Recent Events

Sunday 31 October 2021

‘The Body in the Fjord’ by Katherine Hall Page

Published by Robert Hale,
31August 2010.
ISBN: 978-0-7090-9064-9

When Ursula Rowe receives news from her dearest friend Marit Hansen that her daughter Kari’s boyfriend Erik has been killed, she immediately makes tracks to set out for Norway. Hearing the news, Ursula’s daughter Pix Miller knows that she has to travel with  her mother.

When they arrive in Norway they learn that Erik had been killed whilst working with Kari for the tour group ‘Scandie Sights’.  So Pix and Ursula decide that the quickest way to investigate what happened is to get close to the people on the tour and so they do just that, they join the tour as two innocent American tourists.

Whilst we meet the many characters on the tour, and with Pix still feeling that she is a novice compared with her friend, that intrepid sleuth Faith Fairfield, the author does a marvellous job describing the breathtaking beauty of Norway.

As in my view, in all good mysteries past secrets play a big part and as Pix gradually uncovers these secrets, a fascinating tale is revealed.

A good mystery - set in a lovely setting. Recommended.

Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes

Katherine Hall Page is the author of twenty-one previous Faith Fairchild mysteries and a collection of short fiction, Small Plates. She has won multiple Agatha Awards and has been nominated for the Edgar, the Mary Higgins Clark, the Maine Literary, and the Macavity Awards. She lives in Massachusetts and Maine with her husband.

‘The Diviner’s Tale’ by Bradford Morrow

Published by Corvus,
1 January 2011.
ISBN: 978-1-84887-570-8

Cassandra Brooks is a water diviner. Dowsing the Henderson land for water she comes upon a young girl hanging from a tree.  Being in an isolated spot she has to go someway before she can inform the authorities of the girl’s death.  When the police reach the spot there is no sign of the girl.

Already regarded to be eccentric, but for her childhood friend Neil who is now the local Sheriff, Cassandra would most likely have been charged with wasting police time. But Neil instigates a search of the area and a young girl is found – mute, but fitting the description of the young girl Cassandra described.  But Cassandra knows that it is a different girl.

There is no doubt that this book is fey but gripping.  It is one of those books that sucks you in from the first page when we learn of the circumstances surrounding the death of Cassandra’s brother. Now a single mother of twins, and a school teacher although Cassandra tries hard to fit in by her water diving she is certainly different.  Following the death of her brother she and her father have drawn closer together not least because he is also a water diviner.

Whilst the powers that she possesses are left to the reader to determine. The truth behind the finding of the young girl is locked in Cassandra’s past. 

An interesting and compelling book. Recommended.

Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes

Bradford Morrow was born on 1951 in Baltimore, Maryland, Bradford Morrow grew up in Denver, Colorado, and has lived or worked in a variety of places. As a teenager, he traveled through rural Honduras as a member of the Amigos de las Americas program, serving as a medical volunteer in the summer of 1967. The following year he was awarded an American Field Service scholarship to finish his last year of high school as a foreign exchange student at a Liceo Scientifico in Cuneo, Italy. In 1973, he took time off from studying at the University of Colorado to live in Paris for a year. After doing graduate work at Yale University, he moved to Santa Barbara, California where he worked as a bookseller until relocating to New York City in 1981, where he founded the literary Journal Conjunctions and began writing novels.

‘Trick of the Dark’ by Val McDermid

Published by Little Brown,
2 September 2010.
ISBN: 978-1-4087-0201-7

Charlotte (Charlie) Flint, forensic psychiatrist is in turmoil, firstly she is currently suspended awaiting a hearing by the GMC which will decide whether she can be reinstated, and secondly because she is in love, normally a happy situation, but when you have a partner of seven years, whom you still love, not so good.

She receives through the post a bundle of photocopied sheets that refer to a murder at the Old Bailey, and against her better judgement, becomes interested in the murder of a 28-year-old woman, Magda Newsam, whose husband was murdered on their wedding night, by his two business partners.

The main POV’s of the story are related by Charlie Flint and Jay Stewart, the connection between these two characters being that both were undergraduates at St Scholastika’s College, Oxford and that Corinna Newsam, mother of Magda Newsam, was their tutor.

As Jay Stewart, a successful businesswoman currently writing her second memoir following the amazing success of the first, is now in a romantic relationship with Magna Newsam, Corinna suspects that the Jay may have had something to do with her son-in-law’s murder, and so she asks Charlie to look into the death.

Whilst the mystery is intriguing, and brilliantly plotted, for me the strength of the book lies in the relationships of the characters. And while in some respects they bare their souls, the reader is aware that much is held back, or in some cases could memory be faulty, or do we remember things as we want to remember them not how they were, and in many instances, we suppress the truth even to ourselves.   Different from much of her earlier work this is Val McDermid at her best.  Highly recommended.

Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes

Val McDermid grew up in Kirkcaldy on the East Coast of Scotland. Val was accepted at 17 to read English at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, one of the youngest undergraduates they’d ever taken on, and the first from a Scottish state school. She worked for fourteen years on national newspapers in Glasgow and Manchester, ending up as Northern Bureau Chief of a national Sunday tabloid. Her first book Report for Murder was published by The Women’s Press in 1987. She finally gave up the day job in April 1991, and has been making her living by writing ever since. She still reviews regularly for various national newspapers, and also writes occasional journalism and broadcast regularly on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio Scotland. Val divides her year between writing and promoting her work at home and abroad. ,

‘Port Mortuary’ by Patricia Cornwell

Published by Sphere,
28 April 2011.
ISBN: 978-0-7515-4392-6

It several years since I have read a Kay Scarpetta adventure. It appears that in the intervening period she has married Benton Wesley – a man who has been declared dead, been in witness protection and is now back with Kay. She is unsure if he is still with the FBI, but is certain that he is in contact, if not actually working for them.

Kay has spent six months as medical examiner at Port Mortuary, a military air base, where bodies are received from the battlefield, but is now returning to her headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her return is not as she had hoped. Things seem off-kilter to her. Jack Fielding, the man she left in charge, appears to have let standards slip alarmingly, and also seems to be unaccountably absent.

The unexpected death of a young scientist within a stone’s throw of her own home in Newton Woods has everyone jittery, for he had bled out whilst in the mortuary cooler – could he have been alive when he was put in there? The thought is horrifying.

Written in the first person, we follow Kay’s thoughts as she grapples not only with her unsatisfactory return, but also with secrets in her past and uncertainty about her own judgements. Most unsettling is the thought that Benton could be lying to her. Very cleverly written as her mind veers from one thought to another, sometimes bordering on the paranoid, but if memory serves me right that is very much Kay Scarpetta. Of course being with her niece Lucy could also have that effect – she is one scary lady.

This is a must for you lovers of forensic detail and Robotic technology.

Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes

Patricia Cornwell was born in 1956. She is the author of a series of crime novels featuring the forensic examiner Dr Kay Scarpetta are international bestsellers. She is also the author of two police procedurals and the biography of Ruth Graham. She divides her time between Virginia and New York.

‘The Fifth Witness’ by Michael Connelly

Published by Little Brown,
5 April 2011.
: ‎ 978-0-31606935-9 (HB)

Defence attorney Mickey Haller has latched onto the many people facing foreclosure on their homes following the economic downturn which has highlighted the number of unrealistic mortgages granted in the good times. One such person is Lisa Trammel who places the blame for her situation squarely on Mitchell Bondurant the CEO of the bank who holds her mortgage. In addition to retaining Mickey to fight her corner she has additionally taken to protesting outside the bank, which has resulted in a restraining order against her.

Mickey Haller has been operating from his Lincoln car, but when Mitchell Bondurant is found clubbed to death, and Lisa looks to be indicted for murder, Mickey ups his game.

The twists and turns of the case prior to trial are fascinating. Not only is Mickey endeavouring to build a case for the defence of his client but he is also fending off the sharks who are in a feeding frenzy off the media interest with possible film and book deals. Everyone wants a piece of the action.

Whilst Lisa stoutly declares her innocence it is interesting that her lawyer has doubts of it but sees an advantage in defending such a case and puts everything behind her defence, acquiring an office suite along the way.

The prosecuting council is a friend of his ex-wife, with whom he is still enamoured. Andrea is a shark in her own right. The court room drama is skilfully crafted as the defence and prosecution score points off each other, sometimes springing surprises and each using the judge in their game. The whole thing is masterly and keeps the reader entranced as they bat back and forth playing their hands. There are some marvellous twists along the way and a satisfyingly surprise ending. Highly recommended.

Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes

Michael Connelly was born in Philadelphia, PA on 21 July 1956. He moved to Florida with his family when he was 12 years old. Michael decided to become a writer after discovering the books of Raymond Chandler while attending the University of Florida. Once he decided on this direction, he chose a major in journalism and a minor in creative writing — a curriculum in which one of his teachers was novelist Harry Crews. After graduating in 1980, Connelly worked at newspapers in Daytona Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, primarily specializing in the crime beat. In Fort Lauderdale he wrote about police and crime during the height of the murder and violence wave that rolled over South Florida during the so-called cocaine wars. In 1986, he and two other reporters spent several months interviewing survivors of a major airline crash. They wrote a magazine story on the crash and the survivors which was later short-listed for the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. The magazine story also moved Connelly into the upper levels of journalism, landing him a job as a crime reporter for the Los Angeles Times, one of the largest papers in the country, and bringing him to the city of which his literary hero, Chandler, had written. After three years on the crime beat in L.A., Connelly began writing his first novel to feature LAPD Detective Hieronymus Bosch. The novel, The Black Echo based in part on a true crime that had occurred in Los Angeles, was published in 1992 and won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel by the Mystery Writers of America. Fifty million copies of Connelly’s books have sold worldwide, and he has been translated into thirty-nine foreign languages. Michael lives with his family in Florida.