The Blackhouse

Rating:⭐⭐.5
Author: Peter May
Genres: Mystery
Pub. date: Feb. 2011 (read Jul. 2019)

DNF @ 67%

I was going to try and stick it out, but I can’t do it. My Dad’s been trying to get me to read this series for ages and finally picked it up as an audiobook, but it’s just not working out for me.

Even though I haven’t finished it, I feel like I have experienced enough of this book to give it a bit of a review. Honestly, I would probably still give this a middle ground 3 stars, but it started dragging on and I just don’t have the motivation to finish it. It’s possible it’s the audiobook and I might have enjoyed it better as a print book.

The premise is interesting enough. It’s a classic police investigation story where the investigator is forced to return to his childhood home and confront the trauma of his past. The setting is in remote Scotland, which I actually really liked, and I did think Finn was a complex and interesting character. But only half of this book held my attention. Interestingly enough, I actually didn’t care at all about the present day mystery. Finn is forced to go back to his childhood home to investigate the grizzly murder of the town bully. At the same time, we get flashbacks to an overall mundane childhood.

But it was his childhood that intrigued me. The story is very much character driven by a number of seriously flawed individuals and I was actually quite interested in the drama and intrigue between Finn and his best friend Arthur and their mutual crush, Marshali (don’t know actual spelling as I read as audiobook). There’s a lot of interesting details about the way of life in this remote Scottish town that I found pretty interesting. So it does beg the question why I’m deciding to DNF.

Perhaps I might return to it, but I found the murder investigation pretty boring. I’d tune out for long periods of time, such that I was listening to this while running one day and suddenly realized I had no idea what had happened and had to go back more than 20 MINUTES to get to a place I recognized because I tuned out for so long. I’ve been trying to DNF books a little more when I’m not enjoying them, so even though I think I could push through this one, I think I’ll find something else more engaging.

Sorry Dad, don’t think Peter May is for me.

The Stories You Tell

Rating:
Author: Kristen Lepionka
Genres: Mystery
Pub. date: Jul. 9, 2019 (read Mar. 2019)
Series: Roxane Weary #3

Thanks for Minotaur Books for providing me with a free advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This series is fantastic! I really liked the first book, but honestly, they just keep getting better and better. Roxane is such a great character and I love the balance Lepionka has found between the mystery element and the development of her recurring characters. The secondary characters change up a bit from book to book, but I love Roxane’s relationship with her family and her growing friendships with Tom and Shelby. No comment on Catherine.

Lepionka is a really great writer. I’ve said this in other reviews, but I know she’s great at connecting her readers with her characters because of the level of frustration you feel for them. The characters are extremely compelling and her plots of so relevant to today’s society. They are always, predominantly, mystery novels, but she weaves a lot of relevant social commentary into her stories that makes them so much more meaningful and relatable to her readers. She didn’t have to do anything special with these books and I think they still could have been successful, but I love that she takes the effort to make her stories diverse.

I love that Roxane is bi-sexual and I love how she incorporated some thoughtful commentary on racial justice and equality in this book. Her previous books have focused on the inequity that women face in the justice system and I like how she spent a little bit of time in this book looking at how black people are disenfranchised in the system and drawing attention to the ways in which white people don’t realize what kind of privilege they actually have.

I’m not going to get into the plot too much. At this point, the plot of the mystery doesn’t really matter to me, I’m here for Roxane. I would definitely recommend reading the series in order though because otherwise you’ll miss out on all the great character development! The only thing that wasn’t great about the book was that the transitions between scenes were very abrupt, with no break in structure to let us know the scene had changed. I think this is just a quirk of the ebook arc I had though and I’m expecting this will be changed in the finished copy.

So in conclusion, I highly recommend this series. I totally flew through this installment and read the whole thing in a single day!

Bonfire

 

Rating: 
Author: Krysten Ritter
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
Read: Nov. 2017

 

You guys, this was my 100th book of 2017!!! Feeling so accomplished!!

I LOVE Krysten Ritter. I’m obsessed with her role as Jessica Jones and think the show/Krysten is just the most badass superhero ever! And her instagram account makes me love her even more. She likes to knit and read mystery novels and hang out with her dog Mikey. So I was pretty excited when I saw she was writing a novel (a legit novel too, not just another celebrity autobiography)!

Bonfire didn’t like blow me out of the water or anything, but I thought it was a pretty solid debut. The writing was pretty average, but I thought the story was interesting. Bonfire is about lawyer Abby Williams who left her hometown of Barrens at 18 after some pretty strange events took place and has been running from it ever since.

She returns to Barrens as an environmental lawyer to investigate claims that Optimal, a chemical plant that provides most of the jobs in the community, has been poisoning the water supply and that people have been starting to get sick. She hated Barrens as a teenager and is plagued by memories of her friend Kaycee, who made up a story in their senior year about being sick to exploit Optimal and then disappeared. But now that other people are starting to get sick, Abby wonders if maybe Kaycee was actually telling the truth and can’t ditch the feeling that there’s something she’s missing.

I really liked the whole environmental law angle of the book and that this wasn’t just a who-dunnit murder mystery. The plot was a bit messy in some places though. Even after finishing the book, parts of the story were unclear to me and I found the ending pretty abrupt. I pictured Abby as Jessica Jones several times and I think Ritter was trying to write a gritty kind of lawyer-gone-detective character that I couldn’t quite get into. There were a few subplots that I didn’t really see the point of and some loose ends in the plot that I didn’t like.

Overall I did like this and I’m totally impressed with Ritter for writing it. There’s nothing particularly special about it, but I would definitely read another book if she ever decides to write one!