Anne Bonny #BookReview The Guardians by John Grisham 4.5* #Legal #Thriller #NewRelease @JohnGrisham @HodderBooks @HodderFiction @HodderPublicity

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The Guardians by John Grisham
My Own Copy ~ Hardback book
Synopsis ~

He was framed for murder.
Now he needs a miracle.

22 years ago Quincy Miller was sentenced to life without parole. He was accused of killing Keith Russo, a lawyer in a small Florida town. But there were no reliable witnesses and little motive. Just the fact that Russo had botched Quincy’s divorce case, that Quincy was black in a largely all-white town and that a blood-splattered torch was found in the boot of Quincy’s car. A torch he swore was planted. A torch that was conveniently destroyed in a fire just before his trial.

The lack of evidence made no difference to judge or jury. In the eyes of the law Quincy was guilty and, no matter how often he protested his innocence, his punishment was life in prison.
Finally, after 22 years, comes Quincy’s one and only chance of freedom. An innocence lawyer and minister, Cullen Post, takes on his case. Post has exonerated eight men in the last ten years. He intends to make Quincy the next.

But there were powerful and ruthless people behind Russo’s murder. They prefer that an innocent man dies in jail rather than one of them. There’s one way to guarantee that. They killed one lawyer 22 years ago, and they’ll kill another without a second thought.

My Review ~

I absolutely adore legal thrillers. I also find the American justice system so much more fascinating than here in the UK. Any novel which has the theme of ‘miscarriage of justice’ or ‘death row’ instantly grab my interest. I immediately purchased this from the local supermarket and devoured it in one weekend.

A potential miscarriage of justice, a life sentence without parole, racial injustice and building tension. GET IN MY SHOPPING TROLLEY!

The novel does surround the case of Quincy Miller in a crime that took place 22yrs ago. He was sentenced to life without parole for the murder of divorce lawyer Keith Russo. He was convicted in a largely all white town, the jury was tainted from the get go and evidence was lost/misplaced. Quincy Miller never stood a chance!

‘It’s fairly easy to convict an innocent man and virtually impossible to exonerate one’ 

However, before the novel gets into Quincy’s case, we learn about Cullen Post an innocence lawyer and former preacher. We learn of the work he does at the innocence project. Who he will and won’t appeal cases for and the type of man he is. Cullen is a intriguing character and one I hope to read more of in the future.

There are backstories in the form of Cullen’s other cases. This is where you will meet other prisoners and some of them accused of heinous crimes. Are they innocent? That is for Cullen to prove. When we first meet Cullen he is consulting on a violent rape and murder conviction. The convict Duke Russell already has his execution scheduled. Can Cullen save his life and prove him innocent? Or is this simply too much to ask for one man?

‘Clemency for Mr Russell is therefore denied’

As we follow Cullen in his investigations into Quincy’s case (and various other sub-characters). We learn it is not only the fight for innocence that drives Cullen but the desire to see justice for the real predators out there enjoying their freedom while someone else does their prison time.

Quincy Miller’s case is complex. It involves a messy divorce, kids that don’t know he exits and jailhouse snitches. Even if Quincy Miller is innocent, he is going to need god on his side to get free. In walks Cullen Post a former preacher and unique man with a personal quest for justice and balance in the world.

‘For twenty-two years he has maintained his innocence, but no one is listening’

Whilst Quincy has a theory on who and why someone set him up. It is going to take heaven and earth to get the people from his past to admit they lied under oath, if they so did lie. But Cullen Post has a plan…

‘Very few women are criminals. Their mistakes are picking bad boyfriends’

Along the way we meet other convicts such as Shasta Briley and Gerald Cook. They bring added depth to the legal novel and that is what make John Grisham the king of the genre. There are multiple thought-provoking scenes and moments to pause and reflect. I will leave you with this quote, which is my personal favourite within the novel…

‘Prison is a nightmare for those who deserve it. For those who don’t it is a daily struggle to maintain some level of sanity’ ~ 4.5* 

JG
John Grisham
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Anne Bonny #BookReview The King’s Witch by @TracyBorman #HistoricalFiction #Witchcraft #NewRelease @HodderBooks ‏ @HodderPublicity ‘A novel rich in historical detail and accuracy, with a spellbinding tale and a feisty young protagonist’

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The King’s Witch by Tracy Borman
Review Copy
Synopsis:

Already a great historian, Tracy Borman proves with this thrilling debut novel that she is also a born storyteller.

As she helps to nurse the dying Queen Elizabeth, Frances Gorges longs for the fields and ancient woods of her parents’ Hampshire estate, where she has learned to use the flowers and herbs to become a much-loved healer.

Frances is happy to stay in her beloved countryside when the new King arrives from Scotland, bringing change, fear and suspicion. His court may be shockingly decadent, but James’s religion is Puritan, intolerant of all the old ways; he has already put to death many men for treason and women for witchcraft.

So when her ambitious uncle forcibly brings Frances to court, she is trapped in a claustrophobic world of intrigue and betrayal – and a ready target for the twisted scheming of Lord Cecil, the King’s first minister.

Surrounded by mortal dangers, Frances finds happiness only with the precocious young Princess Elizabeth, and Tom Wintour, the one courtier she can trust.
Or can she?

My Review:

The novel opens with our protagonist Lady Frances Gorges at the Longford estate. We become aware she is of noble birth and has a passion for seeking herbal remedies. When the Reverend Pritchard (the new local priest) preaches warnings of witches, Frances knows she must heed caution.

‘I have done nothing against the laws of god or nature. I only use my medicines for good’ – Frances
Frances must withhold her skills or bring the attention of Lord Cecil and those whom seek a witch to blame. . . .

Frances is appointed to the household of Princess Elizabeth by King James. Her parents and sisters are banished to Richmond, tainted by their association to the previous Queen. Frances is alone and filled with worry. She makes an unlikely friendship in Thomas Winter, but is he all he seems. . . .

Lord Cecil takes Frances to witness the hanging of a local witch at Tyburn. He is issues her a stern warning, that leaves her in no doubt, she must be on her guard
‘I am watching you’

When Lady Arbella is accused of witchcraft, Frances is certain an accusation will be yielded against her. With the plotting and scheming of royal court, there are eyes everywhere.

Who can Frances trust? And does she carry the devil’s mark?

A novel rich in historical detail and accuracy, with a spellbinding tale and a feisty young protagonist. 4*

TB
Tracy Borman
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Anne Bonny #BookReview Should You Ask Me by @MarianneKav #NewRelease #Historical #Literary #ww2 @HodderPublicity @HodderBooks ‘I especially love the inclusion of an 86yr old protagonist who is captivating.’

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Should You Ask Me by Marianne Kavanagh
Review copy
Synopsis:

‘I’ve come about the bodies. I know who they are.’

Mary is eighty-six years old, and she’s tired of being quiet.

She has a story to tell, and she’s only going to tell it once, so she won’t be rushed.

Especially as it’s not just a story, it’s a confession.

Because Mary has a dark secret, buried decades before. And while William, the nice young constable, might think she just wants someone to talk to, everything she says forces him to confront his own difficult past.

A unique and poignant novel about passion, regret and heartbreak, set during one of the most tumultuous periods of modern British history.

My Review:

This is such a quirky novel! I was really surprised as it was not what I was expecting at all. The cover gives the impression of a mystery/thriller, which it is. What you don’t fully grasp is that this is set amongst the backdrop of ww2. I felt as though I was going on a journey with Miss Mary Holmes, a journey through her past. I was absolutely hooked! I think this would make a great TV drama. I especially love the inclusion of an 86yr old protagonist who is captivating.

The novel opens on a normal Monday morning in Dorset. The only thing slightly unusual is that Mary makes her way to the police station to make a confession. When I say ‘slightly unusual’ that is because Mary is known to spin a yarn or two. . .

‘You could say that I killed them’ – Miss Holmes

Recently in the little town of Acton there has been the discovery of two people’s remains. When Mary Homes makes her confession to the on-duty young constable William, it is clear she has a story to tell. She starts with her brief admission that she is responsible for both deaths. The whys/how’s are going to take much longer to get to the bottom of. This is a secret Mary has held for 60yrs.

‘I’m eighty-six years old. I’m tired of being quiet’ – Miss Holmes

The chapters also alternate between Mary’s past and that of William the police officer she is confessing too. It would seem both of them have a past and both of them have secrets.

‘The guilt eats away at you. A lifetime of telling lies’ – Miss Holmes

Over a series of days, Mary’s story is eventually unravelled by the ever-patient and attentive William It is a long drawn out story, but it is intriguing nevertheless. This novel is slow-burning as clearly stated. But it is one of those cosy reads, you’d enjoy by a log fire. I did find the story to be very realistic. My background is in adult mental health and I have worked in dementia care. I can assure you, the elderly often harbour, some secrets you’d never suspect by simply looking at them. 4*

MK
Marianne Kavanagh
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Anne Bonny #BookReview The Outsider by Stephen King #NewRelease #CrimeFiction @HodderPublicity ‘The outsider is phenomenal! 5* genius’

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The Outsider by Stephen King
My own copy from my TBR pile
Synopsis:

 When an eleven-year-old boy is found murdered in a town park, reliable eyewitnesses undeniably point to the town’s popular Little League coach, Terry Maitland, as the culprit. DNA evidence and fingerprints confirm the crime was committed by this well-loved family man.

Horrified by the brutal killing, Detective Ralph Anderson, whose own son was once coached by Maitland, orders the suspect to be arrested in a public spectacle. But Maitland has an alibi. And further research confirms he was indeed out of town that day.

As Anderson and the District Attorney trace the clues, the investigation expands from Ohio to Texas. And as horrifying answers begin to emerge, so King’s propulsive story of almost unbearable suspense kicks into high gear.

Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy but there is one rock-hard fact, as unassailable as gravity: a man cannot be in two places at the same time. Can he?

My Review:

The Outsider is insanely gripping! With a brilliant start, middle and ending. I am a fan of Stephen King, or as I call it ‘being scared to death by Stephen King’ lol. I started reading IT last summer and found I could only read it with my back firmly against the wall. So eventually I gave up as it was a really uncomfortable position to read in. But every time I tried to read IT with a space behind me, I kept jumping out of my skin!

The novel opens at the scene of the arrest of Terry Maitland (Coach T). It is an arrest that will come to haunt Detective Ralph Anderson, throughout the entire novel.
Throughout the novel there are a series of statements taken from residents of Flint City in the aftermath of the murder of Frankie Peterson. They all individually and clearly point the fingers of suspicion towards Coach T. Then fingerprint results come back and seal the deal. Coach T is getting arrested for murder, but not just any arrest. He will be arrested purposefully in front of the locals at the towns little league game.
A public shaming for all to see.

“Terence Maitland I am arresting you for the murder of Frank Peterson” – Troy Rampage

The murder of Frankie Peterson at just 11yrs old. Is not for the faint hearted, the scenes are described in graphic detail and the scene is one you won’t forget. As much as I was shocked and horrified at the murder itself, I didn’t feel this was an ‘over use of violence’ or too explicit. These crimes happen every day, in safe neighbourhoods etc. I think the author has drawn from the real horrors of the world, the daily news stories of cases just like this.

But the novel itself doesn’t focus too much around the actual physical act of murder. It focuses on the whodunit, in an unusual and impressive way. For Coach T claims he is innocent. He appears genuinely horrified at the cops claims and when shown direct testimony and evidence. he is baffled!
At the scene of his arrest are his wife Marcy and daughters Gracie and Sarah. He asks his wife to contact their lawyer Howie Gold. So that together they may get this misunderstanding figured out.

‘Thinking was beginning to replace reacting’

As the cops continue to interview Coach T. He begins to tell them of his alibi and how it simply couldn’t have been him in town on the afternoon of the murder. As he was in Cap City, watching Harlan Coben give an author talk. He claims he travelled with three fellow English teachers and spent the entire weekend with them. So why do the cops have so many witness statements stating the opposite? Are people mistaken?

The cops desperately await further DNA evidence believing this will be the final nail in the coffin. Meanwhile, Howie Gold contacts a private investigator to look into the alibi himself. What he and the cops discover is shocking and simply impossible. . .

‘A man could not be in two places at the same time’

Whilst the cops hold Coach T and continue their investigation into his alleged crime. The victims family is struggling to cope. Fred and Arlene Peterson are the unfortunate parents of Frank, they are left understandably devastated in the aftermath of his murder. Frankie’s brother Ollie is also left to hold his parents together. They are a family devastated and my heart ached for them. Arlene Peterson eventually snaps!

As footage of the Harlan Coben conference is discovered. DNA results are also back on the semen found at the crime scene.
Coach T is going to Flint county court for arraignment!

His wife Marcy remains in denial, as the locals in the town turn on the coach. Marcy begins to fear for her own future and that of her two young daughters. But she remains steadfast in her belief in her husbands innocence.

‘He never did anything but good for this town and they all hate him’ – Marcy

Coach T arrives at his arraignment and then the novel takes a HUGE twist!
One I never saw coming!

Detective Ralph Anderson is a cop who takes his work home with him. He often discusses his cases with his wife Jeanette. She becomes a shining star in this novel, despite the fact that she is actually a background character. I found her opinions and thoughts on the case fascinating and couldn’t help but wonder how many cases she must have assisted with over the years, to have such a wise mind.

‘There is something very wrong with this and the more you find, the wronger it gets. It scares me’ – Jeanette

I started out writing in-depth notes, but in the end, I gave up, sat back and just became absorbed in the novel.
So, to put it simply, The outsider is phenomenal! 5* genius

SK
Stephen King
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Anne Bonny #BookReview The Undesired by @YrsaSig Yrsa Sigurdardottir #CrimeFiction #IcelandicNoir @HodderBooks @HodderPublicity #TheUndesired ‘Breath-taking ending 5*’

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The Undesired by Yrsa Sigurdardottir
My own copy from tbr pile
Synopsis:

Aldis is working in a juvenile detention centre in rural Iceland. She witnesses something deeply disturbing in the middle of the night; soon afterwards, two of the boys at the centre are dead.

Decades later, single father Odinn is looking into alleged abuse at the centre following the unexplained death of the colleague who was previously running the investigation. The more he finds out, though, the more it seems the odd events of the 1970s are linked to the accident that killed his ex-wife. Was her death something more sinister?

Yrsa Sigurdardottir is a huge European bestseller both with her crime and horror novels. You might want to sleep with the light on after reading THE UNDESIRED . . .

My Review:

I have recently read The Reckoning, which is #2 in The Children’s House series of novels. I have also read and absolutely LOVED, why did you lie? So, I was intrigued to read Sigurdardottir’s back catalogue of novels. This novel appealed to me, due to its themes of juvenile detention and eerie/horror thrills. I like a good scare occasionally. I actually put this down at one point, reading alone at night as it began to freak me out!
So, when it says it has eerie moments, it is not lying!

‘Someone always gets punished when a crime is committed, but not always the guilty party’ – Aldis

The novel opens at the end quite an unusual start. It opens with the death of Odinn, in his car via poisonous fumes, as he thinks of his daughter Run. It is quite Vague, which I liked. I didn’t know if this was a murder, I can only assume due to the cover that it was so. But assuming anything, with one of Sigurdardottir’s novels is your first mistake!

We then meet Odinn, very much alive and prior to his sealed fate. He works for a committee that is investigating potential historical case in residential settings. He has been assigned the case of the Krokur care home for delinquent boys, to investigate its practices in the 1970s. Odinn has been assigned this case after his work colleague died at her desk, of a heart attack. The committee is under great stress and Odinn must continue to investigate despite no allegations have been alleged.

We learn more about Odinn personal, that he is a single father to his daughter Run. That his ex-wife Lara recently fell to her death from her window. This tragic accident left his young daughter (11yrs) traumatised and Odinn has her attending counselling to deal with the grief.

The novel then jumps back in time to 1974. Where we meet Aldis as she begins work at Krokur. There are currently seven boys and a new arrival pending. The boys are aged 13-16yrs old and have committed relatively minor crimes. Things that nowadays wouldn’t be considered subject to such harsh punishment. Although nobody should be subject to the punishment dished out at Krokur. The owners are a couple named Lilja and Veigar, they are recovering from the loss of their stillborn baby. Krokur is based in a remote location, SW of Reykjaner peninsula, meaning staff rarely get to leave. The owners are bizarre and their behaviour serves to become more and more alarming! Hakon, Malli and Steini are the three male members of staff that board with Aldis. Everything about Krokur just screams ‘get me out of here’. I simply don’t know how Aldis withstood it.

It is through the arrival of new ‘inmate’ Einar we learn more of Aldis’s background. As she begins to form quite a strong bond with the new young man. She is eager to know what crime he has committed to land him at Krokur but staff do not have access to the boys files. The boys dormitory is locked at night, there are bars amongst the windows and they are surely given the full ‘prison experience’. But if the boys are locked in every night, who is it that the owners claim to have seen on the grounds at night. Does Krokur have its own prowler? If so, what do they hope to achieve?

As Odinn continues to dig into Roberta’s files, he finds mis-matched information and from what he can understand Krokur seemed to offer humane care. That is until he uncovers the two deaths by ‘accident’ and digs deeper into their personal history. At the same time he begins to personally investigate Lara’s alleged accident. He hopes that if he can understand some of the facts, he can help his daughter come to terms with her loss. Run’s behaviour becomes increasingly erratic and she claims her mother in angry with her in heaven.

‘Perhaps the day of reckoning had come’ – Odinn

Odinn eventually manages to track down one of the former residents and one of the former owners of Krokur. I couldn’t wait to read their point of view and found myself racing through the pages, at rapid speed. Odinn also uncovers some threatening emails in Roberta’s computer. Somebody didn’t want this home under investigation. But why? Was Roberta’s death an accident or something more sinister?
‘Bloody nosy bitch
leave well alone
or You’ll regret it’

Aldis is caught in a power cut with one of the young boys Tobbi. After she catches him in the cellar. The entire incident gave me goosebumps! I cannot accurately describe it, but it is such an eerie sinister moment in the whole book!
It left me putting the book, down for the night, to prevent nightmares.

Odinn interviews Pytti at the Hladgerdarkot treatment centre. He is introduced to the man, via Kegga one of the staff at the centre. She gives Odinn some of Pytti’s history. It becomes clear this is a man that has consistently struggled with his past. Leading him down a never ending path of addiction and suffering. Pytti informs Odinn that he spent 11 months at Krokur for breaking a window at school. He tells of the appalling conditions, of no education, enforced labour and bible study. He also remarks about the physical and verbal abuse withstood.
But maintains that Lilja was the worst of the bunch. . .

“It doesn’t alter the fact that if you want to look after children properly you have to love them. And people seem incapable of that” – Kegga

In 1974, Aldis begins to snoop further and further into the owner’s office. Determined to uncover something she knows has been kept from her, along the way, discovering more truths.

‘Her mother had once told her that those who eavesdrop never hear well of themselves’ – Aldis

Odinn prepares to meet an elderly Lilja at the geriatric ward. Unknowing this will be the interview that not only unravels the case but unravels his entire life.

No one and nothing is as it seems

This novel has a fantastic ending that leaves you in utter disbelief! I couldn’t believe how many clues I had failed to pick up upon. The author clearly had me, the reader in the palm of her hand. I was so distracted by the various characters stories and spooky episodes. That I completely missed how it all interconnected.
Breath-taking ending 5*

YS
Yrsa Sigurdardottir
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My review – The Reckoning
My review – The Legacy
My review – Why Did You Lie?