Wednesday 29 July 2020

LAWRENCE BLOCK - TANNER'S VIRGIN (1968)


Synopsis/blurb.....

Presenting Evan Tanner - the first series character created by Lawrence Block, best-selling author of A Walk Among the Tombstones.

Ever since a shred of shrapnel did a number on his brain's sleep center, Even Tanner has been awake 24/7. This gives him more time than your average underachiever. Time to learn the world's languages (he's fluent in Basque, but has trouble with Chinese). Time to embrace the world's lost causes and irredentist movements (The Flat Earth Society, the League for the Restoration of Cilician Armenia, the Society of the Left Hand). Time to write term papers theses for students with more money than knowledge. And, most important, time to do his dreaming while he's wide awake. 

Phaedra Harrow, nee Deborah Horowitz, is an occasional companion of Tanner's, albeit a determined virgin. She goes off on a bargain-priced world tour - and Tanner later learns that the tour's a bargain for a reason: the London-based wanker-in-chief accepts only unattached female travelers, takes them halfway around the world to Afghanistan, and cheerfully sells them into white slavery. Next thing you know Tanner's on his way to pre-Taliban Kabul, where, you won't be surprised to learn, many interesting things happen. And that's just the beginning... 

Tanner's Virgin was originally published as Here Comes a Hero, the title supplied by some ninny at Fawcett. What were they thinking? Anyway, here it is, back again in all its glory...

Six down two to go and another Evan Tanner adventure enjoyed. This one back in late sixties Afghanistan, after a stop-off in London for some sleuthing on the trail of a young American virgin. After being sold into slavery, she's retained her youthfulness but not much more.

I wonder whether Block had some sort of crystal ball beside his typewriter back in the day, as we have a few pesky Russians plotting and poking there noses into the country about ten years ahead of schedule. Fair to say they don't actually vibe the legendary American spy, Evan Tanner's presence in their theatre of operations.

Dating, virginity, frustration, family worries, a London investigation, a violent death and on the run again, a boat trip, Russians, man overboard, France, Kabul, Russians again, a proposed revolution, slavery, a road trip, a few near misses, a rescue, a virgin turned nymphomaniac and a bit more besides.

Another fun outing. I do find it interesting that he knocked six of these Tanner books off in a remarkably short period of time, 1966-68 and they are all extremely entertaining and readable and prescient in respects of nationalism, ethnicity, identity, culture, borders, boundaries, tension, conflict, uprisings and a fluctuating political landscape. I kind of wonder what Tanner would make of a 2020 map of Europe, compared to 50 years ago.

4 from 5  


Previously enjoyed - The Thief Who Couldn't SleepThe Canceled CzechTanner's Twelve Swingers, The Scoreless Thai and Tanner's Tiger. Two more to go. (One now actually)


Read - (listened to) July, 2020
Published - 1968
Page count - 206 (5 hrs 14 mins)
Source - Audible purchase after down load code received from David, one of LB's assistants
Format - Audible

Monday 27 July 2020

MICHAEL Z. LEWIN - UNDERDOG (1993)


Synopsis/blurb......

Jan Moro is a small businessman. Very small. He dines behind restaurants and showers when he can. Jan Moro is in point of fact, homeless ... and on the run from Billy Cigar, a likely type who has made his mark murdering people in South America. How did Billy ever notice Moro? Why are the Indianapolis cops looking for Jan? It all started with a big man being mean to a small dog ... then Moro got one of his great ideas. Now he has become the world's first homeless P.I. and if he can't figure out what makes Billy Cigar burn and how to give the Law what they want ... he won't get out of this concrete jungle alive!

'... a hilarious tale' - Publishers Weekly

'... as witty as Robert B Parker' - Washington Post

A book which had high hopes for, but which disappointed me. I just couldn't get into it really until it was about half done, by which time I was kind of annoyed with it. It was just, stop start stop start and I couldn't get a feel for any real cadence or rhythm to the plot or story. Maybe it was me, maybe it was the book, but it dragged.

The focus is on Jan Moro, a man who views himself differently to how the world sees him. Moro is homeless and has grand ideas. A difficult childhood, a dead mother, a father in prison and he gets by as best he can. He has schemes and dreams; some friends and a hundred stash points for his possessions all around the town. Never too far away from whenever they might be needed, depending on the season on the streets. He eats from the back of restaurants, but he always tries to keep himself clean and presentable.

Moro stumbles on a shady operation at a deserted warehouse....... dogs - breeding or fighting, or breeding to fight, he doesn't know but he manages to interest the cops and get acquainted with nightclub owner and hoodlum Billy Cigar. There's a chance to earn some steady cash, but not without risk to his digits, or worse. The cops want to bring Billy down, Billy wants to save the dogs to keep his wife happy and have Moro take out the guy running the operation and Moro's piggy in the middle.

The second half went better than the first, probably after my wife duct taped me to the chair and removed the distraction of the laptop, and it was okay. It kind of livened up a bit and Moro eventually shows some teeth.

I quite liked the supporting character of Pete and how his relationship with Moro changed over time. Pete revealing himself to not be who we think he is. I liked the care Moro had for his absent friend Rosie and .... and that's about it. Give me a Robert B. Parker book any day.

Would have been a bang average read, if the author hadn't insisted on inserting a joke every few pages in the guise of a story or anecdote which was inveigled into the conversations of people. More of them missed than hit, though I did have the odd wry smile.

2.5 from 5

I have something else by Lewin on the pile, one I'm not obviously rushing straight towards, but I hope to read it one day and enjoy it a bit better than this.

Read - July, 2020
Published - 1993
Page count - 256
Source - purchased copy
Format - paperback

Sunday 26 July 2020

LAWRENCE BLOCK - SPEAKING OF LUST (2001)


Synopsis/blurb.....

Four old friends; a policeman, a soldier, a doctor and a priest, play cards and trade stories about sex. Mystery Writers' Grand Master Lawrence Block is the first American writer in this acclaimed series of novellas. The Daily Telegraph recently proclaimed him one of the fifty greatest crime writers of all time. Find out why in this spicy brew of lust, deception, double crosses, perversion, sexual violence and forbidden desire.

A pocket-sized paperback and a one sitting read from Lawrence Block with some fireside tales of lust, accompanied by flatulence!

A priest recounts a tale of a married couple.
A policeman recalls the fate of his jealous partner.
A soldier talks of a military man who got his thrills through taking life.
A doctor talks of a rapist and his victim.

Interesting tales, all of them each with a twist...... sex, revenge, infidelity, incest, arson, war, siblings, prison, camping, death and a helluva lot more, all laced with a splash of humour and a sprinkling of excitement.

A cracking little book.

4,5 from 5

Read - June, 2020
Published - 2001
Page count - 120
Source - owned copy
Format - paperback


AMY METZ - MURDER & MAYHEM IN GOOSE PIMPLE JUNCTION (2012)


Synopsis/blurb....

When Tess Tremaine starts a new life in the colorful town of Goose Pimple Junction, curiosity leads her to look into a seventy-five-year-old murder. Suddenly she’s learning the foreign language of southern speak, resisting her attraction to local celebrity Jackson Wright, and dealing with more mayhem than she can handle.

A bank robbery, murder, and family tragedy from the 1930s are pieces of the mystery that Tess attempts to solve. As she gets close to the truth, she encounters danger, mystery, a lot of southern charm, and a new temptation for which she’s not sure she’s ready. 

A bit of a departure from my usual reading fare and one undertaken to plug a gap in a reading challenge over on Goodreads. I needed a book authored by an Amy and this one was accessible on Audible with a download code.

It's a cosy mystery firmly set in the deep south and Goose Pimple Junction, Tennessee. Tess Tremaine relocates to the small town, after her recent divorce and soon acquires some unwanted attention of the romantic type from the local celebrity author and more worryingly a stalker type threat which escalates.... from poison notes, to a broken window, to a mugging and purse snatch and much worse before the end of the book. Why is someone hassling Tess?

The answer lies in an old town mystery of murder and robbery, of history and secrets with reputations at risk if events of the past get re-examined and resolved. As Tess digs into the town's skeletons, the narrative flip flops between the thirties and present day.

I think I struggled with the rationale that the sins of a long dead predecessor would adversely affect people's opinions and attitudes in the present day. Maybe I don't quite vibe some small town mentalities.

It wasn't the worst book I've ever encountered. Tess, herself is likable, as is her suitor, Jackson. They work closely together to solve the mystery while becoming ever closer romantically. There is a profusion of small town eccentrics and southern sayings and its a bit quirky.

I wasn't ever thrilled or excited by the book, but I was interested enough in seeing who did what and why, even though I wasn't overly convinced by their motives.

An okay listen, but not a series I'd consider continuing.

3 from 5

Read - (listened to) July, 2020
Published - 2012
Page count - 253 (11 hrs 7 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible

Saturday 25 July 2020

SCOTCH RUTHERFORD (ed.) - SWITCHBLADE #1 (2017)


Synopsis/blurb....

Cutting edge suspense under extreme tension. 
Quick & dirty flash fiction and sharp & deadly crime fiction at your fingertips; featuring a motley crew of 13 usual suspects, and new blood. 
This is it: the first cut of Switchblade. 
No-limit crime culture springs to life at the hands of Paul D. Brazill, Preston Lang, Liam Sweeny, Steve Liskow, Jim Wilsky, Larry Kelter, William Dylan Powell, Susan Cornford, Travis Richardson, Jack Bates, Tom Leins, Fred Zackel, and Scotch Rutherford.

A decent collection of short and longer stories curated by Scotch Rutherford, including some favourite authors - Preston Lang, Tom Leins and Paul D. Brazill, as well as stories from other names I'm familiar with and who have a presence in my library, but who I haven't read much from yet.

Contents
Message from the editor
FLASH
Paul D. Brazill - Getting Away With It
Jim J. Wilsky - Gut Wrenching
Fred Zachel - Re-Election
Scotch Rutherford - Primed
Susan Cornford - Urban Legend #223
FICTION
Tom Leins - The Stooge
Liam Sweeny - Rats
Steve Liskow - That's Alright Mama
Lawrence Kelter - Taste For Danger
William Dylan Powell - The Apex Predator
Preston Lang - North Creek Brown
Travis Richardson - Stranger in a Bar
Jack Bates - Killing Time so I Can Dig Myself a Deeper Grave
AUTHOR BIOS and ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I enjoyed most of the stories, though surprisingly the one which disappointed me was one which I was looking forward to the most - Preston Lang. I just didn't vibe it.

I really liked.....

Liam Sweeny's Rats..... an act of duty carried out in the memory of a friendship.

Powell's The Apex Predator... a police diver, a discovery and a life-changing event, and luck running out.

Kelter's Taste For Danger .... a boat trip and some bloody revenge

Liskow - That's Alright Mama.... guitar lessons with a difference

Susan Cornford's flash piece Urban Legend #223 ... the shortest piece in the book, but one of the biggest kickers.

Not that my reading is especially gender balanced, but in reading future editions of the magazine/book I'd like to see a few more female contributors. (Or is that political correctness?)


4 from 5

Switchblade: Stiletto Heeled (ed. Lisa Douglass) - funny enough a female only edition has been enjoyed before.

Read - June, 2020
Published - 2017
Page count - 112
Source - purchased copy
Format - paperback

Friday 24 July 2020

WES MARKIN - THE SILENCE OF SEVERANCE (2019)


Synopsis/blurb....

Your wedding day should be the most unforgettable day of your life. And this is one wedding that will never be forgotten.

When a police officer’s wedding day ends in brutality and chaos, DCI Michael Yorke is pulled away from his own wedding and into the bloodiest chain of events Wiltshire has ever seen.

As a heatwave tightens its grip on Salisbury, Yorke and his team face a race against time to find the most sinister and intelligent adversary they have ever faced. Christian Severance. But as the team chase Severance into the shadows of a dark past, Yorke’s own history starts to drag itself into the present. 

Can they stop Christian Severance before he achieves the unthinkable? And will Yorke survive the revelations that claw at him from the darkness?

Four and out for me I'm afraid. I just can't be bothered with this type of stuff..... madness, murder, mutilation, mayhem = boredom, balderdash, bollocks (total) and brain turning to mush.

Plusses - ok the writing's not bad, there's an over-riding story arc concerning the main detective Michael Yorke, someone I feel like I've gotten to know a bit better over the course of a few books. I don't dislike him, I don't especially like him - indifference at best I suppose. He's a decent copper, he leads his team well, he inspires loyalty, most of the time and he gets results.

Pace is ok, the tension ramps up and there's an increasing urgency towards the climax of the book.

Minuses.... I really can't be arsed with serial killers. I don't doubt they exist but I'm unconvinced that they have all somehow gravitated to Salisbury in Wiltshire. I'd far rather read about an accidental murder, a by-product of a mugging gone wrong or a botched robbery or a love triangle.... anything but the cunning plan where murder follows murder, follows pointless murder, and all because little Johnny wet the bed and used to get locked in a cupboard as a boy, after doing so. Not here actually, but you get my drift.

Wes Markin has his fans and good luck to him and them. May they be very happy together, but deal me out.

Not the worst book ever, just one that bored me silly and which I couldn't wait to end. I had it on Audible so it did kind of help the work day go a bit quicker. And there's a bit of me that perversely needed to hear where it was all going to end up, the further the novel descended into farce and grotesque. I don't know if there's a yardstick for these types of books where if five people got murdered in the last one, the book might be twice as thrilling if you have ten die this time around? I didn't keep score though.

A Lesson in Crime, One Last Prayer For the Rays, The Repenting Serpent have all been previously enjoyed or endured - take your pick.

Read - (listened to) July, 2020
Published - 2019
Page count - 314 (7 hrs 35 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Source - Audible
 

Thursday 23 July 2020

DAVID CRAIG (aka BILL JAMES) - THE SQUEEZE (1974)


Synopsis/blurb...

'Listen Forman, if you don't go through with it ... no police, no switches of van ... I reckon I'll kill you'

When security tycoon Robert Forman's daughter and mistress are kidnapped, it's the first move in a big robbery that needs every angle covered.

The kidnappers want co-operation instead of cash.

The snag is Jim 'Bottle' Naboth - a policeman who found booze the fastest way out of the force - because Forman's mistress is Naboth's wife ...

On his own and dying for a drink, 'Bottle' Naboth's making his come-back - the hardest way there is...

A bit of 70s Brit Grit crime fiction from celebrated Harpur and Iles series author, Bill James, albeit one that was put out pseudonymously. In all James has had nearly 20 novels published as David Craig.  The Squeeze was not the original title of the book. It was first published as Whose Little Girl Are You? Warner Brothers turned it into a film, released in 1977 starring Stacy Keach, David Hemmings and Freddie Starr. I have a copy of the DVD which I tracked down, but haven't watched it yet.

Like a lot of books from the time, it's short and to the point while still offering enough in the way of character development. The main focus is Jim Naboth, an ex-cop with a drinking problem and two young boys to look after. His wife Jill has deserted him. You kind of wonder about what woman would desert her binge-drinking husband and leave the two kids behind, but actually there's method in her madness. Her rationale - take the boys, he drinks himself to death. Leave the boys, he doesn't. He gets his head out of his jacksie and puts the bottle away, or at least turns to it less often.

Naboth does exactly that and rediscovers a sense of purpose ..... foil the kidnappers, save the wife and rescue his love rival's daughter, Christine at the same time.

I enjoyed it without being blown away. Decent story, interesting characters and motivations. I liked the uneasy alliance which developed between Naboth and Forman, as Naboth manages to assert himself a bit more forcibly as the book progresses. I liked the chemistry between Jill and her boyfriend's daughter, something which develops during their captivity.

I liked the idea that the kidnap itself wasn't for money, but as a means of exerting pressure on Forman to allow his security firm's vans to be robbed. It's a bit of a twist on the banker's family held hostage at home trope, while the banker empties the vault for the bad guys.`

Decent action, decent resolution - glad to have finally read it after sitting it on the TBR pile for a fair few years.

4 from 5

Read - June, 2020
Published - 1974
Page count - 144
Source - owned copy
Format - paperback

*I also have a copy of the book published under it's original title

Tuesday 21 July 2020

ANDERSEN PRUNTY - THE DRIVER'S GUIDE TO HITTING PEDESTRIANS (2011)


Synopsis/blurb....

A pocket guide to the twenty-three most painful things in life, written by the most well-adjusted man in the universe.

Does it make you sad to be alive?

Boo-hoo. You're living all wrong.
My name is Andersen Prunty. I'm happiest while napping. I am a man with tennis shoes. They get older every time I put them on. This is how I deal with the pain of being alive. Now is our chance to deal with our pain together. You'll thank me later.
Lover and euphoria,
Andersen :)

A new-to-me author and a bit of a departure from my usual reading with Andersen Prunty's short story collection comprised of mainly short flash fiction pieces. The common theme judging by the contents page is pain.

Contents
The Driver’s Guide to Hitting Pedestrians Pain: Pedestrians
The Laughing Crusade Pain: Laughter
Architecture Pain: Work
Chainsaw Mouth Pain: Teeth Napper
Pain: Consciousness
Princess Electricity Pain: Light
The Balloonman’s Secret Pain: Longing
Reading Manko Pain: Authors
Alone in a Room Thinking About All the People Who Have Died Pain: Death
The Tailors Pain: Pants
The Champion of Needham Avenue Pain: Winning
Teething Pain: Rebellion
Toss Pain: School
Where I Go to Die Pain: Fate
The Ohio Grass Monster Pain: Friends
The Cover-up Pain: Fathers
Lost Pain: Mustaches
Dog in Orbit Pain: Relationships
Two Children Who Want to Drive Off a Cliff Pain: Childhood
Rivalry Pain: Neighbors
A 3-Legged Dog Dying of Cancer Pain: Pets
Divorce Pain: Separation
The Melancholy Room Pain: God

Best story for me was the title piece, The Driver's Guide to Hitting Pedestrians where a competition exists for drivers to do win points for doing exactly that. Kill them and you lose points, oh and every time you score you have to take the victim to the hospital. A big money prize awaits the winner. Simultaneously there is a pedestrian competition with a prize for obviously not getting hit.

I quite liked some of the others, insofar as they display a great imagination and fascinating ideas, obviously the product of a creative and possibly diseased mind....... a moustache that disappears during oral sex and is next spotted in a porno when his ex-partner appears on screen copulating; a man who's teeth up sticks and depart his mouth, returning later, each with a partner; a girl who stands on a rooftop generating electricity for a town. I can't say I understood the point of them all or that they made any great sense but. I can't say I was bored by the collection either.

The best bizarro/speculative fiction I've ever read. Actually the only bizarro/speculative fiction collection I've ever read. Passed the time, kept me entertained and brought a smile to my face occasionally.

3 from 5

Read - (listened to) July, 2020
Published - 2011
Page count - 108 (2 hrs 23 mins)
Source - Audible purchase
Format - Audible

LAWRENCE BLOCK - TANNER'S TIGER (1968)


Synopsis/blurb....

UH-OH CANADA!

The Cold War's boiling over. Global tensions are near the breaking point. So what's the perfect assignment for a super-spy who hasn't slept since the Korean conflict? A fun-filled trip to the Montreal World's Fair!

The adorable girl he's escorting - who, under different circumstances, would be sitting on the Lithuanian throne - can hardly contain her excitement, but it isn't all playtime for Evan Tanner. Some mysterious disappearances, apparently linked to the fair's Cuban exhibition, need to be looked into.

Keeping his mind on business, however won't be easy after an insatiable lovely in a tiger skin falls into Tanner's arms, and a mother lode of dangerous drugs falls into his lap. But the biggest, deadliest surprise is the terrorist plot Tanner's tumbling into, and he'll have to think and act quickly to prevent the visiting queen of England from being blown to smithereens.

The fifth in the Evan Tanner series of adventures and the first one I've read in print after enjoying the earlier books in audible format.

Hmm... an okay read but if I'm honest my least favourite of the series thus far. I don't think the Cuban disappearances element of the plot really grabbed hold of me. There's the usual madcap antics and close scrapes and humour and sex and danger that I've come to expect and in that respect Block delivered. He always does, but it wasn't one to rave over.

I enjoyed the sneaking into Canada, after being turned back at the airport initially. I liked the Quebecois separatist angle and the plot to assassinate Elizabeth II, one Tanner has to foil while still appearing sympathetic towards the goals of the movement. As always, even when he's being flippant Block imparts a bit of knowledge about the political situation in the locale at the time of the book's setting. Canadian history isn't my strong point, so I'm tempted to find out a bit more about Quebec and the movement that sought to achieve a separation from Canada.

Oh, and along the way his sort-of daughter gets kidnapped and he has to try and rescue her while being temporarily Canada's most wanted man.

3 from 5

Previously enjoyed - The Thief Who Couldn't SleepThe Canceled CzechTanner's Twelve Swingers and The Scoreless Thai. Three more to go.

Read - June, 2020
Published - 1968
Page count - 256
Source - owned copy
Format - paperback

Sunday 19 July 2020

JUNE 2020 - FILMS + TV (HOME VIEWING)

A bit of a comedown in June after May's TV binge-fest...... two TV series with an episode or two watched and one film.

I think I kind of tuned out as the complete series of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter were worked through by the family. Head in book time!

Bad Samaritan (2018) - Film - DVD

Not a bad return on the 50p I invested in the DVD from CEX. We all quite liked it. David Tennant does manic and deranged quite well. Very tense throughout.

From Google....

A young valet breaks into a man's home and discovers a terrified woman who's chained and gagged. After notifying the police, he soon becomes the target of the psychopath's wrath as he tries to rescue the victim that he left behind.



Accused Series 1 - Helen's Story (2010) - BBC Drama - DVD Boxset

Like Cracker, Accused is another Jimmy McGovern series, one I don't think I caught many of first time around. A beareaving mother seeks justice for the death of her son and ends up in the dock herself. Juliet Stevenson and Peter Capaldi star as the married couple handling their grief in very different ways. I do like the one hour and its over drama.

From BBC Blogs....

Helen's Story is part of Jimmy McGovern's series the Accused, each episode stands alone and starts with a character in the dock, the ensuing hour tells how they got there. ... Helen's Story is the journey of a bereaved woman who is repeatedly let down by the law.


Cracker - One Day a Lemming Will Fly (1993) - ITV Drama - DVD Boxset

Another difficult watch, as much for the ugliness of Fitz's addiction and the effect it has on his family as for the investigation in the disappearance initially of a missing schoolboy turns to a murder enquiry. Great acting as always.

From Google....

Fitz continues his uneasy relationship with the Manchester constabulary when the crime fighters are called in to find a missing boy, extra pressure is piled on when an angry mob gathers at the police station demanding action and DCI Bilborough awaits the imminent birth of his child.



Cracker - To Say I Love You (1993) - ITV Drama - DVD Boxset

More of the same..... marital woes, arrogance, a lack of humility, and a killing couple to try and best.

From Google.....

Problems between criminal psychologist Fitz and his wife Judith continue after Fitz is arrested outside his in-laws' house and taken to the station. There he meets Sean and his partner Tina, car thieves who embark upon a spree of violence.

MAY 2020 - FILMS + TV (HOME VIEWING)

A decent month's home viewing even if every film watched wasn't quite a hit......

Dangerous Lies (2020) - Film

An okay thriller. Nothing memorable though. It didn't stay in the memory banks long as a month or two on I couldn't remember what it was about.

From Google.....

A caregiver is drawn into a web of lies and murder after a wealthy elderly man dies and leaves his estate to her.



The Extraction (2020) - Film

A bit more enjoyable than the first film of the month. One I could happily watch again. I quite liked the main lead - Chris Hemsworth and it also features David Harbour who I enjoy seeing in Stranger Things.

From Google...

A black-market mercenary who has nothing to lose is hired to rescue the kidnapped son of an imprisoned international crime lord. But in the murky underworld of weapons dealers and drug traffickers, an already deadly mission approaches the impossible.



Ocean's 8 (2018) - Film
I like robberies, heists and cons in books and also on film. Strong, feisty women in action - I've three of them at home - what's not to like? I do enjoy seeing Sarah Paulson and Sandra Bullock doing their thing. The rest of the cast were pretty good also, but these two were my favourites.

From Google...

Debbie Ocean is released from jail after serving a prison sentence. She assembles a special crew of seven women to steal a diamond necklace, worth 150 million dollars, from the Met Gala.

Prime Suspect 7 (2006) - ITV Drama - DVD Boxset
Curtain down on this gripping series and Jane Tennison - the amazing Helen Mirren - rides off into the sunset to either drink herself into oblivion or stay on the wagon, while trying to find something to fill the massive gaping void in her life, now the career is over. Not sure what my money would be on TBH.

A brilliant series from start to finish. Good for a re-watch in another 10 year's time.


From Wikipedia......

Series 7 (2006)

"The Final Act: Part 1"

While dealing with her alcoholism and the death of her father, Tennison decides to solve one last case - the disappearance of Tony and Ruth Sturdy's 14-year-old daughter, Sallie - before finally retiring from the force. When the disappearance becomes a murder investigation, Tennison is forced to confront her own demons.

"The Final Act: Part 2"

Curtis Flynn flees the scene of his brutal encounter with Tennison. As the end draws near, the truth surrounding the death of Sallie finally emerges, and the hunt for the killer ends in a shattering confrontation.



Cracker - The Mad Woman in the Attic (1993) - ITV Drama - DVD Boxset

As one iconic TV crime drama finishes, another one begins. A Jimmy McGovern creation which automatically makes me feel it's gonna be good. I've seen a lot of these before, but hey I could enjoy watching them again and there's bound to be some I missed.

Robbie Coltrane, Christopher Ecclestone, Geraldine Somerville, Lorcan Cranitch, Adrian Dunbar ..... all very, very good. Hard to watch Robbie Coltrane as a car crash in motion with the drinking and gambling.

From Google.....

The second of two beautiful women is murdered on a train, and the primary suspect is an amnesiac man. A psychologist, Dr. Eddie "Fitz" Fitzgerald, an old friend of the second victim, is brought in to help.



Time Trap (2017) - Film

Not the worst film I've ever seen and I did like elements of the story and some of the characters, but to be truthful, it was a bit crap and the ending was a stretch too far.

From Wikipedia.....

Time Trap is a 2017 American science fiction action adventure film directed by Ben Foster and Mark Dennis. Starring Brianne Howey, Cassidy Gifford, Olivia Draguicevich, Reiley McClendon and Andrew Wilson, it tells the story of group of students in a remote area of Texas searching for their missing professor. They then discover a mysterious cave by accident. While exploring the cave, the group experience a series of bizarre and dangerous events related to time and space distortion.




Into the Night (2020) - Netflix Drama series

All six episodes watched over a couple of nights and I quite liked this one. At the beginning you're struggling to know what is going on and rather than finding that frustrating I liked trying to second guess what was happening. I quite like the way the series unfolds and you are forced to continually re-evaluate what you think about each character as you get bits of their back stories and you witness their behaviour and actions in the midst of the drama. I pretty much flip-flopped from .... You're a dick .... to .... I like you..... several times for pretty much all of the cast throughout the six episodes.

I'll definitely tune in to a promised second series.

From Wikipedia.....

Into the Night is a Belgian apocalyptic sci-fi drama thriller web television series created by Jason George, inspired by the 2015 Polish science fiction novel The Old Axolotl by Jacek Dukaj. The series premiered on Netflix on May 1, 2020. It is Netflix's first Belgian original series. On July 1, 2020, the series was renewed by Netflix for a second season.

Premise
The series follows a group of people who are hijacked while on board a red-eye flight from Brussels. Terenzio (Stefano Cassetti), the hijacker, was an Italian NATO soldier. He forces his way onto the commercial aircraft and demands an early take-off. The handful of people in the aircraft becomes some of the survivors from a deadly global event that results from exposure to sunlight. The plane heads west in an attempt to survive this catastrophe that kills all living organisms during daylight hours. The group - led by Mathieu (Laurent Capelluto), the pilot, and Sylvie (Pauline Etienne), a passenger - must work together to keep the sun behind them. The group must deal with fuel shortage, irradiated food, hidden agenda, and other problems in their race to reach an underground military bunker.



Justine (2019) - Film

A thought-provoking film about a care-giver for a child with a disability. Who knows what is best for the child? The parents - always? Is an outsider view welcome, refreshing, helpful? What if she forges a closer bond to the girl than you have? What if the family are racist and you were married to a black man and have a mixed-race child?

Tension, conflict, love, bereavement, trying to move on and heal.

From Netflix.....

A widowed, single mom takes a job caring for a young girl with spina bifida, and the two discover they have more in common than they realized.




Dragged Across Concrete (2018) - Film

I've been wanting to watch this one for a while now and eventually tracked down a DVD. I have enjoyed films with both Vince Vaughn and Mel Gibson before and was happy to watch them on screen together, even though I don't think I particularly like what I see of them as reported in the media. That said who knows if even half of what you read is true? Gibson's allegedly voiced a lot of anti-semetic opinions and Vaughn's a Trump supporter.

I enjoyed the film, it's gripping and dark, but if I'm honest I would have enjoyed it more if it had been about a half an hour shorter. It just seemed a bit slow and draggy in places.

I've a few books from the director - S. Craig Zahler on my TBR pile which I'm looking forward to reading at some point.


From Wikipedia........

Dragged Across Concrete is a 2018 American neo-noir action thriller film written and directed by S. Craig Zahler. The film features an ensemble cast including Mel Gibson, Vince Vaughn, Tory Kittles, Michael Jai White, Jennifer Carpenter, Laurie Holden, Fred Melamed, Udo Kier, Thomas Kretschmann, and Don Johnson. It premiered at the 75th Venice International Film Festival on September 3, 2018, and received a limited theatrical and video-on-demand simultaneous release from Summit Entertainment on March 22, 2019.

WARNING - SPOILERS BELOW - DO NOT READ IF YOU WANT TO WATCH THE FILM!!!!!!

Plot
In the city of Bulwark, recent parolee Henry returns home, interrupting his mother with a customer. Chastising her for turning to prostitution, Henry reunites with his younger brother Ethan.

Three weeks later, police detectives Brett Ridgeman and Anthony Lurasetti raid the home of Vasquez, a known drug dealer. Ridgeman is unnecessarily rough with the suspect, and coerces Vasquez's girlfriend into revealing a duffel bag of money and narcotics. The bust is a success, but the detectives are called before their superior, Chief Lt. Calvert. Explaining that a video of Ridgeman subduing Vasquez has been released to the media, Calvert is forced to suspend both detectives for six weeks without pay.

Ridgeman's daughter Sara is continually harassed, and his wife Melanie, a former cop with multiple sclerosis, pleads with him to move them to a safer neighborhood. Lurasetti is similarly desperate for money, with plans to propose to his girlfriend Denise. On a tip from Friedrich, a wealthy businessman with criminal connections, Ridgeman recruits Lurasetti to help him surveil and rob the mysterious Lorentz Vogelmann. Having bought an engagement ring, Lurasetti stalls in proposing to Denise, unsure if he can continue with Ridgeman's plan.

Henry and his childhood friend Biscuit are hired by Vogelmann, whose masked associates – one wearing black gloves, one with grey – have committed a series of robberies to buy a customized bulletproof van with airless tires. Bank employee Kelly Summer struggles to leave her newborn son, but returns to work for the first time after her maternity leave. Vogelmann, Black Gloves, and Grey Gloves take the bank hostage, with Biscuit and Henry disguised as security guards in the van. Using methodical, tape-recorded instructions, Vogelmann demands the bank's supply of gold bullion. Kelly, fearing for her life, tries to prevent a colleague from notifying the police, and is executed.

Tailing the van, Ridgeman and Lurasetti realize Vogelmann is robbing the bank. The thieves escape with the bullion and a hostage, Cheryl, having castrated the bank manager. Unsettled by Vogelmann and his henchmen's brutality, Biscuit and Henry are forced to surrender their weapons. Realizing they may be killed, Henry distracts Biscuit with memories of their childhood, and chooses not to reveal they are being followed by the detectives.

Lurasetti learns five people were killed in the robbery and the thieves have taken a hostage. He berates Ridgeman for not intervening sooner or notifying the authorities, but Ridgeman asserts that law enforcement would be too late, and only the two of them can deal with the thieves. Lurasetti leaves Denise a voicemail, leading her to the engagement ring.

Arriving at a garage in the countryside, Biscuit leaps out of the van and is shot, as Henry wounds Grey Gloves with a hidden gun. Mortally wounded, Biscuit swallows the van's key; imploring Henry to take care of his mother, he is shot dead. Ridgeman and Lurasetti arrive, donning body armor and ballistic masks. Cheryl is sent to pull Biscuit's body into the van, while Lusaretti, an Army marksman, is unable to disable the van with his sniper rifle. Black Gloves cuts the key out of Biscuit's stomach, but Ridgeman rams the van, knocking it over.

Threatened by Vogelmann, the half-naked Cheryl crawls to the detectives and shoots Lurasetti, and is shot dead by Ridgeman, who kills Black Gloves as he exits the van. Lurasetti listens to a voicemail from Denise declining his proposal, and dies. Ridgeman fills the van with tear gas, and kills Gray Gloves as he surrenders. He is ambushed by Henry, who has recorded the entire incident on his cellphone, and kills Vogelmann. Disarming Henry, Ridgeman proposes they split the score, and together they load the bodies and the bullion in the getaway car.

Towing Lurasetti's car from the scene, Henry finds another hidden gun. Ridgeman holds Henry at gunpoint, demanding he erase the cellphone video, and Henry shoots him. After promising the dying Ridgeman that his family will be taken care of, Henry buries all the bodies.

Eleven months later, Henry lives in a lavish mansion with his mother and brother. He sends Melanie and Sara a package, addressed to them from Ridgeman, containing a share of the gold bullion.




Van Der Valk (2020) - ITV Drama series

A few Facebook friends didn't like this and felt it should never have been made or maybe if it had it ought to have been called something else. Me? I loved it.

I can dimly recall the original TV drama from the 70s with Barry Powell and I have read one of the books by Nicolas Freeling back in 2013 - The King of the Rainy Country without feeling the urge to read anything more.

3 episodes - not too long - a plus
Amsterdam setting - my son lives there - a plus
Cop drama - a plus
Marc Warren starring - a plus

From IMDB.....

A Dutch detective takes on criminal cases in Amsterdam using insightful human observation and his natural street smarts.



The Platform (2019) - Film
A Spanish film which reminded me a bit of High-Rise. I didn't like that one too much either. A bit pointless really, maybe there's some deeper meaning attached to it which I'm obviously too stupid to cotton to. The rich and the poor, the haves and the have nots, the contempt those at the top feel for those beneath them, the aspirations of some of those at the bottom to climb up and better themselves. A bit depressing really.


From Google....

In the future, prisoners housed in vertical cells watch as inmates in the upper cells are fed while those below starve.


The Wrong Missy (2020) - Film

A quirky rom-com..... love, romance, embarassment, feelings and beauty only being skin-deep. I quite liked it .... a few laughs were had and the family was entertained.

From Wikipedia....

The Wrong Missy is a 2020 American romantic comedy film directed by Tyler Spindel, with a screenplay by Chris Pappas and Kevin Barnett. It stars David Spade and Lauren Lapkus, and was released on Netflix on May 13, 2020.


The Cobbler (2014) - Film
I usually enjoy Adam Sandler's films, but they can be a bit hit or miss and he might be the definition of Marmite - you either love him or loathe him. This one was a bit of a miss for me TBH. Dustin Hoffman and Steve Buscemi feature. I do like both, especially Buscemi who I haven't seen in anything for a while.

From Google...

A frustrated shoemaker (Adam Sandler) finds a magical sewing machine that allows him to see the world in a new way by stepping into the lives of his customers.


A Streetcar Named Desire (1947) - Tennessee Williams Play - National Theatre You Tube Channel (2014) 
Not a play I was familiar with before watching this performanace. Yeah I have heard of it and its author, but it wasn't something I read, or studied or even seen one of the film adaptations.

Powerful performances, especially from Gillian Anderson and Ben Foster. If I have a criticism, it would be trite and insignificant. I have trouble sitting still for so long - 2 hrs 39 mins with a small interval. At least I could hit the pause button.

From National Theatre website.....

I don’t want realism. I want magic!

Gillian Anderson (All About Eve, The X-Files, The Fall, Sex Education) plays Blanche DuBois with Ben Foster (Lone Survivor, Kill Your Darlings) as Stanley and Vanessa Kirby (Julie, The Crown, Mission Impossible) as Stella.

As Blanche’s fragile world crumbles, she turns to her sister Stella for solace – but her downward spiral brings her face to face with the brutal, unforgiving Stanley Kowalski. 

This critically acclaimed production was filmed live on stage at the Young Vic in 2014 by National Theatre Live. 

BBFC rating 15 when released in cinema. Contains scenes featuring sexual violence and domestic abuse.


The Leisure Seeker (2017) - Film DVD

A second viewing after catching the film on its release a couple of years ago. I absolutely loved the book of the same name by Michael Zadoorian when I read it a fair few years ago.

Old age, cancer, dementia, dying, a road trip, family, love, memories, history, secrets, forgiveness and death, with a few laughs and giggles along the way.

Great acting and chemistry between Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland. Powerful, but I'd be forced to pick the book over the film. I think the book is warmer, deeper and definitely more emotional.

From Wikipedia

The Leisure Seeker is a 2017 comedy-drama film directed by Paolo Virzì, in his first full English-language feature. The film is based on the 2009 novel of the same name by Michael Zadoorian. It stars Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland, acting together for the first time since the 1990 film Bethune: The Making of a Hero. It was screened in the main competition section of the 74th Venice International Film Festival. Mirren received a Golden Globe nomination for her work in the film.

Premise

Traveling in a vintage Winnebago recreational vehicle, John and Ella Spencer take one last road trip from Wellesley, Massachusetts to the Ernest Hemingway House in the Florida Keys before his dementia and her cancer can catch up with them.

Saturday 18 July 2020

JUNE 2020 - ADDITIONS TO THE LIBRARY - 6 OF THE BEST!

PIs, a fugitive, a Western, some non-fiction I'm bound to find dusturbing and a detective story. Lots to look forward to I reckon.....

Tom Leins - Ten Pints of Blood (2020) - purchased copy
He writes them faster than I can read them, still you've got to get the latest when it drops. Fair to say, Mr Leins' books might not be everyone's cup of tea. Definitely mine though.

Meat Bubbles and Other Stories      have been enjoyed thus far.


“A smarter man than me once said that good investigative work is about asking the right questions. I find that the quality of my work generally depends on how fucking hard I hit people.”

When Paignton private investigator Joe Rey finds himself enlisted by hapless local cops Benson and Hedges to help apprehend a vicious sex criminal known as the Ladyscraper, he ends up unearthing a grisly surprise in the midst of a derelict tract of farmland. What Rey discovers shocks the whole town to its core, and he sets out to unravel a decades-old mystery involving a cabal of powerful men who want their queasy secrets to remain dead and buried.

He may be psychologically damaged by the things he has seen and done, but Rey finds himself a man in demand, and his case-load piles up – setting him on a violent collision course with dealers, delinquents, degenerates and the damned.

Is Rey finally in hell, or is he just teetering on the brink?

TEN PINTS OF BLOOD is the bone-crunching, booze-sloshing, gore-splattered new collection from the author of cult classics MEAT BUBBLES & OTHER STORIES and BONEYARD DOGS.


Robert Broomall - The Lawmen (1993) - Amazon FREEBIE
I do like a Western now and again - crime fiction with hats.

Only two men have the courage to stand against the notorious Hopkins gang -- a former Confederate officer and an ex-slave.

The average life expectancy for a marshal in Topaz, Arizona, is three weeks. Down-on-his-luck Clay Chandler takes the marshal’s job out of desperation. Clay has barely settled into the job when Vance Hopkins drunkenly guns down a black man. Clay arrests Vance for murder, but Wes Hopkins and his gang run Topaz, and they demand that Vance be released -- or else. Clay has given his word to uphold the law, though, and he’ll do that even if it means losing his life. No one else in Topaz thinks a dead black man is worth taking on the Hopkins gang -- no one but a former slave named Essex Johnson, who was the murdered man’s friend. Ex-Confederate Clay and Essex can’t stand each other, but Clay reluctantly swears Essex in as his deputy. The two of them are aided by a prostitute named Julie, who had her face carved up by the Hopkins gang. Wes Hopkins gives Clay a deadline to release Vance, or the gang is going to come and take him. The question is, will the Hopkins gang kill Clay and Essex, or will they kill each other first?


Lawrence Ralph - The Torture Letters (2020) - University of Chicago 

Relevant and required reading.


Torture is an open secret in Chicago. Nobody in power wants to acknowledge this grim reality, but everyone knows it happens—and that the torturers are the police. Three to five new claims are submitted to the Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission of Illinois each week. Four hundred cases are currently pending investigation. Between 1972 and 1991, at least 125 black suspects were tortured by Chicago police officers working under former Police Commander Jon Burge. As the more recent revelations from the Homan Square “black site” show, that brutal period is far from a historical anomaly. For more than fifty years, police officers who took an oath to protect and serve have instead beaten, electrocuted, suffocated, and raped hundreds—perhaps thousands—of Chicago residents.


In The Torture Letters, Laurence Ralph chronicles the history of torture in Chicago, the burgeoning activist movement against police violence, and the American public’s complicity in perpetuating torture at home and abroad. Engaging with a long tradition of epistolary meditations on racism in the United States, from James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time to Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me, Ralph offers in this book a collection of open letters written to protesters, victims, students, and others. Through these moving, questing, enraged letters, Ralph bears witness to police violence that began in Burge’s Area Two and follows the city’s networks of torture to the global War on Terror. From Vietnam to Geneva to Guantanamo Bay—Ralph’s story extends as far as the legacy of American imperialism. Combining insights from fourteen years of research on torture with testimonies of victims of police violence, retired officers, lawyers, and protesters, this is a powerful indictment of police violence and a fierce challenge to all Americans to demand an end to the systems that support it.


With compassion and careful skill, Ralph uncovers the tangled connections among law enforcement, the political machine, and the courts in Chicago, amplifying the voices of torture victims who are still with us—and lending a voice to those long deceased.


Jackie Baldwin - Dead Man's Prayer (2016) - Amazon purchase

Scottish crime fiction debut. What's not to like?

The first in an exciting new Scottish crime thriller series. Perfect for fans of L J Ross, Val McDermid and Ann Cleeves.

Ex-priest DI Frank Farrell has returned to his roots in Dumfries, only to be landed with a disturbing murder case. Even worse, Farrell knows the victim: Father Boyd, the man who forced him out of the priesthood eighteen years earlier.

With no leads, Farrell must delve into the old priest’s past, one that is inexorably linked with his own. But his attention is diverted when a pair of twin boys go missing. The Dumfries police force recover one in an abandoned church, unharmed. But where is his brother?

As Farrell investigates the two cases, he can’t help but feel targeted. Is someone playing a sinister game, or is he seeing patterns that don’t exist? Either way, it’s a game Farrell needs to win before he loses his grip on his sanity, or someone else turns up dead.



Colin Conway - Cozy up to Blood (2020) - copy from author
Third of three. I loved Cozy up to Death last month.

Welcome to Belfry, Oregon—the home of Evenfall!

Years ago, a series of sparkly vampire movies were made on this north Oregon island.  Every autumn, a festival is held to celebrate the films and let fans reenact their favorite scenes.

Murray Lee has no interest in bloodsuckers, though.  For the past several days, an outlaw motorcycle gang seeking revenge has pursued him. He’s tired, alone, and cranky. Amid a torrential downpour, Murray barely crossed the lone working bridge to Belfry before it washed out.

Now, he’s stranded on the island as his enemy musters its forces and plans an attack.

To make matters worse, someone is biting and robbing the citizens of the island.  The local cops seem to think Murray fits the description and are digging into his background.

But Murray is a man with a secret he must protect. The U.S. government has invested a lot to keep him safe, and his enemies will stop at nothing now that they’ve found him.


Murray Lee is about to be immersed in vampire culture in a way he would never have expected.


Dave White - An Empty Hell (2016) - purchased copy

I read the first in this PI series back in 2007, bought the second and kind of forgot about it. Remembered the series and author last month and thought why not dig into it again. This is the 4th in a series of 5 so far.

"Dynamite... the characters, the situations, the pacing, the structure, and the writing are so good."
-Publishers Weekly

A year after the devastating events of Not Even Past, Jackson Donne has gone into hiding in the forest of Vermont. Under the guise of Joe Tennant, Donne has been recovering - and even enjoying his life up north. Until one of the few friends he's made goes missing. Meanwhile, back in New Jersey, someone is killing ex-cops - the ones who Donne used to work with.

Terrified Donne is committing the murders, a former colleague hires private investigator Matt Herrick to track down New Jersey's most famous fugitive. Herrick agrees and almost immediately, there's a bounty on his head. The closer Herrick gets to tracking Donne down, the more dangerous the case becomes. And once Donne and Herrick cross paths, the two cases tie together, and Donne realizes he must go back to the life he left behind. Because the past has come calling, and if Donne does face up to it, he and Herrick could lose everything, including their lives.

Friday 17 July 2020

ED McBAIN - COP HATER (1956)


Synopsis/blurb...

Swift, silent and deadly, someone is killing the 87th Precinct's finest...

When Detective Reardon is found dead, motive is a big question mark. But when his partner becomes victim number two, it looks like open-and-shut grudge killings. That is, until a third detective is murdered.

With one meagre clue, Detective Steve Carella begins his grim search for the killer, a search that takes him into the city's underworld to a notorious brothel, to the apartment of a beautiful and dangerous widow and, finally, to a .45 automatic aimed straight at his head...

From the Author of Money, Money, Money:

"The finest police procedurl series ever...
Keep 'em coming, Ed" 
- Independent on Sunday

First book in Ed McBain's classic series of police procedurals and one I finally cracked after a couple of previously aborted attempts - wrong book, wrong time before.

Once I got into it, it was quite a quick read and one which held my interest. The series runs to over fifty books and I have most of them after a mad splurge on E-bay a few years ago. Ideally I'd like to read them all, but I'll have to see how I go.

Here we get to meet several of the 87th Precinct characters, albeit a couple of them only briefly. Steve Carella is the main focus and we get some of his personal life as well as watching him do the detecting bit. He has a fiance, Teddy who is deaf and dumb and unwittingly gets involved in the outcome to the investigation.

Without ever feeling totally amazed or stunned by McBain's writing, I did enjoy the book. Things are relayed quite matter of factly. Sixty-five years old, it depicts a different time. Cops were the good guys and things were more black and white. They have respect from the community and media as a whole and at least in this book behave properly. I'll be curious to see if that changes as the series progresses.

I liked the everyday scenes of life in the squad room, the interviews at desks, the little snippets about each detective, his family, his salary, the camaraderie, the sense of loss, the visits to the bereaved, the briefing to a journalist and the sting in the tail which that provides - one which eventually forces the killer to show their hand.

The motive for the killings was quite clever and I enjoyed the pace of the book. One of the detectives who is killed is black, but there's no indication of any prejudice displayed towards him by his fellow officers, or subsequently in their dealings with his family. I don't know whether that surprises me or not. Here his skin colour wasn't important because he was one of them.

My edition had an introduction by the author in which he writes about the origins of the series and the research he did. This added to my enjoyment of the book.

Overall - quite good and I'm looking forward to more. Off to dig out my copy of the second - The Mugger - ready for a read sometime soon.

4 from 5

Read - June, 2020
Published - 1956
Page count - 208
Source - owned copy
Format - paperback

Thursday 16 July 2020

JIM HESKETT - REAGAN'S ASHES (2015)


Synopsis/blurb...

Reagan Darby crams her dad's urn into an overflowing backpack. His last wish: deliver the urn to Rocky Mountain National Park and release his ashes into Lake Nanita. To find closure, she'll hike the same route they completed after her latest involuntary stay at the hospital.

But not alone, as she'd hoped. Her cousin Dalton surprises her at the trailhead and insists on tagging along. Soon, his eerie stares and half-volume mutterings set her on edge. As they trudge further into the mountains, dodging moose and lightning strikes, she catches him rifling through her backpack multiple times. She confronts him, but he shrugs it off. His claims that he came along for support wear thin, but she's too deep into the park simply to turn around.

When Reagan discovers a hidden compartment in the lid of the urn, a tiny silver key tumbles onto the floor of her tent. But there's no telling what lock the key might open. More unsettling, however, is that her lithium has gone missing. With only a meager Swiss Army knife for protection, she'll have to fend off her cousin, resist the creeping mania, and escape the forest to find the lock. If the man Dalton works for locates it first, he'll reduce Reagan to the same pile of dust and ash.

Reagan's Ashes combines wilderness survival thriller with amateur sleuth mystery.

Another Audible book downloaded after a freebie code was made available by the author and one I enjoyed but not without a couple of .... meh moments.

Reagan's dad, Mitchell died unexpectedly and she sets out to deposit his ashes into a remote lake where she had trekked and camped with her father previously. Her two cousins surprise her and tag-along, which isn't the trip she was hoping for.

It's quite a busy book........ Reagan has bi-polar and might have forgotten her meds for the trip; her Aussie boyfriend, Liam is a recovering alcoholic; her relationship with her step-mum isn't great and there was friction with the dad before he died; the dad was a compulsive gambler and a bit of a tool who lost all the family money, and unknown to Reagan he stole $240k from his brother, Tyson who is a dodgy dude and a bit of a local crim. The two cousins joining her on the trek believe she is off to claim the money that her dad has stashed somewhere and acting on their father's instructions are to intercept it and return it to it's him, whatever it takes. Oh and she hasn't seen her mum for about six years after she walked out on her.

Lots going on then. I quite enjoyed the trip Reagan took, hiking and camping and trekking, the scenery, the rangers, the dangers from the weather and the need to be constantly alert and above all well-prepared.

There's a bit of tension throughout as one of her cousins is obviously intending her harm if she doesn't come up with the goods, the other is more likable and less invested in the scheme. Back at the step mum's house, her boyfriend is hip to some undercurrents and all not being well as he witnesses Reagan's uncle hassling the step mum and subsequently does a bit of snooping.

It was interesting viewing the main character as bi-polar. We get some of her past story and struggles and we see the change in her when she stops medicating. Her grief anyway is causing her anxiety. The book kind of sets up Tyson, the uncle as the bad guy in the situation, whereas he had my every sympathy. I don't think I'd be able to behave rationally if a sibling ripped me off to that extent and I might want to recover my cash, with attitude if necessary. The dad initially seems to be a caring father, and is somewhat idolised by his daughter. Bereavement sometimes comes with rose-tinted spectacles. I think if he hadn't died of a heart attack, I might have happily done away with him myself.

The ending is resolved to the satisfaction of all parties, but not before some conflict and a bit of action. It's a bit of a Disney-princess fairy-tale type outcome for Reagan and the boyfriend, which wasn't especially convincing.

Some of the characters throughout, particularly Reagan were well presented and had a bit of depth. As did the boyfriend, Liam and even Reagan's step-mum. The uncle came across as a comedy type villain and the criminal gangster type persona was less convincing as was the stolen money angle. How did her dad get access to it and how did the money pot turn from x into x-plus?

Bottom line - enjoyable but not amazing. I have more from the author and I don't dread reading/listening to them but neither am I stampeding my way towards them.

I managed to listen to this during the work day and commute, so it was a welcome distraction from some mundane duties and not being overly complex or requiring great levels of concentration was a decent enough way of passing the time and harvesting a new author.

The narration by Kate Fisher seemed a bit dead-pan and flat at times, but when Reagan was having issues and struggling with her condition it seemed pitch perfect.

3 from 5

Read - (listened to) July, 2020
Published - 2015
Page count -  348 (8 hrs 9 mins)
Source- Audible download after code from author
Format - Audible