I would like to thank Netgalley, the respective publishers and the respective authors for the copies of the following books in exchange for my honest review.
As always on #KimsKaffeeKlatsch, I have paired up my reads with my recommended coffee recipe. After all what is a good book without the decadently delicious aroma of strong coffee. So curl up on your favourite couch, light the fire, brew your favourite coffee and lets klatsch delicious books and thrilling coffee.
The Forgotten Girls | Sara Blaedel
[Grand Central Publishing, ISBN: 9781455581511]
“In a forest in Denmark, a ranger discovers the fresh corpse of an unidentified woman. A large scar on one side of her face should make the identification easy, but nobody has reported her missing. After four days, Louise Rick—the new commander of the Missing Persons Department—is still without answers. But when she releases a photo to the media, an older woman phones to say that she recognizes the woman as Lisemette, a child she once cared for in the state mental institution many years ago. Lisemette, like the other children in the institution, was abandoned by her family and branded a “forgotten girl.” But Louise soon discovers something more disturbing: Lisemette had a twin, and both girls were issued death certificates over 30 years ago. As the investigation brings Louise closer to her childhood home, she uncovers more crimes that were committed—and hidden—in the forest, and finds a terrible link to her own past that has been carefully concealed…”
I am obsessed with the Scandinavian Noir genre so I am always pleased to be introduced to another brilliant author in this genre. Sara Blaedel is a new author to me but after reading The Forgotten Girls, I am adding her as a new favourite.
The Forgotten Girls is the seventh book in the Louise Rick Series. But don’t let this deter you. Although I had not read any of the other books in her series, this did not leave me lost. Louise Rick is a woman haunted by the past and haunted by secrets, both her own and the cases she investigates as head of a new Missing Persons branch. These secrets kept me turning the pages, searching for answers that tantalised me just on the edge of my vision.
The story is set in the very atmospheric forests of Denmark. Sara Blaedel’s mastery of this atmospheric setting lends a haunting and mysterious tone that sets the theme beautifully for this disturbing story about past secrets and the unspoken guilt that lies at the heart of these secrets. The plot reminds me of a puzzle box. The further you go into the story, the more layers of secrets you uncover, the more puzzling the mystery becomes. Just when you think you have the answers, another hidden box is revealed.
This is not a thriller that will have you looking behind the curtains or jumping at the strangest noises. But it is definitely a slow-burning, haunting and disturbing mystery.
* * * *
I give it 4/5 stars simply because from the blurb I thought it would have more of a thriller vibe. This is a fantastic book to read around a camp fire in a dark forest or curled up on your favourite couch with just the light of a crackling fireplace and haunting soft candle-light.
The Recipe | Campfire/Cowboy Coffee
- Use two tablespoons of fine grind coffee, (or auto-drip grind), per 8oz of water
- *The finer grind will allow more flavor extraction in less time, and the finer coffee grinds will sink to the bottom easier than more coarse grinds that float more.
- Pour your measured amount of water into the coffee pot, (just the water – no coffee yet), put the pot on the fire and bring the water to a boil
- Remove from the fire, let sit 30 or 40 seconds to come off full-boil temperature
- Add the measured coffee amount into the coffee pot – it will float on top so you will have to carefully stir the water to get the coffee to mix in
- Let the pot sit for two minutes – really, the two minute part is important. In the end you want to have a total of only four to five minutes brewing time
- After two minutes, stir the mixture again, re-cover and let sit two more minutes
- Now you are ready, the coffee has had enough time for the flavor to brew, and the grounds have began settling. Now take a palm-full of cool water and sprinkle it into the coffee pot. ** this small amount of cool water will not make your coffee cold, but it will help the grounds settle quicker
- It’s as easy as that. Now pour each cup slowly, trying to leave the coffee grounds in the pot.
- Typical results; A much more flavorful and less bitter cup of coffee. The reason; You didn’t scald the coffee with too-hot water, and by simmering the coffee instead of re-boiling it you didn’t bringing out all the bitterness.
- *Tip: A small pinch of salt in the pot, or a single quick shake of the salt shaker in a cup will reduce the bitterness of coffee. The keywords were small pinch and quick shake, you don’t want too much or it will taste salty.
Missing Pieces | Heather Gudenkauf
[Harlequin Australia, ISBN: 9781760374297]
“A woman uncovers earth-shattering secrets about her husband’s family in this chilling page-turner from New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf.
Sarah Quinlan’s husband, Jack, has been haunted for decades by the untimely death of his mother when he was just a teenager, her body found in the cellar of their family farm, the circumstances a mystery. The case rocked the small farm town of Penny Gate, Iowa, where Jack was raised, and for years Jack avoided returning home. But when his beloved aunt Julia is in an accident, hospitalized in a coma, Jack and Sarah are forced to confront the past that they have long evaded.Upon arriving in Penny Gate, Sarah and Jack are welcomed by the family Jack left behind all those years ago—barely a trace of the wounds that had once devastated them all. But as facts about Julia’s accident begin to surface, Sarah realizes that nothing about the Quinlans is what it seems. Caught in a flurry of unanswered questions, Sarah dives deep into the puzzling rabbit hole of Jack’s past. But the farther in she climbs, the harder it is for her to get out. And soon she is faced with a deadly truth she may not be prepared for…”
Missing Pieces is a book that will have you questioning how well you truly know the people you love. Can you truly know someone, including their dark edges, and still love them completely?
This is the first book I have read by Heather Gudenkauf but it will definitely not be the last. From the first page I was transfixed by these characters. However, as brilliantly written as these characters are, the unspoken main character is really the small town of Penny Gate. On the surface Penny Gate seems just like another small town, but as the story unfolds we see a darker place being unmasked. A place of secrets that breeds a mysterious cast of characters. Sarah Quinlan, the protagonist, has no clue what to expect from her secretive husband’s hometown. From her very first impressions, Penny Gate and the Quinlin family and friends seem forbidding and darkly mysterious to Sarah. Within the first few pages of this story, Sarah is questioning everything she had ever known about her husband even so far as questioning the very foundation of their relationship. What is the truth and what is the lie and is there only a fine line between them?
This story kept me transfixed through one complete reading. I literally could not put this book down. Sarah could be me, she could be you, she is any of us. I grew up in and around small towns like Penny Gate and Heather Gudenkauf has captured this small town atmosphere and the quirky, strangely dark characters perfectly. In this story, the reader is asked to question whether you really know the people you love, and do you really want to know all their secrets.
The secrets in this book are at the heart of this story but it is the evocative mysterious small town of Penny Gate and the people who grew up here that truly are the haunted soul of this story. As Sarah unfolds the past and unearths her husband’s dark secrets, she is pulled into the heart of an emotional storm that threatens everything and everyone. Is she really willing to risk everything to unmask the truth?
* * * * *
This is a solid 5/5 stars. If you like your thrillers with a dose of a dark realism and taut with emotion, then Missing Pieces is it.
For Missing Pieces (Heather Gudenkauf) I recommend at least 5 decadent mugs of Bicerin.
The Recipe | Bicerin
- It’s important to use a clear glass; you need to be able to see all three layers.
- To make a bicerin, warm one cup (250 ml) whole milk in a medium-sized saucepan with 3 ounces (90 gr) of chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate. Whisk the mixture until it begins to boil, then let it boil for 1 minute, whisking constantly (the chocolate mixture will foam up a bit.)
- Afterward, remove it from the heat and set aside.
- Make a small pot of very strong coffee, or good Italian espresso.
- Fill the bottom third of a clear, heat-proof glass with the warm chocolate mixture.
- Pour in some coffee or espresso. (If you want to help it create a definite layer, pour it over the back of a spoon, into the glass.)
- Top with a nice swirl of sweetened, freshly-whipped cream.
The Poison Artist | Jonathan Moore
[Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ISBN 9780544520561]
“A gripping tale of obsession and deadly mystery, where the secrets of salvation and the most devastating desires are all written in blood
Dr. Caleb Maddox is a San Francisco toxicologist studying the chemical effects of pain. After a bruising breakup with his girlfriend, he’s out drinking whiskey when a hauntingly seductive woman appears by his side. Emmeline whispers to Caleb over absinthe, gets his blood on her fingers and then brushes his ear with her lips as she says goodbye. He must find her.
As his search begins, Caleb becomes entangled in a serial-murder investigation. The police have been fishing men from the bay, and the postmortems are inconclusive. One of the victims vanished from the bar the night Caleb met Emmeline. When questioned, Caleb can’t offer any information, nor does he tell them he’s been secretly helping the city’s medical examiner, an old friend, study the chemical evidence on the victims’ remains. The search for the killer soon entwines with Caleb’s hunt for Emmeline, and the closer he gets to each, the more dangerous his world becomes.
From the first pages up to the haunting, unforgettable denouement, The Poison Artist is a gripping thriller about obsession and damage, about a man unmoored by an unspeakable past and an irresistible woman who offers the ultimate escape…”
“An electrifying read… I haven’t read anything so terrifying since Red Dragon.” —Stephen King
“Patient, stylish and incredibly suspenseful”—Lee Child
“Magnificent, thoroughly unnerving…I dare you to look away.” —Justin Cronin
This is a story that will grab your imagination, twist it into something unrecognisable and spit you out wondering whether Wonderland exists and are you Alice or the Mad Hatter.
Jonathan Moore has crafted a tale that is wholly original, spine-tingling and deeply unnerving. On the surface it is a serial murder investigation but in this story, everything that is up is upside down and everything that is on the surface is just a mask.
Dr. Caleb Maddox is the protagonist of The Poison Artist. We meet him at one of his lowest points and as the tale takes him and you, the reader, further into this mad wonderland as he sinks lower and lower. The only light at the end of his downward spiral is the mysterious, ethereal and darkly seductive Emmeline. As he falls under her spell in one brief meeting, she disappears and he is obsessed with finding her again. This obsession drives the story and drives Caleb towards the destruction of his truths even as it brings him into the cross hairs of a serial murder investigation.
This is a story that would not let me go. I finished it in one breathless sitting and simultaneously wanted to immediately both push this book away and dive back into the strange world of Dr. Caleb Maddox and the seductive Emmeline. This is one of the most perfectly executed psychological thrillers I have ever read. The characters are exceptionally compelling, so compelling you cannot look away from them even if you truly want to. The setting of San Francisco, mysterious fog- covered San Franscisco, is the perfect setting for this twisted tale of murder and destruction. This is a strange and twisted tale whose surface keeps on changing, always keeping you guessing, never knowing what is the truth and what is the lie.
* * * * *
I give The Poison Artist a perfect 5/5 stars. If you want a psychological thriller that will, in equal parts, both disturb you and seduce you, then read The Poison Artist.
For The Poison Artist (Jonathan Moore) I recommend at least 5 shots of the illicit and decadent Bronx Bomber.
The Recipe | Bronx Bomber
- Fill a cocktail shaker with cracked ice.
- Add 1/8 ounce of absinthe.
- Add 1 ½ ounces of gin.
- Make a double shot of espresso, preferably a Columbian roast, pour over the ice and shake briefly.
- Pour liquid, straining out the ice, into an eight ounce glass
- Drink and repeat process as desired.
Tell me, what books can’t you put down this month? And what’s your caffeine poison of choice?