CAROFIGLIO’S LATEST IS AN EXCELLENT MEASURE OF HIS TIME AS A WRITER AND LEGAL HEAVYWEIGHT

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Courtroom dramas have long been a staple of the crime reading and watching public. I remember as a child, my mum being fascinated by ‘Crown Court’ a series of fictional legal cases presented as hour long plays. Think too of the popular Rumpole of the Bailey , Law and Order and Suits. In literary form, we have been entranced by courtroom stories since ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, with authors like Michael Connelly and John Grisham writing whole series of books which introduce us to the intricacies of the American Legal system.

Cameras were never allowed in real courtrooms, before 2004. In fact, it was illegal to photograph or broadcast the proceedings the cases in a British court from 1925 to June 2020. Maybe the mysterious and hidden nature of legal proceedings, made them more appealing to the minds of the reader because of that.

This month’s third review ’The Measure of Time’ by Gianrico Carofiglio is published by Bitter Lemon Press (www.bitterlemonpress.com) on the 15th March. 

Here the reader meets, lawyer Guido Guerrieri, in his sixth outing for the author. One spring afternoon, Lorenza, a former lover of his, shows up in his office. Her son Jacopo stands convicted of the first degree murder of a local drug dealer. For the appeal, Lorenza turns to Guerrieri. But he is not convinced of the boy’s innocence, nor does he have fond memories of how their relationship ended. Nevertheless, he accepts the case and soon becomes embroiled in a fascinating judicial process, tainted by unreliable testimony and hasty and incomplete police work.

This is my first encounter with this author and I am impressed. The translation from Italian to English is impeccable. It’s a sign of a good translation, when you read a third of the book before wondering if it is a translation. So, a thank you too to Howard Curtis. And it’s of course the sign of a good book, when you get caught up in the story so well that you aren’t thinking of the mechanics of the writing. Guido, seems an interesting character. I’d like to read the other books to get more of an insight into his character. Its  very apparent he has a great love of Italian food. The description of the dishes make your mouth water! The procedural and legal aspects of the story are clearly explained. No grandstanding or theatrics. Definitely no Judge Judy here.

Gianrica Carofiglio (periodicodaily.com)

This Italian author Gianrico Carofiglio’s (@GianricoCarof) 12th book and his sixth featuring Guido Guerrieri. The others include Involuntary Witness (2002), Walk In The Dark (2003), Reasonable Doubts (2006), Temporary Perfections (2010), The Silence Of The Wave (2011), Cocaine (2013), A Fine line (2014) and Three O’Clock In The Morning (2017). Before becoming a full time novelist Carofiglio was a member of the Italian Senate and also an Anti-Mafia prosecutor in the Italian port city of Bari.

This is a satisfying, mature read and will be a great addition to the library of readers who like their legal drama thoughtful and grounded. So with foreign holidays still looking very remote again this year, download a copy or order one on line from your local bookshop and escape to Italy in the company of Guerrieri and Carofiglio.

Reviewed by: Georgina Murphy

This is book review is part of a Random Things Blog Tour, to see what the other reviewers thought of the book, visit their blogs listed below. Then, if you get a copy comeback and tell us what you thought, we’d really appreciate the feedback.

PARKS WILL FOREVER LIVE ON MY MUST READ PILE WITH BOOKS LIKE THIS

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Were back in Scotland’s second city again, following our brief visit late last year, when we reviewed Jeremy Vine’s debut The Diver and The Lover, which told the story behind the painting of Dali’s Christ of Saint John of The Cross and how it came to end up in the city’s famous Kelvingrove Art Museum in 1952. But, for this month’s second book review we jump two decades on to the summer of 1973, and “The Dear Green Place” as it is affectionately known, according to Wiki , is baking in an unusually tropical heat. (Although for someone who lives less than two hundred miles from the city as the crow flies, any time the temperature goes above fifteen degrees in these parts, we think we’re in the tropics). The city is rife with drugs, drink, and poverty, while the new music scene which is sweeping the nation has also landed in Glasgow. In the midst of all this, a gritty and hardened local “Polis” detective is up to his oxters in blood, sweat, booze, bank robberies and walking a fine line between both sides of the law. The book is Bobby March Will Live FOREVER by Alan Parks and published in paperback by Black Thorn Books (www.blackthornbooks.com) on the 25th February.

There’s a heatwave in Glasgow and to add to the city’s problems a young girl Alice Kelly has gone missing. The whole force is put out on the streets to find her, all that is except Harry McCoy. He’s had a run in with his current boss Raeburn, a real brown noser whose doing all he can climb the ladder, and thus Harry is dispatched to investigate the death of local Rockstar Bobby March, who died as a result of an overdose in a city centre hotel. On top that an old colleague has asked Harry to find another young runaway, his niece, as a favour. While McCoy is also looking over some bank robbery cases for his partner “Wattie” Watson, whose now shadowing Raeburn instead of Harry. Talk about rain and pouring, although that is something that is not happening in Glasgow, the mercury is rising and so is the temperament of the city’s residents, fuelled by the press who want blood and the police bigwigs who want results fast. But when Raeburn makes a costly mistake, which threatens not just Harry but Watson’s career, McCoy must use all his cunning and every snout to bring things to a satisfying conclusion, but can he do it in time…

I haven’t been in a pub in seven months and that alone was a once off. All in all for most of us here in Ireland and the UK, it’s been nigh on a year since we were in a pub. As for a real hot sweaty smoky bar, it’s been 17 years. That’s when the smoking ban in Ireland (29th March 2004) came into effect. Yes, it was for the benefit of all our health, but there are some things that you just miss. I did smoke a celebratory cigar last year for my roundy birthday and at a Spanish wedding at the behest of the groom, two years before that.

This is what reading Alan Parks novel did for me. He brought me back to the days of my youth. Jeez, I sound a hundred (I’m in my late forties, early fifties… Covid years). But from page one I was transported back to a time when string vests, bell bottoms, paisley ties and underwear, along with a cigarette hanging off the end of your lip was cool… I was four when this book was set, but like most of us I can remember things from those days that you don’t see now, white dog poo and cultural references such as Tufty, an animated squirrel, used to teach us kids how to cross the road. Along with other things that the PC brigade has run out of town. But it is just so lovely to be able to immerse yourself in a sweet sweaty memory, while being engrossed in a gritty and gripping mystery, unaided by modern technology.

As for Harry, he’s of the Gene Hunt school of policing (Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes TV series), although there’s now’t to say he and DCI Jim Taggart the lead character from long the running Glasgow based British TV series “Taggart” are that far removed either, in both tenacity and geography. McCoy is of a time when men were cops, female police officers were glorified tea makers and eye candy used to brighten up the offices. While criminals were respectful and knew when the game was up, and both sides of the law used violence in equal measure to achieve an end result.

Alan Parks (HeraldScotland)

The writing is superb and Parks in-depth knowledge of Glasgow life, local humour and idiosyncrasies shines through the heat haze coming off the Clyde. Yes, there’s a lot of strands running through the book and Harry has his hands full, but law enforcement officers, even today with all their computers and technology are under the cosh when it comes to staying on top of their every increasing case load.

The gripping reality of the story left me almost having to wipe the city from my shoes every time I put the book down, along with trying to get the taste of it from my mouth and senses. Something only really allowed by calls of nature, sleep, and the body’s need for sustenance.

This is Scottish author Alan Parks (@AlanJParks) third Harry McCoy Novel, the others are Bloody JANUARY (2017) and February’s SON (2019). His fourth The April DEAD is due out later this year. Before becoming a crime writer Parks worked in the music industry for twenty years managing up and coming bands, before moving into the creative side of the business, working with the likes of New Order, All saints and Enya. Bloody JANUARY was shortlisted for the ‘Grand Prix de Litterature Policiere’, while Bobby March Will Live FOREVER was nominated for an ‘Edgar’ award and selected by The Times as one of their ‘2020 Books of the Year’. Parks still lives and works in Glasgow.

My advice is to pour yourself a large scotch, order online or download Parks first three books. Then prepare to be transported into the past of your youth or your parents’ formative years and walk the sultry streets of 1970’s Glasgow with Harry McCoy and the host of very lifelike and believable characters summoned by the excellent penmanship of Alan Parks.

Reviewed by   Adrian Murphy

This review is part of a Random Things Blog Tour, to see what the other reviewers thought visit their blogs listed below. Then, if you get a copy, comeback and tell us what you thought. We’d really appreciate the feedback.

THERE WILL BE NO SLEEP WHEREVER YOU ARE, LET ALONE PARIS, WITH DRUART’S DEBUT

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I’ve been enjoying a run of war-based novels in the last few weeks. First there was The Dressmaker of Paris, by Georgia Kauffmann, which was reviewed last month. Then for my book group I read All the Light We Cannot See, By Anthony Doerr and finally, our first ‘The library Door’ review for March is, While Paris Slept, by Ruth Druart published by Headline (www.headline.co.uk) on the 4th March.

The Second World War, an era now beginning to fade from living memory, is one which fascinates us. In recent reviews I have pondered whether I would, as I like to believe, be brave enough to do the right thing or would I be one of the ‘sheeple’ as current popular slang describes them, who keep their head down and follow the crowd? When visiting Berlin pre lockdown, I was visiting one of the many museums. I was interested by a photograph of a huge crowd at a Nazi rally. One man was circled. He was the only individual in that huge mass of people who was refusing to do the salute to Hitler. The notes on the picture commented on his bravery ad possible foolhardiness. Over the passing years we’ve heard of individuals who at great personal risk, hid, smuggled or otherwise protected Jews from the concentration camps. Some stories only came to light many years later and those saved sometimes never got the chance to thank their rescuer. The war left so many displaced, orphaned or lost children, one wonders how many never knew the exact truth of their beginnings.

In While Paris Slept, we follow the wartime and post time experiences of two couples. Jean Luc is a French railway worker, being forced to work for the occupying Germans. Charlotte is a young woman, working as a nurse in a German hospital in Paris. They meet when Jean Luc is taken to hospital after a mishandled attempt at sabotage. They feel like they should be doing more to resist the Germans and discuss joining the French Resistance. Sarah and David are a Jewish couple who are caught hiding from the Germans with their new-born child. Sarah is being loaded onto a train at the station where Jean Luc is working. During a moment of chaos she hands over her son to this stranger. The story then follows both couples survival of the war. The narrative moves from America in the fifties back to 1944 as events reveal themselves. Their destinies are entangled. Their choices will affect the future in ways they can’t imagine.

At first this novel begins like its going to be a romance. Maybe a little bit of adventure and wartime drama thrown in. Then it moves onto the still, sadly, familiar territory of evasion and survival and sacrifice during the war in relation to the persecution of the Jewish people. However, here we have a twist. The ground is being laid for a Kramer versus Kramer type battle over a child. Its beautifully done. We have learned to like and admire all four adult characters. It would be so easy if any of them were less likeable, less worthy, less deserving. Its interesting to see how the issues faced are handled by 1950’s ‘experts’ and to imagine how it would hopefully be managed more sensitively now.

Ruth Druart

The story is told from the point of view of each character and moves forward and back in time. Each chapter helpfully has the name of the character we are hearing from at the start. I liked having a copy of the printed book. On kindle or on audio, I might have found it a little confusing. However, each character is beautifully written, the different ‘voices’ easily apparent. The child is written so as you can hear the words being thought or spoken in that childish way. The quietness and sadness of Sarah shines through as does the impetuousness and lively character of Charlotte.

This is English born, French author Ruth Druart’s (@ruthdruart) first novel. Ruth grew up on the Isle of Wight and left when she was eighteen to study philosophy at Leicester. In 1993 she moved to Paris to pursue her career in teaching, where she met her French husband and raised three sons, she still lives there today. While working she wrote numerous drafts of While Paris Slept, on her daily commute. She decided to take a sabbatical over a year ago to follow her dream of becoming a full time writer, while also running her writing group.

This is a thought provoking read. It took me a little while to get hooked but I stayed up beyond my bedtime the last two nights, as I just had to know what happened in the end. Not many books without a strong balance of good versus bad characters can make you that invested. This may be a crowded market, but this book should rise above. It’s a great tale of the motherhood. In protecting our children should we always hold tightly onto them or should we be willing to let them go?

This is highly recommended as a Mothering Sunday present for the wonderful woman in your life. So order a copy online or download it soon.

Reviewed by: Georgina Murphy

This review is part of a Random Things Blog Tour, to see what the other reviewers thought visit their blogs listed below. Then if you get a copy and read it, comeback and tell us what you thought. We’d really appreciate the feedback.

SHINDLER RETURNS LEAVING LITTLE CHOICE BUT PICK UP HIS KILLER READ

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I have often wondered, if faced with the difficult choices and moral dilemmas that our ancestors faced in times of war, the modern generation would be all for themselves or would they do the right thing , even at cost to themselves? When you read social media and newspaper’s , there’s very little evidence of self sacrifice of thinking of others first but the odd story does stand out. I suppose it really was the same in previous eras. We all like to think we’d do the right thing and are a good person but often we take the easy path through fear of selfishness. In this month’s third review we meet a killer who is testing the theory of making people choose between themselves and others. It’s ‘The Killing Choice’ by Will Shindler, published by Hodder & Stoughton (www.hodder.co.uk) on the 4th February.

This is the second book featuring Detective Inspector Alex Finn. The Library Door reviewed his previous outing in ‘The Burning Men’, a year ago. We were unfortunately late to the blog tour party for the release of this one (due to have been reviewed on the 6th Feb), as our copy was late arriving here in Ireland, due to lockdown, Covid 19, or Brexit. You can take your pick. Deliveries are proving very erratic here. Basically, if there’s a deadline, you’ll miss it but if there’s no rush, the item arrives very quickly.

Enough complaining, back to the book.. In this thriller the victims are faced with a choice by the killer. They must choose between themselves and a loved one or between two loved ones to save one person or themselves. The initial victims, Karl and his daughter Leah, are ambushed by a figure in a blank mask. At knife point, Karl is asked to make an impossible choice. Stay and they both die or leave Leah and accept the killer’s word that they will both live. If Karl leaves and Leah dies will he ever be able to live with himself? Subsequently other seemingly random people are offered similar choices as the killer leaves a trail of bodies across London. DI Finn and his detective constable, Mattie Paulson, must hunt for a killer with no face, no conscience and seemingly no motive , whilst battling problems of their own.

This is another dark crime thriller from Will Shindler, which keeps you turning the pages. It makes you think about what you’d do in the circumstances and also how social media and the mainstream media judge the motives and actions of strangers. The descriptions of the killings are quite graphic and gory, so not for the feint hearted, but the story is neatly resolved at the end, so you are at least able to sleep soundly again after finishing the book. We also get to know a little more about the lives and back stories of Alex, Mattie and another returning team member, Jackie Ojo. Alex is still struggling with grief after the death of his wife. Mattie is dealing with the increasing frailty of her parents and we are introduced to her brother. The characters are rounding out nicely.

Will Shindler

This is English author Will Shindler’s (@willshindlerauthor) second book featuring his crime fighting duo of Detective Inspector Alex Finn and Detective Constable Mattie Paulsen, the other one being Burning Men (2020). Previously Shindler was a broadcast journalist with the BBC, before spending a decade as scriptwriter on such TV drama’s as Born & Bred, The Bill and Doctors. He currently combines reading the news on BBC Radio London and writing crime novels.

What I particularily like about this book and the previous book , is that Shindler has given us a killer with a motive and specific victims. I find too many authors go down the route of putting one of their central characters in the killers sights, and the books become all about the main character and sometimes about a vendetta against them , and  happens in every subsequent book. Shindler has a well-reasoned motive and in these two books , a specific reason for choosing  the victim and the mode of killing. Its all very satisfying when its reasoned out at the end of the book.

So what would I chose? I guess I wouldn’t know unless it happened. So maybe I shouldn’t support those threads, sites and newsfeeds which are so quick to point a finger. What I do know is that you should order or download a copy of the Killing Choice as soon as possible. That’s a no brainer at least!

Reviewed by : Georgina Murphy

This review was meant to be part of a blog tour organised by Hodder & Stoughton, to see what other reviewers thought, visit their blogs listed below. Then if you get a copy comeback and tell us what you thought, we’d really appreciate the feedback.

MURRELL’S DEBUT SHOWS NO FEAR AS A RISING STAR FROM DOWN UNDER

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Love is in the air, everywhere I look around…” So, the lyrics of the John Paul Young song go. But with today being the fourteenth of February, it’s quite apt for this book review, with its plot based on the use of cutting-edge technology to put love or the feelings of intense emotion in the air or more appropriately in the ears. This month’s second book review is Yearn To Fear by Chas Murrell and was self-published in November 2020.

Marcus Hall is an Australian scientist working at CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) developing ground-breaking 5G Wi-Fi technology with Lamarr computer chips (Yes, Hedy wasn’t just a beautiful actress, but also had a razor-sharp mind to boot). One afternoon when his boss is off sick, Marcus and his colleague Henry Henderson, inadvertently create a device that therapeutically allows the wearer to experience very intense “wet dreams”. When his project manager Sarah returns a couple of days later after recovering from the flu and in guidance with post COVID-19 protocols, he informs her of their discovery. She in turn informs their General Manager, but after that meeting, she starts acting very strangely and goes straight home with Marcus’s prototype. When he makes a welfare check on Sarah at her house later, he discovers that Henry is a spy working for the Australian Government, but then both men find Sarah murdered. A couple of hours after that, Marcus’s brother, sister in-law and girlfriend are kidnapped. With his prototype missing, along with his family now in danger and a mysterious kidnapper demanding Marcus hand over all other prototypes and plans for their development in return for the hostage’s freedom, can he trust Henry to help rescue the situation.

Wow, the first quarter of this book had me stopping to check I hadn’t picked up a Mills & Boon by accident, as it is very raunchy (Bridgerton-esque) and hedonistic. Every one of the main characters seems to be having sex. That’s without even trying out the revolutionary new device Marcus has created, let alone what they experience with it. However, after the discovery of Sarah’s murder, things slip into typical espionage mode.

Australian or antipodean spy thrillers aren’t new, take the Netflix series Pine Gap and Secret City for example. In the past I have read the works of fellow Australian thriller writer Matthew Reilly, behind me on the shelf sit two books by fellow Aussie rising star Chris Hammer (Scrubland and Silver), both read by my wife and fellow reviewer Georgina. While more recently I reviewed New Zealander,  Vanda Symon’s, Sam Shepherd series on this blog and am looking forward to listening to her third book in the series Containment on Audible over the next week.

As for Yearn To Fear, it is a thoroughly enjoyable book, and Murrell really sets a fast pace with a unique and well researched story, while the banter between the main characters does make it an easy read and give it a feel very much of a Roger Moore 007 outing.

That is not to take away from the characters and the writing. The master mind and villain of the piece is very believably cold and manipulative. Murrell, breathes life into the story and characters, with in depth descriptions of anatomical reactions and engineering workings, whiskey and weaponry. At times, the technology being described even for someone working on an IT magazine, was a bit over whelming and felt slightly over my head. But overall, the storyline and intrigue keep the reader engaged right to the end.

Chas Murrell

This is Australian author Chas Murrell’s debut novel (www.chasmurrellcom.au). He’s a former Police Officer, Fire Commander, Customs Coastwatch Surveillance Co-Ordinator, mechanic and EMT instructor. He’s also previously written academic papers on liquid hydrogen, while also held a worldwide patent for a nonlinear mathematical calculation. (how much can one person fit into a life… I’m fifty and still have a lot of living left to get to a quarter of what Chas has achieved). He lives with his family in Tasmania, which he claims is very much like Scotland, which is apt considering he can claim to be a direct descendant of Robert The Bruce. When not writing you may find him online playing World Of Tanks (fancy a game of COD).

Another thing that makes this book standout among its contemporaries, especially those being published in around this time, is it’s deft references to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the beginning it highlights the financial results of the technology Marcus and Henry are working on to Australia’s budget deficit following the pandemic and then the covid-19 protocols Sarah has to follow after the bout of influenza. This is something I’m eagerly watching to see how other books, authors and TV shows respond to in the coming months. In this instance it’s another sign of a bright new talent responding to world changing events to keep his work relevant.

So, take my advice and order a copy online from Chas’s website as well as amazon and then snuggle up – while were still in Lockdown and get into this debut before the the next instalment of the “Lamarr” series Fear To Recal lands later this year.

Reviewed by   Adrian Murphy

This book review is part of a Random Things Blog Tour, to see what the other reviewers thought visit their pages listed below. Then if you get a copy, comeback and tell us what you thought, we’d really appreciate the feedback.

KAUFMANN’S DEBUT SKIRTS ACROSS TIME WITH A TALE OF LOVE, LOSS AND EMPOWERMENT

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Prior to the second world war, my grandmother was a lady’s maid in a grand house in the Nottinghamshire countryside. The daughter of a coalminer, she achieved this position, with its travel to London for the season and summer holiday’s on the Dorset coast, by winning a needlework competition. Her winning entry caught the fine Lady’s eye and my great grandparents were asked if she could go ‘into service’. As a 14-year-old, this must have been a daunting proposition. My grandmother certainly became a modern woman, working as a bus conductress in the war and running a ‘chippy’ after. Following the death of her husband in her 50’s, she returned to working with textiles, becoming a cutter and examiner in a local factory.  She was always interested in fashion, never went out without her hair done or her ‘lippy’. I hope to emulate her style, love of travel, independence and joy in life through the rest of mine, especially once I get vaccinated and liberated!

These reminiscences bring me to this month’s final review, its The Dressmaker of Paris by Georgia Kauffmann published by Hodder & Stoughton (www.hodder.co.uk) on the 28th January. This is the story of Rosa Kusttatscher, born in the mountains of Italy and who is forced to flee during the war to Switzerland following a traumatic event. Having discovered a skill and interest in fashion, she moves to Paris. Here as well as developing he career, she finds love. Moving to Brazil, she experiences both tragedy and success. When we meet her in New York, she has found peace and happiness. Her past haunts her still. She has spent a life running, she realises. But now she will run no more.

Each chapter begins with a short vignette about her preparations for an important meeting Rosa is going to. She explains some aspect of her toilette or appearance to the reader in a chatty, informative way. We do not know whom she is addressing, as she just refers to the person as ‘ma chere’ Thereafter, Rosa remembers a period of her life and gradually, through the book, we learn her life story. Usually, the beauty advice related in some way to the period or event that was discussed.  I like these thoughtful markers at each new point in the story. They were useful in tying the parts together and reminding you of the mystery surrounding her appointment that day.

I enjoyed this book immensely. There was always a sense of drama. The wartime scenes were well portrayed. I enjoyed learning a little fashion history during the Paris period. I must admit my favourite portion was the American section and her final marriage. It was lovely, romantic and rather unexpected. I don’t usually like books with beautiful, brilliant women who are too perfect, but Rosa had enough flaws and experienced enough troubles to have me rooting for her. I’m not a chick lit fan either but this had enough grit, history and great characters to keep me enthralled. It was a book I looked forward to picking up at the end of a busy, messy and unfashionable day!

Georgia Kaufmann

This the debut novel of English author Georgia Kaufmann (www.georgiakaufmann.com).After studying Social Anthropology and Demography in Cambridge, she travelled widely, living in numerous places beginning with the letter B, Brussels, Brighton and Boston, to name a few. She now lives within cycling distance of central London with her husband, two daughters and a cat.

This book is a journey through time. The threads of love, loss, fashion, female emancipation and the importance of family were woven deftly into a sweeping story.  It can’t be read without a sigh, a few tears and the odd smile. An ideal escape from lockdown woes, I recommend you cut a dash to your local online book supplier now.

Reviewed by Georgina Murphy

This review is part of a blog tour organised by Hodder & Stoughton, to see what the others thought visit their sites listed below. Then, if you get a copy comeback and tell us what you thought, we’d really love the feedback.

GATWARD’S ON THE RIGHT TRACK WITH GRIMM TALES FROM THE DALES

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Most of the roads we travel on these days that connect our large towns and cities, have been there for centuries. The few exceptions are the major motorways, highways and other multi-lane routes that gauge a direct line across from one side of a country to another. These are more often, just large transport veins, that bypass smaller, slower, meandering, routes, and bottle-neck towns.

Britain and Ireland are criss-crossed, especially in rural areas, with old stone roads, that these days are the preserve of hill walkers and ramblers. Their original function apart from taking livestock and crops to markets, was also for the conveyancing of the dead to consecrated burial grounds. These roads are known in England and Ireland as corpse roads, and as coffin roads in Scotland. This month’s second book review features an old burial road, the book is Corpse Road by David J Gatward, published by Amazon in December 2020.

When Detective Chief Inspector Harry Grimm, is awoken in the middle of the night, by his second in command Sergeant Matt Dinsdale, he knows it won’t be good news.  There’s been a body found by Mountain Rescue in the Yorkshire Dales and being part of the Mountain Rescue team, Dinsdale is one of the first on scene to realise the victim hadn’t met their demise by accident. The victim’s has been viciously attacked and there’s blood everywhere, also there is a name scrawled in the victims blood on the side of the tent, which isn’t hers, and strange little balls inside and out. Over the next twenty-four hours Harry and is team, made up of detectives and Community Support officers (Special Constables or part-timers), quickly discover the victim’s marriage was in freefall, but after an eventful visit with the husband, things go awry when he suddenly disappears. This is all while Harry is trying to deal with an overbearing Chief Superintendent who doesn’t hide his contempt for him and a crisis in his personal life involving his father and brother. Is there more to this savage murder or was it just a crime of passion committed by a controlling husband?

I really got into this book from the first page. Which isn’t strange considering I, like many people living in Ireland and England, love the simplicity of rural crime stories and TV dramas. such as Midsomer Murders, Heartbeat and Bergerac for example.

Ok, so Bergerac was based on the Channel Islands, but that is rural to an extent. Suburban and inner-city crime dramas usually have fast cars, flashy offices, and advanced technology, while the rural ones are more likable because, the prevalence of heinous crimes, drugs, gangland killings, and the like are rare and shatter the peace and tranquillity of country life. Also, the equipment and means by which a country copper or detective can solve a crime are a lot more rudimentary than his city and suburban counterparts.

This is what you get with a Corpse Road, a very simple, but modern tale of murder and mystery set among the windswept but beautiful hills and moors of the Yorkshire countryside. Gods own country, as it is often stated, is not immune to crime.

To prove how simple things in his neck of Yorkshire are, Harry and his team’s base of operations is a community centre, not a purpose-built police station, where they share one laptop between them, one step above pencil licking, while taking notes and wearing bicycle clips.

Meanwhile, Gatward’s descriptions of the surrounding countryside and the quaint grey stone buildings of the local towns and villages, are what enable you to really get immersed in this story. If unlike me you’ve never been to this part of country, then when you do eventually get to visit Yorkshire (I personally recommend visiting there and the Peak district, albeit once the pandemic has subsided) you’ll see how immersive and detailed they are.

Harry as a character stands out initially because of his surname, as well as being a blow-in to the local area. Thus having read none of Gatward’s previous Grimm books, I felt we had something in common.

David J. Gatward

This is English author David J Gatward’s (www.davidjgatward.com) Third Harry Grimm novel, the others are Grimm Up North (2020) and Best Served Cold (2020). He’s also the author behind the Padre series of books – featuring a Military Padre fighting supernatural forces. As well as writing numerous young adult books and teaching creative writing courses around England. He now lives in Somerset, South West England, where he pursues a huge number of hobbies when not writing including caving, camping, climbing, archery, shooting and music.

At two hundred and eighty pages, and the rate at which David seems to produce these books, you know from the start you are not getting a meandering tale but a gripping as well as tightly scripted and well researched thriller. I could have read this in one day if I’d had a long train or plane journey. But this helped me endure a couple of very Irish, wet, sleety days as we headed towards to backend of winter and promised brighter evenings of spring.

So, order or download your copy online, which under the current Covid restrictions is the best way to follow Government guidelines. Then prepare to join DCI Harry Grim in the wilds of Yorkshire as he attempts to overcome the fish out of water feeling, while solving crime in Britain’s answer to “Big Sky Country”.

Reviewed by  Adrian Murphy

This book review is part of a Random Things Blog Tour, to see what the others thought, visit their sites listed below. Then if you get a copy, comeback and tell us what you thought. We would really appreciate the feedback.

BLAKE’S MAGIC SHINES BRIGHT IN A PERFECT ESCAPE FROM DARK TIMES

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Over Christmas Adrian and I filled the lockdown hours with board games, books, walks and TV. We fell down the rabbit hole that is Netflix, Prime and You Tube. The lure of just one more episode, or similar programme suggestions, proved too strong on many occasions and lots of late nights were had.  In particular , we have discovered, or in Adrian’s case , rediscovered, Unsolved Mysteries with Robert Stack. The series was first aired in 1987 and went through several presenters and incarnations. Prime are rerunning the shows and many of the cases have updates and most of the ‘Unsolved mysteries’ are now solved. The attraction to many of us of a mystery fuels the continual growth of the crime and mystery genre of writing. So there’s no better way to fling open the Library Door on a new year and the first review, than with a mystery. Its The Dark Room by Sam Blake, published by Corvus books (www.atlantic-books.co.uk) on the 7th January.

The story is based around an old house in West Cork, called Hare’s Landing. Two women travel there. One is Rachel Lambert, a film location manager, and the other is Caroline Kelly, a crime reporter, based in New York. Both women have familial ties to Ireland but are visiting hare’s landing for other reasons. Caroline has come back to Ireland to get some thinking space after being threatened with a lawsuit in the US. Hare’s Landing seems like the ideal retreat. Rachel has travelled to Hare’s Landing, following the trail of a homeless man’s history. He has died in London. At the same time, her investigative journalist boyfriend has been knocked off his bike and their narrowboat home, ransacked. While staying at the hotel, they find out about a mysterious death and a 30-year- old missing persons case, which have happened there. Soon it becomes apparent that Rachel’s investigation into the homeless man’s past and the mysteries at Hare’s Landing are intertwined. Their search for the truth may have put them in danger.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable read. The two main characters were sympathetic and appealing. It was easy to imagine how the two of them would have struck up a friendship as the only two guests at the old house.

Being a veterinary nurse and animal lover, Its always good to have a dog in the mix too and Jasper, the retired police dog was a necessary device here.

There was a good cast of locals (or suspects!) too. Something you’d find in most rural areas, which helped to build the backdrop of that Irish small town feel of everyone knowing everyone else’s business or wanting to! This was handled well without recourse to diddly-I, as one would expect from an Irish author. From her introduction, I kept thinking that Mrs Travers, the hotel manager, reminded me of Mrs Danvers from Du Maurier’s ‘Rebecca’ and at some point Caroline and Rachel make that comment too so it was nice to see it referenced.

Sam Blake aka Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin (SamBlakeBooks)

This the fifth book of Irish author,Sam Blake (www.samblakebooks.com) , the others all feature her female Garda detective Cat Connolly, Little Bones (2016), In Deep Water (2017), No Turning Back (2018) and Keep Your Eyes On Me (2020). Sam Blake is the pseudonym of Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, the founder of the website writing.ie and The Inkwell Group, a publishing consultancy. Originally from St. Albans in Hertfordshire, she started writing after her husband, a retired Garda, set sail across the Atlantic for 8 weeks, and she had an idea for a book. When not writing she runs Murder One, Ireland’s leading crime writing festival (we need an Invite) and hosts a podcast called Behind The Bestseller (must give it a whirl) , she lives with her husband and kids, three cats, and an ant farm, down the road from us here in Co. Wicklow.

The suggestions of paranormal events only added to the gothic feel of Hare’s Landing. I loved the hints at secrets, the finding of clues like letters and photos and slow realisation the past events were very much linked to current ones, building tension. Loved the climatic ending too. If I had any quibble it would be to wonder how the title relates to the story? It does pique your curiosity though..

So, a five star recommendation from us here at the Library Door for a super lockdown read. Thrills without the gore, a classic mystery, and two likeable amateur sleuths. We suggest you Hare off to buy it (within Covid guidelines), click and collect a copy at your local bookshop or download a copy now!

Reviewed by Georgina Murphy

This review is part of a Random Things Blog Tour. To see what the other reviewers thought, visit their sites listed below. Then, if you get a copy, comeback and tell us what you thought, we’d really appreciate the feedback.

GOOD BYE 2020, HELLO 2021

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Just a short message to all our followers and regular visitors to TLD. Myself and Georgina would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy New Year.

Its been a tough few months and for a few of us, including ourselves here in Ireland. Were starting 2021 in full lockdown for the next four weeks.

Remember, the The Library Door is always open, to read our thoughts on books we’ve read. This year marked TLD’s 7th anniversary, here’s to another 7 years and lots more books to review.

See you next year.

Adrian & Georgina Murphy

FREEMAN SWOOPS IN TO RELIEVE A BLEAK MIDWINTER

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T’was the week before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring not even a mouse….” 

That’s not entirely true for us this week, as our youngest cat (Edison) has very kindly left two rather angry and bewildered mice on our back step over a forty eight hour period. The same can also be said of the next verse of Clement Clarke Moore’s famous yuletide poem.

The children were settled all snug in there beds…” well not in this months second  book review which is Children Of The Valley  by Castle Freeman and published by Farrago Books (www.farragobooks.com) December 10th.

Lucian Wing is Sheriff in Cardiff a sleepy little town in the backwoods of Vermont. They have crime but its usually harmless mischief. That is until a big New York lawyer, Carl Armentrout, arrives into his office asking for help tracking down his client’s step-daughter. His client is Rex Lord, a big wig in the city. Lucian has never heard of him. He agrees to keep an eye out for the step-daughter, Pamela DeMorgan, who has gone AWOL from a fancy school up in Boston. Then Lucian gets a call from a local character, by the name of Ms Truax, a retired teacher, who says she had trespassers camping in her woods. Going up into the woods, he finds a tent and a makeshift camp, with girls clothing in it. He assumes its his missing girl. Then, a couple of days later, the camp is found shot up and he when he finally crosses paths with Pamela, she’s actually with a local boy, whose a classmate at the same school. She says she’s not running a way from school, but her step-fathers attentions. Soon it transpires that the stepfather isn’t the problem, it’s Armentrout and his goons. Thus, follows a game of cat and mouse, with Lucian moving the kids from one makeshift safe house to another. Can Sheriff Wing restore law and order, while also trying to deal with day-to-day life in the town, including an oversized wild boar that’s running amok around the county, and his high spirited wife and the kid’s weird and colourful parents?

Unlike quite a few books I read, Castle Freeman’s it appears, isn’t one for wasting paper. His books, well this one at 170 pages in length, and I guess his previous ones in this series, are short and to the point. Almost Novella-esque, but in doing so he delivers a serious but highly entertaining and witty story of the life and loves a of a sheriff in modern day America.

Castle Freeman (Thesnipenews)

If this book is like anything, it is a James Herriot novel. That’s if he wasn’t a vet in Yorkshire but a local lawman in Vermont. With his very hokey, but wonderfully colourful cast of support characters who inhabit Cardiff, VT, Lucian Wing isn’t a know-it-all type of character. He’s a real take him as you find him type of guy. A quick witted and smooth operator, who could charm the birds out of the trees, if needed.

I loved this book from the start and felt very much at home in Cardiff, Vermont. Thanks to Freemans no nonsense but well-structured style of storytelling. Even though this isn’t Freeman’s first outing with Sherriff Lucian Wing, the well-placed back stories, mean you don’t have to have read the previous books to know what going on. At times it’s like being driven through the county by the central character and every now and then he’d point to a place and say That’s Old man Holler’s place, he did that and or this happened back then, etc, etc

This is American author Castle Freeman’s ( http://www.castlefreemanjr.com)  fifth book, his other in the Lucian Wing series are All That I have (2009), Old Number Five (2020) and two others not in the series are Go With Me (2008) and The Devil In The Valley (2015). He was born in Texas and is an award-winning writer of personal essays, reporting, op-ed material, history and natural history, while also being a regular contributor to several periodicals, including “Old Moore’s Almanac”. He lives with his wife in South-western Vermont.

After reading this book I could move to Vermont and live happily in Cardiff! When the pandemic subsides, of course! So, as we enter the week of madness that normally comes with the run up to the 25th December, this maybe an ideal escape with a mice glass of wine or Egg Nog. Then I suggest you keep it local as per Covid 19 restrictions and click and collect from your local book shop, or download a copy. 

Oh, and have a Happy Christmas from both of us here at The Library Door.

Reviewed by Adrian Murphy

This book review is part of a Random Things blog tour, to see what the other reviewers thought visit their sites listed below. Then if you get a copy and read it, comeback and tell us what you thought. We’d really appreciate the feedback.