Flatiron Books, February 2021
Jane Harper, an Australian writer, has been making a name for herself in the past few years. Her first book, The Dry, received much acclaim, followed by Force of Nature, and The Lost Man. They are all stand-alones, set in Australia, and if you haven’t yet checked them out they are well worth a read.
The Survivors, her fourth Novel, is set in Tasmania, in a small coastal town called Evelyn Bay. It’s a popular summer resort favoured by divers who like to explore a shipwreck in the bay. Kieran, the protagonist, grew up in Evelyn Bay and has come home with his girlfriend Mia and their baby daughter Audrey to help his mother and father move to Hobart, where his father, Brian, who is suffering from dementia, will be admitted into a care facility.
Leaving baby Audrey with her grandmother, Kieran and Mia meet up with some friends at The Surf and Turf, a favourite watering hole they’d frequented in summer’s past.
The next morning, the body of a young woman is discovered on the beach. Shock reverberates through the small community stirring up memories of the time twelve years ago when a local girl had gone missing during a violent storm that hit the shores of Evelyn Bay, resulting in the drownings of several young men.
As snippets of information, together with secrets from the past, are slowly revealed the tension mounts, until it reaches its exciting conclusion.
Tasmania is a beautiful island and Evelyn Bay is a beautiful setting for this tangled but engrossing story. Past friendships are tested and as a parent now himself Kieran learns the truth of a past he’d never before come to terms with. Savour and enjoy this heart-wrenching story. You won’t regret it!
Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, March 2021.
Title: The Ninth Session
Author: Deborah Serani
Narrator: Deborah Serani
Length: 6 hours and 52 minutes
Publisher: TouchPoint Press
Released: Apr. 16, 2021
Dr. Alicia Reese takes on a new patient. Lucas Ferro suffers with crippling anxiety, and as sessions progress, he begins to share the reasons why he’s struggling. As Ferro’s narrative becomes more menacing, Reese finds herself wedged between the cold hard frame of professional ethics and the integrity of personal truth. And, finally, when Ferro reveals his secrets, Reese learns how far she’s willing to go, willing to risk and willing to lose to do the right thing.
Deborah Serani is an award-winning author, writing about psychological topics in many genres. She is a psychologist in practice over 30 years and a senior professor at Adelphi University. Dr. Serani has worked as a technical advisor for the NBC television show, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit – where a recurring character, Judge D. Serani, was named for her.
Way back in medieval times, I majored in psychology; although I never did anything with it, to this day, I’m still fascinated by the abnormalities of the mind and, in particular, implications in criminal justice. The Ninth Session, written by a woman who knows her topic very well, satisfied my interests as well as any crime fiction I’ve read. Luke is a formidable and dangerous man while his doctor, psychologist Alicia Reese, may or may not be truly prepared for what she learns about him from one session to the next and my nerves became ever more tense with every revelation. Like Alicia, the more I learned, the more I realized that he was capable of causing great harm to Alicia and those who were important in her life. “Creepy” doesn’t begin to cover it.
As narrator, Ms. Serani is clear but the various voices are not especially distinguishable. Her pace is a little slow and I could understand very well at 1.45 speed which didn’t make her sound like she’d been inhaling gas.
One thing I especially liked was the author’s method of interweaving sessions and supervision and personal life. It was interesting that the notes Alicia wrote out provided a fair amount of information not heard in the session, meaning I had to always pay attention. All in all, this was a compelling look at a psychopath’s mind and how others, including his doctor, are affected.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, May 2021.
I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Deborah Serani. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
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Publication: Tangled Tree Publishing, May 2021
On a casual walk along the Cornish Coast, Pineapple “Motts” Mottley stumbles upon a body and a perilous new murder case in the second novel in the Motts Cold Case Mystery series.
As spring rolls into summer, Motts settles into her cottage. She’s enjoying a daily stroll when a body in the sea destroys her peace and quiet. It brings yet another mystery for her to solve.
How does a woman who vanished from Polperro three years prior wind up battered by waves?
Motts is drawn into the investigation despite her best attempts. She finds a family in turmoil and loads of suspects. With no easy answers, she tumbles further into chaos and ever closer to danger.
Can Motts find the killer before she’s the one put on ice?
Will she survive a bone-chilling brush with death?
I have a definite fondness for British village mysteries and this one set in Cornwall drew me like a magnet. Add to the charming setting a protagonist who’s autistic AND not one to fall into a romance at the first sight of a handsome cop and, well, what more could I possibly want?
A compelling mystery full of misdirections and clues would make Pierced Peony just about ideal but I can’t go quite that far. Motts is a paper crafter and didn’t know the dead woman, who had been missing for several years, so her reasons for snooping are even thinner than in most cozies. Pacing is a bit uneven and the tale occasionally drags just a little.
On the other hand, it’s really nice to have an autistic character in a series again—the one I enjoyed in the past is E.J. Copperman’s Asperger’s Mysteries featuring a character on the spectrum—and that does explain some of Motts’ driven behavior. I love her pets, a hairless cat and a turtle who are certainly not your usual fluffy, ultracute critter companions and Motts herself is appealing in unexpected ways; also, the people around her are supportive and caring enough to give her a true community.
All in all, this is a delightful story that happens to have a few flaws and much gentle humor and I think any cozy fan will be happy to discover this series.
Author: Dahlia Donovan
Publication: Tangled Tree Publishing, July 2020
Meet Motts and the quirky cast of characters in her world. Poisoned Primrose is a quintessential cosy British mystery and an all-round fun story to throw yourself into.
Autistic, asexual, and almost forty, Pineapple “Motts” Mottley flees London with her cat and turtle to a quaint cottage in Cornwall. She craves the peace of life in a small village. The dead body buried in her garden isn’t quite what she had in mind, though.
Unable to resist her curiosity, she falls directly into a mess of trouble and runs head-first into the attractive detective inspector, Teo Herceg. She tries to balance her business with the investigation, but as the killer focuses on her, staying alive becomes trickier than advanced origami.
Will Motts survive the onslaught of murderously bad luck?
Can she solve the mystery before it all spins out of control and off a cliff?
Find the author:
A Chief Mattson Mystery #1
R.L. Ryker, April 2021
A well-written, carefully plotted novel of murder and solution by confident organized small-town cops. The story line follows returning home-town boy, Brandon Mattson, who goes up the west coast from Seattle, where he became an experienced homicide investigator, back to Forks, Washington, as the new Chief of Police.
Brandon’s younger brother, also a cop, was murdered there. Now Brandon as the newly hired Chief of Police, faces old friends, lovers and the usual suspicions. He’s cleverly faced with an array of other difficulties as a former-new resident.
An old lover and a new possibility vie for his attention, as does the problem of his teen daughter who is fighting with Brandon’s ex. Although he’s been hired as the new Chief, forces in the town of Forks and among members of local law enforcement rise and fall, creating additional concerns. Layered on his personal concerns is the murder on the beach of a young woman. Mattson faces serious pressure to solve the crime quickly to avoid disrupting important civic plans.
The novel is nicely written, logical, clean and very realistic. From the very beginning the book feels small-town-comfortable with the tension from civic leaders who are watching his performance to the resistance and support of the cadre of local cops. Eventide is a competent, well-designed logical story with just the right elements of description, tension and resolution.
Amy Reade is one of those authors who offers several
series to choose from and, IMO, every book I’ve tried has
been a winner. Somehow, I’ve overlooked this series—now
up to five volumes—but, thanks to this review from Mary,
I’m going to fix this omission as soon as I can 😄
Dead, White and Blue
Juniper Junction Holiday, Book #2
Amy M Reade
Summer is getting hotter in Juniper Junction, Colorado.
There’s a firebug on the loose, the townspeople are nervous, and Lilly Carlsen, single mom to two teenagers, has even more to worry about. She’s in charge of the Independence Day celebration, her mother’s mental health is declining, and her son is getting ready to leave for college.
But things are about to get even hotter: when a bistro owner dies at the celebration and Lilly’s best friend is charged with murder, events start hitting close to home. It’s up to Lilly to help clear her friend’s name while at the same time dealing her mom’s worsening forgetfulness as well as a coming-of-age issue under her own roof. (Goodreads)
Lilly still has some problems in her life: the kids are getting older and they do not…
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