Tag Archives: murder

The Little Hammer by John Kelly

DATE FINISHED: July 29th, 2012 

RATED: **** (4.5)

SYNOPSIS:  When he is 9 years old, the artist despatches a paleontologist he meets on the beach by means of his hammer.  When he returns home, his saint-worshipping Grandmother colludes in covering up the crime, which has remained undiscovered as the artist enters his thirties – but it keeps re-surfacing, with the compulsion to confess jarring against the fact of getting away with murder.  Following a trip with the mysterious Billie Maguire during which the artist is filmed telling a farcical and falsified version of his life story, the statue of the Holy Infant of Prague finds its way to the Grandmother’s home in Ireland.  In her little village, miracles occur just as the artist’s life and mind begin to unravel.

THOUGHTS:  Told in the swirling Irish vernacular of the archetypal storyteller at the bar – “Would you believe me if I told you…?” – one would be forgiven for mistrusting the narrator from the beginning.   Read more of this post

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Bereft by Chris Womersley

DATE FINISHED: July 11th, 2012 

RATED: *** 

SYNOPSIS:  Quinn is a haunted man: once by his sister’s blood on his hands (and his knowledge of what happened to her before her death) and again by his experiences in the Great War. Returning home 10 years after running away from Sarah’s murder and the accompanying accusations, Quinn seeks redemption, but also fears for his own life at the hands of those who once knew him. Hiding in the hills, he is befriended by an edgy and curious young girl, Sadie, who convinces him that he needs to avenge his sister’s killer in order to move on with his life. But can he first tell his ailing mother the truth, and is he really capable of murder?

THOUGHTS:  There are many ghosts in this short novel, most of them still living. Read more of this post

A Summer of Drowning by John Burnside

DATE FINISHED: July 2nd, 2012 

RATED: **** (4.5)

SYNOPSIS:  Liv is raised by her extraordinarily self-contained artist mother on a tiny Norwegian island, where the summer nights are white and haunting, and her neighbour’s folk tales of trolls and huldra do not seem out of place. When two boys Liv has known from school drown within weeks of each other, the landscape of her eighteenth summer becomes laced with a heightened intensity, compounded by the appearance of an English man with secrets who is staying nearby, and the wild girl Maia who Liv knows spent time with the drowned boys before their death and seems to have a malevolent influence on those around her. Can she really be the huldra?

THOUGHTS:  This is an intensely dark and brooding story, simmering with suspense and seeped in rich imagery of the Norwegian landscape. Read more of this post

Burning Bright by Helen Dunmore

DATE FINISHED: June 25th, 2012 

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  When her parents move to Germany with their other daughter (who has cerebral palsy & needs their care), 16 year old Nadine moves to London with her older boyfriend Kai.  Also living in the house are Kai’s business partner Tony, and sitting tenant Enid, way up in the attic.  While Nadine buries her head in the sand with regard to Kai and Tony’s line of work, she spends time with Enid and her pre-war stories of life in Manchester with the beautiful Sukey and jealous Caro (who was jailed for Sukey’s murder).  But it seems only a matter of time before the fragile structure of their lives falls apart…

THOUGHTS:  Nadine is a wilfully naive character and difficult to relate to despite being easy to read. Read more of this post

The Four Last Things by Andrew Taylor

DATE FINISHED: October 8th, 2011             

RATED: *** (3.5)

SYNOPSIS:  The young daughter of a vicar and a policeman is snatched from the garden of her child minder. Will the police be able to catch up with the child-snatcher before it is too late?  As Sally (the mother) is called out to various locations to identify various body parts dressed in her daughter’s clothing, time appears to be of the essence…

THOUGHTS:  This trilogy was first released as 3 separate stand-alone novels which interconnect to tell a fuller story/history behind the motives of a murderer. Read more of this post

The Strange Case of the Composer and his Judge by Patricia Duncker

DATE FINISHED: October 8th, 2011             

RATED: *** 

SYNOPSIS:  On New Year’s Day of the new millennium, a group of bodies is found in the snow, echoing an earlier group suicide by members of the Faith. The local police detective, Schweigen, is reuinited with an old flame (the Judge of the title) to solve the mystery. When a curious book of undecipherable symbols is discovered near the scene of the crime, the Judge is led to the Composer, an irresistible attraction, and many questions without answers…

THOUGHTS:  The most mysterious thing about this novel was the consistently unprofessional behaviour of the protagonists. Read more of this post

Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gold

DATE FINISHED: April 5th, 2011

RATED: ****

SYNOPSIS: President Harding dies just hours after participating in Carter the Great’s magic show.  Secret services want to know what (if anything) Carter had to do with the death.  The story flashes back to different episodes throughout Carter’s life & career until the mystery reaches its conclusion.

THOUGHTS: Read more of this post