Book Review: Pendulum by Adam Hamdy

Pendulum is the first book in the Pendulum trilogy by Adam Hamdy.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

Action-packed and fast-paced, this thriller had plenty of twists and turns that kept me guessing until the very end.  4 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

You wake. Confused. Disorientated. A noose is round your neck. You are bound, standing on a chair. All you can focus on is the man in the mask tightening the rope. You are about to die.

John Wallace has no idea why he has been targeted. No idea who his attacker is. No idea how he will prevent the inevitable.

Then the pendulum of fate swings in his favour. He has one chance to escape, find the truth and halt his destruction. The momentum is in his favour for now. But with a killer on his tail, everything can change with one swing of this deadly pendulum…

You have one chance. Run.

Favourite Quote

The old adage that good things happen to good folk was a lie people told themselves to feel better about life.  Good things happen to folk who can rob or cheat their way to them.

(Pendulum by Adam Hamdy, page 153)

Review

This is one of those reads which, if you say too much, you could spoil what makes this book so bloody good.  So, I will review this sparingly…

I’m not sure what I expected when I started to read Pendulum, for the book summary doesn’t give too much away, but what I found was an action-packed, fast-paced thriller that kept me guessing as to what was going to happen at every turn, all the way to the end of the book.

John Wallace must be the unluckiest yet luckiest person in the world, but that doesn’t mean that this story was unconvincing.  It was.  Perhaps even a little too convincing in its believability.  The premise of the story is dark and menacing.  The bad guy is terrifying and seemingly unstoppable.  And as for the other characters, they are engaging and intriguing, with interesting back stories, who make a satisfying impact on the story.

The author’s writing style pulls you right into the story.  It is so well-written, and probably one of the best thrillers I’ve read in recent years.  It also reads like a movie; I could see the storyline playing out before me with very little effort at all.

It wasn’t until I was writing this review and about to post (my summarised version of) it on Goodreads, that I realised that this is the first book of a trilogy.  Of course, the ending suggested something else might follow but it wasn’t clear, and it wasn’t explicit, and many books have been given such an ending to encourage speculation in the reader rather than setting the ground work for future books.  I’m quite pleased about this, and am looking forward to reading the next instalment in the trilogy, Freefall, at some point. For now, it’s been added to my ‘Books To Buy’ list.

Rating

Book Review: The Z Murders by J. Jefferson Farjeon

Quick Review (read on for full review)

A mixed review.  Interesting premise but was slightly let down by the execution.  An easy,  light-hearted crime novel, that is a product of its time.  If you enjoy Golden Age crime writing, you might enjoy this. 3 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

Richard Temperley arrives at Euston station early on a fogbound London morning. He takes refuge in a nearby hotel, along with a disagreeable fellow passenger, who had snored his way through the train journey. But within minutes the other man has snored for the last time – he has been shot dead while sleeping in an armchair.

Temperley has a brief encounter with a beautiful young woman, but she flees the scene.

When the police arrive, Detective Inspector James discovers a token at the crime scene: a small piece of enamelled metal. Its colour was crimson, and it was in the shape of the letter Z. Temperley sets off in pursuit of the mysterious woman from the hotel, and finds himself embroiled in a cross-country chase – by train and taxi – on the tail of a sinister serial killer.

This classic novel by the author of the best-selling Mystery in White is a gripping thriller by a neglected master of the genre.

Favourite Quote

‘Youth splashes through mud to reach the youth it loves; it cannot delay its rejoicing or its weeping.  With middle-age, comfort supersedes Cupid.’

(The Z Murder by J. Jefferson Farjeon, page 238)

Review

Hmm…what to say of The Z Murders?  I think this is going to be a mixed review…

To begin, let’s take a look at what I didn’t like about this story…

There’s a lot of internal dialogue and characters imaginings of ‘what if’, which did little to add to the story or move it forward.  Unfortunately, it’s not only the main characters that are guilty of this, but some of the lesser one’s too.

I found a number of the characters frustrating in their behaviour and motives and, in my opinion, didn’t act naturally at all. Some aspects of the storyline were just not convincing.  The villain was terrible, strange and creepy, but his own explanations for his actions fell short of satisfactory.

So what did I like about the story?  Well, more than I disliked, that’s for sure.

As the story unfolds we are given a wonderful glimpse of England between the wars (the story was originally published in 1932, but was re-released by The British Library Crime Classics in 2015).  We get to see a busy London railway station (who doesn’t like trains?!), before visiting smaller towns and cities, as well as more rural locales.  I am also excited when a book I’m reading mentions a place I know personally, and in this instance it was Boston in Lincolnshire and more recently, Whitchurch in Shropshire.

Detective Inspector James of Scotland Yard was interesting if perhaps prone to making a number of unorthodox decisions. Dutton, the man under the inspector, was also intriguing and added humour to the story.

Farjeon’s writing style is clear and humorous in places. Some passages of the prose were simply wonderful and evoked both suspense and atmosphere.

I ascertained why the Z murders were so called before the explanation was revealed, which I was pleased about, but as for the mystery…I’m not really sure it was there to begin with because, apart from finding red metal z’s at the murder scenes there were no clues for the reader to crack.

All-in-all, an average read, but if you enjoy Golden Age crime writing you might enjoy this.  I have another one of the author’s books on my TBR list, Mystery in White, which is, by all accounts his best novel, and I am greatly looking forward to reading it at some point in the future.

Rating

Short Story Review: They Never Get Caught by Margery Allingham


This short story was found in Great Crime Stories first published by Chancellor Press in 1936.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

An interesting, engaging read from the ‘golden age’ of crime writing with a great twist at the end. 4 / 5

Summary

Harold Brownrigg is a chemist with a few money problems and a wandering eye.  His wife, Millie, is just dull and stupid, nothing like some of the pretty girls that come into his shop.  But none are so captivating as Phyllis, a young woman half his age.

However, Phyllis feels guilty about what they are doing even if he does not, and so decides to end it.  This is too much for Harold, especially when he hears that Phyllis has been seen about town with a younger chap in a flashy car.  It is becoming more and more obvious for Harold that Millie is just a problem he needs to get rid of.  Once he has got rid of her, not only will it clear the way for him to be with Phyllis but he will also be able to get his hands on the money left to Millie by her father.

And so begins the intricate planning of a murder.

Favourite Quote

Over-dark, round, hot eyes had Mr Brownrigg; not at all the sort of eyes for a little, plump, middle-aged chemist with a placid wife like Millie.

(From They Never Get Caught by Margery Allingham)

Review

They Never Get Caught was an interesting, engaging read.  Written by one of the queens of golden age crime writing, this is the first story I have read by Margery Allingham (and as of 2019, I have read it twice), though I have a number of Campion novels sitting on my bookshelf.

I felt very sorry for poor Millie as I moved through the story.  Harold was extremely cold, even when he felt unnerved by what he was trying to do.

The story was cleverly written, and the number of characters and points of view from which we see what is going on, is handled very well given the story is told in under twenty pages.  The main POV is from Harold himself, though glimpses are provided by Millie and the errand boy Bill Perry.

The twist in the tale – which I won’t mention – was very good.  I didn’t expect it, probably because I was too preoccupied by the callous nature of Harold.

A short, satisfying read, if you like ‘golden age’ crime stories, then I would recommend They Never Get Caught to you.

Rating


Re-read and review updated in March 2019.  Originally read and reviewed in October 2014.

Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Quick Review (read on for full review)

Gripping and compelling, this psychological thriller with an almost creepy undertone, asks the question, How well do we really know anyone else?  4 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar. Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…

Favourite Quote

Life is not a paragraph and death is no parenthesis.

(from The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, pg17.  The quote is referencing a poem by E.E. Cummings)

Review

I might appear to be behind with this one, but just let me just say, I can’t read super popular books when they are in the middle of their super-crazy-popular phase.  I have to wait until things calm down a bit before I can read them.  Why? I’m not sure really.  Perhaps it has something to do with wanting to find my own opinion and judgement on the book, and not be swayed by anyone else’s…As I said, I’m not sure really.  I’m pleased to say that I managed to keep far enough away from the buzz of this one, that, when I did finally pick it up, I had no idea what the book was about, apart from what the book title and description alluded to.

The pace is fast and the style of writing makes for fast and easy reading.  I had trouble putting the book down once I really got into the story, thanks to the creepy undertone of this psychological thriller; I needed to find out what happened next.

There are three women at the heart of this story – Rachel, Anna and Megan – and to be honest, none of them are particularly likeable.  And that doesn’t just go for these three woman; I would be hard pressed to name a character I actually liked in the book.

I felt very sorry for Rachel for what she had been through, and pitied her tremendously regarding her present situation.  On more than one occasion I had to put book the down as I found myself cringing so badly in reaction to what she was saying and doing; I just had to stop reading, pause and take a breather, before I could continue on.  My reaction to it reminded me of that scene from Friends when the book has to go into the freezer.  I spent most of the book not liking Anna at all.  I didn’t feel sorry for her and found her somewhat annoying, in a whiny, I want things my own way, sort of way.  And as for Megan and her destructive personality – gosh.  Then there was Scott and Tom…

What makes this book work and work well, is that the reader knows the characters can’t be trusted; they are unreliable narrators, as they admit to themselves they have blackouts and can’t remember things or hide things they don’t want to see from themselves as well as those around them.  So the story we are presented with is seen through a distorted prism and the reader is waiting for the picture to clear.  I did see the twist coming, but that in no way diminished my enjoyment of the book.  In fact, I think it heightened the tension.

This books asks the question: how well do we really know anyone else, even those we are close to, those we love, those we share our lives with?  What secrets might be lurking just below the surface, and what will happen when they finally come out?

This was definitely a gripping and compelling read, but I’ve only rated it four stars because it was filled, in my opinion, with wholly unlikeable characters whom, for the most part, I could not really connect to.  There are a number of emotional scenes in the story, which certainly ramped up the empathy factor but if you need to like the characters in the book you’re reading to enable you to enjoy it, this might not be for you.  But if love your fiction tense, psychological and full of secrets, where the mystery takes centre stage, then you might very well enjoy it.

Rating

Book Review: The Crow Trap by Ann Cleeves

The Crow Trap is the first book in the Vera Stanhope series by Ann Cleeves

Quick Review (read on for full review)

A moody and atmospheric landscape combined with rich and compelling storytelling.  A great mystery read with an unconventional yet interesting and engaging main character.  I will be reading more of the Vera Stanhope books.  4.5 / 5

Summary (from back of book)

At the isolated Baikie’s Cottage in the North Pennines, three very different women come together to complete an environmental study.  Three women who each know the meaning of betrayal.

For team leader Rachel, the project is the perfect opportunity to rebuild her confidence after a double betrayal by Peter Kemp, her lover and boss.  Anne, on the other hand, sees it as a chance to indulge in a little deception of her own.  And then there is Grace, a strange, uncommunicative young woman with plenty to hide.

When Rachael arrives at the cottage, she is horrified to discover the body of her friend, Bella Furness.  It appears Bella has committed suicide – something Rachael finds impossible to accept.

It is only after the next death occurs that a fourth woman enters the picture – the unconventional Detective Vera Stanhope…

Favourite Quote

‘You’re not frightened of going on your own, are you?  It’s only a baby.  It’ll not bite.’

(from The Crow Trap by Ann Cleeves, pg 463)

Review

I’ve only seen a couple of the TV episodes of “Vera” which are based on these books, but the ones I have seen I found compelling and engaging.  So when I came across The Crow Trap by chance, (of course, I was not shopping for books 😉 ) I was more than happy to give it a read.

As I read, I clearly envisaged / could hear the actors from the show (Brenda Blethyn playing Vera; David Leon playing Joe Ashworth) playing their parts in the book.  I like it when that happens; I think it illustrates good casting choices and character continuity between book and screen.

The writing and storytelling is very moody and atmospheric, mirroring the landscape the story is set in perfectly.  Although the book is a long one – it’s around 530 pages – the story flows well and doesn’t drag.  As a main character, Vera Stanhope is different.  She is brash and speaks plain.  Her appearance immediately puts people at a disadvantage because she is not the person they think she is.  She is clever, intelligent, calculating, abrupt and has a no-nonsense way about her.  I thought she was fantastic.

I enjoyed how the story was set out.  We are given the stories of Rachael, Anne and Grace separately, allowing us to get to know the characters themselves, rather than just seeing what they chose to project outwards.  The ending was very good; I had my suspicions about the culprit, but I was nowhere near certain.  Of course, there are clues; the author doesn’t hide all the pertinent information until the denouement, you just have to sift through the information.

My only grumble is that we didn’t get to meet Vera herself (unless you consider one brief, strange appearance at a funeral) until 200 plus pages into the story.  However, it didn’t not detract from my overall enjoyment of the story as I’ve already mentioned I appreciated the set up.  That’s why I deducted half a star from my rating.

Not only do I plan to continue reading this series (the second book is Telling Tales), but having watched every episode of Shetland, which is also based on books by Ann Cleeves, I hope to get around to reading that series too (the first book in that series is Raven Black).  I also plan to catch up with the TV adaptations of Vera as well.

Highly recommended to fans of British mysteries, and those who have seen the TV show but have yet to delve into the books.

Rating

4.5 / 5

Book Review: Death of an Airman by Christopher St John Sprigg

Quick Review (read on for full review)

A fun and entertaining mystery from the Golden Age of crime writing.  With plenty of twists to keep the reader guessing, I can’t recommend this book highly enough. 5 / 5

Summary (from back of book)

George Furnace, flight instructor at Baston Aero Club, dies instantly when his plane crashes into the English countryside.  People who knew him are baffled – Furnace was a first-rate pilot, and the plane was in perfect condition – and the inquest records a verdict of death by misadventure.

An Australian visitor to the aero club, Edwin Marriot, Bishop of Cootamundra, suspects that the true story is more complicated.  Could this be a dramatic suicide – or even murder?  Together with Inspector Bray of Scotland Yard, the intrepid bishop must uncover a cunning criminal scheme.

Favourite Quote

‘You’ve heard of Brownies, I suppose?’

‘A particularly repellent breed of Girl Guide, aren’t they?  Whenever I review a public function they seem to creep in on it somehow toward the end.  They must be the most accomplished gate-crashers in this country.’

(Death of an Airman by Christopher St John Sprigg, pg 92)

Review

This was a very enjoyable read.  On the whole, the story is fun and light-hearted in tone but certainly not silly.  There is quite a bit of talk about planes and how they operate / fly but this is pertinent to the story. I even found that the technical details about flying didn’t read as dreary or heavy-going.

There are plenty of twists and turns as the story unfolds, keeping you guessing as to the solution of the mystery.  I had a few ideas as I read along, but I was nowhere near certain until just before the reveal.  The red herrings are cleverly woven into the story, so they don’t stand out as if a neon sign is flashing above them that reads “FALSE CLUE”.  I can’t praise the writing of the story high enough.  It was hard to put down, and I didn’t want to stop reading until I found out whodunnit.

The characters were great: some were eccentric, others terrible funny (I’m looking at you Lady Crumbles) and they were all believable and well-drawn.  My favourite character was Sarah Sackbutt, the manager and secretary of the flying club, closely followed by the bishop.

I like how the evidence at the inquest was presented in the book.  Instead of having the reader actually read the scene at the inquest, we were given each statement that was delivered, followed by the jury’s verdict.  This made the information easily accessible as well as offering a glimpse of the personalities of the major characters without slowing the pace of the storytelling.

It’s terribly sad that the author died so young and we only have a handful of his novels.  If they are half as good as Death of an Airman, they will be brilliant, and I’m looking forward to reading them.

Highly recommended to fans of Golden Age crime writing.

Rating

Book Review: The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler


The Big Sleep is the first novel by Raymond Chandler to feature the iconic Philip Marlowe.

Quick Review (read on for the full review)

Fast-paced and atmospheric, The Big Sleep is a complicated but gripping read full of vivid descriptions and sharp dialogue. 4.5 / 5

Summary (from Amazon)

Los Angeles PI Philip Marlowe is hired by wheelchair-bound General Sternwood to discover who is indulging in some petty blackmail. A weary, old man, Sternwood just wants the problem to go away. But Marlowe finds he has his work cut out just keeping Sternwood’s wild, devil-may-care daughters out of trouble as they prowl LA’s dirtiest and darkest streets. And pretty soon, he’s up to his neck in hoodlums and corpses . . .

Favourite Quote

This book is full of quotable lines, but these two are my favourites:

I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it.  I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be.

*

“A nice state of affairs when a man has to indulge his vices by proxy”…

Review

This is my first time actually reading anything by Raymond Chandler.  I’m not entirely sure how it has taken me this long, given my love of detective fiction.  Prior to this, I had only listened to a couple of BBC dramatisations for radio, where Toby Stephens played Philip Marlowe – which I enjoyed very much.

When it comes to hard-boiled detective fiction, Raymond Chandler is not only in a class of his own but sets the standard for the genre.  He is also responsible for a number of the common tropes we readers expect in this type of detective story today.  His powerful style and vivid descriptions bring glisty and gritty Los Angeles and California of the 1930s jumping off the page, revealing the dark underbelly of Hollywood society.

Fast-paced, The Big Sleep doesn’t relent for a minute.  Marlowe is a good guy with a sharp tongue.  His dialogue is full of wit and peppered with smart remarks – something that not everyone he runs into finds endearing.  Some find it insulting, others don’t quite know how to react to him.

One of the stand-out aspects of Chandler’s writing is his ability to capture a character’s personality, and there are plenty of characters to meet along the way.  Not many of them are likeable and it’s hard to feel much of anything towards them when you are given a glimpse of the corruption all around them.

Marlowe, of course, is the star of the show. Though flawed, he is the hero of the piece, a good guy in a corrupt town full of shady characters.

The story is complicated, but in a good way.  The reader understands as much of what is going on as Marlowe himself.  The language is fantastic, and the atmosphere it conjures is evocative.  Slang is a prominent part of the dialogue, some of which I was familiar with, for example, referring to women as “dames”, but “frails” was new to me.

I am eager to read the second of Chandler’s novels to feature Philip Marlowe, Farewell, My Lovely.

Rating

4.5 / 5

Short Story Review: Outside the Law by Anthony Berkeley

I found “Outside the Law” by Anthony Berkeley in “Great Crime Stories”, originally published by Chancellor Press in 1936.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

A tense short story that held my attention to the very end.  A good lesson in creating believable, well-imagined characters. 5 / 5

Summary

After committing the crime of breaking into a house and robbing it of any valuables, three very different men find themselves trapped in a building, surrounded by the police.

There appears to be little if no chance of escape.  And, should the police catch them with the big pile of stolen goods still in their possession, they know for certain that they will be spending the next few years in prison.

With two of the three men armed, how will they react to this twist in their fortunes?

Favourite Quote

He knew little English, but already he had gathered that the word “busies” meant the police.

Review

For a short story, Outside the Law is really quite tense.  I think it’s down to the clear, concise characterisation by the author.  The three men were all very different.  They each have differing reasons to turning to crime, different reasons for being there and have very different characters and backgrounds to each other.  As their options fall away, it’s no wonder they all respond differently to the pressure they find themselves under.

As for the ending…it’s very good.  You suspect you know what is going to happen but still you are glued to the story.  I can’t say any more for fear of giving too much away.

But I will say is this: when a writer knows his characters well, the story just flows.  And this is what we have here.  For any writers out there who want to read what is, in my opinion, a great demonstration of creating well-defined and believable characters, you could do a lot worse than taking a look at this.

Rating

Book Review: The Anatomist’s Apprentice by Tessa Harris

The Anatomist’s Apprentice is the first book in the Dr Thomas Silkstone series by Tessa Harris.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

Dr. Silkstone is an interesting character and the mystery isn’t too bad either.  I will be reading more of these books.  3.5 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

The death of Lord Edward Crick has unleashed a torrent of gossip through the seedy taverns and elegant ballrooms of Oxfordshire. Few mourn the dissolute young man-except his sister, the beautiful Lady Lydia Farrell. When her husband comes under suspicion of murder, she seeks expert help from Dr. Thomas Silkstone, a young anatomist and pioneering forensic detective from Philadelphia.

Thomas arrived in England to study under its foremost surgeon, the aging Dr. Carruthers, and finds his unconventional methods and dedication to the grisly study of anatomy only add to his outsider status. Against his better judgment he agrees to examine Sir Edward’s decomposing corpse, examining his internal and external state, as well as the unusual behavior of those still living in the Crick household.

Thomas soon learns that it is not only the dead but also the living to whom he must apply the keen blade of his intellect. And the deeper the doctor’s investigations go, the greater the risk that he will be consigned to the ranks of the corpses he studies.

Favourite Quote

A good corpse is like a fine fillet of beef, the master would say – tender to the touch and easy to slice.

Review

First impressions: The front cover grabbed my attention immediately.  Then, as I read the back cover, I thought the story sounded very interesting.  According to the acknowledgements in the front of the book, it was inspired by a murder trial at the Warwick Assizes in 1781 during which an anatomist was called to give evidence for the first time (that we know of).  However, this is not the fictionalised version of that case.  The case in question is entirely fictional.

The Anatomist’s Apprentice is Dr. Thomas Silkstone.  I think the title is a little misleading because by the time the book is set, the doctor is no longer an apprentice.  That being said, it does sound good, doesn’t it?  As soon as we meet him, we are introduced to his work.  There are passages within the story that are not for the faint-hearted – or those who like to eat their lunch whilst reading.  The reason for this is that we are given some very graphic details about the work and experiments of Dr. Silkstone in his capacity as an anatomist.  (See above quote).

Dr Silkstone, along with his work, is interesting and engaging, and makes for a very good main character.  However, a number of the other characters were a little flat, my least favourite being the Lady Lydia, who spent most of her time looking beautiful whilst being confused or upset.  Also, I felt some of the other characters didn’t read as consistent.

One of the highlights of the book was the level of detail the reader is given.  Places jump off the page so you can easily visualise where the characters are, and the author doesn’t shy away from darker topics: the grim reality of life at the time and the cost that must be paid for scientific breakthroughs.  I did find the pace a little slow in places and I wasn’t particularly bothered by the romance – it didn’t feel like an integrated part of the plot.

On the whole though, I did enjoy it and would read more books from this series.

Rating

3.5 / 5

Book Review: Snow White Must Die by Nele Neuhaus

Snow White Must Die (translated by Steven T Murray) is the fourth book in the Kirchhoff and Bodenstein series by Nele Neuhaus.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

A complex yet gripping mystery thriller, full of plot twists and turns.  I couldn’t put it down. 4 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

On a wet November day, Detectives Pia Kirchoff and Oliver von Bodenstein are summoned to the scene of a mysterious accident. A woman has fallen from a bridge onto the motorway below. It seems that she may have been pushed. The investigation leads them to a small town near Frankfurt, and the home of the victim, Rita Cramer.

On a September evening eleven years earlier, two seventeen-year-old girls, Laura and Stefanie (also known as Snow White), vanished without trace from this same village. In a trial based entirely on circumstantial evidence, Stefanie’s boyfriend, handsome and talented, Tobias Sartorius, was sentenced to ten years in prison. He has now returned to his home in an attempt to clear his name. Rita Cramer is his mother.

In the village, Pia and Oliver encounter a wall of silence. But when another young girl goes missing, the events of the past repeat themselves in a disastrous manner. The investigation turns into a dramatic race against time, because for the villagers, there is soon no doubt as to the identity of the perpetrator. And this time they are determined to take matters into their own hands.

Favourite Quote

Like poisonous lava these words erupted from the depths of him; finally all the bottled disappointment came pouring out.

Review

I didn’t realise until I finished the book that this is the fourth book in the series that stars Kirchhoff and Bodenstein.  However, the book works very well as a standalone. I don’t believe I missed out on anything of significance by not starting the series at the beginning.

Every character we come across in this story has a tale to tell.  It’s not only the main characters that have the depth of a backstory while everyone else is simply there to move the story along, but, just like in real life, all these personalities, histories and choices weave together to create a fabric of community.  And somewhere, in amongst all this, are secrets and truth.

Kirchhoff and Bodenstein are both very interesting, modern characters.  Kirchhoff keeps so many animals that she almost lives on a farm, so before her day of investigating crime begins, she’s already been up for hours looking after the animals.  As for Bodenstein, his family are land and castle-rich but money poor.  Their personal lives are brought with them wherever they go, and this helps them to appear very realistic.  What is going on at home isn’t only important when the chapter says they’ve left work behind, so it’s all right for you to flesh out your character.   Most people are not like that; and believable characters are not like that either.

There are a lot of characters in this story and it was a little difficult to keep up with who’s who, but that’s my only real problem with the book.  I found the story to be gripping and I resented having to put it down when real life said I had others things to do apart from read.  I wanted to know what was going to happen next, what the next plot twist would uncover, if the truth would come out before it was too late…

This is my first foray into German crime fiction and I really enjoyed it.  I definitely plan to read more of these books.  If you enjoy Scandi-Noir, or any other sort of European crime-drama, I recommend Snow White Must Die to you.

Rating