Hastings District Libraries

Saturday, 25 March 2017

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapeña

With a small cast of characters, debut thriller writer, Shari Lapeña, extracts plenty of tension from the claustrophobic scenario she creates in The Couple Next Door. The story opens with a dinner party held by Cynthia and Graeme, who is celebrating his birthday. They are the neighbours of the main characters, Anne and Marco, who leave their baby home alone when their babysitter cancels at the last minute. They are after all just next door, and with half-hourly checks and a baby monitor, what could go wrong?

Anne is reluctant, she feels out of shape and plain next to the glamorous Cynthia, to say nothing of leaving baby Cora, but Marco insists. Anne has been struggling with post-natal depression, and a night out is just what she needs. But when the drinks keep flowing, and Cynthia flirts outrageously with Marco, and the hours tick by, it is soon no fun for Anne. Imagine the couple’s horror to return to find their baby gone and the front door left open.

Enter Inspector Rasbach and the spotlight is suddenly on Anne and Marco – had Anne’s depression caused her to kill her baby and for Marco to cover up the crime? And what of Marco’s failing business and growing debts? The investigation spirals slowly outwards when Anne’s wealthy parents arrive on the scene and a ransom demand finally arrives. Then there is the secret harboured by Cynthia and Graeme that threatens to tweak up the tension another notch.

This is a tightly written and compelling novel, the main characters full of flaws and insecurities, and as the pressure builds they seem ready to break. You get a good picture of the stresses on a young mother, struggling to manage her mental health while keeping up appearances, though the police investigation is only sketchily drawn. Other characters are also a little cardboard, and few are at all likeable; the book is all about the plot. It did keep my interest, though, and I belted through the chapters in no time. Sometimes a good airplane read is just what you need.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue link: The Couple Next Door

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

DC Universe Rebirth Omnibus Vol 1

We all like a good omnibus - large numbers of issues bound by a hard cover that you can read and reread to your heart’s content. Graphic novel book binding technology has always been slightly behind the times but in the last few years they have been able to make really large issues where the spine won’t split the first time you open it.

Now an omnibus is twenty or more issues in one. Usually they are collections of writers or artists that for some reason deserve a reissue/repackage.

So normally you have a lot of vested interest in an omnibus. Sometimes you have been waiting years for a collection to be gathered together or sometimes a series has been so successful they reissue it for the people who are only now coming on board and the fans who will buy two copies anyway. (One to read and one as mint.)

DC does neither of these things here. This is 21 issues of an entirely new story arc: Rebirth.

Initially that should sound interesting as you have 21 first issues but in reality you have 21 different stories that that are going in different directions. The connection is Wally West (Flash) as he appears in most of them and no doubt it will all come together in the months ahead. Saying that, this issue was fairly pricey so it’s an expensive way to collect. Another good reason to use the library.

Most of the stories are original stories with a twist around there being a problem with time. The characters are much the same with some minor uniform changes and a female Green Lantern character. Why we need another Green Lantern for sector 2814 as there are four or five active ones already, who knows! (Yes you can name them.)

It all looks much the same except except for the bits thrown in from the TV shows. Read it as an introduction to what is currently going on in the DC Universe and see if you want to continue as the story unravels.

The Library Cat

Catalogue link: DC Universe Rebirth Omnibus Vol 1

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Dr Bloodmoney by Philip K Dick

It’s good to see some of the older science fiction writers being re-released under this SF Mastersworks banner. Some of these novels have probably been out of print for some time and are well worth having a look at. The library currently has a number of books by Philip K Dick and some of his story collections in e-book format.

At one stage I owned most of Philip K Dick’s works - owning them was the only way of being able to reread them. Publishing houses never seemed to do big runs of his books, so they were always hard to find in libraries or second-hand bookshops.

In Dr Bloodmoney, there is not a long build up to the situation in which the characters find themselves and it all develops rather quickly from there. Basically there is a nuclear war and there are a number of characters who are known to each other before the war. They are reunited in the new circumstances, post-war, and what happens next, makes an interesting story.

Those who know Philip K Dick stories will be familiar with the various themes he presents in this novel. Well worth a read.

Posted by The Library Cat

Catalogue link: Dr Bloodmoney

Thursday, 16 March 2017

City of the Lost by Kelly Armstrong

Casey Duncan is a homicide detective with a desperate need to disappear. She has been living a shell of a life, always on the move, since she killed the grandson of a mobster in college. Her best friend, Diana, is on the run from her abusive ex-husband. After both their pasts begin to catch up with them they know it is time to leave. Quickly.

Through the great vine, Diana has heard of a place that helps you disappear, for a price. Although Casey has her doubts after some investigating both are accepted and must walk away from their old life into the Canadian wilderness. Rockton is an off grid town population: 200.

It soon becomes obvious that the only reason Casey was accepted is because she is the only trained homicide detective on the hunt for a safe passage. Rockton has just had its first murder and the bodies are beginning to pile up. Will Casey be able to find the killer before her and Diana are no longer safe again?

I almost did not give this book a go but something made me take it home. The blurb gave me the idea that there may be a supernatural element to the storyline which isn’t really my thing. Turns out I was wrong and thankfully I did as I read it in bed in one night!

City of the Lost was originally released as a 6 part eBook series before it was published in mid-2016.  Imagine my surprise (and excitement) when I found out that not only was this the beginning of a series but that the second book in the series was published early 2017. I have already devoured book two and am counting down the months until book three is released, or a date is even announced.

It is not often I come across a new crime author that I enjoy so much. I came into work raving about it to anyone that would listen and it turns out I had convinced another staff member to take it home and she enjoyed it as much as I did.

Reviewed by Kristen

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

The Dead House by Harry Bingham

Harry Bingham’s detective series featuring DS Fiona Griffiths just keeps getting better. What is so striking about it is the author’s ability to come up with new and interesting crimes, without throwing at the reader yet another creepy serial killer.

Perhaps this is down to the nature of his sleuth. Fiona Griffiths has Cotard’s Syndrome, a mental illness that causes the patient to believe they are dead. Fiona has had a lot of therapy, so she can now function reasonably well on ‘planet normal’. She’s also highly trained in martial arts and is never happier than when taking risks.

When Fiona is called to investigate a body found in a remote Welsh village, she finds a young woman laid out in a churchyard outbuilding, surrounded by candles and dressed in a light summer frock unsuitable for the chilly October night. Fiona resists the urge to phone in the scene of crime experts, wanting to spend a little time with her discovery.

She soon spots that the girl has had plastic surgery and yet her legs are unshaven, her fingernails clipped, not filed. When a post-mortem indicates the body has died from natural causes, Fiona ignores her superiors and continues to investigate, and with local copper, DI Burnett, keen on the idea of promotion, uncovers a link with a secluded monastery.

The two make an interesting team and the case will throw them into some dangerous situations, as they close in on an organised crime ring. And surely there’s a connection to Bethan Williams, a teenager who disappeared only a few miles away.

There is certainly plenty here to keep the plot humming along, and narrated from inside Fiona’s head, you are right there with her weird and sudden decisions. The story uncovers one of the most unusual crimes I have ever come across – prepare to be surprised - and of course it is down to the wire whether Fiona will nail the baddies and live to tell the tale. Which is as it should be.

The Dead House
is another top read in what is turning out to be one of the more compelling crime series around. Don’t miss it.

Posted by JAM

Catalogue link: The Dead House

Sunday, 12 March 2017

DC Universe Rebirth The Deluxe Edition by Geoff Johns

I have to say from the outset that I am not a huge DC fan but these rebirth/reboot issues can come up with some quite interesting stories. The fact that DC and Marvel do them regularly to mix up the heroes, their universes and to bring back the dead, can in fact get quite annoying - making it difficult to feel invested in any of the characters in any way.

Here we have an oversized format printed on matt finish paper with a few extra covers, etc. A very good looking graphic novel. As an introduction to the Rebirth saga and as a teaser it works. The artwork is great and you get enough of the story to make you want to continue with the series.

The story :
Something is wrong with the timeline. The Flash, Wally West, has been forgotten and a large period of time is missing, also there are references to The Watchmen so expect some sort of overlap into that universe.

Looks interesting but it all depends on how quickly the story progresses in the other graphic novels to whether it will keep my interest. Worth a look.

Posted by The Library Cat

Catalogue link: DC Universe Rebirth

Friday, 10 March 2017

Quick Reviews from Book Chat

The Last Night by Celia Major is the story of two women beginning with Irina, who immersed in her work restoring furniture, is trying to forget the past. The arrival of an old desk takes the reader to the story of Abigail and the 1950s. Abigail it seems has troubled secrets of her own. Lots of detail makes for an evocative read, with a paranormal element that adds a sense of foreboding.

Whispers Through the Trees by Susan Plunkett
Returning home to care for her sister after a devastating accident, noted ornithologist, Abby Stanton finds plenty to keep her busy on remote Sparrow Island. There are the birds of course, and soon she is trying to save an endangered pair of marbled murrelets. There’s also a mystery surrounding one of the nearby families that draws Abby towards her new calling of amateur sleuth. This is a cosily diverting read, the first in the Mysteries of Sparrow Island series.

Reykjavik Nights by Arnuldar Indridason
A prequel to Indridason’s popular mystery series, Reykjavik Nights features lone-wolf detective, Inspector Erlendur, as a young police officer investigating the death of a tramp found drowned in a ditch. He discovers a link with the disappearance of a woman last seen walking home from a nightclub. Although he has yet to join the ranks of CID, the young officer is obsessed with missing persons – something to do with a tragedy in his childhood. This is a moody, atmospheric crime read by one of the top Scandinavian writers of the genre.

The Solomon Curse by Clive Cussler
This is the seventh in the series featuring husband and wife treasure hunters, Sam and Remi Fargo. In this adventure, the pair are drawn to a bay off Guadalcanal, said to be the site of a lost empire and associated treasure. There are rumours of unpleasant happenings and weird disappearances. Quite an unusual story-line, this one, so to get the true Fargo flavour, try starting with Spartan Gold, the first in the series if you haven’t read Cussler before.

The House on Seaview Road by Alison Walsh
Set on the coast of Ireland, the story follows two sisters, beginning when they are teenagers left without a mother, their father silent and grief-stricken. Marie promises to take care of her flighty younger sister, but events one night at a school dance will have repercussions through the rest of their lives. A well-written, thoughtful novel that conjures up the time and place of Ireland in the 1980s.

Posted by Flaxmere Book Chat