Not Forgiven, Neven Carr

Not Forgiven, Neven Carr

Not Forgiven

Not Forgiven, the riveting sequel to Forgotten, follows Claudia Cabriati’s efforts to discover what lies behind the traumatic break in her memories and uncover the truth.

With the enigmatic Saul at her side, Claudia is chasing down the last of the loose ends that came out of the case they just solved—and all of them are leading back to Araneya mansion where Claudia spent her childhood. However, neither of them in their darkest moments imagined the picture that those threads might form…

Neven Carr’s thrilling follow-up novel in the Araneya Mystery series brings back the all-star cast from Forgotten and follows the inevitable tightening of the bond between Claudia and Saul. Showcasing one of the author’s trademark twisty plots, Not Forgiven explores the psychology and impact of institutionalized violence, PTSD, and human perception, staged in the dramatic scenery of Australia and leading to the grand reveal of several cold-case murders, as well as shedding a bit more light on Saul’s murky past. The pacing manages to combine suspense with explosive action to create an environment for the reader that few other books I’ve read can equal. I’d recommend this book to readers of mystery, action, or romance—this book combines all of them and does it well.

Into the Dark, J A Schneider

Into the Dark, J A Schneider

Into the Dark

Into the Dark is a chilling ride through the implosion of a marriage and the exposure of a years-old murder. Annie Lamb is a new mother and an Art History professor, on the verge of burnout juggling a career, her child, and her marriage. Psychologically delicate, Annie is anxious to avoid creating friction in her life, even if the demands of avoiding it add to the stress that’s threatening to eat her alive. Her husband and stepson are resolutely mute on the tragic death of Ben Lamb’s previous wife; too traumatic ever to be discussed. However, as Ben’s behaviour veers increasingly into the erratic, Annie has to choose between losing her fragile peace…or losing herself.

As ever, news of a J. A. Schneider release triggered a Pavlovian grab for my tablet, and as ever, the read didn’t disappoint. I continue to be impressed by the author’s story-telling ability; I’m not keen on fragile, vulnerable types, and I’m generally a tough room with mysteries, but J. A. Schneider’s mysteries are delightfully dark, twisty, and original, and by page two I’m usually lost to the world. The psychological disintegration in this story starts out subtle, couched in the kind of marriage that anyone might experience, and escalates rapidly into a very real danger that pulls every fact and action into question. The snowball progression paints a shocking, page-turning image of how quickly normal can shred beyond recognition. This is an expertly-written thriller, well worth the read.

Sherlock Holmes and the Cult of Cthullu, James G. Boswell

Sherlock Holmes and the Cult of Cthullu, James G. Boswell

Sherlock Holmes and the Cult of Cthulhu

When a series of gruesome murders among London’s upper crust stymies Scotland Yard, Inspector Lestrade reaches out to Dr. Watson and Mr. Holmes for help. Between the brutality of the stab wounds to each victim and the inevitable presence of a hidden symbol near each body, it’s up to Sherlock Holmes to prove a mundane connection between the murders where everyone else is pursuing a supernatural option…including his faithful partner, Dr. Watson.

Sherlock Holmes and the Cult of Cthullu was an enjoyable homage to the great consulting detective, with all the conflicting theories, and daring disguises a reader might expect. I found the final rationale for the murders was very plausible, although Holmes’s capture and imprisonment location slightly less so. It was clear that author James G. Boswell had done significant amounts of research into the period to support the plot; I did find that Watson marvelling at scenes of Victorian London pulled me a little out of the character, as these scenes would have been commonplace for him. This tendency also somewhat impacted the pacing in the beginning of the read. Happily, it largely disappeared after the early scenes of the book, and aside from that, the technical side of the writing was very clean, which I always appreciate.

Shoeless Child, J A Schneider

Shoeless Child, J A Schneider

Shoeless Child (Detective Kerri Blasco) (Volume 4)

One woman shot and another killed, and the only witness is a small child so traumatised by seeing his mother wounded that he’s unable to speak. When a person of interest to the case shows up dead in a local park, the pressure on the police to find the killer begins a very public build-up. Detective Kerri Blasco and her partner have a pile of coincidental evidence, far too many suspects, and no solid leads – and their boss is after them to close the case fast, before the killer leaves another dead body monogrammed with an angry emoji.

Shoeless Child is the fourth in the Detective Kerri Blasco series; with tense pacing and J. A. Schneider’s characteristic twisty plotting, this story doesn’t disappoint. For me, this author has a unique gift for taking character types that usually make me sigh in exasperation and winding them into the story in such a way that their helplessness supports vital areas of the storyline. It’s this ability, along with the delightfully complex plots, that has kept me reading, spellbound, through all the Detective Blasco books. They’re dark, suspenseful, and intelligent reads where you may be certain that you’ve nailed the perp in the first five chapters, but you’ll change your mind in every chapter after that until the reveal takes you completely by surprise.

Matters Arising from the Identification of the Body, Simon Petrie

Matters Arising from the Identification of the Body, Simon Petrie

Matters Arising from the Identification of the Body: A Guerline Scarfe Investigation

Titan is a hostile environment. When people die, it’s the job of someone like Guerline Scarfe to make sure that all the details are correctly recorded and all angles are examined to ensure that the future of Fensal’s citizens is as safe as it can be. The investigation into the death of Tanja Noor Hainan Morgenstein should have been one like any other – despite her influential parents. However, when Guerline starts asking why the daughter of one of Titan’s most influential families would have committed suicide by Titan right outside an airlock, her investigation starts sprouting inconsistencies.

Matters Arising from the Identification of the Body is a well-written mystery thriller in a science-fiction setting. Details of terrain and technology add to the backdrop, but the author has resisted allowing them to overwhelm the story. The characters are well-developed, and while Guerline is at first glance the epitome of the harassed separated parent with a spoiled child, her obstinacy makes her the ideal protagonist for the plot. The final plot twist reveal was particularly nicely handled, with enough presaging to make it credible without giving the game away too early. Overall, this was a thoroughly enjoyable read – there’s something there for everyone from detective mystery fans through to die-hard sci-fi readers.

Watching You, J A Schneider

Watching You, J A Schneider

Watching You, J. A. Schneider

A dead girl from a rich family, a menacing text message, and a taunt tacked to the still-warm corpse with a hatpin. With an ever-expanding list of suspects and very little hard evidence, Detective Kerri Blasco and her partner are front and centre in the hunt for a killer, under the unforgiving glare of both a media spotlight and their superiors. With the case rousing spectres from Kerri’s past, the stress is beginning to tell, and it’s open to debate if the case will crack first – or if Kerri will.

Watching You is a gritty, fast-paced sequel in the Kerri Blasco detective series, for the first time with a plot focussing on Detective Blasco herself. J. A. Schneider’s outstanding characters and trademark twisty plotting are a combination guaranteed to pull you into the story from the first page; trying to figure out whodunnit will keep you there. This series offers an outstanding combination of mystery, psychology, and realism, and the third in the series is no exception. The desperation of the case permeates the writing, dragging you into the characters’ desperate race against time to find and stop a killer, and the character development is stellar from the protagonists right through to the smallest roles. This is a book that any readers of crime mysteries are guaranteed to fall in love with.

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