The Blackhouse by Peter May


The Blackhouse
by
Peter May

Rating:

Edinburgh detective Fin Macleod tried to escape a troubled life on the Isle of Lewis, but now he’s been pulled back home to investigate a copycat murder.  Set in the small village called Crobost, an isolated point of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides, Fin must confront his painful past, broken friendships and loss.  What follows is an excellent crime story, the first in The Lewis Trilogy, and one which is clouded by Fin’s conflicted character and Scotland’s ever-changing landscape.

The Crobost victim is schoolmate Angel Macritchie, the playground bully who preyed on the weak.  No different now, most in town were not sorry to see him gone, but his brutal murder leaves many questions.  Fin’s investigation is intertwined with the people he knew on the island, and he can’t avoid facing his boyhood friend, Artair Maccines and the girl they rivaled over, Marsaili Macdonald.

Clues point to several suspects, whose stories help depict what life is like in this treeless and remote land, where young and restless teenagers face bleak futures as crofters or mariners.  One of these stories is the ritual of the guga harvest, an annual trip to the rock island called An Sgeir, where a selected group of men spend two weeks killing young gannets to bring back to their people.  The trip through rough seas is dangerous, the time on the rock is treacherous and is a rite of passage for those who are chosen.  Reference to an unspoken tragedy leads the reader through an additional investigation of what happened the year Fin was selected to go.

May tells the story, bit by bit, alternating between the present and Fin’s first-person telling of the events that drove him off the island years earlier.  As Fin uncovers motives and truths, they lead to an incomprehensible finish, explained only in the book’s final pages and suggesting future relationships between its characters.

Mystery and crime readers will enjoy this interesting plot and setting.  I recommend The Blackhouse to these readers and anyone who likes conflicted characters and complicated relationships.  Enjoyed and highly rated by everyone in my library Whodunits Book Club, we are looking forward to completing the series!

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Who’s That Indie Author? Nicholas Nash

Who's That Indie Author pic

the-girl-at-the-bar

Author name:  Nicholas Nash

Genre:  Mystery, Thriller, Fiction

Book:  THE GIRL AT THE BAR

Bio:  Nicholas Nash is the exciting new author of The Girl At The Bar, a psychological thriller about the mysterious disappearance of a brilliant cancer researcher and the quest to find what happened to her. Nicholas resides in the concrete jungle of Manhattan in New York City with his wife and three children. An accomplished finance professional, he has a passion for reading fiction and non-fiction books which inspired him to write an intriguing thriller. Nicholas hopes you enjoy his work. He can be reached at thegirlatthebar@gmail.com.

Favorite thing about being a writer:  Working at your own pace and interacting with readers.

Biggest challenge as an indie author:  Being good at marketing and promotion, in addition to being a good author. Wearing multiple hats basically and doing a good job in multiple roles to be able to get some success.

Favorite bookAtlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and The Prize by Daniel Yergin.

Contact Information:
Website: authornicholasnash.com (under construction)
Facebook: @AuthorNicholasNash
Instagram: NicholasNashAuthor
Goodreads
Amazon


Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Why not get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author?

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details, and follow along on Book Club Mom to join the indie author community!

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Merging genres – it’s all good!

Source: Pixabay
Source: Pixabay

Is it my imagination or are genres starting to merge?  When is a mystery just a mystery and when is a suspense only a suspense?  And when did historical fiction sneak in?  No matter, the good books keep coming and that’s all we want!

Here’s a list of some quality mystery/suspense/historical fiction that are sharing space on my bookshelf.


blood of the prodigalBlood of the Prodigal by P.L. Gaus – 3 Bookmarks:  Light Amish mystery set in Ohio


Brooklyn on FireBrooklyn on Fire by Lawrence H. Levy – 4 Bookmarks:  Intriguing historical mystery in 1890s Brooklyn


Child 44

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith – 3 ½ Bookmarks:  Someone is murdering children in Joseph Stalin’s Russia.


Anyone else remember this cover?Coma by Robin Cook – 3 Bookmarks:  Creepy throwback medical thriller from the 70s


Death in a Dacron Sail coverDeath in a Dacron Sail by N. A. Granger – 4 Bookmarks:  Amateur sleuth Rhe Brewster solves a murder in Maine


Death in a Red Canvas Chair coverDeath in a Red Canvas Chair by N. A. Granger – 3 Bookmarks:  Rhe Brewster’s first case


defending jacobDefending Jacob by William Landay – 3 Bookmarks: What do you do when your teenage son is a murder suspect?


Eating BullEating Bull by Carrie Rubin – 4 Bookmarks:  Medical/psychological thriller that tackles obesity and the food industry


Elizabeth is Missing picElizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey – 3 ½ Bookmarks:  An old woman with dementia is sure her friend is missing.


frank mary shelleyFrankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley – 4 Bookmarks:  Classic monster story about good and evil


gonegirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn – 4 Bookmarks:  You can’t believe your spouse in this creepy thriller.


Jane Eyre picJane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë  – 5 Bookmarks:  What are those noises upstairs at Thornfield Hall?


reconstructing ameliaReconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight – 3 Bookmarks:  Teen secrets and cover-ups after a classmate dies


Second Street StationSecond Street Station by Lawrence H. Levy – 4 Bookmarks:  Brooklyn’s first female detective solves a high profile murder.


the girl with the dragon tattoo pic           The Girl who played with fire pic           The girl who kicked the hornet's nest pic           The Girl in the Spider's Web

Stieg Larsson Millennium Series – Lisbeth Salander Novels – 4 Bookmarks:  Suspenseful series about an enigmatic but kick-ass heroine


The Good NeighborThe Good Neighbor by A.J. Banner – 3 Bookmarks:  Questions emerge after a neighbor’s house burns to the ground.


the caged graves picThe Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni – 5 Bookmarks:  A mystery about two caged graves outside a cemetery


The DinnerThe Dinner by Herman Koch – 4 Bookmarks:  Twisted murder tale about a family cover-up


the-farm-by-tom-rob-smithThe Farm by Tom Rob Smith – 3 Bookmarks:  Who is telling the truth, Daniel’s mother or father?


The ImmortalsThe Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky – 4 Bookmarks:  A modern day Artemis solves a murder in Manhattan


The RackThe Racketeer by John Grisham – 3 Bookmarks:  Clever crime story about a murdered judge


The Silent Wife picThe Silent Wife by A. S. A. Harrison – 4 Bookmarks:  Marital twists and turns in this psychological thriller


What are your favorites in this new literary amalgam?

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Summer Reading Challenge – The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Art by Ellen Forney

A Book That Has Been Banned

Rating:
5 book marks

Arnold “Junior” Spirit is trapped in a life of poverty on the Spokane Indian reservation and he has to do something about it.  Everyone around him is poor, but Junior has the additional problem of not fitting in on the reservation.  Skinny with a big head, thick black plastic glasses and prone to seizures, he’s been picked on and beat up his whole life.  Drawing cartoons helps him cope, but Junior knows what will happen if he stays.  It’s what has already happened to his mother and alcoholic father.  “They dreamed about being something other than poor,” he writes, “but they never got the chance to be anything because nobody paid attention to their dreams.”

Junior is good in school and knows that’s his ticket.  So when he asks his parents if he can switch to the all-white Reardon High School, one of the best schools in the state, they say okay.  They do that because they love him.

The switch costs Junior his best and only friend, Rowdy.  And it’s very different at Reardon where the kids have everything they want.  Will he be able to live in both worlds?  Junior’s sense of humor carries him through much, but he must reach deeper to survive a series of tragedies at home.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a semi-autobiographical account of Alexie’s life and is a terrific Young Adult coming-of age story.  Ellen Forney’s fantastic cartoon illustrations add an extra dimension to Junior’s character.  I chose it as part of my summer reading challenge to read a book that has been banned.

The Diary has been banned by many schools because of its depiction of sex and violence in the story.  (Click here to read more about Sherman Alexie and his response to this criticism.)  It has also won many awards, including the 2007 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and has been named to several annual lists including “Best Books of 2007” by the School Library Journal and the 2008 “Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults” by the Young Adult Library Services Association.  I highly recommend it for older young adults, high school and adult readers.

Visit Alexie’s website at fallsapart.com.

Click here to read about a terrific short story by Alexie, “This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona”.


Follow along as I work my way through my 16 in 16 Challenge!

Book 1 – A Book You Can Finish in a Day:  The Good Neighbor by A.J. Banner
Book 2 – A Book in a Genre You Typically Don’t Read:  The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson
Book 3 – A Book with a Blue Cover:  The Vacationers by Emma Straub
Book 4 – A Book Translated to English:  I Refuse by Per Petterson
Book 5 – A Second Book in a Series:  Brooklyn on Fire by Lawrence H. Levy
Book 6 -A Book To Help You Learn Something New: The Beginner’s Photography Guide by Chris Gatcum

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Summer Reading Challenge – The Good Neighbor by A.J. Banner

The Good Neighbor

The Good Neighbor by A.J. Banner

A Book You Can Finish in a Day

Rating:
3 book marks

When children’s author Sarah Phoenix wakes to see her neighbor’s house engulfed in flames, she dials 911 and makes a quick call to her husband, Johnny McDonald, a prominent dermatologist, who is away on a business trip.  Then she rushes out to help.  Four-year-old Mia Kimball screams from an upstairs bedroom and Sarah scrambles up a ladder to save her.  Flames jump from the burning house to her own and Sarah’s efforts are cut short when she is struck in the head by a piece of burning timber.

In the tragedy’s aftermath, Sarah, her neighbors and the fire marshal in the sleepy town of Shadow Cove, Washington question how the fire could have started.  What had Sarah heard in her sleep, just before the fire broke out?  She remembers seeing Jessie, her teenage neighbor across the street that evening and wonders about Jessie’s suspicious-looking new boyfriend.  Who was in the road just before the fire broke out?  What had her neighbors seen?  And why hadn’t her husband answered her frantic call that night?

Something funny is going on as Sarah and Johnny salvage what they can from their home and move to a nearby cottage, owned by the town’s well-known realtor, Eris Coghlan.  Sarah becomes increasingly suspicious of her husband as she wonders about his past, his connections on their old street and to their new neighbors.

Many twists and turns muddle the mystery, but the truth comes out on the banks of a rushing river when love and obsession collide.

The Good Neighbor is a light romantic suspense story, a quick and enjoyable read.  Its strength is the story’s brisk pace.  Limited character development and some loose and implausible plot connections may frustrate some readers, but I was entertained and pleased with my “a book you can finish in a day” selection.

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Stieg Larsson Millennium Series – Lisbeth Salander Novels

the girl with the dragon tattoo pic    The Girl who played with fire pic    The girl who kicked the hornet's nest pic

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl Who Played with Fire

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

by
Stieg Larsson

Rating:
5 book marks

Now that summer is around the corner, maybe you’re looking for something gripping to read on the beach, near a pool, in your backyard or on an airplane.  If you haven’t read Stieg Larsson’s suspenseful series about Lisbeth Salander, one of the most enigmatic but admirable characters I’ve ever encountered, consider picking up The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and see if you’re not hooked and working to get your hands on the whole series.

Stieg Larsson was a Swedish writer and journalist.  He died unexpectedly in 2004 and the three books were discovered and published after his death.  Larsson had written them for his own pleasure and had not tried to get them published until just before he died.  All three books make clear Larsson’s outrage over child abuse, sexual abuse and violence against women.  His answer to these atrocities is Lisbeth Salander, small in size, but one of the toughest female characters you will ever meet.


Now there are four books in the series.  The fourth book, The Girl in the Spider’s Web, is written by David Lagercrantz and is available in paperback today, May 24, 2016.

The Girl in the Spider's Web


the girl with the dragon tattoo picThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a murder mystery, family saga and love story and revolves around the search for Harriet Vanger.  Vanger is a descendant of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families and has been missing for more than forty years.  Harriet’s uncle hires investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist to find out what happened and Lisbeth Salander steps in as an ace investigator and computer hacker.


The Girl who played with fire picThe Girl Who Played with Fire begins with two brutal murders, just as Blomkvist is about to publish an exposé on a huge sex trafficking operation.  When Blomkvist learns that Salander’s fingerprints are on the murder weapon, he knows he must prove her innocence.


The girl who kicked the hornet's nest picIn The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Salander is near death in a Swedish hospital.  If she recovers, she will face charges for three murders.  Once again, Mikael Blomkvist helps Salander continue their fight against violence and abuse.  Separately, Salander has some revenge to exact against the man who tried to kill her and the government institutions that have nearly ruined her.


The Girl in the Spider's WebHere is Amazon’s description of The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz:

“Late one night, Blomkvist receives a phone call from a source claiming to have information vital to the United States. The source has been in contact with a young female superhacker—a hacker resembling someone Blomkvist knows all too well. The implications are staggering. Blomkvist, in desperate need of a scoop for Millennium, turns to Salander for help. She, as usual, has her own agenda. The secret they are both chasing is at the center of a tangled web of spies, cybercriminals, and governments around the world, and someone is prepared to kill to protect it . . .”


Readers may be uncomfortable with the brutal violence in this series, however, the author’s disgust for abuse makes a very clear divide between right and wrong.

I read the Larsson series about four years ago.  I may have to read them again before I check out Book Four!

Click here to read about Stieg Larsson on Wikipedia.  You can find more information on Stieglarsson.com, a website dedicated to Larsson’s works.

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The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

The Good Girl
The Good Girl
by
Mary Kubica

Rating:

2 book marks

I enjoy unraveling a story and figuring out what motivates characters and this story is full of things to analyze.   While the The Good Girl is a bit of a mystery, I’d describe it more as a psychological thriller in which the main players are good and bad, have grown up in dysfunctional families and have complicated ideas about love and family.

The story begins when Mia Dennett, a 24-year-old art teacher, doesn’t show up for work.  Her father, James Dennett, a wealthy and influential judge in Chicago, uses his connections to build an investigative team.  Then he goes back to work while Mia’s mother Eve sits at home and worries.  Gabe Hoffman is the detective on the case.  He has a chip on his shoulder and is determined to find Mia if for nothing else than to improve his credibility.

Because the book is structured with a “Before” and “After”, the reader knows a little about its resolution, however, the “After” is full of complications, some of them predictable and some surprising.  It is told through the points of view of Eve, Gabe and Colin, the man responsible for Mia’s disappearance, and it isn’t until late in the book that the reader begins to fully understand her.

I enjoyed most of the story, bought into Mia’s character and developed sympathy for Colin, however, I don’t think the ending’s surprise twist fits the story.

But the author’s poor decision to describe the previously unseen villain in the Epilogue as “black, like the blackest of black bears, like the blubbery skin of the killer whale” ruins what could have been an entertaining read.

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