Book Review – The Trespasser

the-trespasserThe latest installment of the Dublin Murder Squad series focuses on detectives Antoinette Conway and Stephen Moran.  The murder case they have been assigned is Aislinn Murray, a young woman who has been found dead in her home from head trauma.  Aislinn was in a new romantic relationship and it was obvious that she had been in the middle of preparing a romantic dinner for her new boyfriend when she was killed.  Her boyfriend denies responsibility advising the detectives that when he arrived at her home, there was no answer when he rang her doorbell and after waiting around for half an hour, left assuming that she was blowing him off.  Her girlfriend advises that she doesn’t know why someone would want to hurt Aislinn but the detectives feel that she is withholding information.  They also know the boyfriend is not telling them the whole truth and so begins the rollercoaster ride for the reader.

Antoinette and Stephen are both fairly new to the murder squad.  Antoinette transferred in from Missing Persons about two years prior, however, her integration into the unit has not gone well.  Subtle, and at times, aggressive harassment has occurred with no one in the squad taking responsibility leaving Antoinette unsure whether it is one person in the squad who dislikes her or whether the whole squad wants her gone.  The harassment has varied from her locker being broken into and someone urinating on her personal items to her witness statements being tampered with resulting in her having to have the witness redo their statement.  While Antoinette’s nature is naturally prickly and cranky, being the only woman in the unit leaves her isolated with little support other than her partner (with whom she has a good working relationship with).

At first glance, this case seems like a slam-dunk – the boyfriend must have killed her, but as the detectives dig further into Aislinn’s life they begin to question the real reason why she was killed.  They even start to suspect that their unit may have been involved somehow.

Tana French is the queen of leaving the reader in suspense until the very end.  You are not sure who the killer is and whether there really is something crooked going on within the squad or whether Antoinette’s paranoia is growing because of the harassment.  This book left me guessing until the end and so far, is my favorite read of 2016.  It is an excellent installment to her series.

Weekend Reads – October 14.2016

I have always been a big fan of Tana French but I am absolutely loving her latest book in the Dublin Murder Squad mystery series – The Trespasser.  I have been very disappointed with a couple of thriller/mystery books I have picked up recently where I have figured out the-trespasserthe ending no later than 50% through the book.  Thus, no feeling of satisfaction when I finish the book, just a sense that the last 50% of the book was a waste of my time because I already knew how it was going to end.  This is certainly not the case with The Trespasser.  I am 80% complete in my read, and I am still not quite sure how everything is going to end up and I am very okay with that.  I believe that The Trespasser is going to turn out to be my favorite read of 2016 and it makes me want to re-read The Likeness (which was my favorite Tana French novel prior to her newest to the stable).

black-water-lilliesIn my anxious hurry to get reading The Trespasser last weekend, I ended up putting down Black Water Lilies.  I don’t have much left and will be finishing off this book as soon as I am finished The Trespasser.

After that, I am really not sure what I am going to pick up next.  I am tempted to read The Likeness again, however, I also did just get The Tenant of Wildfell Hall in the beautiful Penguin cloth bound edition (I just love those).  What to do, what to do …… the-tenant-of-wildfell-hall

Weekend Reads

This weekend is Thanksgiving in Canada which means an extra day off of work and more time for reading.  Yeah!!!!

I am currently reading (and almost finished) two books.  black-water-lillies

Black Water Lilies by Michel Bussi.  This book is set in Giverny, France, in particular in Claude Monet’s garden in Giverny.  A body has been found in the garden and the mystery unfolds from there.  The book contains great descriptions about the garden and Monet’s life in the small village.  Makes me want to book a trip there!  I am about 60% complete and will finish it sometime this weekend.

The other book that I have almost completed was a complete surprise when I spotted it at the bookstore this week.  It is Secret Life (The Jian Ghomeshi Investigation) by Kevin Donovan.  Kevin is a reporter with the Toronto Star and was heavily involved in this story even before it broken in the fall of 2014.

Jian Ghomeshi was the golden boy at CBC Radio (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation).  His talk show called Q had a large and varied listener base – he had people in their 30’s tojian seniors listening to his show.  It was considered an art and culture show as he often talked books, music, art and had major and minor celebrities/musicians/actors on his show.  He was also active in the book/author community by hosting the week long program “Canada Reads” and hosting the Scotiabank Giller Prize award ceremony which is televised each November.

When he was fired from CBC two years ago, I remember exactly where I was when I heard the news.  It was a Sunday afternoon and I got a notice on my Ipad informing me that CBC had put out a special statement announcing that Jian would no longer be with CBC.  I remember thinking “what the hell is going on – he is the goose who laid the golden egg for CBC”. The CBC has always struggled financially and with finding talent.

A few hours later this story had gotten legs and the next news item was a Facebook posting that Jian had posted which described how he was fired from the CBC because of his bedroom activities and that he enjoyed “rough sex” but that he always had consent from his partners.  At the time I was torn between feeling like Jian had a right to be angry — should corporations be involved in what happens in a staff members’ bedroom, but on the other hand, what Ghomeshi had laid out on his Facebook page had the “ick factor”.  As Kevin Donovan from the Toronto Star kept reporting over the days to come, woman started coming forward and claiming that they had been physically and sexually abused by Jian and it was not consensual.  Some of them went to the police and filed charges.

Eventually a trial was held and he was found not guilty on all counts.  I have a lot of feelings about the outcome of the trial.  I believe the woman and their claims, however, I also believe they showed poor judgement in their relations with him.  In some cases, he would physically abuse them but they would turn around and text him the next day a picture of themselves or try to continue to date him.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe in blaming the victim and in my opinion, he should have been found guilty but I don’t believe these women did themselves any favors with their actions.  The judge found that as they continued to try to have contact with Ghomeshi, he found it difficult to believe their claims and therefore, found him not guilty.

As the next sexual assault trial against Ghomeshi was set to start, he came to an agreement with the Crown and signed a peace bond and issued an apology for his actions against Kathryn Borel.  Borel was also a former CBC employee who claimed that Ghomeshi had sexually harassed her on the job.

So essentially he walked away from all the allegations with no retribution other than his reputation and career is in tatters.

Before the CBC firing of Ghomeshi, Kevin Donovan had been investigating rumors of his reputation among women and how he treated them.  He didn’t have enough proof to file a story until the CBC actually fired Ghomeshi.  This book outlines the timeline of everything that occurred during his investigations and reporting of this matter.

One of the things that I found so maddening about Ghomeshi was that he portrayed himself as a feminist and supportive of women.  At the beginning of each Q episode he would give a three or four minute monologue about an issue he wanted to address and many, many times it was about women’s rights, feminism, rape culture, etc.  It turns out that he never wrote any of these “essays” and that they were always written by his staff.

In so many ways, I am disappointed in Jian Ghomeshi – not only how he treated women and thought it was his right to do so, but I also feel that he was extremely dishonest  in allowing his audience to assume that he was the author of the opinions expressed during the Q monologues.  It was like someone drawing back the curtain at Oz so that we could all see the strings and what the reality actually was.  I feel no sympathy whatsoever for him.

Also, during reviews of CBC’s practices, it has come to light that despite complaints by women to Q producers, nothing was ever said or done to curb Ghomeshi’s sexual harassment in the work place.  They turned a blind eye because he was considered a “CBC God”.  I understand that they are now trying to adopt a new culture among staff, but I just have to say “shame on you CBC – you should have known and done better than you did”.  I hope that the culture at the corporation can and will change.  In my opinion, if it doesn’t, public funding towards this institution should be stopped.

October Reading

Normally I create a TBR with a detailed plan of what I am hoping to get read for that particular month.  It is a task that my organized and anal mind enjoys greatly – the planning, anticipation and then, when successful, the crossing off of a completed task.  For once I am going into a month with no set TBR – I don’t really know what I am going to read.  I have a birthday coming up this month and I have requested a few books (as usual) and so I will just have to wait and see what happens.  I do know that October has normally been a very good reading month for me so regardless of what I read, I do hope to get through quite a few over the next 30 days.

black-water-lilliesCurrently I am reading Black Water Lilies by Michel Bussi.  This book was translated from French and is a psychological suspense story set in the village where Claude Monet painted his famous water lilies paintings.  A murder has taken place and the body is found in the stream that runs through the famous gardens.  When I first heard about this book, it ticked so many boxes on my “what I look for in a book list” — it is a psychological suspense which I enjoy, it weaves actual history into the story and I love Claude Monet’s works.  I am only 10 pages in currently but it has already captured me.

Happy reading everyone.  Gwen

Books Completed

For the second half of September, 2016 I completed the following books:

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley – 4 stars

The Drowned (short story) by Graham Masterton – 3 stars

The Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelly – 3 stars

Saturday Requiem by Nicci French – 3 stars

That wraps up my reading for September.  Not great, but not the worst either.

Weekend Reads

I am hoping to make some headway this weekend with a book I have been reading but the last couple of days I have been distracted and I have hardly made a dent in it.  I am currently reading Saturday Requiem by Nicci French.  This book is another installment in the Freida Klein series set in London.  Freida, a psychotherapist, is asked to visit and assess Hannah Docherty in a psychiatric hospital.  Hannah was found guilty years prior of killing her mother, father and brother with a hammer.  She has since been incarcerated at the hospital.  As Freida investigates the background of the murders, she begins to question whether Hannah is really the killer.

I am hoping to finish Saturday Requiem this weekend and start on the second book in the Mark Pryor series, The Crypt Thief.  It has been a number of months since I read the first book in this series set in Paris called The Bookseller.  It gave really good detail about Paris and was an enjoyable read.  I have heard really good things about this series and I am looking forward to picking up the next book.

Book Review – Arrowood

ArrowoodArden Arrowood returns to her hometown of Keokuk, Iowa where she has inherited her family home upon the death of her grandparents and father.  Twenty years earlier at that same house, Arden’s twin sisters disappeared when she was babysitting and they have never been found.  Her parents left Keokuk when it became evident that the girls were not going to be located and the house has sat empty ever since.  Her parents subsequently divorced and their lives fell apart.

Upon returning home she is contacted by a writer who specializes in novels about missing persons.  He is interested in writing about her sisters’ disappearance and Arden agrees to meet with him.  Through his probing questions, it appears that her memory of the events may not be reliable and her mother, now remarried, does not wish to discuss the disappearance and dredge up old memories.

This is a short mystery novel (270 pages) but it covers a lot of ground in those short pages.  I enjoyed this book and appreciated that the author wrapped up the ending with a nice bow answering all the questions that the reader has.  I gave this 3.5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.

September, 2016 TBR

Fall, my favorite time of the year, is almost here.  I can already see the leaves changing colors and smell that grain dust in the evening air as the farmers outside of the city bring in their crops.  It is also a time that I enjoy being able to open all the windows as the heat of the summer is over and I curl up under a blanket with a good book.

So, here are the books that I am hoping to read in September:

Arrowood by Laura McHugh

Babytrick by T.V. LoCicero

Names for the Sea by Sarah Moss

Saturday Requiem by Nicci French

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley

I am currently listening to the audio called The Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelly.  I am doing some travelling in September so I am taking a couple of other audiobooks with me for the long plane rides.

The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy (I actually have already read this in paper format years ago, and saw the movie, but I have a craving for a good Pat Conroy book and this was a very good price on Audible so I’m going to try listening to this book this time around.)

A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman

Enjoy fall and yummy pumpkin spice lattes everyone!

Gwen

August, 2016 Reads

I managed to not only get through a fairly good sized list of books in August, but I had two 5 star reads too!  These are the books that I read in August:

Brighton by Michael Harvey – 4 stars

In A Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware – 3 stars

The Divorce Party by Laura Dave – 3 stars

The First Husband by Laura Dave – 3 stars

The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close  – 4 stars

The Murder Farm by Andrea Maria Schenkel – 4stars

Amsterdam by Ian McEwan – 3 stars

The Vactioners by Emma Straub (audiobook) – 3 stars

The Museum of You by Carys Bray – 5 stars

Esther The Wonderpig by Steve Jenkins (audiobook) – 4 stars

Carnival of Shadows by R.J. Ellory – 5 stars

Killer Look by Linda Fairstein – 3 stars

August has typically always been a good reading month for me and this year was no exception.

Gwen

Book Review – Killer Look

Killer Look is the 18th book in the Alex Cooper series by Linda Fairstein.   Alex is now out of hospital after her kidnapping in the previous book, Devil’s Bridge, but is sufferKiller Looking from PTSD.  Overall I found this to be a fairly typical Alex Cooper book with the author’s trademark of focusing on the history of a particular landmark or section of New York City.  In this edition of the series, Linda Fairstein unravels the history of the city’s garment district and the fashion industry. While I found the history interesting and enjoyed the fashion design storyline, along with the name-dropping of iconic fashion designers (e.g. Coco Chanel, Giorgio Armani, Michael Kors, Alexander McQueen), there were things that irritated me about this book.

Alex is suffering from PTSD.  She readily admits that she is, all of her friends are aware that she is, but yet it isn’t until after page 300 that the issue of therapy is addressed.  Alex does not want to attend therapy and believes that hanging around her boyfriend, Mike, (while he is trying to perform his job) will “cure” her.  Really????  This character is becoming more whiny and man-dependent with each book.  If it wasn’t for the interesting storylines around the historic landmarks in NY City, I would probably give this series up.  Only because I enjoyed the fashion storyline does this book get three stars (otherwise it would have been a two star read).