As She Left it | Catriona McPherson

As She Left It by Catriona McPherson is a novel about the secrets of childhood set in a Leeds council estate.

Untangling the shame and sorrow on Mote Street

At the age of twelve, Opal Jones escaped her mother’s endless drinking and her life in Leeds, England. Returning to the small cottage on Mote Street after her mum’s death is like going back in time. Nosey Mrs. Pickess is still polishing her windows to a sparkle (the better to spy) and Fishbo, Opal’s ancient music teacher, is still playing trumpet. Then, Opal learns about a tragedy the neighborhood has never recovered from: the disappearance of three-year-old Craig Southgate. The sweet, red-haired child Opal once knew was kidnapped — and never seen again.

At first, unraveling the decade-old mystery is a fine distraction from Opal’s own ugly past. But teasing out her neighbors’ dark secrets begins dredging up uncomfortable memories of her own childhood – and a growing suspicion about little Craig’s fate.

This is an astonishing work of fiction.

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The Alchemy of Murder | Carol McCleary

The Alchemy of Murder by Carol McCleary

Paris, the capital of Europe and center of world culture. People have gathered to celebrate the 1889 World’s Fair, a spectacular extravaganza dedicated to new industries, scientific discoveries, and global exploration. Its gateway is the soaring Eiffel Tower. But an enigmatic killer stalks the streets, and a virulent plague is striking down Parisians by the thousands.

The world’s most famous reporter – the intrepid Nellie Bly – is convinced that the killings are connected to the epidemic. Hot off another sensational expose, she travels to Paris to hunt down the mysterious man she calls “the Alchemist.” Along the way she enlists the help of a band of colorful characters: science fiction genius Jules Verne, notorious wit and outrageous rogue Oscar Wilde, and the greatest microbe-hunter in history, Louis Pasteur.

This dazzling historical adventure pits Nellie and her friends against one of the most notorious murderers in history. Together they must solve the crime of the century.

Ooof. This is gonna be… tricky.

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Murder in Mumbai | K. D. Calamur

Murder in Mumbai by K. D. Calamur and look I just have strong opinions about books sometimes ok.

From NPR editor Krishnadev Calamur comes an engrossing murder mystery set in the heart of the new India.

Mumbai, India: a city of beauty and squalor, old and new, wealth and poverty, honest work and deep corruption… and inevitable target of scandal and condemnation if Inspector Vijay Gaikwad doesn’t solve the murder of American businesswoman Liz Barton, and quickly. Just as invested is newspaper reporter Jay Ganesh, looking for the one big story to repair his once-prestigious reputation. Both men soon discover, however, that the case is as difficult to navigate as Mumbai’s infamous traffic. From her cheating husband to the billionaire industrialist with whom she was “close”; from her jealous colleague to the environmentalist protesting her company, Barton was not short on potential enemies… and nor are they short on lies. But the pressure is on for Gaikwad, the family man trying to do right on an often unscrupulous force, to place the blame on someone, anyone, and Jay is determined to be the first with the scoop—no matter how deadly.

I tried. I swear I tried. But in the end… no.

A confession: I LOVE murder mysteries. Give me a dead person and a person investigating it and I’ll eat it up. I even like the Mistress of The Dead stuff and that’s hardly high literature. But. I just… couldn’t enjoy this on any level. This is not going to be a pleasant review to read. If you had anything to do with this book, I’d advise you do something else. Maybe go look at fluffy kittens.

My review copy provided for free by Penguin Group (USA) (who are never going to let me review a book again) through Netgalley.

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The Pleasures of Men | Kate Williams

The Pleasures of Men is a tale of Victorian murders, hypocrisy and inhumanity.

Catherine Sorgeiul lives with her Uncle in a rambling house in London’s East End. She has few companions and little to occupy the days beyond her own colourful imagination. But then a murderer strikes, ripping open the chests of young girls and stuffing hair into their mouths to resemble a beak, leading the press to christen him The Man of Crows. And as Catherine hungrily devours the news, she finds she can channel the voices of the dead … and comes to believe she will eventually channel The Man of Crows himself.

But the murders continue to panic the city and Catherine gradually realizes she is snared in a deadly trap, where nothing is as it first appears … and lurking behind the lies Catherine has been told are secrets more deadly and devastating than anything her imagination can conjure.

This could have been so good. This should have been so good. But I am all disappointment.

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