Friday, February 22, 2019

Beneath the Bleeding by Val McDermid


Dr. Tony Hill is bedridden after an attack at a mental ward and an axe to the knee. It's really not a good time to be immobile when a top footballer is admitted to the hospital and the staff finds out that he has been poisoned with ricin. He passes away and Detective Chief Inspector Carol Jordan is called in to investigate. Researching from a hospital bed, Tony is frustrated at the lack of progress he makes, but eventually finds a possible connection to another mysterious poisoning case.

During the memorial for this football player, an alleged terrorist attack occurs, bombing the stadium and killing many. Could these be connected? Why was the stadium targeted?

I haven't read a Hill/Jordan mystery for a while but this one felt pretty lazy. The bombing builds up for a very long time and then only takes place in the last third of the book and really has nothing to do with anything else in the book. It just didn't connect for me. Then when they finally catch the murderer, though we sort of know the motive, the murderer refuses to give the full story on why he did it. It's like McDermid didn't want to bother sorting out that part of the story.

Definitely not my favourite Hill/Jordan mystery. I hope Jordan sorts out her drinking problem soon but I doubt that'll be the case.

First Line: "The phases of the moon have an inexplicable but incontrovertible effect on the mentally ill."


Sunday, February 10, 2019

When by Victoria Laurie


Since she was young, Maddie Fynn has been able to see people's death dates. She first recognized it on her dad's forehead, but wasn't aware of what it meant until he was killed in action. Now a teenager, Maddie's mother is a drunk and Maddie is convinced her mom blames her for her dad's death. To try and make ends meet, and pay for mom's habit, Maddie sees clients who want to know when they will die. A lady brings a picture of her daughter who is undergoing treatment for a medical issue to determine if she will survive. Maddie gives her the good news that she will survive, but her son has a death date within a week. The mother leaves in a huff, unbelieving what she has been told.

When that boy is found murdered the next week, the mother points at Maddie as a suspect and the FBI investigates. Thinking she may be responsible for the boy's death, they look in to Maddie and her friends, making life very uncomfortable for everyone. Maddie was just trying to help though. And when she sees the death date of a cheerleader on the opposing team, she knows she can't keep quiet.

This was definitely a unique concept and though I doubt FBI would treat teenagers the way they did in this book, it made you turn the pages and figure out what would happen. It was pretty easy to guess who the killer was, but that didn't really take away from the book. This isn't prize winning literature but it was fun.

First Line: "I'm not exactly sure when I first started seeing the numbers."


Saturday, February 02, 2019

Charleston by John Jakes

Historical Fiction

This epic tale of the Bell family spans three generations. The Bells are from Charleston, South Carolina in the time leading up to the Civil War. One side of the Bell family is progressive and believes in the emancipation of slaves, the other side of the family treats their slaves horribly and are incredibly racist. The story of this family starts in Charleston during the revolutionary war when the British controlled the city, then the time period between the revolutionary war and the civil war while racial tensions ran high, and finally the Civil war.

The focus is on the more progressive side of the Bell family. They free their slaves, treat them well, and one of the family members ends up travelling eastern USA to speak out against slavery. This makes no friends in Charleston, including with the other side of her family, and makes returning to Charleston hard for her.

This book has a lot of Charleston history in it, much of it I was not aware of. However because of this history, there were problems with pacing of the novel sometimes. Jakes would start talking about generals and presidents and governors which had nothing to do with the characters for a full chapter, taking you away from the characters he was trying to get you invested in. Because of this, the 530 page book took me 3 weeks to read, which is a pretty long time for me.

First Line: "One night in early November 1779, he dreamed a terrifying dream."