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books and reading

The Devil of Nanking

I’ve read a few of Mo Hayder’s books in the Jack Caffrey series, starting with Birdman, then The Treatment, then Ritual. I plan on finishing those, but when I discovered this one-off book that also was set in Japan (to fulfill a PopSugar Reading Challenge prompt), I was pretty excited. Someone I follow on bookstagram (here I am: https://www.instagram.com/being_fictional/) posted it, and thankfully it was 1.99 on Kindle, so I snatched it up.

From Goodreads: Like the thrillers of Thomas Harris and Philip Kerr, Mo Hayder’s riveting new novel animates the dark corners of modern history. The solitary Englishwoman Grey comes to Japan looking for a rare piece of footage that is said to document a particularly monstrous episode of the 1937 Nanking Massacre. Her quest will take her to a reclusive scholar and a wheelchair-bound gangster who clings to life with the aid of a mysterious elixir, and to a handsome American whose interest in Grey may be more sinister than romantic. The result is a work of spine-chilling suspense, masterful historical detail, and otherworldly beauty.

Fair warning that Mo Hayder’s books are graphic, and this one is no exception. My goodness. It’s definitely not for the weak-stomached. That said, it was a great story. I couldn’t put this down. Once Grey stumbles upon some answers, and secrets start being revealed, I was completely sucked in and couldn’t read fast enough to see what the “truth” was. If you can handle graphic content, I definitely recommend this one.

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books and reading

Ritual

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At some point, someone told me about this great series by a British author who writes gruesome books about a police detective. I reviewed Birdman. Jack Caffrey is flawed and traumatized by the kidnapping and presumed murder of his brother when they were just kids. Jack lives near the man who he believes took his brother. However, this finds Jack in a new location and a fresh start.

Having left London, he’s now in Bristol working on their police force. He meets a police diver, Phoebe AKA Flea, who has found a hand in a body of water. Just a hand. The police have to start digging to find the truth of whether or not the owner of the hand is still alive. Flea and Caffrey run parallel in this book because it’s not her job to find the truth, but the people they know intersect as the story progresses. Jack interviews Flea’s friend, unaware to them both this person has had contact with them both. Flea also has a side story about the death of her parents in a tragic accident and her need to find out what happened.

These books are gruesome, and you really do need to read them in order to understand the depth of Jack’s character and what he’s trying to move past. I will say some plot threads that existed in the second book were abandoned here, so I’m hoping they aren’t lost forever. There are several more books to get to, so I’m hoping we get a bit of a resolution at some point.

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books and reading

Series I’m Working On

I  have a terrible habit of starting a book series and then never going back to it. Because I do the book challenge each year, I will start a series by reading the first book because it fits into a prompt, but then I get distracted and don’t continue the series. Every few years, I make a point to wrap up any series that I’ve started, whether through the book challenge or not.

This year I’m finally finishing The Lunar Chronicles (Cinder review here) and The Dublin Murder Squad (In the Woods review here and The Likeness review here).  I have really enjoyed both of them, up to the point I’m at. Last year, I started a few more series, but I am making an effort to wrap up everything. Here is what I’m working on:

  • The Jackson Brodie books by Kate Atkinson. I have read the first three and am currently working on the fourth.
  • Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi
  • The Armand Gamache books by Louise Penny. I have read the first two. These are so much fun to read, given that they involve murder. The people of Three Pines are charming, and Gamache is a great investigator.
  • The Harry Hole books by Jo Nesbo. I read The Bat this year.
  • The Jack Caffery series by Mo Hayder. I’ve read the first two (Birdman review) and have really enjoyed them, but they are definitely some of the more graphic police detective books I’ve read.
  • The Penny Green books by Emily Organ. (Limelight review). I discovered her by accident, honestly. I needed a book with a fruit or vegetable in the title and searched my Kindle for various fruits and stumbled upon lime. I have gotten most of her books for free and have read the first two. They are a lot of fun. Penny is a reporter in 1800s England works closely with the police to solve murders. They are really well-written and clever.
  • The Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard. (Red Queen review). I’m really iffy about this one. There is a giant plot hole in Red Queen and it still irritates me. But I’ve been told that the rest of the books are better, so I’m giving them another chance.
  • The Charlotte Holmes series by Brittany Cavallaro. I listened to A Study in Charlotte a couple summers ago and really enjoyed it. It’s a bit of a modern Sherlock Holmes Dr. Watson series (involving their descendants) and is more complex than I was expecting.
  • The Broken Earth series by NK Jemisin. The Fifth Season review. I really liked this one even though fantasy isn’t my favorite genre.
  • The Inheritance series also by NK Jemisin. I didn’t like this one as much, but I’m going to stick with it.

Between finishing all these series and the PopSugar reading challenge, I’m going to be very busy this year trying to complete them all, but I look forward to it.

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books and reading

Birdman

I heard about this book at some point and all I remember hearing was that it was really graphic. And yea. Wow. Not the worst I’ve ever read, but definitely not for the faint of heart. That said, it’s a great book, and I was sucked in really quickly. I like a good detective story, and they are hard to find. I’m glad to say there are seven books in this series, but it’s also great because the first book is pretty well complete and you can read one without having to read the rest.

Jack Caffrey is a detective with a past. When he was a child, his brother went missing and was never found again. Jack lives in the same house, his parents are estranged, and he struggles with the loss of his brother. Jack is convinced his neighbor was the one who kidnapped his brother, but he can’t prove it. The neighbor constantly taunts Jack, not making the situation any easier. This plot line might be carried through the rest of the series, I don’t know. But the main plot is wrapped up by the end of the book.

Several prostitutes turn up dead with birds sewn into their chests. Yep. It’s pretty awful. The police have a few leads, but with the victims being ones who don’t have a lot of family or anyone reporting them missing, it’s hard to stay on top of the situation. Jack and his partner are able to put some pieces together, but the killer keeps eluding them. I will say that everything is solved (sorry, but I don’t think that’s really a spoiler) but I will give you zero clues as to who is behind this killing.

The ending is very tense, and I couldn’t put the book down, waiting to find out the fates of some of the characters. The characters aren’t as well developed as other books, but I imagine over the course of the series, you get to know Jack very well.