Book Review: Cold Bones by David Mark @davidmarkwriter @MulhollandUK

Cold Bones
A DS McAvoy Novel #8
David Mark
Mulholland Books, January 2019
ISBN 978-1-473-64319-2
Hardcover

Cold Bones is the 8th and latest novel in Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy’s series written by David Mark and set in Hull, East Yorkshire, England. It begins when McAvoy, who is dropping his daughter off at school, is approached by another parent. Knowing he’s with the police, she tells him she’s worried about an elderly lady who lives near her, but who she hasn’t seen for a few days. McAvoy offers to check on the neighbour and discovers the elderly lady, Enid Chappell, frozen to death in her bathtub.

After determining the woman has in fact been murdered, McAvoy calls it in. While he waits for the forensic team, he wanders from room to room in search of something that might give him an idea why this woman was murdered. When he spots a crossword puzzle with only one question attempted, he’s surprised that the letters spell out M C A V. He’s sure he doesn’t know the victim but can’t help wondering if there is a connection.

McAvoy’s investigation grows more complex when two elderly men, both retired trawler fishermen, are found murdered in an empty warehouse owned by Stephen Ballantine a local man businessman whose father, a trawler fisherman, was lost at sea before Stephen was born. McAvoy’s instincts tell him that the murder of Enid Chappell and the brutal killing of the two fishermen are connected. But the Area Commander, David Slattery, doesn’t agree and orders McAvoy to concentrate on the old woman’s death.

McAvoy tries to do as he’s ordered, but as his detectives dig into Enid Chappell’s background he learns she had been a well respected social worker dealing mostly with the close knit community of Trawler fishermen and their families.

Meanwhile McAvoy’s boss Superintendent Trish Pharaoh is in Iceland looking into the loss of a fishing trawler, where the ship’s owner and two crew members perished, their bodies never having been recovered. She hasn’t told McAvoy where she is or what has brought her here, but it isn’t hard to see that their paths at some point will converge.

Aector McAvoy is one of my favourite characters. He’s a big man, around 6ft.5in; a handsome Scot with red hair and a heart of gold. He’s great at his job, but he manages to get himself into dire and often scary situations. That’s because he never gives up, and tries always to do the right thing, even when it gets him into deep trouble.

While some of the violence in this book and in the series might make some readers uncomfortable, the appeal of the characters and the strong plotting make the journey entirely worthwhile. You’ll have to read for yourself how this intriguing tale of revenge and murder reaches it’s dramatic ending.

Check it out!!! You won’t regret it.

Reviewed by guest reviewer Moyra Tarling, May 2019.

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Book Review: The Shadow Killer by Arnaldur Indridason

The Shadow Killer
The Flovent and Thorson Thrillers, Book 2
Arnaldur Indridason
Translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb
Minotaur Books, May 2018
ISBN 978-1-250-12404-3
Hardcover

Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, was occupied by British troops even if that country was neutral in World War II, and in the months before Pearl Harbor, U.S. Troops relieved the Tommies [as they were called] so they could return home and face the possible Nazi invasion.  Iceland, of course, was a prominent way station for naval shipping across the Atlantic, with U-boat activity quite active.  In the midst of this activity, a man is found murdered, shot in the head by a weapon commonly used by American troops.

The investigation is undertaken by Flovent, the only detective with the Icelandic CID.  He enlists the help of a U.S. military policeman by the name of Thorston.  Together they center their attention on a family of German extraction, a paralyzed doctor, his son and his brother-in-law, the headmaster of a school, as well as the doctor’s brother who lives in Germany.  The victim remains unidentified, while initially believed to be the resident of the apartment, when it turns out he was a boyhood friend of the resident, the doctor’s son, who is in hiding and becomes the focus of a hunt.

Various subplots complicate the story as Flovent and Thorston delve into possible leads, including any possible role of U.S. Intelligence and a possible visit to the island by Winston Churchill. The sharp prose and excellent translation enhance this second novel in the series.  Mr. Indridason continues to provide us with top-notch thrillers, and we look forward to his next effort.

The novel is highly recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, June 2018.

Book Review: The Shadow District by Arnaldur Indridason

The Shadow District
The Flovent and Thorson Thrillers #1
Arnaldur Indridason
Translated from the Icelandic by Victoria Cribb
Minotaur Books, November 2017
ISBN:  978-1-250-12402-9
Hardcover

From the publisher:  In the debut of a new series from international mystery giant Indridason, the murder of a woman in Reykjavik during WWII becomes a piece in the puzzle of a contemporary killing.  A retired detective named Konrad remembers the earlier murder from his childhood, and is surprised when, assisting in the case of a 90-year-old man who was smothered in his bed, he comes across clippings that the old man kept of the murder.  It happened in ‘the shadow district,’ a rough neighborhood bordered by the National Theatre where Konrad grew up. But why would someone be interested in that crime now?  Alternating between Konrad’s unofficial investigation and the original wartime police inquiry, The Shadow District depicts the two investigations, separated by decades, discovering that two girls had been attacked in oddly similar circumstances.  Did the police arrest the wrong man all those years ago?  How are these cases linked across the decades?  And who is the old man?  A deeply compassionate story of old crimes and their consequences.

And that this surely is.  This newest standalone from Mr. Indridason will resonate with his many readers, as it did with this reviewer.

The contemporary murder is that of a young woman of about twenty, the body discovered by a local Icelandic woman and her lover, found in a box in a doorway of that same National Theatre in the Shadow District.  The investigation is headed by Konrad and Marta, a young woman with whom he had worked in the CID, and they immediately realize the similarities between this murder and the wartime killing, the two victims and the circumstances of their murders being so similar.  The ensuing tale is riveting, in this author’s distinctive style, and it is highly recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, November 2017.

Book Reviews: Doing It at the Dixie Dew by Ruth Moose and Chilled to the Bone by Quentin Bates

Doing It at the Dixie DewDoing It at the Dixie Dew
Ruth Moose
Minotaur Books, May 2014
ISBN 978-1-250-04638-3
Hardcover

This is a charming little cozy mystery, set in the small town of Littleboro, North Carolina. Beth McKenzie is doing her best to remodel her late grandmother’s Victorian mansion into a charming Bed and Breakfast. But when Levinia Lovingood, an elderly woman from a wealthy family, returns to town after many years, and becomes one of Beth’s first overnight guests, she is murdered in her sleep.

The very next day, the local parish priest is also murdered. What on earth is happening to the peace and quiet in this picturesque little town where everyone knows your name and no one ever locks their doors at night?

In the midst of scraping paint, redecorating the porch into a Tea Room and polishing hardwood floors, Beth is dragged into a nest of intrigue, suspicious notes and harrowing experiences as she attempts to find the answers to the murders.

Quaint characters flit through the story including a crazy bag lady living under a tree and several octogenarians who behave in bizarre ways. Verna takes her rabbit on a leash everywhere she goes and Miss Tempie visits the cemetery daily where she buried her dog next to a mausoleum.

Secrets abound and threats on Beth’s life turn ugly and all too real as she gets closer to the truth.

Miss Ruth Moose has created a fun mystery with just the right touch of humor, plot and suspense. Recommend this as a good summertime read for all cozy mystery lovers.

Reviewed by Elaine Faber, September 2014.
Author of Black Cat’s Legacy.

 

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Chilled to the BoneChilled to the Bone
An Officer Gunnhildur Mystery
Quentin Bates
Soho Crime, December 2013
ISBN 978-1-6169-5330-0
Hardcover

A police procedural is a police procedural, whether it takes place in Brooklyn, Los Angeles or Iceland. And in this, the third novel in the series, Police Sgt. Gunna Gisladottir, gets into a complicated investigation when an elderly retired ship-owner is found dead in a hotel room, nude and tied to the four corners of the bedstead. It turns out he had a heart attack, so no murder, but it is followed by a series of similar attacks at various hotels, during which each victim was relieved of cash, and credit and debit cards, which were milked for whatever they were worth. Moreover, the laptop of one of the victims was confiscated, leading to the knotty issues raised during the plodding investigation, including two murders. It seems the laptop contains information embarrassing to the ministry of foreign affairs.

Gunna is unlike many protagonists: A relatively subdued, ‘normal’ woman, with a home, husband and family, who goes about her business quietly and steadily, snow or ice. The author, who lived in Iceland for ten years before moving back to the UK, writes for a commercial fishing magazine, so he knows the island well and writes about it and its environment with authority.

The novel is recommended.

Reviewed by Ted Feit, July 2014.

Book Review: Uncovering Cobbogoth by Hannah L. Clark

Earlier this month, I was supposed to be a host
for the Uncovering Cobbogoth blog tour but, as
sometimes happens, real life got in the way and
I had to beg off due to illness. Here, then, is my
belated review with apologies to the author,
Hannah L. Clark, and the tour organizer,
Nereyda Gonzalez at YA Bound Book Tours.

 

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Uncovering CobbogothUncovering Cobbogoth
Cobbogoth #1
Hannah L. Clark
Cedar Fort Publishing, May 2014
ISBN 978-1462114269
Trade Paperback

From the publisher—

Norah Lukens needs to uncover the truth about the fabled lost city of Cobbogoth. After her archaeologist uncle’s murder, Norah is asked to translate his old research journal for evidence and discovers that his murder was a cover-up for something far more sinister.

When she turns to neighbor and only friend James Riley for help, she realizes that not only is their bitter-sweet past haunting her every step, but James is keeping dangerous secrets. Can Norah discover what they are before its too late to share her own.

 

After months away at boarding school, Norah is returning home to her uncle, the only family she has. This is not an easy homecoming though, because of the strain between her and her best friend, James, but even that awkwardness pales when Norah and James find the police at her home. Why would anyone want to kill an archaeologist? Could his government work have something to do with it? And why is the police detective so eager to have her translate a journal written in a secret code without having an official cryptographer look at it?

These are only a few of the questions that arise and it soon becomes very obvious that much more is at stake than just identifying a murderer. Uncle Jack has always been involved with proving the reality of myths and legends and, this time, he may have gone too far. Unfortunately, Norah and James find themselves at the center of a fable gone rather mad. Fantastical creatures that are both awe-inspiring and frightening, loss of memory, powers that Norah never dreamed she had, a crystal city in the caves of Iceland, secrets that have lasted for millenia, all converge to turn this girl’s life topsy-turvy  while she’s on the run from the law and from what may or may not be gods and demons…or perhaps they’re all just hallucinations.

Uncovering Cobbogoth is an intriguing blend of mystery and fantasy with a heavy dose of mythology and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Of particular appeal to me is that the focal point of these myths is Iceland, a country few authors choose as a setting, yet these are not your usual Norse legends. Ms. Clark’s real strength lies in her worldbuilding, down to the details of certain stones and the personalities of the characters both mortal and immortal, and I could envision everything that was happening in Norah’s quest to find the truth. She herself is almost larger than life and I connected with her and with James on several levels.

The pacing of the story is a little slow in the beginning but picks up before too long and, near the end, is close to breakneck. There’s a sort of cliffhanger that isn’t *quite* a cliffhanger as you might expect and the author could easily have a choice facing her; a sequel would fit very nicely but it would also be possible to have the tale end here. After rummaging around on Ms. Clark’s blog, I’m happy to say that she refers to the Cobbogoth series and mentions working on the second book, so I think we’ll be seeing more of Norah. This reader is very happy about that 😉

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, May 2014.

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Purchase Links:

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About the Author

 

Hannah  L. ClarkHannah L. Clark is the author of the YA fantasy-adventure Uncovering Cobbogoth. It is the first book in a planned 7 book series. It was released by Cedar Fort Publishing on May 13, 2014.

Hannah lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with her husband and son.

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Author Links:

 

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Book Review: Outrage by Arnaldur Indridason

Outrage
Arnaldur Indridason
Translated by Anna Yates
Harvill Secker, June 2011
ISBN: 978-1-846-55423-0
Hardcover, 328 pp., 12.99 BPS

[This book is currently available only in/through the UK/Canada; it will be available in the US in September 2012 from Minotaur Books]

At the outset of this newest book by Icelandic author Indridason, the eighth in the series available in English translation, a young man picks up a woman in a bar, slips some rohypnol into her drink and brings her back to his home in an historic area of Reykjavik.  When two days later the police are called to the scene, the body found lying in a pool of blood on the floor is not that of the woman, but the young man who lived there, his throat having been slashed.  The only clues are a woman’s shawl, and a strange smell that lingers in the air.

In this latest entry in the series, Detective Elinborg has the primary role, while her colleagues Erlendur and Sigurdur Oli take on lesser roles, the former only by reference in the early and late parts of the book [referred to as “a failure of a father,” an “irascible loner,” and “an insightful detective” whom Elinborg admires but does not necessarily like].  As the book opens he has apparently taken a leave of absence to travel to the East Fjords, where he had lived as a young boy.  Oli has only a secondary role in the present investigations, with Elinborg taking the lead.

As always, Elinborg has conflicts between her job and her role as a wife and mother, and worries that she is not devoting enough time to her family.  The older of her two sons, 16 years old and increasingly distant, has been a cause of concern lately, and she “sometimes worried about the relationships between parents and their children,” a theme which recurs throughout the book.  In the course of her investigation, Elinborg is drawn into an old case, one involving the disappearance of a 19-year-old girl six years prior, and the possibility that the two cases are tied together.

Having been steadily absorbing reading for more than the first half of the book, it suddenly becomes more intriguing as the plot turns more complex, and maintains that level till the denouement.  This is a powerful book, consistent with all this author’s prior work, and highly recommended.

Reviewed by Gloria Feit, November 2011.

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Book Reviews x 4 by Patricia E. Reid

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star...Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, There’s A Body In The Car
Fran Rizer
Bella Rosa Books, January 2011
ISBN No. 978-1933523941
Trade Paperback

There is never a dull moment in Callie Parrish’s life.  Callie is employed by Middleton Mortuary.  Her job title is mortuary cosmetologist but Callie also answers the phone, talks to clients and does whatever Otis and Odell Middleton need her to do.  Callie is currently living with her friend Jane while her home is being redone.  Jane is engaged to Callie’s brother.

When Callie makes a stop at the bookstore to pick up a couple of mysteries, she spots a man in a car with a fly on his nose.  She soon realizes that there’s a good reason he doesn’t swat the fly off his nose. The guy is dead.  Not only is he dead but there’s also a snake in the car.

Callie gets back to the funeral home to find that Odell is leaving and wants her to talk to a Mrs. Joyner who according to Odell wants a St. Patrick’s Day funeral for her husband, which is a bit unusual since it is October.  It turns out that Odell misunderstood and Mrs. Joyner wants a green funeral where the body is not embalmed and the casket is environmentally friendly.   Mrs. Joyner also wants a set of fingerprints so that she can have the fingerprints preserved in gold.

The fingerprints are taken by Callie but before she can turn them over to Mrs. Joyner a police officer runs the prints and it is found out that Mr. Joyner is not who everyone thinks he is but a participant in an armed robbery years ago.

The Sheriff is busy trying to find out the identity of the man who was found dead in the car as well as seeking more information about Mr. Joyner. As usual, Callie is drawn into the mess and finds herself in one predicament after the other.

This is the fourth Callie Parrish novel.  It is always fun to read about Callie who has more adventures in a few days than most people have in their whole life.  Odell and Otis are characters that bring a chuckle.  Callie’s father and brothers are fun and there is just no one like Callie’s friend Jane.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, April 2011.

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Devil WindDevil Wind
Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid
Oceanview Publishing Company, April 2011
ISBN: 978-1-933515-89-2
Hardcover

It is 1999 and in Los Angeles Santa Ana winds are causing wildfires and Y2K is right around the corner.  Sammy Greene who is hosting a talk radio show finds that there is no end to the wild events that Y2K will bring.  Sammy’s father, Jeffrey Greene, is a real estate tycoon in the city but Sammy is hesitant to make contact with him.  Sammy was close to her previous step-mother but since her father got a divorce and is now remarried Sammy hasn’t bothered to get in touch with Jeffrey since she moved to California.  Sammy has always felt that her dad was more interested in his own life and concerns than that of his daughter.

When Sammy gets a call about the discovery of a burned body, she decides to check into the story and discovers that the body has been identified as Ana Pappajohn, the daughter of Sammy’s old friend Gus Pappajohn.  Sammy notifies Gus Pappajohn who immediately flies to California to claim his daughter’s body.

The story switches back and forth between Sammy’s actions and that of Ana Pappajohn who actually was still alive.  Ana is working for an expensive escort service and is separated at a party from her friend and roommate Sylvie.   Somehow the two had gotten their purses mixed up and Ana wound up with Sylvie’s purse.  When Sylvie’s body is discovered it is thought that the body was that of Ana’s since Sylvie carried Ana’s ID.

Ana’s date was Neil Prescott, a U. S. Congressman, who was working with Sammy’s father and had some deals going to insure his reelection.  The people Prescott was working with were ruthless individuals that would go to any lengths to promote their own interests.  Ana soon discovered that Sylvie was passing information regarding the activities of the escort service’s clients.  Ana stumbled on some documentation that Sylvie had hidden and the fact that she might have the documentation put Ana’s life in danger.

This novel has several story lines going at the same time. Sammy and her friend Gus begin to believe that Ana is still alive and in hiding and that many details of the burned victim’s death have been manipulated to avoid anyone discovering the true identity of the victim.

Sammy takes many chances to discover to locate her friend Gus’ daughter.  It seems that at every turn there is intrigue and cover-up.  The authors bring the multiple story lines together in a satisfying and surprising way.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, April 2011.

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The Worst ThingThe Worst Thing
Aaron Elkins
Berkley Prime Crime, May 2011
ISBN No. 978-0425240991
Hardcover

Bryan Bennett has a happy and successful life and his worst thing is something that he manages to put on a shelf a big percentage of the time. Bryan’s worst thing is panic attacks but he has learned to deal with them, at least in his opinion.  Bryan works at Odysseus Institute where he specializes in issues relating to kidnapping and extortion.  His panic attacks are a result of his abduction and imprisonment in a Turkish dungeon as a young boy.

Bryan’s wife, Lori, loves to travel but Bryan is not comfortable when traveling unless he can manage to do so without getting on a plane.  Enclosed places bring on his attacks and Xanax helps but the pills are a crutch and not a cure.  When Bryan’s boss suggests that he make a trip to Iceland to teach a kidnapping seminar, Bryan senses Lori’s disappointment and decides that it is time to face his problems and allow Lori to enjoy an expense paid trip to Iceland.   Lori is thrilled with the idea of the trip but insists that it is time that Bryan consults a professional regarding his fears.

Bryan agrees and makes an appointment with Zeta Parkington, retired professor, whose specialty was anxiety disorders.  Zeta met with Bryan and among other things told him that the only real cure for anxiety problems was to face the fear and conquer that fear.  The time for facing his fear was not far away for Bryan

The couple arrives in Iceland without a problem and are soon enjoying the trip.  However, the fun is brought to a sudden halt when a group of radical citizen-soldiers executes a kidnapping attempt.  The attempt goes wrong and Bryan winds up as a hostage.  Now he has to face his old fears and conquer them in order to survive.

The Worst Thing is a novel full of suspense and some surprises.  This book gives the reader a real insight into the horrors of panic attacks and makes for excellent reading.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, May 2011.

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Midnight FiresMidnight Fires
Nancy Means Wright
Perseverance Press, April 2010
ISBN No. 978-1564744883
Trade Paperback

The crossing by sea from Holyhead to Dublin proved to be calm for Mary Wollstonecraft for the most part but a wind came up and blew her hat away.  A young sailor rescued the hat and Mary discovered the sailor had been to the colonies and been able to purchase a small piece of land and hoped to return to the colonies with the woman who was waiting for him in Ireland.  That dream would never come true for the sailor for shortly after talking to him Mary witnessed his body pitching overboard.  However, the sailor had managed to pass Mary a note and whisper to her to deliver the note to Liam in Mitchelstown.

Mary’s destination was Mitchelstown where she was to serve as a governess at Mitchelstown Castle for the Kingsborough family.  The year is 1786 and Mary was not happy about her new position.  Family problems and debts had forced Mary into accepting the position.  Mary was independent and had written a book soon to be published.  The fact that she had authored a book gave her a bit of status in the castle.  Mary hoped that her time as governess would pass quickly.

Life at the castle was hectic and the children’s mother was more concerned about her assortment of dogs than she was about the children.  Mary’s independent attitude did not please the Lady of the castle but Mary was determined to hold onto her pride in spite of her dependency on the funds to be earned as governess.

After making discreet inquiries, Mary learned that Liam did live near the castle and one of the servants agreed to put Mary in touch with him so the note could be delivered.  There was much turmoil and rebellion during this time and Mary seemed to wind up right in the middle of the turmoil.

Midnight Fires takes the readers through the many adventures that Mary endured while living in the castle not the least of which is a murder and a suicide.

Reviewed by Patricia E. Reid, May 2011.