Anne Bonny #BookReview Cemetery Road by Greg Iles 5* #CrimeFiction #AmericanNoir #LegalThriller

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Cemetery Road by Greg Iles
My Own Copy ~ Hardback

Synopsis ~

Two murders. One Town. And a lifetime of secrets.

‘Pure reading pleasure’ Stephen King

The No.1 New York Times bestselling author of the Natchez Burning trilogy returns with an electrifying standalone. A tale of friendship, betrayal, and shattering secrets that threaten to destroy a small Mississippi town.

Some things should never be uncovered…

When successful journalist Marshall McEwan discovers that his father is terminally ill, he returns to his childhood home in Bienville, Mississippi – a place he vowed to leave behind forever.

His family’s newspaper is failing; and Jet Turner, the love of his youth, has married into the family of Max Matheson, one of the powerful patriarchs who rule the town through the exclusive Poker Club.

Bienville is on the brink of economic salvation, in the form of a billion-dollar Chinese paper mill. But as the deal nears completion, two murders rock the town to its core, threatening far more than the city’s economic future.

Marshall and Jet soon discover a minefield of explosive secrets beneath the soil of Mississippi. And by the time Marshall grasps the long-buried truth about his own history – and the woman he loves – he would give almost anything not to face it.

My Review ~

I am a huge fan of Greg Iles and was very much looking forward to reading this mammoth book beast! I had heard from some early reviewers that Cemetery Road was very similar to the Penn Cage series and in particular the Natchez trilogy. Greg Iles is know for his deeply layered and complex stories and this one did not disappoint!

The title opens with Bienville (Mississippi) local archaeologist Buck Ferris. We are aware he is digging on private property and that he has discovered Native American bones. When he is subsequently attacked and left for dead due to his discovery, we become aware there that Bienville Is much more than the sleepy forgotten American town.

Marshall McEwan is a successful journalist that ran away from Mississippi many years ago, when he was just 18yrs old. He returns 28yrs later due to the health needs of his elderly father Duncan. Duncan McEwan is a legendary newspaper editor of the Bienville watchman. His health is in rapid decline due to his alcoholism, anger and depression. Both men are haunted by the death of Marchall’s brother Adam over 20yrs ago.

‘To understand this story, you must swim between two tides like a person moving from wakefulness to sleep and then back again’

Over the first few pages of the title we become acquainted with several of Bienville’s residents, whom all hold close ties to Marshall. From Quinn Ferris (Buck’s wife), to Denny Allman a 14yr old home-schooled loveable delinquent and Bryon Ellis a county coroner concerned with the crime rates in the African American community. We learn how each character fits into Marshall’s life and why the death of Buck Ferris wounds him so greatly.

 Marshall is a Pulitzer prize winner, a veteran of the Afghan and Iraq wars. Yet there is so much more emotional depth to his character than initially thought. We learn more about the death of his brother Adam and the impact this had on Marshall’s relationship with his parents, friends/locals and most importantly himself. Marshall has Never truly recovered from Adam’s death.

‘A fourteen-year old boy doesn’t need to know grief can last that long’

In the town of Bienville there is a massive wealth divide in the community. Between those that live rich and affluent lives and those who live in near poverty. Inequality in America is a HUGE issue and I have also seen the economic and political consequencesof it within my own country too. I felt that Greg Iles does a brilliant portrayal of this in a fictional form. The struggles of Bienville, feel very real!

‘Not caring is the same as begging for fascism’

As Marshall Looks into the case of Buck’s death, at the request of his wife. He learns something sinister is afoot in Bienville. Something very sinister, that leads all the way to his first love Jet Matheson…
The Matheson family pretty much own Bienville and if Marshall wishes to uncover their secrets, he will have to tread very carefully indeed.

‘A town like Bienville is like the river it was founded on, filled with deep and conflicting currents’

Marshall becomes convinced Buck was murdered and promises Quinn he will unmask the killer in their midst. But who would want to murder an elderly archaeologist? And why?

The book deals with two compelling main themes, that of corporate greed and the fundamental need for a free press. The last 1/4 of the title is very gritty and much more like the Penn Cage trilogy on level of shock value and twists.
American Noir at its finest. 5*

GI
Greg Iles
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Anne Bonny #YA #BookReview All American Boys by @KielyBrendan & @JasonReynolds83 5* @AtheneumBooks ‘Emotive, moving and intelligently written. 5* Genius’

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All American Boys by Jason Reynolds & Brendan Kiely
My own copy
Synopsis:

A 2016 Coretta Scott King Author Honor book, and recipient of the Walter Dean Myers Award for Outstanding Children’s Literature.
In this New York Times bestselling novel, two teens–one black, one white–grapple with the repercussions of a single violent act that leaves their school, their community, and, ultimately, the country bitterly divided by racial tension.

A bag of chips. That’s all sixteen-year-old Rashad is looking for at the corner bodega. What he finds instead is a fist-happy cop, Paul Galluzzo, who mistakes Rashad for a shoplifter, mistakes Rashad’s pleadings that he’s stolen nothing for belligerence, mistakes Rashad’s resistance to leave the bodega as resisting arrest, mistakes Rashad’s every flinch at every punch the cop throws as further resistance and refusal to STAY STILL as ordered. But how can you stay still when someone is pounding your face into the concrete pavement?

There were witnesses: Quinn Collins–a varsity basketball player and Rashad’s classmate who has been raised by Paul since his own father died in Afghanistan–and a video camera. Soon the beating is all over the news and Paul is getting threatened with accusations of prejudice and racial brutality. Quinn refuses to believe that the man who has basically been his savior could possibly be guilty. But then Rashad is absent. And absent again. And again. And the basketball team–half of whom are Rashad’s best friends–start to take sides. As does the school. And the town. Simmering tensions threaten to explode as Rashad and Quinn are forced to face decisions and consequences they had never considered before.

Written in tandem by two award-winning authors, this four-starred reviewed tour de force shares the alternating perspectives of Rashad and Quinn as the complications from that single violent moment, the type taken directly from today’s headlines, unfold and reverberate to highlight an unwelcome truth.

My Review:

All American Boys is a YA novel with beautiful depth and emotive themes. The authors have cleverly crafted the novel; so that you are given the opportunity to understand both the narratives of Rashad and Quinn. Rashad and Quinn come from entirely different backgrounds, upbringings and circumstances.
But can they be united by their common belief in humanity?

The novel opens with Rashad and his backstory is slowly expanded upon. We learn that he is being pressured into a military career by his father. Rashad’s father has served as both a former soldier and former cop. When Rashad becomes the victim of police brutality that is largely based upon his race; it shakes the family to its very foundations.

Rashad attends Springfield Central High School, he also regularly attends junior reserve officer training corps (ROTC) to please his father. Upon leaving ROTC he enters Jerry’s a local shop that is known to him. There is an innocent accident, then accusations are thrown and before anyone can attempt to open a dialogue.
Rashad finds himself cuffed and being beaten.

‘I just wanted him to stop beating me. I just wanted to live’ – Rashad

The police officer in question maintains that a HANDCUFFED teenage was ‘resisting’. But it is only later, when we discover the full extent of Rashad’s injuries, we learn this was a violent assault on an innocent teen.

‘My brain exploded into a million thoughts and only one thought at the same time –
Please
don’t
kill me’ – Rashad

Quinn is then introduced into the novel. He is a young man living with his widowed mother Mia and brother Willy. His father died in Afghan, due to an IED attack. What we learn from Quinn’s internal thoughts is that Quinn was present that day at Jerry’s, he witnessed the brutal assault and fled.
Will he now have the courage to stand up for what is right?

The dilemma within the novel, is that Quinn is good friends with the police officer that delivered the violent beating. To Quinn he is a father figure, and this forces Quinn to question everything he has ever known about Paul. Did Paul really assault Rashad due to his race? Was the assault racially motivated?

Rashad is slowly recovering in hospital. He must deal with a father that blames him for the assault and a brother hellbent on fighting the injustice. Then mobile phone footage of the assault is released online. Suddenly Rashad’s assault has gone viral and the world wants answers. . .

‘I didn’t deserve this. None of us did. None of us’ – Rashad

Soon there is a graffiti tag ‘Rashad is absent again today’ and #RashadIsAbsentAgainToday is trending. Kids begin to speak up about racial injustice and question their own internal prejudices. None more so than Quinn.

When Quinn attend the Galluzzo family BBQ, he over hears some comments that leave him emotionally troubled. Quinn fears exposure as a witness to the assault. He fears that others will know he witnessed an attack and fled. Is Quinn part of the problem?

The novel forces you to see the world through both boy’s eyes. Obviously, we build an emotional response to Rashad’s experience. But we also begin to question and speculate what Quinn will do. It is very cleverly structured, and I think perfect for young teens in education settings.

I can’t fully get across how I feel about this novel in text. But it made me think about what I teach my kids. That it is important to educate them not just on injustice, but HOW they should respond in certain situations. As a mother I really felt for Rashad’s situation, you desperately want to reach through the pages and help him. But realistically what Rashad needs, is to learn to come to terms with his experience in his own time.

Emotive, moving and intelligently written. 5* Genius

JR
Jason Reynolds
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BK
Brendan Kiely
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Anne Bonny #BookReview Crime Scene by Jonathan & Jesse Kellerman @JesseKellerman #CrimeFiction @headlinepg @bookbridgr ‘The novel covers the theme of redemption and a person’s moral obligation to right their wrongs…..’

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Crime Scene by Jonathan & Jesse Kellermen
Review copy
Synopsis:

Natural causes or foul play? That’s the question deputy coroner Clay Edison must answer each time he examines a body. Figuring out motives and chasing down suspects aren’t part of his beat – until a seemingly open-and-shut case proves to be more than meets his highly trained eye.

Eccentric, reclusive Walter Rennert lies cold at the bottom of his stairs. At first glance the scene looks straightforward: a once-respected psychology professor done in by booze and a bad heart. But his daughter Tatiana insists that he has been murdered, and she persuades Clay to take a closer look at the grim facts of Rennert’s life.

When Clay learns that Rennert’s colleague died in a nearly identical manner, he becomes even more determined to discover the truth behind the man’s death. The twisting trail Clay follows will lead him into the darkest corners of the human soul.

It’s his job to listen to the tales told by the dead. But this time, he’s part of a story that makes his blood run cold.

My Review:

I really enjoyed this novel focused around a deputy coroner. It reminded me of my teens watching episodes of Quincy. I think the angle of the protagonist being a coroner, worked incredibly well. Although there are multiple references of death and methods of dying obviously.

‘When I meet new people, they’re usually dead’

The novel opens with Deputy Coroner Clay Edison called to the scene of a dead body. The victim is 18yr old Seth Lindley Powell, it is unclear at first how he died, and this gives you a whole new respect for coroners and pathologists. The work they do, to get results for the family.

‘There are an infinite number of ways to die but only five manners of death. Homicide, suicide, natural, accidental and undetermined’

Seth’s death involved multiple factors, was he drinking? Did he fall? Was he pushed? Eventually it is ruled an accident. But it is still on Edison’s mind 5yrs later when he is called back to the same town.

‘My job begins with the dead but continues with the living’

Edison is called to the residence of Dr Walter Rennert a 75yr old retired psychologist. His daughter Tatiana is at the scene and found the body. She is adamant it is not an accident and a case of murder. Edison gives her time, respect and most importantly listens to her story. He then continues to evaluate the scene.

The scene suggests an accidental fall, but on further search the team discover a bottle of Risperidone (anti-psychotic) only 5 days old and prescribed by a different doctor to Rennert’s usual physician. Why is a psychologist administering anti-psychotics to himself, when he knows the impact of the medication with his heart problems? Something about the medications presence unnerves Edison and leads him to investigate further. . .

‘A lying doctor; the echo of a fall; a murderer walking the streets’

The case of Walter Rennert’s death is extremely complex and goes deep into his past and career. Specifically, a study the doctor organised on the theme of media violence on the developing brain. Which led to the murder of a young student Donna Zhao.
The young man convicted of the murder seemed to fit the ‘perfect’ police profile.

‘Most mentally ill people – the vast statistical majority – weren’t violent’

How does Walter’s fall down the stairs relate to the conviction of Julian E Triplett? Where is Julian? Why are the doctors involved in the study so secretive?

The novel covers the theme of redemption and a person’s moral obligation to right their wrongs. It is a stark insight into the American justice system. 4*

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Jonathan Kellerman
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Jesse Kellerman
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