I didn't guess all the twists, which is so (so) rare. I also really liked the character of DC Morgan, and I'm so thrilled that she'll be back for another book. The narration alternates between the present-day investigation of Leo and Ffion and then chapters from the wealthy English personnel staying at The Shore. Their story is told backward, for the most part, starting with the The Shore's New Year's Eve party and heading back in time. We learn that just about everyone had a good reason to want Rhys Lloyd dead.

The setting of PARTY is wonderfully atmospheric, set right on the lake, and playing up the tensions of the locals from Wales versus the outsiders (seen as rich, snobby English folk). Even better is the fact that Rhys used to be one of "them" from Cwm Coed but now appears aligned with The Shore and all it stands for, including tearing apart landmarks passed down from his father, a member of the Cwm Coed community.

I loved the police procedural aspect of this book, as there is a true investigation going on to discover exactly what happened to Rhys, but there are also character-driven stories everywhere. Many of the characters are despicable, but as secrets unravel and dark pasts are told, you learn why many are the way they are. I loved the nuances and depth to so many in this mystery. Even better, plenty of twists and surprises exist to keep you on your toes.

Mackintosh is a wonderful writer, and it was great to have THE LAST PARTY to remind me of that. I look forward to the next book in this series. 4.5 stars.

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

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Tuesday, November 01, 2022

I have been to the movies, I've seen how it ends: THE PRISONER.

The PrisonerThe Prisoner by B.A. Paris
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Orphaned in her teens, Amelie journeys from Paris to London on her own. She forms a friendship with a woman named Carolyn, who gives Amelie a job and helps her learn to survive. Amelie eventually meets Ned Hawthorpe through Carolyn's friends, who work at his magazine. The two marry, but before Amelie knows it, they are kidnapped and held for ransom. Who has taken them--and will they ever escape?

The first half to three quarters of this thriller flew by like gangbusters. I was fascinated to know why Amelie was kidnapped and what was going on. The book is told from Amelie in captivity and also explains the past in snippets. We learn how Amelie came to London and how she wound up married to the wealthy Ned.

Honestly, I read a lot of bad reviews for this one before I picked it up, and they actually helped me, because while this is in no way the world's best thriller, it wasn't as bad as some had made it out to be, ha. Sometimes it's the books that get the glowing reviews that turn out to be disappointments to me! Now, yes, the plot is going to be a bit ridiculous here. It's B.A. Paris after all. And what dropped this a star or so for me, after the book started off so well, was the ending, which sort of turned things off course. It was odd and dragged things down. It also seemed to leave some loose ends.

Overall, this is a page-turner of a thriller that will probably be easy to forget in short time. It's a quick and crazy read. Please note a trigger warning for sexual assault.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and St. Martin's Press in return for an unbiased review. Look for THE PRISONER on 11/1/2022!

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