Tag Archives: Mystery/Thriller

Review: Snowblind by Ragnar Jónasson

I received a review copy of this title from the publisher, Orenda Books.  This book was first published in Iceland in 2010 and this English translation has been done by Quentin Bates.

My Review:
SnowblindI don’t usually read many mystery or crime novels, but when Orenda Books asked me to review some of the books in their catalog the descriptions of them convinced me to give them a try.  This book is much more than a typical crime novel; it delves into the lives of several characters in a small isolated town in northern Iceland.  The atmosophere of the book is also a surprise as the scenes are set in a small, isolated,  cold, and snow-covered town.

Ari Thor lives in Reykjavik with his girlfriend Kristin and is studying to become a police officer.  For the first time in his life he is very much in love and feels that he and Kristin will make a life and a future together.  When he gets his first job in Siglufjörður, a small village in northern Iceland, he is torn about whether or not to take it.  Kristin is finishing her medical degree in Reykjavik so there is no way that she can go with him.  Taking this new job will mean a separation, for as long as a year or two, from Kristin.  But Ari Thor believes that this job is a great opportunity and accepts the position anyway; he leaves Kristin behind and is heartbroken that their future together is uncertain.

Siglufjörður is supposed to be a town where no one locks their doors, where everyone knows each other, and where nothing exciting ever happens.  So it is either bad luck or bad timing that, when Ari Thor becomes the town’s newest police officer, two murders happen within days of each other.

The first murder, which many think at first is just an accident, happens at the local dramatic society.  The director of the society, a very old man in his nineties who is prone to drinking too much, takes a nasty fall down the stairs during a rehearsal break. At first the incident is thought to be an accident, but as the story develops it appears that several people in the dramatic society are capable of pushing the old man down the stairs.  One of the greatest strengths of the book is the development of several characters who belong to the society and work in the theater.  My experience with crime novels has been that characters are not deeply developed as the focus is on the plot.  But Jonasson gives us an interesting set of characters with well-developed descriptions of their history in the town and their relationships with one another.

A second murder also takes places in this small town.  A woman is found stabbed to death outside her home and her abusive husband is the primary suspect.  But the husband has an alibi for the time during which the murder took place.  So it is up to Ari Thor to untangle this mystery.  Another strength of the book is that the author is able to weave two different mysteries into the plot without the story being too cumbersome or confusing.

The final aspect of the book that I have to mention is Ari Thor’s descriptions of Siglufjörður which, even to Icelanders, is on the edge of nowhere.  It snows so much that Ari Thor begins to feel trapped and claustrophobic in this place.  The snow and the cold never stop and when the only road in or out of the town is completely blocked by an avalanche his panic attacks and nightmares get worse.  The vivid descriptions of the cold and snow and darkness were a perfect setting for this story.  As it snowed here in New England last weekend when I was reading the book the setting felt especially apt.

Whether you are a fan of crime fiction, or like me, just enjoy dabbling in the genre here and there, Snowblind is an entertaining read.  This book actually ends on a bit of a cliffhanger and I am eager to read the next book in this series and see what happens with Ari Thor.

About the Author:
R JonassonRagnar Jonasson is author of the international bestselling Dark Iceland series.

His debut Snowblind, first in the Dark Iceland series, went to number one in the Amazon Kindle charts shortly after publication. The book was also a no. 1 Amazon Kindle bestseller in Australia.

Snowblind was selected by The Independent as one of the best crime novels of 2015 in the UK.

Books in the Dark Iceland series have been published in the UK, Germany, Poland and Iceland, and rights have also been sold to the USA, France and Italy.

Ragnar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he works as a writer and a lawyer. He also teaches copyright law at Reykjavik University and has previously worked on radio and television, including as a TV-news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service.

Ragnar is a member of the UK Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) and recently set up the first overseas chapter of the CWA, in Reykjavik.

He is also the co-founder of the Reykjavik international crime writing festival Iceland Noir.

From the age of 17, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic.

Ragnar has also had short stories published internationally, including in the distinguished Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in the US, the first stories by an Icelandic author in that magazine.

He has appeared on festival panels worldwide, and lives in Reykjavik with his wife and young daughters.


Filed under Literature in Translation, Mystery/Thriller

Review and Giveaway: Cauchemar by Alexandra Grigorescu

I received an advanced review copy of this book from ECW Press.

My Review:
CauchemarHannah lives in a house at the edge of a Louisiana swamp with her adopted mother Mae.  When Mae suddenly dies, Hannah is left completely alone at the age of 20, never having experienced very much of the world outside of their house on the swamp.

When Hannah has a funeral service for Mae, she meets a kind musician named Callum.  They become romantically involved and Callum seems to take the place of Mae as Hannah’s protector.  But what does Hannah need protecting from?

Throughout the course of the story we learn that Hannah’s biological mother, Christobelle, is a witch who is rumored to be able to communicate with the dead.  The townspeople shun Hannah because of her mother’s reputation, even though Hannah has never had anything to do with her biological mother and was raised by Mae.

The contrast between Christobelle and Mae are developed by the author throughout the book.  Whereas Mae is a care-giver and healer, Christobelle is selfish and drains the energy out of people she encounters, especially men.  Mae likes to heal and nourish people through food and Hannah also learns cooking skills from Mae.  The culinary aspects of the book are given a great amount of detail and the recipes are explained well enough for readers to try them in their own kitchens.

Hannah and Callum move into the house on the swamp together and strange things start happening.  Plagues of cicadas, snakes and frogs begin popping up, the house makes strange noises and Hannah and Callum have bizarre dreams.  The book is part romance, as Hannah and Callum become closer and are trying to decide how serious their relationship is, and part mystery as they are trying to figure out the strange phenomena they are encountering on the swamp.

I do not read many books in the mystery/fantasy genre, but I really enjoyed CAUCHEMAR.  It is well-written with just the right amount of suspense to keep the reader guessing what will happen to the characters until the very last page.


I have one paperback copy of the book to give away to anyone in the U.S. or Canada.  To enter please leave a comment below letting me know that you want to win!  It’s that simple!  Giveaway ends on March 18th.  The winner will receive an e-mail and have 48 hours to respond with a valid mailing address.


About The Author:
A. GregoriescuAlexandra Grigorescu is the author of Cauchemar (ECW Press, 2015). She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Toronto.

She’s worked as a freelance writer/editor for various Toronto magazines and websites.

Her writing has previously been published in Echolocation, Acta Victoriana, and the Hart House Review.

She lives in Toronto, Ontario with her husband and a little black cat.

Blog Tour:
This is the complete list of stops on the blog tour:

March 1: The Book Binder’s Daughter, Review + Giveaway

March 2: Bibliotica, Review + Guest Post (the use of food to enhance the story)

March 3: Bella’s Bookshelves, Review + Excerpt (Ch. 1)

March 4: Write All The Words!, Guest post for International Women’s Week feature

March 5: Editorial Eyes, Interview + Excerpt (Ch. 2)

March 7: Lavendar Lines, Review

March 9: Svetlana’s Reads, Review

March 10: The Book Stylist, Review + Interview

March 11: Booking It With Hayley G., Review + Guest Post + Giveaway

March 12: Dear Teen Me, Guest post (letter to teen self)

March 13: The Book Bratz, Review + Giveaway

March 14: Feisty Little Woman, Interview + Excerpt (Ch. 3)




Filed under Mystery/Thriller

Review: Woman With A Gun by Philip Margolin

Today I welcome back TLC Book Tours to the blog with a mystery.  I invite you to read my review and visit the other stops on the book tour.

My Review:

Woman-with-a-Gun-198x300I had mixed feelings as I was reading this book and even after I closed the last page I was torn about what to write in my review.  The plot is a unique idea and involves a photograph, a novelist and a murder mystery.  Stacey Kim moves from the Midwest to New York City after she earns her MFA in the hopes of becoming a famous novelist.  When she sees a photo entitled “Woman with a Gun” at a local art show, she becomes inspired to write a fictionalized story about the woman in the photo that is holding the gun.

The story jumps back and forth between Stacey’s investigation of the photo and an earlier time period during which the photo was taken.  The photo was captured  by the artist, Kathy Moran, when she encountered Megan Cahill, dressed in white and holding an antique gun, on the beach.  Megan’s husband has just been murdered and, of course, she is the prime suspect.  I found some aspects of the investigation fairly typical for a mystery novel. There is the suspicious wife, who stands to inherit a lot of money when her husband dies, the jaded detective with the dysfunctional personal life, and the eager writer who just happens to crack the case wide open.

I found it difficult to become invested in the characters.  I really wanted to like Stacey and see her succeed but her character is never fully developed outside of her desire to become a novelist.  I also found the writing and dialogue to be very terse and this did not help the slow pacing of the book.  But if you enjoy a murder mystery then give WOMAN WITH A GUN a try and visit the additional blogs on the tour to see what other reviewers are saying about the book.

About The Author:
Phillip-MargolinPhillip Margolin has written eighteen novels, many of them New York Times bestsellers, including the recent Worthy Brown’s Daughter, Sleight of Hand, and the Washington Trilogy. Each displays a unique, compelling insider’s view of criminal behavior, which comes from his long background as a criminal defense attorney who has handled thirty murder cases. Winner of the Distinguished Northwest Writer Award, he lives in Portland, Oregon.


Click on the TLC Book Tour logo below to visit all of the stops on the tour.



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Filed under Mystery/Thriller

Review and Giveaway: Behind You by Carly Duncan

I am so pleased to welcome Pump Up Your Books to The Book Binder’s Daughter with a fantastic suspense novel by Carly Duncan.  Please read my review of Behind You, enter to win your own copy, learn a bit more about the author and look at the other stops on Carly’s tour.

My Review:

Behind You by Carly DuncanI admit that I jumped on the Gone Girl bandwagon and read the book when my book club picked it to discuss last year.  Quite honestly I thought it was a terrible book, with vapid and morally bankrupt characters, uninteresting writing and a disappointing ending.  BEHIND YOU is a MUCH better book than Gone Girl in the mystery/suspense genre and if you have the choice forgot about Gone Girl and read BEHIND YOU instead.

When the book opens, Heather is in the shower and thinks she hears someone in her apartment.  Is she being paranoid, or is there an intruder in her midst?  She wakes up later in the hospital hooked up to all sorts of machines as her family visits her one by one.  The story is told from alternating points of view that include Heather, her husband, mother, father, aunt and sister.

The way that Carly Duncan slowly unravels this tale is brilliant as each chapter left me gasping and wanting more.  One by one, the family member’s secrets are revealed as they relate to Heather and her “accident.”  Which one of them might be  guilty of hurting Heather?

The characters that Carly Duncan develops in this book are all deeply flawed in some way and have a hard time forging strong relationships with one another.  Heather’s mother has spent time in a mental institution after she tried to kill herself, Heather’s husband never seems to be as much enamored of Heather as he is for her sister Elizabeth, and Heather’s sister seems to drink a bit too much.  This family barely tolerates each other and they put up with one another’s annoying flaws simply because they are blood relatives, but there is no love lost among them.

No matter which genres you prefer to read, I highly recommend that you put BEHIND YOU on your “must-read” list.  The flawless prose and the  page-turning story line will keep you guessing until the very last page.

About the Author:
Carly M. DuncanCarly M. Duncan is a television producer by day and a writer whenever there is time. Her first short story was published when she was in high school after a writing group prompted her to begin blogging before it was cool. Carly’s debut novel, Marcie, was released in 2013. Though she’ll forever be a California girl at heart, she now lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, two children and beloved Westie. Connect with her on her website: http://www.carlyduncan.com/

As far as I am concerned, everyone should have his or her own copy of this book. I am giving away MY OWN paperback copy of the book. Leave a comment for me that you want to WIN. That’s it! I could not make it easier! This giveaway is open to everyone in the US and Canada and will run until 10/3. I will notify the winner via email and he or she will have 48 hours to respond.

The winner of this giveaway is Janey S.  Thanks for everyone who entered!

Behind You Blog Tour:
Tuesday, September 2
Interview by Blogcritics

Wednesday, September 3
First Chapter Reveal at Read My First Chapter

Thursday, September 4
Interview at PUYB Virtual Book Club

Friday, September 5
Interview at As the Page Turns

Monday, September 8
Interview at The Writer’s Life

Thursday, September 11
Interview at CBY Book Club

Friday, September 12
Guest Blogging at Lori’s Reading Corner

Monday, September 15
Guest Blogging at Authors and Appetizers

Wednesday, September 17
Book Review at Fundinmental

Thursday, September 18
Guest Blogging at My Book Addiction and More
Book Review at My Book Addiction Reviews

Friday, September 19
Book Review at Not Everyone’s Mama

Monday, September 22
Book Review at Bound 4 Escape
Book Review at Mary’s Cup of Tea

Tuesday, September 23
Book Feature at Booklover Sue

Wednesday, September 24
Book Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Book Review at The Book Binder’s Daughter
Book Review at Doing Some Reading

Thursday, September 25
Book Review at Deal Sharing Aunt

Friday, September 26
Book Review at Book by Book

Behind You banner


Filed under Uncategorized

Review: Mean Streak by Sandra Brown

Mean Streak is  a riveting book and kept me on the edge of my seat until the very last page.  I resisted the mystery/suspense genre for a long time but I have read 3 great books this summer in this genre that I really enjoyed, and Mean Streak is among them.

Mean StreakThere is so much content to the plot of this book that I am eager to write about, but I also don’t want to give too much away.  At the core of the book is the story of Emory Chardonneau, a well-respected and hardworking physician who likes to run marathons.  One weekend while she is training in the remote hills of North Carolina, Emory suffers a blow to the head and wakes up in a remote cabin with a man hovering over her that she has never seen before.  Can she trust this man to help her or is he a threat?  This stranger will not give her any details about his life, not even his name.  Emory spends four days with this unnamed man and her experiences with him challenge her very neat, well-ordered and uncomplicated life.

Sandra Brown has the ability to provide us with entertaining characters who range from heroic and likeable, to downright bad and morally bankrupt.  The two police officers who are investigating Emory’s disappearance seem, on the surface, like simple cops who don’t know how to conduct an investigation.  However, they are much more savvy than their southern accents and laid back investigating techniques make them seem.

We also find in Mean Streak the typical characters a reader might expect in a suspense novel such as the tired FBI agent addicted to his job, the suspicious husband that is having an affair, and the unpredictable scary bad guys with no morals or scruples.  But the way in which Sandra Brown slowly unravels the plot and intertwines each character into that plot, makes the characters anything but ordinary or mundane.

If you want a great book that will keep you guessing until the very last page, then make Mean Streak one of your final “must-read” summer books.

*Thanks so much to Grand Central Publishing for providing me with a copy of this book through Netgalley.


Filed under Mystery/Thriller, Summer Reading