Tag Archives: Crime

Pack of Thieves? 52 Port Arthur Lives by Hamish Maxwell-Stewart & Susan Hood

Overview
Pack of thieves? : 52 Port Arthur lives

Title: Pack of Thieves? 52 Port Arthur Lives
Author: Hamish Maxwell-Stewart & Susan Hood
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Australian history, Crime, Non-fiction
Dates read: 15th – 30th August 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Non-fictional text
Publisher: Port Arthur Historic Sites
Year: 2001
5th sentence, 74th page: On the same day he was punished with a beating of one hundred strokes for breaking gaol while awaiting trial – he had been recaptured by the guard at Eaglehawk Neck.

Synopsis

George Arthur, Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen’s Land from 1824-36 is credited with constructing an intricate system of convict management. The idea behind Arthur’s grand plan was that convicts would sink or rise through the tiers of his multi-layered system according to their conduct. Thus, the intention was that the wicked would be punished for their sins and the good rewarded for unerring servile toil. In 1830 Arthur ordered the construction of a new penal station on the Tasman Peninsula named Port Arthur in his honour. This was to be the foundation stone of Arthur’s scheme for regulating the lives of his colonial charges – a place to which prisoners incurred the wrath of the convict administration could be sent as a lesson to all.

Arthur likened his convict system to a prison without walls. This was because the lives of ordinary prisoners were regulated by paper work rather than guard towers and iron bars. Every detail that could be gleaned about a convict was entered into a set of enormous registers which ere used to separate those considered worthy of indulgence from those whose conduct was thorught to merit further punishment. At times Arthur appeared to sit astride his system like a colonial puppet master pronouncing judgement on his charges.

This book charts the lives of 52 prisoners who served time at Port Arthur in the 1830’s. It looks at the impact of transportation upon their lives and charts the ways in which they negotiated a passage through Arthur’s labyrinthine penal colony.

Thoughts

After visiting Port Arthur, this was a fun and easy read. It was also seriously fascinating. If you read it in parts. I mean, most of the stories were someone stole something, they got sent to Port Arthur. And repeat. But then some of the daring just had me smiling… you can’t predict human nature after all.

All in all, this was an interesting journey into the world of Australian history. But, like most Australian history, it was a bit white-washed and turned softer. I remember visiting Port Arthur fifteen years ago, and the stories that you were told were a lot more honest and gritty. Not like the ones that are told now…

<- More non-fictionMore Australian history ->

Image source: Abebooks

Nice Guy Type by Sean Doolittle

Overview
Murder and Mayhem in Muskego: Jordan, Jon & Ruth, Phillips, Gary,  Richardson, Kat: Amazon.com.au: Books

Title: Nice Guy Type
Author: Sean Doolittle
In: Murder and Mayhem in Muskego (Jon & Ruth Jordan)
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Crime, Ghosts
Dates read: 15th August 2021
Pace: Fast
Format: Short story
Publisher: Down and Out Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: “Take the next block.”

Synopsis

There’s always the “nice guy type”. Even in death, but, as always seems to happen with the “nice guy”, they’re not always that nice…

Thoughts

Oh wow. There are so many layers of devious and revenge in this story. Which is surprising considering how short this story actually is. And, although I don’t agree with ANY of the characters’ actions… I also kind of understand some of them.

I seriously hate that saying “nice guys finish last”. Mostly because those “nice guys” generally turn out to be… Well, not nice. That is definitely the case in this story… not so nice and most definitely not finishing last.

Although this story involved a whole heap of violence and discomfort… I actually found it slightly sassy. In that humorous, but not outright funny way. I may just be a little sick and twisted though…

<- Undying LoveKross Kill ->

Image source: Amazon

Undying Love by Hilary Davidson

Overview
Murder and Mayhem in Muskego: Jordan, Jon & Ruth, Phillips, Gary,  Richardson, Kat: Amazon.com.au: Books

Title: Undying Love
Author: Hilary Davidson
In: Murder and Mayhem in Muskego (Jon & Ruth Jordan)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Crime, Ghosts
Dates read: 13th August 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Down and Out Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: She lived down the street from us.

Synopsis

He’s got a ferryman trying to take him to the other side. But instead, he wants to find out why there is a knife protruding from his chest. And maybe, just maybe, protect his wife from the same fate.

Thoughts

I kind of guessed that the marriage that takes centre stage in this story wasn’t quite as picturesque as one would hope and imagine. That the murder that takes centre stage probably had something to do with the marriage.  It was not quite what I had expected… but I was still right. Kind of.

I got a pretty serious Ghosts of Christmas feeling from this story. There was just something about starting a story with a man with a giant white beard that made me feel… nostalgic for that great Charles Dickens tale. And it’s always fun to wax nostalgic about things. Alright, it’s all about a murder and there was no Christmas feel to this whatsoever. But it still made me feel somewhat nostalgic.

This really wasn’t quite a romantic story, but I did like the ties that are strong even in death. Even if those ties are kind of what caused your own death… there is still that feeling of consistency even in the horrors that we afflict on one another. It might not be a great story for love, but this was certainly an intriguing one.

<- SliderNice Guy Type ->

Image source: Amazon

Slider by Reed Farrel Coleman

Overview
Murder and Mayhem in Muskego: Jordan, Jon & Ruth, Phillips, Gary,  Richardson, Kat: Amazon.com.au: Books

Title: Slider
Author: Reed Farrel Coleman
In: Murder and Mayhem in Muskego (Jon & Ruth Jordan)
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Crime
Dates read: 6th August 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Short story
Publisher: Down and Out Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: I got a shield to prove it and everything.

Synopsis

A body washes up on the shore, sparking memories of a time long ago. As the tale unravels, the past and present combine.

Thoughts

I loved the disjointed nature of this story. It had “chapters” that were incredibly short (sometimes only 2 sentences). But they added to this feeling of multiple stories, multiple tales that pull you in.

This whole story has an incredibly vague, hazy feel to it. Even when you find out who the culprit is, you’re not entirely sure if it’s the “true” culprit. The one that actually did it. Things aren’t often tied up in a neat little bow… and this story really drives that fact home.

I really enjoyed how everything pulls together at the end of this story. And how you just have so many questions (and much enjoyment) when you turn that final page. Definitely intriguing and engaging.

<- Pattern RecognitionUndying Love ->

Image source: Amazon

The Ammonite Violin (Murder Ballad No. 4) by Caitlin R. Kiernan

Overview
Hauntings: Datlow, Ellen: 9781616960889: Amazon.com: Books

Title: The Ammonite Violin (Murder Ballad No. 4)
Author: Caitlin R. Kiernan
In: Hauntings (Ellen Datlow)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Crime, Horror
Dates read: 26th July 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Tachyon
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: She wonders how it will affect the sound, those five ancient stones, how they might warp and alter this violin’s voice.

Synopsis

He’s a collector. The only thing? One collection is on public display… and then the other? Well, that one is just haunting.

Thoughts

You know that a story is going to be creepy when the lead character is called The Collector. And when the whole story is written from this eerie birds eye point of view. But, it was kind of much more intense than I had expected….

There is always something a bit eerie about Kiernan’s writing. Yet, I found this one particularly bad. Probably because The Collector is a serial killer. And you spend the whole time wondering who the next victim will be. And what the obsession with the violin is.

Nothing about this story is comfortable. But it was intriguing. And I loved that uncomfortable feeling that lingers at the end. Truly haunting.

<- Nothing Will Hurt YouHaunted ->

Image source: Amazon

Hollywood Lanes by Megan Abbott

Overview
Murder and Mayhem in Muskego: Jordan, Jon & Ruth, Phillips, Gary,  Richardson, Kat: Amazon.com.au: Books

Title: Hollywood Lanes
Author: Megan Abbott
In: Murder and Mayhem in Muskego (Jon & Ruth Jordan)
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Crime, Thriller
Dates read: 31st March 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Short story
Publisher: Down and Out Books
Year: 2012
5th sentence, 74th page: She was talking about Sherry.

Synopsis

Hollywood Lanes is a bowling alley filled with a lot of drama and intrigue. But that doesn’t mean that it’s a positive place to be.

Thoughts

I knew from the collection that I found this short story in that there would be a death at some point in this story. What I didn’t predict was the form of death and the victim. Or how the story would get there. It was seriously enjoyable and a fun little ride.

One of the aspects of this story that I thoroughly enjoyed was the flickering point of views. It made this story a little more difficult to follow in some ways and added to the confusion of the tale. All of which works well for a crime and thriller story.

I’m completely intrigued by this short story. It is one that I will probably read again, find some new aspects that I missed in the last read through. It’s a fun adventure, and one that I found I enjoyed far more than expected, particularly since it’s a genre that I don’t normally read much in.

<- Murder and Mayhem in MuskegoPattern Recognition ->

Image source: Amazon

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Overview
Poirot - Murder On The Orient Express [Illustrated Deluxe Edition]  :HarperCollins Australia

Title: Murder on the Orient Express
Author: Agatha Christie
Series: Hercule Poirot #10
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Crime, Mystery
Dates read: 10th – 24th November 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Harper Collins
Year: 1934
5th sentence, 74th page: This is where I’m supposed to go all goosefleshy down the back.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

‘The murderer is with us – on the train now…’

Just after midnight, a snowstorm stops the famous Orient Express in its tracks. A passenger is brutally murdered, and the luxurious train is no longer a place of safety. Everyone is a suspect.

This illustrated edition contains the complete text of Agatha Christie’s II Murder on the Orient Express, II together with 200 glorious production paintings and sumptuous photos from the new film, directed by Kenneth Branagh.

Thoughts

Wow. This was a pretty, seriously intense novel. I knew that it probably would be, considering it’s so damn well-known and popular. But I really didn’t expect… this level of awesomeness. Now I just desperately want more of these books on my shelves!

Recently, I’ve been watching some Agatha Christie movies with one of my clients. I can never guess who the culprit is in these (all except one thus far have come as a complete shock). This is such a wonderfully new experience for my crazy brain that I was looking forward to trying to match my wits to this storyline. And I couldn’t predict this either, every time I thought that I might be beginning to put all of the puzzle pieces together… Christie threw another curveball my way. It was brilliant and wonderful.

One of the things about this story that I did struggle with was the amount of characters. I actually struggled to keep all of the pieces in my brain and keep track of who was who. What the motives were. What the evidence was… I’ve been assured that that’s unique to this Hercule Poirot story, but it was certainly a little bit difficult. I’m just grateful that I had the movie edition of this book, so there were many pictures to help me sort out what exactly was happening…

The thing that I loved the most about this was that I just couldn’t predict what was going to happen. This surprise, partnered with the humour and Christie’s ability to completely change register and language style completely hooked me. I am most certainly in love with this and can’t wait to get my hands on some more Agatha Christie novels…

<- Lord Edgware DiesThree Act Tragedy ->

Image source: HarperCollins Australia

Death in Daylesford by Kerry Greenwood

Overview
Death in Daylesford, The New Phryne Fisher Mystery by Kerry Greenwood |  9781743310342 | Booktopia

Title: Death in Daylesford
Author: Kerry Greenwood
Series: Phryne Fisher #21
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Cozy mysteryCrime, Historical fiction, Mystery
Dates read: 11th – 13th October 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Year: 2020
5th sentence, 74th page: She indicated the cloche.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

Surrounded by secrets, great and small, the formidable Miss Phryne Fisher returns to vanquish injustice.

When a mysterious invitation arrives for Miss Phryne Fisher from an unknown Captain Herbert Spencer, Phryne’s curiosity is excited. Spencer runs a retreat in Victoria’s spa country for shell-shocked soldiers of the First World War. It’s a cause after Phryne’s own heart but what could Spencer want from her?

Phryne and the faithful Dot view their spa sojourn as a short holiday but are quickly thrown in the midst of disturbing Highland gatherings, disappearing women, murder and the mystery of the Temperance Hotel.

Meanwhile, Cec, Bert and Tinker find a young woman floating face down in the harbour, dead. Tinker and Phryne’s resilient adopted daughters, Jane ad Ruth, decide to solve what appears to be a heinous crime.

Disappearances, murder, bombs, booty-traps and strange goings-on keep Miss Phryne Fisher right in the middle of her most exciting adventure.

Thoughts

I received this book as an ARC that I needed to review. I have never read any Phryne Fisher books and I honestly had absolutely no idea what to expect. Particularly since this is the twenty-first book in the series…

As a cozy mystery, I was expecting one cute and intriguing mystery to happen – alright, cute probably isn’t the right word, after all, they still tend to be murders or some such. What I didn’t expect, or anticipate was the fact that there would be three consecutive mysteries occurring. It created a number of parallel storylines to follow that I just adored and found absolutely beguiling. This is definitely the kind of mystery that I love to have on my shelves. And I seriously look forward to adding more in when I get the chance!

Not only did I seriously enjoy the setting of this story, but I also thoroughly loved the characters as well. Phryne Fisher is a woman full of character and gumption. She’s not afraid of… well, anything and she is exactly what I look for in a slightly zany and wonderfully independent lead character. But, you add to that her faithful companion Dot, and the zany adoptive family that she leaves at home… yeah, this is a group of individuals that I want to get to know better!

Finally, to top off the amazing storyline and characters, there is the setting. I don’t have the pleasure of reading many stories based in Australia. I even less commonly have the pleasure of reading stories which feature Australia in the 1920s… I just couldn’t look away, and nor did I wish to. A fantastic mystery, brilliant writing, and a totally unique setting that I wish we had more of. What more could you want in a book?

<- Murder and MendelssohnMore Kerry Greenwood ->

Image source: Booktopia

Veiled Enchantments by Deborah Blake

Overview
Veiled Enchantments (Veiled Magic, #3) by Deborah Blake

Title: Veiled Enchantments
Author: Deborah Blake
Series: Veiled Magic #3
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Crime, Paranormal fantasy, Witches
Dates read: 23rd September 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: eBook, Novel
Publisher: Deborah Blake
Year: 2018
5th sentence, 74th page: These days the Ulf are partially a matter of status, but there is also a political component.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

In this exciting novel in the Veiled Magic series, Witch and police officer Donata Santori travels to Maine to help solve a deadly mystery, where her magical abilities are tested like never before.

BB Still reeling from her unwitting involvement in murder and subsequent break up with a half-Dragon art forger, Witch-cop Donata Santori is grateful for the distraction when her ex-lover requests her help. Not only are Magnus’s beloved dead suddenly haunting the Ulfhednar shapechangers in his tiny rural hometown in Maine, their patron god Odin has turned his back on them, and the members of their once tight-knit enclave are at each other’s throats. Literally. BB

Magnus is relying on Donata’s experience in dealing with the gods, along with her magical ability to summon the dead, to help him unravel this mystery in time to save his clan. Donata only hopes to survive the ordeal so she can return home to the city and her quiet job at the precinct.

But first, she must discover who or what is behind the terrible attacks on the Ulfhednar. And the clock is ticking, in more ways than one…

Thoughts

I didn’t really love the second book in the Veiled Magic series. I just didn’t feel as connected to peter as Magnus, and found him to be a bit of a pain in the butt. It didn’t help that I wasn’t in the mood to read an ebook. But Veiled Enchantments completely redeemed this series for me. It was a fantastic ending to the trilogy and just thoroughly enjoyable. I love how it ends with this feeling of things working out, but still the potential for a lot of mayhem and nonsense in the future…

This novel redeemed the series so much for me that I actually read it entirely in one sitting. I thought that I’d open my kobo and just read a few chapters before bed. And then… a bad habit I should really stop. But how can you when the story is just this good?

I thought that Donata and Magnus were just fantastic as a couple in this story. And I loved getting to know more about his family and way of life. Not quite what I had expected from his appearances in past books… but most definitely what I needed. I love when a character surprises you like that and just takes the story to a whole other level that you weren’t expecting.

This is definitely a story that I would read again – and a series that I would also pick up again now that I know I enjoy the ending of it all…

<- Veiled MenaceMore Deborah Blake ->

Image source: Goodreads

206 Bones by Kathy Reichs

Overview
206 Bones by Kathy Reichs - Penguin Books Australia

Title: 206 Bones
Author: Kathy Reichs
Series: Temperance Brennan #12
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Anthropology, Crime, Science, Strong women
Dates read: 10th July – 14th August 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Arrow
Year: 2009
5th sentence, 74th page: Perhaps that, too, was contributing to my newfound serenity.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

When Dr. Temperance Brennan is accused of mishandling the autopsy of a missing heiress, a routine case swiftly turns sinister. But before Tempe can get to the one man with the information she needs, he turns up dead.

In Montreal, three elderly women are found murdered, their bodies brutally discarded. Even though the clues don’t add up, Tempe is certain of a link between their deaths and that of the heiress.

Has Tempe made grave errors, or is she being sabotaged by an unseen enemy? What is frighteningly clear is that more than just Tempe’s career is at stake. Her life is also at risk.

Thoughts

This probably wasn’t my favourite Temperance Brennan novel thus far. I had to keep stopping and starting. And I really didn’t get swept away in trying to figure out the culprit from the very beginning like I usually do. Not to say that it wasn’t still a fantastic novel. It just wasn’t quite as amazing as some of the other books in this series. It felt a little like a connector story – at least that’s what I found.

Although I wasn’t immediately swept away by 206 Bones, I did like that this took a bit of a departure from the style of the other novels in the series. For starters, it begins with Tempe being trapped. And then proceeds to flash between two time frames. Not necessarily a format and tactic that I love all the time in a novel. But it did work really well for this story line. After all, instead of trying to figure out who the murderer was, you spend a lot of time wondering who attacked Tempe. It added an extra, unexpected layer of mystery to the storyline.

I did love the fact that you pretty much know part of the ending of the story before you actually know the beginning. That, partnered with the main crime was quite intriguing. After all, I haven’t yet read a series or crime novel that focuses on the murders of elderly women. Which I feel like there should probably be more – they’re a fairly vulnerable group of people.

Although I liked the murder story and the overall rebuilding (I think) of Ryan and Tempe’s relationship. I seriously love that all throughout, you know that someone is out to get Tempe and you are constantly wondering who it is. Why. And just what is going to send them over the edge and driving an individual to commit such a crime.

<- Devil BonesSpider Bones ->

Image source: Penguin Books Australia