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Madeleine

Madeleine's Book Log - ongoing

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The Chalet by Catherine Cooper - this book is set in 2 time periods, it begins with a ski-ing accident in 1998, then comes forward to January 2020, where 2 couples, Ria and Hugo, and Simon and Cass, are spending a week at a luxury chalet in the resort where the accident happened.  Hugo is wooing Simon to be an investor in his leisure company, he desperately needs him on board, but Simon is a boorish man who bosses around his young wife Cass, who has recently had their first baby and is clearly suffering from depression.  Ria can't stand him and is reluctant to play the perfect hostess, although luckily there are staff to provide food and hospitality.  In 1998 we get the story of Louisa, who's on holiday with her boyfriend Will and his showoff brother Adam, who's brought his trophy girlfriend Nell along.  Louisa is terrified of ski-ing but starts to learn, then there is an accident and only one brother survives.  Back in 2020, a fierce storm causes an avalanche which reveals a long hidden body.  The surviving brother comes over, reluctantly, to identify his sibling, and ends up staying at the chalet as well, but there are people in the village who remember him, and one of them in particular has a score to settle.  I enjoyed this, it's a fast-paced  thriller and it was fun trying to guess who is out for revenge, although it's easy to narrow it down to a few suspects.  And judging by the ending, it looks like they're not finished yet! 7/10

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The Devil's Garden by Aline Templeton - this is the third book in the Kelso Strang series, but the first I've read, and Kelso is a detective based In Edinburgh, but who works for the Serious Rural Crimes Squad, and in this book he's called to a small town in the Borders, supposedly to investigate a so-called County Lines drugs ring, but unofficially to look at possible police corruption in the small force there, to which he's been alerted by a former colleague. In the meantime local author Anne Harper is convinced that he son's drug overdose was not fatal, and when her daughter goes missing she is convinced that a secret from long ago is behind it all. Trouble is, the author is incredibly reclusive, only emerging to take a session at the writers' retreat which she runs every year, and as this is the week of the retreat, there are several possible new suspects too, including at least one prospective author with a grudge. However she is so secretive that not even the police know the full extent of the secrets she is trying to keep, until inevitably her past finally catches up with her. I did eventually enjoy this, although it took a long time - about 2/3rds of the book, before the action finally got going, and after that it was quite gripping. The arrival of the massive storm we had 3 years ago, the Beast from the East, also hampers the investigation somewhat when the residents find themselves snowed in. So after a slow start a good read, and I would probably read more by her (I do in fact have another of her books, but from a different series). 7/10

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Now you see them by Elly Griffiths - this is the latest in the Brighton Murder mysteries and the action has moved on from the 1950s to 1964. It takes a while to catch up with the two main characters - policeman Edgar Stephens has been promoted, has married his sergeant, Emma Holmes, and now has 3 young children. Max Mephisto, the former stage magician, has gone to Hollywood, become a film star and is now married to an actress, lives in a fabulous house and has 2 young children. The friends are reunited at the funeral of their former fellow magician and friend, Diablo, and afterwards Max stays in Brighton and London, as he's considering making a film in England. Then young women and teenage girls go missing, and when one of them is found dead near the famous girls' school Roedean, Edgar finds himself in a race against time to save the other missing women from the same fate. his wife Emma is bored at home, and can't help getting involved too, and then Max's daughter, fellow celebrity Ruby, is also drawn in. After a slow start the pace really picked up and became quite gripping, although the ending felt a little bit like the old Nancy Drew books I used to read as a teenager! An easy read with likeable main characters. 7/10

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"The Moor" by L J Ross - after a short prologue, we're back to the present day and DCI Ryan and his wife find a rare day off at home disturbed when a ten year old girl knocks on their front door, and asks him to help find out who killed her mother. She'd always been told that her mum left her father and went off with another man, but a sudden flashback has been triggered and young Samantha now realises that she almost certainly witnessed her mother's murder. A trawl of missing persons from the time this happened throws up a cold case, and a previously unidentified young woman matches up with Sam's DNA, and the police can confirm that this is now a murder enquiry. Everything seems to be linked to the famous circus which regularly visits Town Moor, Sam's dad is now the ringmaster and the team have a job on their hands to try to find out just what happened all those years ago. Whilst this was an enjoyable read, I didn't find it the most involving of the series so far, but the cliffhanger ending involving a member of Ryan's team looks like the next book will be a good one! 7/10

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These reviews are making me want to read a good crime novel again :lol:. The Moor sounds particularly good!

 

 

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Echoes of the Runes by Christina Courtenay - this is a dual time frame, and the first of a linked series, set in Sweden, between the Viking period and the present day. When Mia inherits her Swedish grandmother's farm and land, she decides to spend the summer there, much to the annoyance of her fiance, who is hoping she would sell the property so that they could upgrade their London home and move to a better part of the city. But Mia feels drawn to the property, takes leave from her job at the British Museum and moves in. An earlier chance encounter with an archaeologist leads to a dig on the property, and as various artefacts are uncovered both Mia and Hakkon, the archaeologist, start to feel as if they're reliving the lives of the people from the Viking settlement. We also get the story of the people from the past - the Viking jarl, Hakkur, has taken as "thralls" many people from a Welsh village, which he raids and then takes back to Sweden. One woman, Ceridwen, bonds with his young daughter Jorun, much to the annoyance of his wife, Ragnhild, who becomes increasingly jealous of the obvious attraction between Hakkur and Ceri. In the present day, there are issues with one of Mia's neighbours, whose teenage son is helping with the dig. And so both stories play out, and although there were no real surprises, this was an enjoyable read, not quite as atmospheric as Barbara Erskine, but a nice addition to the dual time frame list of authors in this genre.. 7/10

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The Potter's Field - Andrea Camilleri - Inspector Montalbano wakes after a nightmare to be called out in a Biblical grade rainstorm when a body is discovered in a remote part of Sicily, and as it's been dismembered identification is tricky, but a lucky break, as well as a stunningly beautiful woman reporting her husband missing, does lead to an ID of the unfortunate victim. Once the police realise that the victim's father had Mafia connections, the case seems to take on a sinister, and much more difficult angle where they have to tread carefully. Meanwhile there is also trouble at the police station, with Montalbano's deputy Augello, out of sorts and snapping at everyone, to the extent that no one can work with him. This too seems to be connected to the case, and after a convoluted set up in order to reel in the suspects, the outcome turns out to be rather simple. this was an enjoyable, typically quirky read, with Montalbano as usual despairing at one point, but finally all is resolved. 7/10

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The Darkest Evening by Ann Cleeves -this is the latest book in the Vera Stanhope series and the case turns out to be a personal one for the detective, as her own family are involved. She's driving home one night just before Christmas, in a severe snowstorm, so severe that she misses her own turning and ends up getting lost, when she discovers an abandoned car, with it's doors open and most worryingly of all, a toddler still in the back seat. She grabs the boy and heads for the nearest house, which she realises belongs to her cousin Juliet. Vera has had very little to do with this side of her family, so they are beyond surprised when she bursts in on their house party, covered in snow and carrying a small child. Worse is to come though, when one of the tenant farmers arrives with the shocking news of a young woman's body outside, she's been murdered and the family recognise her as the mother of the toddler. But why did she abandon her car, with her child inside, on such a bitterly cold night, and of course what happened after? The close knit community is difficult to penetrate; the murder victim was well known and had a troubled upbringing, and Vera believes that the answer lies with her baby's father; trouble is, no one knows who it is and none of the men in the village are willing to own up. The young woman did seem to be getting her life together, and was starting to socialise more, which of course means even more suspects. Then there's another murder and Vera finds herself in personal danger. Once the book got going, I really enjoyed it and found it gripping, but I thought the first half was too sluggish and could have done with a bit of ending. But Vera is as reliable as ever, and perhaps might even be softening a bit towards her hardworking team! 7/10

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It sounds a lot better than The Long Call which is the first in her new series. That one just didn't hit the mark.

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Haven't read that one yet.  It's also being adapted by ITV, for TV.

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"Dreaming of Italy" by T A Williams - this is a feelgood story which reads like a love letter to Italy and it's food. Emma is an Englishwoman who's been working in Hollywood for several years, her studio needs a hit and is pinning it's hopes on "Dreaming of Italy", and she is given the horrible job of finding suitable locations in Italy, as the film is set during WW1 a historical adviser, Mark joins her team to make sure that the locations are suitable for the film's period. She's immediately attracted to Mark but as she's waited so long to get to this point in her career she's not sure whether to follow her head or her heart. No surprises for guessing how it all turns out. This was a nice easy read with lovely descriptions of Italy and it's food. 6/10

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