Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Whodunit Book Club - October 25, 2016

We welcomed two new faces to our bookclub at October's meeting.  Twelve members were present as we discussed "The Trap" by Melanie Raabe.
As usual, we went around the circle and asked members to give the novel a score out of a possible ten points.  The average score for "The Trap" was 6.7 with only half of the members saying they would read another novel by this author.
Comments by members included:
  • interesting premise (reclusive author who sets a trap for her sister's killer)
  • story within the story was well done and not confusing to the reader
  • description was well rendered
  • chapter endings were sometimes cliff-hangers which added to readability and suspense
  • smooth translation from the German
  • everyone liked the character of the dog, Bukowski
  • the 'twists' were well done and appreciated by readers

  • story was far-fetched causing the reader to suspend belief
  • translation done by British person as the narrative included British jargon
  • poorly researched as regards the protagonists anxiety disorder
  • predictable ending
  • lacking in emotion
  • murderer not included in plot so as to make it impossible for reader to surmise/guess who it was

  • It was interesting to note that Melanie Raabe writing style was subtly different from Linda Conrad's writing style (Linda Conrad being the protagonist of the novel) causing the 'book within a book' to be different in tone.
    The book displayed what seems to be a new trend in thriller writing - the unreliable narrator.   This book won the Stuttgart Crime Prize for best crime debut of the year
    Melanie Raabe grew up in Thuringia, Germany, and attended the Ruhr University Bochum, where she specialized in literature and media studies. After graduating, she moved to Cologne to work as a journalist by day and secretly write books by night.

    There were five lucky winners of free books this evening!
    1. Margaret
    2. Nancy
    3. Marilyn
    4. Cathy
    5. Carmella

    On Tuesday, November 29th (the last Whodunit meeting of 2016) we will discuss the novel "Gone" by Randy Wayne White.  Whodunit members get a 10% discount off the price of the book.

    Tuesday, October 18, 2016

    Whodunit Book Club - September 26, 2016

    Thanks to Marlene for writing this post as I was absent from the September meeting. 

    Nine members met to discuss Thin Ice by Nick Wilkshire, a police procedural set in Ottawa and revolving around the murder investigation of a rookie hockey player, recently signed by the Ottawa Raftsmen.
    The publisher describes it this way:
    Hockey is a dangerous game, but it's what happens off the ice that can get you killed. Curtis Ritchie is the only news in town when Ottawa takes the young hockey sensation first overall in the annual spring draft. But on the eve of Ritchie's rookie season, the media frenzy over the signing and the controversial trades that secured the young star are eclipsed by news of his murder. As Ottawa Major Crimes Unit investigator Jack Smith reassembles Ritchie's life, he is surprised by how much it differs from the fledgling star's clean-cut image. A long list of suspects soon emerges, any one of whom had good reasons to want Ritchie dead. But there's something else about the young phenom - a secret so profound that its revelation to the wrong person could only have meant Ritchie's end.

    The book earned a score of 6.7 out of 10. All those present said they enjoyed reading the book, which they found to be well-written, while the quintessential Canadian setting of Ottawa and the professional hockey business added to the appeal. Although the main character, Jack Smith, came across as immature, particularly in his relationships with women, his partnership with David Marshall, the older, somewhat jaded senior investigator in the Major Crimes Unit shows promise for development in further books in the Capital Crime Series. For this reason, all but one of the attendees said they would read another book in this particular series.
    Some comments about the book included:
    ·       Although a classic police procedural, the repetitive listing of evidence detracted from the readability.
    ·       Jack’s character lacked depth. Perhaps it will become more developed in future books?
    ·       Too many secondary characters.
    ·       The cover shows people skating on the canal but the story takes place in the early fall.

    The lucky winners of book prizes for September were: Carmella, Marilyn, Jean, Nancy, and Gaye. Pam announced that, for at least the next few months, book prizes will include a copy of the next month’s selection.
    The book for October is The Trap by Melanie Raabe, translated from German by Imogen Taylor.

    Wednesday, August 31, 2016

    Whodunit Book Club - August 30, 2016

    As we didn't meet in July, it was great to see the familiar faces of Whodunit members this evening. Our book this time was "The kind worth killing" by Peter Swanson.

    Ten members present and one absentee member rated this psychological thriller 7.1 points out of 10.

    The publisher's blurb states:
    A devious tale of psychological suspense, soon to be a major movie directed by Agnieszka Holland. In a tantalizing set-up reminiscent of Patricia Highsmith's classic story "Strangers on a train"... On a night flight from London to Boston, Ted Severson meets the stunning and mysterious Lily Kintner.  Sharing one too many martinis, the strangers begin to play a game of truth, revealing very intimate details about themselves. Ted talks about his marriage that's going stale and his wife Miranda, who he is sure is cheating on him. Ted and his wife were a mismatch from the start - he the rich businessman, she the artistic free spirit - a contrast that once inflamed their passion, bu has now become a cliché. But their game turns a little darker when Ted jokes that he could kill Miranda for what she's done. Lily, with missing a beat, says calmly, "I'd like to help". After all, some people are the kind worth killing, like a lying stinking, cheating spouse...
    Back in Boston, Ted and Lily's twisted bond grows stronger as they begin to plot Miranda's demise. But there are a few things about Lily's past that she hasn't shared with Ted, namely her experience in the art and craft of murder, a journey that began in her very precocious youth.
    Suddenly these co-conspirators are embroiled in a chilling game of cat-and-mouses, one they both cannot survive... with a shrewd and determined detective on their tale.

    • With short chapters told by different points of view, the consensus was that this novel was a fast-paced, page-turner.  
    • The title made perfect sense and connected well with the plot. 
    • The characters were manipulative, especially the women.  
    • The readers found most of the characters unsympathetic.
    • Lily's character was clever and crafty verging on the sociopathic.  
    • The writing had a Hitchcockian feel which made perfect sense once we learned that the author has also written a sequence of 53 sonnets, one for each of Alfred Hitchcock's films. 
    • Some disliked the way Ted and Lily met, feeling that it was too contrived. Others felt that they could completely understand that the anonymity could engender such a meeting.
    • Some found the novel to be humorous in places, a satirical kind of humor.
    • All the members liked the various settings included in the novel and stated it would make a great movie.
    • Most agreed that this was an entertaining thriller and that they would read another novel by this author.
    • The ending was satisfying for those readers who crave for justice to be done.
    The four lucky winners of the book giveaways this month were:
    1. Cathy
    2. Nancy
    3. Marlene
    4. Jean
    Next month we will meet again on September 27th to discuss the novel "Thin Ice" by Nick Wilkshire.

    Tuesday, June 28, 2016

    Whodunit Bookclub Meeting June 28, 2016

    Ten members voted on this month's selection, "Alex" by Pierre Lemaitre giving the novel a score of 8.5 out of 10 !  Also, the majority of members said that would definitely want to read more titles in this trilogy.

    We all agreed that Alex, the protagonist and title character, is unforgettable.  She has endured the most inhumane, barbaric, and atrocious acts, yet, in her own way remains not the victim, but the victor.  She was a survivor - a strong woman with her own moral code of conduct.

    The book was dark, disturbing and not for the squeamish.  However the author alternated the more intense scenes with chapters featuring the police investigation so as to give the reader a much needed respite from the barbarity. 

    Everyone termed it a 'page-turner' that evoked emotion in the reader.  It was pointed out that the police team were all interesting characters who made the novel richer in tone.  It was also pointed out that there were no 'good' mothers in the book.  Every mother mentioned was seriously lacking in maternal traits...

    This crime novel is a page-turner with great characterization.  However, be warned… this is a graphically brutal and at times shocking read which will test your endurance as a crime reader.  The author masterfully manipulates your emotions and reactions to tell his provocative tale.  Kudos also go out to the translator, Frank Wynne, who translated the author’s story seamlessly and with eloquent language.

    To read my own personal review of "Alex" visit my blog: Fictionophile
    The lucky winners of the four book giveaways this month were:
    1. Marilyn
    2. Carmella
    3. Nancy
    4. Jean

    You are welcome to join us at our next Whodunit meeting which will be held at Chapters Dartmouth location at Mic Mac Mall on Tuesday, August 30th.  At that time we will discuss the thriller "The kind worth killing" by Peter Swanson.

    Tuesday, May 31, 2016

    Whodunit Book Club meeting May 31, 2016

    Due to the fact that there was no Whodunit meeting in April we had two whole months to read this month's novel.   Sadly, not many of the twelve people in attendance enjoyed it...
    The average score out of a possible 10 points was: 3.16 with almost all saying they would not read another novel by this author!

    The novel under discussion?

    Most Whodunit members had high hopes for this one and almost all were happy with the Toronto setting.  A debut novel by Canadian Elisabeth de Mariaffi, "The Devil you Know" turned out to be a disappointing read and it is surprising that this novel has been shortlisted for the Thomas Raddall Prize at this year's East Coast Literary Awards.  
    Can they be talking about the same book???

    The Goodreads description of the book:
    Debut novel about a rookie reporter, whose memories of the murder of her childhood best friend bring danger—and a stalker—right to her doorstep.

    The year is 1993. Rookie crime beat reporter Evie Jones is haunted by the unsolved murder of her best friend Lianne Gagnon who was killed in 1982, back when both girls were eleven. The suspected killer, a repeat offender named Robert Cameron, was never arrested, leaving Lianne’s case cold. 

    Now twenty-one and living alone for the first time, Evie is obsessively drawn to finding out what really happened to Lianne. She leans on another childhood friend, David Patton, for help—but every clue they uncover seems to lead to an unimaginable conclusion. As she gets closer and closer to the truth, Evie becomes convinced that the killer is still at large—and that he’s coming back for her.

    What Whodunit thought:

    • The protagonist, Evie, was not someone that the reader could relate to.  She was a disturbed young woman with unresolved feelings about her friend's murder.  We wondered how such a scatterbrained, inexperienced reporter was put on one of the most important stories at her paper.  We wondered if perhaps her 'stalker' was a mere figment of her imagination...
    • The plot was incohesive and disjointed.  With many stray tangents that were not followed up on, and many real people mentioned, it was almost as if the author tried to cram too much into her narrative, thus weakening the whole.  A plot of unrealized potential.
    • The ending left many loose ends and left an overall feeling of dissatisfaction and disappointment.
    There were some positive comments about the writing, in particular some of the more suspenseful scenes. It was said that the novel attempted to create a snapshot of the volatile and unsettling time of the infamous Paul Bernardo case and how it affected the general public.

    The novel we will discuss at our next meeting of Whodunit on Tuesday, June, 28, 2016:
    New members welcome!

    The lucky winners of new reading material this month?
    1. Marilyn
    2. Charlaine
    3. Carmella
    4. Jane

    Tuesday, March 29, 2016

    Whodunit Book Club meeting March 29, 2016

    Whodunit Book Club members were delighted to welcome another new face at this month's meeting. Fifteen members came together on a chilly and windy evening to discuss the thriller "Pretty Girls" by Karin Slaughter. Some attendees thought the author's name was very fitting due to the extreme and graphic violence depicted in the novel.

    The description of the novel from the author's website:
    More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenage sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that’s cruelly ripped open when Claire’s husband is killed.
    The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.

    As is our usual custom we went around the circle and each member in attendance rated the book out of a possible ten points. The views were very diverse. Some loved the book, some just couldn't abide it at all - citing the recurring theme of violence and torture detracted from their having any enjoyment from the novel whatsoever. As a result, the average score was 7/10 with nine members saying they would read another book by this author.

    Some adjectives used to describe "Pretty Girls" were: disturbing, graphic, intense, etc.  It was all those things and more.  With a high body count the novel felt like a film script.  The many plot twists, fast pacing, and skillful writing ensured that it was a page-turner. However, the book was not for the squeamish.  Torture, gore, and rape were described in graphic detail... too much detail for some.  Others thought the vivid depictions were necessary to ensure that the reader was fully apprised of the extent of evil of the novel's villain.

    Discussion arose as to whether society is now becoming desensitized to the evil that man can perpetrate upon his fellow man...  It was also questioned as to whether people of varying ages would react differently to the graphic nature of the novel.

    Some readers enjoyed the psychological study of the damaged family while others couldn't connect with the characters on any level.

    Listed on the Globe and Mail's list of 100 best books, "Pretty Girls" is listed in the crime section.  Goodreads rates the book very highly with the average score taken from over thirty-one thousand ratings.
    There will be no Whodunit Book Club meeting in April.
    We meet again on May 31st to discuss
      "The Devil you Know" by Elisabeth de Mariaffi.

    Lucky winners of the giveaway books this month were:
    1. Brian
    2. Carolyn
    3. Crystal
    4. Jane

    Thursday, February 25, 2016

    Whodunit Book Club - February 23, 2016

    The group was excited to welcome a new member this evening!  There were eleven bodies present at the meeting, but two others voted on the book in absentia.

    The title we discussed was "The Forgotten Girls" by Sara Blaedel.  This novel is the seventh title in a Danish mystery series featuring policewoman Louise Rick.
    Usually Whodunit reads the first novel in a series so this was a bit of a departure for us.
    The novel was received well.  Out of a possible 10 points "The Forgotten Girls" garnered a healthy score of 7.5 with many members saying they would read another book in the series. Interestingly though, most said that they would read future novels in the series but would not likely go back and read the previous novels.

    The club felt that the novel would have benefited from a map depicting some settings of the novel and their relationship to each other.

    Adjectives used to describe this novel included: dark, graphic, disturbing, gruesome and intense.  Typical Nordic Noir!

    The novel featured Lousie Rick, an officer on a newly created Missing Persons task force with the Danish police.  Formerly a homicide detective, Louise has brought her many years of experience with her to her new role.  She meets her new partner, Eik (pronounced Ache) who turns out to be a worthy foil to her after a somewhat rocky start...

    Women have been disappearing near a forest situated near where Louise was brought up.  Her familiarity with the area aids in the investigation.
    The novel delves into atrocities committed against inmates of a mental health institution, and the attendant malpractice and corruption that involved.  There was mention of Utica cribs and other horrible means of restraint.

    Some Whodunit members found that subject matter very disturbing and found they could not 'warm' to the characters - whilst others found the characters sympathetic due to their damaged pasts.   Some felt the novel was hard to get into - perhaps because they did not feel that the translation from the Danish language was a smooth one, leaving some aspects of the novel unexplained.

    Most agreed that the mystery/plot of the novel was good, though some were dissatisfied with the ending.  There was a surprise at the end which some readers enjoyed.

    This month's lucky winners of giveaway books were:
    1. Charlaine
    2. Laird
    3. Marilyn
    4. Carmella

    Our next Whodunit Book Club meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 29th, 2016 when we will discuss the novel "Pretty Girls" by Karin Slaughter.