The Devil’s Work by Mark Edwards

devilsWorkThe Devil’s Work was described as a psychological thriller so I was on board.  At first I wondered about the description as the characters seemed fairly normal (with the exception of Simon).   Our main character, Sophie Greenwood,  was recruited to work at Jackdaw Publishing, her dream job.

Initially I felt Sophie bordered on boring with her constant checking up on her daughter and husband.   She was a stay-at-home mum for 4 years so perhaps that worry and concern is meant to be conveyed.  Edwards nailed that perfectly.

Once I got into the novel it was clear there were a few mind games going on.  There was a split time frame shifting to Sophie’s college life, explaining her obsession to work for Jackdaw Publishing.

In the college time frame you see how Sophie met Jasmine and how they became very close.  It was later discovered Jasmine was the granddaughter of Franklin Bird, head and founder of Jackdaw Books.  (He’s a bit creepy there in the beginning and didn’t get much better as I progressed through the novel. ) Sophie never traded on her friendship with Jasmine to get introduced for employment opportunities with Jackdaw, instead steering clear of the subject since Jasmine was clearly troubled by her family connection and her grandfather in particular. Stay tuned for that once you read this book.

So, first day of work for Sophie and the mind games slowly begin. She is immediately introduced to Franklin Bird and he’s just weird.  I share his enthusiasm for a gin and tonic but otherwise, let me steer clear of this guy.  Sophie asks one of her team members about access to the basement library and hears a story about a suicide and haunting.  More creepiness.

Her predecessor, Miranda, left with no notice and there is a mystery about that straight away.  If you read mysteries or thrillers you’ll think something is fishy about a person who flat out disappears.  Sophie is assigned to Miranda’s desk and a locked drawer reveals very old food and loads of cockroaches. Cassie, one of the people Sophie supervises, appears to be sabotaging her with her ambitious and aggressive manner, leaving Sophie out of the loop on important issues.  The list goes on.

The story ramps up more with accusations of sexual harassment, a hacked Twitter account and offensive post portraying Sophie’s husband in a very bad light, a stalker, arson and more.  This book has it all including a chilling wrap up.

I read this book with the Kindle British Mystery Book Club, also as for my New Author challenge.

Linking up with Girlxoxo for the October theme of psychological mess-with-your-mind games and Joy for British Isles Friday.
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The Facts of Life and Death by Belinda Bauer

Facts of Life This is a new author to me, discovered through the Kindle British Mystery Book Club. I must give praise for the vivid descriptive writing and the chilling psychological theme.

Couldn’t put this one down and I will certainly look for more by Bauer. The story is told through a 10-year old girl’s perspective but don’t be put off and think it’s childish dialogue. Young Ruby Trick adores her father and does what she can to please him. John Trick indulges Ruby, taking her fishing and on secret “cowboy missions.”

John Trick hasn’t worked in years, being laid off from several jobs and so he fills his days fishing, drinking Strongbow cider and running around with a local group called the Gunslingers. The Gunslingers are a group who dress like cowboys and watch American cowboy shows.

Ruby’s mother, Alison, appears to be a spoilsport in their lives yet she is only one working and her advice and intentions are meant for the good of the family. There is clear tension between her and John which doesn’t escape Ruby’s attention.  Her father fans the flames of resentment which causes Ruby to unfairly judge her mother.

Several chapters in the story takes a turn.  A young woman is kneeling on the beach, naked except for socks, shivering in the cold and with fear.  A man stands before her and directs her to call her mother.

‘Call your mother.’
‘What do I say?’
‘Say goodbye.’

Here it gets more chilling and escalates.  Everyone seems to have secrets in this book and I thought some of those secrets were not resolved. Maybe I missed something but I don’t want to give spoilers here.

Overall a very satisfying book and definitely a good fix for my British mystery cravings.

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday

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Queso by The Homesick Texan Lisa Fain

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It’s been a while since Lisa Fain published The Homesick Texan Cookbook so I was delighted to see this new book Queso.  We are cheese loving people and this book has more than enough cheesy meal suggestions to keep us busy for a while.   There are more than 50 recipes and some appeal more than others but wow–  what a display of great photos and good advice.

For instance, I did not know Velvetta made a good Queso dip but that a block of American cheese gives a completely different texture and flavor.   The front part of this book explains about varieties of cheeses that work well and the types of chili peppers.  Very informative.  I spent more time there than I did flipping through the recipes ….at first.  The directions are so easy but I will say, she makes a prettier presentation than I did.  No matter, it was delicious.

For my representative dish we had our Queso served with white corn ships, black bean and rice, Maduras, sliced avocado, tomato and cheese quesadillas.  It was a fun meal, we dipped and picked up our quesadillas, only needing our forks for the Maduras, beans and rice.

Check out Lisa Fain’s site The Homesick Texan and definitely check out this Queso book. Fun reading, fun cooking and good food!  Check out the bookHERE at penguin Random House or at your favorite book store.

I received a copy of this cookbook from the Blogging for Books program. All opinions and comments are my own and I was not compensated.

Broadchurch and The Kindle English Mystery Book Club

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Today I wanted to share my excitement over the pending release of Broadchurch (season three) and a new British mystery club I recently discovered.

Season one captivated me with the story line, the music and the starring cast of David Tennant and Olivia Colman.   We caught up with the second season and are now eagerly awaiting our local library to catalog the third.  I’m second in line for the DVD so I’m sure we’ll binge watch it the week it’s available for pick-up.

 

As for bookish things,  I am geared up for the Kindle English Mystery Book Club.

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As a Goodreads member I’ve been looking at this group  for a while and finally joined up.  If you are a fan of British authors and mysteries, this is a great group.  There are many suggestions for authors and crime novels so you’ll always have good choices.  This is helping me discover new books, way more than I can read this year ….so far.

By way of a poll on the site they select two new books to read for the month.  One is a value read, meaning it can be purchased at a good price.  For September they read Tana French’s novel The Trespasser.  As I had read that one previously I decided not to join in at that time.  The value read was Agatha Christie’s novel Sparkling Cyanide.

Coming up for October we will be reading The Devil’s Work by Mark Edwards and the value read is The Whistable Pearl Mystery by Julie Wassmer.   A discussion thread opens the following month.  Looking forward to that as these authors are new to me.

So, are you a fan of Broadchurch and are you looking forward to the latest season?

What new authors have you discovered lately?  Please share 🙂

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday

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The Last Policeman and Countdown City by Ben Winters

last policeQuite a long time ago I saw The Angry Grey Cat had reviewed The Last Policeman, apocalyptic literature complete with a mystery and a dedicated detective. A comet is projected to directly impact Earth, extinguishing all life in roughly a 6 month time frame. There are several types of people represented in this book:

1) Preppers who believe they can survive such an event, stockpiling guns, food, water and other resources,

2) people without hope who either commit suicide or go “bucket list” and leave their families to have fun before they die and

3) dedicated individuals such as our starring character, Detective Henry Palace. People like Henry, the medical examiner and Ruth Ann who continues to serve food and tea (and eventually just hot water) at the local diner.

Those dedicated to their profession don’t go Bucket List, they remain faithful to their profession and carry on despite the odds of them surviving after the impact. This is actually pre-apocalyptic and we get a first hand view of human nature at its best and worst.

I didn’t know this was a trilogy but it could have been a stand-alone book. I have already started book two, Countdown City and will most likely read the third book.

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Hi, I’m back!  I did finish Countdown City and liked it.  We are still enjoying former Detective Henry Palace, the cop that can’t retire.  We start this book with only 77 days left before the asteroid named Maia smacks down in Indonesia and kills off most of the Earth’s population.

In the remaining days, Henry can’t seem to relax and feels a sense of duty from his police force days.  He is investigating the disappearance of Brett Cavatone.  Has Brett gone “bucket list” or is he dead? Brett’s wife asks Henry to find him and so he sets out to do just that.

After a bit of an investigation Henry realizes he needs help getting into a former University which has…believe it or not….seceded from what is left of the United States.  Brett had hooked up with an anarchist named Julia and there is a definite conspiracy theory in the works that actually plays out to be true.  Besides the hoarding of firearms the biggest problem is the U.S. Navy.  They are openly shooting people who try and gain access to our shores,

That’s a scary real life scenario. The military are keeping immigrants from the impacted hemisphere from entering the U.S. An asteroid is going to hit their continent and our Navy won’t let them in safely! That’s so rude.

This photo below is from the end pages at the back of the book.  I haven’t checked it out yet but I am curious about how people answered.

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It’s not brilliant writing but it certainly kept me entertained.  If you are a fan of apocalyptic lit this will be right up your alley.  Let me know what you think.

 

 

Sleeping in the Ground by Peter Robinson

SleepingintheGround

Book # 24 in the Inspector banks series!  I love this series so I dropped everything when the book arrived.  I will surely abandon a current book for the latest publication by Robinson or Tana French.  Absolutely.

This one starts with a mass shooting immediately following a wedding.  A sniper takes aim at a wedding party, killing the bride instantly and goes on to attack the rest of the wedding party.  It was an exciting fast paced start to be sure. Banks is away attending the funeral  of a former love and is unaware of the case until DI Annie Cabbot finally gets through on his mobile. The shooter sat on a hill with an excellent view of the church and festivities, getting away quickly before police could be called in.

As always the mystery and the ah-ha moment comes together near the very end.  Great detective work.  If you want a good police procedural type mystery this is the book for you.  I have read these books in order but you don’t have to do so.  Fair warning though – as there are personal and professional developments with Alan Banks and members of Eastvale Police Department in each book, you may discover something about one the regular characters (spoilers) if you read them out of order.

Since English painter David Hockney’s paintings were mentioned I thought I would include two.  I have a few of his paintings saved in my Pinterest account and was pleased by a mention of him in this book by artist Ray Cabbot (Annie’s father).

Food and Drink mentioned

Banks and Ray Cabbot have a conversation about Ray’s moving to Yorkshire:  “Banks laughed and drank more Laphroig. He could get used to the peaty taste again very easily. “Any particular reason you want to move to Yorkshire?
Ray shuffled in his seat,” Something about the light up here.  Hell, if Hockney could do it, I don’t see why I can’t.

Avocado, quinoa and tomato salad for Annie’s pub lunch.

Roast Cod with watercress sauce and roasted cherry tomatoes, buttered new potatoes and haricots verts with white Rioja wine.

Ken Blackstone is always a fan of curry and I like when Banks meets up with him to discuss a case.  They ordered a couple of pints of lager, samosas to start, then Vindaloo for Blackstone and Lamb Korma for Banks, with Aloo Gobi, rice and plenty of naans.

Pat, the Australia barmaid, brought in two large platters of nachos and pints of Black Sheep bitter.

As you can see there was plenty of food inspiration for me to choose from.  I was tempted by the nachos and Annie’s salad but ultimately had the craving for Indian food so……I made a Veggie Tikka Masala.  Something Ken Blackstone can get into and vegetarian style for Annie.  Recipe may be found at Squirrel Head Manor.

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Linking up with:
Heather for September’s Foodie Reads
Beth Fish Reads for Weekend Cooking Series
Joy for British Isles Friday
Girlxoxo Reading Challenge – September theme Murder Mystery
Simona’s Novel Food #31

 

Singled Out by Virginia Nicholson

singled out

Singled Out: How Two Million British Women Survived Without Men After the First World War.

This book is a newly acquired item at our local library.  Since the subject matter and time period is one I am interested in I had to get on the list.  It’s definitely a scholarly publication and not a beach read at all.  OK, that should go without saying considering the topic and title.

The author clearly researched this in great detail and so it read like a textbook at times.

There are excerpts from diaries and memoirs written by the women of that era.  Those passages tell you so much about their resolve, their loneliness and in many cases about ambition to make life better for women in the workplace.

This blurb form the book tells you quite a bit.

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A chapter about “Surplus Women” tells us about consequences of women who weren’t able to marry as their fiancées were killed during the war.  Some of the men who returned suffered from PTSD ( called shell shock back then) or from awful debilitating injuries and were unable to resume the life they left.   The young ladies who imagined a life with husband, children and a traditional place in society (considering the norm of those times) had to adjust to a completely different way of life.

I didn’t finish the book but plan to request it again from the library.  I just ran out of time.

About the author

Virginia Nicholson was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and grew up in Yorkshire and Sussex. She studied at Cambridge University and lived abroad in France and Italy, then worked as a documentary researcher for BBC Television. Her books include the acclaimed social histories Among the Bohemians: Experiments in Living 1900-1939, Singled Out: How Two Million Women Survived Without Men after the First World War, and Millions Like Us: Women’s Lives During the Second World War. 

Linking up with Joy’s British Isles Friday

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