Review: The Dry by Jane Harper

The Dry by Jane Harper
The Dry
by Jane Harper

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Believe the hype. This book is just as good as everyone says it is.


A small town hides big secrets in this atmospheric, page-turning debut mystery by an award-winning new author.

After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.

Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets.


Everyone kept telling me how good this was but did I listen? I really wish I had as this book is absolutely brilliant especially when you consider it’s the author’s first. It may not have a wholly original plot (is there an original murder mystery?) or be particularly fast paced, but it has some great characterization and such a wonderful sense of atmosphere that it’s difficult to put down.

The setting of a small farming town in Australia is absolutely central to this story and for me was by far the highlight. There has been a long term drought, the weather is hot and so are the tempers creating such a powerful atmosphere. The whole town seems ready to ignite with the smallest little spark and it’s a close knit community where everyone knows everyone’s business and grudges are never forgotten.

This is the town where policeman Aaron Falk grew up before he was driven out of town. He’s forced to return when childhood best friend Luke becomes the victim in a triple shooting. The police believe it to be a murder suicide, he killed his wife and son before turning the gun on himself, but his parents aren’t so sure. They convince Falk to stick around for a few days and look into things. As he works with the local policeman Raco he also begins to have his doubts that everything is as it seems but what motive could someone have for killing them and how long can Falk stick around in a town where almost everyone seems to hate him.

There isn’t a huge amount of action in this story but it’s still gripping reading. Aaron Falk makes for an intriguing main character with a dark past. Yep it’s a little cliched, detective forced to return home and face his past while investigating a case, but Harper does it so well that you don’t mind. I particularly liked that the author didn’t go down the route of lone detective going against the authorities but instead had Falk forming a partnership with the local police officer and the relationship between them was brilliant.

I loved the methodical nature of their investigation and how they followed the clues, interviewed witnesses and suspects to get to the truth. There isn’t any super high tech forensics or moment of inspiration but rather a good old fashioned investigation where one clue leads to the next. That’s not to say there isn’t the odd red herring or that it’s easy to guess the ending as this story certainly keeps you guessing. I read a lot of mysteries and thrillers but I can honestly say the ending of this surprised me.

If I had one small niggle, and this is just my personal preference rather than a fault with the story, it’s that I felt the author wrapped up a little too much. That’s not to say everything is fully resolved, there is a lot that’s left open (it is the first book in a series after all), but there was one answer in particular that I didn’t want.

This is definitely one I’d recommend if you’re looking for a great mystery that may not be fast paced but is absolutely packed full of atmosphere and tension. I can see Harper becoming one of my favorite authors.

Review: Yesterday by Felicia Yap

YesterdayYesterday by Felicia Yap

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Despite having very high hopes for this book I have to confess that I very nearly gave up on it on more than one occasion. I am happy that I continued on with it to the end but I must admit that I found it really hard going.

The premise of this story sounds so good, how do you solve a crime if you can’t remember anything other than the last 24 hours, but for me it was this central premise that just didn’t work. I absolutely love stories about amnesia and memory loss and some of my all time favourite reads feature this plot device. I’m fascinated by the question of how much of who you are is determined by your memories and experiences and how different you would be without them but I felt like this book never really touched on this.

The story is set in an alternate reality where everyone is split into two classes, Mono’s and Duo’s. Mono’s can remember only the day before while Duo’s can recall the last two days. As the famous saying goes “in the kingdom of the blind, the one eyed man is king” and in this case it is the Duo’s with their additional day of memories who hold the positions of power while the Mono’s are considered second class citizens. Everyone however keeps track of the facts and major events of their lives in their iDiaries.

It is in this alternate reality that we are given a murder mystery. The body of a woman is found in the river and it is up to detective Hans, a mono masquerading as a duo, to solve the case before the day is out and his memories are lost.

The story is told from the points of view of Hans, the diary of the victim Sophie and mono/duo couple Mark and Claire who become involved in the investigation. These four points of view, some jumps back and forward in time combined with trying to understand this alternate reality is perhaps a bit much but you do eventually get into it.

In the beginning I did find the idea of this alternate reality fascinating but for me it quickly became frustrating and irritating. I think I found it difficult to accept that this world could be so similar to ours. There are the same companies (Apple), similar technological developments (the internet) and even the same type of society but everything just seems so cold and emotionless. The iDiaries are effectively used as a replacement for real memories and whenever anyone is asked a question about their past they simply refer to them (at one point I swore that if one more character said “let me just check that in my iDiary” I would scream). It seemed at times just a bit of a gimmick rather than a genuine attempt to create an alternate world (although I suppose it would probably be too much to try and create a completely different world and incorporate a murder mystery).

There is the interesting point over what constitutes a fact, which can be learned and remembered in this world, but I don’t think the author explored this enough and more could definitely be made of it. When is something really a fact and when is it just someone’s opinion? If you’re basing your “facts” on something someone wrote down is there not a danger they could be at best biased and at worst open to manipulation? If you could choose which facts you learn would you omit the ones you don’t like? I really would have loved more exploration of all of these questions.

The murder mystery element of the book is not particularly inspired either. There’s nothing much unique about it other than the detective having a limited time to complete his investigation. Even then a lot of the investigation seems to be reading the diary of the victim which reveals most of the events leading up to the murder and then just verifying whether they are true.

Detective Hans is probably the most likeable of the characters in the book and there are elements of his character and behaviour that felt a little bit Sherlock Holmes inspired, his determination to learn every fact, technique and other bit of knowledge he can for example. The other characters however, victim included, were not even remotely likeable something which I always struggle with and part of the reason I nearly gave up on this story on more than one occasion.

Husband Mark, is a cheat and a liar, a famous writer and wanna be politician. As a duo he sees himself as superior to everyone else. Wife Claire is a whiny, moany, emotional wreck who seriously needs to grow some back bone and victim Sophie comes across as nasty and vengeful. I genuinely couldn’t care less about any of them, never mind who the murderer was.

The split of the narrative between the characters is a little uneven and for some reason Mark and Claire seem to disappear for a big chunk in the middle of the book but actually this is when the story picked up for me. Sophie’s diary and Hans investigation were much more interesting and the book gathered a bit more pace. I found myself wondering whether the story would have been better if it had been wholly from Hans point of view.

When they did reappear however it turned out to be one of the most gripping and touching scenes of the novel before we reached the final twist which wasn’t a total surprise but made up for a lot of what came early on. I do wish the author had been a little briefer in the final exposition (I don’t want things explained to me in detail) but it did wrap everything up.

Overall, I’d probably rate it as an okay read rather than anything special but that may be down to my general dislike of unlikeable and unreliable narrators and complete inability to accept this parallel world. Certainly others have loved it so it may be worth a try.

Thanks to NetGalley and the Publisher for providing me with an ARC. I wish I could have given a more positive review.

Review: Two Nights by Kathy Reichs

Two NightsTwo Nights
by Kathy Reichs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s been far too long since I read a book like this. I’m really hoping that contrary to the description the author changes her mind and turns this into a series as I definitely want more of Sunday Night & co.


Meet Sunday Night, a woman with physical and psychological scars, and a killer instinct… 

Sunnie has spent years running from her past, burying secrets and building a life in which she needs no one and feels nothing. But a girl has gone missing, lost in the chaos of a bomb explosion, and the family needs Sunnie s help.

Is the girl dead? Did someone take her? If she is out there, why doesn’t she want to be found? It’s time for Sunnie to face her own demons because they just might lead her to the truth about what really happened all those years ago.


Before I start I should probably say that I’ve never read a single book by Reichs and I should also probably say that I’ve never watched the TV show Bones either so if you’re wondering how this compares I’m afraid I can’t tell you. What I can tell you however is that this is a very enjoyable read. Fast paced and action packed but with a lot of detail and some great writing and dialogue, it’s difficult to put down.

It’s one of those very American, cliche ridden stories about an ex cop with a bad attitude who’s convinced to investigate the disappearance of a teenage girl. Sunday Night (yes that is really her name but it totally makes sense if you read the book) is definitely my kind of character. She has the troubled past which she’s burying deep, problems with authority, a need to be constantly armed and a great way with one liners. She’s a risk taker with absolutely no patience and a very short fuse. Basically she’s your usual fictional PI and is absolutely brilliant to read.

The story itself is pretty fast paced with a lot of action and a fairly high body count. There’s terrorism, murder, religious fanatics, child abuse (trigger warning) and a lot of violence and bad language so it’s not for the faint of heart (I’m not sure what it says about me that I love this type of read). Essentially though it follows Sunday as she follows the clues to find out what happened to a missing girl and resolves some of the demons from her past.

The methodical and logical way the author lays it all out is very well done and completely believable. There’s very little in the way of luck or chance, which is often the case in these types of stories, but rather a proper investigation where one clue leads to the next and the next and when Sunday runs out of clues she starts rattling some cages until one comes to her. She’s very tech savvy, open to a bit of breaking and entering and even sets the odd ambush to get what she wants. I did wonder how she could possibly know as much as she did but decided just to go with it.

The other characters in the story are also a little bit cliched (the ruthless rich client, her mentor Beau who keeps trying to help her, the disgruntled detective who doesn’t want her working his case) but they are all executed well and I just took them as part of the fun. Their interactions with Sunnie were probably the highlight of the story for me as there’s a lot of banter and her bad attitude and knack for a good one liner make for some real laugh out loud moments.

There were a few elements of the story that were a little unbelievable and it’s probably not the most unique plot but it is enjoyable. Perfect if you’re looking for something action packed, pretty violent and with a main character who could probably give Jack Reacher a run for his money.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. As always all thoughts are my own.

Review: The Trespasser by Tana French

The Trespasser (Dublin Murder Squad #6)The Trespasser by Tana French

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The latest book in Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series is possibly my favorite so far. It’s not a fast paced story with action on every page (if you’re looking for that try a different author) but a character driven, complex murder mystery with some of the most intense scenes I’ve ever come across.

It definitely reminded me just what I love so much about her writing.Read More »

Review: Love You to Death by Caroline Mitchell

Love You To Death (Detective Ruby Preston #1)Love You To Death by Caroline Mitchell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my first book by Caroline Mitchell but I don’t think it’ll be my last.

While I had some doubts about certain aspects of the story and the characters it’s an exciting police procedural with plenty of action and twists that will keep you turning those pages till the very end. I do love a detective story with an interesting lead and DS Ruby Preston is most definitely that.

Read More »

Book Review: The Girl in the Ice by Robert Bryndza

The Girl In The Ice (DCI Erika Foster, #1)The Girl In The Ice by Robert Bryndza

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Unlike a lot of people who have discovered Robert Bryndza for the first time through this story and were surprised to hear he had previously written romantic comedy, I’ve been reading Robert’s books for a while and was very shocked to hear he’d written a detective story.

I’m a big fan of his Coco Pinchard series and have loved his eccentric cast of characters and their completely insane actions so I wasn’t sure how he would tackle a who dunit. It seemed like a pretty big leap to me but somehow he’s managed to do it brilliantly.

There are some similarities, the Eastern European elements, the diverse mix of characters and the fact that everyone seems to smoke 🙂 but that’s pretty much it. It’s very much your traditional police procedural about the murder of a young woman and while there is the odd joke he definitely takes the whole thing very seriously.

It’s well written, with some great characters and a story that keeps you turning the pages late into the night.

Synopsis (from GoodReads)

Her eyes are wide open. Her lips parted as if to speak. Her dead body frozen in the ice…She is not the only one.

When a young boy discovers the body of a woman beneath a thick sheet of ice in a South London park, Detective Erika Foster is called in to lead the murder investigation.

The victim, a beautiful young socialite, appeared to have the perfect life. Yet when Erika begins to dig deeper, she starts to connect the dots between the murder and the killings of three prostitutes, all found strangled, hands bound and dumped in water around London.

What dark secrets is the girl in the ice hiding?

As Erika inches closer to uncovering the truth, the killer is closing in on Erika.

The last investigation Erika led went badly wrong… resulting in the death of her husband. With her career hanging by a thread, Erika must now battle her own personal demons as well as a killer more deadly than any she’s faced before. But will she get to him before he strikes again?


I have to admit I was a bit wary coming into this book as it’s rare for an author to move successfully from one genre to a completely different one. Somehow though Robert Bryndza has managed the switch from rom com to murder mystery fantastically well. I was very impressed and while I do love his Coco Pinchard series I think he’s definitely found his calling in crime fiction.

At the centre of the story is DCI Erika Foster, brought in after a period of absence from the force to lead the special task force investigating a high profile murder case. She’s told it’s because she’s good at her job but given her recent history it seems highly probable that she’s actually there as the fall guy should anything go wrong. Almost immediately she clashes with the other DCI on the investigation (DCI Sparks) who thinks he should be leading the case resulting in a lot of tension within the squad. Foster is in a difficult position with her bosses demanding results, the media looking for a story and the threat of being replaced if it all goes wrong.

I’ve read some criticism of Erika Foster, she’s too argumentative, some of her actions are ridiculous but I liked her a lot and thought that while a lot of her actions weren’t always the most sensible they fit with the character the author had created. There is a little bit of the detective stereotyping going on (the tough female cop who’ll go to any lengths to catch the bad guy) but it works and is kind of what you expect from this type of story. She’s in a difficult position but sticks to her guns and fights her corner.

What I thought really made this a good story though was the cast of supporting characters of which there are many. There are a few more stereotypes here too, the miserable colleague who’s out to stitch her up, the boss trying to pull her back in line, but there are also some pretty unique characters too. I particularly liked colleagues Crane, Moss and Woolfe but Ivy and Linda also made for interesting and unique additions. Every character is well defined and each has their attributes and flaws. As this is the first in the series, it is only an introduction to a lot of them and I think it will be interesting to see how they develop in subsequent books.

The story itself isn’t particularly unique but when it comes down to murder mystery there aren’t a lot of new ideas left. While it isn’t the most original I did think it was very well done and it did hook me. It’s not perfect but given the author is new to the genre I think the series definitely has potential.

Book Review: The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library #1)The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I kind of swithered between 3 and 4 stars but decided that I’d give it the benefit of the doubt as it’s Christmas and I suspect my enjoyment of it was reduced by the chaos around me at the moment.

This book is a mixture of different genres, fantasy, science fiction and steampunk with a bit of good old fashioned detective story thrown in for good measure so there is a lot going on. However the author balances all of these elements very well. It’s not perfect but it’s definitely got potential to be the start of a great series.


The story follows Irene, junior librarian at “The Library”. Her role is to travel to alternate worlds and seek out particular books to be added to the libraries collection.

Her latest mission, thrust upon her unexpectedly, is to seek out a copy of Grimm’s fairytales from an alternate which is very much like Victorian London. The main difference being that this world is infected with chaos (kind of like magic I suppose) which means the presence of Fae, Werewolves, Vampires and strange mechanical inventions.

It’s a world considered dangerous by the ordered and controlled librarians but Irene is assigned an assistant Kai to help her with her mission.

When they reach the world things are more complicated than they were expecting, the owner of the book has been murdered and the book stolen by an infamous thief. The race is on to track down the volume before anyone else can but there are other factions and societies who want the book and will go to any means to obtain it.


This book should have been right up my street. It’s about a librarian and books (what more do I need?) but for some reason it didn’t quite draw me in the way that I hoped it would.

The writing and characters are excellent. It did remind me a little of Jasper Fforde or Jodi Taylor in terms of style. It has that very British, formal, dry humour type feel to it which I do love.

The characters were very well described and well rounded. They all had their positives as well negative qualities. No one was perfect in anyway and there were chunks of good even in the villains.

I think where it lost me a little was the plot. It seemed at times like an awful lot of trouble to go to just for a book. I love my books and I understand that this is their vocation but I’m not sure I would be willing to do and put up with as much as they do. I found it difficult to be captivated by the hunt for a book.

The other thing which I thought made it a bit difficult to connect to was narrator Irene. As librarian she must be disciplined, in control and detached at all times. While I admire her dedication to her role it’s not easy to connect with someone so seemingly prim, proper and emotionless. My favourite moments of the story were probably those where she loses control or gets distracted and let’s her thoughts wander inappropriately, particularly in respect of her assistant.

Other characters were a bit more likeable and I have to admit to a soft spot for her apprentice Kai. I wasn’t too sure about him initially but loved him by the end. There is a lot of mystery around him which is fascinating and I can’t wait to see what happens with him next.

There was quite a lot of world building in this, the first in the series, which probably slowed things down a little but I think now that’s out of the way subsequent books will be better. I have the feeling that there is a lot more going on behind the scenes of the Library. There have been a few suggestions of a darker motive to it and some questions over the true motivations of the senior librarians so I will be interested to find out where the story goes next.

Thankfully I have the Masked City ready and waiting to start.