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WWW Wednesday

Bonjour tout la monde: welcome to WWW Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words in which we ask three simple questions:

  • What are you currently Reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

So, what have I been up to this last week, I hear you ask? Well, let’s see …

What I’m currently reading:

I started In Plain Sight by Marion Todd and would (should) have finished it by now, but I got interrupted by the other half and was wrangled into building a set of Ikea book shelves, two days later … and In Plain Sight is only half finished. But still, this is an intriguing police procedural with an MC that’s shaping up to be someone of interest. This is the second in a series featuring DI Clare MacKay, and wonderfully set in Fife, Scotland.

What I recently finished:

If you follow this blog regularly then you’ll know I recently finished The Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny, which was an outstanding read! One of her best, and certainly, one of the best crime fiction reads for the year, at least, for me it was.

What am I reading next:

Last week I was waiting on book mail that finally came that included my next read—the mystery thriller DEAD STOP by Barbara Nickless. This is the second book in her new series featuring Special Agent Sydney Parnell, a character I really enjoyed in book one, Blood on the Tracks. Not only can Nickless spin a thoroughly absorbing plot, but Sydney is a genuinely unique character both in depth and background.

And you, what are you currently reading, or planning on reading next?

Top Ten Tuesday

So today’s theme for Top Ten Tuesday, from Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl, is what book titles might make good song titles and … whoa, what … come again?

As someone who reads a lot of diverse genre, specifically, crime and science fiction, this one actually had me laughing out loud. No, seriously. I nearly snorted my coffee across the keyboard thinking about the different tiles I just read recently, and how they might appears as a song title.

I mean, who is going to want to sing a lullaby that’s titled THE ABOMINATION (book by Jonathan Holt) or FORCE OF NATURE (book by Jane Harper) though, it is true Force of Nature could, at a squeeze be a song title. Then let’s think of a few SF titles, how about VELOCITY WEAPON (book by Megan O’Keefe), yeah, sure … not unless we’re talking some weird ass heavy metal grunge group going all Mongolian, or something.

Or, how about, CAPTAIN MOXLEY AND THE EMBERS OF THE EMPIRE (book by Dan Hanks), now there’s a catchy title if ever I heard one. Could you image the lyrics to this K-Pop song, sung in French or Korean? No? Nor can I.

But then, who ever thought a song entitled WATERLOO would ever reach the top of the charts across the planet, and go on to make one group of 4 Swedes an international phenomenon!

So where does that leave me?

Probably paddling up a waterfall, in mid-winter, without a chance of ever reaching the top.

But fear not, I’m sat here wracking my last brain cell fuelled on an 11-strength Nespresso capsule and thinking I just might have ten titles that could work. Behold, a miracle:

  1. TATIANA by Martin Cruz Smith — a modern Russian folk ballad
  2. STAR OF THE NORTH by D. B. John — a North Korean Christmas lullaby
  3. SAVING FAITH by David Baldacci — a country & western ballad
  4. THE LONG WAY HOME by Louise Penny — a 60s Quebecois folk song
  5. HARD TIMES by Sara Paretsky — a 50s cowboy love song
  6. FOUR BLIND MICE by James Patterson — a children’s nursery rhyme
  7. FOOLPROOF by Barbara D’Amato — a Motown dance number
  8. THE CUBAN AFFAIR by Nelson deMille — a 50s latino salsa hit
  9. THE BOTTOMS by Joe R. Lansdale — a 1920s flapper hit
  10. THE BEGGAR’S OPERA by Peggy Blair — the latest from Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice

So, how did I do? Did my choices give you a giggle at least? I hope so. And you, what books have you chosen? I’m sure you have all come up with some better titles than I have. Leave a comment, and your links, and let’s all enjoy!

Force of Nature by Jane Harper

Book Summary

Five women reluctantly pick up their backpacks and start walking along a muddy track.

Only four come out on the other side.

The hike through the rugged Giralang Ranges is meant to take the office colleagues out of their air-conditioned comfort zone and encourage teamwork and resilience. At least, that’s what the corporate retreat website advertises.

Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk has a keen interest in the whereabouts of the missing hiker, Alice Russell. Because Alice knew secrets, about the company she worked for and the people she worked with.

The four returning women tell Falk a tale of fear, violence and fractured trust during their days in the remote Australian bushland. And as Falk delves into the disappearance of Alice, he begins to suspect some dangers ran far deeper than anyone knew.

What I Thought

Jane Harper has done it again. She has captured lightning in a bottle not once, but twice. With FORCE OF NATURE she has crafted a second beguiling novel, with a tapestry of threads that crisscross throughout the story weaving a masterpiece of misdirection till the final reveal. A surprise, I for one, never saw coming. The clever red herrings, the subtle misdirects, she does it all to perfection. You think you know what’s going on? You don’t. And believe me, I’m pretty good at sussing out the culprit early on. Not this time around.

Harper’s oh so believable cast of characters—highlighting the best and worst of human nature under duress, and in a hostile environment—are people you might know, people you might have met or worked with, people who, as the story progresses, start to fall apart. I loved every scene and every page detailing what happened to the five women as they set out on what should be, a bonding weekend. As they dissolve into a female version of Lord of the Flies. Every bitching, snide remark, every possible slight, every hurt revealed. Every fibre of these women is shredded, slowly and surely, till they become their own worst enemies.

For me, this is writing at its best. The detail, the emotion, the pain and the secrets, are all slowly laid bare for us. Every scab is picked at till it bleeds, and we see what’s beneath the thin veneer of respectability. Five women from the same company, but from different strata, thrown together and then, go feral. But there is so much more than that, so much more than the in-fighting. Lives and secrets opened up along with the lies and deceit. And why people do what they do. Harper gets in there, beneath the skin, and exposes it all.

Aaron Falk, who was, for the most part, the focus of The Dry, takes almost a back seat in FORCE OF NATURE, as Harper alternates chapters featuring the slow dissolution of the five women, and between Falk, his new partner, Carmen, and the search for the missing woman. Each dynamic has its part to play in the story as a whole, and each chapter dovetails cleverly to keep you guessing. I liked how we got to see a bit more of Falk’s history with his father, filling out more of his own backstory, while not deflecting from the story at hand, the missing women lost in an unforgiving outback.

A rugged brutal landscape that is the perfect backdrop to this kind of story, and a character in and of it self. All adding to the tension that slowly builds towards a heartbreaking reveal. Nothing and no one is ever what they seem, and Harper makes sure we are left wondering right up till the last few pages about the who, why, and how.

Clever twist and turns, so that you never quite know what’s going to happen next, or what these women might say or do next, is, believe it or not, a gripping read. Try it for yourself, you will not be disappointed.

Waiting on Wednesday

Today, for a change, I thought I would do a Waiting on Wednesday post for you, about a book I’m really anticipating. This is a weekly prompt to highlight and bring attention to upcoming releases that we’re anticipating and amped up for. This prompt is brought to you by Jill over at Breaking the Spine.

Of the many books on my Wish List, and yes, there are a few, the one that I’m really eager to get my hands on, at the moment, having just recently read Kingdom of the Blind, is ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE by Louise Penny. This will be her 16th book in the The Three Pines series featuring Armand Gamache. But, as the summary below tells us, Gamache is no longer in his beloved Québec, but has travelled further afield, and everything is not as it should be. But then again, when is it ever, in a Louise Penny book?

I am so excited about reading this one because Penny has taken Gamache outside of his familiar territory and comfort zone, and dumped him in what will be, I hope, one of Penny’s best books to date.

Book Summary

On their first night in Paris, the Gamaches gather as a family for a bistro dinner with Armand’s godfather, the billionaire Stephen Horowitz. Walking home together after the meal, they watch in horror as Stephen is knocked down and critically injured in what Gamache knows is no accident, but a deliberate attempt on the elderly man’s life.

When a strange key is found in Stephen’s possession it sends Armand, his wife Reine-Marie, and his former second-in-command at the Sûreté, Jean-Guy Beauvoir, from the top of the Tour Eiffel, to the bowels of the Paris Archives, from luxury hotels to odd, coded, works of art.

It sends them deep into the secrets Armand’s godfather has kept for decades.

A gruesome discovery in Stephen’s Paris apartment makes it clear the secrets are more rancid, the danger far greater and more imminent, than they realized.

Soon the whole family is caught up in a web of lies and deceit.  In order to find the truth, Gamache will have to decide whether he can trust his friends, his colleagues, his instincts, his own past.  His own family.

For even the City of Light casts long shadows. And in that darkness devils hide.

ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE
by Louise Penny
Murder Mystery
Hardback | 448 pages
Sept 1 2020 by Minotaur Books