Mystery

Tangerine by Christine Mangan

tangerine

Just over 6 years ago, I went with three of my girlfriends to Marrakesh and the Atlas Mountains.

Morocco with its vibrant colours, air full of spices and snow-covered mountains is deeply ingrained in my memory.

We met local women that produced tapestries of striking colours, speckles of brightness in their modest living conditions.

Here’s my attempt at making a tapestry. I was hopeless, but it was a lot of fun! 😊

I loved wondering around the markets whilst smelling cinnamon, cardamom and other spices.

Morocco viciously attacked my senses of smell and vision and Tangerine brought some of those memories back.

Before we start, here’s what GoodReads say about this book:

The last person Alice Shipley expected to see since arriving in Tangier with her new husband was Lucy Mason. After the accident at Bennington, the two friends—once inseparable roommates—haven’t spoken in over a year. But there Lucy was, trying to make things right and return to their old rhythms. Perhaps Alice should be happy. She has not adjusted to life in Morocco, too afraid to venture out into the bustling medinas and oppressive heat. Lucy—always fearless and independent—helps Alice emerge from her flat and explore the country. 

But soon a familiar feeling starts to overtake Alice—she feels controlled and stifled by Lucy at every turn. Then Alice’s husband, John, goes missing, and Alice starts to question everything around her: her relationship with her enigmatic friend, her decision to ever come to Tangier, and her very own state of mind.

Tangerine is a sharp dagger of a book—a debut so tightly wound, so replete with exotic imagery and charm, so full of precise details and extraordinary craftsmanship, it will leave you absolutely breathless.


Tangerine is set in the 50’s predominantly in Moroccan Tangier and is narrated from two perspectives:

  • Alice – a fragile protagonist, who is full of anxiety and is slowly losing her mind.
  • Lucy – a manipulative character skilled at playing shrewd mind games.

Those voices are different: Alice’s is frail; Lucy’s is angry and calculating.

“She was put together nicely, with the intention of others not noticing. There was nothing about her that clamored for attention, nothing that demanded to be seen, and yet, everything was done exactly in anticipation of such notice.” 

Mangan‘s writing is impressive. It can be slow at times but I didn’t mind. Via her words, I was transported back to Morocco, saw all those dazzling colours again and even smelled some of those spices (nothing to do with my obsession with cinnamon tea, promise!). 🙂

Tangerine is a psychological thriller and I had to pause sometimes to fully digest what I just read. The relationship between Alice and Lucy is highly toxic and reading about it was unsettling. There are many mind games involved and I was engaged till the end.

There were a few plot holes that Norrie @ Reading Under the Blankie pointed out in her blog here. They are craftily hidden and I did not see them before I read Tangerine, only afterwards. I do agree with all of them. The last one irritated me probably the most.

Side note: I don’t know how to hide spoilers yet and Norrie’s review inspired me to pick this book so there you go. 🙂

Despite of that, I recommend this book. It is beautifully written, atmospheric and can be disturbing at times.

Have you read this book or planning on reading it? Let me know in the comments below. 😊🙏

Many thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Verdict: Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple  (4/5)

Mystery

The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan

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Let’s get the summary of the book from GoodReads first:

It’s been twenty years since Cormac Reilly discovered the body of Hilaria Blake in her crumbling Georgian home. But he’s never forgotten the two children she left behind…

When Aisling Conroy’s boyfriend Jack is found in the freezing black waters of the river Corrib, the police tell her it was suicide. A surgical resident, she throws herself into study and work, trying to forget – until Jack’s sister Maude shows up. Maude suspects foul play, and she is determined to prove it.

DI Cormac Reilly is the detective assigned with the re-investigation of an ‘accidental’ overdose twenty years ago – of Jack and Maude’s drug- and alcohol-addled mother. Cormac is under increasing pressure to charge Maude for murder when his colleague Danny uncovers a piece of evidence that will change everything…

This unsettling crime debut draws us deep into the dark heart of Ireland and asks who will protect you when the authorities can’t – or won’t. Perfect for fans of Tana French and Jane Casey.

For starters I honestly think McTiernan did a fabulous job given that The Ruin was first novel. It is a well written story that makes you experience rainy Irish Galway. I timed reading the book in line with St. Patrick’s day and I must admit it was a pretty atmospheric read. 🙂

The story is predominantly told from three perspectives:

Cormac Reilly, a maverick detective struggling to settle in his new role after his transfer from Dublin to Galway.

Aisling Conroy, a hard-working medical professional, whose life turned into a nightmare just after St Patrick’s day

Maude Blake, a long-lost sister who is back in Ireland and who also wants some answers.

I am a little tired of stories of corrupted police and maverick detectives having to trust no one a few chosen ones to find truth. The fact that the story centred a lot around police’s politics was not my thing but some may enjoy that. I personally would prefer more of the crime / character development.

Unfortunately I could not connect or relate to those characters. It could have been me. I personally wanted to engage more with the characters and know more of them. There were many hints on things in the past that slightly frustrated me and again, I felt I wanted to have slightly clearer picture rather than second guessing.

With that said, it was still an alright story to read and I finished the book. There was a lot going on, the pace was fairly fast, the language was ‘to the point’, several cases got intertwined and a few twists took place.

Potential triggers: domestic abuse, child abuse

** I received an ARC from Little, Brown Book Group in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for the opportunity **

Verdict: Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple 3/5

Mystery

The Lying Kind by Alison James

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Side note: I have a writing ‘pet project’ that is kind of centered around mystery / crime. That’s why I’m dipping into this genre a bit this year and I must say, I am thoroughly enjoying it so far! 😊

The Lying Kind tells an engaging and mysterious story of a missing girl. It is a crime investigation set in London and its surrounding areas told from Detective Rachel Prince’s perspective as she leads the investigation.

The crime aspect of this story held my curiosity till the end. I think it was obvious who did it from quite early on but what really kept me interested was the why and how. I also appreciated that the story centred around the police aspect of such investigations. It wasn’t just about the thrills and chases but also the long desk-based hours that go into these cases.

Having lived near Bermondsey myself, a London area where Detective Rachel Prince’s flat is, I could identify many places. I also happened to suffer from knee (ACL) problems and that made me relate to the main character on different level as well.

Okay, let’s move on to the Detective Rachel Prince’s character, shall we?

Oh man… where do I begin? 😊 I didn’t like her, yet I felt empathy towards her. I found here character quite flawed yet fascinating… a piece of work but quite an interesting one. 😊

Clearly, her character has some serious unresolved issues, which we get glimpses of throughout the book. It seems that her escaping reality via being a workaholic and channelling her problems via hostility towards certain women is her way of coping.

She flirts with any ‘attractive’ man out there, yet she judges any woman out there who puts some effort into her appearance. It seems she believes that ‘looks’ are fake and overrated yet she falls for exactly such thing in men. I wonder if she addresses some of her issues in the next instalment of this series as it would be quite interesting to follow her growth and to learn more about her.

On a side note, I thought there was a bit of chemistry between her and her work partner, who happened to be ‘not attractive enough’ to be her type, eye roll, which they may be unaware of it or are just denying it.

Overall, a very interesting detective story with a not so likeable main character, who I found interesting and wanted to know more of. I am honestly looking forward to reading book 2 when it’s out.

*** I received a free copy of this book from the publisher/author via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. ***

Verdict: Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple   (4/5)

Mystery

Kin by Snorri Kristjansson

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*** ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review ***

A book is either meant for you or not. After diving into Snorri Kristjansson’s Kin, it became apparent that Kristjansson’s must have written Kin for me … obviously! 😊

It had everything I look for in a book. Flawed characters, dysfunctional family dynamics, a delightful mysterious story, a few twists and it was narrated in a language that resonated with me. I normally binge on books, but I slowed this one down as I did not want it to end.

Kin is set around 970 in Norway. Expect no epic Viking battles or raids. The story is centred around Viking warlord Unnthor Reginsson after he retires from the longboats and settles down with Hildigunnur in a remote valley. It’s a tale about their five children. Helga, their adopted daughter, her three brothers Karl, Bjorn and Aslak and her sister Jorunn. It is mainly narrated from Helga’s perspective but sometimes the narrative switches to her other siblings, their spouses and children.

The flow of the story is gentle at first. We are introduced to Unnthor’s family via their large gathering. We see how dysfunctional they are as a unit, get to know the characters and catch a glimpse of how hard life must have been around that time.

And then somebody gets murdered. From that moment onward, the pace picks up and the fun begins. Pretty much everybody has a potential to be the killer. And I had so much fun guessing who it could be!

Helga is strong main character that guides us throughout the story:

“If no one will fight for his life . . . Her jaw tensed. I’m going to have to do it myself.”

Hildigunnur raised her to be observant and crafty. And she truly lives up to her mother’s expectations. Her thoughts give us useful insights until the mystery is finally resolved.

Kin ends in a way that you want its sequel immediately. I NEED Kin’s sequel NOW!

I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes mysteries / crime stories with a sprinkle of Norse mythology and who enjoys reading stories full of flawed characters.

Verdict: Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple Hot Beverage on Apple   (5/5)