Saturday, January 31, 2015

Book Review: Snow Woman (Maria Kallio #4) by Leena Lehtolainen

*Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

I 've never read anything of Finnish literature, and I decided to give it a try. Classical detective story is a perfect read for a mystery lover like me. I've found out that this is part four of the series, but that didn't stop me from enjoying the book. The main character, Maria Kallio, detective in Espoo Police, is trying to solve a murder of a woman who runs a shelter for abused women. There, Maria finds herself among women who ran from their abusive husbands and families. Many of the women come from a small Finnish population who consider everything as God's will and abortion as grief even if the life of the mother is in danger. There are couple of very emotional stories of the women who escaped the emotional and physical abuse of the ones who suppose to love them most. In the very same time, Maria finds out that she is pregnant, so there is also her doubt about having children or not. A criminal who was imprisoned by Maria, has escaped and plans his revenge. 

There is very little in the story about the actual murder. It is more about the women, about pregnancy and abortion, about emotional abuse. Not too many twists, just classic solving the crime via interviews and interrogations. I've found too much usage of names, maybe it is just my opinion because I'm not familiar with Finnish names, but too much information overloaded me and from time to time it was hard for me to follow the case. The ending didn't blow me away, just came naturally. 

Overall, Maria Kallio is an interesting main character, a woman detective, and I am looking for the other parts of the series to read. Pregnancy and abortion are not my type of read, but solving a crime definitely is.

My opinion: 3 / 5.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Book Review : Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey

Wow! This story left me totally speechless. Not the crime book as I am used to, but its pages pulled me into one of the most addictive stories I've ever read. You won't see the blood , but it is there all the time right in front of your nose.

The story centers around Maud, an old lady who suffers from dementia. She can't remember what day is it, how old she is, she often mistakes her granddaughter with her daughter. She is confused most of the time, but in those moments when her mind is clear, she knows one thing: her friend Elizabeth is missing! Elizabeth is not at home, she rarely leaves her house because of her poor sight, her son is not very kind and takes things out of the house. Unfortunately for Maud, no one believes her. Who would believe an old senile lady? What happened to Elizabeth?

In the very same time, the story goes back in time during the WWII when Maud was a young girl. She had a older sister, Sukey, who disappeared soon after she was married. In the time of smuggling and couponing, Sukey and her husband suddenly disappeared. Her husband Frank, showed up couple of weeks later, but not her. No phone call, no letter, no nothing. Maud's parents were devastated, they never stopped searching. Maud never stopped searching.

You might ask how these two stories are connected? Oh, trust me, they are. As the story goes, the ending left me literally with my mouth open. I would never ever think that this is a debut novel. The author has  a lot of courage to take a character like Maud and create a web of events that is so confusing but also, so in order in the same time.

Maud is so unique character. She is confused most of the time, but every little memory of hers, every little sparkle in her brain means something. She might look like she doesn't remember anything, but when she does, everything makes sense. She is good people's  reader, she can recognize the good and the bad behind the face. For ordinary people, she is just an old senile lady, but behind that old wrinkled skin there is a true warrior who never gives up and nothing can stop her from achieving her goals, because her friend Elizabeth is missing!

No wonder that this is one of top ten crime books of 2014. This brave author is an amazing storyteller that brings the image of the past and incorporates it in the presence. She shows the life of the people suffering from dementia, and shows everyday problems that these people and their families have to cope with. But most of it, she writes one of the best crime stories I've ever read without spilling one single drop of blood.

My opinion: 5 / 5.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Book Review: The City of Blood by Frédérique Molay

*Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Paris today. There is an excavation on the place formerly known as Parisian slaughterhouse, also called The City of Blood. Thirty years earlier, Samuel Cassian, a major performance artist, made an extraordinary piece of art. He held a banquet at the place and asked each guest to bring something that was later buried. Now, thirty years later, all those things have to be dug up. But what no one expected is the finding of a skeleton, buried thirty years earlier, possibly in the same time with all those pieces of forks and dishes. To make things worse, thirty years earlier, the son of Samuel Cassian, went missing. Is this his body? Is it possible that the artist himself buried his own son? What's more weird is that the body remains show marks connected with modern day murders done by "The Paris Butcher".

The detective Nico Sirsky works on the case. He and his crew are working on the case "The Paris Butcher". The murderer leaves his victims with a specific mark, a piece of flesh on the shoulder is cut off. But these are modern day murders. How come a thirty-years-old skeleton has the very same mark? Is this the first murder? Is this where it all started?

To solve a crime from the present, Nico has to go back in time thirty years ago. All the visitors at the banquet are now suspects. In the very same time, he worries to death about his mother who suffers a heart attack and needs a surgery that she might not survive.

Comparing with the previous book, "Crossing the Line", the investigation in this story is more intriguing. There is more tension, more turn-overs. I enjoyed every single page. Nico is a great character, very tough when it comes for solving crimes. The author also shows his soft side by including his mother as a character and presenting Nico as a good son. Even if it is part three of the series, this book can easily stand alone. Well written, set up in a unusual surrounding, The City of Blood is a real refreshment for all those crime-fiction lovers who want to try something different. Totally recommended. 

My opinion: 4.5 / 5.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Book Review: Die Again by Tess Gerritsen

*Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

Five years ago, a group of people hungry for adventure goes on a safari trip in Africa. But soon what seems to be an exotic trip becomes the worst nightmare. People die. People disappear, in the night, in the bushes. No one knows what is going on.

Five years later, in US, police finds a human body hanging from a tree. That person worked as a taxidermist and ended like the animals he was working with. When a second body appears, the dynamic duo Rizzoli and Isles figures out that this is more than just a homicide, it is a serial killer we're talking about. The taxidermist seems that has no family. His only son disappeared five years ago in Africa.

I've been Rizzoli & Isles fan since forever. They are my favorite couple for solving crimes. What I like here is not just the puzzle that has to be solved and the tension that goes with it, but also showing both Rizzoli and Isles as human beings with ups and downs in their personal lives. Rizzoli has a daughter and husband and starts to learn that family comes first. Isles learns how to bond by taking care for one of the cats of the deceased victim. She also questions her relationship with her mother who is in prison. Do your ancestors define who you are? Coping with personal issues in their private lives, both Rizzoli and Isles have a crime to solve. A crime that takes them to a journey in the past of the victims' lives, takes them to the deepest jungles of Africa and shows them the darkest corners of the human mind. The story goes back in time for five years showing an African adventure seen from someone else's point of view. Then goes back to present where the taxidermist has been killed. The connection, well, you're have to read the book. Totally gripping, fulfilled with nail-biting moments and so many turn-overs, this read makes you ask yourself who is the biggest predator in the world. Hint: it is not an animal!

My opinion: 5 / 5.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Book Review: Before I Go To Sleep by S.J.Watson

Cristine's life is everything but ordinary. Every single day is a blank page for her. She suffers from amnesia and every morning she wakes up not remembering the last twenty years of her life. There is a diary that she writes every day, and she re-reads it every other day. But the most confusing is the sentence in the diary: Don't trust Ben. Ben is her husband, her loving husband who does everything he can to help her coping with her condition. She sees a psychiatrist who helps her to remember, who calls her every single day to tell her to read her secret diary. With every other day, memories rise from the dark. Is Cristine the person she thinks she is? Is the life she lives real or everything in her life is a lie? Who can she trust?

 Before I Go To Sleep is a complex drama that includes three main characters, Cristine, her husband and her doctor. Every single one of them is full of secrets, everyone has something to hide. Cristine hides her newborn memories, Ben hides the past, and the doctor hides himself from Ben. The three characters are very complex and it was very hard for me to connect with any of them. There is no much action in the story, but every dialogue is fullfilled with tension and doubts. Every time when Christine remembers, there is a question mark about that memory, is it real or is it just a fantasy? Can memories be placed?

I must say that the end really surprised me. I was expecting some turn-over, but I wasn't expecting that end. After so slow-paced drama, it hit me like a rock. The gripping end saved the whole story and that's why I'm giving it higher grade.

 My opinion: 4 / 5.