Book Reviews

When I began Categorically Well Read back in the Spring of 2019 I also decided to join Twitter. As a book blogger with a website I was contacted by various publishing companies and offered free books in exchange for honest reviews. I did reviews for Crime Wave Press, Orenda Books, and Netgalley--these full length reviews make for the content of this category.

I made a good start it and by the fall of 2019 I felt I was making some head way---queue the pandemic. A couple months into 2020 I found myself losing interest in Twitter and Categorically Well Read. Now it is September 2021--and I have a totally re-vamped website, I love its simplistic nature and it is much easier to navigate. Who knows perhaps I will even get back to Twittering-one day.

Crime Wave Press--Tom Vater

About Tom Vater

Tom Vater is a writer and publisher working predominantly in Asia. He is the co-owner of Crime Wave Press, a Hong Kong based English language crime fiction imprint.

Tom is the co-author of several documentary screenplays, most notably The Most Secret Place on Earth, a feature on the CIA's covert war in 1960s Laos.
 
Tom Vater is a writer working in South and South East Asia. He writes both in English and German. His articles have been published around the world. He is the author of several books and has co-written a number of documentary screenplays for European television and cinema. TIME Magazine described his recent work as 'exuberant writing'. Tom first visited Asia in 1993.
 
Arriving in India proved to be a life-changing experience. At the time, Tom was documenting the music of India's indigenous minorities for the British Library's International Music Collection. This project continues and has resulted in the collection of hundreds of hours of musical traditions, many of which are slowly fading away in the face of globalization.

The Cambodian Book of the Dead (The Detective Maier Series #1) by Tom Vater

TCBOD by Tom Vater is the first Detective Maier thriller in this series.  I requested and received a digital copy compliments of Crime Waves Press in exchange for an honest review.

Mr. Vater imagines a complex protagonist in Maier, just Maier, I never did catch his first name.  An East German man who moved West after the fall of the Berlin Wall and worked the world over as a war correspondent for close to 10 years.

While reporting from Cambodia in the late nineties, the horror that was the Pol Pot regime cut way too close to the bone, so Maier left the business and returned home to Germany. Burnt out and scarred by this time spent reporting on various front lines,  Maier reinvented himself as a private detective and began working for a premiere Hamburg agency.  While he makes his living specializing in Southeast Asian cases he has yet to return to Cambodia, but now that is all about to change.

A wealthy client,  the mother of the heir to a German coffee empire is seeking to extract her rebellious son from Cambodia and bring him back to run the family business. Maier’s boss taps him for the job.

So Maier travels from Hamburg to Phnom Penh to find and bring back Rolf, easy enough job he thinks, it has been four years, perhaps enough time has passed to heal old wounds, perhaps it will be all okay, just a quick extraction—in and out swiftly. It only takes one night back in Cambodia to quickly put paid to that plan.

The story is set in 2001, just as Cambodia is re-emerging from over 50 years of war, genocide, famine, and cultural collapse. Mr. Vater, an excellent wordsmith, takes his time setting the scene through carefully executed rounds of history, fully imagined characters, and his construction results in a rich world full of mystery, mysticism, ghosts, Eastern philosophy, jungles, sweat, mosquitos, drugs, sex, and violence.

The Man With The Golden Mind (The Detective Maier Series #2) by Tom Vater

TMWTGM by Tom Vater is the second thriller in his Detective Maier series.  I requested and received a digital copy compliments of Crime Wave Press in exchange for an honest review.

Mr. Vater imagines a complex protagonist in Maier, an East German man who moved West after the fall of the Berlin Wall and worked the world over as a war correspondent for close to 10 years.

While reporting from Cambodia in the late nineties, the horror that was the Pol Pot regime cut way too close to the bone, so Maier left the business and returned home to Germany. Burnt out and scarred by this time spent reporting on various front lines,  Maier reinvented himself as a private detective and began working for a premiere Hamburg agency.  He makes his living specializing in Southeast Asian cases, the first novel saw him in Cambodia and now this new case brings him to Laos.

I read the first Detective Maier novel (The Cambodian Book of the Dead) earlier this year and couldn’t wait to dip right back into Maier’s world.  It is the Fall of 2001 and we find Maier back in Hamburg barely recovered from this previous case.

 The writing tone is completely different this go around and at first this threw me a little— as it is almost as if Mr. Vater is writing Maier 2.0.

The Monsoon Ghost Image (The Detective Maier Series #3) by Tom Vater

TMGI by Tom Vater is the third and perhaps final thriller in the Detective Maier trilogy.  I requested and received a digital copy compliments of Crime Wave Press in exchange for an honest review.

Vater has certainly imagined a complex protagonist in Maier, an East German man who was once a war correspondent and now works as a PI for the premiere Sundermann agency in Hamburg, Germany, specializing in South East Asian cases.  However, it is his past as a journalist that catches up to Maier in The Monsoon Ghost Image.

Maier’s old colleague, Martin Ritter, an internationally renowned war photographer, is presumed dead when his boat exploded off the shore of Thailand, along with all the other passengers on board.

But not so fast—Ritter’s wife, Emilie, receives photographic evidence that Martin is alive and roaming the streets of Bangkok. Emilie, also a colleague of Maier’s during those years, hires the Sundermann Agency and specifically Maier to help find Ritter and to find out why her husband has apparently faked his own death.

It pays to realize that most of the action in The Cambodian Book of the Dead, first of this trilogy, finds Maier narrating a story in which he is in the process being drugged and/or beaten or while he is recovering from being drugged and/or beaten.

With barely a breather the following book, The Man With the Golden Mind was brutal, violent, and extremely personal for our German detective so I expected to find Maier back in Hamburg licking his wounds— depressed and reeling— but to find him a self-pitying slob reduced to drinking Campari Orange seems a harsh form of self punishment even from an author that pulls no punches.

Crime Wave Press--Benedict J. Jones Reviews

Benedict J Jones is a writer of crime, horror and western fiction from south east London. His work has appeared in magazines such as One Eye Grey, Pen Pusher, Out of the Gutter and Encounters, on a variety of websites including Big Pulp and Shotgun Honey and in anthologies from Dark Minds Press, Crystal Lake Publishing, Full Dark City Press and Dog Horn Publishing. He has had more than twenty-five stories published since he first saw print, in 2008.

Skewered and Other London Cruelties by Benedict J. Jones

I bought this collection of shorts after I read Pennies for Charon, the first stand alone Charlie “Bars” Constantinou  and wanted to know more.

You first meet Charlie Bars in this dark, bleak and brutal story collection. Fresh out of his 3rd stint in prison and working in his Uncle’s kebab shop he appears as the anti-hero in 3 of the tales. He is trying to make a go of the straight and narrow but quickly falls back into gray.

Charlie Bars is a gangster who is good at solving problems and finding people, the author is still wonderfully vague at filling in Charlie’s gangster past. Providing just enough detail to make him an intriguing character. We meet Mazza and witness the formation of their PI business.

He has bad luck with women, his cases often take unexpected bad turns, and with “friends” like Mazza who needs enemies.

He is Noir perfection as I never quite know whether he is basically a good guy who occasionally does some really bad things or if he is basically a bad guy who occasionally does some really good things. Just like I like it.

Skewered and the two other shorts that feature Charlie sees Benedict J. Jones fleshing this character out and this collection shows an author who is honing his craft. The writing is great here and even better in Pennies for Charon.

I went in thinking I would just read the “Charlie Bars” stories but quickly demolished the whole book. I liked the occasional paranormal twists and some of shorts featured out of the box shockers.

Now for a cup of Devil’s Brew!

Pennies For Charon (Charlie Bars Series #1) by Benedict J. Jones

I was contacted by Crime Wave Press asking if I would interested in reading The Gingerbread Houses by Benedict J. Jones which has just been released. This title will make the third suspense noir thriller featuring Charlie “Bars” Constantinou. As I like to start a series at the beginning I asked and received a digital copy of his first stand alone Charlie Bars thriller  (Pennies for Charon) compliments of Crime Waves Press in exchange for an honest review.

After finishing Pennies for Charon I dug a little deeper into Charlie’s past by reading Skewered and Other London Cruelties as he is introduced as a character in the novella Skewered and is featured in 2 of the other shorts. I left a review for this book also.

When we first meet Charlie in Skewered he was newly out from his 3rd stint in prison, struggling to ride the straight and narrow, and nurturing his fledgling art career.  At the start of Pennies for Charon we see him with a new career but back to drinking, hanging in bars, and his painting projects languish unfinished off in the corner. He is oozing more into the gray every day.

This noir tale opens with Charlie and Mazza as partners now in a somewhat shady Private Investigation firm. What starts as a simple missing person case quickly turns into something much darker. A demon obsessed serial killer who wears pink socks, Ouija boards,  and a new rich barrister client that turns out to be just as suspicious of Charlie as Charlie is of him.

Charlie is fleshed even more as we meet his family, and an old flame/ working girl Lena. The suspense and the violence build steadily throughout the story and Charlie definitely takes a darker turn. The theme also continues…with a business partner/friend like Mazza who needs enemies, although after reading Skewered I understand more of his motive.

Benedict J. Jones has tightened up his writing in Pennies for Charon with the use of swift spare prose, with just enough gritty London-isms to give character and grit. If you like your noir with a little twist of the paranormal then you are in the right hands. Mr. Jones provides a great read and his writing just continues to get better.

Time to spark a Benson and take a bite out of The Devil’s Brew.

The Devil's Brew (Charlie Bars Series #2) by Benedict J. Jones

I was contacted by Crime Wave Press asking if I would be interested in reading The Gingerbread Houses by Benedict J. Jones which has just been released and will make the third suspense noir thriller featuring Charlie “Bars” Constantinou.

As I like to start a series at the beginning I asked and received a digital copy of his first stand alone Charlie Bars thriller  (Pennies for Charon) which I greatly enjoyed, but if you want all of Charlie’s story I suggest starting with Skewered a collection of short stories, three of which feature Charlie Bars.

The Devil’s Brew is the second full length novel in this series and once again I received a digital copy compliments of Crime Waves Press in exchange for an honest review.

Mr. Jones continues where he left off at the end of Pennies for Charon and we find both Charlie and Mazza on the mend both physically and mentally in the aftermath of that climatic conclusion. I got just enough of Mazza during this tale to make me miss him—even though he spells trouble when he is around.

With things still a little “hot” in London Charlie skips town for a bit and holes up in a remote Northumbrian cottage in the heart of the English countryside. He hopes to get some down time, come to terms with some recent dark choices and deadly results, and hopes to get back to painting and the quiet life.

Charlie is out of his element away from London and not really sure what to make of these bare open spaces and oddly enough this shows in the writing as well as it is done in a style more reminiscent of Skewered than it is of Pennies. But the writing suits the tone of this book perfectly as Charlie is trying to take a step back returning to his paintings and his former resolve for a straighter life.

No such luck for Charlie, however, as he soon finds himself enveloped in his nearest neighbors troubles who are also newcomers to the area.  I am pleased to report that we are again treated to a dark tale with a bit of a paranormal twist. 

The Gingerbread Houses (Charlie Bars Series #3) by Benedict J. Jones

The Gingerbread Houses is the third full length Charlie Bars thriller in this series and once again I received a digital copy compliments of Crime Waves Press in exchange for an honest review.

This round of British noir finds Charlie back at home base— the grittier side of London— once again a character in and of itself.  Mr. Jones quickly sets the scene, opening with Charlie seated in a pub—pint in one hand and book in the other.  Some time has passed since the conclusion of The Devil’s Brew and everyone is mostly healed, although Mazza is still struggling with a little PTSD from a previous violent encounter in Pennies.

Charlie and Mazza are back to work but looking for new office space. The author is not much for elaborating on regular characters or rehashing past plots but as a reader of all the Charlie Bars tales it is interesting to see how theses characters have evolved over the course of the series.

The dialog remains sharp and concise with all the usual London euphemisms.  A tale told in its usual conversational style making Charlie seem to be just your regular sort of guy…don’t be pulled into this by mistake.

Charlie is a complex character one who gains a little more depth with each subsequent outing—a man well versed in crime and violence who continues to profess a longing for a quieter life. Painting, reading, above board clients, love and family. However, circumstances always appear that drag him back down and his growing compulsion “to do the right thing” is increasingly leading him back into violence and crime.

Divorce is Murder by Elka Ray -Crime Wave Press

Elka Ray's latest book is a gripping mystery set in Victoria, British Columbia, a tale that combines romance and murder.

Publisher: Seventh Street Books (Simon & Schuster)  Publication Date: August 20, 2019

My thanks to the author and to Henry Roi of Crime Wave Press who sent me a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

The book blurb states:

As teens, they bullied her. Twenty years on, she's not scared of them. Except she should be. After returning to her quiet hometown to care for her ailing mom, divorce lawyer Toby Wong is hired by Josh Barton, a guy who broke her heart as a teen at summer camp. Now a wealthy entrepreneur, Josh wants to divorce Tonya, the mean girl who tormented Toby all those years ago.

When Tonya is found murdered, Josh is the prime suspect. Together with her fortune-teller mom and her pregnant best friend, Toby sets out to clear Josh, whom she still has a guilty crush on. As she delves deeper into Tonya's murder, Toby keeps running into catty ex-campers she'd rather forget.

Are her old insecurities making her paranoid? Only too late does she realize she's in danger. The first entry in an addictive new series, Divorce is Murder introduces fans of mystery and romance to an irresistibly smart and sarcastic new heroine - Chinese Canadian divorce lawyer Toby Wong. 

Saigon Dark by Elka Ray--Crime Wave Press

Saigon Dark marks the second book I have read by Elka Ray.  I requested and received a digital copy compliments of Crime Wave Press in exchange for an honest review.

Of the two books I much prefer Saigon Dark as Ms. Ray’s talent shines through on every page—it is a well-crafted ferris wheel ride of a read. I devoured the book without hardly ever putting it down.

It is dark and compelling—I was certainly at times hard pressed to feel empathy with the main character, Lily—but I nevertheless hoped she would succeed—even if the woman was completely unable to simply tell the truth. Saigon Dark is a testament to Ms. Ray’s strength as a writer.

Instead, I took inspiration from the wisdoms that Ms. Ray portrayed through her characters—the wisdom that keeping secrets leads to a life filled with deception and paranoia. It builds a secret inner monologue in your brain which if left unchecked completely drives your entire life.

It is like drinking a poison that ensures that your focus is always trapped listening to a paranoid deceptive demon constantly whispering in your ear advising a continued diet of lies, deception, vigilance, paranoia, fear, stress, and anxiety—to succeed at all costs—if you are to protect what you hold dear. In Lily and in Saigon Dark, Ms. Ray creates a dark closed-in world that precisely validates her wisdoms, writing that results in a well constructed novel that is as compelling as it is claustrophobic.

Family (she claims) is the most important thing in Lily’s life and she would do anything to protect it—while reading I would often wonder which was more important to Lily—her family or getting caught.

NetGalley Reviews

NetGalley helps publishers and authors promote digital review copies to book advocates and industry professionals. Publishers make digital review copies and audiobooks available for the NetGalley community to discover, request, read, and review.

While I was trying my hand at "book reviewing" I read and reviewed the following books. 

White Elephant by Trish Harnetiaux

I received an advanced digital copy of White Elephant by Trish Harnetiaux compliments of the publisher, Simon & Schuster, via NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. This novel will be published October 29. 2019.

Amazon Book Blurb says:

A crackling Christmas mystery that combines murder and blackmail at a holiday office party, in a mashup reminiscent of Big Little Lies and Clue.

There are only a few rules in a White Elephant gift exchange: 1) Everyone brings a wrapped, unmarked gift. 2) Numbers are drawn to decide who picks first. 3) Gifts don’t need to be pricey—and often they’re downright tacky.

But things are a little different in Aspen, Colorado, at the office holiday party for the real estate firm owned by Henry Calhoun and his wife Claudine. Each Christmas sparks a contest among the already competitive staff to see who can buy the most coveted gift: the one that will get stolen the most times, the one that will prove just how many more commissions they earned that year than their colleagues. Designer sunglasses, deluxe spa treatments, front row concert tickets—nothing is off the table. And the staff is even more competitive this year as Zara, the hottest young pop star out of Hollywood, is in town and Claudine is determined to sell her the getaway home of her dreams.

Entanglement by Andrew J. Thomas

Entanglement is a warm quirky read that lifts entanglement theory out of quantum physics and says what if??? Mr. Thomas constructs a wonderfully entangled story that contains just the right amount of facts that leaves one wondering if this tale is in fact within the plane of possibility. The “actual” plane of possibility exists within the world of quantum physics and there at least theoretically everything is possible.

What the Amazon Blurb says:

Entanglement is a quirky mystery with a sci-fi twist that’s influenced by the humor of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett/Neil Gaiman.David’s fiancée worries when he drops out of contact. MI5 panics when a secret airbase vanishes. Liz doesn’t understand when her research subjects go missing. Nigel is confused when he finds an ordinary house brick floating in thin air. And a woman spends her life shifting between parallel worlds. But how can all these things be connected? And why are cakes so important?
Five friends, four mysteries, three deaths, two road trips and a secret that will change the world ... Entanglement is a warm, funny, and original tale about friendship, loss and coping when you’re out of your depth. It also invites readers to ask, “What if?” What if you hadn’t answered that voicemail? And what if grass that never needs cutting wasn't being kept secret by the lawnmower companies?

Miss Austen by Gill Hornby

Thank you Gill Hornby, Flatiron Books and NetGalley for gifting me this digital ARC in exchange for an honest review. The book will be published in the US on April 7, 2020.

Gill Hornby treats her readers to a thoughtful reimagining of Jane Austen’s adult life and early demise utilizing the point of view of her older sister, Cassandra—the story also moves back and forth in time, a favorite plotting device for me.

Using brilliantly reimagined correspondence and conversations the story dips into the shared life of Jane and Cassandra and in doing so pays a lovely tribute to sisterhood, friendship and the various choices the women characters in this novel make out of a sense of duty. Duty not only to family but to creative genius as well.

Two decades after Jane’s death this novel finds Cassandra- now in her 60’s— working to preserve her sister’s reputation. Cassandra wants to shape the narrative so that her sister’s life is perceived as forever calm—unruffled by drama and scandal. She feels it is her duty to curate Jane’s good reputation—she seeks to portray Jane’s  life as one of quiet creativity, spent in the sheltering bosom of her happy family.

Unfollow Me by Charlotte Duckworth

Thank you Charlotte Duckworth, Crooked Lane Press and NetGalley for gifting me this digital ARC in exchange for an honest review. The book will be published in the US on March 10, 2020.

This book is billed as a domestic thriller and does not disappoint.  Ms. Duckworth lifts the curtains and peers beneath the glittery posts of influencer, Violet Young—to look at the gray underbelly of social media— IRL style.

Violet is a vlogger with millions of followers—she is all over social media with accounts on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and FaceBook—all this media attention has drawn commercial sponsorship, as well.

She is the young mother to three girls, the wife of Henry-a bit of a social media influencer himself and her immensely popular vlog “Violet is Blue” is the video portrayal of her personal and family life.

It began innocently enough as a way to help herself and other mums suffering through Postpartum Depression but as she grew in popularity it morphed into a business filled with free gifts, sponsorship and not so “real” content. More often than not, this was coming at the expense of privacy, her children, and her marriage.

Then one morning without any advance warning all of Violet Young’s accounts disappear and are shut down much to the dismay of her millions of followers who feel abandoned and betrayed.

The Dilemma by B.A. Paris

Thank you B. A. Paris, HQ and NetGalley for gifting me this digital ARC in exchange for an honest review. The book will be published in the US on January 9, 2020.

A couple of words about the digital copy that downloaded to my Kindle from NetGalley as it was a bit of a jumble. There was no title page, just a few pages of reviews, a publishing page and then in the middle of a page the book begins. The bold function often over highlights into portions of the text. The body of the text is often separated out into single sentences. But the most perplexing glitch is that either the title of the book, The Dilemma or the author’s name, B.A. Paris is randomly inserted during paragraphs—often in the middle of sentences. Hopefully all this will be resolved before publishing, my version was readable but these glitches did make for cumbersome annoyances while reading.

This book is billed as general adult fiction. Ms. Paris takes a dramatic look into the domestic human psyche—a study of love, life choices, best intentions, secrets and lies—and it proved to be a “clear all decks” edge of your seat kind of read. This is the first book that I have read by B. A. Paris but I am sure to read more now that I have read this one.

Behind Every Lie by Christina McDonald

Thank you Christina McDonald, Gallery Books and NetGalley for gifting me this digital ARC in exchange for an honest review. The book will be published in the US on February 4, 2020.

This adult fiction book is billed as a mystery thriller. Ms. McDonald takes a dramatic look into the domestic human psyche—a study of love, life choices, best intentions, secrets and lies—and it proved to be a lightening bolt of a read. (Sorry I couldn’t resist.)  This is the first book that I have read by Christina McDonald but I am sure to read more now that I have read this one.

Ms. McDonald weaves a tale around a mother and a daughter who are each keeping secrets and the efforts they made to keep them that way. They both have convinced themselves that they are keeping their respective secrets with the purest of best intentions.

Kat and Eva, our mother and daughter, have a complex complicated relationship one that becomes even more emotionally intense when dangerous long held secrets begin to be uncovered.

The author employs one of my favorite plotting styles as the action shifts from present day Seattle as daughter, Eva, desperately searches for answers and the past as mother, Kat, details the life she lived 25 years ago in London with the rich well imagined scenes making you feel as if you are there.

One moment Eva is attending a family dinner party at a restaurant in downtown Seattle to celebrate her mother’s recent award for her dramatic rescue of a young child. The next moment Eva wakes up in a hospital bed, fiancee Liam by her side, but with no memory of how she got there.

Orenda Books

Orenda Books is a British-based publishing house that primarily publishes literary and crime fiction. This London publisher was founded in 2014 by Karen Sullivan, the former managing editor at Arcadia Books and publishes debut and existing authors. 

When I joined Twitter in the spring of 2019, I found myself exposed to a world of new authors and independent publishing houses. The algorithms of Twitter apparently picked up on my anglophile leanings and plunked this Pittsburgh PA girl right down in the middle of the UK version of Bookish Twitter.

Repeatedly I would come across "must read" titles by authors I hadn't heard of--only to find out that the books either hadn't been published in the States or had not yet crossed over to my shore.

I began to follow Karen Sullivan @OrendaBooks as all of their offerings seemed like "must be read" titles but I as I was quick to find out the majority of these books were only available on Amazon. Amazon is great don't get me wrong but I felt there must be better ways to support a small independent book publisher and Amazon not the best way to keep brick and mortar stores alive.

So I sent a tweet to the publisher @OrendaBooks who was extremely kind and helpful. She said that I could find the books I was searching for at Barnes & Noble. I accepted this challenge and proceeded post hast to the nearest location. I selected books by three authors for the challenge and alas I did not find any of the books in store.

It turned out that Barnes & Noble couldn't even order any of my selections but they were able to secure me two different books by another two of my selected authors.

Figuring I had to start somewhere I started with Breakers by Doug Johnstone and The Lingering by SJI Holliday--I was not disappointed as both books made for reading time well spent.

Cue the 2020 COVID pandemic apocalypse and strolling into a book store to browse is a thing of the past. I want to continue to support fellow small businesses (I own a tiny yoga studio) so today as was looking for information to share about Orenda Books I ended up ordering 4 e-books. Here's hoping I have the technical know how to download these books to my IPad. In retrospect perhaps I should have done a test drive with one book---but I couldn't resist. That mission has since been successful as I write this in September 2021--I have read all my Orenda Books and now its the time to go out searching for more...

 

 

A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone

I enjoyed this book. It reminded me of a darker version of the television drama Six Feet Under excepting that it is set in Scotland and the funeral home is run by the women of the family. This is supposed to part of an upcoming series of books which I am looking forward to read.

Breakers by Doug Johnstone

Breakers is a brief vignette into the world of seventeen year old Tyler Wallace—a bit of writing that brilliantly captures an emotional turning point in Tyler’s young life. Doug Johnstone takes us readers on a “poverty safari” -to quote Tyler— through Edinburgh’s underclass using sparse clean language to create a tense, deeply moving book that is filled with a sense of gritty realism.

The Lingering by SJI Holliday

The Lingering is a chilling psychological thriller that had me compulsively reading until all hours of the night. I have been a fan of the gothic genre ever since I stumbled across Victoria Holt in my tweens.

Ms. Holliday serves up a dark, unsettling, modern version of the genre that is chock full of the classic gothic elements that fans of these novels have come to expect: ghosts, secrets, secret rooms, mysterious characters, mysterious deaths, clue filled diaries, rambling old houses with disturbing pasts, remote barren locations—chills and thrills galore.

Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver

I read this book during the chaotic days that followed the US 2020 Presidential elections, starting on the day that for all but the "delusional" the election was called in favor of Joe Biden. It has started my love affair with this author and I have since read 3 more of his books and I really need to read more.

Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald

I read this book during the chaos of the 2020 US Presidental elections as I was in need of some very distracting reads. This filled the bill perfectly--I even loved the perfectly bureaucratic ending.

Brand New Friend by Kate Vane

I found the author Kate Vane via Twitter, we follow each other, and recently I read a book review she posted on her website. I liked her review as it was honest without being hurtful. So I decided to read her latest book.

Rating systems do not allow for partial stars so I am giving this book 4 stars, although in reality I would rate it in the range of 3.5-3.8. In other words somewhere between “I liked it and I really liked it”. I am comfortable leaving my rating at 4 based on the writing strength and the keen ability of Ms. Vane to draw characters and to set scenes.

I found the promo blurbs to be a little misleading so I am creating my own— because this book is different from what you are led to believe—I am not alone in this comment.

For the record, I thought it was going to be a crime mystery wherein a journalist for the BBC, would unravel the “who-done-it” before or by working with the police. And it is sort of…but this book refuses to pigeon-hole itself into one genre and I like that as it makes for a more interesting read. I am also a fan of books that flip through time with alternating storylines involving the past and the present.

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Hi! I'm Debbie. Here at Categorically Well-Read I give an extra layer to the reading life. Learn more about me, check out my current category of books, submit your own suggestion, or check out my latest post.