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Showing posts from August, 2016

The Devil's Defender: My Odyssey Through American Criminal Justice from Ted Bundy to the Kandahar Massacre by John Henry Browne

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The Devil's Defender: My Odyssey Through American Criminal Justice from Ted Bundy to the Kandahar Massacre by John Henry Browne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 256 pages
Published August 1st 2016 by Chicago Review Press
Source: received an egalley via edelweiss


A very compelling book that had me turning the pages quickly. I've never read a lawyer's book before except ones by the prosecutor of a big case such as Vincent Bugliosi's books. But the thought of reading about the defending lawyer of people he knows are guilty, some of them having committed heinous crimes intrigued me. Why do these people do what they do if they are not just scumbags, too? John Henry Browne got me to read his book because he defends guilty people who will be facing the death penalty. His job ... to stop the murderous cycle and get the perpetrators a life sentence instead. These aren't the only cases he takes but it's a big part of what he does. Myself, I am adamantly against capital…

Clariel by Garth Nix

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Clariel by Garth Nix
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 382 pages
Published October 14th 2014 by HarperCollins
Source: Received an egalley via edelweiss

Abhorsen (#4)

Really fantastic! I just wish I hadn't waited so long to read it. I'd forgotten the world of The Old Kingdom but as I read this I began to ache for all the other books. Clariel is a great character, an evil one in the future books, but this goes back to tell her beginning story and I fell in love with her. A victim of her circumstances who did the best she could while unknowingly being lead astray. The book ends way before she is introduced in the series in "Lirael", so Nix has left himself open to write further adventures for that time period. I like to read books in the order they are written not chronologically by time period but this does work well to read it first. It takes place in the past so it doesn't give away anything that hasn't happened yet. Just absolutely adored the book and will b…

Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine May 1977 (Vol. 40, No. 5) by Brett Halliday

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Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine (Vol. 40, No. 5) by Brett Halliday
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Magazine, 128 pages
Published May 1977 by Renown Publications

Mike Shayne: May 1977


Digest-sized magazine printed on newsprint. The first story is always a Mike Shayne "short novel". As with the Shayne, the majority of the stories are what would be called crime; there is very little mystery involved. Throw in a couple of actual mysteries and a thriller "weird" tale and that's what you can expect from these magazines. I've never heard of any of these authors and suspect some may be pen names. But overall the book was a solid 3.5 stars

1. The Verdict Was Murder by Brett Halliday - Not a big fan of Mike Shayne but this one had him in all sorts of action. Drugs and stolen cars, a dirty cop and a widowed cop's wife having trouble with her eldest son going criminal. (3/5)

2. The Dark Side by Bill Pronzini - A silly little horror story. An academic man with few friends (o…

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

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The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 320 pages
Published August 23rd 2016 by Pamela Dorman Books
Source: Received a print review copy from Penguin Random House Canada


Quite a rollercoaster ride and well-crafted for a first novel. The Conti's six-month-old daughter is kidnapped from her crib. The whole event starts while at the couple's next door for the evening and now that the police are investigating, the lead detective, Rasbach, can tell that everyone is either lying or not telling the whole truth. The time frame turns into almost a week. Suspicions land everywhere for the first half until the kidnapper is revealed. Now everyone's secrets are coming out and we don't know how it will ultimately end. At barely 300 pages, it is a short book and paced fast enough that I barely put it down until I'd finished. My only quibble is the author uses the phrase, "He/she almost felt sorry for him/her." over and over to the reader&…

By Gaslight by Steven Price

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By Gaslight by Steven Price
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 752 pages
Published August 23rd 2016 by McClelland & Stewart
Source: print review copy from Penguin Random House Canada


This is a very long book and it took me a long time to read but I will say I enjoyed it. It is slow-paced and I didn't have a hard time putting it down but each time I picked it up I easily got lost in the world again. This is historical fiction set during the Victorian era featuring The Pinkertons, William mainly. It's not based on truth nor does it profess to be. It does give one insight into Victorian London, especially the criminal class, and surprisingly the other main theme is the American Civil War. I enjoyed the story and really enjoyed the characters and would read another book by the same author. However, it had a few problems that kept it from being reader friendly. Firstly, there are no quotation marks and while I've got used to that being acceptable in modern literature it doe…

Ashes of Foreverland by Tony Bertauski

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Ashes of Foreverland by Tony Bertauski
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kindle Edition, 342 pages
Published March 21st 2015 by DeadPixel Publications
Source: Purchased Kindle edition

Foreverland (#3)


A thrilling end to this trilogy. Everything from the first two books unites together in "Ashes" and it's a chilling, exciting ride. Never knowing what is reality or the dreamworld kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. I also just loved the ending! Now I have the short prequel to read next, then I'm off to explore Bertauski's other worlds (I mean books) but I'm pretty sure I know which series I'll read next. Tony is a new favourite author! Yeah!



The Thing at the Foot of the Bed and Other Scary Tales by Maria Leach

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The Thing at the Foot of the Bed and Other Scary Tales by Maria Leach
Illus. by Kurt Werth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Paperback, 128 pages
Published May 18th 2016 by Dover Publications
First published: 1959
Source: egalley via netgalley


I had this book as a kid and loved it. when I saw that Dover had republished it I just *had* to read it again. It is a collection of ghost stories from around the world, though mostly English, Canadian Maritime and African-American in origin. And not just stories (which are usually only a few paragraphs long) but there is poetry, games, songs and even a Newfoundland sea shanty. The tales are written in a story-tellers voice and meant to be told aloud, some even have instructions for the storyteller. A lot of the stories are humorous and this is reflected in Kurt Werth's wonderful comic illustrations. Maria Leach was born in the USA of Nova Scotian parents but then retired to Nova Scotia herself in the fifties when she began to write.

edition I owned a…

St. Louis Noir edited by Scott Phillips

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St. Louis Noir edited by Scott Phillips
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paperback, 240 pages
Published August 2nd 2016 by Akashic Books
Source: egalley via edelwiess

Akashic Noir Anthologies


This is the second book I've read in the Akashic Noir series . I enjoyed it far less than "New Orleans Noir 2". I think having some knowledge of the city these books feature (even if is only from reading or a keen interest) will have an effect on the reader's experience with the book. I knew nothing of St. Louis at all. As a Canadian, I didn't even know what state it was in. A lot of the stories here are about drugs, race relations, vigilantism and politics unique to the city. I'm not interested in these topics, nor am I familiar with them much but a great deal of the stories I wouldn't even call noir. The endings of most didn't use a twist or redemption; if the ending isn't dark I've lost the noir feeling. However, there were a couple of stellar stories combined w…

Blood Men by Paul Cleave

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Blood Men by Paul Cleave
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kindle Edition, 338 pages
Published July 20th 2010 by Atria Books
Source: Purchased Kindle edition

Christchurch Murders (#4)

I love this series! This was a page-turning wild ride for me. This book features Schroder as the main investigator but what I like about this series is that all the books are set in the same "world" not always having the same lead characters but others always pop in for cameo appearances. The son of a serial killer gets caught in a bank robbery where his wife is killed. This starts Edward on a terrifying journey he has no control over. The plot is a little far-fetched for this one but that did nothing to stop my enjoyment. It was a whirlwind read from start to finish which I could hardly put down except to sleep briefly.


Buried Alive: The Terrifying History of Our Most Primal Fear by Jan Bondeson

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Buried Alive: The Terrifying History of Our Most Primal Fear by Jan Bondeson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 17th 2002 by W. W. Norton & Company
First published 2001
Source: Bought print copy at retail


This book is not what I thought it would be but that ended up being ok. The subtitle does accurately tell the book's main topic: the history of "the fear" of premature burial. The book is labelled as "Science/Medicine" and is most definitely that. Written in a scholarly manner, dry at times, dense most of the time; it is not a book for light reading. I found the topic engrossing, though, unlike anything I'd read before. The book starts with ancient and medieval times, taking quotes from scholars and scientists of the times but quickly gets to the 1700s where the meat of the book follows. I don't read much history from this time period, nor do I know much of German history which this book mostly concerns. An odd fervour ran…

The Night Bell by Inger Ash Wolfe

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The Night Bell by Inger Ash Wolfe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 400 pages
Published August 9th 2016 by Pegasus Books
Source: egalley via edelweiss

Hazel Micallef Mystery (#4)


It has been so long (4 years) since the last book in this series came out that I had forgotten the detective and past events. Once started, though,I remembered how much I loved the previous three as this was an awesome book. Page-turning read that took me two evenings to read. Fantastic characters and the events of the past books are spoken of slowly throughout the book, so everything came back in place for me. A couple, perhaps three, cases going on here which are not really related but in a way they are. I hope that sounds cryptic. When Hazel was a young teenager a girl she barely knew, a few years older, disappeared. A new gated community is being built now complete with wave pool and two golf courses but it is stuck in production and a few murders occur and finally what brings coherence to the whole plot …

Insidious by Catherine Coulter

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Insidious by Catherine Coulter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 368 pages
Published August 9th 2016 by Gallery Books
Source: Received a print review copy from Simon & Schuster Canada

An FBI Thriller (#20)

I knew this book was part of a series when I chose it but I didn't realise it was book #20! That had me a little worried as I hadn't read the author before and starting a series at the end hardly ever works out. However, I was wrong to worry. For a mystery/thriller, this has a unique style, something more common to TV shows than books. The book contains two distinct and separate cases involving different Agents with only very minimal contact as the lower-ranked Agent occasionally checks in with her boss (who is working the other case). One of the cases is a serial killer thriller and the other is a cosy; someone trying to poison the matriarch of a rich corporate family. The cosy mystery takes place in Washington and was decent and moved along at a slow pace, but had plen…

Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, August 1975 by Brett Halliday

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Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine, August 1975 by Brett Halliday
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Magazine
Published August 1975
Source: Thrift store

Mike Shayne (Vol. 37, No. 2)

I have three of these magazines and the other two have great covers. I'm going to hang them on the wall in shadow boxes when I've finished reading them. This is not a great magazine, most of the writers only ever wrote a few shorts but there are a couple of names here besides Halliday; Hoch and Holding. I only really liked one and that is the little thriller from Hoch. It's on a different level than the others which pretty much deal with police, criminals and street crime. Not my kind of mystery", but the stories average out for a solid three for the magazine as a whole.

1. Death Wears a Velvet Glove by Brett Halliday - The first story in each edition of this magazine is a Mike Shayne "short novel". I'm not a huge fan. This has Mike being called in to check up on whether a person is ok. He get…

The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer by Kate Summerscale

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The Wicked Boy: The Mystery of a Victorian Child Murderer by Kate Summerscale
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 378 pages
Published July 12th 2016 by Penguin Press
First published May 5th 2016
Source: egalley via edelweiss


Fantastic book! page-turner I read over a few days. First and foremost it is a social history of the periods 1895 to the early 1940s. This history follows the lifespan of an obscure but fascinating individual, Robert Coombes, 13, who murdered his mother. There is the story of the murder, the trial with quotes from the transcript and the aftermath of verdict and sentencing. During this period we learn so much of living in east London, the first applications of new child protection laws and Coombes childhood history. Later Coombes is sent to Broadmore and the fascinating portrayal of how far ahead of the times the psychiatrists there were. This was probably my favourite part as we learned about day to day life there for the troubled but either wealthy or educated men…

Inspector Flytrap and The Big Deal Mysteries by Tom Angleberger

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Inspector Flytrap and The Big Deal Mysteries by Tom Angleberger
Illustrated by Cece Bell
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hardcover, 112 pages
Published August 2nd 2016 by Amulet Books
Source: egalley via netgalley

Inspector Flytrap (#1)

A cute early chapter book for those ready to move up from easy readers. Very silly stories of a plant, a Venus Flytrap, who is an inspector taking on mysteries for the anthropomorphic neighbours. Flytrap gets around on a skateboard pushed by his assistant, Nina the goat. The mysteries are fun and silly but Flytrap doesn't take on every case he's presented he'll only solve the BIG DEAL mysteries. I liked Flytrap as a character and the art is adorable but the sidekick, Nina the goat was rather annoying. Decent first book for the series.


The Duel by Giacomo Casanova

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The Duel by Giacomo Casanova
Translator: 
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paperback, 70 pages
Published August 16th 2011 by Melville House
First published 1789
Source: Purchased through book club subscription

The Art of the Novella


I had to force myself to read this as 1) I don't like 18th-century literature nor 2) am I fond of Italian literature. But I had the book and to read something by Casanova felt like a bit of an accomplishment. Surprisingly, the story is highly readable and even entertaining. A straightforward telling of a situation that a rogue and rascal gets himself into which ends in a duel, it also was highly philosophical and moralising which I found fascinating. Glad to say I've read it.


The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett

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The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Paperback, 192 pages
Published April 22nd 1993 by Corgi Childrens
First published November 15th 1971
Source: Purchased retail a loooong time ago


This is Pratchett's very first book published when he was 17 years old. It sold slowly but it did sell. Twenty years later when he had become famous there was a call for a reprinting and in 1992 he re-read the book and decided it needed some revision before being reprinted. In his author's note at the beginning, he describes the book as being co-authored by his young self and the older man he is now. I've wanted to read this for ages and enjoyed it though it is not exactly a page-turner. I had lots of giggles at Pratchett's signature humour and was entertained by the story even if it fell short. One can definitely see that this book was his spark for greater things in the Bromeliad Trilogy. It features the same kind of gnomish tiny people but here they live in the ca…