Rather Be The Devil by Ian Rankin

rather-be-the-devil

 

 

Title: Rather Be The Devil

Author: Ian Rankin

Genre: Crime

Publisher: Hachette

Published: 3rd November, 2016

Format: Paperback

Pages: 310

Price: $32.99

Synopsis: Some cases never leave you.

For John Rebus, forty years may have passed, but the death of beautiful, promiscuous Maria Turquand still preys on his mind. Murdered in her hotel room on the night a famous rock star and his entourage were staying there, Maria’s killer has never been found.

Meanwhile, the dark heart of Edinburgh remains up for grabs. A young pretender, Darryl Christie, may have staked his claim, but a vicious attack leaves him weakened and vulnerable, and an inquiry into a major money laundering scheme threatens his position. Has old-time crime boss Big Ger Cafferty really given up the ghost, or is he biding his time until Edinburgh is once more ripe for the picking?

In a tale of twisted power, deep-rooted corruption and bitter rivalries, RATHER BE THE DEVIL showcases Rankin and Rebus at their unstoppable best.

~*~

ian-rankin-2In Rebus’ twenty-first outing, Rather Be The Devil, which marks thirty years since the misanthropic detective who investigates the dark underside of Edinburgh and the crimes it tries to conceal. In Rather Be The Devil, Rebus is retired, though rather unwillingly, and is haunted by an unsolved murder from forty years ago: Maria Turquand. Alongside this, a crime syndicate is trying to evade justice and capture. Naturally, a retired Rebus becomes embroiled in these cases, assisting his former colleagues as he grapples with health issues that he is hiding from those who care about him.

Told in third person, most scenes involve Rebus but there are a few that are seen from the perspective of another character, giving the reader insight into the world Rebus lives in. It is a world of history and darkness, in a city I have visited and could picture in my mind: Princes Street lined by old buildings, the Royal Mile and cobblestones leading up to Edinburgh Castle. Even the names of some of the surrounding areas of Leith were familiar. It is set in a place that has a varied history, an interesting one, that towers architecturally over Rebus and his colleagues as they uncover the unsavoury figures that seek to destroy lives.

Rather Be The Devil refers to events that have occurred in earlier books, and though some things may follow on from what has come before, they do not have a large impact on the story. Hints of what has made Rebus who he is made me want to find out more, so hopefully I can track down some more of the books but overall, I was able to follow the plot as a stand alone story.ian-rankin-2017a

It is a dark and gritty story, but not overly violent. Ian Rankin has taken a beautiful city and placed a gritty misanthrope within it, and contrasted the beauty of Edinburgh with the horror of crime and rankled Rebus, and this works well. The contrast allows for an ongoing story to be told, and for immersion in Edinburgh and the world of Rebus.

With an interesting character, and a mystery that refuses to be let go until it is solved, Rather Be The Devil marks the thirtieth anniversary of Rebus well. Fans new and old will enjoy this outing of Rebus.

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Ian Rankin will be appearing at the Sydney Writer’s Festival, held between the 22nd and the 28th of May. Appearances are:

Conversation: Ian Ranking – Rather Be The Devil, Saturday, 27th of May, 2017 7.30 – 8.30 PM at Riverside Theatres, Parramatta

https://www.swf.org.au/festivals/festival-2017/ian-rankin-rather-be-the-devil-parramatta/

Ian Rankin: Who Says Crime Doesn’t Pay?

Friday, 26th of May , 6.30-7.30 PM at City Recital Hall, Angel Place, Sydney

https://www.swf.org.au/festivals/festival-2017/ian-rankin-who-says-crime-doesnt-pay/

Special Event: SWF Gala – Origin Story

Wednesday , 24th of May, 2017 6pm to 7pm at City Recital Hall, Angel Place, Sydney

https://www.swf.org.au/festivals/festival-2017/swf-gala-origin-story/

Booktopia

The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders (Laetitia Rodd #1)

wishtide cover

 

I received a copy from the publisher for review

Title: A Laetitia Rodd Mystery: The Secrets of Wishtide

Author: Kate Saunders

Genre: Fiction/Crime Fiction

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Published: 1st August 2016

RRP: $29.99

Format: Trade Paperback edition

Pages: 335

Price: $27.99

Synopsis: Mrs Laetitia Rodd, aged fifty-two, is the impoverished widow of an Archdeacon. Living in Well Walk, Hampstead, with her confidante and landlady, Mrs Benson (who once let rooms to John Keats), Mrs Rodd makes her living as a highly discreet private investigator.

 

Her brother, Frederick Tyson, is a criminal barrister living in the neighbouring village of Highgate with his wife and ten children. Fred finds the cases, and Mrs Rodd solves them, using her arch-intelligence, her iron discretion and her immaculate cover as an unsuspecting widow.

 

When Frederick brings to her attention a case involving the son of the well-respected, highly-connected Sir James Calderstone, Mrs Rodd sets off for Lincolnshire, to take up a position as the family’s new governess – quickly making herself indispensable.

 

But the seemingly simple case – looking into young Charles Calderstone’s ‘inappropriate’ love interest – soon takes a rather unpleasant turn. And as the family’s secrets begin to unfold, Mrs Rodd discovers the Calderstone’s have more to hide than most.

 

~*~

 

The Secrets of Wishtide introduces readers to Mrs Laetitia Rodd, an amateur private detective in the Victorian era. Mrs Rodd uses her discretion and mannerisms as a lady of the times to her advantage to gain access to people and information that might otherwise be hidden away. When she is asked to investigate the female companion of a wealthy family, Mrs Rodd soon finds that some families have deeper secrets than others, and the Calderstones are no exception. The unpleasant turn in the case leads Mrs Rodd into a world of secrets that she never anticipated.

Amateur detective stories seem to be quite popular these days, much like Miss Marple and Poirot were and still are. From Mma Ramotswe, to Rowland Sinclair, Taylor Bridges, Cass Lehmann and now, Laetitia Rodd, I am enjoying investigating cases with these detectives, whether they stumble across them or are purposely engaged to investigate, as Mrs Rodd is. Perhaps the appeal of these amateur detectives is that they are relatable. They are not constrained by the rules that a police force might be, and though a character like Mrs Rodd might be accused of being a busybody, it is this characteristic that makes her appealing and a joy to read.

Kate Saunders has captured the essence of Victorian England and Victorian fiction. The Secrets of Wishtide does not read like a modern author trying to place the story within the 1850s – it has the tone of a Dickens novel, and the feel of Victorian London – something any good novel that has an historical setting or aspect should strive to do. I was immediately transported to 1850 and the Victorian world. As the first book in a series, it did it’s job wonderfully – introducing the main character, and what she does, who she is and where she lives, as well as setting the scene nicely. I look forward to reading more in this series.

The Falls by B Michael Radburn

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I received a copy from the publisher for review

 

Title: The Falls

Author: B. Michael Radburn

Genre: Fiction/Crime Fiction

Publisher: Pantera Press

Published: August, 2016

RRP: $29.99

Format: Paperback

Pages: 364

Synopsis: A week of despair… a century of evil

Damaged but not yet broken, park ranger Taylor Bridges believes his ghosts are in the past – until a raging forest fire in an isolated canyon of The Falls lays bare the remains of a young woman… and a decade-old killing ground.

After the police enlist Taylor in their investigation, the evidence bizarrely points to a deranged preacher who reigned over The Falls a century ago.

But when a crucial witness and a policewoman disappear, it’s clear that a disciple of The Falls’ dark history is on the loose.

 

~*~

 

The Falls by B. Michael Radburn is the second book in the Taylor Bridges series. Still reeling from the death of his daughter Claire five years ago, The Falls follows on from The Crossing, and Taylor’s struggle with the disappearance and death of Claire. When the daughter of an old friend and her partner stumble across a body whilst exploring the Christiana Goldmine in Eldritch Falls, Taylor is called in to assist the police in the national park. Taylor must grapple with his guilt about Claire, and the emotions that this new case brings to the surface. As the case progresses, links to a string of ritualistic murders that span one hundred years. These murders become linked to a family who has lived in the area for generations, a family determined to keep the secrets of the past hidden away from prying eyes, whatever the cost may be.

The daughter of Taylor’s friend, Aroha, becomes involved as a witness and later, is taken. Taylor and the police must find her before it is too late, and before other lives are endangered during the search for truth and its war with keeping secrets and continuing a legacy that has been in place for over one hundred years.

Michael Radburn has created a story using the natural environment and the fear of the unknown, or the fear of what we don’t understand. This gives the characters, both good, bad, and in between, concrete and believable motivations and desires that drive the story towards its relieving conclusion where the reader can finally take a deep breath and relax after the fast paced ride.

This was my first adventure with Taylor Bridges, and I found that I did not need to have read the first book to enjoy this and understand what drove the characters. The mine and the bush of country Victoria was the perfect setting for this mystery, a place where anything could happen. Where shadows dance at the edges of the darkness, and where fear takes over. The novel kept up a good pace and kept me reading as long as possible to find out what happened, and to find out who survived and who didn’t. It is a story where people aren’t always what they seem, and that speaks to the human condition and its various degrees of sanity, desire and wanting to please people, but also, human desire for belief, and legacy. A haunting tale that will keep you up at night, I enjoyed reading this book, and hope that further books are forthcoming and will be just as intriguing as this one.

Craven by Melanie Casey

cravenBook Title: Craven, Book Two of the Cass Lehman and Ed Dyson series
Author: Melanie Casey
Publisher: Pantera Press
Genre: Crime
Release Date: June 1st, 2014
Book Synopsis: A reluctant psychic, a troubled detective… and a deeply twisted serial killer.

Moving to the city, Cass Lehman hoped to leave her recent notoriety behind her. Her ability to experience the final moments of a violent death helped the local police capture a serial killer, but also meant she was almost his first victim…

With a place of her own and a new job, things are looking up for Cass. But just as she starts to feel settled, Cass is targeted by a deranged stalker.

Are the personal attacks linked to a string of unsettling deaths that have left the police stumped?

Her gift is called on yet again by the one man she vowed she would never contact. Cass and police Detective Ed Dyson are thrown back into each other’s lives but can they overcome their feelings to put an end to the terror?

Will her experiences of death reveal the mind of the killer… or is there no such thing as a happy ending?

~*~

Picking up a year after where the devastating and traumatic events for both Cass and Ed left us in Hindsight, Craven brings a new world of threats to Cass and those she cares about. Things start out innocently enough in Adelaide with Cass house hunting. Though a vision of a death in one house, foreshadowed in the prologue, counts that house out. An effective way to bring Casey’s fans back into the fold, and reintroducing us to Cass and her gift, was the vision she had about the death that had taken place there. I would have liked to have known more about that victim and the case, but it served its purpose in the context of the novel and plot that was to follow.
Also in Adelaide, is Detective Ed Dyson, her former boyfriend and the police officer she assisted in the Fleurieu Killer case back in Jewel Bay twelve months ago, working with a new partner, in the Major Crime Investigative Branch, or MCIB, on a twelve-month secondment. When her car is vandalised, Cass calls Ed for help, spurring on a series of events that continue to throw them together, along with Dave, Ed’s new partner, and the only person Cass has been able to confide in since her move to Adelaide, Claire. Along with investigating his serial killer, Ed is thrown back into Cass’s life, trying to protect her from a stalker, yet little do they both know the danger hiding in the shadows that will befall them in the closing chapters of the novel.
Again, Casey has had me on the edge of my seat, with many sleepless nights out of a desire to find out what happens next and fear of the serial killer. I feel this fear is what makes her novels exceptionally well written, because I definitely felt the fear Cass felt. I felt her sleeplessness and I also felt her uncertainty about things. There were moments of sadness though, and moments where I wanted to shake some of the characters into thinking sense – again, this is why I loved this book, because the characters were so believable. They weren’t just black and white, they had grey areas and were flawed: nobody is perfect. Cass and Ed illustrate this in a wonderful way. I am looking forward to reading future Cass Lehman books, and I recommend the series to crime lovers anywhere.

Hindsight by Melanie Casey

hindsightBook Title: Hindsight, Book one of the Cass Lehman and Ed Dyson series
Author: Melanie Casey
Publisher: Pantera Press
Genre: Crime
Release Date: May 1st, 2013
Book Synopsis: Cass Lehman has a terrifying ‘gift’…The youngest in a family of extraordinary women with supernatural talents, Cass is cursed with the not-so-sexy gift of seeing the past…but not just any past; she sees death. For years she’s hidden herself away in her family home. Now, desperate for a better life, she ventures into sleepy Jewel Bay, only to stumble upon murder and mayhem and a killer at large who’s long been lurking in their midst. Taking a chance, Cass volunteers to assist Detective Ed Dyson with the investigation. Will Cass be able to save the latest victim – and herself?

~*~

As a lover of crime books, it took me less than a week to devour this book on my commute to and from an internship. Each page took me along Cass’s journey through her gift and isolation further and further, giving the reader an understanding of Cass that they can carry with them through the reading, and I quite like how the author revealed Cass and what she had been through to us throughout the novel, but at exactly the right times for readers to know. Aside to this, we have Cass, living at home in her twenties, struck by fear of her gift, and doing what she can to avoid it being triggered if she crosses a path where someone has died in the past. Cared for by her mother and grandmother, who also have manifestations of psychic gifts, Cass is sheltered until she meets Ed.
When Cass met Ed Dyson, his sneering attitude, along with the same attitude his partner, Phil, exhibited towards Cass, made me step back from him at first, yet as we learnt more about him and what had happened to his wife, Susan, and as his relationship with Cass developed, I grew to like him, and sympathise with him. I wanted him to find out what had happened to his wife, and when Cass made a connection between several of the victims, this became the turning point in their relationship and their quest to work together to find the perpetrator of the heinous crimes, the serial killer operating within the same time frame every year, leading to a breakthrough in the case of Ed’s wife, Susan. The raw emotion of the characters, especially Ed, when he linked his wife’s case to the other murders with Cass’s help with what seems like an inconsequential or coincidental link, and one that had been brushed aside by the detectives investigating, even Ed, leapt right off the page and kept me reading to see if the link Cass made between the victims became a tangible link instead of a coincidence that the detectives would soon follow.
It is this coincidence that leads them to bring in a suspect towards the end of the novel, and events following Cass attempting to confirm his identity cause a rift between Cass and Ed, and her life is soon in danger. Will Ed be able to save her before it’s too late?

This book had everything a good crime novel should have for me: an dark yet intriguing mystery, characters who have weaknesses and strengths we get to experience, a tight story line and a bad guy who is creepy, slimy and who we want to see chucked jail. A very good first novel from Melanie Casey.

The Angry Birds by Joshua Cejka

Minneapolis Homicide Detective Meg Brown is going home and she couldn’t be less pleased about it. It’s been 20 years since she graduated from her western Wisconsin High School and for some reason she grudgingly decides to attend the commemoration. How is she going to justify her life to those she’s left behind? Does she really have to tell war stories about her time as a Marine, SWAT Officer, Anthropology Major? And just which pistol goes well with her boots anyway?

But more importantly, does she have what it takes to repair relationships with a former best friend, a former enemy, and still solve a 20-year-old crime? Will her dog, Dutch, forgive her for her many absences?

~*~

A Meg Brown mystery with a difference, and it is quite a delightful one. Instead of the setup of a scumbag of evil and sadistic proportions, we encounter Meg preparing for her twenty-year high school reunion – quite reluctantly, under the watchful gaze of her neglected but forgiving dog, Dutch, and her friend, Spike. Soon, Meg finds herself in a room of people she doesn’t really want to spend time with apart from her friend, Steph. She hits the radar of Kenzie, her once enemy, but who is to become a friend through the discovery of a twenty-year-old rape. This departure from the classic way of introducing a crime is refreshing, and one that I didn’t see coming. It worked extremely well, and the character development and history were delivered extremely well as Meg, Steph and Kenzie used what they had at hand to identify a rapist.
I loved the way Meg used her police smarts and what she had on hand from Kenzie and Steph, and one or two other former classmates to catch the rapist, albeit twenty years too late. A revelation towards the end of the story knocked the wind out of me, as it was definitely something I didn’t see coming, and it has had me wondering if it would have affected the way Meg turned out as a character, and what she does or if she’d still be our favourite Meg, but with a few added strengths and secrets. Whichever way she had gone, I’m sure she’d still be as fascinating and as strong as she is, and this was a great addition to the series.

available on Amazon

And Worms Have Eaten Them by Joshua Cejka

The legal system has set one killer free but Minneapolis Homicide Detective Meg Brown has another in ‘the box’. She’s got the evidence, motive and opportunity but can she get a confession? And what will it all mean when she does?

~*~

The entirety of this Meg Brown short takes place “in the box”, or the interview room. Detective Meg Brown of Minneapolis, has a goal. Just one. Justice. With one killer set free in what Meg and her partner, Riggins feel is inconsiderate injustice for the victim, Meg now must interview another killer.
The tension drips off the page from the characters to the reader. With each passing minute reading and within the story, I felt Meg’s frustration mount: not only with the first killer evading jail and justice, but also with the second suspect for making every attempt to annoy Meg and push her over the edge. Her anger seeped into me – a mark of how well crafted these characters and stories are by Cejka. It is through the teasing out of the facts from the suspect, known as Mad Marji, that the reader is taken on a journey, a not quite so conventional mystery, but one that uses a very important aspect of a crime novel or show – and in fact, one that left me wanting to know more about what happened once I had completed the story, not just about Mad Marji, but about the killer set free my the legal system. Again, I was enthralled by the story. Another triumph from Cejka.

*available through Amazon*