Category Archives: crime fiction

Bitter Flowers by Gunnar Staaleson – a review

I enjoy a good ‘ScandiNoir’ and have read and enjoyed a number of Gunnar Staaleson previous novels from his impressive back catalogue therefore I was lucky to get a place on the Orenda blog tour for his latest novel Bitter Flowers.

Bitter Flowers sees main character PI Varg Veum returning to work after a stint in rehab. His first job is offered to him by his physio Lisbeth. It should be a simple case of house sitting but on his arrival at the house he is met with a dead body in the swimming pool, and Lisbeth goes missing. As Varg starts to investigate he finds a tangled web of lies involving shocking environmental crimes, big business and protestors. It’s not long before there are links to the disappearance of a little girl eight years ago who was never found and Varg is thrown headlong into his most challenging case yet.

Bitter Flowers was another great novel from prolific Norwegian author Gunnar Staaleson that I really enjoyed. The story is just as twisty as you would expect from Gunnar with some great characters that you’ll both love and hate.

Although this is part of a series the books most definitely work as stand alone novels and I have not read them in any order (I believe this is the first time that Bitter Flowers has been translated into English) One of the things I like about these is that the life of Varg is not the central element of the book. The focus of the story is the mystery of the dead and missing, with just enough of Varg’s life to make him an interesting character but not take over.

This story was set in the early 80’s which I’ll admit to not really realising at first but as soon as I worked that out things started to click into place. I enjoy stories set in different cultures and the fact this was set over twenty years ago in Norway gave it an added dimension.

I found Bitter Flowers a good read that was a slow burner but one that will draw you in and keep you guessing until the end!

To find out what others thought of Bitter Flowers visit the other stops on the blog tour.

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Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner – a review BLOG TOUR

I am a huge fan of Lisa Gardner so I was delighted to be invited onto the blog tour for her latest book, Before She Disappeared.

In Before She Disappeared we are introduced to Frankie. She dedicates her life to searching for missing people when everyone else has given up. Her latest case brings her to Boston where a young Haitian immigrant Angelique vanished a year ago. Frankie takes a job behind a local bar that comes with accommodation (as well as a rather feral room mate). She starts to look into the case despite a luke warm reception from the missing girls family and hostility from the Boston PD, and soon realises there is more to this case than just a runaway teenager.

Before She Disappeared was a great read that I raced through. The story was interesting with lots of red herrings scattered throughout and I enjoyed the way it seemed to change pace, one minute it is quite slow and the investigation has almost stalled, the next we are in the middle of a gun chase. Whilst the background of the story is quite bleak, as with all of Lisa Gardner’s writings there are elements of humour throughout, and it’s a testament to the skill of the author that the two can sit side by side.

It is a standalone book that was very character focused. I really liked the main character of Frankie, of course she is flawed. An ex-alcoholic with a past that haunts her, she acts with little regard to her own life, yet there was something about her that I really warmed to. Her interaction with other characters shows different sides to her from the tough investigator, to the caring friend.

I very much enjoyed this book and although this is currently a standalone I do hope we haven’t seen the last of Frankie Elkin.

To find out what others thought of Before She Disappeared don’t forget to visit the other stops on the blog tour.

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Ask Me No Questions by Louisa De Lange – a review

I am continuing to work my way down my TBR pile, and the latest to reach the top was Ask Me No Questions by Louisa De Lange. Firstly I do have one issue, the title. You can imagine how annoying it is trying to read, when someone finds it hilarious to ask every thirty seconds, what are you reading? Ask Me No Questions… You can imagine the reaction.

Anyway, Ask Me No Questions opens with an article about a married couple who were murdered by their neighbour leaving behind their twin girls. As children twins Thea and Gabi were inseparable, however as adults they haven’t spoken in 15 years, until Gabi is viciously attacked and Thea reappears. DS Kate Munro is investigating the attack and believes that it is personal. However in order to find out why it happened she first needs to try and unpick the secrets that both the twins are keeping.

This was an interesting story that started off relatively simple but was soon twisting and turning as we slowly uncovered what happened on the night of the attack. Overall I enjoyed this story. It was an interesting premise, and there were lots of red herrings and plot changes that kept me guessing. I did find myself getting a little confused between the characters at times, as the story flicked back and forward between present day and past but it all came together in the end.

I liked the character of DS Munro. To start with she seemed rather clinical and cold yet I soon found her tenacious attitude quite refreshing. Yes she made some rather stupid decisions and clearly had an alcohol issue, but I actually enjoyed the way the story focused very much on the case in hand rather than there being lots of detective back story that is often the case in detective novels, it made a nice change.

Ask Me No Questions was a good read that I enjoyed and would definitely look out for the next in the series.

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The Good Samaritan by CJ Parson – a review BLOG TOUR

I have a bad habit of downloading books onto my kindle and then completely forgetting what they about, even if I’m on a blog tour. That is exactly what happened with The Good Samaritan by C.J Parsons, so I started reading with no idea of what the story was about but I was soon sucked in.

The Good Samaritan starts with Carrie’s 5 year old daughter Sophia going missing from their local play park. Carrie has a condition meaning that she cannot read facial expressions and finds social situations difficult, so struggles to cope with new people. Days after the abduction Sophia is found by a stranger but there is no sign of the abductor and the police have no clues. Carrie is therefore going to have to try and trust her own instincts to keep herself and her daughter safe.

I thought this was a great read that kept me absolutely engrossed. I found the story quite unusual, a crime has been committed but there seems to be no motive or clue as to the perpetrator and Sophia has been returned unharmed. There seems to be two potential suspects, yet neither of them stand out and as the story progresses I was constantly going backwards and forwards thinking one thing and then changing my mind.

I found the character of Carrie intriguing. Being unable to read emotions from facial expressions was not a condition I had heard of before. You soon realise how difficult it would make situations if you couldn’t tell the difference between a genuine smile or a sarcastic one. I felt real sympathy for Carrie as she tried to navigate her way through situations that to most of us would be relatively simple. Her reliance on others to interpret emotion put her at a real threat of those who might want to take advantage.

This novel really focuses on just six people despite an interesting cast of supplemental characters and I felt that gave it a strange sense of tension, almost like a locked room style mystery. The two detectives on the case Juliet and Alistair were good characters. They gave a different element to the story and complemented the more intense character of Carrie as they bounced off one another.

This was an excellent story that I thoroughly enjoyed, I would definitely read more from CJ Parsons!

Find out what others on the blog tour thought of The Good Samaritan

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