Bradstreet Gate

Graduating from Harvard often means that you will be starting a life of wealth and high pillars. The 1%. For the last four years, you’ve worked hard, studied hard…and of course, probably partied a little hard too. Graduation should be a celebration, you’ve done it! Life can begin.

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However, for Georgia, Charlie, and Alice…things didn’t quite go that way. Bradstreet Gate is the story of how their graduation year at Harvard went very wrong, when a classmate was murdered, allegedly by a professor they trusted.

My first thought when I started reading this book was, “Ok…this sounds an awful lot like How to Get Away with Murder.” And since I love that show…I was ok with it. Really though, it’s not at all the same plot, except the creepy teacher/student love affair thing.

Robin Kirman is going to be an author to watch–she writes characters brilliantly, on the same level as Gillian Flynn. There are two people here that I want to open their brains and just rummage around, to see what is going on. One is a textbook novel sociopath. That person is perfection–one that you love to hate immediately. The other will have you guessing the entire book. I am not going to tell you which is which because the kicker of these two characters is…which one actually committed the murder?

Bradstreet Gate‘s subtle creep factor just nails it the whole time. The story itself is wonderful, and then interwoven is this nagging feeling that you are being watched and studied. I kept thinking, “Why is this called a thriller? It’s really not that thrilling?” And then a chill would run down my spine out of nowhere. Oohhh, there it is.

Great debut, Robin Kirman. I’ll be looking for more from you!

 

Blogging for Books sent this to me for an unbiased review.

 

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Dark Places

Tonight, I have tickets with friends for a screening of Dark Places. Gillian Flynn’s second movie isn’t getting near as much fanfare as Gone Girl did, but anything with Charlize Theron has got to be good, right?

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I read Dark Places a long time ago, but I could not remember anything about it, so I made sure to pick it back up before tonight’s show. Libby Day is 30, broke, and unemployed. Up until now, she’s lived off the charity of crime obsessed philanthropists who years ago threw money at the little girl left broken-hearted and lost. Her family was murdered by her Satanist brother when she was young, and she was forced to testify against him as the only witness. Now, those charitable hearts have moved on in favor of other crimes and she has to find money quick.

Welcome Kill Club–a creepy organization of people who geek out over conspiracy theories. One favorite conspiracy circles around the Day family and the night Libby’s family was killed, and they are willing to pay her to track down information for her.

Dark Places is a very weird book. I wanted to say that I find Libby a very awkward, uncomfortable character, unbelievable in that she should be much more traumatized by what happened instead of just skimming money and using it for nice cars and clothes until it runs out. But, we all react in our own ways. The more I think about Libby and her, for lack of a better word, laziness to do anything with her life, I realize that just about everyone her world is that way–except maybe Patty. The town was full of excuses and poverty and drugs, the kind of small town where no one ever gets out.

My romantic reader brain wants her to be heroic–full of fight and power. And she does too–she even mentions it at one point to herself, when she thinks about how all she did was hide in the closet and that’s why she didn’t see the attacker. But, that’s not who Libby is. It was much easier for her to hide after the murders, to turn away from Ben and Diane and Runner, dye her hair blonde, and use all the donations she could.

The book itself is bit of a quiet start, but there is a crescendo of action at the end. In typical Flynn fashion, she keeps you guessing and fascinated right up until the end, when all at once you will connect every single dot she left for you with one big EUREKA moment.

I’m really looking forward to seeing the screening tonight!

 

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Under the Lake

Can I just tell you, it feels REALLY good to be caught up? I’m writing this post way ahead of time–I already have a post scheduled every day this week, and so you’re going to be reading this almost a week after I finish the book! That almost never happens! I’m so glad my slump is over.

My latest library pull was from the very oldest TBRs. We are talking from back before Goodreads, when I kept everything in an Access Database. I got pretty suave at using that program because my TBR list was so crazy detailed. Do you know how happy I was when Goodreads came along? Phew. So much easier. It basically saved my life. Or at least my sanity.

Two of the books didn’t make the cut. Sometimes, a book is on your TBR for so long you really don’t remember why you added in the first place. And they were pretty bad. But, Under the Lake was just the thing for this week, when I was starting to catch my stride in my reading come-back.

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Under the Lake is a thriller from the 80s…which can either be really great or really terrible. This, thankfully, is one of the great ones. It has all the hits:  small town sheriff, rich guy who runs that town, newspaper man down on his luck, spooky mystic old lady, and a mystery that everyone tries to dust under the rug. Or in this case…UNDER THE LAKE! *badaching*

Here’s the thing. This is a bit of a man’s man fantasy. As in, the main character gets everything he ever wants.

  • Easy escape from a lame marriage. Check.
  • Hot friend sex with no strings attached. Check.
  • Hot sex with mystic woman’s sexy mystic daughter. Check.
  • Isolated cabin in the woods with boats and unending supply of booze and chili. Check.
  • Easy writing gig where he makes money but you never see him do any work. Check.

All this for a middle age balding guy with a bad back? mmmmmk….

Some of it does seem a little flat, I will admit. But, I took it with a grain of salt, that it was a guy thriller set in the mid 70s (published in 87). Let’s face it. This isn’t the most modern of books. However, once I got beyond that thought, I really enjoyed the mystery of the town of Sutherland, and what was going on under the lake. Digging around in history always gets me interested, so the story itself was very intriguing, even if I found the characters themselves lacking a bit.

I’m giving this a 3. It’s not perfect. I’m not jumping up and down, but this was “quality entertainment” for a couple of days, and it was an easy thing to read.

 

M is for Mystery

R loves John Grisham so much we have an entire shelf of them. Every time we go to a book sale, he picks a new one up, one he doesn’t have. I’ve made sure to catalog them all on my Goodreads app–so he knows which ones are already on our shelves.

I’ve read one or two, the rest are on my TBR list. They all stand stoically in a row together–no way I’m moving them over to my actual TBR shelf…there’s just too many!

Technically, I think they are classed as “Legal Thrillers,” instead of mystery, but close enough to count!

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The Long Goodbye

Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye was my first dive into noir, but it was immediately familiar to me. I grew up with all kinds of pop culture references to old school gangsters and private detectives. Ann Patchett actually recommended this book when I read This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. She talks about Chandler’s chapter structure, so I was curious enough to read it right away.

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As soon as I started the first chapter, Marlowe’s dark voice echoed out like every private eye ever to grace the silver screen. This comes from a time when dick still meant detective, and gangsters used nicknames like “shyster” and “cheapie.”

I enjoyed this whodunit quite a bit, although the end got a bit twisted and confusing. It definitely came to a different conclusion than I had drawn, and the complications came after what I thought was the climax. It was kind of a strange roller coaster. That was probably the point, though–it just wasn’t near as succinct as what we are used to in today’s fiction.

Maybe I just need to try out a few more noir novels to figure out their structure. Does anyone have any suggestions for me?