The Darkness – Ragnar Jonasson

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A young woman is found dead on a remote Icelandic beach.

She came looking for safety, but instead she found a watery grave.

A hasty police investigation determines her death as suicide . . .

When Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir of the Reykjavik police is forced into early retirement, she is told she can investigate one last cold case of her choice – and she knows which one.

What she discovers is far darker than suicide . . . And no one is telling Hulda the whole story.

When her own colleagues try to put the brakes on her investigation, Hulda has just days to discover the truth. A truth she will risk her own life to find.

Jonasson delivers again, I absolutely bloody loved it.

A speedy read, with a great character in the about to be forcibly retired Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir.

I enjoyed her tenacity, and her inner reflections on her history in the police as she doggedly tries to uncover the killer before she finishes work.

With a whopper of an ending it’s highly recommended.

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Death At The Seaside – Frances Brody

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Nothing ever happens in August, and tenacious sleuth Kate Shackleton deserves a break. Heading off for a long-overdue holiday to Whitby, she visits her school friend Alma who works as a fortune teller there.

Kate had been looking forward to a relaxing seaside sojourn, but upon arrival discovers that Alma’s daughter Felicity has disappeared, leaving her mother a note and the pawn ticket for their only asset: a watch-guard. What makes this more intriguing is the jeweller who advanced Felicity the thirty shillings is Jack Phillips, Alma’s current gentleman friend.

Kate can’t help but become involved, and goes to the jeweller’s shop to get some answers. When she makes a horrifying discovery in the back room, it soon becomes clear that her services are needed. Met by a wall of silence by town officials, keen to maintain Whitby’s idyllic façade, it’s up to Kate – ably assisted by Jim Sykes and Mrs Sugden – to discover the truth behind Felicity’s disappearance.

And they say nothing happens in August . . .

I’m a big fan of cosy mysteries, so it’s quite surprising to note that this was the first Frances Brody novel I have read, despite the fact that this is the eighth book in her series featuring Kate Shackleton. With that in mind it was no hinderance to my enjoyment of the novel. As far as I could tell there are no spoilers in here for previous books, and I felt no need to have read any of them before this one, although there are plenty of references to past events that have given me a keen interest in catching up with some of the earlier books.

It’s a great read that’s ideal for snuggling up in a cosy armchair on a wet miserable afternoon and transporting yourself to the beautiful seaside resort. I loved the genuine sense of time and place I felt when reading Death at the Seaside, falling completely for the 1920’s atmosphere, of this truly British seaside mystery.

There are delightful characters, and a an intriguing plot line to ensure you keep turning the pages, which you will clearly want to keep doing.  If you love some good old fashioned escapism, this is definitely the book for you.

Lunch with a Coyote

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A daughter disappears in the middle of the night. What happens in the aftermath of this tragedy-after the search is abandoned, after the TV crews move on to cover the latest horrific incident-is the story of Coyote. There is a marriage and a detective. There is a storm, a talk show host, and a roasted boar. People are murdered and things are hidden. Coyotes skulk in the woods, a man stands by the fence, and a tale emerges within this familiar landscape of the violent unknown.

Today I went out for lunch to pamper myself a little and find a quiet place to read.

My book of choice was the novella Coyote by Colin Winnette. It turned out it was a good job I had ordered a cold sandwich, and not something hot to eat…

From the opening page I was enthralled and I sat engrossed for just two short hours while I completely devoured this book. It was mesmerising. I’ve spent the afternoon reflecting on it and I know it’s going to take some time and probably a second read to process it properly.

In Coyote, we watch the parents of a missing child disconnect and reconnect over and over following the unexplained disappearance of their young daughter. It’s an aftermath that is heartbreaking, haunting, and one that feels entirely all too real.

Through the eyes of the mother we are told in short sharp bursts, the blunt edged truth of a life of loss once the media circus has died, when “the world”, no longer cares that this couple have lost a child. She is the perfect narrator for this tale, with a voice so easily identified with, telling of the times she would think badly of her daughter, despite her fierce, protective love for her.

Coyote is a straight to the bone, depiction of a breakdown, with a tragedy thrown in to boot. In my mind it’s quite simply a book you will either get completely and love, or feel confused and not.  Either way, it’s a story that is going to stay with you for some time.  I know it will with me.