The Fourth Monkey

At some point, JD Barker followed me on Twitter, and I reciprocated. Through this exchange, I heard him discussing his book. So, I added it to my Amazon list and when the price dropped (sorry, man…I buy A LOT of books and can’t afford full price) I bought it, because why not? It sounded interesting, a police detective tries to solve a serial killer case, which is right up my alley.

The story is told from multiple perspectives, Porter (the cop), Emory (a teenage girl), Clair (only a couple chapters from her…another cop) and a diary. Porter is chasing a serial killer when he finally gets a break. The killer ends up dead, splattered by a bus. Sounds easy, right? The book follows a very twisty path of red herrings, various characters, plenty of bait and switch, and a few plot twists thrown into the mix. Normally, these types of narrative back and forths drive me nuts. And I admit that I knew something was up (it’s pretty easy to assume the mystery isn’t easily solved when you’ve only read 25% of the book), but I enjoyed my ride through the story.

The diary was the, um, best? part. It was a horrifying glimpse into the childhood of a killer, but it was shocking and kept me guessing. It was a bit disturbing at times, but I’ve read much worse. Right now, The Fourth Monkey and its sequel, The Fifth to Die, are $2.99 each on Amazon. I have pretty high expectations when it comes to creativity within a police procedural story, and this one hit the mark. Really enjoyed it.

Advertisements

Where the Crawdads Sing

I’m really skeptical about books that EVERYONE loves. They usually don’t live up to the hype because I have high expectations when it comes to books. I can’t stand anything cheesy or poorly written. Not that everything has to be “literature,” but I don’t want a book that relies on tropes, flat characters, and poor storytelling. So many books out there fall into this category, but I was glad to see that this one didn’t. It might not be worth every bit of hype, but I really enjoyed it and thought the language was superb.

The story is told following a young girl, Kya, growing up in a marsh swamp in the 1950s, but also in 1969 after a death happens in her part of the swamp. As you watch Kya grow up, deal with one devastation after another, find her path in the world, you are also learning about the young man who died. Immediately, you wonder if it was an accident, suicide, or a murder, but the details are slowly revealed as the story unfolds.

The language of the book really is beautiful, and you grow to respect and admire Kya. She deals with more hardships than just about anyone, abandoned over and over by those who claim to love her, she fends for herself at a young age, and turns into an amazing woman. The descriptions of the marsh life- plants, animals, water, weather- are so enveloping that your senses are drawn into the story as well. I don’t know much about the marsh life of North Carolina, nor do I really have any desire to go there, but this book is the next best thing. I can see why this is a book many people want to read.

The Likeness

If you have been following me at all, you know how particular I am about my murder mystery books. Most are crap. Let’s just lay it all on the table. When I find a book or an author worth my while, I’m pretty excited. When I read In the Woods a couple of years ago, I was hooked. Tana French wrote an excellent thriller that kept me guessing without using tired old tropes. For the record Robert Galbraith (AKA JK Rowling) writes great thrillers, too. Start with The Cuckoo’s Calling.

What’s clever about French’s books is they are connected but not direct sequels. The first book features two detectives, Rob and Cassie. The second book features Cassie and her superior, Frank. The third book (I peeked) features Frank but takes place in the past. So, there are familiar characters, but the plots aren’t directly hooked so I would say you could read them in any order.  A few things from the first book were mentioned in the second, but you don’t really need to understand them to follow the plot.

Cassie used to work undercover as a girl named Lexie Madison. Said Lexie turns up dead and happens to look exactly like Cassie. So, the police get creative and send Cassie back home with her four claiming innocence roommates. They tell her Lexie was injured rather than dead and let Cassie take her place to see if she can dig up any dirt. What’s really great about these books is the lack of red herrings. I am exhausted by “the killer reveal on page 30…oh wait just kidding” plots. French just lets it all unfold and evolve naturally. It’s what I like best about her books.  I can’t wait to dig into her next book.

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.

The Woman in the Window

Friend after friend after friend told me to read this book. I was really excited to start it, but quickly discovered the entire plot is based around my least favorite trope- I’m an alcoholic and can’t remember things. I absolutely despise it. Other than alien abduction, it’s my least favorite plotline in a book. It’s not creative and is way overdone.

And not only is this main character, Anna, an alcoholic, she is also medicated due to severe anxiety and agoraphobia (she can’t leave her house). A while ago, she and her family were in a car accident, leaving Anna house-bound. Her biggest forms of entertainment include watching old movies, playing online chess, and spying on her neighbors. Side note: There’s an old movie called Copycat about this very thing. Sigourney Weaver is a house-bound woman in this movie and is so after a brutal attack. It’s not a great movie, but worth watching if you can catch it. Harry Connick, Jr. plays a delightfully awful murderer. Anyway, Anna is a psychotherapist (or psychiatrist, I forget, but you get the idea) so she’s fully aware of what is happening to her.

One night, she sees something terrifying. But she can’t convince anyone that she wasn’t hallucinating. Plot twists (some obvious, some not), more alcohol, plenty of crazy revelations, and finally an explanation as to what, if anything, happened. I can’t believe this book is so popular. I gave it three stars for the couple of plot points that did fool me, but overall, I was so disappointed in this book. A movie of it is coming out later this year, and I have zero desire to see it. Blah.

Limelight

This is it. The VERY LAST BOOK in the Popsugar Book Challenge. Whew. I’m so glad I did the challenge, as I am every year, but it’s also nice to be finished. The last category I needed to fill was a tough one for me. I needed a book with a fruit or vegetable in the title. I tried a couple (tomato, lemon) but neither book was interesting enough to keep going. So, I search my thousands of titles on my Kindle cloud (yes, really. Thousands. Most of them I got for free) for apple. Nope. Banana. Nothing. Orange. One title, but sounded boring. Lime. Ding, ding.

Judging by the premise and the pretty good reviews, I went ahead and started this one. During the 1880s, Penny Green was a unique woman. She was mid-30s, single, a newspaper reporter, trailblazing her way around town. She learns of the mysterious murder of actress Lizzie Dixie, who was presumed to be dead 5 years ago. She and a police inspector make it their mission to solve the crime. Which time did Lizzie really die? And who was behind it?

This was a quick read, and Penny is a fun character who has to use good old-fashioned thinking to solve the murder. I have several of these books on my Kindle and am looking forward to reading more about this delightful series.

Murder at the Vicarage

I’ve never read an Agatha Christie book. She is someone who clearly deserves the respect she is given, but she’s never really been on my radar. I know she has a few one-off books like And Then There Were None, but she is mostly known for her Miss Marple series and her Hercule Poirot series. For the book challenge, I needed to read a book with a female protagonist over the age of 60, and although Miss Marple is simply described as elderly, I am making the leap of faith that she is at least 61 years old.

Agatha Christie died before I was born, so it’s safe to assume her books are considered classics. There’s no DNA evidence, no forensic investigation, just old-fashioned police detective work. So when a man is found murdered, the police, unhappily aided by busybody Miss Marple, are left to simply put the pieces together. Witnesses are interviewed, secrets are kept, affairs are had, and the mystery gets solved.

What I wasn’t expecting was a level of humor in the book. I chuckled a few times at Christie’s clever turn-of-phrase. The story is told from the vicar’s perspective and the murder happened in his home (he’s clearly not the murderer, so take that out of the equation now) but he aids the police in finding the killer. He likes Miss Marple’s snark and doesn’t mind discussing his information with her, as opposed to the police who are just annoyed by her. Marple is a likable, fun character, and I really enjoyed this book. I will also be reading the first Hercule Poirot book later this year, so keep an eye out for that review.