Review: The Hangman’s Daughter by Oliver Pötzsch

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Germany, 1660: When a dying boy is pulled from the river with a mark crudely tattooed on his shoulder, hangman Jakob Kuisl is called upon to investigate whether witchcraft is at play. So begins The Hangman’s Daughter–the chillingly detailed, fast-paced historical thriller from German television screenwriter, Oliver Pötzsch–a descendent of the Kuisls, a famous Bavarian executioner clan.

I should start by saying that this is not the sort of novel I’d gravitate towards, but the cover of this book had a lot to do with my decision to give this book a try and I don’t regret it a bit.

“because a rumor is like smoke. It will spread, it will seep through closed doors and latched shutters, and in the end the whole town will smell of it.”

This is the story of Jakob Kuisl, a hangman in the small town of Schongau, Bavaria. When some children are found dead, a local midwife is accused of witchcraft and arrested for the murders. Jakob and a local doctor believing in the midwife’s innocence set out to figure out the mystery. I’m not sure why the title of the book is the Hangman’s Daughter. She plays a part in the book but certainly not enough for a title. In any case, this is a very interesting historical mystery. Pötzsch really did a good job researching his family history and that period. I really enjoyed the illustrations in the book and the descriptions of the town and the people were excellent. It really transported me to that time. 

As for the mystery itself, I feel like many will be able to figure it out half-way through the book. It is still an interesting reading even though some of the torture scenes were rather graphic. Good pick for fans of historical fiction/thriller.

5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

 

Review: Death Before Decaf by Caroline Fardig

 

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Death Before Decaf  by Caroline Fardig is a Java Jive Mystery novel and the first book in a series.  Juliet Langley is a fun and believable thirty-year-old singer who is returning home to Nashville after her fiancée breaks up with her. She takes a job as a manager at a friend’s coffeehouse, Java Jive. On her first day at the job, Juliet gets into an argument with Dave (the cook) over some health code violations and next thing you know Dave is found dead in the dumpster. In order to prove her innocence, Juliet sets out to investigate the crime.

Although the book started out a little slow for me, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the mystery was not as easily to solve as I had first thought. Juliet is an adorable character and I’m looking forward to her next books.

I’d like to thank NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

3 star

Review: Indelible by Peter Helton

Indelible

Chris Honeysett agrees to do an exhibition at the prestigious Bath Arts Academy together with several other artists to celebrate the Academy’s thirtieth-year anniversary. Shortly after arriving at the Academy, and against his better judgement, he takes on a position as a tutor. Several peculiar incidents start to happen leading to the death of one of his fellows and Honeysett being framed for murder.

Indelible is a mystery novel by Peter Helton. It is the sixth book in the Chris Honeysett series. My local librarian recommended me this title after an afternoon chat about my love for Agatha Christie. The front cover of the book even describes the characters of this book as Agatha Christie-like. But were they really? I’m not so sure. They were extremely quirky and the general feeling of the book reminded me very much of Christie’s novels, but what I really liked about this book was the amount of humor it contained.

Chris Honeysett is a great character! He is both a painter and a private detective with a self-deprecating sense of humor. He is probably a better painter than a PI, but his dialogues are pretty funny. There is also a significant amount of information about art and painting. The author has a fine arts degree and he uses that knowledge very well in composing the story. The end did not disappoint, but I found the early chapters were a bit too slow for my taste, and it took me a while to get into this book.

3 star

Book Details:

Title: Indelible/Author: Peter Helton/Genre: Mystery / ISBN:9780727884237/Publisher: Severn House Publishers/Rating: 3-Stars/Read: May, 2015.

Teaser Tuesday

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Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by A Daily Rhythm where anyone can play along.

Indelible

I love Agatha Christie, so I was more than excited when my local librarian suggested this title to me. Today’s Teaser Tuesday sentences come from Peter Helton’s novel Indelible. An Agatha Christie-like mystery with a bit of Monty Python humor to it. When laid-back painter and private detective Chris Honeysett accepts a role as tutor at the Bath Arts Academy, he had no idea that a series of peculiar events resulting in the death of one of his fellow were going to land him prime suspect in a murder investigation. Who is framing him, and why?

Someone deliberately tried to electrocute her? Your Mrs Kroog talked me into giving a spiel on my work up there but I’ve gone right off that place. It’s creepy and crumbling and right by the forest. I bet the trees move by themselves. And I don’t like the sound of your wild man of the woods, either. Be careful up there, hon.

Don’t worry, I’m a painter. What could possibly go wrong? Anyway, the place is crawling with police. Needham is here. Already grilled me a bit. But I’m only half done, apparently.”

If you liked this teaser, add this book to your TBR list.

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Review: The Farm by Tom Rob Smith

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Title: The Farm

Author: Tom Rob Smith

Pages: 352

Genre: Thriller/Mystery

ISBN: 9780446550734

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Ratings: 4-Star

Read: April 16, 2015- May 2,2015 – I own a copy.

Daniel believed that his parents were enjoying a peaceful retirement on a remote farm in Sweden. But with a single phone call, everything changes.

“Your mother…she’s not well, his father tells him. She’s been imagining things – terrible, terrible things. She’s had a psychotic breakdown, and been committed to a mental hospital.”

Before Daniel can board a plane to Sweden, his mother calls: “Everything that man has told you is a lie. I’m not mad… I need the police… Meet me at Heathrow.”

When Daniel gets off the phone after talking to his mother, we embark in this amazing journey of lies, secrets and misconceptions through rural Sweden. Daniel is caught between his parents allegations against each other, and at times it is simply impossible to distinguish who’s telling the truth. There is so much more to this novel than meets the eye.

I read this book in a few days not because of lack of interest, but purely for lack of time. Smith does a fantastic job at building the suspense in this novel and weaving a compelling plot that is really a plot within a plot, full of twists and turns.

What I simply adored about this book was the fact that I had it all wrong. I never saw that ending coming.

I definitely recommend this book! This was my first novel by author Tom Rob Smith, and I simply LOVED it! I’m really looking forward to reading more books from him.

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5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

The Girl On The Train: An Audiobook Review

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Unabridged (10 hours and 59 minutes)

Author: Paula Hawkins

Narration: Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, India Fisher

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Release Date: 1-13-15

Publisher: Penguin Audio

Rating: 3-Star

Listened: April, 2015

From Audible:Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

The Girl on The Train is Paula Hawkins’ debut novel, and it is told from the perspective of three different women. The book starts with the main character, Rachel, a lonely alcoholic divorcee who takes the train to London everyday in order to conceal from her roommate the fact she was fired months prior.

The book is also narrated by three actresses, which allowed for differentiation between the characters. This novel was the third audiobook that I felt compelled to write a review. I knew about the buzz surrounding the book, and purposefully avoided reading other reviews.

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by the narrative. I thought the story was suspenseful and interesting. None of the women in the book are particularly likable, but in this book, I took that to be a plus. None of the three characters were reliable witnesses, and you get the sense after a few chapters that their lives will intertwine somehow.

The narration of the book was a bit dull and monotone, but it worked! It captured the vibe of the story. The only reason I’m giving this book a 3-Star review is the fact that I had the plot figured out several chapters before the end of the book. I felt that Hawkins perhaps gave too many clues that easily led to the conclusion of the book. I definitely recommend this audiobook and I look forward to her next novels.

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3 star

Review: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

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Title: Big Little Lies

Author: Liane Moriarty

Pages: 480

Genre: Fiction/Mystery

ISBN-13: 9780399167065

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Rating: 4-stars

Read: April, 2015 – I own a copy.

Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal. . .  A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly? What’s indisputable is that someone is dead. But who did what?”

Set in suburban Australia, Big Little Lies is the fifth book of bestseller author Liane Moriarty. It follows the lives of three women, their struggles, and events that lead to a death at Pirriwee Public School trivia night.

The book follows these three different women as they meet at a kindergarten orientation at school. Madeline, who’s just turned forty, and her daughter Chloe. The young and single mother Jane, who had recently moved to Pirriwee beach with her son Ziggy; and the beautiful Celeste with her twins Max and Josh.

When Jane’s five-year-old son Ziggy is accused of choking and bullying another child, some of the parents immediately take a stand against the boy triggering hysteria and a series of playground politics and drama.

What I absolutely loved about this book was how easily Moriarty weaved the lives of these complex characters and tackled hard topics such as murder, bullying, infidelity, domestic abuse, and violence against women in a humorous and fun way, but without ever losing the severity of these social issues. She managed to write an extremely well plotted and engrossing story. I simply could not put this book down. It kept me up till late hours of the night dying to get to the end of the book, not so much to find out who did it, but who dies?

I laughed; I cried; and now I’m very sad that it ended. Oh calamity…

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5_Star_Rating_System_4_stars

Review: The Daughter by Jane Shemilt

The Daughter

Title: The Daughter

Author: Jane Shemilt

Pages: 352

Genre: Fiction, Mystery/Thriller

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

Rating: 3-Stars

Read: March 3, 2015-March 10, 2015 – I own a copy.

Jenny is a successful family doctor in England, who seems to have everything, a perfect job, perfect marriage, and the perfect family. When Jenny’s fifteen-year-old doesn’t return home after a school play, Jenny’s life starts to crumble. Naomi seems to have vanished, and the authorities have no clue how to find her. As the weeks and months after Naomi’s disappearance go by, Jenny starts to discover information that shows a very different Naomi from the girl she thought she’d raised.

My thoughts: 

The Daughter is Jane Shemilt’s debut novel, and for a first novel it did not disappoint. While the book was a suspenseful page-turner that kept me up until late hours of the night, there were a few problems for me. The flow of the narrative was not continuous. Shemilt switched back and forth between the days/weeks leading up to the daughter’s disappearance to a year after her disappearance. My problem with that type of narrative structure was the fact that all the leads and suspects that you learned about in the days and weeks coming up to the disappearance, if they were still present in the novel a year later, then you knew they probably weren’t involved in the disappearance, so that broke the flow of suspense to me. Although I enjoyed the book, I did not really like any of the characters and could not truly sympathize with any of them. I couldn’t stand the mother’s naiveté about her children’s lives to the point of denial. The father’s cold and detached personality, and the twin brothers’ rich and spoiled behavior. As for Naomi, we only get to know her initially by Jenny’s eyes, and obviously the mother was oblivious to Naomi’s lifestyle and affairs. Naomi being such a central character was never truly developed, and her actions at the end of the book seemed random, leaving the reader begging for more explanations. The daughter is a novel that ponders on topics of betrayal, guilt, truth and family, and asks the question: “Can we have extremely busy careers and still be truly involved in our families’ lives?

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3 star