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.
Summit Lake | Charlie Donlea
[Kensington Books | ISBN: 9781496700988]
Set in a small, picturesque North Carolina town, Charlie Donlea’s suspenseful debut novel tells the haunting story of a murdered law school student, the reporter assigned to her story—and the intimate connection that comes when the living walk in the footsteps of the dead.
“No suspects. No persons of interest. Just a girl who was alive one day and dead the next.”
Some places seem too beautiful to be touched by horror. Summit Lake, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is that kind of place, with charming stilt houses dotted along the pristine water. But two weeks ago, Becca Eckersley, a first-year law student, was brutally murdered in one of those houses. The daughter of a powerful attorney, Becca was hard-working, accomplished, and ambitious. Now, while the town reels with grief and shocked residents gather to share their theories, the police are baffled.
At first, investigative reporter Kelsey Castle thinks of the assignment as a fluff piece. But the savagery of the crime, and the determined efforts to keep the case quiet, all hint at something far more than a random attack by a stranger. As Kelsey digs deeper into the mystery, pushing on despite danger and warnings, she feels a growing connection to the dead girl. And the more she learns about Becca’s friendships, her love life—and the secrets she was keeping—the more convinced she becomes that learning the truth about Becca could be the key to overcoming her own dark past…
This book surprised me in more ways than one. Initially the blurb and the cover had me interested but not completely intrigued. But the moment I opened up the book and began to read, the author had me intrigued. I loved the main character Kelsey Castle. Kelsey Castle is the type of female fiction lead that I love reading about. She is smart, witty, resourceful and has a wonderful depth to her that this story has only begun to peel back. I also loved that she is a flawed character with her own demons to fight. She is not a cookie-cutter protagonist but then again Summit Lake is not a cookie-cutter mystery. She is an interesting and original fully-layered character that I doubt, at least I hope, we have seen the last of. I like smart writing and layered characters especially in my mysteries and thrillers. Charlie Donlea has both of these elements in this story.
The premise of the story seems fairly simply and straightforward but with the turn of each page, more layers are pulled back to reveal a story that is plotted well and a cast of characters that keep surprising the reader. The story is told smoothly and seamlessly in two alternating viewpoints: Kelsey, main protagonist, and Becca, the victim. There is never a clear antagonist and each time I thought I knew who the killer was, another layer was peeled back for me and I was in the dark guessing again. I love a good twist or two in my tales but I especially love it when the twist comes when you least expect it. This story has more than a few twists to the tale yet the clues the author gives us are so well-drawn and so subtle that you don’t feel like you could know the ending until you get there. I love it when a climax surprises me and this story’s climax definitely did that.
This is a book about secrets. Secrets the characters keep from each other, secrets they don’t want to face, secrets at the heart of a small town. Summit Lake earned a solid 4 stars from me. This was a a very strong debut and I can’t wait to see what Charlie Donlea writes next. I know I’ll be first in line to read his next book.
For Summit Lake I recommend 4 sweet mugs of Chocolate Coffee Kisses
Recipe | Chocolate Coffee Kiss
3/4 fluid ounce coffee liqueur
3/4 fluid ounce Irish cream liqueur
1/2 fluid ounce creme de cacao liqueur
1 teaspoon brandy-based orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier(R))
1 cup hot brewed coffee
2 tablespoons whipped cream
1 1/2 fluid ounces chocolate syrup
1 maraschino cherry
In a coffee mug, combine coffee liqueur, Irish cream, creme de cacao and Grand Marnier. Fill mug with hot coffee. Top with a dollop of whipped cream, drizzle with chocolate syrup and garnish with a maraschino cherry.
The Lion’s Mouth|Anne Holt
[Scribner | ISBN: 9781501123238]
From the internationally bestselling author of 1222, called the “godmother of modern Norwegian crime” by Jo Nesbø, the next book in the Edgar Award–nominated mystery series: Hanne Wilhelmsen is on the case when someone murders the prime minister of Norway.
Less than six months after taking office, the Norwegian Prime Minister is found dead. She has been shot in the head. But was it a politically motivated assassination or personal revenge?
Hanne Wilhelmsen, Chief Inspector of the Norwegian Police, is on leave in California but when the death shakes the country to its core, she knows she can’t remain on the sidelines of such a crucial investigation. The hunt for the Prime Minister’s killer is complicated, intense, and grueling. When secrets begin to unravel from the Prime Minister’s past, Hanne and her partner, Billy T., must piece together the crime before a private tragedy becomes a public outcry, in what will become the most sensitive case of their career.
Filled with lies, deception, and the truth about government, The Lion’s Mouth questions who truly holds the power in Norway, and how far they will go to keep it…
This is my first Anne Holt novel. For the last three years or so, I have been introduced to Scandinavian noir and I have quickly fallen in love with these cool thrillers and mysteries. I had not heard of Anne Holt but the moment I saw this book on Netgalley I knew I wanted to read it.
From the opening of this book, I was intrigued. I love locked room mysteries and I do like political intrigue and this book opens with both. For all intents, it looked like I was in for another enjoyable read. But as I read on, I was disappointed. The premise of this book was brilliant and the characterisations of each character was done very well. But this story quickly became clunky and confusing to me. There seemed to be too many characters for me to keep interested. I didn’t particularly like the main investigator, Billy T, either. I have never taken more than a day or two to finish a Scandinavian mystery/thriller but I took weeks to finish this story. As for the political intrigue, the politics of this books seemed a little too dry for my own tastes.
I’m in two minds on this review. The characterisations were well-written and there were definite moments that grabbed me but ultimately there were fewer page-turner moments for me. This left the plot feeling clunky with too many dry political details and too many characters, and muddied what should have been a really good read. I give this book a sober 3 stars.
For The Lion’s Mouth I recommend three strong, rich shots of espresso-ristretto.
Recipe | Espresso Ristretto
1/4 oz (7 g) ground espresso coffee, pod or capsule
It is the smallest of them all, but it commands respect. Dedicated to those who don’t like half measures, Espresso ristretto has a strong character where everything is focused on a single goal: pure, decisive pleasure. Served without sugar, it is the passion of those who prefer coffee without distractions.
To prepare the smallest coffee of them all, follow the classic method, using your Espresso machine as usual with a capsule, pod or ground coffee. Only one thing changes: the extraction time is shorter.
Start the machine and stop it when you have 20 ml (1 tbsp plus 1 tsp) of Espresso and in any case not before 25 seconds have passed: this is the minimum time necessary for obtaining a cup rich in aroma.
So tell me what books have you been curling up with, and what’s your caffeine indulgence of choice?