Monday, October 28, 2013

A Study in Silks

Emma Jane Holloway

Evelina Cooper, the niece of the great Sherlock Holmes, is poised to enjoy her first Season in London Society. But there’s a murderer to deal with—not to mention missing automatons, a sorcerer, and a talking mouse.

In a Victorian era ruled by a council of ruthless steam barons, mechanical power is the real monarch and sorcery the demon enemy of the Empire. Nevertheless, the most coveted weapon is magic that can run machines—something Evelina has secretly mastered. But rather than making her fortune, her special talents could mean death or an eternity as a guest of Her Majesty’s secret laboratories. What’s a polite young lady to do but mind her manners and pray she’s never found out?

But then there’s that murder. As Sherlock Holmes’s niece, Evelina should be able to find the answers, but she has a lot to learn. And the first decision she has to make is whether to trust the handsome, clever rake who makes her breath come faster, or the dashing trick rider who would dare anything for her if she would only just ask (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Evelina Cooper is caught between her past life as a circus performer and the possibilities of her new life amidst London’s upper crust of society. When a murder occurs in the home of her friend, Evie decides to try and solve it. In the process, she becomes tangled in more mystery and intrigue that should could have ever imagined.

When I start a story that is 500+ pages by an author I am not familiar with, I sometimes think - boy, I sure hope I’m going to like this. Will I like the author’s writing style? Will the story be interesting enough to carry from beginning to end?

I’m thrilled to say the answer to my questions was a resounding Yes! I was hooked from the beginning. I really liked Evie - she’s smart, feisty and wants to be independent. She’s loyal and helpful to her friends. The story had plenty of twists and ended with a nice cliff hanger that left me wanting more. Fortunately, I have the next book - A Study in Darkness - waiting in the wings.

Thanks to Random House Publishing Group - Del Rey Spectra, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: September 24, 2013.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Land of Dreams
Vidar Sundstol

Winner of the Riverton Prize for best Norwegian crime novel and named by Dagbladet as one of the top twenty-five Norwegian crime novels of all time, The Land of Dreams is the chilling first installment in Vidar Sundstøl’s critically acclaimed Minnesota Trilogy, set on the rugged north shore of Lake Superior and in the region’s small towns and deep forests.

The grandson of Norwegian immigrants, Lance Hansen is a U.S. Forest Service officer and has a nearly all-consuming passion for local genealogy and history. But his quiet routines are shattered one morning when he comes upon a Norwegian tourist brutally murdered near a stone cross on the shore of Lake Superior. Another Norwegian man is nearby; covered in blood and staring out across the lake, he can only utter the word kjærlighet. Love.

FBI agent Bob Lecuyer is assigned to the case, as is Norwegian detective Eirik Nyland, who is immediately flown in from Oslo. As the investigation progresses, Lance begins making shocking discoveries—including one that involves the murder of an Ojibwe man on the very same site more than one hundred years ago. As Lance digs into two murders separated by a century, he finds the clues may in fact lead toward someone much closer to home than he could have imagined.

The Land of Dreams is the opening chapter in a sweeping chronicle from one of Norway’s leading crime writers—a portrait of an extraordinary landscape, an exploration of hidden traumas and paths of silence that trouble history, and a haunting study in guilt and the bonds of blood (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

U.S. Forest Service police officer Lance Hansen discovers a gruesome murder. Because it occurred on Federal property, the case is turned over to the FBI. Because it involved a young man from Norway, a Norwegian detective is brought over to help investigate. Lance is essentially out of the investigative picture, except he holds one crucial piece on knowledge that could implicate a family member. Because Lance has a love of history for the area around Lake Superior, he is also researching a possible murder that occurred many years ago. How does this all tie together?

This is book one of the Minnesota Trilogy. I struggled a bit at the beginning of the story, but the more I read, the more involved I became. While I enjoyed the historical information, it did not always seem to fit into the story line. That being said, I did think this background detail ended up being important to the overall picture. I liked the second half of the book and thought the author left us with a nice cliff hanger. I am definitely interested now to find out how this story plays out and will be watching for the next two books.

My thanks to University of Minnesota Press, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: October 1, 2013.



Friday, October 18, 2013


Jennifer duBois

When Lily Hayes arrives in Buenos Aires for her semester abroad, she is enchanted by everything she encounters: the colorful buildings, the street food, the handsome, elusive man next door. Her studious roommate Katy is a bit of a bore, but Lily didn’t come to Argentina to hang out with other Americans.

Five weeks later, Katy is found brutally murdered in their shared home, and Lily is the prime suspect. But who is Lily Hayes? It depends on who’s asking. As the case takes shape—revealing deceptions, secrets, and suspicious DNA—Lily appears alternately sinister and guileless through the eyes of those around her: the media, her family, the man who loves her and the man who seeks her conviction. With mordant wit and keen emotional insight, Cartwheel offers a prismatic investigation of the ways we decide what to see—and to believe—in one another and ourselves.

Jennifer duBois’s debut novel, A Partial History of Lost Causes, was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction and was honored by the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 program. In Cartwheel, duBois delivers a novel of propulsive psychological suspense and rare moral nuance. Who is Lily Hayes? What happened to her roommate? No two readers will agree. Cartwheel will keep you guessing until the final page, and its questions about how much we really know about ourselves will linger well beyond. (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

Lily is a foreign exchange student in Argentina. She connects with the quirky neighbor next door, Sebastien. To call Sebastien quirky is actually an understatement. Katy is another American foreign exchange student who lives with the same host family as Lily’s. When this story begins, we already know that Katy has been murdered. Cartwheel is the story of what took place prior to Katy being murdered, along with the investigation handled by Eduardo Campos.Along the way, we meet Lily’s parents and younger sister, who come to spend time in Buenos Aires after Lily is first arrested.

This was extremely well written. The author has a magical way with words. Because of the detailed writing, I felt like I knew Lily. But as the story unfolds, we come to ask - does anyone know the real Lily? And then there is Sebastien, who because of his odd nature, was probably my most favorite character. I loved his sarcastic wit and couldn’t wait to read what would come out of his mouth next.

I was hooked from the very first page. There was a lot going on with this story, but the author did a great job of connecting all the dots. Ms. duBois has been added to my list of authors to watch, as I am very interested in reading more of her writing.

Thanks to Random House Publishing Group - Random House, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Commonplace Killing

Siân Busby

On a damp July morning in 1946, two schoolboys find a woman’s body in a bomb site in north London. The woman is identified as Lillian Frobisher, a wife and mother who lived in a war-damaged terrace a few streets away.

The police assume that Lil must have been the victim of a vicious sexual assault; but the autopsy finds no evidence of rape, and Divisional Detective Inspector Jim Cooper turns his attention to her private life.

How did Lil come to be in the bomb site – a well-known lovers’ haunt? If she had consensual sex, why was she strangled? Why was her husband seemingly unaware that she had failed to come home on the night she was killed?

In this gripping murder story, Siân Busby gradually peels away the veneer of stoicism and respectability to reveal the dark truths at the heart of postwar austerity Britain. (from Netgalley)

My Thoughts

This story starts is mainly told from two perspectives - Lillian Frobisher, the murder victim and DI Cooper, the murder investigator. Lillian hates her life and wants nothing more than to be some place, any place, else. DI Cooper, while excellent at his job, has a sad and lonely personal life. The story switches back and for between how Lillian ended up murdered, and how Cooper finds out who was responsible.

It took me a while to get interested in this book. At first, I felt the author was giving too much information into the personal lives of Lillian and Jim. But the more I read, the more I decided this was integral. It was important to understand who Lillian was, why she hated her life and how this lead to her making a decision that ultimately lead to her demise. Similarly, it was necessary to understand DI Cooper, because his personal life impacted how he behaved on the job.

I liked the way the author folded this all together. The second half of the story really picked up the pace as Cooper gets closer and closer to solving the mystery. This ended up being a very enjoyable read.

I would like to thank Atria Books/Marble Arch Press, via Netgalley, for allowing me to read this in exchange for an unbiased review.

Publish date: September 17, 2013.