Cold Earth ~ by Ann Cleeves

I got way behind in my blurb-writing so I just lifted this one from the Audible site. I did enjoy it though – I love Jimmy Perez and Sandy and the others.

Cold Earth
by Ann Cleeves
2017 – English
read by Kenny Blyth 10h 12m
rating – B+ / crime
Shetland Island series # 7

In the dark days of a Shetland winter, torrential rain triggers a landslide that crosses the main road and sweeps down to the sea. 

At the burial of his old friend Magnus Tait, Jimmy Perez watches the flood of mud and water smash through a house in its path. Everyone thinks the home is uninhabited, but in the wreckage he finds the body of a dark-haired woman wearing a red silk dress. Perez soon becomes obsessed with tracing her identity and realizes he must find out who she was and how she died. 

Cold Earth is the next audiobook in Ann Cleeves’ beloved Shetland series, which is now a major success for the BBC. 

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The Room Where It Happened 
by John Bolton

The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir
by John Bolton
read by  – Robert Petkoff

Rating – A-  / current events-

John Bolton hasn’t changed and because I’m a relatively moderate-to-liberal Democrat who is appalled by Donald Trump’s personality and his policies.  Bolton is definitely a conservative nationalist Republican with hawkish tendencies, a Reagan appointee, and he hasn’t changed.  He’s really got a beef with Trump is all this book really is. 

He still very opposed to Obama and those types of fpolitical views and what Obama did during his years in office.  So Bolton sounds a bit like a jilted applicant for something big.  No wonder neither the Republicans nor Democrats appreciate him at the moment.  He’s self-serving for sure –  (as far as I see to this point) – and brash and opinionated and all the things folks have said about him including intelligent with a bit of good humor.  

The tale is generally told in chronological order, only digressing when necessary for background. As befitting a former National Seecurity Advisor it deals primarily with foreign policy; North and South Korea,  Russia and NATO,   the tragic story of Syria, a bit on election meddling, Nicaragua, and the Space Force.

Personnel matters come up whenever appropriate. We get the cast of the foreign affairs staff plus John Kelly, Jim Mattis, Steven Mnuchin and others.  

The book is well written and Robert Petkoff narrates it nicely. I think it was a good book for me to read.

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Thin Air ~ by Ann Cleeves

Thin Air
by Ann Cleeeves
2017 / (398 pages)
read by Kenny Blythe 10h 1m
rating A – mystery
#6 in Shetland Island series

Moving along on my Shelter Island binge this mystery concerns the dead body of. a woman who was visiting Shetland Island with. group of long-time friends.. She seemed to vanish from a party but was found posed at the bottom of a cliff.

I’m ready to start the next book in the series Cold Earth.

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Dead Water by Ann Cleeves

Dead Water 
by Ann Cleeves
2014 /
read by Kenny Blythe 10h 5m
rating – A / mystery
Shelter Island series #5

 Another good solid mystery,  this time it’s book #5 in the shelter Islands series where Jimmy Perez is the only detective on the northern Scottish Island.  This time memories of old loves and rages rear up and turn some good people into murderers.   The pace is.slower than most mysteries these days but they aren’t thrillers.  Cleeves takes time with her characters and develops them very nicely, the plots are well thought out and the setting is interesting. Enjoy.

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Legacy of Lies ~ by Robert Bailey

Legacy of Lies
by Robert Bailey
2020 /
Read by Eric G. Dove – 8h 23m
rating – B-/ legal crime

I rather enjoyed this novel except for the sex parts. Those seemed gratuitous and kind of stupid. The main plot was clever though and the writing and characters were okay. The final ending was kind fo a twist. Sorry, I’m not going to waste any more words or time rewiring a review,

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Blue Lightning ~ by Ann Cleeves

Blue Lightning
by Ann Cleeves
2010 / 380 pages
read by Gordon Griffin 10h 32m
rating – B+ / mystery
(Shetland Island series #4)

It seems I’m still suffering from Corona-brain and unable to focus real well – and there have been other things in the current events class too – my god. So I’m trying to read mysteries and crime to get my mind focused but then alternating those with nonfiction because I really enjoy a good history book or current events. (Right now though I have to fight to get away from current events.)

So this book is #4 in the Shetland Island Jimmy Perez series by Ann Cleeves and I’ve been following them since book 1, Raven Black, which I read with a group several years ago,

This time Jimmy takes his fiancé to a small local island where his parents live, but while they are there a murder occurs. And then another one. The characters are warm and homey but danger lurks as the reader tries to arrange the clues. It’s a slow paced mystery with the daily doings of the village and its people being examined as well as direct motives.

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The Gates of Europe ~ by Serhii Plokhy x2

The Gates of Europe:
A  History of Ukraine

By Serhii Plokhy
2017 / 397 pages
read by Ralph Lister 15h 20m
rating: 9.5 / Europe history
(read and listened)

First review at:

 As promised, I read this a second time because although it is truly a wonderful book, painstakingly researched and brilliantly written,  it’s dense.  The question of how to cover 3000 years of history in 350 pages of narrative is one problem but another problem Is that these 300 pages are written for a lay readership (such as myself) interested pretty much only because if the news in he past several years (although I’ve been mildly interested since college).   What’s going on in this remote little place which used to be in the Soviet Union but seems to have problems with the western world as well as Putin’s Russia.  

The second reading I got a whole lot more out of it simply because I knew at this point that my old ideas about Kiev being Russian as much as St. Petersburg were out of data and it was the whole story leading up to independence which was important.  

So surprising because instead of a bone dry dusty tome Plokhy has written a fast paced and fascinating account of life on the Black Sea, between the steppes and the forest, and between Orthodox and Roman.  And Ralph Lister, the reader, has brought it to life.  

There are no source notes but I think Plokhy is so expert in his field that he, by himself, can be considered a source, like Mary Beard for her book, SPQR. There are plenty of other resources available including a chapter by chapter guide to “Further Reading.”

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The Mirror and the Light ~ by Hilary Mantel

The Mirror and the Light
by Hillary Mantel
2020 / 757 pages (Kindle)
read by Ben Miles 38h 12m
rating – 10/historical fiction
(read and listened)

This is the brilliant finish to Mantel’s story of Thomas Cromwell and his days in power as the Lord Great Chamberlain to King Henry the VIII, helping him get out of marriages he didn’t want and into marriages he thought the did as well as so much else. It”s ‘the third volume of the Wolf Hall trilogy which really should be read in order. In Book I, “Wolf Hall,” Thomas is found helping gather evidence against the Queen, Ann Bolyn, so that King Henry VIII can have her executed for treason. That task completed, volume II, “Bring Up the Bodies.”  concerns Cromwell arranging a marriage between Henry and Jane Seymore. Jane manages to give Henry a son, Edward,  but then she dies.  In “The Mirror and the Light”  Henry’s arranged marriage to Anne of Cleves is explored along with the final days of Cromwell..

Cromwell, as presented in Mantel’s meticulously researched story is a complex creature – possibly more complex than the reality of that very complex and ambitious man.  He was ambitious for himself but also moist likely for the Protestant Reformation in general as we’ll as for Henry himself.  In the years he lived and thrived in London Cromwell made many friends but maybe more enemies, he loved deeply but he lost both money and dear ones. He held various offices at the whim of King Henry III, proving himself to be indispensable until he wasn’t. He got to the very top and you know what they say about that –

This is one of those books where even if you definitely know the ending – the author hooks you in with prose and tension because you really care about this tragic hero, This is probably the best of the three books in terms of literary styling. I was wowed in the first book by the point of view which is like an intimate third person – or a detached first person – ??? Whatever it is, it definitely works. The second book, Bring up the Bodies, is definitely keeps up with the first, but the point of view is not so surprising. It’s in the third book though there Mantel brings it all home – the character and his point of view as well as the tension of the story-line – which gets pretty intense and we watch as Cromwell goes through some heavy changes.

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Nothing More Dangerous ~by Allen Eskins

Nothing More Dangerous
by Allen Eskens
2019 / 305 pages
read by Kevin Stilllwell 10h 27m
rating: A / fiction

I think I’ve read all of Eskens’ books now – there are four so far. I’ve enjoyed them all. This one is not part of a series, but is almost a fictionalized memoir – not quite. It’s more of mystery/crime novel and that a”s where I’d put it.

Boady Sanden is a 15-year old freshman in high school when the story opens, his father died years prior so he and his mom live together in a small house in a small town in rural Missouri. It’s 1975. One day the Elgens, a black family from Minnesota, move into the big empty house across the street. Mr Elgen is supposed to take charge of a certain business This doesn’t sit well with some people in town who have secrets they’d just as soon stay secret. And the story evolves.

Eskens is good – he writes good solid stories with nicely drawn characters and some action thown in.

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Damaging Evidence ~ 
by Al Macy

Damaging Evidence
by Al Macy
2020 /  323 pls
read by Nick Sullivan: 8h 19m
rating:  A+ / legal crime


Oh yay!  I’ve now finished another series this month!  There were the Anne Reeve books prior to Al Macy.  Both are *almost* cozy crime novels – they’re light-is and the focus is on the relationships as well as the crime solving.  It’s not gritty in the 2020 sense of the term, but there are some very difficult life circumstances involved. 

The setting is still Humboldt County in California,  home to a LOT of marijuana growing and sales and some other counter-culture goings on.  Every once in awhile this adds some interest, but is never a big point.  

This time we have Garrett Goodlove the first person attorney,  along with Jen his new wife and Nicole his daughter – all three are lawyers in Garrett’s firm.   And there’s Carley his no-nonsense deaf sister and Luella,  their excellent although older, investigator. These characters made their first appearances in the prior novels.  

The main plot thread concerns the prosecution of a local doctor who is doing entirely too many surgeries on his own and random heart patients. One of them was seriously damaged during what she says was unnecessary bypass surgery.  Then a witness shows up who knows something, but won’t tell for fear he’ll go to jail on an unrelated charge of his own. 

It’s probably wise to read the books in order. I’m totally looking forward to another one.

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Fair Warning ~ by Michael Connelly

Fair Warning
By Michael Connelly
2020 /  (416 pages)
read by Peter Giles 10h 26m
rating –  A / crime thriller
# 3 in Jack McEnvoy series

I read the first two books in this series (of 3 now) but only remembered only that Jack McEnvoy was the lead reporter and pretty depressed in The Poet and The Scarecrow and it’s been a long long time since I read them, Then, here in 2020, comes the third book in the series. . Okay –   

One night Jack is coming home from work as reporter for a news organization with an active  website when he is approached by two cops and questioned about the murder of a local woman.  The cops seem to think Jack did it but Jack knows he didn’t but his interest is piqued and off he goes, investigating.  It turns out there’s a serial murderer on the loose and his MO is very unusual. 

There’s no “mystery” here – it’s just a matter of catching the bad guy so I’ve simply used the term “crime thriller” as the genre except that the procedure is a mix of reporter and detective with lots of new-to-me technical improvements.. The only thing was that sometimes my suspension of disbelief was stretched a bit thin.  Good book if you can stand some gritty stuff.   

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Sufficient Evidence – by Al Macy

Sufficient Evidence
by Al Macy
2018 /
read by Nick Sullivan: 5h 57m
rating – A / legal crime

Fun book – mostly legal thriller with plenty of courtroom drama, but with some nice procedural elements. There’s also a good story arc meshing nicely with the prior Garret Goodlove book.  

Goodlove is an attorney working with a partner out of a small law office in Humboldt County California.  Conclusive Evidence, the first book in the series, sets it all up with a good plot involving his deaf twin sister.  

This time,  Aksana Ivanova, who looks like a fat old Russian grandmother, is arrested for being in possession of an assault rifle and then after she is released on those charges, for murder.  It’s tricky.  

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