Archive for the ‘Mysteries & Thrillers’ Category

You Review: Lonely Graves – Britta Bolt

Friday, September 19th, 2014

Reviewed by Elysia Brenner

Lonely Graves by Britta Bolt opens with a literal splash – a body drops in the first sentence, and the rest of the tightly paced opening follows its unlikely progress through Amsterdam’s canals. It’s not a spoiler so much as a favor to warn you that this scene is a flash forward, and you won’t see this body again until you’re about one third of the way through the book. Now you can enjoy the pleasantly leisurely pace with which the book builds toward this moment. You’re welcome.

The story of Pieter Posthumus, a wannabe detective responsible for seeing unidentified bodies to dignified graves (apparently a real thing in Amsterdam), parallels an investigation into a potential terrorist cell in the Moroccan community, and characters’ plotted paths cross repeatedly – often without their knowing. The dialogue is deliciously Noir, but sometimes unconvincingly so –translated to English from the original Dutch with perhaps too much color for your average Amsterdammer. Still, the zippiness of the opening sequence is largely missing from the rest of the novel.

The plot’s steady, somewhat casual pace is actually quite suited to Amsterdam. In fact, the city is the book’s most enigmatic and deeply developed character. Every local will identify with the description of the shifting, turning map of streets that sees you go a different way to work than what you take home. Those from outside the city might, however, feel a little lost at times in the winding streets and cultural details. Plus, as the opener to a trilogy, not all the plot points are tied up by the end.

But the ultimate test of a first book in a trilogy is the question: do I want to read on? And, yes, I am curious about these characters… how their paths will continue to cross and how we might get to know them more deeply. And hopefully, as the next two novels progress (#2 has already been released in Dutch), that zippiness will creep back in. Chances are good, if the decision by UK’s Endor Productions to already snap up the English TV rights to the trilogy can be trusted.

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

Part 2 is out as Vastberaden in Dutch; no publication date has been set for the English-language version yet.

You Review: Edge of Eternity – Ken Follett

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

Reviewed by Catarina Queiroz

If you like to learn history in context, with a dash of drama and romance, this is your kind of book. Edge of Eternity is actually the final volume of Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy, so in order to fully appreciate it you should read the two previous books, Fall of Giants and Winter of the World. This last volume brings forth the powerful and passionate conclusion of the intertwined paths of the five leading families: American, Russian, German, English and Welsh. The multiple characters from the featured families put together the pieces of the historical context lived by our ancestors from the 60’s to the 80’s, forming an incredibly accurate and lively puzzle.

Love, jealousy and hatred play along with the tension of the Cold War. Families are ripped apart as the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam War go on. Rock ‘n roll shakes things up, bringing free love and drug abuse to the spotlight, but also hope and redemption for those who can feel the beat of the music. Finally the fall of the Berlin wall destroys the last barriers, reuniting different generations of the same families and symbolizing the start of a new era.

The epilogue is especially moving, as old eyes and hearts, as well as their innocent offspring, witness the election of the first African American President of the USA. This moment is portrayed as the culmination of a “long story,” the story of the victory of equality, democracy and humanity over discrimination, dictatorship and brutality. In short, I would say that this book is a must-read for all historical fiction lovers.

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

There is no ebook available of Edge of Eternity at this moment, but there are ebooks available of the previous books in the trilogy: Fall of Giants and Winter of the World.

You Review: The Miniaturist – Jessie Burton

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

Reviewed by David Young

It’s late 17th century Holland, and Petronella (Nella) Oortmans’ father dies, leaving large debts which can only be paid off by marrying Nella to the 20 years older Johannes Brandt, a prosperous Amsterdam merchant.

As a wedding present Brandt gives her a doll’s house version of his magnificent Herengracht house, which Nella begins to fill with dolls from a local miniaturist. However from the dolls she receives it becomes apparent that the miniaturist knows a lot about the affairs of the Brandt household – not only that, she is able to predict its future…..

As the sexual activities and proclivities of Brandt and his mysterious and reclusive sister Marin begin to drag them down into a vortex of scandal, Nella finds herself whirled through a series of rapidly escalating crises which threaten the very existence of the Brandt family.

The Miniaturist is a fictionalised biography of actual 17th century people, and the author has done a remarkable job of recreating the atmosphere of the Dutch Golden Age, its febrile money-making, closed social and political circles and prudish mores. What begins as a gentle and intriguing mystery turns into a real high-paced thriller, both superbly handled. You can almost smell the streets.

I found this book so engrossing that while reading it on the train I missed my station – twice! A most promising debut and I look forward to Jessie Burton’s next novel.

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

Ebook of The Miniaturist available here.

You Review: Don’t Try to Find Me – Molly Brown

Friday, August 1st, 2014

Reviewed by Sara Raap

I have to be honest here, when I saw that Don’t Try To Find Me by Holly Brown was recommended for those who loved Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn I was intrigued. But does this book live up to Gone Girl, a book that people seem to love or hate, not much in between?

Marley is a fourteen-year-old girl from a happy, normal suburban family. Dad Paul is a control freak, and mom Rachel is a homely wife with a job to keep her occupied. They have no money troubles, they live in a nice former farm in a small town; in short, everything seems to be well.

But then Marley disappears, leaving behind her iPhone, iPad and a note on the whiteboard in the kitchen, telling her parents “Don’t Try To Find Me”. Of course they don’t listen, and Paul starts an online campaign, using Facebook and Twitter and a special website to draw attention to their lost daughter. Rachel seems lost, not knowing what to do or how to react. Soon it is revealed that she has her own secrets, secrets that made her lie to the police about where she was the morning Marley disappeared.

The book follows Marley and what happens to her, and Rachel in her own struggles and search for Marley. The twist in the story is not as shocking (or sick) as the one in Gone Girl, but for me, that made the story more real. Marley is a pretty grown-up fourteen-year-old, maybe a bit too grown-up to be realistic. However, Rachel’s side of the story felt very human and very realistic. Partly this is because of her flaws; she is not a perfect mother or wife. It is also because the other people in the story, Paul and others, react in very human ways. Everybody is flawed but everybody tries their best.

I read this book in one day, it is a quick read. On the one hand that is because it is not very surprising, it is a ‘real’ story. On the other hand, it doesn’t need to be anything else, it is good as it is. I would recommend this book to those readers who like real-life drama, and those who felt that Gone Girl was just a bit too much. I enjoyed this book, and give it four out of five stars.

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

Read more of Sara’s book reviews on her blog,

An ebook of Don’t Try to Find Me is available here.  There’s also an ebook of Gone Girl.

You Review a Local Author: The Price of Peace – Ron Muyzert

Saturday, July 19th, 2014

Reviewed by Sheila Schenkel

It’s Wednesday morning and Dutch diplomat Rob Ginsberg is on his way to the West Bank. He’s on a mission to find out what’s happening with a large sum of money collected on Dutch streets, now that it’s being transferred to a political movement called New Palestine. It’s the beginning of a full-on spooks story.

Khalil Abu Hassan, leader of New Palestine, wants peace. As soon as possible. Peace for the Palestinians, peace with the Israelis, peace for future generations. And yet he’s under suspicion of using the € 75,000 donation for terrorist acts.

Visiting Abu Hassan at Birzeit University, Ginsberg ends up in the middle of the planning of an attack on Israel. As always, the questions are: who’s behind the attack, and when and where is it going to take place? When Ginsberg offers a ride to Abu Hassan’s assistant Lidia Shamas, he sets off on the infamous Path of No Turning Back.

Whilst unfolding the story of the donation, author Ron Muyzert lifts the veil of history, sharing his factual knowledge of Israel and the way its politicians ensure a state of their own. While diplomat Ginsberg’s story is fictional, he learns stories from the past that are real. Muyzert manages to keep that balance. Unfortunately, the characters as well as their dialogues remain a bit wooden.

The Price of Peace could have done with a few side stories. Perhaps the love story of Ginsberg and his Dutch girlfriend could have been given some more depth, or perhaps we could have gotten some more insight into the relationships of his boss Paul Kramer?

That being said, this book makes a very interesting read — especially if you’re at all fascinated by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

You Review a Local Author: Books with an orange connection, reviewed by ABC customers.

The Price of Peace was first published in Dutch, as De prijs van vrede, by Uitgeverij Van Gennep (2012).  Ron Muyzert is a senior diplomat in the Dutch foreign service. He served as Ambassador in Bolivia and Cuba. From 2000 to 2003 he was Head of the Dutch Representative Office in Ramallah.  He launched the English translation of his book at ABC The Hague in March 2014.

The Price of Peace is self-published on ABC’s Espresso Book Machine.