Sunday, 10 February 2019

Tea and treats on a bright, chilly morning...

Winter has returned, so it’s perfect weather to enjoy a cup of steaming chai and a delicious Date Bar.  I’m happy the weather is once again bright and cold, as I don’t feel we’ve had much of a winter so far (I know I’m in the minority when I express some sadness over that - clearly people were thrilled when Wiarton Willie did not see his shadow last weekend, predicting an early spring!).  I will go out for a long walk when I finish my post, as I just got notification that I have another hold ready to pick up at the library.
I read two books last week.  The first is She Lies in Wait, a debut novel by British author Gytha Lodge.  It must have been recommended in an e-newsletter, and I was quite happy to get it from the library, as I’m always on the lookout for a new mystery writer.  This novel focuses on seven teenagers who go camping one summer evening, but only six return. Thirty years later, a body is discovered in a hideaway that only these teens knew about, so which of them is the guilty one?  Fifteen-year-old Topaz heads out for a night of camping and partying with her best female friends and their older male friends. Reluctantly, her fourteen-year-old sister, Aurora, has to tag along. Brilliant, spacey Aurora is both thrilled to be included in the group and bored with them because she doesn’t fit in.  When she is discovered missing by one of the group at dawn, they search around their campsite but she is nowhere to be found. After an exhaustive and extensive search by police and community, the case is filed away as open but as-yet unsolved. Thirty years later, a body is discovered in the woods and DCI Sheens is heading the investigation.  When it turns out that the body is Aurora, Sheens must go back and check every detail of the original investigation to find out what may have been missed and reinterview everyone to find the truth. Sheens was a new police graduate at the time of the original investigation, and he also knew the teens in the group from school, although he was a bit older, so going back over the original case brings up some long-forgotten personal memories for him as well.  As he and his team dig deeper into the stories of the suspects, they must use every bit of training they received to sort through the lies to get to the truth and find the killer before he or she silences another witness. This appears to be the first in what will be a new series featuring Sheens and his team, and it was a solid police procedural. It wasn’t brilliant, but the writing was good and it had a complex enough, though still credible, plot to keep me interested.  It was much like Peter Robinson’s middle-of-the-road mysteries, not as good as the ones that really “shine”, but still telling a decent story while also developing the characters of the team members and building relationships between them. I’m sure these will be good books, and I will look for more in this series, but, in my opinion, they are not stellar reads like The Widow, which was the debut novel by Fiona Barton (by the way, her now book just came out and I can’t wait to read it!!)
And I read a juvenile thriller by Linwood Barclay, Escape, the follow-up to Silver BIrch nominee, Chase, and it was awesome!  I am not a huge fan of Barclay’s adult thrillers, mainly set in Promise Falls and featuring Dave Harwood, but these two juvenile thrillers were unputdownable!  My post for the first book, which I finished just before New Year’s, read:
...this is his first book written for kids, and it was a good one. Chipper is a genetically modified spy dog who escapes The Institute and certain termination.  Jeff Conway is a twelve-year-old boy living and working at his Aunt Flo’s fishing camp. He misses his dead parents, his old life, and the dog he had to give away when he moved to the camp. When Chipper shows up at the camp, Jeff becomes involved in a most dangerous game that, if lost, could cost both their lives.  This page-turner was well-written, with interesting plot and characters. The only problem was that it was too short - it actually did end with the words “To be continued…”, and there is a second book available, Escape, which I think I need to purchase for my school library, as any student who reads this one will be sure to want to know what happens next!
Well, I found out what happens next, and boy oh boy, what a roller coaster ride! Although Jeff manages to escape with Chipper, where can they go and how will they live? And along the way, we, along with Jeff and Chipper, wonder who they can trust and what they can believe. I was very pleased with this novel and feel that maybe Barclay has found a new niche.  I don’t think there will be a continuation of this story, but maybe he will write other juvenile thrillers with different plots and characters.
That’s all for today.  Have a wonderful day, get outside and enjoy the clear weather, and don’t forget to keep reading!
Bye for now… Julie

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