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.

The Alien Diaries, Glenn Devlin

The Alien Diaries, Glenn Devlin

The Alien Diaries

The Alien Diaries combines the American Civil War, aliens on the run, and a modern book store owner in an original, unlikely, enjoyable read.

Kate Arendell is an orphan, working in a run-down New York tavern in the last quarter of the 18th century. The tavern owner uses her and her brothers as unpaid labour, and beats them for entertainment. She and her siblings are rescued from their employers by mysterious passers-by—but as they journey into countryside brutalized by war, their rescuers show an ability to heal wounds unknown in their time.

When I first picked it up, I looked at the diary format and was afraid I’d let myself in for the fictional fantasies of an 18th century miss. However, by the third ‘diary entry’ I was hooked and happy as the plot twists started coming in. The Alien Diaries manages the mix of diary entries and the rest of the story smoothly, and despite an eclectic range of settings and eras, the storyline and the characters are clearly written and easy to follow. Happily, author Glenn Devlin didn’t feel any need to be predictable, and I found myself enjoying the unexpected in this book. The technical side of the writing was also pleasantly well done, and I didn’t find myself being hauled out of the story by a wandering gerund. As a whole, I would certainly recommend the read; it combines several genres 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.

The Colonel and the Bee, Patrick Canning

The Colonel and the Bee, Patrick Canning

The Colonel and the Bee: A Globe-Trotting Adventure

The Colonel and the Bee is a sunny, swashbuckling adventure of giant hot-air balloons, treasure hunting, and international mystery. From the moment that Bee runs away from her old life as The Amazing Beatrix in a travelling circus and encounters the mysterious and infamous Colonel James Bacchus, she finds herself immersed in the new and the strange on every side, from investigating a bona fide murder in the Netherlands to crossing the Sahara in the Colonel’s amazing flying home.

It’s often easy, when using a very distinctive type of dialect or language, to either get carried away or to start falling out of character. Author Patrick Canning managed to maintain an endearingly old-world form of English without falling into either of these traps, and it made a great addition to the overall atmosphere of the story. While I had the impression that the storyline at times played fast and loose with distance and geography, the book is a highly enjoyable adventure, well-paced and filled with original characters. The Derringer Sisters, an international sisterhood of jilted ex-flames of the Colonel’s, were one of my favourite examples of the humour that makes appearances through the read. There’s enough suspense to keep a reader interested, which is quite a feat as the book is largely very light-hearted. I can’t over-recommend this for anyone looking for a fun adventure read.

The Janus Enigma, William R Dudley

The Janus Enigma, William R Dudley

The Janus Enigma (The Janus Chronicles Book 1)

The Janus Enigma offers a twisty, intriguing blend of sci-fi, dystopia, and thriller. Calder is a trouble-shooter for hire in the Outer Levels of Janus, with a past he’s walked away from and a present that’s going to take all his contacts and all his skills to stay alive in. When one of the most influential women on Janus hands him a missing person to track and an exorbitant fee to do it, Calder’s instinct is to be wary – but even he didn’t suspect just how far down the rabbit hole the case would take him.

I loved the opening of this book. With elaborate scheming, insider agents, and the immediate threat of inventive physical mayhem, the story started out strong and managed to keep the momentum going. The plotline showcases plots within plots, anti-heroes, centuries-old secrets, and an innovative solution to interstellar travel. Best of all, the author managed to resist the temptation to drown the story in details. The characters were strongly-developed; Sunny O’Malley and Calder in particular, but Mexican Charlie with his constantly-changing physiognomy was another of my favourites. Even the smallest of walk-on parts read like a person, not a cut-out, which I totally appreciated. Overall, this book was well-written, well-edited, and had all the elements to get and keep my attention – definitely worth reading.

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