Category Archives: crime

The Night Ship by Jess Kidd -a review

the night shipThe Night Ship by Jess Kidd

ONE SHIPWRECK.
TWO MISFITS.
THREE CENTURIES APART.

1629. Embarking on a journey in search of her father, a young girl called Mayken boards the Batavia, the most impressive sea vessel of the age. During the long voyage, this curious and resourceful child must find her place in the ship’s stratified world. She soon uncovers shadowy secrets above and below deck and as tensions spiral, the fate of the ship and all on board becomes increasingly uncertain.

1989. Gil, a boy mourning the death of his mother, is placed in the care of his cranky grandfather. Their home is a shack on a tiny fishing island off the West Australian coast, notable only for its reefs and wrecked boats. This is no place for a boy struggling with a dark past, and Gil’s actions soon get him noticed by the wrong people.

The Night Ship is an enthralling tale of human brutality, fate and friendship – and of two children, hundreds of years apart, whose destinies are inextricably bound together.

Published 5 July 2022  |  Publisher: Penguin Random House  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

“The dead can’t hurt you, Gil. It’s the living you need to watch out for.”

I read a history book on Batavia a few years ago so I knew the horrific things that went on then. I was curious though with the last line of the book description, “two children, hundreds of years apart, whose destinies are inextricably bound together.” This seems like a timeslip sort of read to me which is a favourite of mine.

Of course, then, there are 2 perspectives: Mayken in 1629 as a passenger of Batavia and Gil in 1989 as boy coming to live with his grandfather on Beacon Island. Neither fit their expected moulds and seek to express their individualism which attracted scorn and more. There wasn’t actually a huge link between them but what there was keeps making me think that there was going to be more. Sitting back after the read, however, I thought what there was was rather sweet in its poignancy and nothing more is needed.

The Night Ship is a story of grief and courage; the depravity of people and also the loving side of human nature. It’s all bound up together is a messy knot but you just can’t give up hope. A terribly riveting read as I could truly imagine myself being tossed about by the waves on a ship made of wood and all kinds of horrible smells abound. I was completely mesmerised by the characters and very much under their spells as I just needed to know what happens to them at the end.

My thanks to Penguin Random House for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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All Four Quarters of the Moon by Shirley Marr -a review

All Four Quarters of the MoonAll Four Quarters of the Moon by Shirley Marr

A big-hearted story of love and resilience, starring sisters and storytellers Peijing and Biju, a lost family finding their way, a Little World made of paper, a Jade Rabbit, and the ever-changing but constant moon.

Making mooncakes with Ah Ma for the Mid-Autumn Festival was the last day of Peijing’s old life. Now, adapting to their new life in Australia, Peijing thinks everything will turn out okay for her family as long as they have each other – but cracks are starting to appear.

Her little sister, Biju, needs Peijing to be the dependable big sister. Ma Ma is no longer herself; Ah Ma keeps forgetting who she is; and Ba Ba, who used to work seven days a week, is adjusting to being a hands-on dad.

How will Peijing cope with the uncertainties of her own little world while shouldering the burden of everyone else? And if Peijing’s family are the four quarters of the mooncake, where does she fit in?

Published 5 July 2022  |  Publisher: Penguin Random House  |  RRP: AUD$16.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (5 / 5 stars)

What we all should be is our favorite versions of ourselves

I am very privileged to have been gifted this copy by the author, Shirley Marr, and even as I got to read this second (my 12 yo got his hands on it first), I am truly humbled by the reading experience. Such a moving story overflowing with feelings and many sage advices.

The novel opens with a beautiful celebration of Mid Autumn festival amid the utter shambles of moving. The Guo family is leaving the very next day, to fly over the vast ocean, away from the embrace of their big noisy family. They are moving to Australia for a better job for Ba Ba (father), better education for the girls, and a better life for all the family. I remember my own big move to Australia and all the feelings which Peijing, our protagonist, struggled with; it’s big and complex and the author has caught all this perfectly in Peijing.

The Guo family is made up of some truly beautiful characters: wise Ah ma (grandmother), surprisingly involved Ba Ba (father), broken but strong Ma Ma (mother), a very good older sister (Peijing the protagonist), and a lively younger sister (Biju). They are not perfect but they are a family. While the story is told from Peijing’s perspectives and we see her struggles most (especially in the big adjustment of a new country), we see many bits and pieces of the others as they face their own struggles. It makes a very poignant tale.

While I arrive in Australia a decade later than the setting in this book, the very real push & pull between cultures, past & present, adults & children still do exist. Even today, I struggle on what I should adopt or preserve and instil in my own children! This novel explored all these and more. We were shown thoughts and feelings from different characters, both children and adult. I loved this part of the story as this is an ongoing struggle, every day, and I’m so happy to be able to share something like this with my children who are so lucky to have been born and living in Australia.

In between chapters, we are given snippets of stories Biju tells Peijing. These stories are mythology based orally told which she first heard from the older generation. These stories are weaved in throughout the main plot of the novel and also in a way, are reflected in life lessons. As usual, these stories usually have moral lessons but as you hear them from a 5 year old, their take (as you know) can be quite refreshing and sometimes, enlightening. I can’t help but snort laugh at some of their perspectives of these stories/morals.

All Four Quarters of the Moon is a story about a young girl. Of 2 sisters. Of everlasting friendships. Of cultures and growing up. Of the fragility and preciousness of life. But at the very centre of it, a heartwarming story of family.

My heartfelt thanks to the author for sending me an uncorrected proof of this book. All thoughts are honest & mine

About the author

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The Crimson Thread by Kate Forsyth -a review

the crimson threadThe Crimson Thread by Kate Forsyth

Set in Crete during World War II, Alenka, a young woman who fights with the resistance against the brutal Nazi occupation finds herself caught between her traitor of a brother and the man she loves, an undercover agent working for the Allies.

May 1941. German paratroopers launch a blitzkrieg from the air against Crete. They are met with fierce defiance, the Greeks fighting back with daggers, pitchforks and kitchen knives. During the bloody eleven-day battle, Alenka, a young Greek woman, saves the lives of two Australian soldiers.

Jack and Teddy are childhood friends who joined up together to see the world. Both men fall in love with Alenka. They are forced to retreat with the tattered remains of the Allied forces over the towering White Mountains. Both are among the 7000 Allied soldiers left behind in the desperate evacuation from Crete’s storm-lashed southern coast.

Alenka hides Jack and Teddy at great risk to herself. Her brother Axel is a Nazi sympathiser and collaborator, and spies on her movements.

As Crete suffers under the Nazi jackboot, Alenka is drawn into an intense triangle of conflicting emotions with Jack and Teddy. Their friendship suffers under the strain of months of hiding and their rivalry for her love. Together, they join the resistance and fight to free the island, but all three will find themselves tested to their limits. Alenka must choose whom to trust and whom to love and, in the end, whom to save.

Published 5 July 2022  |  Publisher: Penguin Random House  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

whoever fights monsters need to take care they do not become a monster themselves

The Crimson Thread is one of my highly anticipated 2022 release. Primarily due to Kate Forsyth being a favourite author of mine, starting with her earlier fantasy series and also, I have mostly enjoyed her ‘series’ of loose fairy tale retellings. Her novels always feature strong and intelligent heroines determined to carve their own places in the world and not where society expects them to.

I love WWII stories so I thought for sure this one was going to be a winner for me. BUT! Love triangles, oh, I wanted to cry… However, Forsyth’s writing was just so immersive that it kept drawing me on and on to the ending. I have a deep seated anxiety that usually, I would have dropped the book like a hot potato. Her lyrical writing with her clever weaving of Greek mythology were such that I couldn’t bear not to finish. Of course, it helped that one other character was a definite putz so you could tell earlier on which pairing is it.

5 stars for the brilliant craft and prose but I just had to take off one teeny bit little star because I was just too too upset with the triangle trope. The Crimson Thread is a mesmerising story of courage and resilience, friendship and betrayal, and of course, of love.

My thanks to Penguin Random House for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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Stone Town by Margaret Hickey -a review

stone townStone Town by Margaret Hickey

Stone Town is captivating new rural crime drama from the author of the bestselling Cutters End.

With its gold-rush history long in the past, Stone Town has seen better days. And it’s now in the headlines for all the wrong reasons . . .

When three teenagers stumble upon a body in dense bushland one rainy Friday night, Senior Sergeant Mark Ariti’s hopes for a quiet posting in his old home town are shattered. The victim is Aidan Sleeth, a property developer, whose controversial plan to buy up local land means few are surprised he ended up dead.

However, his gruesome murder is overshadowed by a mystery consuming the entire nation: the disappearance of Detective Sergeant Natalie Whitsed.

Natalie had been investigating the celebrity wife of crime boss Tony ‘The Hook’ Scopelliti when she vanished. What did she uncover? Has it cost her her life? And why are the two Homicide detectives, sent from the city to run the Sleeth case, so obsessed with Natalie’s fate?

Following a late-night call from his former boss, Mark is sure of one thing: he’s now in the middle of a deadly game . . .

Published 1 July 2022  |  Publisher: Penguin Random House  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

Cutters Ends, Hickey’s debut, was published last year and I enjoyed it tremendously so it was with keen anticipation, I cracked open Stone Town wherein, once again, we meet Senior Sergeant Mark Ariti. Hmm… confused already? I was pretty sure he was a detective and lived in Adelaide! The first few pages threw me off a bit but a bit later on, I found out that at least a year has passed since Cutters EndsOnly once I accepted that quite some time has passed and a number of personal events occurred with Ariti, did I manage to proceed with the present issue/crime.

I enjoyed this setting quite a lot especially with Mark Ariti resettling himself as a local, living in what was his mother’s but now his home, and just being in the know of the local gossips and networks. Though apparently not as well as he thought. That last twist in the epilogue was just gold!

Once more, Hickey has delivered a remarkable rural crime novel. A rather laidback pacing comparable to a rural kind of life but such twists and turns that shocked and thrilled readers all at the same time. While Stone Town is a sequel, I don’t believe that you need to read Cutters End to enjoy this one. This one reads quite well as a stand alone despite some references to earlier case but you really didn’t need to know. Fair warning, though, you’d probably want to read Cutters End after this, if you haven’t already.

My thanks to Penguin Random House for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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The 6:20 Man by David Baldacci -a review

The 620 ManThe 6:20 Man by David Baldacci

Having survived combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq and been decorated with medals, Travis Devine mysteriously leaves the Army under a cloud of suspicion. And at thirty-two years old, he’s swapping fighting the Taliban and Al Qaeda for a different kind of danger in the cut-throat world of high finance.

His daily commute on the 6.20 a.m. train into New York’s financial district, to his new job as an analyst at the minted powerhouse investment bank Cowl and Comely, takes him into a world where greed, power, jealousy and ambition result in the financial abuse of the masses and the enrichment of an elite few. But it is on this daily journey that he passes a house where he sees something that sounds alarm signals he cannot ignore.

A close friend of Devine’s, Sarah Ewes, is the first victim and the mysterious circumstances surrounding her death at Cowl and Comely compel him to investigate further. As he digs deeper, he discovers strange coincidences and unnerving truths. As the deaths pile up, and the major players show their hands, he must question who he can trust and who he must fight.

Published 28 June 2022  |  Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$34.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

I have to admit that while I’m a huge fan of a couple of Baldacci’s series (Atlee Pine &  John Puller), I just couldn’t get into the others. My interest in this one is really geared by the idea of this protagonist’s  9 to 5 grind, which basically is also my life (thanks, Financial lines!), until life threw a huge spanner in his way. This made a great thrilling read (but I don’t want that kind of spanner in my life, lol).

Travis Devine is an easily likeable character. He’s highly intelligent and also physically capable man. And he wants truth and justice to prevail but sometimes, that just doesn’t happen in real life. Due to a misstep, he is now punishing himself and redemption seems far away especially when the past came back to haunt him. There is no choice for Devine now but to dive in and find the killers as well as deal with the underhanded world of Wall Street. 

He is definitely a hit with me. Baldacci definitely knows his craft and kept the pace tight yet the human interest of Devine and other characters were truly touching. I don’t think the whole mystery is quite wrapped up yet though I could be wrong but I think, I hope, that this is just a set up (a first book) for a series. I’d love to see Travis Devine again and hopefully, see him more settled in his role.

My thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for this copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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The Falcon by Isabella Maldonado -a review

The FalconThe Falcon (Nina Guerrera #3) by Isabella Maldonado

A serial killer wants to play. FBI Agent Nina Guerrera has no time for games.

Six female undergrads at an elite university vanish. The media descends. The families demand action. And as Special Agent Nina Guerrera follows clue by chilling clue, she realizes she’s tracking the most cunning predator of her career.

The case takes a turn for the worse, and the bizarre, when several victims are found perfectly preserved. No signs of violence, no hint of how they died. Just more evidence that the killer is cruel, calculating, and a master of mind control.

With her mission compromised, Nina must face her greatest failure—and greatest fear—to stop a deadly hunter before he claims another prize.

Published 28 June 2022 |  Publisher: Thomas & Mercer  |  RRP: AUD$25.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

Special Agent Nina Guerrera is definitely one of my favourite fictional crime buster. She’s oh-so-broken but yet oh-so-kick-ass!! And her loyal teammates are just the perfect foil to her solitary warrior outlook. As the mystery to her background was pretty much resolved in the last book, I was curious where the author was going to take Nina next and whether it will be comparably thrilling… no worries there, she’s definitely got me engaged and I really can’t wait to see Nina develop as a character in future.

I don’t want to give too much away but The Falcon was an intriguing mix of Egyptology, psychology, falconry, technology, and so many other interesting bits which made the read really fascinating. There were some images which may be a lot paper in print but I had to skip reading because it was just too small on my basic kindle. Plus, one particular incident which didn’t quite make sense to me but as I read an uncorrected proof, this might’ve been fixed for the final print. Otherwise, this series is becoming one of my favourites and I can’t wait for book 4.

My thanks to Thomas & Mercer for ecopy of book via NetGalley in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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Dirt Town by Hayley Scrivenor -a review

dirt townDirt Town by Hayley Scrivenor

My best friend wore her name, Esther, like a queen wearing her crown at a jaunty angle. We were twelve years old when she went missing.

On a sweltering Friday afternoon in Durton, best friends Ronnie and Esther leave school together. Esther never makes it home.

Ronnie’s going to find her, she has a plan. Lewis will help. Their friend can’t be gone, Ronnie won’t believe it.

Detective Sergeant Sarah Michaels can believe it. She has seen what people are capable of. She knows more than anyone how, in a moment of weakness, a person can be driven to do something they never thought possible.

Lewis can believe it too. But he can’t reveal what he saw that afternoon at the creek without exposing his own secret.

Five days later, Esther’s buried body is discovered.

What do we owe the girl who isn’t there?

Character-rich and propulsive, with a breathtakingly original use of voice and revolving points of view, Dirt Town delves under the surface, where no one can hide. With emotional depth and sensitivity, this stunning debut shows us how much each person matters in a community that is at once falling apart and coming together.

Esther will always be a Dirt Town child, as we are its children, still.

Published 31 May 2022|  Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s 

My Blurb (5 / 5 stars)

What a STUNNING debut! Undoubtedly one of my best reads of 2022 and I’m going to start this review, right off the bat, by Highly Recommending this book. You’ll not regret it. Actually, you will regret it if you don’t.

I thought Dirt Town was a novel I was going to enjoy as I do enjoy my crime reads. However, after a few pages, I knew I was not just going to enjoy this read. This read was more. I still can’t quite point the finger at exactly what it is but it was just such a rich read; compelling prose, concrete characters, engaging mystery and I am just in awe.

The description notes ‘revolving points of view’ and this phrase both interests me and made me a bit anxious but for once, I don’t have any complaint on the multiple perspectives. Each one was clear and definite, each voice unique. Sometimes, I found it a bit strange as moving on to another perspective, we are going over the same time period or scene as the previous chapter/perspective BUT it’s not actually going over old grounds as it were but different perspectives, in this novel, truly gave another viewpoint, another dimension to a certain scene. It really flesh out the whole story and made it ever more solid.

I could literally feel the snowball effect as I read; it started off slow but sure and after halfway, I could feel it gaining speed and the end was heartbreaking. The ending wasn’t as dark as some other crime/rural noir novels and in that way, I appreciated it a whole lot more. An immensely satisfying read, do yourself a favour and read this book. Then do me a favour by letting me know your thoughts x

My thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for this copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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No Less The Devil by Stuart MacBride -a review

no less the devilNo Less The Devil by Stuart MacBride

Introducing an original and intriguing new lead character, Stuart MacBride’s new novel showcases a crime-writing master at the top of his game.

‘We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.’

It’s been seventeen months since the Bloodsmith butchered his first victim and Operation Maypole is still no nearer catching him. The media is whipping up a storm, the top brass are demanding results, but the investigation is sinking fast.

Now isn’t the time to get distracted with other cases, but Detective Sergeant Lucy McVeigh doesn’t have much choice. When Benedict Strachan was just eleven, he hunted down and killed a homeless man. No one’s ever figured out why Benedict did it, but now, after sixteen years, he’s back on the streets again – battered, frightened, convinced a shadowy ‘They’ are out to get him, and begging Lucy for help.

It sounds like paranoia, but what if he’s right? What if he really is caught up in something bigger and darker than Lucy’s ever dealt with before? What if the Bloodsmith isn’t the only monster out there? And what’s going to happen when Lucy goes after them?

Published 3 May 2022|  Publisher: Penguin Random House  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (4.5 / 5 stars)

I was excited to receive this book in the mail since I was totally in the mood for a crime read. While I’ve heard of this author, I’ve yet to read any of his books so while I can’t tell his fans if this new book is as good as his other books, I can tell you that I’m keen to explore his backlist now.

Detective Sergeant Lucy McVeigh appears to be the standard protagonist of a police procedural novel in that she’s like a dog with a bone when presented with a case and she is broken. There’s something in her past which we learnt of later on in the novel. She mostly gets along with her team and has a loyal partner though he seems a lot younger and immature in comparison to her. Herein lies the humour which breaks the bleakness of the novel and I really enjoyed the dynamics between these two.

I was caught by surprise by some of the language and maybe that’s because I’ve never read his books before or maybe I don’t read enough Scottish books but I don’t think I’ve ever heard some of these words before: hurple (I love the sound of this word! Say it out loud to yourself and see what I mean), clarted (only cuz it rhymes with farted – I’ve been hanging out too much with my boys), dunt, sook (as in ‘sucking a cigarette’ and not ‘being a sook’), etc. This may be a reason in itself to read more of MacBride’s!

What started as a pretty solid police procedural changed in a somewhat unpredictable way approximately 3/4 through the novel. At first, I wasn’t sure if I like this change because it turned into a psychological thriller which I’m not a fan of… I didn’t mind the ending but I’m still not sure whether I like it or not; maybe that’s TBD after I read the sequel 🤣

My thanks to Penguin Random House for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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Unforgiven by Sarah Barrie -a review

unforgivenUnforgiven by Sarah Barrie

Once a victim, she’s now a vigilante. An addictive and suspenseful thriller for readers of Candice Fox and Sarah Bailey.

Lexi Winter is tough, street-smart and has stood on her own two feet since childhood, when she was a victim of notorious paedophile the Spider. All she cares about now is a roof over her head and her long-term relationship with Johnny Walker. She isn’t particular about who she sleeps with … as long as they pay before leaving.

Lexi is also an ace hacker, tracking and entrapping local paedophiles and reporting them to the cops. When she finds a particularly dangerous paedophile who the police can’t touch, she decides to gather enough evidence to put him away. Instead, she’s a witness to his death …

Detective Inspector Rachael Langley is the cop who cracked the Spider case, 18 years earlier – but failed to protect Lexi. Now a man claiming to be the real Spider is emulating his murderous acts, and Rachael is under pressure from government, media and her police colleagues. Did she get it wrong all those years ago, or is this killer is a copycat?

Lexi and Rachael cross paths at last, the Spider in their sights … but they may be too late …

Published 1 December 2021|  Publisher: Harlequin Australia  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

I feel that I should have enjoyed this book a lot more than I actually did. I just feel that this past couple of months, I just wasn’t loving anything I read so it could be a mini slump or just a terrible mood. From my reading of Unforgiven, I would normally have loved it and could barely put it down but I was just reading a slow chapter by chapter. I loved this idea of 2 protagonists from what seems to be opposite sides of life yet their past connected them deeply and their lives are once more to collide. I couldn’t wait to get to that part of the story where the 2 separate threads start to cross each other.

All characters were easily likeable and I especially loved Lexi’s enterprising neighbour! I did find the crime itself a little hard to read but I appreciate the twist upon twist of who the real villain is at the end. There is one flyaway thread though so I am wondering if there’s supposed to be a sequel. I can’t handle a flyaway thread so here’s hoping for a closure!

My thanks to The Book Stack for this paperback copy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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A Little Bird by Wendy James -a review

a little birdA Little Bird by Wendy James

A homecoming snares a young woman in a dangerous tangle of lies, secrets, and bad blood in this gripping novel by the bestselling author of An Accusation.

Running from a bad relationship, journalist Jo Sharpe heads home to Arthurville, the drought-stricken town she turned her back on years earlier. While some things have changed—her relationship with her ailing, crotchety father, her new job at the community newspaper—Jo finds that her return has rekindled the grief and uncertainty she experienced during her childhood following the inexplicable disappearance of her mother and baby sister.

Returning to Arthurville has its unexpected pleasures, though, as Jo happily reconnects with old friends and makes a few new ones. But she can’t let go of her search for answers to that long-ago mystery. And as she keeps investigating, the splash she’s making begins to ripple outward—far beyond the disappearance of her mother and sister.

Jo is determined to dig as deep as it takes to get answers. But it’s not long before she realises that someone among the familiar faces doesn’t want her picking through the debris of the past. And they’ll go to any lengths to silence the little bird before she sings the truth.

Published 30 November 2021|  Publisher: Lake Union Publishing  |  RRP: AUD$24.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

This is the first time I have read this author even as her name sounds vaguely familiar, I just haven’t read any of her previous books. A Little Bird is a story set in a small Australian community where, on the surface, nothing terrible ever happened. Yet, as we follow our journalist protagonist, Jo Sharpe, as she returned to her hometown and searched for reasons her mother left town when she was a little girl.

I found A Little Bird to be very easy and riveting read; easily likeable protagonist, engaging mystery (with tidbits from the past too), and interesting setting. I did guess correctly the identity of the villain though I didn’t quite get the reason BUT the little twist at the end was brilliant.

My thanks to Lake Union Publishing for ecopy of book via NetGalley in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

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