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My Sister the Serial Killer

by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Mum, it talked! The doll talked!”
“She is not a doll, Korede. She is a baby, your baby sister. You’re a big sister now. And big sisters look after little sisters.”

This book just shows that as readers we are all different. It has a relatively low rating on Goodreads (3.70 at the time of writing) but I loved it.

I was originally attracted by the gorgeous cover art & the hilarious (to me) title.

The humour is very dark – I mean the (spoilt) sister is a serial killer but there are a lot of other themes too – blind loyalty, manipulation, love, making choices.

I loved the cultural touches as well as I have never been to Africa, let alone Nigeria. The author doesn’t spoon-feed her reader at all, so you may need Google. If you don’t like YA writing you may not like the writing style – the author uses the flat American style of YA writing – fortunately that is a style I love. (& yes, I know the writer isn’t American!)

The ending is abrupt but I found it gave me a lot to think about.


The Crime Coast

by Elizabeth Gill

Rating: 4 out of 5.

It is sad that Elizabeth Gill died so young (she was only 32) as based on this book I think she showed a lot of promise in this book.

Young lawyer Paul Ashby is going on holiday by himself on the French Riviera. Before leaving London he encounters an elderly & unwell man who asks him to try to locate his missing son, who Major West believes is somewhere in the Riviera.

The early chapters of this book were amazing. Gill painted her characters deftly & shows a real gift for description. I was certain I was looking at a 5★ read. But about a third of the way in, the book pace slowed & it finished with one of the most dreaded conventions in Golden Age mysteries – a very lengthy explanation at the end. It did cover just about every plot point. I had to knock a half ★ off my rating but I am still keen to read Ms Gill’s second book, What Dread Hand?: A Benvenuto Brown Mystery

The Woman on the Island

by Ann Cleeves

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

No way is this short story 32 pages long!

That would be the length including the extract from The Rising Tide
So it was a good story, but the ending was on me before I was ready! This really isn’t a good marketing practice (I just rechecked on Amazon – different edition now, but there is no mention of this short story being bundled with a book extract.)

I disagree with reviewers who say you have to be familiar with the series to enjoy this short story, as it is dealing with some of Vera’s backstory – & her troubled relationship with her father. It is very well written & I was enjoying it right until the abrupt ending.


Before You Knew My Name

by Jacqueline Bublitz

Rating: 5 out of 5.

How had she not noticed that only some [dead] people are deemed worthy of having their stories told?

I used to be a bit of a ghoul.

Well, still am really, but I no longer trawl through sites like The Charley Project, NCMEC & NamUs, trying to figure out why some missing person cases got so much publicity & others the moderators on these sites would sadly report;

Few details are available in his case.

The cases that seemed to get the most publicity would be young, pretty, blonde girls.

Like Alice Lee.

Alice went to New York to leave a troubled past behind. She had dreams, she had ambitions.

Australian Ruby Jones at 36 is twice Alice’s age, but also travels to New York to leave a past that is more unsatisfying than troubled. But in New York she finds she is even lonelier than ever.

But then she discovers Alice’s body…

The bare bones of this story don’t give any indication of what a satisfying read this was and how beautiful & lyrical Ms Bublitz’s use of language is. I was mesmerised – & I’m not normally a fan of (view spoiler) or dual points of view.


The Rasp

by Philip MacDonald

Rating: 4 out of 5.

For anyone who (like me) is carpentry-challenged here is a picture of a rasp.

Should have looked that up before reading the book as I’m having to adjust my vision of the murder.

Colonel Gethyn is called in to help solve the murder of the popular and talented British Cabinet Minister. In the hands of MacDonald, Gethyn suffers a lot from Women Want Him, Men Want to be Him Syndrome, which can grate at time (or maybe I should say rasp!)

The story moves along reasonably well at first with good dialogue and I enjoyed the romances. Where the book falls down for me (& this is unfortunately common in Golden Age mysteries) is all the exposition at the end about whodunnit & how Superman Gethyn solved it. I did notice at 85% on my kindle that this was getting rather long. Completely dragged the story down & it took me two days to read this part.

Still a good tale that I am happy to have read.

Die Again

by Lisa Gerritsen

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This isn’t the sort of book I normally read.

At all.

But my neighbours & good friends absolutely loved it, in spite of not normally being a fan of Tess Gerritsen’s work & pressed this book on me.

In their opinion it wasn’t necessary to read the earlier books in this series as they thought they were inferior to this one. I don’t know if I agree with this, as there are a lot of mentions of previous events which help explain Jane & Maura’s characters & motivations.

What I struggled with at the start was;

• The excessive foreshadowing of one early event.

This must have been mentioned six times, so the subsequent, gory discovery was no great surprise.

• The blood, gore & all round gruesomeness. I normally don’t do violence (or horror, if it comes to that) & this book came very close to being a DNF at around 10%. But I decided to give the book till around 20% to engage me & I am very glad that I did.

The action was fast paced and the story of gruesome murders & disappearances on a safari in Botswana and the horrifying death of a taxidermist in Boston are intertwined. Or are they? *Evil Cackle.*

Lots of twists & turns so be alert while reading.

Recommended to those with a reasonably strong stomach.

Recommended to me by John & Cara.

Death of an Airman

by C. St. John Sprigg

Rating: 4 out of 5.

If you read Sprigg’s bio on Goodreads, you will find a very interesting man who died way too young.

Certainly I would like to know more about him.

Reading this book, I would have sworn that Sprigg was a pilot. Reading his bio on Wikipedia Under his real name of Christopher Caudwell,… I found out that he was knowledgeable about flight and wrote a couple of books about it.

& this book got off to a cracking start when an Australian bishop turns up at the Baston Air Club wanting flying lessons. But there are some strange goings on…

The book was terrific at the start, (& had some wonderful characters throughout, like Lady Crumbles the ruthless fundraiser!) it did lose a bit of momentum in the centre, but the ending tied up all the loose ends. & just for once I guessed the chief villain – only two pages before the reveal but still!

One of the better Golden Age books I have read by a lesser known writer.

Murder in Vienna

by E.C.R Lorac

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

I’ll make this review short & sweet.

I really enjoyed an earlier Lorac I read, Fell Murder, but this one fell (tee hee!) more than a little flat.

I did really enjoy the travelogue-like descriptions of Vienna. I’ve been to this city twice, both times a long time ago, & loved both visits. But when the mystery began, I rapidly became bored. There was so much repetition on quite trivial matters that the whole story just dragged. By the time of the resolution, I no longer cared who had done it.

If I read any more Lorac, it will be books earlier in her career than this one.

Ice Station Zebra

by Alistair MacLean

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Alistair MacLean was one of my late Dad’s favourite authors & I read many of MacLean’s books when I was young. My favourite was Where Eagles Dare. I’m fairly sure I haven’t read this title before. I think I would remember the plot idea, as for me it was a very original one.

A nuclear submarine, the Dolphin, answers a distress signal to investigate what has happened at a weather monitoring station. Aboard the Dolphin is the mysterious Dr Carpenter, & it soon turns out he has a very close connection to the Drift Ice Station Zebra…

This book was an uneven read for me – slow moving in parts, with a lot of Dialogue as an Explanation and a large caste of characters who often had similar speaking styles. I had a lot of trouble telling them apart & in the end I gave up. The peacock-like mutual admiration that some of them feel for each other was a turn off, & the book shows it’s age being that there isn’t a single female character.

But the parts of the books that worked really worked & had a lot of action & excitement.

No longer my genre & while I would like to read Where Eagles Dare again, I can’t imagine that I will read any of MacLean’s other books.

Gaudy Night

by Dorothy L. Sayers

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This book wasn’t what I expected, but it is none the worse for that!

For one thing, this isn’t a murder mystery.  What this is is a complicated study of relationships in the almost cloistered world of female academia at Oxford in the 1930s. There is a vicious Poison Pen on the loose – who could it be?

This is a world that Sayers knew well. She was one of the first women to ever receive a degree from Oxford and her knowledge of the culture there shines through in every line. there is also a lot of knowledge about women and how they interrelate to each other & some fascinating political insights – the 1930s were certainly an interesting time!

This is a book for a patient reader – which is normally the sort of book I hate! Just shows what a writer of skill can make you accept!