Book Review: Murder by the Seaside by Cecily Gayford

Name:  Murder by the Seaside
Cecily Gayford (Editor)
Number of Pages: 
223 (Kindle)
May 12th 2022 by Profile books
Genre: Mystery, Crime


It’s the height of summer. As the heat shimmers on the streets and ice cream melts onto sticky fingers, tempers begin to rise and old grudges surface. From Cornish beaches to the French Riviera, it’s not just a holiday that’s on people’s minds … it’s murder.
In these ten classic stories from writers such as Dorothy L. Sayers, Cyril Hare and Margery Allingham, you’ll find mayhem and mysteries aplenty. So grab the suncream and head down to the beach – if you dare.

My Rating:


My Thoughts:

Murder by the Seaside is a collection of short stories edited by Cecily Gayford. The stories included are:

The Boscombe Valley Mystery – Arthur Conan Doyle
Weight and See – Cyril Hare
Error at Daybreak – John Dickson Carr (Carter Dickson)
The Absence of Mr Glass – G. K. Chesterton
Razor Edge – Anthony Berkeley
The Furies – Michael Innes
Daisy Bell – Gladys Mitchell
A Mystery of the Sand-hills – R. Austin Freeman
Superintendent Wilson’s Holiday – G. D. H. & M. Cole
Man Overboard – Edmund Crispin

As you can probably guess, all the stories have some link to a seaside/coastal setting, and each has some sort of crime at it’s centre just waiting for the right kind of detective to come along and make sense of it all. Be it life and death, or some kind of deception for as-yet unknown reasons, there’s a variety here to keep you entertained and guessing throughout.

This collection introduced me to authors I’ve never read before, and threw in some old familiars too, such as Arthur Conan Doyle, which reminds me that it’s a very long time since I read a Sherlock Holmes story.

Each story was quite different. There were many twists and turns throughout, and even by the end I was no closer to working out whodunnit in most cases.

I usually choose really long books, so it was something of a novelty to be able to pick this up and read a whole story in one sitting. It was quite refreshing and I enjoyed that, and also experiencing so many new-to-me authors. I’ve been reading a lot of Agatha Christie lately so it was nice to have a variety of takes on a similar theme from different authors. That said, I am looking forward to getting back to another Poirot book.

Murder by the Seaside is an entertaining collection for a warm afternoon when you want a bit of a mystery to read in one sitting.

Book Review: Death Comes as the End by Agatha Christie

Name:  Death Comes as the End
Agatha Christie
Number of Pages: 
336 (Kindle)
February 27th 2010 (first published October 1944)
Genre: Mystery, Crime, Historical


In this startling historical mystery, unique in the author’s canon, Agatha Christie presents the puzzle of a deadly mystery at the heart of a dissonant family in ancient Egypt. Imhotep, wealthy landowner and priest of Thebes, has outraged his sons and daughters by bringing a beautiful concubine into their fold. And the manipulative Nofret has already set about a plan to usurp her rivals’ rightful legacies. When her lifeless body is discovered at the foot of a cliff, Imhotep’s own flesh and blood become the apparent conspirators in her shocking murder. But vengeance and greed may not be the only motives…

My Rating:


My Thoughts:

Following my recent read of Death on the Nile I decided to pick up another Agatha Christie mystery set in Egypt, Death Comes as the End.

The story revolves around the family of Imhotep, and sets a scene of domestic disharmony which is made many times worse upon the arrival of a young woman, Nofret, who has a talent for troublemaking. She knows she has a degree of power, and is confident enough in her position to go about causing discord and unease amongst the siblings and their families without regard for the consequences.
If things were unsettled before Nofret arrived, they were certainly worse afterwards, and more so when head of the family Imhotep goes away on business and leaves Nofret behind, ordering his family to look after her.
The simmering tension and animosity has a violent outcome, and from there the tale takes on an unexpected very slight hint of the supernatural, and one death follows another as someone or something develops a taste for murder.

Renisenb is Imhotep’s daughter. She is recently widowed, has returned home to her family, and is the main viewpoint throughout the story. She goes from suspicion to disbelief to horror as it is suggested that someone amongst her own family might actually be responsible for the awful occurrences. She ponders on characters and personalities, and how what lies within and drives a person may be very different from their outer appearance.

The characters drive this story, from eldest son Yahmose and his strong-willed wife Satipy, to trusted family friend Hori and the newly arrived Kameni. I also really liked Esa, the oldest member of the family, and possibly the most observant. She watches as trouble of various kinds unfolds within the family home and eventually develops some theories of her own as to what is going on.

Death Comes as the End has the familiar feel of a Christie story – a murder steeped in mystery, a number of suspects, an investigation of sorts, although not in the more typical format of a detective’s involvement. In this case it is Renisenb and her thoughts that propel us through the twists and turns.

There’s also something quite different in this story which made it enjoyable. The ancient Egypt setting gives it something of an historical air, and the characters and their lives are quite unique to many that I’ve encountered in my Christie reading so far. Definitely one to consider if you’re looking for something a little different in your Agatha Christie murder mystery reading.

Book Review: Death on the Nile (Hercule Poirot #17) by Agatha Christie

Name:  Death on the Nile (Hercule Poirot #17)
Agatha Christie
Number of Pages: 
320 (Kindle)
July 5th 2005 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published November 1st 1937)
Genre: Mystery, Crime


Beloved detective Hercule Poirot embarks on a journey to Egypt in one of Agatha Christie’s most famous mysteries.
The tranquility of a luxury cruise along the Nile was shattered by the discovery that Linnet Ridgeway had been shot through the head. She was young, stylish, and beautiful. A girl who had everything . . . until she lost her life.
Hercule Poirot recalled an earlier outburst by a fellow passenger: “I’d like to put my dear little pistol against her head and just press the trigger.” Yet under the searing heat of the Egyptian sun, nothing is ever quite what it seems.
A sweeping mystery of love, jealousy, and betrayal, Death on the Nile is one of Christie’s most legendary and timeless works.

My Rating:


My Thoughts:

All aboard the S. S. Karnak for murder and mystery with Hercule Poirot. All he really wanted was a holiday, but somehow the great detective manages to find himself onboard a steamer on the Nile accompanied by murderers and more. There’s no rest for this detective, not at this point anyway.

Plot-wise we have many tried-and-tested ingredients. Take one famous detective. Add one extremely wealthy heiress, her new husband, and her former friend. Sprinkle in hints of betrayal, jealousy and resentment. Blend with a varied group of travelling companions and a number of concealed secrets and allow to simmer under the heat of the sun on a river cruise along the Nile.
The result? A perfect portion of Death on the Nile.

Initially this is a leisurely paced story. It was about a quarter of the way through before the group boarded the Karnak. Instead, the scene is set at a hotel in Egypt where various parties gather and spend their days, living their own dramas and observing their companions do the same. There’s also the build-up to Linnet’s marriage, which comes as something of a surprise to more than one person. More shocks are in store as Linnet and her new husband Simon set out to enjoy their honeymoon, much to the annoyance of her former friend Jacqueline, who has a strange knack of turning up in whichever location the would-be happy couple visit next.
This leisurely scene-setting allows for some sightseeing for the reader too, which brings me on to…

The setting, which was rich and immersive. I thought you could tell from the descriptions that it was a place Christie had experienced and enjoyed and she captured a real air of it in these pages. The vastness of the place provided a great contrast with the setting of the Karnak. Even in such an idyllic setting it’s possible to feel trapped and closed in, on board a boat with a group of people who may wish you ill, as Linnet comes to believe as the journey progresses.

The pace picks up after the central event, as Poirot sets to work trying to identify the killer, and as always there are plenty of tangled threads to unpick, and a number of red herrings to throw the reader off the scent. There’s a great air of mystery surrounding so many people on this boat, and plenty of intrigue amongst the clues.

I liked Poirot a lot in this novel, and the way he interacted with various passengers, especially the central trio, Linnet and Simon Doyle, and Jacqueline de Bellefort. All three of these characters were intriguing, as were many of their travel companions, some of whom know the newlyweds, some of whom happen to be onboard the Karnak by chance. There’s a vulnerability to some of them that ignites Poirot’s sympathy and compassion, and I liked this side of the character.

The central mystery surrounds who killed Linnet Doyle, but there are many other things going on aboard the boat as well. Imagine all those various people, so many things they would rather remain unknown, all gathered together in one place, at the time of a murder, and in the presence of the great Hercule Poirot. What are the chances?! And how many have something to fear from the presence of the detective and his ‘little grey cells’? It made for some very entertaining reading as I tried to work out who had done what, who was concealing something, and whether everyone was as they initially appeared to be. Many of them had motive for something, but was it for murder?
I wish I could go into this more but it would spoil it (if spoiling such a well-known and well-adapted story can be possible). I knew little of the story going on beyond the obvious ‘death on the Nile’, so was pleasantly surprised.

Reading Death on the Nile was some great escapism and very entertaining. I enjoyed this just as much as Murder on the Orient Express. I hope that whichever Poirot story I choose next (and there remain plenty that I haven’t read yet) I enjoy it as much as this one.

Book Review: The Room in the Attic by Louise Douglas

Name:  The Room in the Attic
Louise Douglas
Number of Pages: 
388 (Kindle)
October 12th 2021 by Boldwood Books
Genre: Historical, Mystery


A child who does not know her name…
In 1903 fishermen find a wrecked boat containing a woman, who has been badly beaten, and a young girl. An ambulance is sent for, and the two survivors are taken to All Hallows, the imposing asylum, hidden deep on Dartmoor. The woman remains in a coma, but the little girl, who the staff name Harriet, awakens and is taken to an attic room, far away from the noise of the asylum, and is put in the care of Nurse Emma Everdeen.
Two motherless boys banished to boarding school…
In 1993, All Hallows is now a boarding school. Following his mother’s death and his father’s hasty remarriage, Lewis Tyler is banished to Dartmoor, stripped of his fashionable clothes, shorn of his long hair, and left feeling more alone than ever. There he meets Isak, another lost soul, and whilst refurbishment of the dormitories is taking place, the boys are marooned up in the attic, in an old wing of the school.
Cries and calls from the past that can no longer be ignored…
All Hallows is a building full of memories, whispers, cries from the past. As Lewis and Isak learn more about the fate of Harriet, and Nurse Emma’s desperate fight to keep the little girl safe, it soon becomes clear there are ghosts who are still restless.
Are they ghosts the boys hear at night in the room above, are they the unquiet souls from the asylum still caught between the walls? And can Lewis and Isak bring peace to All Hallows before the past breaks them first…

My Rating:


My Thoughts:

The Room in the Attic is a tale told over three timelines – 2021, 1993 and 1903. The majority of the story is spread over the latter two timelines, but begins when Lewis Tyler, working for a firm of architects, is sent to take details on All Hallows, a property acquired by a client and due for renovation.
All Hallows is a former hospital/asylum, repurposed in more recent years as a boarding school, of which Lewis was a former pupil.

The tales unfold and complement each other, adding to the narrative in revelations and mysteries as we learn about All Hallows in 1903, and the arrival of a woman and young girl in mysterious circumstances. Found floating at sea, injured and left for dead, the two are taken to All Hallows, where the girl is placed in the care of Nurse Emma Everdeen. The pair are given rooms in the attic, away from the other patients and general goings-on in the hospital, and gradually begin to form a friendship.

In 1993, young Lewis is sent away to boarding school at the behest of his father and stepmother. Mourning the death of his mother in a tragic accident, missing his friends and his old life, Lewis has to find his place in this new environment.
Flooding damage makes the dorm rooms uninhabitable so Lewis finds himself rooming in another part of the school with a boy named Isak, who has family issues of his own, and, after some slightly eerie goings-on, the two of them soon become involved in the mystery of what happened years ago when All Hallows was an asylum.

This has a marvellous setting in All Hallows, which manages to exude an air of creepiness across all timelines.
In the present day it is dilapidated, damaged and neglected, a ruin.
In the school days it retains echoes of happenings of years ago, from the repurposed wards where the young and imaginative Lewis imagines the residents of long ago (and where pupils are sent when they’re on report), to the ill-lit corridors, the strange noises and smells, the echoes of the past.
In the hospital setting we’re mostly with Emma and Harriet as they pass their time in the room in the attic, waiting for Harriet’s mother to regain consciousness. Emma receives updates about daily life in the hospital from her friend and colleague Maria Smith.

Lewis in his youth is a wonderfully imaginative character, imagining himself as a prisoner launching a daring escape as he explores the grounds, going beyond the boundaries set by his teachers. He has a very creative imagination, and imagines the plight of former residents of the asylum. Once he discovers the story of Nurse Everdeen he’s determined to find out what happened many years ago.

The way the revelations drip through from one era to the next is teasingly done. Things are suggested, then a scene will show something to the contrary, or you’re left wondering how on earth such a thing could be possible when the evidence speaks to almost the opposite. It’s hard to detail what I mean without going into spoiler territory and I really don’t want to do that because the mystery kept me turning the pages, needing to know more.

The chapters are short, and the timelines alternate, which kept me thinking ‘just one more chapter’, and so I found myself reading long after I’d decided I should put the book down for a while. I just had to find out what had really happened

The Room in the Attic is a dual-timeline mystery with a subtly spooky air. It’s my first Louise Douglas book but I doubt it will be my last.

Book Review: The Wind Through the Keyhole (The Dark Tower #4.5) by Stephen King

Name:  The Wind Through the Keyhole
Stephen King
Number of Pages: 
321 (Kindle)
April 24th 2012 by Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Fantasy


For readers new to The Dark Tower, THE WIND THROUGH THE KEYHOLE is a stand-alone novel, and a wonderful introduction to the series. It is a story within a story, which features both the younger and older gunslinger Roland on his quest to find the Dark Tower. Fans of the existing seven books in the series will also delight in discovering what happened to Roland and his ka tet between the time they leave the Emerald City and arrive at the outskirts of Calla Bryn Sturgis.
This Russian Doll of a novel, a story within a story, within a story, visits Mid-World’s last gunslinger, Roland Deschain, and his ka-tet as a ferocious storm halts their progress along the Path of the Beam. (The novel can be placed between Dark Tower IV and Dark Tower V.) Roland tells a tale from his early days as a gunslinger, in the guilt ridden year following his mother’s death. Sent by his father to investigate evidence of a murderous shape shifter, a ‘skin man,’ Roland takes charge of Bill Streeter, a brave but terrified boy who is the sole surviving witness to the beast’s most recent slaughter. Roland, himself only a teenager, calms the boy by reciting a story from the Magic Tales of the Eld that his mother used to read to him at bedtime, ‘The Wind through the Keyhole’. ‘A person’s never too old for stories,’ he says to Bill. ‘Man and boy, girl and woman, we live for them.’ And stories like these, they live for us

My Rating:


My Thoughts:

The Wind Through the Keyhole is a late edition to the Dark Tower series as it was written after the series had been completed, and in reading order is placed between Wizard and Glass and Wolves of the Calla. As I’m rereading the whole series I thought I’d read it in place this time around.

Although the book doesn’t really further the quest of Roland and his ka-tet, it’s a wonderful addition to the series and I’m glad I reread it before moving on to Wolves of the Calla. It is a story within a story within a story, which begins shortly after the group leave behind the strange city that concluded Wizard and Glass. A deadly storm is about to blow in, and the ka-tet seek shelter in which to wait it out, passing the time with Roland’s tales of times gone by.

Roland begins relating one of his youthful adventures with another of his friends. Alas, it is not Cuthbert who gets sent on this mission with Roland, for I would have loved another appearance from that particular character with his wit and wisdom and cheerful outlook. This time we meet Jamie, another of Roland’s contemporaries in his younger years, as the duo go off in search of a rumoured skin-man, a shape-shifter who is terrorising the local populace and leaving a trail of destruction with each visitation. At the scene of such an attack Roland encounters Young Bill, the lone survivor, and as the pair lay a trap to catch the villain, the story within this story begins.

And this is the true heart of this novel, The Wind Through the Keyhole, the title of the overall book. It’s a tale Roland’s mother told to him, and one that stayed with him. A fantasy quest of a tale involving a young boy from the village of Tree who, under perilous circumstances encounters a (familiar) figure dressed all in black, who shows him some awful truths and winds him up to the point that he leaves the village in search of Maerlyn, a wizard who may only exist in myth, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and Tim’s journey takes him through danger and wonder.
I enjoyed every moment of this tale, and could read just this section again as a standalone story. It had a bit of everything – adventure, peril, heroes, villains (and not just that certain person dressed in black), and a whole load of magic.

The Wind Through the Keyhole is a nice addition to the Dark Tower series. I hadn’t read the whole series by the time this came out, but I imagine fans would have been pleased to have more of Roland, the ka-tet, and another chance for further adventures in the weird world of the Dark Tower.

Book Review: Murder is Easy (Superintendent Battle #4) by Agatha Christie

Name:  Murder is Easy (Superintendent Battle #4)
Agatha Christie
Number of Pages: 
274 (Kindle)
January 2020 (first published June 5th 1939)
Genre:  Mystery, Crime


Luke Fitzwilliam could not believe Miss Pinkerton’s wild allegation that a multiple murderer was at work in the quiet English village of Wychwood – or her speculation that the local doctor was next in line.
But within hours, Miss Pinkerton had been killed in a hit-and-run car accident. Mere coincidence? Luke was inclined to think so – until he read in The Times of the unexpected demise of Dr Humbleby…

My Rating:


My Thoughts:

Every so often I like to sample another Agatha Christie murder mystery, and Murder is Easy is the latest in my explorations of Christie’s many books. This one is included in the Superintendent Battle series, and I’ve never read any of the other books or come across this character before, but I found that didn’t matter as the story really belongs to Luke Fitzwilliam. Battle only makes a very brief appearance right at the very end of the story.

Luke goes to Wychwood after hearing a tale from a lady on a train that a serial killer may be residing in the village. Luke listens politely but thinks little else of it until he reads that the very same lady has been killed, apparently in an accident. He concocts a tale about writing a book and ventures off to Wychwood to see what he can find out.

Luke has a potential shortlist of suspects, and manages to find motive and means in many of the cases, but reasons it all out to himself in such a way that actually any of the people he suspects could indeed have committed the murders and still be wandering around the village, planning their next crime, a serial killer amongst a sleepy village. All these deaths come about in such subtle ways, things that can be passed off easily as accident, or coincidence.

I liked the countryside village setting, a place that may seem welcoming and cosy but may actually be the home of a serial killer.
The cast of characters, and the way they are revealed through Luke’s questioning and investigations, through chat and gossip among the locals, and the various scandals that abound in this small community also added to the overall mystery. There’s even a little romance in the midst of the murders.

I tried to keep up with the various threads and Luke’s many suppositions, and thought I might have worked out who the killer was but alas, I was proved wrong in the end. I’m glad I picked Murder is Easy as my latest Christie, it was an enjoyable mystery.

Book Review: Buried (DC Jack Warr #1) by Lynda La Plante

Name:  Buried (DC Jack Warr #1)
Lynda La Plante
Number of Pages: 
352 (Kindle)
April 7th 2020 by Zaffre
Genre: Crime


DC Jack Warr and his girlfriend Maggie have just moved to London to start a new life together. Though charming, Jack can’t seem to find his place in the world – until he’s drawn into an investigation that turns his life upside down.
In the aftermath of a fire at an isolated cottage, a badly charred body is discovered, along with the burnt remains of millions of stolen, untraceable bank notes.
Jack’s search leads him deep into a murky criminal underworld – a world he finds himself surprisingly good at navigating. But as the line of the law becomes blurred, how far will Jack go to find the answers – and what will it cost him?
In BURIED, it’s time to meet DC Jack Warr as he digs up the deadly secrets of the past . . .

My Rating:


My Thoughts:

Buried is the first of the Jack Warr books and introduces us to this detective at a point in his career when he’s fairly uninspired, until a case comes along that really captures his attention and all that changes.

The case Jack’s team becomes involved in starts with a body found in a burnt out cottage in the middle of nowhere. Evidence found at the scene creates potential links to a number of other cases spanning previous decades; a renowned train robbery in the 90s, and even further back, to a diamond theft. The opportunity to link and possibly solve some of these famous cases proves a real challenge, something Jack can finally give his all to, much to the initial delight of his boss, who has been pushing Jack to apply for a promotion.

Jack Warr has the potential to become an interesting main character. After being initially uninspired by his work he commits fully, throwing himself into solving the interconnected crimes. Over the course of the investigation he becomes acquainted with the group of women at the centre of at least one of the crimes, or maybe more, and these acquaintances mean Jack doesn’t see the present day situation as straightforward, acknowledging that at this time there may be other threats.
This view becomes more focussed more as Jack looks into his own past. Adopted at a young age, Jack has had a calm, regular family upbringing, but he is driven to seek out his biological parents, particularly his father. Revelations along the way change him, and his viewpoint of both himself and his career, and going forward this could become interesting. It’s really hard to talk about why without giving spoilers so I’ll leave it there.

The story has some really well developed characters, from Jack himself to the group of women potentially at the centre of the investigation. They have a list of past crimes between them that covers a wide range, but apparently they united to create a children’s home, a safe place, and to move on with their lives. Of course, things didn’t turn out that way, and the women went their separate ways. Jack encounters each of them and has to work out what really happened years ago and whether any or all of them were involved, and if so, what will he do about it?
We’re also introduced to Jack’s colleagues who in some cases are vying for recognition, either professionally or personally, and a boss who at some points is very focused on taking the investigation down a totally different route to what Jack suspects is the truth.

When it became apparent what was going on and who was really at the centre of the plot I became intrigued as it how it would all play out, especially given Jack’s evolving viewpoint, so it was a fast-paced read to the final revelations. I don’t tend to read that much crime, but I would be tempted to pick up the next of the Jack Warr books, Judas Horse.

Book Review: Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw

Name:  Nothing But Blackened Teeth
Cassandra Khaw
Number of Pages: 
128 (Kindle)
October 19th 2021 by Titan Books
Genre: Horror


A group of thrill-seeking friends in search of the perfect wedding venue plan to spend the night in a Heian-era mansion. Long abandoned, and unknown to them, this mansion rests on the bones of a bride, and its walls are packed with the remains of the girls sacrificed to keep her company.
Their night of food, drinks, and games quickly spirals into a nightmare, as the house welcomes its new guests. For lurking in the shadows is the ghost bride with a black smile and a hungry heart.
And she gets lonely down there in the dirt.

My Rating:


My Thoughts:

In Nothing But Blackened Teeth a group of friends arrive to spend a night in an abandoned mansion. Two of the group are getting married, and it’s the dream of the bride-to-be to find such a place, somewhere haunted, with a story.
Well, they certainly do that, for in this particular mansion is said to be the haunt of a heartbroken bride-to-be, one who died before her happy-ever-after, and who still waits within the walls for her ill-fated groom.

It’s a novella, so things get going quickly after the introductions to the group – friends but with a number of simmering tensions between them and with troubles and conflicts still going on. Some of this is alluded to, some is more blatant, such as the antagonism between our main narrator Cat and the bride-to-be Talia. They really do not like each other to the point that Talia makes it clear that Cat isn’t really welcome at all.

The house itself is creepy as can be, with abandoned rooms, rot that’s set in, a room full of creepy dolls, the smells that Cat notices, and other things that may be lurking within the walls of this old place, so the atmosphere is vivid almost from the moment they step into the house and remains so throughout.

The tension builds as the group plays a game of ghost stories and bickers amongst themselves and the house seems to come to life around them, almost feeding off these tensions, and the appearance of a certain ghostly figure drives the tale onwards until the inevitable escalation towards a violent and gory conclusion. The story feels quite surreal at times and there’s a lot going on in a short number of pages. I wanted something a bit different in my next read and this certainly was.

Book Review: The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

Name:  The Paris Apartment
Lucy Foley
Number of Pages: 
416 (Kindle)
March 3rd 2022 by HarperCollins
Genre: Mystery, Thriller


Jess needs a fresh start. She’s broke and alone, and she’s just left her job under less than ideal circumstances. Her half-brother Ben didn’t sound thrilled when she asked if she could crash with him for a bit, but he didn’t say no, and surely everything will look better from Paris. Only when she shows up – to find a very nice apartment, could Ben really have afforded this? – he’s not there.
The longer Ben stays missing, the more Jess starts to dig into her brother’s situation, and the more questions she has.
Ben’s neighbors are an eclectic bunch, and not particularly friendly. Jess may have come to Paris to escape her past, but it’s starting to look like it’s Ben’s future that’s in question.
The socialite – The nice guy – The alcoholic – The girl on the verge – The concierge
Everyone’s a neighbor. Everyone’s a suspect. And everyone knows something they’re not telling.

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

The Paris Apartment is the latest from Lucy Foley. I read and enjoyed The Hunting Party, so was looking forward to picking this one up. The story follows Jess, a woman who makes a sudden departure from her job and decides to go to Paris to stay with her half-brother Ben, only when she arrives Ben’s apartment is empty. There is no sign of Ben, even though he’d agreed to meet her, and Jess becomes suspicious when she finds what she believes is evidence of a struggle. So begins this twist-filled tale of mystery.

The characters. At the centre of the story is Jess.  Hoping to escape her own situation, she unwittingly walks straight into something unexpected after travelling to Paris to meet her half-brother, only to be confronted by the fact that Ben has apparently gone missing and no one else in the grand old apartment building he was living in wants to get involved.
Everyone in this place has something to hide – some secret, or something going on – from the mysterious woman in the penthouse, Sophie, to Ben’s friend Nick, who convinced him to live in the apartment block, to Mimi, a young woman who tries to distance herself from knowing Ben when Jess first asks questions, to the shadowy old Concierge who lingers around the place and dwells in a cabin in the courtyard, watching all, seeing all, knowing quite a lot.
These characters are mysterious and you get easily drawn in to their part in the overall story. Who knows what? Were any of them involved? And what exactly were they involved in?

It’s not clear at the beginning what the threat is, or where it’s coming from, or even what has really happened, whether Nick is simply missing, or whether there’s something even more serious going on.  This gives a different air than the previous book I read by this author, where we knew someone had been murdered, just not who it was straight away, and I liked this engrossing mystery; it kept me turning the pages, wanting to make sense of it all.

The setting is wonderful, this grand old apartment building behind a heavy gate and massive walls, with it’s floor-to-ceiling windows, balconies, high ceilings, ornate lift shafts and concealed passages down to a pretty creepy old basement. Not a place you would want to get caught snooping around, or indeed get locked inside. It all makes for quite a creepy atmosphere even before you add in all the secrets and the way the residents behave.
As well as this great location, Jess ventures out into the streets around the apartment block in search of answers, so there’s the vibrancy and crowded part of life in stark contrast to the isolation of this secretive apartment building and it’s mysterious inhabitants.

I enjoyed the writing style. Short chapters alternating between various viewpoints left me thinking ‘just one more chapter’, which inevitably led to ‘one more’ again and another after that, so I devoured this tale quite quickly.
Every so often there’s a flashback to events from the hours leading up to the main story and Ben’s disappearance, and some even further back as we learn more about these characters and their past experiences.
Piecing it all together from these scenes and snippets made for interesting reading, and I kept trying (unsuccessfully) to guess or work out the outcome.

I do love it when a mystery tale leaves me surprised, and this one did. The Paris Apartment was another enjoyable read from Lucy Foley.

Book Review: The Noise by James Patterson and J. D. Barker

Name:  The Noise
James Patterson and J. D. Barker
Number of Pages: 
400 (Kindle)
August 16th 2021 by Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Thriller, Horror, Mystery


A mysterious explosion kills thousands in the Pacific Northwest—and only two young girls survive. The newest in psychological suspense from the mind of James Patterson.
Two sisters have always stood together. Now, they’re the only ones left.  In the shadow of Mount Hood, sixteen-year-old Tennant is checking rabbit traps with her eight-year-old sister Sophie when the girls are suddenly overcome by a strange vibration rising out of the forest, building in intensity until it sounds like a deafening crescendo of screams. From out of nowhere, their father sweeps them up and drops them through a trapdoor into a storm cellar. But the sound only gets worse…

My Rating:


My Thoughts:

Well that was unexpected. I think this is going to be quite a short review as less is definitely more sometimes, as proved to be the case for me with The Noise.
It wasn’t a book that I’d heard of beforehand, or anticipated, the blurb gives very little away, I didn’t know what to expect, I just picked this one up on a whim and away I went. What a read.

I want to talk about the story, but only briefly, because going into this knowing so little really enhanced my enjoyment. It begins with two sisters out in the forest. Suddenly there’s a disturbance, a sound that comes out of nowhere, and their father snatches them up and races them to safety underground. Once it subsides the girls emerge to find their whole world decimated and no one to help them or tell them what happened.
It soon becomes apparent that this is not just a small-scale event, and people from the worlds of science and the military are drawn in to this lethal mystery, which escalates quickly into something intriguing but potentially very dangerous.

Thriller, mystery, a little bit sci-fi, horror – all these elements come together in this rapid-paced story, bringing some really creepy moments, plenty of action and destruction, and characters you become interested in quickly, particularly Sophie and Tennant, the two sisters with whom this story begins.

The chapters are short and fast-paced, switching between viewpoints of a scientist, a soldier, a young girl at the heart of all this trouble, and even for a brief period to the president, who faces some tough calls.

The narrative is driven by the non-stop action and the constant questions. What on earth is going on? What caused it? Can it be stopped? And does anyone know more than they’re initially saying about how all this came about and what may lie ahead?
I can’t say more about any of this, because it really would ruin a tense, exciting, scary, thriller of a read and one which I enjoyed discovering.