Archive for July, 2015

Where Serpents Sleep

Where Serpents Sleep by C.S. Harris.

Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: NAL (November 3, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0451226658



From Booklist

Hero Jarvis, while doing research at Magdalene House, a refuge run by the Quakers for prostitutes in Regency England, narrowly escapes with her life when eight women living there are viciously killed, their murders concealed by arson. As one of the young women died in her arms, Hero decides she must determine why this victim, clearly wellborn, was working as a prostitute and why someone wanted her dead. Unfamiliar with murder investigations, she enlists the help of Sebastian St. Cyr, who has spent the last eight months trying unsuccessfully to deal with the loss of his lover. Sebastian, intrigued by the case and seeing the opportunity to anger Hero’s father, his sworn enemy, agrees to help her. The two investigate, both separately and together, in the slums and mansions of London, uncovering corruption and almost losing their lives on several occasions. The vividly described sights and sounds of Regency London, the stormy relationship between the well-developed main characters, and a complex mystery add to this fourth in the St. Cyr series. –Sue O’Brien


I had sent for 2 used books by C.S. Harris from her Sebastian St. Cyr series…  I enjoy the writing and the fact that the person solving the murders is not a detective.  The back story concerns Sebastian himself.  His past “love of his life” turns out to be his half sister since his father kept a mistress!.. (so much for that!)   So his new life is just beginning to appear.

The murders (mulitple!) are of prostitutes, who back then would not even bother to try to find out who did the murders.. but Hero wants to know why one of the prostitutes was a woman of means and enlists Sebastian’s help.

As with her other books there are many discoveries and a good historical background. Including the Kings own man who just happens to be Hero’s father and he doesn’t much like Sebastian.  Jarvis is also not the nicest person.. but you will have to read it to find out about that.

So .. this is a good series, even though I am not reading every single one I am able to follow easily what is going on. Next up will be the last of the C.S. Harris books that I have here.  Hoping one day to get the newest of her books “Who Buries the Dead.”  Need to wait for the price to come down.

So what have you been reading?

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Somebody I Used to Know by David Bell.

Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: NAL (July 7, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0451474201

When Nick Hansen sees the young woman at the grocery store, his heart stops. She is the spitting image of his college girlfriend, Marissa Minor, who died in a campus house fire twenty years earlier. But when Nick tries to speak to her, she acts skittish and rushes off.
The next morning the police arrive at Nick’s house and show him a photo of the woman from the store. She’s been found dead, murdered in a local motel, with Nick’s name and address on a piece of paper in her pocket.
Convinced there’s a connection between the two women, Nick enlists the help of his college friend Laurel Davidson to investigate the events leading up to the night of Marissa’s death. But the young woman’s murder is only the beginning…and the truths Nick uncovers may make him wish he never doubted the lies.

This is the 5th book I’ve read by David Bell and I have enjoyed them all.  Cemetery Girl, Never Come Back, The Forgotten Girl and The Hiding Place are the other four.  All of Bell’s books are fast reading, easily followed, and very short chapters.  I can’t ask for more!

Have you ever seen someone and thought, “I think I know that person….”  and you get up the nerve to actually approach them and ask?  … sometimes it may not wind up as you thought it would. Sometimes, the past should be left alone.

In this book it doesn’t take long when you think you know all the answers.  But as the answers finally surface, you find you weren’t always right!  This and his other books are great books to travel with or when you just need some light reading.  They are mysteries and murders to be solved yet they are all pretty straight forward.  Not too many characters and just enough twists and turns to keep your interest.

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The Quincunx

The Quincunx by Charles Palliser.

Paperback: 800 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books (January 1991)
ISBN-10: 0345371135



From Publishers Weekly

The epic length of this first novel–nearly 800 densely typeset pages–should not put off readers, for its immediacy is equal to its heft. Palliser, an English professor in Scotland, where this strange yet magnetic work was first published, has modeled his extravagantly plotted narrative on 19th-century forms–Dickens’s Bleak House is its most obvious antecedent–but its graceful writing and unerring sense of timing revivifies a kind of novel once avidly read and surely now to be again in demand. The protagonist, a young man naive enough to be blind to all clues about his own hidden history (and to the fact that his very existence is troubling to all manner of evildoers) narrates a story of uncommon beauty which not only brings readers face-to-face with dozens of piquantly drawn characters at all levels of 19th-century English society but re-creates with precision the tempestuous weather and gnarly landscape that has been a motif of the English novel since Wuthering Heights . The suspension of disbelief happens easily, as the reader is led through twisted family trees and plot lines. The quincunx of the title is a heraldic figure of five parts that appears at crucial points within the text (the number five recurs throughout the novel, which itself is divided into five parts, one for each of the family galaxies whose orbits the narrator is pulled into). Quintuple the length of the ordinary novel, this extraordinary tour de force also has five times the ordinary allotment of adventure, action and aplomb. Literary Guild dual main selection. Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

So, I got this book because I had read two other books by Palliser and enjoyed them.  Then, if I remember right, my friend Carl, at Stainless Steel Droppings, told me about this book.  “Since you like Gothic Mystery…”.. he did not mention it was 800 pages long… in small print!!!!  So I won’t say how long it took me to read this but here it is almost the end of a 31 day month and including this book I’ve only read 3 books for the month!

So, (yes I know I repeat myself).. I get the book months ago.. flipped thru it and put it away thinking that the print is way to small I will never read this.   I have no idea why I thought I’d give it a go, but I did.. and I liked it very much! (you are off the hook Carl lol) I will also admit I had to look up the definition of Quincunx..(an arrangement of five objects with four at the corners of a square or rectangle and the fifth at its center, used for the five on dice or playing cards, and in planting trees).. it always helps to know what you are reading about!

The story begins with a young child named John.  Basically, it’s his life up to a certain age.  When he asks questions to his mother she keeps telling him she can’t tell him at his young age, that he would not understand.  So mysteries begin to build.  Lots of “Family secrets”.  Some murders along the way.  Some insanity??  …and the child gets older.  But I began to think he was really me!  I mean, if this kid didn’t have hugely bad luck, he’d have no luck at all!!

The are a number of families involved in this very twisted Charles Dickens type book. Admittedly, at times I was confused as to who was related to who and how? duh.  But I surged on and strangely the more confused I got the more I sorta knew what was happening.  heh. 

The writing of this book is outstanding.  Though compared, in style and content, to Dickens it’s a little lighter and easier to read then Dickens, and I would have gotten thru it even quicker if the type set wasn’t so small!

Anyway… it was a good read.. and I sorta miss the characters now!

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Fatal Enquiry

Fatal Enquiry by Will Thomas.

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Minotaur Books (April 28, 2015)
ISBN-10: 1250068509



From Booklist

Private-enquiry agent Cyrus Barker and his apprentice, Thomas Llewelyn (The Black Hand, 2011), are drawn into a diabolical cat-and-mouse game when Barker’s arch-nemesis, Sebastian Nightwine, returns to London under diplomatic protection. Although he’s warned away by Scotland Yard, Barker doesn’t consider complying; he’s certain that Nightwine murdered his brother years ago. Now Nightwine plants a witness who fingers Barker for a wealthy businessman’s murder. Barker and Llewelyn go underground to avoid arrest, leading readers on a tour of the city’s hideaways. When Nightwine draws first blood, Barker becomes more determined to orchestrate a final confrontation before his adversary can close his mysterious government deal and escape. Like Sherlock Holmes, Barker stays a step ahead of both criminals and coppers, but his methods rely on networking both underworld and society contacts, which treats readers to the full range of experiences in Victorian London. Well crafted and immersive, this a great addition to the to-be-read stacks of Thomas’ fans, as well as fans of Alex Grecian and Anne Perry. –Christine Tran

It seems I keep finding these  new (to me) detectives and they are all in  London! 

I enjoyed this pair of Barker and Llewelyn.  They quite remind me of Holmes and Watson.  However, in this case each holds their own when it comes to danger and detectiing.

The villain in this book, Nightwine, if real, would be right up there with Jack the Ripper for intensity.  Nice guy.. not!  I find myself wondering how someone can come up with such ideas and gore and torture when it’s not take from actual cases… but then again maybe it did!

I have one other book by this author, using the same protagonists on my wish list that I think I will get one day, since this book caught my attention so well.

The above review, at the end, mentions another author I have read Alex Grecian, who’s stories I have also enjoyed. If you like detective stories this is an author  you might enjoy.

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Close to Home

Close to Home by Peter Robinson. (aka: The Summer That Never Was)

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: William Morrow;(February 4, 2003)
ISBN-10: 0060198788

Amazon.com Review

Having already shown, in 1999’s In a Dry Season, that he can plumb historical homicide for gripping modern drama, Peter Robinson goes further in Close to Home, telling parallel stories about teenage boys lost in a grownup world, decades apart. The first is Graham Marshall, a childhood pal of Detective Chief Inspector Alan Banks, who vanished mysteriously in 1965, the supposed victim of a pedophile. Hearing that Graham’s bones have finally been unearthed, Banks quits his vacation in Greece and heads to his hometown of Petersborough, England, hoping to assist the investigation–and, perhaps, assuage his guilt over his friend’s fate. Meanwhile, Banks’s colleague and ex-lover, Annie Cabbot, is busy probing the recent disappearance of 15-year-old Luke Armitage, the sensitive, brainy son of a rock star who committed suicide during Luke’s infancy. After Cabbot catches hell for interrupting what may or may not have been a legitimate ransom payment for Luke’s return, she seeks Banks’s advice, drawing these two plot lines neatly together.

As this intense and intricately crafted puzzler develops, blending fiction with a bit of fact (the Kray brothers, who ran a criminal ring in London’s East End during the mid-20th century, play off-camera roles here), Robinson explores Banks’s troubled relationship with his parents, especially his working-class father, who “had never approved of his choice of career.” He also raises doubts about a famed copper who’d originally tackled the Marshall case, involves Banks romantically with a damaged detective whose investigative diligence threatens her safety, and shows Cabbot as someone better and stronger than merely Banks’s protégé. Working with themes of lost youth and the dark secrets hidden in small towns, Robinson delivers in this 13th Banks novel a police procedural of remarkable human depth

The used copy of this book I have is actually called The Summer That Never Was.  When I looked in Amazon for their review I couldn’t find the title but Peter Robinson has many other books with his protagonist Inspector Alan Banks.  As I read thru some of them I found this review which is exactly what I read so I realized they had changed the title.

This was a good read! I liked that it had two stories going at the same time and yet had no trouble keeping touch with which was which.  One story was a “cold case” of someone Banks knew and died as a teenager, and the other was also a young man of 15 who is found murdered in a different town. 

Banks goes back and forth between the two murders.  He has no jurisdiction in the town he grew up in where his friend went missing many years ago,but shows up to offer any help.  When he feels unwanted he goes back to where he actually works to help his colleague, Annie, on the murder of the second teenager.

For me to say they could flip back and forth between the two cases and I was able to know where he was at all times is nothing short of a miracle!  Which tells me that I enjoyed this author (even though this is one of his earlier books) .  I searched out a few other Inspector Banks books used at Amazon and sent for 2 more.  That should tell you he was an interesting character and I’ll be glad to learn more about him and his cases.

(but I am not giving up looking for more *mysteries* such as The Thirteenth Tale, where there is no new murder or death but lots of secrets to uncover!  If you know of any let me know!!)

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My reading has slowed down quite a bit.  It began in May when I actually went away for 5 days to the Smoky Mountains. Also saw some things in S.C. and a tiny bit in Tennessee. I could have used 3 times that away!

But.. I was nearly finished with The Fifth Heart before I left and it wasn’t long for me to finish it.  There are some books I absolutely love by Dan Simmons and others …not so much.  Drood will always remain my favorite (I think), The Fifth Heart is running second now.

What Alice Forgot was turned into a movie which I missed seeing and would have loved to see it because the book was so good.  The story was written so well that at times I felt Alice’s frustrations and kept hoping things would go her way. I won’t say more because you may decide to read it!

So here’s my list for May and June:



33..The Fifth Heart…………………Dan Simmons………(623 pgs)

34..Behind the Bookcase……………..Mark Steensland…..(263 pgs)

35..Deep & Dark & Dangerous………….Mary D. Hahn……..(192 pgs)

36..What Alice Forgot……………….Liane Moriarty……(488 pgs)



37..The Road from Gap Creek………….Robert Morgan…….(352 pgs)

38..Devoured……………………….D.E. Meredith…….(291 pgs)

39..When Gods Die…………………..C.S. Harris………(352 pgs)

40..Ape House………………………Sara Gruen……….(303 pgs)

41..Moriarty……………………….Anthony Horowitz……(305 pgs)


In May I most enjoyed The Fifth Heart by Dan Simmons and What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty.  Both excellent books and kept me wanting to read more even when my eyes blurred!

In June I liked When Gods Die by C.S. Harris (so now I want more of his books!) . Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz was another super read.  I never guessed "who done it" so was shocked at the end of the book, and I very much liked Ape House which is fiction but parts taken from the truth about Apes learning sign language.

Reviews can be found by clicking the links that will take you to Amazon.

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