All little children like to play house, don’t they? What happens when the ‘baby’ is naughty?
THE FLOWER GIRLS has a curious cast of characters that are oddly disconnected from each other, despite all being immersed in a net of pain and regret that none seem likely to escape from. This work has all the right ingredients for a thriller novel in that we are presented with circumstances that we must examine, and question, throughout the read. What we need to accept as undeniable is that a murderer can kill at any age. We ask are the signs of that malignancy of character present in the killer right from childhood? Do they fade, or do they develop over time?
Early in THE FLOWER GIRLS the reader is conscious of a ticking clock with Hazel, in that she is not going to be allowed her happiness when very few people believe she is innocent of the most heinous of crimes. The aunt of the murdered child has made it her life’s work to keep Laurel in prison and the case in the public eye. Hazel on the other hand has made it her life’s intention to distance herself from the killing.
We readers are gently led to have our doubts about everyone in THE FLOWER GIRLS and are not able to rest our dark suspicions on the head of one character for too long before we begin to suspect the intentions of the next. Author Alice Clark Platts writes with an elegant hand, introducing through secondary characters such quandaries of the age of criminal responsibility, the sentencing of minors, the culpability of family members when a killing has been committed by a child. None of this is designed to make the reader comfortable in what they are examining, but it does provoke further thought. THE FLOWER GIRLS conclusion you will feel was there from the opening pages, but in between you’ve had a lot to consider as you’ve journeyed through.
Haunting and unsettling, THE FLOWER GIRLS treads gently down dark paths, leading the reader towards its uneasy and daunting truth.
Sourcery, Terry Pratchett
All this books and stuff, that isn't what it should all be about. What we need is real wizardry.
All is not well within the Unseen University. The endemic politics of the place have ensured that it has finally got what it wished for: the most powerful wizard on the disc. Which could mean that the death of all wizardry is at hand. And the world is going to end, depending on whom you listen to. Unless of course one inept wizard can take the University's most precious artefact, the very embodiment of magic itself, and deliver it halfway across the disc to safety...
Another full version, narrated by Nigel Planer, this was 7 hours and 63 minutes of listening to how books and stuff aren't the point, it's all about real wizarding.
Mort, Terry Pratchett
Although the scythe isn't pre-eminent among the weapons of war, anyone who has been on the wrong end of, say, a peasants' revolt will know that in skilled hands it is fearsome.
For Mort however, it is about to become one of the tools of his trade. From henceforth, Death is no longer going to be the end, merely the means to an end. He has received an offer he can't refuse. As Death's apprentice he'll have free board, use of the company horse and being dead isn't compulsory. It's the dream job until he discovers that it can be a killer on his love life...
Back to full versions, narrated by Nigel Planer, this was 7 hours and 27 minutes of listening joy :)
Know Me Now, C.J. Carver
A SUICIDE. A MURDER. A CONSPIRACY.
DIGGING UP THE PAST CAN BE DEADLY . . .
A thirteen-year-old boy commits suicide.
A sixty-five-year old man dies of a heart attack.
Dan Forrester, ex-MI5 agent, is connected to them both.
And when he discovers that his godson and his father have been murdered, he teams up with his old friend, DC Lucy Davies, to find answers.
But as the pair investigate, they unravel a dark and violent mystery stretching decades into the past and uncover a terrible secret.
Third in the Dan Forrester series, we're into classic thriller mode now with this series. Heaps of action, a fast moving, multi threaded plot, this one creates a partnership quickly between Forrester and ongoing series character Lucy Davies that works well. Again we have a couple of main threads, a supposed suicide and a seemingly natural death that turn out to be murder, with a very personal connection to Forrester.
In a nutshell KNOW ME NOW is a better outing than the second, but not quite to the heights of the first novel in the series. To be fair, a lot of the unusual elements - amnesia / grieving / ex-MI5 agent and cop with a problem have been expanded on now, and we're less into background development, and more into classic thriller derring doing and plotlines. If that's what you're looking for, then KNOW ME NOW is the third outing in a series that will be right up your alley.
Tell Me A Lie, C.J. Carver
How do you protect your family when you can't remember who's hunting them? A gripping international thriller, perfect for fans of Lee Child and Mason Cross
A family in England is massacred, the father left holding the shotgun.
PC Lucy Davies is convinced he's innocent
A sleeper agent in Moscow requests an urgent meeting with Dan Forrester, referencing their shared past.
His amnesia means he has no idea who he can trust.
An aging oligarch in Siberia gathers his henchmen to discuss an English accountant.
It's Dan's wife
Dan Forrester and Lucy Davies return in the second novel in this series: TELL ME A LIE. It's hard to say that these novels must or must not be read in sequence, or if there's enough leeway for readers to start anywhere. There is a bit of back story in this second outing that should help fill in the gaps for new readers, but those returning to the series may notice the obviously similar structure deployed in both novels. Again we have seemingly disparate story-lines converging, pulling the two main characters into a collaborative relationship, although in TELL ME A LIE that happens much earlier on than it did in the opening novel SPARE ME THE TRUTH.
Character development does also seem to have stalled slightly, and it feels like we're slipping into a lot of predictable elements. The diverging plots, the struggle with amnesia which is more of the same, and a woman's private life that's another car crash, all places we've visited before.
On the upside there is still plenty of action, and a complex plot evolving here with heaps of red herrings and TELL ME A LIE is populated by more than enough sub-plots and intrigue to keep a reader on their toes.
Spare Me the Truth, C.J. Carver
Dan Forrester, piecing his life back together after the tragic death of his son, is approached in a supermarket by a woman who tells him everything he remembers about his life - and his son - is a lie.
Grace Reavey, stricken by grief, is accosted at her mother's funeral. The threat is simple: pay the staggering sum her mother allegedly owed, or lose everything.
Lucy Davies has been forced from the Met by her own maverick behaviour. Desperate to prove herself in her new rural post, she's on the hunt for a killer - but this is no small town criminal.
Australian readers will probably remember C.J. Carver as Caroline Carver - writer of a series of Australian set books <cough> years ago. Recently, she's returned to notice writing under the name C.J. Carver - with a series of thrillers built around Dan Forrester, recently bereaved father, spy, sufferer of amnesia.
There are now three novels out in the series - all of which have been recent entries in the Ngaio Marsh Awards. The opening novel, SPARE ME THE TRUTH, introduces Forrester, and the background to the death of his young son; Grace Reavey, accosted at her mother's funeral with a demand for money; and ex-cop Lucy Davies. How all these people's stories interact is the point of the novels, with a complicated storyline that pulls together everyone's loss, past and present in a conspiracy that will test them individually and as newly formed colleagues, friends, combatants. Your guess.
There is much fodder for Carver to work with here. Forrester as the "main" focus is a man who is struggling to rebuild his life after a family tragedy that scrambled his memory and blacked out huge parts of his past. An unusual encounter leads to a mystery, that leads to a multi-threaded conspiracy, each of the main characters in the novel being drawn together, entangled in their own part of the puzzle.
Strong pacing, and populated with good characters, SPARE ME THE TRUTH is perfect summer thriller fodder, and the good thing is for readers who really like Dan Forrester there's two more novels out now (TELL ME A LIE and KNOW ME NOW).
The Last Witness, Denzil Meyrick
James Machie was a man with a genius for violence, his criminal empire spreading beyond Glasgow into the UK and mainland Europe. Fortunately, James Machie is dead, assassinated in the back of a prison ambulance following his trial and conviction. But now, five years later, he is apparently back from the grave, set on avenging himself on those who brought him down. Top of his list is his previous associate, Frank MacDougall, who unbeknownst to D.C.I. Jim Daley, is living under protection on his lochside patch, the small Scottish town of Kinloch.
There's something about the accents of some narrators that just make things so easy to listen to and David Monteath is doing a terrific job with the DCI Jim Daley series. There's enough wry, dry humour here, alongside some reasonably gritty plot lines to keep the reader engaged, although the series does have a hefty dose of the personal as well if you're a fan of that sort of thing. Daley has a complicated sort of a lovelife with a wife he doesn't exactly trust, a new position in a small Scottish town (introduced in book 1 in the series: Whisky From Small Glasses) and a surprisingly active Scottish gangster population surrounding him.
Another one of those quintessentially Scottish sounding audible books - perfect for listening to over an extended period of time.
Equal Rites, Terry Pratchett
Right before the wise old wizard Drum Billet died, he passed on his magical staff of power to the newborn eighth son of an eighth son. Unfortunately, Drum Billet never bothered to check the gender of the newborn baby, and it turns out it was a girl. Now his chauvinistic colleagues are forced to deal with a young girl who has all the qualifications to join their all-male profession.
Terry Pratchett's third Discworld novel, Equal Rites, asks many provocative questions about magic, where it goes, where it comes from, and why.
The third book in the Discworld series, this time it was an abridged version (2 hours, 54 minutes) narrated by Tony Robinson - which made the listening great, but it would have been nice if it had have been the entire book as Robinson does such a great job.
The Light Fantastic, Terry Pratchett
The Great A'Tuin, the heroic turtle who supports the weight of the entire Discworld, not to mention four giant elephants, swims through the galaxy day and night with the burden of being the only creature who knows exactly where the universe is going. Philosophers have long debated where this is, and are due to find out in about 2 months. Shall they worry? Well, they are on a collision course with a malevolent red star and only one person can save Discworld. Unfortunately, it's the cowardly wizard, Rincewind, who was last seen falling off the edge of the planet.
2nd in the Discworld series - listened to during the year, this time narrated by Nigel Planer - another perfect 6 hours and 54 minutes of listening pleasure :)
The Colour of Magic, Terry Pratchett
In the beginning there was…a turtle.
Somewhere on the frontier between thought and reality exists the Discworld, a parallel time and place which might sound and smell very much like our own, but which looks completely different. Particularly as it’s carried though space on the back of a giant turtle (sex unknown). It plays by different rules.
Anybody paying attention might have noticed I've been revisiting a lot of favourite series in audible format recently. Lots of time in the car = lots of listening time and local radio is now so dire it's been the perfect kick in the pants to go back and re-listen to many favourite series. A lot of the enjoyment depends on the narrator and Nigel Planer and Stephen Briggs doing the full-form novels, and Tony Robinson doing some of the abridged versions are firm favourites.
If you've never listened to the Discworld series (or even read them) then in audible format they are perfect company.