Toni

The way I see it

"Only Time Will Tell", by Jeffrey Archer

Only Time Will Tell - Jeffrey Archer

Book#1, The Clifton Chronicles 

If I would have listened to some reviewers I wouldn’t have touched this book but I did not and I am happy I have ignored all those so so reviews. In fact, I simply loved this story and found that Mr. Archer delivered a page-turning saga filled with twists and enough of a surprise at the end that I added book #2 to my library already. I am so curious to see what comes next.

The story revolves around the main character Harry Clifton, a boy growing up in the backdrop of docks in Bristol at the start of the 20th century. The story is broadly divided into parts, each dedicated to characters who take the story forward from their point of view: Harry, his mother Maisie, Emma Barrington, Hugo Barrington, Giles Barrington and Old Jack Tar. They all have their secrets, game and deceit. Young Harry has a beautiful singing voice and has the intelligence to further his education but without money he needed connections to gets through his schooling and to Oxford. He had all the help to do so…

The first part of the book is pretty much the every cliché you read about English boarding schools: sadistic prefects, social snobbery, cruel mockery etc. The prose is clear, smooth slipping along from page to page. The dialogue is your everyday lines. The driving force is the plot and the pace picks up fast when Harry gets out of school and so did my interest. The author excels in doling out tiny crumbs of suspense and keeps the tempo up to the last page where it ends with a really excellent cliff-hanger….I am not usually a fan of this kind of ending but here I make an exception….well-done. 

This story will appeal to those who love smooth suspense with moderate action.

"Only Time Will Tell", by Jeffrey Archer

Only Time Will Tell - Jeffrey Archer

Book#1, The Clifton Chronicles 

If I would have listened to some reviewers I wouldn’t have touched this book but I did not and I am happy I have ignored all those so so reviews. In fact, I simply loved this story and found that Mr. Archer delivered a page-turning saga filled with twists and enough of a surprise at the end that I added book #2 to my library already. I am so curious to see what comes next.

The story revolves around the main character Harry Clifton, a boy growing up in the backdrop of docks in Bristol at the start of the 20th century. The story is broadly divided into parts, each dedicated to characters who take the story forward from their point of view: Harry, his mother Maisie, Emma Barrington, Hugo Barrington, Giles Barrington and Old Jack Tar. They all have their secrets, game and deceit. Young Harry has a beautiful singing voice and has the intelligence to further his education but without money he needed connections to gets through his schooling and to Oxford. He had all the help to do so…

The first part of the book is pretty much the every cliché you read about English boarding schools: sadistic prefects, social snobbery, cruel mockery etc. The prose is clear, smooth slipping along from page to page. The dialogue is your everyday lines. The driving force is the plot and the pace picks up fast when Harry gets out of school and so did my interest. The author excels in doling out tiny crumbs of suspense and keeps the tempo up to the last page where it ends with a really excellent cliff-hanger….I am not usually a fan of this kind of ending but here I make an exception….well-done. 

This story will appeal to those who love smooth suspense with moderate action.

"Fire and Blood", by Glenn Trust

Fire and Blood - Glenn Trust

Also under the title “The Redemption”

Book # 5, in the Hunters series

This story continues the saga that all started with” Eyes of the Predator” where George Mackey with Lyn and Clay played the center roles. Here these poor souls will face their demons and eventually find redemption. 

I am at a loss for words this time really what can I positively said when a story did not really appeal to you. Indeed although a lot is going on, no doubt about that, I found this to be rather a redneck story, one that is less thrilling and by far too raw for my taste. Violence at every page, never ending back wood language I must say it really represented what I imagined a hillbilly county to be. Mr. Trust does a great job representing the place and people he writes about whether they are the rednecks or the beautiful people of Pickham County, he indeed paints them vividly. But did this story pulled me in? Yes, in parts, but I got tired of the despicable acts the bad guys did, really too much. Maybe I wasn’t in the mood for this type when I picked up the book. 

“Fire and Blood” may not be my favourite but I must note that the tempo is steady throughout, the characters played their roles perfectly and all ended superbly…the bad guys got what they deserved and the good guys also….

I still have mix feelings many days after closing the book, after all what do you say when at first you do not particularly like a book but you come to realize days later that the sequence of events are still vividly imprinted in your mind…isn’t a sign the story made an impact…..and that you did like the book in great parts….but I still sit on the fence with this one and leave it up to you for final judgement….

The saga will continue with book # 6 “The Killing Ground”.

"A Partridge in a Poison Pear Tart", by Leighann Dobbs

A partridge in a Poison Pear Tart - Leighann Dobbs

Lexy Baker Cosy Mystery book # 11.5

Grandmas playing sleuths at a retirement home after one of their own is found dead…murdered it seems by a cup cake….

I really don’t know when or where I got this book…it seemed it has been in my library for longer than it should have been….not totally my taste, a bit too simplistic but being short I think barely 50 pages it made for a fast read I didn’t mind adding on my phone. 

Grandmas helping detectives I doubt it but they were good at putting their noses where it did not belong and of course these old biddies solved the case for the poor detective that tried very hard to tell them politely to go play… bocce… shuffleboard or any other game old folks may play instead. 

Short and rather sweet, by far not literature but this little tiny story was so visual I still picture in my mind how these loveable ladies were dress, how they acted and the ways they acted. Cute and funny. 

"High Crimes", by Libby Fischer-Hellmann

High Crimes - Libby Fischer Hellmann
5th book in the Chicago PI Georgia Davis Thriller Series

With the US establishment in mind Ms. Hellmann penned an exciting fiction that brings her protagonist to hunt down those who were responsible for the assassination of the Resistance leader at a demonstration.

In alternate chapters and with a progressive time frame this suspenseful story tells us how step by step Georgia plunged into the case and how the perpetrator was recruited and managed to pull this terrible act. Lurking behind the scene and between the lines we see the disturbing situation the US faces at the moment where democracy is being chip away by a flimflam leader. The author uses soft words to melt into her novel the present situation. News to me: there is actually a Resistance Group. In this story 42000 members and some have fake profiles in order to infiltrate the group for their own agenda. 

This story is suspenseful and well written to provide all the intrigue one wishes for. Georgia is a wonderful PI, she is not afraid of danger, treats and bruises are part of the job. We do have secondary characters in the right-wing wealthy elites, gunman, tough guys and Georgia’s family members who all play their role to a tee. Georgia’s family life is atypical and the story tells us how she manages to share both her professional and private life in a meaningful way. The plot is solid and realistic with no silly or graphic action. The drama moves at a steady pace and held me captive from the moment I opened the first page. 

Once again Ms. Hellmann has provided us with a page-turner that flows nicely.
 
 

 

"The Ice Child", by Camilla Läckberg

The Ice Child - Camilla Lackberg

Fjallbäcka book # 9

I knew of this author but never had the pleasure to read any of Ms. Läckberg works till my friend gave me “The Ice Child” and I am glad she did now I can add another great author to my very very long list. 

Although this may be the 9th book in the series it can easily be read as a standalone the author gives us enough background to fill the gaps and for us to understand where the characters fit into this saga. This is an excellent “Nordic Noir” story that combines a chilling and heart-wrenching plot with the lives of the main players and the horrendous crimes being investigated. This book deals with a group of people in a pretty unpleasant way. 

“The Ice Child”, is set in the small Swedish town of Fjallbäcka and features Detective Patrik Hedström and his crime writer wife Erica Falck. The broad canvas is also filled with a huge cast of interconnected characters and I assure you it is quite a challenge to remember them all. Some may said this book has a fairly simple structure but I found the long chapters, the many threads in each chapter including flashbacks was difficult to get used to but once I got familiar with the style I enjoyed the plot much more and of course by then I was shaken by a steady escalation of suspense and sadism. Although this story may have taken some time to process it nevertheless kept me interested and on my toes till the very last page. This story is an insane page-turner once you are in the swing of things.

"Malevolent", by E.H. Reinhard

Malevolent (Cases of Lieutenant Kane Series of Police Procedural Novels Book 1) - E.H. Reinhard

Book #1, in the Cases of Lieutenant Kane

This story is very intense no doubt about it with its fair amount of gory descriptions and its suspenseful drama that keeps coming up no way any reader can say that “Malevolent” is boring. I was kept me on the edge furiously flipping the pages to see how it will end. …. This is one twisted story that may be somewhat realistic but is captivating to read….if you are into gruesome murders and police procedural this book is for you.

The main character, Lieutenant Kane, is a homicide detective from the Tampa police department and his day to day consist of decomposing bodies and hunting for murderers in order to remove them from the public. This first story is about a killer looking to make a name for himself by doing gruesome experiments on women. The media has dubbed him the Psycho Surgeon. Kane’s main focus is to get him before he kills again or before the case becomes far more personal…….

The killer’s point of view is soon said in alternate chapters as he goes about doing his draconian methods to alter his victims’ behavior. Not a dull moment and as the plot moves quickly along it is easy to be fast pulled into this top shelf drama filled with funny scenes to give us a break from all the mayhem and crime scenes. This is one riveting cat and mouse game that pins the bad guy against the good guy. 

I enjoyed the plot and its characters and to steal words from a reviewer “As thriller mystery goes, this one fills the bills in every way”

"Greeks Bearing Gifts", by Philip Kerr

Greeks Bearing Gifts - Philip Kerr

Book # 13, in the Bernie Gunther series

“Greeks” opens in 1957, Bernie has shed his badge and gun and has created a new cover, has grown a beard and has taken a new name, Christof Ganz, a nobody with no connection with the police and even less with the Third Reich. He finds himself taking a new job as a claims adjuster investigating a fire in Athens that has sunk a small ship. 

By now we well know that Bernie has a history that includes more than passing acquaintance with mass murder and evil. In this latest the themes of morality, mortality, philosophy, atonement and redemption is much discussed and smoothly woven into a detective story. This story has two layers: a look at the past and its effect on the future and the second is personified by Bernie Gunther. 

“Greeks Bearing Gifts” is vintage Bernie Gunther, despite the ex-criminal investigation detective’s name rarely appearing in the novel. It is dark, smart and showcases Mr. Kerr’s atmospheric writing, his meticulous research and his gift for witty dialogue but the overuse of metaphors although some are pretty funny gets tiring in the long run. This story is less suspenseful than the previous installment but it surely transports us to 1957 with its great amount of details during that time.

All of Bernie’s stories are noir in genre but this one is black with no relief from deceit or greed. Even Bernie becomes bitter and sarcastic and makes stupid moves and has developed fascination with female cleavage. In this latest I found Bernie to be not very likeable. 

Although I did like parts of this book it is by far not my preferred. The story drags at lot and was kind of flat. We have many characters to keep up with and a convoluted plot to follow that is not at all surprising. This mystery is dialogue driven and a lot of bickering goes on and on…. I was disappointed but I push along till the end.

"At Dawn" by John W. Mefford

AT Dawn (An Alex Troutt Thriller, Book 4) - John W. Mefford

Book #4, in the Alex Troutt series

A Redemption Thriller

Although this is part of a series this 4th book can easily be read as a stand-alone but it is always more pleasant if you read series in sequence.

In this installment, Alex is on a well-deserved vacation with her family and heads to small town in Texas where she grew up near the Gulf of Mexico. Focussing primary on her kids and her dad, leaving work behind to enjoy for a short time a fun vacation on the beach was her main wish…what a wonderful trip this is going to be ….well of course not, all changed by a drive by shooting…..

Once again, FBI Special Agent Alex Troutt gives us a twisting, heart pounding saga that grips our attention from the first page. I simply had a hard time putting this thriller down. The story is full of suspense, thrill and mystery. The plot is exciting and the whodunit is a big puzzle to untangle. The twists and turns kept my adrenaline pumping and I was on the edge of my seat till the wee hours wanting to see how far Alex would go….Balancing family life and career is a heavy task, in Alex case her job continually threatens to take over but watch out she is a wolverine and she will get her man/woman. 

I enjoyed “At Dawn” it is a well-crafted story with good players. The multiple treads are easy to follow and as they gradually intertwine and come together we are left with one of those suspenseful novels hard to resist. In a few words: this is a fast and furious and sometime funny plot that I enjoyed quite a bit.

"The Angel of Justice", by Michael Ledoux

The Angel of Justice - Michael Ledoux
Mission to the Past

This stunning debut novel is a highly imaginative blend of fiction enhanced with historical events and well-known personages. It also gives us a well-researched travelogue and insights into cities and countries visited by the story’s main player. 

Richly written the story transports us back to the mid-1970 where high school graduate Ian Richard, a highly recruited athlete questions his future after viewing a documentary of the liberation of thousands of prisoners at Bergen-Belsen at the end WW11 by the Allied Forces . Ian’s father was among the liberators. Over several weeks Ian immerses himself in articles of past atrocities and those guilty of war crimes. He particularly concentrates on those who never came to trial. The novel tells Ian’s newfound interest in finding one particular guard Gertrude Sommer and bringing her to justice. 

The story opens slowly as we are introduced to Ian, his parents and his interest then as it progresses with his training with the Mossad and his hunt for “The Angel of Death” commences. To Argentina he is sent and we soon fall into a very intense and captivating drama which gives us a lot of action, some predictable twists and others we hardly can imagine. Ian has a soft spot for beautiful women and plays with his good looks to lure the illusive Gertrude into a trap. Suspense is at times intercepted by some sex scenes, we have a few but they are quite vanilla. To add tension to this exciting read, Ian encounters violence and demonstrates that all his training was not wasted time…… During this nail-biting journey, the author did not forget to give us a taste of culinary delights ….

In short words, we have an original and well-written plot, smooth narration, good dialogue, great characterization and where this novel excels is in its sense of place….

Well-done Mr. Ledoux “The Angel of Justice” is an excellent debut and I hope to read more of Ian’s missions in the future. 
 
 

 

"A Pitying of Doves", by Steve Burrows

A Pitying of Doves: A Birder Murder Mystery - Steve Burrows
A Birder Murder Mystery #2

This neatly constructed series is quite original intertwining avian with the classic whodunit and doing so in an entertaining way. This second book is a smart and absorbing read. With some series you need to read the novels in sequence, here I suggest strongly doing so otherwise you will need to piece the missing parts and back read…..( this is exactly what I have to do)…..

In book 2, we have more bird related murder and mayhem in which the author’s ornithological background shines. Chief Inspector Dominic Jejeune, an avid birder and lead investigator is called out at a gruesome scene at a bird sanctuary where a researcher is found dead beside the body of a senior attaché from the Mexican consulate. You would think this to be a cut and dry investigation but when Powers that Be want to squash any wrongdoing… things turns out not to be that simple……

To enjoy this mystery you need a certain suspension of belief. The story is a tightly woven plot where every twist seemed to relate back to birding. Of course being heavy on bird information I inevitable learn a good deal about doves. I love birds so more information did not bother me but if you do not maybe you should skip this series all together or maybe give it a try; you may change your mind.

The main character Dominic Jejeune is an extremely complex individual with deep secrets. He often ponders on things, what could trouble him so much….well this second story tease us even more by dropping some clues that say little and leaving us wondering if the sequel will reveal more… or not. The story progresses slowly and as it does I was trying hard to pin point the murderer, I never did work out the whodunit….I really thought it was someone else and certainly I am not alone reaching a wrong conclusion….Quite suspense in its own way “ A Pitying of Doves” is a good and entertaining read.
 
 

 

"Auschwitz Lullaby", by Mario Escobar

Auschwitz Lullaby - Mario Escobar

Based on true historical events and real people, “Auschwitz Lullaby “brings to life the story of Helene Hannemann—a woman who sacrificed everything for family and fought furiously for the children she hoped to save.

In a straightforward and poetic style Mr. Escobar tells an enthralling story involving the Nazi persecution of Gypsies, Jews and other minorities during WW11. Helene was a German woman married to a Gypsy man, they had five children when they were brutally removed from their home and sent to Auschwitz. Helene could have evaded arrest, however she rather be with her family. This novel tells how as a German nurse under Dr. Mengele managed to keep hope in the midts of the darkness.

Mr. Escobar expertly describes the setting and characters while maintaining a captivating and fast-paced storyline that is brutal, honest and heartbreaking. The author demonstrates through his words the power of sacrifice and the strength of human dignity even when there is no hope left. This sad journey is powerful, haunting, chilling and one that shook me to my core. The pages are filled with the evil intentions and practices of Dr. Mengele but what is more remarkable is the strength and bravery of Helene Hannemann. All through her ordeal Helene sang a beautiful lullaby to calm the children…..

This is definitely not a feel good story but a well-researched one filled with details right down to the smells….it really feels as the author spent time in the camps….

This is an excellent novel worth spending time reading

Thank you to Thomas Nelson for providing me with a copy of this book through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

"Deadly Straits". by R.E. McDermott

Deadly Straits - R.E. McDermott

Book #1, in the Tom Dugan Thrillers series

Not having spent time in the marine industry and one who is by far not fond on being captive in a tin can of any size, thrillers involving ships and its operations are not my favorite topics. Having said this, the plot will nevertheless capture the imagination of ship geeks….this techno-thriller with all the juice and characters hop-scotching through exotic locales will surely please the majority of readers.

The central character is Tom Dugan, a skilled professional who travels the world as an operating engineer on ships, he is one the good guys. As for the bad guys they are many of them most are motivated by religious fanaticism and some simply by greed. They are all sadistic as we would expect them to be. “Deadly Straits”, is a fast paced and multilayered plot that travels from Singapore, Malaysia, London , Malacca, Panama, Chechnya, Teheran, Virginia. 9/11 told us it is possible to used aircraft as flying bombs, “Deadly Straits”, suggest that huge tankers can be also used as weapons….Some said this plot is entirely possible and realistic….terrorists gaining control of loaded tankers and using them as weapons in straits to block flow of traffic. This story tells a scary account on how they may attempt this…..

This is one convoluted story very I had a hard time keeping focus on. Following the many characters with strange names was a challenge and keeping track of who is a good guy and who is a bad guy was even more. Mr. McDermott has definitely deployed his knowledge of ships and navigation with the many details about manoeuvering and detonating supertankers. Maybe he did a too good job doing so. The many threads that bounce from storyline to storyline make this book long and complex and not all that interesting… I struggled to keep up till the end …

"White Liners", by R.E. Donald

White Liners: Hunter Rayne Highway Mystery Sketches - R.E. Donald

A Hunter Rayne Highway Mystery Sketches

I didn’t realize this was a series of three very short stories 21 pages in all, sketches introducing the author’s main character and two supporting players in the main series “Hunter Rayne Highway Mysteries”. I like the main series so when I saw “White Liners” I just picked it up but what a disappointment when I noticed what this book really was. I don’t really know why authors spend time doing this kind of promotion….it was a freebie at the time, thank goodness. 

Each stories is way too short to have time getting into the swig of it, to get hooked and be captivated. As soon as you open the story it is already finished….so what is the point……

Pass on this one, but give the full novels a chance they are well-worth it. I read a few and have enjoyed them immensely.

"An Eye for Murder", by Libby Fischer Hellmann

An Eye for Murder: An Ellie Foreman Mystery - Libby Fischer Hellmann

Book #1, in the Ellie Foreman mystery

This mystery is a blend of politics, history and suspense. It begins with an exchange between two men in Prague in 1944 and the story proceeds with the ramification to contemporary Chicago.

The main character is Ellie Foreman, a documentary filmmaker, who becomes an amateur sleuth when an old Jewish man she did not know dies and her address was found among his belongings. A string of murders and attempted murder follow and inquisitive Ellie pokes her nose into the mystery that will lead to links between Nazi war crimes and a present day politician running for office.

This debut story is very entertaining, a clever mystery puzzle that is somewhat funny. Both the multi-generational historical mystery and the political one are well- done. The author is good at putting clues and red herrings to intrigue us and to keep us on the edge of our seat, guessing and of course turning pages. The action is interesting and not overly-done: no shoot out and no graphic murders…smooth sailing….The narration and dialogue are in the everyday language. The romance needed a stronger push to get going and finally the rare sex scenes lacked enthusiasm….quite vanilla….maybe with time things will get hot… I like Ellie, she is likeable, a single mother with a deadbeat ex-husband, doing her best and she is surely entertaining….This cozy mystery is a fast read that nicely wraps up at the end.

"No Return Address", by Gail Anderson-Dargatz

No Return Address - Gail Anderson-Dargatz

I received this Rapid Reads from Orca Book Publishers via the Early Reviewers Program for my thoughts.

Short and sweet, this large print paper book which also includes a preview of the author’s next book is just under 130 pages long. “”No Return Address” is a hearth warming story about how a family grows apart and what is necessary to bring them back together. 

Rhonda receives mysterious package in the mail from her mom who passed away the previous year. Curious she turns to people around her and along the way she makes new friends and reconnects with her brother.

I love those little books perfect to squeeze in when time is not on our side. Ms. Dargatz knows how in simple words make an impact that will make us think. Wouldn’t you also be curious? Although not very long the storyline is captivating and suspenseful and is said in a prose that is warm and down to heart. Well-done.

Rapprochement is a bigger gift that one can ever imagine….