Book Review: The Fragments

The Fragments by Toni Jordan 

INGA Karlson died in a fire in New York in the 1930s, leaving behind three things: a phenomenally successful first novel, the scorched fragments of a second book— and a mystery that has captivated generations of readers.

Nearly fifty years later, Brisbane bookseller Caddie Walker is waiting in line to see a Karlson exhibition featuring the famous fragments when she meets a charismatic older woman.

The woman quotes a phrase from the Karlson fragments that Caddie knows does not exist—and yet to Caddie, who knows Inga Karlson’s work like she knows her name, it feels genuine.

Caddie is electrified. Jolted her from her sleepy, no-worries life in torpid 1980s Brisbane, she is driven to investigate: to find the clues that will unlock the greatest literary mystery of the twentieth century.

Review:
The Fragments tells 2 stories, separated by time and location, but are intertwined in an unexpected way.
Caddie grew up with and loved Inga Karlson’s one iconic novel. Inga died in a terrible fire before her second novel could be published. All that is left are some fragments. At an exhibit about Inga’s life and work, Caddie comes across an elderly woman who quotes a line from Inga’s work that does not appear in any of the existing fragments, thus the mystery begins. Caddie is sure that there is something going on and she works tirelessly to figure out the truth.
The novel alternates between Caddie’s life in present day Australia where she investigates what really happened to Inga, to the story of Rachel in America, a friend of Inga’s.
The story is lovely and I enjoyed learning about all of the women involved, from the shy Rachel, to the eccentric Inga, and the tormented Caddie. Their lives were woven together masterfully. The one thing that bothered me were Caddie’s decisions sometimes — they seemed strange and more designed to further the plot than feel authentic. However, the ending and good writing more than makes up for any shortfalls.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a review copy of this book.
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Book Review: Flowers Over the Inferno

Flowers Over the Inferno (Teresa Battaglia #1) by Ilaria Tuti, Ekin Oklap (translator)

In a quiet village surrounded by ancient woods and the imposing Italian Alps, a man is found naked with his eyes gouged out. It is the first in a string of gruesome murders.

Superintendent Teresa Battaglia, a detective with a background in criminal profiling, is called to investigate. Battaglia is in her mid-sixties, her rank and expertise hard-won from decades of battling for respect in the male-dominated Italian police force. While she’s not sure she trusts the young city inspector assigned to assist her, she sees right away that this is no ordinary case: buried deep in these mountains are whispers of a dark and dangerous history, possibly tied to a group of eight-year-old children toward whom the killer seems to gravitate.

As Teresa inches closer to the truth, she must also confront the possibility that her body and mind, worn down by age and illness, may fail her before the chase is over.

Review:
I absolutely loved this book and already can’t wait for the next one in the series.
Teresa is a no nonsense police detective in Italy who has seen it all and has overcome the sexism of the police department. She is a brilliant profiler, but in this book, she comes across a murderer who can’t be profiled. She also experiences health problems and is starting to have issues with her memory, so she is against the clock to catch this unconventional killer.
Teresa is a fantastic character. I loved having someone older and relatable as the intelligent, sometimes short tempered, passionate police detective. She is determined and fallible, which makes her an interesting protagonist.
The mystery is unique and fascinating. There is an historical aspect to the book involving terrible Nazi experiments and that definitely added interest to the book.
Then there is the writing — even in translation this book is beautifully written, evoking the setting of the Italian Alps in the winter. I enjoyed just reading the great sentences and turns of phrases.
I also run a book box subscription that feature strong woman reads and this book was a no-brainer to add to one of our boxes. So far, our subscribers are also enjoying this book as well.
Thank you to Edelweiss+ and the publisher for a review copy of this book.
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Book Review: The First Mistake

The First Mistake by Sandie Jones

From Sandie Jones, the author of the Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick and New York Times bestseller The Other Woman, comes an addictively readable new domestic suspense about a wife, her husband, and the woman who is supposedly her best friend.

THE WIFE: For Alice, life has never been better. With her second husband, she has a successful business, two children, and a beautiful house.

HER HUSBAND: Alice knows that life could have been different if her first husband had lived, but Nathan’s arrival into her life gave her back the happiness she craved.

HER BEST FRIEND: Through the ups and downs of life, from celebratory nights out to comforting each other through loss, Alice knows that with her best friend Beth by her side, they can survive anything together. So when Nathan starts acting strangely, Alice turns to Beth for help. But soon, Alice begins to wonder whether her trust has been misplaced . . .

The first mistake could be her last.

Review:
I’m a bit torn about this book. There were definitely clever bits and interesting twists and the ending was well set up, but there was also something else that was hard to define. I think I just didn’t like the characters and found it hard to get invested in them.
Alice just didn’t do it for me. I get that she was widowed and that she still missed her dead husband 10 years later, but she definitely let it get in the way of enjoying her life in the moment and she second guessed herself all the time. And, if she did love her first husband so much and missed him so badly, it seemed forced that she would marry someone else less than a year after his death. I like that she was presented as having trouble with her mental health and got help, but she got a hard time from her (current) husband about using meds to help her, which is unfortunate. She really defined herself in relation to the men in her life, which, I guess, is just how she was presented so that she could grow…
The thriller aspect was good and very thought out by the author. There were definitely breadcrumbs if you knew to see them, something which I love. I don’t like it when a solution comes out of nowhere with no foreshadowing.
Overall, this is an easy read with some good twists and turns.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the review copy.
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Book Review: The Lost Night

The Lost Night by Andrea Bartz

What really happened the night Edie died? Ten years later, her best friend Lindsay will learn how unprepared she is for the truth.

In 2009, Edie had New York’s social world in her thrall. Mercurial and beguiling, she was the shining star of a group of recent graduates living in a Brooklyn loft and treating the city like their playground. When Edie’s body was found near a suicide note at the end of a long, drunken night, no one could believe it. Grief, shock, and resentment scattered the group and brought the era to an abrupt end.

A decade later, Lindsay has come a long way from the drug-addled world of Calhoun Lofts. She has devoted best friends, a cozy apartment, and a thriving career as a magazine’s head fact-checker. But when a chance reunion leads Lindsay to discover an unsettling video from that hazy night, she starts to wonder if Edie was actually murdered—and, worse, if she herself was involved. As she rifles through those months in 2009—combing through case files, old technology, and her fractured memories—Lindsay is forced to confront the demons of her own violent history to bring the truth to light.

Review:
For me, this book was only okay. I didn’t love Lindsay and I don’t love books with lots of partying and drinking that result in memory loss. The detective work was interesting while Lindsay is trying to piece together what happened the night her friend died and I did like the story well enough to keep reading and find out the ending.  Overall, however, this just wasn’t the book for me.
Thank you to Netgalley for a review copy of this book.
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