A selection of books, some of which we borrowed using the new Select and Collect service.

Oundle Library’s Select and Collect service offers readers the chance to receive some ‘mystery’ books because library staff choose books for you based on the authors you’ve told them you enjoy. So, this month our group decided we’d all read at least one of these ‘mystery’ books. For some this proved to be an absolute treat, for others not so much! We list our reviews here alphabetically by author.

Tammy Cohen – Stop at Nothing
Cornish Eskimo mostly reads police procedurals and thrillers. This was billed as ‘part thriller, part domestic drama’ and recommended for fans of authors like Lisa Jewell, Heidi Perks and C L Taylor. For people who enjoy psychological thrillers it could tick all the boxes but it’s not convinced Cornish Eskimo to change her reading habits. It’s the story of a mum called Tess who is unravelling. She’s on her own after a difficult divorce and having lost her job. Her husband is living happily with a new girlfriend but she’s in such a bad place that her oldest daughter (of university age) has chosen not to live with her or see her. When her youngest daughter is attacked on her way home from a party Tess goes into meltdown. The police can’t find the man but Tess is obsessed and believes she knows who it is, so she starts to try and make his life impossible. Cornish Eskimo says: “From page one the story seemed predictable and by page 25 I thought I’d identified the baddie, even though it felt illogical that I could have given that so little had happened. But blow me down, I was right! For me, personally, reading this book was an endurance test and I wouldn’t give even 1 star.”

Katerina Diamond – Woman in the Water
This is a story about a truly evil person. Detective Adrian Miles pulls a young woman from the river and forms a connection to her as he saves her life. He and his partner Imogen Grey investigate what happens to her. The story is set in Devon, around a building company and its employees and owner. Norfolk Gal says: “I can understand why this was in the top ten of the Sunday Times bestseller list because it’s a gripping read. You realise quite early on who the baddie is but proving it is another matter. The story end with a final twist which you don’t see coming.”
4.5 stars

Stephen King – Joyland
One of a handful of crime books written by the great Stephen King who, incidentally, has also written some highly-regarded science fiction books. This book was written to be part of a series called Hard Case Crime – stories written in the style of the classic, hardboiled crime fiction of the 1940s and 1950s (with the covers designed to match!). The list of authors includes people like Lawrence Block, Donald E. Westlake, Mickey Spillane, Michael Crichton, Ray Bradbury and Gore Vidal.

Joyland is part-crime story, part-ghost story and part-coming of age story. The main protagonist is Devin Jones, a 21-year old man, who has just been dumped by his girlfriend and who is suffering with a broken heart. He goes to work for the summer in an amusement park in North Carolina called Joyland.

Some years before a young woman had been brutally murdered during a ride on the ghost train, and she is said to haunt the place. Dev never sees her but a close friend does and is hugely unsettled. Dev gets caught up in his friend’s distress and they start to look into the killing. It doesn’t take them long to discover that there have been a number of similar killings in other amusement parks all over the southern states, a connection which has been missed by the police. Now it seems the killer is working at Joyland. 

Freyja says this is a very good book. Not at all gruesome, and no horror. She found the idea of the Hard Case Crime series so appealing that she’s ordered another of King’s books from the same. She’ll report back on that later.

Gretta Mulrooney These Little Lies
This is the first in a new series by Gretta Mulrooney, who is best known for her Tyrone Swift series. DI Siv Drummond is a widow, her husband having died in a tragic road accident near their home in London. She’s been on compassionate leave but wants a new start, so she transfers from her high-profile job with the Met to her old home town – sleepy, seaside Berminster. She’s still grieving and lonely, but she’s clever and dedicated and soon earns the respect of her colleagues.

On her first day in her new job she has a double murder on her hands and has to push her grief aside and use all her experience and stamina to lead the investigation. The victims are Lauren Visser and Matis Rimas, who have been found stabbed to death in woodland by the River Bere. Lying within feet of each other, a photograph of an unknown girl has been placed on Lauren’s body. Despite the crime scene there appears to be no connection between the two victims, and there are people around with secrets which impede the investigation.

This is a good police procedural novel with several twists. Eve says: “The motive and the perpetrator are well concealed in this novel. Well-paced, full of suspense the story gathers speed towards the ending when the killer is revealed. I got really caught up in this book and warmed to the detective. I look forward to the next in the series.

Kate Rhodes – Burnt Island
Book 3 in the DI Ben Kitto series which takes place in the Scilly Isles, on St Agnes. Ben is a native of the Scillies and has returned home to become Chief of Police after 10 years working in the murder squad in London. The story opens with the body of a man being found on a bonfire on a remote peninsula of the island. The victim (who lived on the island and was generally liked) had been alive when he was thrown into the flames. A coat had been thrown over the body after the fire had died down and is found to have belonged to the island’s simpleton, known as the Birdman. A lot of the story revolves around Ben’s search for the Birdman, who has gone into hiding. None of the islanders believe the Birdman would kill anyone but no-one will know until he is found. Throw into the mix a clue of a rock scratched with an ominous-sounding curse in the Cornish language, and a major Atlantic storm reaching the islands and you have the ingredients for a story that harks back to The Wicker Man. Freyja found the book pretty unsophisticated and ordinary, and felt a splendid opportunity to describe the Scilly Isles had been missed.

John Sandford – Masked Prey
This is Book 30 in the Prey series. Lucas Davenport is still a free-ranging US Marshal, pulled in to investigate tricky cases. In this instance he’s asked by two of Minnesota’s congressmen to investigate a far-right website of a group called 1919, which is exhorting its followers to kill the children of influential politicians. The site shows pictures of them with details of their schools, home addresses etc. Soon the website has made the news and then a child is shot dead in his school playground by a sniper. But the group 1919 is completely unknown to the FBI and security services, so finding out who’s behind it all seems impossible. Slowly but surely the pieces are put together and this becomes a tale of the cult of celebrity and far-right politics. Not the best of the Prey series but still very enjoyable.

Anna Snoekstra – Little Secrets (subtitled They Tell Big Lies)
Set in a rust-bucket town in the Australian outback. Rose is a would-be journalist working for her keep in a bar mostly used by the local police. She’s desperate to escape but time has overtaken local industry, and apart from the bar the only other work available is the local poultry factory, where her mother works long, tedious, repetitive shifts.  

Rose’s scribblings are repeatedly rejected by the large town press. But then a huge fire destroys the old Town Courthouse and the deli next door, and the small son of the deli owners appears to have perished in the blaze. Seizing her chance, Rose writes a story embroidering the events, which is accepted for publication. Desperate to obtain a permanent job on the newspaper she then starts to build small-scale local stories into major scandals, with terrible results. Achieving her goal to be employed by the newspaper comes at great personal and professional cost. Oxo says this is a disturbing but good read.
3.8 Stars

Marsali Taylor – Death on a Shetland Isle
This story is about a group of people sailing around the Shetlands on a tall ship. The main character is the Second Mate, Cass, whose boyfriend is a police officer. The crew is made up of people who have paid to be on board. The Third Mate happens to be an ex-boyfriend of Cass and he’s using another name; and some of the crew are acting oddly. Then a person goes missing during a trip on shore, a body turns up, and the puzzle begins. Norfolk Gal really enjoyed this and rates it as a bit out of the ordinary.
4.5 Stars