Anne Bonny #BookReview The Ruin by @DervlaMcTiernan 5* #CrimeFiction #NewRelease #Ireland @LittleBrownUK

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The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan
Synopsis:

THE SECRETS OF THE PAST WILL EXPOSE THE CRIMES OF THE PRESENT . . .

On his first week on the job, Garda Cormac Reilly responds to a call at a decrepit country house to find two silent, neglected children waiting for him – fifteen-year-old Maude and five-year-old Jack. Their mother lies dead upstairs.

Twenty years later, Cormac has left his high-flying career as a detective in Dublin and returned to Galway. As he struggles to navigate the politics of a new police station, Maude and Jack return to haunt him.

What ties a recent suicide to the woman’s death so long ago?
And who among his new colleagues can Cormac really trust?

My Review:

The dark heart of Ireland’s religious past is explored in this gritty crime fiction novel.
I was absolutely hooked, as I raced from cover to cover.

Newbie Garda Cormac Reilly is sent to an isolated location by fellow cop Marcus Tully. The location is so remote, he begins to wonder if this a hazing, due to his short-time on the police force. Eventually, he locates Dower House in the small village of Kilmore. What he finds behind the doors, will shake him to his core and haunt him for many years to come.

A young girl opens the door to reveal a scene of neglect and despair. The house has no power, is cold and riddled with mould. The children appear emaciated and mistreated, with the small boy Jack showing signs of a recent beating. There are items of alcohol and drug use, laying around the property. Cormac is horrified, and he is yet to discover the body. . .

‘How were you supposed to handle traumatised children’

In the upper floor of the property lays the children’s mother. Her life has expired, and the children have been left to fend for themselves. Cormac spots what he thinks are track marks on the mother’s arms.
How did nobody know, what was happening at Dower House?

Cormac takes the young children to the hospital. He feels out of his depth and lost for words. The sight of Maude 15yrs and Jack 5yrs, is one he will never forget.
When Maude goes missing at the hospital, never to be seen again. It adds another layer of mystery, to an already baffling case. But no one asks questions and the case soon becomes forgotten by all.

‘The best interests of the child came second’

20yrs later in Galway, Ireland. A young woman named Aisling is contemplating her future with her partner Jack. She has recently discovered she is pregnant and as a young doctor, it fills her with apprehension for what her future will hold. Her dreams of a career in medicine, seem almost over. Then the Garda arrive. . .

Cormac has suffered a career fall from grace. No longer the golden boy of Dublin’s special detective unit. He must seek pastures new, or for Cormac pastures of old.
The police officers are also looking into the rape and murder of a student. The case draws comparisons to the cold case of Maura Hughes, a young girl who was rumoured to be having an affair with a teacher.

Through Jack’s suicide, Aisling becomes acquainted with his long-lost sister. A sister she never knew existed. The two women become increasingly concerned about the Garda’s assumption, this is a suicide. Jack had everything to live for.
So, who would want Jack dead?

Maude has returned from Australia and we learn she is now a woman of some considerable means. She is driven, determined and has a ruthless quest for justice.
The two women united by grief, won’t rest until they know the truth.

The novel covers various themes well documented in the history. But it does so, with such a personal touch, that you feel distraught at the plight of the young children. As you read on, you want them to have known love, peace and kindness in their adult lives. But life isn’t always fair, and an abused child is never promised a second chance.
A great novel with haunting historical references 5*

DT
Dervla McTiernan
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Anne Bonny #BookReview The Last Good Place by @RobinBurcell #CrimeFiction #AmericanNoir #SanFrancisco @BrashBooks #KrugAndKellog #Series

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The Last Good Place by Robin Burcell
Synopsis:

Sgt. Al Krug and his younger, college-educated partner Casey Kellog are investigating a string of strangulation killings when another victim is found at the Presidio…but a surprising, violent incident at the crime scene makes them wonder if everything is what it seems. The two miss-matched cops, with sharply conflicting approaches to detective work, are under intense pressure to get results. It’s a race-against-the-clock investigation that propels them into the deadly intersection of politics, real estate, media and vice… the fertile, fog-shrouded killing field of a ruthless murderer.

My Review:

This novel is the fourth in the Krug and Kellog series and my first read of the author. I was drawn to the plot surrounding a high-profile serial killer case such as the landmark strangler. I also enjoy American hard-boiled detective fiction novels and this one did not disappoint. Although I wasn’t keen on all the themes within the novel, that was more due to my personal taste, rather than the writing of the novel.

The novel opens with San Francisco resident Marcie Valentine heading out for her morning run. She takes the same route every morning with her best friend Trudy Salvatori. Only this morning not only is Trudy late, but Marcie is planning her downfall.
A Deadly downfall indeed.

Later that morning at Presidio promenade a dead body is discovered, strangled. Is this the work of the landmark killer? Who is the victim Marcie or Trudy?

Enter local cops Sgt Casey and Sgt Al. These cops are opposites in their personalities. But that only enhances the story telling. Casey is a young idealist, he believes in sticking to the rules by the individual letter. His partner Al on the other hand, is a seasoned cop. A widower in his 50s and old skool in his values. They’re on the case of a murdered witness in a drug dealing case. When they are summoned to the homicide at golden gate bridge. With something to prove to himself and his fellow cops, Casey is eager to take the case.

The landmark strangler has struck four times in the last four months. Leaving the bodies at famous San Francisco landmarks. The most recent corpse is not only at the golden gate bridge but the cops can see a clear view of Alcatraz from the scene. Is this this high-profile killer they so desperately seek? Or is this a mere coincidence. Al is cautious to jump to conclusions, without all the clues and evidence. But Casey is just too damn keen.

At the scene the cops are informed that it is park ranger territory, meaning it falls under their jurisdiction. But Casey refuses to let go of the case. They eventually agree to work alongside park rangers Becca Windsor and Glenn Powers. It isn’t long before the scene becomes chaotic, with witnesses and suspect on site. Casey and Al find themselves staring at the dead body of their alleged perpetrator.

The investigation uncovers various secrets and lies in the victim’s personal life. The tension amongst the neighbours is plain to see. There is various spin off themes, that leave you questioning if the victim was the intended target after all. Is someone else now at risk from the landmark killer?

Casey continues to be mocked by his fellow cops. But gets a sense of smug satisfaction when he is handed the murder book for the landmark killer.
Can Casey solve the case or is he just an over confident rookie?

The media pressure and obsession with the case also plays a part. Local journalist Jenn Barstow has her own personal agenda in gaining access to reporting the case. She is not afraid to go to great lengths to find a way into cop’s lives.
The media demand that the FBI be brought in, which leaves Casey desperately trying to align the clues and solve the case.

‘Dead hookers don’t sell papers. Murdered white women do’

When the victim is found to have ties to a local politician, the media think nothing of politicalising the entire case. Which only serves to make the case tougher for the cops to solve. As people begin to fret about their own reputations, they become tight lipped. Casey and Al must find the killer!

The novel has a fantastic ending, which I think will shock some readers. For me personally, I wasn’t overly engrossed in the theme of politics within the novel. This is not the authors fault at all. Under the current political climate, everyday life has fast become politicalised. Therefore, I enjoy my novels to be a form of escapism. It is also worthwhile noting, that the novel was published in November 2015 and it is not current politics that is the focus.

I found the characters believable and the plot very layered.
A fantastic piece of American noir set in San Francisco. 4*

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Robin Burcell
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***Kindle Ebook available for just £2.99 in the UK***

Anne Bonny #BookReview The Good Daughter by @SlaughterKarin @fictionpubteam @HarperFiction #CrimeFiction #Sisterhood

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The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter
Synopsis:

One ran. One stayed. But who is…the good daughter?

Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn’s childhoods were destroyed by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father – a notorious defence attorney – devastated. And it left the family consumed by secrets from that shocking night.

Twenty-eight years later, Charlie has followed in her father’s footsteps to become a lawyer. But when violence comes to their home town again, the case triggers memories she’s desperately tried to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime which destroyed her family won’t stay buried for ever…

My Review:

The novel opens at the temporary farmhouse residence of the two teen sisters Samantha and Charlotte aka Charlie. Samantha is the older sister at 15yrs old and Charlie is just 13yrs old. When the novel opens in 1989, it is just a mere 8 days after the lives of the family were destroyed in an arson attack at their home. Their father Rusty is a DA and the family often receive violent threats due to the nature of the crimes he defends. The mother is known as ‘Gamma’ due to her doctorate in two science subjects. The family appears from the outside in, to be very loving but with progressive attitudes towards justice and the law.

Then one day two men appear in the kitchen and their lives are changed forever. . .

‘Promise me you’ll always take care of Charlie’
Gamma to Samantha.

The novel then jumps to the present day, 28yrs later. Charlie is now a defence lawyer herself. She makes her way to Pikeville middle school, to return a phone to a one-night stand (a teacher). When shots ring out in the background and Charlie finds herself caught up in a terrifying school shooting. . .

‘The most violent hour of her life had snapped back into her waking memory’

The shooter is teenage girl, Kelly Wilson she is just 16yrs and appears to be suffering from some form of mental break. Charlie and Mr Huckabee attempt to assist Kelly’s apprehension and prevent her from being shot by the police. They find themselves facing obstruction of justice charges and nursing bruises. Why are the police so determined to shoot dead the suspect? Is Kelly likely to see a fair trial in this small community?

‘A just society is a lawful society’

The novel is very thought-provoking with regards to school shootings. The psychology of the suspect and arresting police officers are intriguing viewpoints. The media attention and the desperate search of a motive and all fully explored.

With Kelly found nearly catatonic after arrest. Rusty is keen to act as the defence attorney. Was Kelly a victim of bullying? Any motive will offer little comfort to the families of the victims. Mr Pinkman and Lucy Alexander (8yrs) shot dead on a normal school day, in what appears to be a premeditated act of murder. .

Charlie makes her way to the suspect’s family residence. What she finds, is a family in poverty. A yearbook full of vile abusive bullying. A child with a diminished capacity and a crime just waiting to happen. . .

When Rusty is stabbed, in an attempt on his life. Charlie rushes to the hospital, it is at this point she is urged to call her sister Samantha.

The novel is cleverly written, to combine the crimes of the past with the school shooting of the present. The sisters have a very complex relationship, which has been dictated by the crime that has scarred their lives. Sam is still living with the physical and mental scars of what took place that day in 1989. The chronic pain and daily struggles have taken their toll. The physical symptoms filter over to the psychology of her survival. This novel offers a unique perspective into the story of survivors.

The sisters are strong, determined and educated. Which adds to their journey and makes their story a truly powerful one indeed. The lengths we will go to, to protect those we hold dear, is a fascinating concept for a novel.
I am the oldest female sibling, I have an older brother, five younger brothers and two younger sisters. I like to think I could muster the bravery and physical/mental strength of Sam. But I could also see how this could impact the relationships going forward. If you sacrifice yourself for your sibling, how do they ever return the gratitude? Is it right/wrong to feel morally owed something emotionally or on principal in return?

‘The truth can rot from the inside.
It doesn’t leave room for anything else’

I think this is a very powerful novel and would work perfectly for book groups. There are multiple themes for debate. I myself was quite captivated with the psychology between the sisters and what sisterhood means to various individuals. 4*

KS
Karin Slaughter
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