Lies by T. M. Logan

liesI received a sample of this book Lies by T. M. Logan.  The  very beginning had me hooked.  Joe Lynch is driving with his son Will and the little boy spots his mother’s car, asks if they can surprise her.  Joe follows her into a hotel parking garage, heads upstairs to the lobby, and then sees his wife Melissa talking heatedly with Ben, the husband of her best friend.

Joe doesn’t want their young son to witness any unpleasantness so he heads them back to the car.  He tries to catch Melissa as she drives off but then runs into Ben and gets into an altercation.  Ben is knocked to the parking garage floor and isn’t responsive.

To make matters worse Will has gotten out of the car and sees Ben knocked out on the ground, blood seeping from his ear.  This upset causes an asthma attack and Joe has get his son medicine.  So he leaves Ben, gets the boy help, returns to the garage and Ben is gone.  So is Ben’s car.  When his wife returns home he asks her about meeting Ben but she lies and says she’s been playing tennis.  More conversation between them makes it clear she’s hiding something.

Based on that, and it was edgier than I wrote this out, I requested the book from NetGalley.  The first part of this book was great and highlighted the dangers of social media.  Joe had lost his cell phone in the struggle in the parking garage – suddenly his Facebook page has updates that he isn’t making.  Photos posted from that hotel parking garage clearly showing blood in the background.   People “liking” and commenting on the posts.

They knew where I’d been.  It was like suddenly realizing you lived in a goldfish bowl.  Both updates had been posted this evening.  I had driven out of the Premier Inn around 5:10 p.m. and both Facebook posts had followed inside the next ninety minutes.

Can’t imagine someone hacking my social media account and posting as me.

Towards the middle I felt the plot dragged a bit and wasn’t believable.  We have to suspend disbelief with some story lines but after a while, I just couldn’t do it with this story.  Joe’s reactions to the “implied evidence” his wife was cheating was very unrealistic.  I know my husband wouldn’t be as understanding and rightfully so!

Obviously you have to have a weak character, the fall-guy so to speak, but this just didn’t fly.  Melissa Lynch is a completely unlikable person in the way she is manipulating her husband.  Why didn’t he toss her out?  Should of done so.  Is Ben a dangerous man or another victim?  You will see at the end.  Overall I felt disconnected from the characters and repelled by Joe (even though he is the victim) by his weak behavior.

The ending had a twist I certainly didn’t see coming and I will say well done there.

Would I read more by this author?  Probably so.  I’d try one more book.  It kept my interest until the end with the twists and turns and I wanted to know whodunit.

Linking up with Joy’s Book Blog for British Isles Friday as the author is British and the setting is London and Sunderland.

Much thanks to NetGalley for the digital copy.  I was not compensated for the review, all opinions nice and otherwise are my own.

 

 

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Day of the Dead by Nicci French {Book 8, the end of the Frieda Klein series}

dayofdead

I’m certainly a fan of a series. The more books in a series the better in my opinion. Some folks don’t like the feeling of commitment with five or more books, following the same characters on a mystery or whichever genre it may be – I figure I am going to be reading anyway and I like familiar characters, watching them grow as characters and in their personal and professional lives.

So, this is the end of the Frieda Klein series. Eight books total starting with Blue Monday and winding our way through the days of the week. As I’ve mentioned before, I read the Sunday book first so I read many spoilers. Still, I went to the beginning and read through. Sunday was the best book. Thursday was not my favorite and had a seriously slow start.

This last book, Day of the Dead, wrapped up the series and so I will no longer have Frieda, Reuben, Josef, Chloe, Jack and Karlsson in my life. Josef was my favorite of the sub-characters.

Frieda needed to disappear in the previous book and spent most of her time in this last book under the wire. A killer was on the loose and she was the target, a string of violent incidences and a conclusion that I could accept.

There was a character named Lola Hayes who is introduced early in this book. She needs a subject for her criminology classes and plans to explain how psychoanalyst Frieda Klein thinks, planning on interviewing those close to Frieda and working out a profile. By trying to discover more about Frieda she puts herself in danger and is forced, literally, to go on the run with our main character. It’s a cat and mouse game and a bloody one at that.

The beginning was slow for me and I’ll say I wanted a different ending to this eighth book saga. I wasn’t especially disappointed as all things were resolved, I would just like to have seen some characters end up differently. It’s hard to review this without giving out a very important factor that is a huge spoiler.

Lots of food mentioned throughout the book.

Butternut squash soup, burgers and beers, bowls of bean sprouts and Greek salad, a simple salad of tomato and avocado and a bread roll.

Spaghetti and red wine, a Ukrainian lamb dish and a bottle of vodka. A flat white and piece of carrot cake. Chicken sandwiches with lots of mayo and tomatoes.

“Frieda bought a cauliflower, some cheddar cheese, butter, milk and a half-baked baguette. She added a small jar of mustard to the basket, two chocolate bars, apples, a jar of marmalade and oatmeal. Later she cooked a mustardy cauliflower cheese which they ate with hunks of baguette.”

I bought a cauliflower and planned to make that cheese dish but I still haven’t gotten around to it.

 

Goodbye Frieda Klein – it was a good ride.  Lots of mystery and I would certainly watch a television series if one was developed base don her character.

Linking up with:
Joy’s Book Blog for British Isles Friday
Heather for her August Foodie Reads

The Boy at the Keyhole by Stephen Giles

keyhole

This is a physiological drama told from the point of view of a nine-year old boy. It’s a unique perspective to see young Samuel Clay’s view of his world, one where his mother Margot has been away for more than 100 days.

He receives no phone calls, no telegrams or packages. The only thing he waits for are the few postcards his mother sends from her travels across the United States and of course, his hope of her return. Samuel lives alone in a large estate in Surrey England with only the housekeeper, Ruth, to attend to his needs.

Samuel tracks his mother’s travels using an atlas and pins when he receives a postcard. Being a person who loves maps, it’s particularly enjoyable to read about the atlas and Samuel putting colored pins in Boston, San Francisco, London, Bath and Penzance.

Samuel’s father died a few years ago and the dire financial state of affairs prompted Margot Clay to go “fund raising” across the country and the USA to raise money. She left in the middle of the night without saying goodbye to her son. Ruth takes care of Samuel by cooking and cleaning. You suspect Ruth in the beginning of withholding information from the boy.

As you read the story from a nine-year old’s point of view, the adult reader can see and understand some of the reality of the situation. An example of that is when Samuel sneaks into his mother’s room and steals letters his mother had written to her husband.

You get the idea that Margo Clay had been in an institution or some home. Samuel remembered that from a remark by his father about Margot being away in bath where there would be peace and quiet. She evidently wasn’t suited to domestic life. In a letter from Margot to Samuel’s father she implores him not to bring he boy next time he visits as his arms around her make her feel as if she is sinking in the water. Not everyone is suited to be parent. When Ruth catches the boy in his mother’s room she berates him and tells him he should be ashamed snooping around.

Ruth didn’t understand that he was only trying to be near his mother, she was a creature in orbit and the one way he could feel close to her was to linger in the traces she left behind.

Ruth is really a piece of work – alternately making his favorite meals, asking about homework then berating him and being mentally abusive. The ending wasn’t what I thought might happen, quite a surprise actually. Can’t say I didn’t have questions about that and since they will be spoilers, I won’t talk about it here.  Goodreads has a spoiler feature so I will add my thoughts about that there.

I always notice the foodie parts in a book. Here are the offerings:

Shortbread, cake, freshly baked bread, roast beef and potatoes with peas, mince pie, eggs and sausages, roasted chicken and potatoes, roasted lamb, roast rabbit and chestnut stuffing, tea cakes and lemon tarts.

As I love making bread, the baguettes seemed a good option.

bread

Baguettes

1 cup water
2 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water

Directions

brush over tops of loaves.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheaPlace 1 cup water, bread flour, sugar, salt and yeast into bread machine pan in the order recommended by manufacturer. Select Dough cycle, and press Start.

When the cycle has completed, place dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover, and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes, or until doubled in bulk. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.

Punch down dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 16×12 inch rectangle. Cut dough in half, creating two 8×12 inch rectangles. Roll up each half of dough tightly, beginning at 12 inch side, pounding out any air bubbles as you go. Roll gently back and forth to taper end. Place 3 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Make deep diagonal slashes across loaves every 2 inches, or make one lengthwise slash on each loaf. Cover, and let rise in a warm place for 30 to 40 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Mix egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water; Brush the dough, bake 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Much Thanks to Netgalley for this book.  All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for the review.

Sharing with:

Joy for British Isles Friday as the setting is England.
Heather at Based on a True Story for August Foodies Read
Booklover’s Aussie Author Challenge

 

Women of the Dunes by Sarah Maine

womenDunes

Libby Snow is a archaeologist’s assistant and lands the dig of her dreams. She’s always had a pull and desire to see the area in Scotland where her ancestor Ellen McDonald lived, a place called Ullaness near the Scottish seaside. There is myth, legend, murder, and secrecy about the area. Now Libby has a chance to search through the old ruins where her ancestor lived and the ancient monk’s cell where Ulla lived as well.

Ulla was an 8th century Norsewoman who arrived on Scottish shore with her wounded lover Harald. A monk tended to Harald, all the while disapproving of Ulla’s views on spirituality. Quite lively discussions there.  Her grandmother shared stories with Libby about Ellen and her obsession with Ulla & the myth surrounding her life and death.

The bones uncovered at first aren’t as ancient as expected.  They belong to a man from the 1900’s era.  So now we have a possible murder victim which complicates matters.  The police are brought in and the archaeological dig may be in jeopardy.

The main focus of the book is present time with Libby Snow and the Sturrock family, but we do drift into Ellen’s time and see her side of things back in the 1890’s. That’s quite an eye opener and solves a few mysteries for the reader, but alas, not for Libby Snow or the Sturrock family who own the land.  There are sporadic chapters for Ulla’s story and thus, the characters of Ellen, Libby and Ulla intertwine.

Told in dual time lines I found the book to be very engaging. The scenery descriptions are wonderful and make me want to visit Scotland. It’s been on the bucket list for many a year but to bring this beautiful scenery alive with such vivid description – perfect. There is a rustic house, an inheritance, a mystery and a sprinkle of romantic attraction here – what’s not to love.

This put me in mind of Mary Stewart novels and I very much enjoyed the book. I’d like to read more by Sarah Maines.

This was a foodie book for sure. An eclectic team of folks make up a catering business that doesn’t have a main part or focus in the book but the food is mentioned quite a bit.

To name a few: Fish and chips, lots of tea, scones
Quiche, smoked cheeses, smoked fish, jams and fancies, bread, pickles
Brown bread and smoked salmon and Sancerre
Casserole and apple pie, fishcakes & fresh peas

I wanted fish and chips so badly when I read this so, we improvised and used Panko with our fish strips. So. Good. I did have oven roasted potatoes one night but went with my favorite roasted sweet potato another evening.

Many thanks to NetGalley for sending me a copy of this book.  Opinions expressed here are mine, nice and not so nice, and I was not compensated for my review.

Linking up with
Joy’s Book Blog for British Isles Friday
Heather for her August Foodie Reads
Beth Fish’s Weekend Cooking Series
NetGalley

Past Tense by Lee Child

PastTenseI haven’t read all the Jack Reacher books yet but I can say I really enjoyed this one, despite not having read all of them in order. Big developments about Reacher’s past in this one.

It’s a slow simmer throughout the book with Reacher’s visit to Laconia New Hampshire, trying to find his father’s childhood home.  Naturally there are problems.  It’s as if Stan Reacher didn’t exist….at first.  There is a bit of genealogy involved when Reacher checks government offices for census info.  He’s trying to find his deceased  father’s home and I can say, if you are interested in a trail of family history, the census is the place to start.

Life is going along smoothly until he’s awakened at 3:01 a.m. and gets into an altercation.  Hey, it’s to save a lady from a thug so of course someone gets beat up.  He has to get into a few fights.  The first one starts up another spoke of the story about retaliation.  We revisit this a few times.

The other story line is about a young Canadian couple stranded near Laconia after their beat up Honda gave out. Patty Sundstrom and Shorty Fleck are broke.  They have a heavy fat suitcase with some treasure inside which they intend to sell when they reach NYC.  Then the plan is to head to Florida and open a windsurfing combo t-shirt business and live near the beach.

When they see a Motel sign they know they can coast the car in and spend the night, hoping to get a mechanic to look at their car then be on their way. Then the creepiness starts and this nice Canadian couple are in bad situation.  You like this couple so you do care what happens to them.  I really wanted to know what was in that heavy suitcase and it was revealed at the end.  Made me smile.

The separate stories eventually converge and then the fireworks begin. So much action all at once for the last quarter of the book.  I couldn’t put it down by this point.

There were a few loose ends, in my opinion, that I wish had been addressed.  If you haven’t read it then this may not make sense but it’s not a spoiler either. Why did the ornithologist want to speak to Reacher so badly?  What happened to the rough and tumble fruit pickers who wanted to continue a vendetta? The minor character Burke – he clearly had a mysterious past and I think it may have had some bearing on the story.

Much thanks to NetGalley for allowing me access to this book prior to publication.  I really enjoyed it and gobbled it down over a weekend.  I was not compensated for my review and all opinions, positive and negative, are my own.

Sharing with Joy for British isles Friday.

 

Friday on my Mind & Dark Saturday by Nicci French

FridayFrieda

Friday on my Mind: This is the fifth book in the Frieda Klein series. It starts with a bloated corpse floating down the Thames River. Once the police have pulled the body out of the water they check for identification but discover there is no wallet or cell phone. The fully clothed body of the man has a hospital band which reads Dr. F. Klein.

Frieda is now a suspect in a murder.

It’s complicated being Frieda’s friend.” Reuben made that statement as a group of her friends and supporters were gathering, trying to figure out where she was. Frieda is accused of murder in this book and we are introduced to a new cast of detectives from the Metropolitan Police Department. My favorite detective, Malcolm Karlsson, is still making appearances in this series. Also a shadowy sort of character named Levin sits in and observes on an investigation. Not sure where he will fit in, reminds you of a CIA characters i movies.

Frieda puts me in mind of a more polished, cooler version of Jessica Fletcher of the Murder She Wrote stories. There is always a murder connecting and threading itself into her life. It’s not a cozy mystery for sure. I was sad to read this one as I liked the character who departed.

Foodie stuff….

“She went to the shops and bought herself enough for the next few days; milk, bread and butter, some bags of salad and Sicilian tomatoes, salty blue cheese, smoked salmon, raspberries and a little carton of cream.

Once home, she had a long bath, then roamed through each room, making doubly sure everything was in its proper place. She ate smoked salmon on rye bread and drank a single glass of white wine.”

Dark Sat Dark Saturday: This one started off so slow I almost didn’t get going. But then…..glad I finished it. Perfect ending to bring you into the Sunday book (which I read first ).

Freida Klein owes someone a favor and it’s time to collect. This rather shadowy character named Levin (who may or may not be involved with the Metropolitan Police) helped her out once. He’s very mysterious. Anyway, in return he wants her to evaluate a mental patient. This patient, Hannah Docherty, was accused of murdering her family 10 years prior. She is now in an institution, old before her time and clearly is being abused.

When Frieda is called upon to give an assessment she comes to the conclusion that Hannah may well have been innocent. Naturally this stirs up a hornets nest with the Commissioner of the Met Police, a man who seems to have a serious and unreasonable dislike of Frieda. Now add some eerie events which may or may not involve Dean Reeve, a stalker the police believe is dead. It gets real in this book!

Food and drink

Josef was cooking some rich, meaty casserole and Reuben was smoking a cigarette and drinking red wine out of a vast goblet.

A conversation between Reuben and Frieda after he has been diagnosed with cancer:

You’d be irritatingly stoical, not me. No one is going to say he lost his brave fight against cancer, “said Reuben.
“You haven’t lost it yet, anyway.” is Frieda’s reply….
“They’re not going to say that because I’m not in a fucking battle. I’m the battleground. That’s what. You remember that. Dying isn’t a moral failure, it’s not a sign of weakness.”

“I agree.”

“Good. Wine?”

“Please.

I totally get Reuben here. Been there.

Another quote – this (to me) is a great description when the murderer’s identity is revealed and how the person reacts after some bluffing and bravado:

Frieda had seen dynamite demolish buildings from her consulting room window. After the explosion they would stand for a few moments, holding their shape, then their edges would lose solidity and all of a sudden the edifices would waver, then dissolve into a shower of bricks and mortar. Now XXX’s face lost it’s fixed expression of outrage; the body seemed to fold in on itself. XX was diminished.

I could just see that scene play out, it was tense.

So, food notes – not too many but I thought of an older recipe I haven’t made in years once I read about Josef’s meaty casserole. It’s called Julie’s Noodle Casserole. Check it out HERE.

Thank you to Goodreads for Dark Saturday.  I was a Goodreads winner!

Linking up with:

Heather at Spirit Blog for July Foodies Read

Joy for the British Isles Friday event

Beth Fish reads for the Weekend Cooking Series

 

The French Girl by Lexie Elliott

FrenchGirl

“We all have our secrets…

They were six university students from Oxford–friends and sometimes more than friends–spending an idyllic week together in a French farmhouse. It was supposed to be the perfect summer getaway…until they met Severine, the girl next door. “

I thought this was a good mystery – lots of people to suspect of killing 19 year old Severine. From the blurb above you’d think the story line was in present day France. Not so.

Ten years after the college get-together Severine’s body has been found in the bottom of a well. The last people to see the young woman alive are the six vacationing friends so they are once again drawn into the investigation. Everyone’s lives have changed so much in 10 years. Some relationships have fractured while others have deepened into a loyal friendship. There are some flashbacks but it’s basically lots of talking, remembering and suspicion about which one of the six killed Severine.

Tom, Seb, and Theo are good friends. It’s Theo’s father’s French country home where they gather and meet the mademoiselle next door. Kate was in a relationship with Seb, Lara is Kate’s best friend and Caro (Caroline) is friends with Theo, Tom and Seb. So, which of the six killed the French girl? Much is revealed about the characters and their relationships, fights, and basically lots of motive to go around.

I stare at Tom as Lara reseats herself and chatters on. He glances at me, but there’s nothing to read in his face. It was so smoothly done; I would never have guessed he was capable of such casual duplicity – once again he is the other Tom, but not Tom. I wonder, is anyone not who I thought? Maybe nobody ever really knows anyone.

Not too much food mentioned in this book:

Tom cooks “the world’s largest Spanish omelet”.

The conversation warms and expands again, slowly regaining volume after a moment of solemnity. More wine is called for and I eat chocolate profiteroles that I don’t really like because by now I’m drunk and will eat practically anything.

Girl’s night of ordering curry, drinking wine and watching a romcom.
Tom orders Kate vodka tonics on several occasions.

I’m all in for the vodka tonic and could do with a curry meal too but I plan to make that later this weekend.

tomic

I’m sharing with Joy’s Book Blog for British Isles Friday as this is is a Scottish author and the setting is London. Also with Heather at Spirit Blog for the June Foodies Read.

More about the author: Lexie Elliott