Category Archives: Crime and Thrillers

PODCAST – BookElfLeeds Reading Challenge – Update

modern mrs darcy reading challenge

This year, @BookElfLeeds and I decided to reignite our reading groove thaing by completing a reading challenge. We found this awesome list by Modern Mrs Darcy – and already we’re inspired!

Jess provides us with an update of her Modern Mrs Darcy Reading Challenge of 2016.

With 6 books read; she’s at the halfway mark already!

From historical fiction to librarian-readers-recommendations books (oooh, secret knowledge!) to coming-of-age to raunchy reading for teens – join us for a fascinating voyage of literary wonder!!

As with any other podcast that I am involved in; the usual language warnings apply (it’s really bad – mixed metaphors, noun-aphasia and swearing that would make a navy blush!)

Mobile Link

Visit our  Modern Mrs Darcy 2016 Reading Challenge page to see our choices (for now!)

  1. a book published this year
  2. a book you can finish in a day
  3. a book you’ve been meaning to read
  4. a book recommended by a local librarian or bookseller
  5. a book you should have read in school
  6. a book chosen by your spouse/partner/sibling/child or BFF
  7. a book published before you were born
  8. a book that was banned at some point
  9. a book that was previously abandoned
  10. a book you own but have never read
  11. a book that intimidates you
  12. a book you’ve already read at least once

If you’d like to join us with this – or any other reading challenges, please drop me an email, leave a comment or tweet one of us!


PODCASTS

Review: LBCOutlaws – The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

LBC Outlaws

Date:  Wednesday 2nd of March 2016
Time:  6:30pm
Address: Harper Street, LS2 7EA

Discussing:

TITLE

The Shining Girls

AUTHOR

Lauren Beukes

The BLURB

16131077The girl who wouldn’t die, hunting a killer who shouldn’t exist…
A terrifying and original serial-killer thriller from award-winning author, Lauren Beukes.
1930’s America: Lee Curtis Harper is a delusional, violent drifter who stumbles on a house that opens onto other times.
Driven by visions, he begins a killing spree over the next 60 years, using an undetectable MO and leaving anachronistic clues on his victims’ bodies.

But when one of his intended ‘shining girls’, Kirby Mazrachi, survives a brutal stabbing, she becomes determined to unravel the mystery behind her would-be killer. While the authorities are trying to discredit her, Kirby is getting closer to the truth, as Harper returns again and again…

 

 The Review

*SPOILERS* *SPOILERS* *SPOILERS*

I’m not sure how to start this review as the book itself was quite a strange one, a story which in itself seemed to become circular and come back on itself. It had so much in it, including time travel being the main source of transport.

Before we even discussed the story we were straight in talking about the time leaps and how each chapter flitted back and forth through the centuries, finding each chapter in a different era which the group thoroughly enjoyed even referencing it to the film Memento and wondering whether if the book was laid out in order would it work as well.

Then it was straight onto the characters and how Kirby – who survived Harper’s attack goes in search of him, even though he thinks she’s dead and then she turns the tables on him. As a group we thought the characters were quite strong in this book, especially the house and as one person said ‘The is a character with a capital ‘H’ and would have loved to know more about its history, and how it came to be able to open up on different times, did it absorb the person inhabiting it? Did it consume their potential? Did two become one? who knows? You decide?

This led onto the description, strength and use of characters, and how well they were written from Kirby the main female character who survives a brutal attack to Dan who pops up in the story, an ex-homicide reporter who covered her case, who she finds to help her investigate her attack, and future partner, made jealous by the young whipper snapper Fred. The dog who got killed when Kirby was attacked (this didn’t go down well with our group). There’s, Bartek (killed by the frozen turkey?) one of the original keyholders (we think there maybe more)  in the story who made thousands through the house by gambling. Then there’s the house, everyone is intrigued with the house, why is it hiding itself, is it like Howl’s moving castle. Had it been on D.I.Y. SOS a lot with change of interior was it supporting/ encouraging a person’s’ habits i.e. Bartek  and his gambling or Harper and his planned killings and finding the graffiti on the walls written by Harper, how Harper is drawn to it constantly and not understanding why and then we find ourselves back at the beginning and wondering if we picked up one of those adventure books which says you have two choices, turn to page 32 to find out about this or page 66 and you’ll go to the end or something like that. Revealing that the house is eternal and both Bartek and Harper are brothers (only kidding) and the biggie when the house burnt down did it regenerate in a different time like in a Star Trek episode????

Then there was the objects used within the storyline, did they have magical powers, how did he select the? What objects you cry? You see each time Harper kills he leaves an object on the body, these are  things he picked up from different eras and either gave them to the victims years before or whether he picked them up and just placed them there, but as one member said the time continuation of the acts of killing and how it sometimes broke up would never have happened in Star Trek, the breaking of the time continuum would not have worked at all.

You see there’s so many unanswered questions yet the book was enjoyed by all, It was well researched and written, dramatic tension towards the end. The characters were well written some used well as plot devices like Dan and the poor dog who got killed, brave dog, no one is happy on that count. Yet we still find ourselves coming back to the beginning and asking questions. If you have read the book let us know what you think, in the meantime here’s a load of questions we just couldn’t answer……

Questions left unanswered….

What was Harper’s Motivation?

Why was the house there?

Did the house absorb the person inhabiting it?

Did the house consume their potential? Did two become one? who knows? You decide?

The house was the key to the killings but why? If only we had more information.

and if was set in today’s timeline with mobile phones and technology would the story of worked?

and why kill the dog?

Let us know what you think?

SCORE

7/10

For further details, please email me at leedsbookclub@gmail.com or tweet me @LeedsBookClub or @LBCOutlaws

The Pub can be contacted on @CrowdofFavours 

And feel free to let us know your thoughts using #LBCOutlaws

Christmas Read-a-Long – Greenshaw’s Folly

THE ADVENTURES OF THE CHRISTMAS PUDDING

AGATHA CHRISTIE

christmas read a long

There are six short stories featuring two of Agatha Christie’s most beloved detectives – Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. The plan is that we shall read one a week in the build up to Christmas

BLURB

Raymond West’s niece is invited by an elderly recluse to help compile her late grandfather’s diaries for publication. After only two days at their sprawling home of Greenshaw’s Folly, she witnesses a murder, which only Miss Marple can solve…

  1. The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding – 15th November
  2. The Mystery of the Spanish Chest – 22nd November
  3. The Under Dog – 29th November
  4. Four and Twenty Blackbirds – 6th December
  5. The Dream – wc 13th December
  6. Greenshaw’s Folly – wc 20th December

If you decide to join us, please tweet your thoughts via #LBCReadalong

Christmas Read-a-Long – The Dream

THE ADVENTURES OF THE CHRISTMAS PUDDING

AGATHA CHRISTIE

christmas read a long

There are six short stories featuring two of Agatha Christie’s most beloved detectives – Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. The plan is that we shall read one a week in the build up to Christmas

BLURB

Hercule Poirot is slightly reluctant to answer a letter demanding his services by the reclusive and eccentric millionaire Benedict Farley. Entering the strange world that Mr. Farley inhabits and accounting for each stagy nuanced oddity

Poirot is a little at a loss at his ability to help. Poirot is apparently meant to consult on Mr. Farley’s reoccurring dream, of death, something not usually within his remit. The dream haunts Mr. Farley and only one week after dismissing the bemused Poirot the dream becomes real.

What ensues is a perplexing short story in which each member of the Farley household that Poirot questions seems more puzzled than the one before.

  1. The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding – 15th November
  2. The Mystery of the Spanish Chest – 22nd November
  3. The Under Dog – 29th November
  4. Four and Twenty Blackbirds – 6th December
  5. The Dream – wc 13th December
  6. Greenshaw’s Folly – wc 20th December

If you decide to join us, please tweet your thoughts via #LBCReadalong

Christmas Read-a-Long – Four and Twenty Blackbirds

THE ADVENTURES OF THE CHRISTMAS PUDDING

AGATHA CHRISTIE

christmas read a long

There are six short stories featuring two of Agatha Christie’s most beloved detectives – Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. The plan is that we shall read one a week in the build up to Christmas

BLURB

Hercule Poirot is about to tuck into a very traditional English supper with his old friend Bonnington, when the habit and ritual of a lone diner sparks his interest more than the chestnut turkey.

The lone diner has eaten there on Thursdays and Tuesdays for the last ten years like clockwork, but, no one at the restaurant even knows his name.

However, ‘Old Father Time,’ as they have fondly nicknamed him, suddenly stops coming and Poirot believes that he might have picked up that one essential clue that could shed light on a man who no one really knows. Could what Old Father Time strangely ordered as his final meal prove to be the only thing that makes this suspicious?

 

  1. The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding – 15th November
  2. The Mystery of the Spanish Chest – 22nd November
  3. The Under Dog – 29th November
  4. Four and Twenty Blackbirds – 6th December
  5. The Dream – wc 13th December
  6. Greenshaw’s Folly – wc 20th December

If you decide to join us, please tweet your thoughts via #LBCReadalong

Christmas Read-a-Long –

THE ADVENTURES OF THE CHRISTMAS PUDDING

AGATHA CHRISTIE

christmas read a long

There are six short stories featuring two of Agatha Christie’s most beloved detectives – Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. The plan is that we shall read one a week in the build up to Christmas

BLURB

‘One looks for humanity in these matters’

Pretty Lily Margrave, smart little black hat pinned to her golden hair, is not convinced Hercule Poirot is needed in the matter of Sir Atwell’s murder at all. At the request of her employer, the emphatic Lady Atwell, she has had to recount the precise details of what happened that evening, ten days ago in the Tower room even though the victim’s nephew is incarcerated and charged with the murder.

But, Lady Atwell’s persistent bee in her bonnet drives Poirot up to the great house, Mon Repos, to see if he can look beyond the cold facts presented by Miss Margrave and look for the humanity in the matter. Poirot soon takes up residence in Mon Repos, ensconcing himself in the household and all its nooks and crannies.

However, whilst at first the family are struck by his ardent endeavour to find out what befell Sir Atwell in the Tower room, their disquiet at having a ‘ferreting little spy’ going through their rooms becomes too much for some to bare. With his signature ingenuity, a scrap of material and the contents of a tiny box lead the detective to uncover who is behind this violent act.

 

  1. The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding – 15th November
  2. The Mystery of the Spanish Chest – 22nd November
  3. The Under Dog – 29th November
  4. Four and Twenty Blackbirds – 6th December
  5. The Dream – wc 13th December
  6. Greenshaw’s Folly – wc 20th December

If you decide to join us, please tweet your thoughts via #LBCReadalong

Christmas Read-a-Long – The Mystery of the Spanish Chest

THE ADVENTURES OF THE CHRISTMAS PUDDING

AGATHA CHRISTIE

christmas read a long

There are six short stories featuring two of Agatha Christie’s most beloved detectives – Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. The plan is that we shall read one a week in the build up to Christmas

BLURB

Major Hastings and Hercule Poirot are not interested in the case of the Spanish Chest, so obviously has it been reported in the papers that it seems an entirely closed book.

But, when Hastings persuades Poirot to attend a rather fabulous party given by Lady Chatterton there is someone sequestered upstairs waiting for the pair’s help.

She’s so sure that there has been some great mistake and is desperate for their help. Will the contents of the dead man’s pockets reveal to the inscrutable eye of Hercule Poirot who the culprit is?

  1. The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding – 15th November
  2. The Mystery of the Spanish Chest – 22nd November
  3. The Under Dog – 29th November
  4. Four and Twenty Blackbirds – 6th December
  5. The Dream – wc 13th December
  6. Greenshaw’s Folly – wc 20th December

If you decide to join us, please tweet your thoughts via #LBCReadalong

Christmas Read-a-Long – The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding

 

THE ADVENTURES OF THE CHRISTMAS PUDDING

AGATHA CHRISTIE

christmas read a long

There are six short stories featuring two of Agatha Christie’s most beloved detectives – Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. The plan is that we shall read one a week in the build up to Christmas

BLURB

In this delightful tale, an Eastern Prince arrives in England with some family jewels which he’s having reset as a gift for his fiancee. However, the Prince also has a mistress; she asks to wear one particularly enchanting piece that features a huge ruby, and then promptly disapppears with it.

Poirot discovers a connection with a house party at the home of Colonel and Mrs. Lacey, and in order to pursue his investigation an invitation is procured for him to the Laceys’, ostensibly to enjoy an old-fashioned Christmas.

He will need all his deft skills and little grey cells to solve this crime!

  1. The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding – 15th November
  2. The Mystery of the Spanish Chest – 22nd November
  3. The Under Dog – 29th November
  4. Four and Twenty Blackbirds – 6th December
  5. The Dream – wc 13th December
  6. Greenshaw’s Folly – wc 20th December

If you decide to join us, please tweet your thoughts via #LBCReadalong

LBC Outlaws – Don’t Tell – Karen Rose

LBC Outlaws

Date:  Wednesday 4th of November 2015
Time:  6:00pm
Address: Harper Street, LS2 7EA

Discussing:

DON’T TELL

KAREN ROSE

The BLURB

Desperate Mary Grace Winters knew the only way to save herself and her child from her abusive husband was to stage their deaths. Now all that remains of her former life is at the bottom of a lake.

As Caroline Stewart, Mary Grace has almost forgotten the nightmare she left behind nine years ago. Slowly she has learned to believe that her new life, and new identity, is here to stay.

Then her husband uncovers her hidden trail. Step by step he’s closing in on her and everyone she loves. Now Caroline must decide whether to flee again or whether the time has come to stay and fight..

dont tellThis was an event we were all looking forward to. I read it and had …opinions. A couple of others also had…opinions. And the reader that picked the book did so because she had…opinions.

We knew we were in for a good chat.

The first thing that came up was that it clearly showed it was Rose’s first book. We found it cartoony with stereotype characters and a plot that has been over used many times before. We didn’t find it to have a lot of originality although one of our group has read several more books and assures us Rose gets better and more original and you can see her progression as a writer as the books continue. It was also surprising that based on all the above Rose had re-written the storyline several times before it was sent to a publishers.

One of the reasons for picking the book was to be able to discuss women crime writers and how they are often bracketed as romantic suspense writers instead. We compared Rose to James Patterson whose characters are always falling in love and being smoochy but are clearly labelled crime writers although with Patterson his females always end  up dead. With this book it doesn’t seem to know what it is – suspense or romance. It’s labelled romance but the storyline is about domestic abuse a subject that did not sit well with any of the group. We found so many of the characters to be unlikable as well.

One reader did not like the romantic element of the book stating and I quote: ‘too much kissy kissy’. This seems to be a common argument on Goodreads too. We did though go back to Patterson who has a very similar level of romance and sex scenes but is not picked up on for it. We also discussed how Rose follows a similar pattern to dark fantasy writers (a subject that came under much scrutiny) in taking minor characters from one book and making them major players of the next one.

Overall we found the book difficult to read as we couldn’t get into the flow. Also, it was boring and frustrating. One reader said it was a mess. There were no redeeming qualities. It was soap-opera-esque and a bit too real life.

 

Told you we had opinions!

This months tangents:

  • The book and film of The Martian
  • Mills and Boon does physics
  • How long did it take you to give up on Patricia Cornwell?
  • Can you name a British female author that writes a good crime thriller (we settled on Val McDermid who we are reading next)?
  • The kindle knows all your secrets….

 

SCORE – Nora Roberts does it better

 

2.5/10

For further details, please email me at leedsbookclub@gmail.com or tweet me @LeedsBookClub or @LBCOutlaws

The Pub can be contacted on @CrowdofFavours 

And feel free to let us know your thoughts using #LBCOutlaws

LBC Outlaws – Dissolution – C.J. Sansom

LBC Outlaws

Date:  Wednesday 7th of October 2015
Time:  6:00pm
Address: Harper Street, LS2 7EA

Discussing:

DISSOLUTION

CJ SANSOM

The BLURB

It is 1537, a time of revolution that sees the greatest changes in England since 1066. Henry VIII has proclaimed himself Supreme Head of the Church and the country is waking up to savage new laws, rigged trials and the greatest network of informers ever seen. Under the order of Thomas Cromwell, a team of commissioners is sent through the country to investigate the monasteries. There can only be one outcome: the monasteries are to be dissolved.

But on the Sussex coast, at the monastery of Scarnsea, events have spiralled out of control. Cromwell’s Commissioner Robin Singleton, has been found dead, his head severed from his body. His horrific murder is accompanied by equally sinister acts of sacrilege – a black cockerel sacrificed on the altar, and the disappearance of Scarnsea’s Great Relic.

Dr Matthew Shardlake, lawyer and long-time supporter of Reform, has been sent by Cromwell to investigate. But Shardlake’s investigation soon forces him to question everything he hears, and everything that he intrinsically believes . . .

Dissolution_(Sansom)This was one of those random picks where some of us got to read a book that has been sat on the shelf for a long time. It was my pick and I wanted to read something along the lines of a previous pick ‘The Name of the Rose’ but without all the latin and for the most part we enjoyed it with praise for the religious debates contained within the story.

After several other books such as Wolf Hall which present different perspectives on Cromwell we found it interesting to see a book written with the common viewpoint of Cromwell in mind – a man responsible for the sacking of Catholic churches.

We found the book to be set just past medieval times – which seems to be a favourite period amongst the Outlaws – but still at a time when history was interesting and as one reader said ‘before history got modern and boring’. Set around the time of Anne Boleyns death; we enjoyed Sansom’s depictions of myths and conspiracies as to why she was beheaded.

It was also a dangerous time and we had a good chat about those in the Kings favour who were often in fear of his mood swings resulting in the loss of their heads. How often people were afraid to speak up especially if they disagreed with the Kings opinions such as with religion. Church was a huge part of people’s lives and we discussed how people would be fearful of having opinions as that could also lead to the loss of one’s head.

We discussed the tradition of patronage and the blossoming egalitarian reformists and how despite reform and our protagonist had been such a person, how he still believed in patronage with his assistant Mark; brought to London after growing up on his father’s farm.

As the crime was set in a monastery we talked about dodgy priests, with one reader commentating that some of the best forgers were from medieval times. This was something from the book, where several priests wrote false land documents.

We discussed which point in the book everyone figured out whodunnit with a varying degree of answers from midway discussions on the constant talk of marshes and a point where it was mentioned several times how heavy certain boxes were by people who shouldn’t be moving said boxes! (spoiler free sentence!). There were far too many co-incidences in the story such as the commissioner at the monastery also being the one to investigate the alleged lover of Anne Boleyn.

We had a little chat about assistant Mark – a man so in love he was prepared to overlook the fact his girlfriend was a murderess who chopped off people’s heads. I have a comment – must be the tight trousers – which I think was to do with Marks constant habit of getting into trouble with women.

With Shardlake himself we liked how he was a flawed individual, weary of the reform he had helped to move forward and prone to tantrums, such as when he lost the girl (Rose) to Mark.We liked the fact that it made him more human-like. Also his hunchback made him an outsider, like the monks helping him to form strong relationships on the way to solving the crimes.

Lots of red herrings in the book which made it enjoyable and we decided it had an air of Agatha Christie about it. We loved the way the story was constructed and the way it was set – descriptions of the journey, the smells of London and so on. It was very easy to visualise the times.

This months tangents (not many this month):

  • Henry VIII wives
  • How medieval crime solving would have been so much easier if they had mobile phones rather than having to travel by horse a hundred miles to pass a message on.
  • The church of Spain claiming to have the head of John the Baptist as a boy. Then whose head did he have as an adult????

SCORE

8/10

For further details, please email me at leedsbookclub@gmail.com or tweet me @LeedsBookClub or @LBCOutlaws

The Pub can be contacted on @CrowdofFavours 

And feel free to let us know your thoughts using #LBCOutlaws

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