Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Big Bad Wolf (Böser Wolf) by Nele Neuhaus

I was happy to find another book by Nele Neuhaus in our residence library. Still fresh in mind is my first read by her; Snow White Must Die (Schneewittchen muss sterben), which was an excellent read. This is another "non-put-downable" book. Had to read into the night to finish it, after having read almost the whole day. Yes, it is such a book.

The story is built up the same way as the previous one. At the beginning we meet a man who was convicted as a pedofile and is now out from prison, fighting with his life. We meet once again the police officers; Pia Kirchhoff and Oliver von Bodenstein and their colleagues. The story starts when the body of a young girl, badly mistreated, is found in the river. Nobody seems to know who she is and the clues are none. Then a popular TV hostess is found beaten almost to death and looked into the trunk of her car. She is working on a new series of child abuse documentaries, where the culprits can be found at the highest level of society.

As usual, Neuhaus builds up a complex story. There are several story lines, not seeming to have anything in common at all, but as the story develops they come closer and closer together. Each story is a fascinating family story in itself and very well characterised. Neuhaus writes about police work as we can imagine it is. Not so much action, although there are some here for sure, but following different clues, many of which don't take them further. It is a slow process, but so exciting. Like Agatha Christies, she gives us the clues and we can make up our own mind of what is happening and has a fair chance of guessing who the culprit is. At least easier than in an Agatha Christie mystery, where the clues are not always that clear.

A highly recommended author. I see there is another one available in Swedish; Annars skjuter jägarn dig, as well as in English; I Am Your Judge/To Catch a Killer). Original title; Die Lebenden und die Toten. Are you familiar with the author and her books? Please let me know.

Monday, 29 April 2019

Becoming Mrs. Smith by Tanya Williams

Publisher: Rippling Effects; 1 edition 
Published: October 3, 2017
Paperback - 109 pages
I received a copy of this book from the author, Tanya E Williams, for a fair & impartial review

Becoming Mrs. Smith is a bitter sweet tale of coming of age. During her teenage years, Violet is down with Scarlet fever. She recovers, but her heart is weakened.  She grows up with John and the two of them falls in love.

Both of them study and want a better life for themselves. For Violet the road is clear, for John, not so. Everything changes when John decides to enrol in the army to fight in World War II. John's vision is clear. He wants to help to make the world a better place and fight for the right thing. Violet sees it as a betrayal of their life together.

Tanya E Williams tells a story of two ordinary people, with dreams and wishes. They both have to find a way to come to terms with their choices, and ask themselves what is really important in life, and above all, in their life together. Do they have a future? How does their different experiences affect that life?

It is a wonderful tale. The peril of living in the shadow of a war is well described. The uncertainty of what will happen and how the future will look like. Well written, and Williams manages to keep the story free from sentimentality. It is a lovely story.

Friday, 26 April 2019

Professor K: The Final Quest by Gabriel Farago

Cover courtesy the Publisher
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Published: October 25, 2018
Hardcover - 538 pages
Volume 4 of the Jack Rogan Mysteries
I received a copy of this book from the author, Gabriel Farago, for a fair & impartial review

Having been introduced to Jack Rogan through the pre-quel The Kimberley Secret, and liking the hero, it was with some anticipation that I started the number 4 volume of the Jack Rogan Mysteries. The books are stand-alone and can be read in any order you like.

Extract from the publishers summary:
"A desperate plea from the Vatican. A kidnapped chef. An ambitious mob boss. One perilous game. 
When Professor Alexandra Delacroix is called in to find a cure for the dying pope, she follows clues left by her mentor and friend, the late Professor K, which lead her on a breathtaking search through historical secrets, some of them deadly. ..."

The story starts at the Topkapi Palace in Constantinople on a dark January morning in 1595. Murad III is dying, and as custom is, all his sons, except the one to inherit the throne, will die with him. Fatma Hatun, one of Murad's consorts is afraid for her own son, Osman, who will die the very same day, if she cannot prevent it. The introduction leads us into a world where forgotten art and its hidden messages might provide a cure for a dying pope 500 years later.

Jack Rogan and his friends are out to save the day in this entertaining and thrilling novel. Alexandra Delacroix, a distinguished medical professor trying to find a cure for a deadly disease; Lorenza da Baggio, top international chef; Tristan, a gifted psychic; Dr Amena Algafari a Syrian medical doctor on the run; Salvatore Gambio a mafia boss eager to gain control of his empire; Luigi Belmonte an assassin with ambitions;  Antonio Grimaldi chief prosecutor in Florence determined to stop the mafia; a sick pope and a few other characters enrich the plot.

I must admit I found the beginning, with the introduction of the many story lines and characters somewhat overwhelming. I also thought that too many of todays' international problems were used for the story. However, as the plot develops I am hooked and Farago deals very well with the complexity of the story line.

Professor K: The Final Quest is an ambitious story, with historical details mixed with present day phenomena. Jack Rogan appears mostly in the latter part of the story. It does not matter since the other characters are well crafted and makes an interesting mix. One has to admire Farago's knowledge and eye for details, whether they come with complicated medical science, his many different characters or the places.

A fascinating and complicated story. The suspense is building up through the whole novel, and keeps it up until the very end. Unexpected turns, more than once, keep you tied to the pages. While reading, I wondered how so many loose ends would come together? Not to worry. When you come to the end and think you have figured it all out, the story takes another turn...and another.

Enjoyable and thrilling!

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

The Classic Club and Spin # 20

The Classic Club - Spin #20

Time for another Classic spin. It is a favourite challenge of mine and guide me towards reading the classics. I have updated my list with five new books, since I managed to read a few classics outside the last spin. I am happy about that. Here is my updated spin list.

1. The Master and Margarita by Michail Bulgakov
2. Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Carter
3. Daisy Miller by Henry James
4. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
5. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoj
6. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
7. Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence
8. Child Harold by Lord Byron
9. House of Mirth by Edith Wharton
10. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
11. In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway
12. The Wings of the Dove by Henry James
13. A Merchant in Venice by William Shakespeare
14. Jaget och det undermedvetna (Die Beziehungen zwischen dem Ich und dem Unbewußten)
by C.G. Jung
15. Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
16. Moments of being by Virginia Woolf
17. Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
18. The Divine Comedy by Dante (reading)
19. Orlando by Virginia Woolf
20. A Writer's Notebook by Somerset Maugham

My 50 classics list is here. I am nearing the end with these last 20 books, so will start a new list. Looking forward seeing which book will come up and what you are given to read.

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

The Kimberley Secret by Gabriel Farago

The Kimberley Secret is a prequel to Gabriel Farago's Jack Rogan Mysteries' series. After four books it seems his audience wanted to know the background of journalist Jack Rogan, on his quest to solve historical mysteries. Luckily, for me, it is the first book I read, receiving it as a free gift from the author via Booksweeps. However, I think you can read the books in any order.

Jack Rogan is a successful war correspondent in Afghanistan, when he receives a phone call, telling him his father is dying. He hurries home, just to get the chocking news that he was adopted as a young boy. The whole adoption process is rather mysterious, so Jack Rogan sets out to find out who his parents were, and where he comes from.

What I find so attractive with this book, is that it is an old fashion mystery of a kind we seldom meet these days. There is a mystery, a riddle to solve, and clues that lead you further and further into the story and its solving. Not necessarily a murder. Or maybe, just one, passing by in the outskirts of the story, but not to be diminished nevertheless. His trail takes him to unexpected places. They lead him back into Australia's wilderness, to forgotten history and stories and on a global trip where he finally finds an answer to his own background and who he is.

It is a charming story about a charming man. An enjoyable easygoing read, with history surrounding the story, and told very well. It has a little bit of Agatha Christie style over it, or those mysteries written earlier in the 20th century, that we love so much. Far away from the sometimes very violent detective stories we get today. I am now going to read Professor K; The Final Quest.  What better stories to read while travelling?

Monday, 1 April 2019

The Golden Hour by Beatriz Williams

Harper Collins

Publisher: Harper Collins
The book will be on sale on 9 July, 2019
Hardcover - 400 pages
I received a copy of this book (via Edelweiss) for a fair & impartial review

Sometimes you open a book, of which you only have a summary of the plot. You read the first chapter and you are lost in the story. It does not happen often, but here is one story that captivated me from the very beginning. A couple of chapters later, I never wanted it to end! Well, you do want even a good book to end, but I think you understand what I mean.

The Bahamas, 1941. Newly-widowed Leonora “Lulu” Randolph arrives in Nassau to investigate the Governor and his wife for a New York society magazine. After all, American readers have an insatiable appetite for news of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, that glamorous couple whose love affair nearly brought the British monarchy to its knees five years earlier. What more intriguing backdrop for their romance than a wartime Caribbean paradise, a colonial playground for kingpins of ill-gotten empires?
Or so Lulu imagines. But as she infiltrates the Duke and Duchess’s social circle, and the powerful cabal that controls the islands’ political and financial affairs, she uncovers evidence that beneath the glister of Wallis and Edward’s marriage lies an ugly—and even treasonous—reality. In fact, Windsor-era Nassau seethes with spies, financial swindles, and racial tension, and in the middle of it all stands Benedict Thorpe: a scientist of tremendous charm and murky national loyalties. Inevitably, the wilful and wounded Lulu falls in love.
Then Nassau’s wealthiest man is murdered in one of the most notorious cases of the century, and the resulting coverup reeks of royal privilege. Benedict Thorpe disappears without a trace, and Lulu embarks on a journey to London and beyond to unpick Thorpe’s complicated family history: a fateful love affair, a wartime tragedy, and a mother from whom all joy is stolen.
The stories of two unforgettable women thread together in this extraordinary epic of espionage, sacrifice, human love, and human courage, set against a shocking true crime . . . and the rise and fall of a legendary royal couple."
Harper Collins summary

The Golden Hour tells a story of suffering, love, spies and treason, even murder. We are presented with two stories; about Lulu and Benedict Thorpe, and a parallel story of Thorpe's parents (a German woman, Elfriede, and a Scottish man, Wilfrid) meeting in the beginning of the century. How they meet and fall in love, and how their personal circumstances make a relationship difficult. Hers is a story of suffering and complicated family history. He is a soldier. And then comes World War I. Where does love take them when their countries are fighting against each other?

The "present" story is set against the tropical scenery of the Bahamas in 1941-43. It is inhabited by a society with 'runaways', with or without money, using it as a haven during troubled times. Old aristocracy, rich businessmen and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor,  the center of society and its intrigues. Lulu Randolph arrives in order to write a society column for a New York magazine. Preferably, about the Duchess and her life. Lulu is trying to come closer to the couple, but it seems rather impossible. Until one day the Duchess is approaching her with an offer she cannot refuse.

When Lulu meets Benedict Thorpe, a friend of the Windsors, she has no idea of who he is, his complicated family history, or for that matter, his mysterious work. He might not just be the scientist he makes you believe he is. Worried times also hit the Bahamas, and under the perfect surface, something looms. A mystery, murder and spy story slowly develops. And then, after a passionate romance between Lulu and Benedict, he suddenly disappears.
"He said that's when everything looks the most beautiful, just before the sun sets. This luminous air turning everything to gold. He said it made him want to paint the whole world. And then it's gone, just like that."
There is a mixture of real time events as backdrop to this exciting story. The life of the Windsors after the abdication of the Duke in 1936. A sort of restlessness in their lives. Maybe the same restlessness that seem to possess many other persons staying in the Bahamas during the war. It seems everyone is waiting for something. But what? A wealthy businessman Harry Oakes is mysteriously murdered. The Duke of Windsor, being the governor, initiates an investigation that leads to unexpected results. Rumour has it that the investigation is poorly executed, leading to more rumours. 

For all fans of historical fiction, this is a perfect story. It is a story about two strong women, trying to find their way in the world. Both stories are as fascinating. Fighting for their loved ones, over years and continents. I love how Beatriz Williams has managed to merge her own, exciting and mysterious story, with real life events. It is well written and reflecting the times. She moves comfortably in the circles she is writing about. It is exciting, especially when you realise that the outcome is not what you expect. There are several twists at the end of the story. Amazing and fantastic. Just love it!

Beatriz Williams is the successful author of several novels of historical fiction. You can find out more about herself and her books on the link above. I am already looking for another one of her novels.