26 August 2022

 The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell:  A sequel and a stand alone all in one. 

In the acknowledgements to this book, author Lisa Jewell mentions that she doesn't like to write sequels, but felt compelled to do so in this case due to many requests from readers.  I am so glad she did.  I really enjoyed this "rest of the story" book that followed up on the characters from The Family Upstairs.  I enjoyed the original, but this book was even better.  The Family Remains begins where The Family Upstairs left off, literally.  And yet it is a book that could easily stand on it own.  Jewell includes just enough details from the first book to give the reader the background that they need to understand where the characters are in the present.  She also includes a new story line and a few new characters that keep the reader engaged and give the story a fresh outlook.  As opposed to the first book, there are no loose ends at the end of this book, just answers and outcomes which I found profoundly satisfying.  It was particularly gratifying to see the resolution of the many questions that were left unanswered at the end of The Family Upstairs.  I would highly recommend both books to readers, but if you are only going to read one of them....I recommend it is this one.  It will definitely be on my recommendation list for others. 

I received a copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, and would like to thank Atria publishers for granting me the copy, Lisa Jewell for putting the book up for review, and Netgalley for the service they provide in getting review copies to readers.

01 August 2022



Let me start by saying that this book is not your typical Mystery/Thriller novel. There are several things that set it apart from the run of the mill book in that genre. The first one being that all you need to do is read the published synopsis, or the first few pages of the book and you know that the main character, Lucas, put out a hit on his wife and had her killed. That is not the mystery. We also know right up front why Lucas had her killed. The mystery part comes in when someone starts sending him things in the "I know what you did last summer" kind of vein. The other thing that set this book apart for me is that Lucas is a totally unlikeable character with no redeeming qualities that I could find. This is not just my opinion, but a plot point stated by the author. Lucas is, as he would say, " a total arse" and you are not supposed to like him. I get that, and it works on some level, but unfortunately for me, his character was so over the top that I found him off putting and it actually hampered my enjoyment of what would otherwise have been a well crafted story. And the story was well crafted with a twist at the end that was really good and made the book worth the time to read it for the most part, but I just couldn't get past Lucas' personality enough to REALLY enjoy the book. I'm sure there are a lot of readers who would not be bothered by, and probably even enjoy Lucas as a character given how the book flows. As for me, I would like to thank Mira books for giving me a chance to read this book through Netgalley. My recommendation to other readers would be to give the book a try and see if the story wins out for you.

06 June 2022

The best true crime book I have read in a few years. Bone Deep by Charles Bosworth JR. and Joel Schwartz

 I will admit, I had never heard of the Betsy Faria murder case until a reading cohort of mine suggested we get the book from Netgalley and read it. Being a person who is intrigued by true crime books, I readily agreed,  Then another true crime afficionado friend of mine told me about the 6 episode miniseries on Peacock called The Thing About Pam.  I am really glad that both of these friend brought this case, and Charles Bosworth's book to my attention. 

As soon as I began reading the book, the murder of Betsy Faria fascinated me.  There were several reasons for this.   case was fascinating to me for several reasons.  First, I grew up in Florissant, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis that is close to Tray and O'Fallen.  It was interesting to read a book set in an area that I am so familiar with, even if it is a book about crime.  And the crimes in this book were horrendous.  The murder of Betsy Faria was bad enough, but the behavior and actions of the police, prosecuting attorney, and judge in the original trial were just as much a crime, and just as fascinating at the murder;   Charles Bosworth Jr. does a marvelous job of chronicling the case in the book. His writing is stellar and his ability to highlight the ups and downs of the case kept me riveted to the story. I couldn't wait to see what the major players in the story were going to do next and how it was going to play out. This was a top notch thriller, complete numerous surprising twists and turns, only these were real. In fact, I became so immersed in the story that I am currently looking for a way to get the original Dateline programs that were referenced in the book to see how their coverage compares.

Another positive I will point out regarding Bone Deep is that the story was well enough written that I felt a number of emotions as I continued to read it.  Anger at the police and prosecutor who originally handled the case.  I couldn't decide if they were inept, or just disregarding the information that was  apparent to me reading the book.  It certainly didn't make the law enforcement agencies in the area look good to begin with. I also felt extreme sorrow for Russ Faria and his family for what they had to go through, and for Betsy's family who were the real victims of the shell game played by Pam Hupp and the Lincoln County police force.  And lastly, there was the feeling of incredulity that someone could get away with such a bungled crime for so long.

When I finished reading the book, I saw that the author has several other true crime books that I am looking forward to checking out. Also interested in getting the old Dateline episodes referred to in the book if possible. I am very glad that I was granted a copy of this book from Netgalley and Kensington books. As far as true crime books go, I am giving this one a 5 out of 5 stars.

NOTE:  I understand that they changed a lot in the Peacock show.  I have only watched the first episode, and I have to agree, there are a lot of differences  from the account in the book.  It is still fascinating, but I am glad to have read the book so that I can compare the entertainment from the facts. 

24 January 2022

The Maid by Nina Prouse

3 out of 5 stars

 I'll start by saying that I enjoyed this book, but was not able to give it more than three stars. 

When I read a mystery, I like to look at it as a puzzle. Part of the fun for me is figuring out who are the good guys, who are just pretending to be good, who are the likely suspects and why, and who are the unlikely suspects. What are the connections between the characters that may come into play. In the case of The Maid, by Nita Prose, I was not able to do this. The plot was a good one. Molly the maid finds a dead body in one of the rooms she is cleaning and ends up being the prime suspect in the murderer. It wasn't that pace of the story, or the lack of twists, there were plenty of those. It wasn't even that I was able to figure out the puzzle too easily, although I did figure most of it out, including who was the actual killer, early in the book.

The big thing for me was the characters. Unlike most of my book buddies, I was not able to really connect with the maim character, Molly. Instead of the sympathetic character that most saw her as, to me she just seemed pathetic. The investigating detective to me seemed mean and rigid in her thinking, with a total lack of empathy, which made it hard for me to have any empathy for her. The dead man's wife just seemed shallow, as did a number of the other characters. It turns out that I just had a hard time connecting with any of the character. That said, I think I am the only one of the people I know who has read this book that thought it was just okay. And the book is showing up on quite a lot of "must read" lists in websites and blogs that I follow, so I figure I must just be missing something.

I do want to thank the publisher for making this book available on Netgalley and giving me a chance to read and review it. I enjoyed the book and I'm not sorry I read it, but for me it was an average read.