Book Review: I’ll Be Gone in The Dark

35068432I’ll Be Gone in the Dark tells the story of the Golden State Killer. It was written by Michelle McNamara, the woman behind True Crime Diary, a true crime website dedicated to solving cold cases.  I am so bummed I didn’t know about True Crime Diary before Michelle passed away. I went on there after I read I’ll Be Gone in the Dark and immediately fell in love with her writing all over again. 

My boyfriend bought the physical copy of this book because he’s a big fan of Patton Oswalt, who was Michelle’s husband, after finding out about the book via Patton’s Twitter account. I started reading it, but then the ladies on My Favorite Murder mentioned how amazing the audiobook was so I decided to check it out from my local library. And let me tell you, they were not kidding! The woman who reads this book has the perfect voice for true crime fiction. That sort of dreamy NPR voice — you know what I’m talking about.

The book details Michelle’s journey on trying to discover the Golden State Killer, the nickname she created for the person who terrorized California in the 1970s and 1980s. The Golden State Killer committed at least 13 murders, 50 rapes and more than 100 burglaries.  The book gives you an intimate glimpse into Michelle’s life and how dedicated she was to finding the Golden State Killer. From leaving fancy Hollywood parties early so she could follow up a tip she received by text or tracking down a pair of cufflinks in an pawn shop in middle of nowhere Oregon — you understand how dedicated and passionate she was at trying to find the person known as the Golden State Killer. If you have been following the case at all then you know a man by the name of Joseph DeAngelo was arrested in April 2018 as the potential Golden State Killer by DNA evidence.

At the time of DeAngelo’s arrest, my boyfriend was just finishing the book so I had yet to read it. But that did not stop me from listening to all of the news coverage OR the My Favorite Murder special episode with PAUL FREAKING HOLES.  You can bet that I’m going back to re-listen to that episode now. 

I will probably read the book at some point because some things were lost with listening to the audiobook. Obviously, I didn’t have the pictures to look at, and sometimes the layout of the book was a bit confusing to me when it jumped from year to year and city to city. I will say though, everyone needs to listen to Michelle’s Letter to an Old Man, from the very end of the book. That was the most haunting thing that I have ever listened to and I had goosebumps after it was over. And then immediately listening to Patton’s afterward had me in tears. Needless to say this book was an emotional roller coaster for a lot of different reasons: the terrorizing nature of the crimes, the endless goose chase of tracking down suspect after suspect, and finally the bitter sweetness of a woman who spent years researching in the darkness of her child’s playroom never able to look at the picture of the man she had hunted for so many years and say “got ya.” 

If you are a lover of true crime books definitely pick this one up. If you are wanting to try true crime and don’t know where to start, start with this book. Michelle’s narrative writing style makes you believe you are reading a work of fiction rather than non-fiction. It’s a good read. 

 

Until next time! 

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Tag: Bare Your Bookshelf

This week has been busier than normal, and I was hoping to be finished with a couple of other books by now, but alas I’m not. So I decided to do a fun book tag post instead. Sara over at The Bibliophagist recently did this book tag, and it looked fun so I decided to join in 🙂  This tag was originally posted by Cait at PaperFury.

 


 

 

 

BOOK YOU OWN BUT HAVEN’T READ YET

uhhh..well that would be a lot. I own 683 books and have probably read half or less of that number. SO. I gotta get reading. A friend of mine told me about libib.com a few years ago and it has been a LIFESAVER for me. Libib is a website where you can catalog books, albums, movies — basically anything you want.  I was accidentally buying duplicate copies of books thinking I didn’t have it, and wasting money and shelf space, oops! You can see my book collection here.

(the wannabe librarian in me LOVED cataloging my own collection)

 

 

 

 

BOOKS YOUR FRIENDS LOVE

My friend Heather as been trying to get me to read the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness for YEARS now. I went so far as to buy the whole series. I just have to actually start reading them. I’ve heard good things about the series, so I will probably start it in the new year after I get through my ASAP TBR pile. 

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My friend Kyla, on the other hand recommends almost every book she ever reads to me. Her most recent book recommendation was The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell.  I recently scooped this one up during Powell’s online used book sale for only $6!! (Thanks Powells!) This book is on my ASAP TBR pile so I’m HOPING to get to it before the end of the year. 

 

 

 

 

 

BOOK BY AN AUTHOR YOU LOVE

There are so many authors that I love so, so much, but the author that I am consistently excited about new releases and will immediately preorder their books is Cassandra Clare. I have been reading her books for about 10 years now and I love how the world she has built has changed and grown over the years. I will read everything of hers until she stops writing (which I hope never happens).

 

 

 

 

BOOK AT THE BOTTOM OF YOUR TBR

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I don’t even remember BUYING THIS?! I would donate it to my local used bookstore, but it’s the Kindle version so I can only assume that I was at a moment of weakness and it was a Kindle E-book Deal of the Day, because that is the only logical explanation of me buying this book. If  you have read this and actually liked it, let me know and maybe it’ll change mind. But until then, I doubt I will ever read it. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BOOK WITH COLOR IN THE TITLE

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Bright Earth: Art and the Invention of Color by Philip Ball

(this is apparently the ONLY book I own with the world color in the title)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BOOK SET SOMEWHERE YOU’D LIKE TO VISIT

England is definitely on my bucket list to visit someday. 

 

IF I could visit a fictional location, hands down it would the world in the Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima. If you have not read any of her books,
DO. IT. NOW.
It would be pretty cool to be bff’s with Princess Raisa ana’Marianna. She’s probably the most badass female character I’ve read, and Han is so precious. 

 

 

 

 

 

MOST COLLECTED AUTHOR 

This one was a tie for me! But I’m not all that surprised about who it was between: Cassandra Clare and J.K. Rowling.

duh.

 

I own 25 books by each author, some kindle and some physical copies.
My books by J.K. Rowling do not include the Cormoran Strike series under her pen name Robert Gailbrath.
It’s allllll Harry Potter books. 

 

 

 

 

 

MISMATCHED SERIES

Most of my series are mismatched, but the ones I can think of off the top of my head would be the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas and The Mortal Instrument series by Cassandra Clare. I have about half physical and half kindle books for both series.

A series that I have random books from, and is not complete, is the Blue Blood series by Melissa de la Cruz. I believe at one point I had the complete series between my kindle and physical books, but at some point I must have gotten rid of the physical books. So, now I only have 4/7 books. 

 

 

 

 

BOOK YOU LOVE BUT DON’T REMEMBER WELL

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I read The Diviners when it first came out back in 2012, and then forgot to read the rest of the series. OOPS. I remember I loved the setting of the book, and the characters, but I forgot what happens except for little bits and pieces here and there. I recently bought all three books on my Kindle and plan to read them in the new year. 

Also, I’m a HUGE fan of the original covers. LOVED them. 

 


 

 

Until next time!

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Exciting Preorders: 2018 Edition

Is it just me or are there a LOT of cool books coming out soon? Whether it’s collectors editions, series finales, or start of a new series, there’s some goodies coming out and I wanted to share with you what I have preordered through the end of the year.

I purchased all of my preorders through Amazon because I bought the Kindle version for some of them, and let’s be honest their 1-Click Preorder button is dangerous

 

 

 

 

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It really should come to no one’s surprise with my first preorder. I think it’s one of the most anticipated books to come out this fall. I decided to preorder the Kindle version of Kingdom of Ash simply due to the size of the book. At 992 pages, and limited shelf space I decided to skip the hardcover and buy the Kindle book. I will probably buy the paperback when it eventually comes out as they tend to be a bit smaller. 

To say I’m excited about this book is an understatement. Like the rest of my book collection, I bought Throne of Glass about 4-5 years ago and it sat on my bookshelf until finally last summer I decided to pick it up and read it. I devoured it, and I read the rest of the series back to back and caught up in about a month. For some reason, I haven’t read Tower of Dawn until now (I’m about half way through), but I must admit it’s taking me longer to get through this one. Maybe because Chaol isn’t my favorite (sorry, not sorry). 

I haven’t read too much online chatter about Kingdom of Ash because I don’t want to have too much given away. I’m excited to see how the series will conclude, but nervous/anxious that not everyone will make it to the end. I just want Aelin to be okay, is that TOO MUCH TO ASK?!

Kingdom of Ash will be released on October 23rd. You can preorder it on Amazon or wherever you get your books! 

 

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My next preorder is also by Sarah J. Maas. It’s the very pretty collector’s edition of Throne of Glass. Now, I’m picky when it comes to collector’s editions because 1) of my limited shelf space, or 2) there’s too many collector’s editions (looking at you HP series) to choose from, and 3) they’re pricey! So I’m selective or I ask them for either Christmas or birthday gifts. But once I saw this collector’s edition I just knew I had to get it. It features gold foil, brand new interior page designs, metallic end papers, and a new map of Erilea. Plus the purple with the gold foil is just so dreamy. I’m hoping Maas will release more collector editions for the other books because I will definitely invest in them. The preorder price was only $28.00 USD, which is why I didn’t feel so bad buying it myself.

The collector’s edition of Throne of Glass will be released on November 6th. 

 

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This next preorder was ordered for two reasons: it’s very, very pretty and it’s J.K. Rowling so duh I had to buy it. I’m super excited to see the second installment of Fantastic Beasts next month. While I’m a bummed Depp is still playing Grindelwald, I’m finding solace in the fact that at some point we will get to watch him die by Dumbledore’s hand. So, there’s that.

As a kid the release of a new Harry Potter movie release was something that I looked forward to more than anything else. When the movies wrapped up I was bummed. So when it was announced they were making Fantastic Beasts into movies I was thrilled. In a way I’m reliving that bit of childhood all over again. (You better believe I’m going to opening night of Crimes of Grindelwald.)  

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the original screenplay book, will be available on November 16th. 

 

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The only book I have coming in December (so far) is Cassandra Clare’s Queen of Air and DarknessI have been reading Clare’s work for about 10 years now when I stumbled across City of Bones during my freshman year of college. I have read almost everything by her at this point, and I love her. SO. MUCH. Her newest trilogy, The Dark Artifaces, has been some of her strongest work to date and I’m sad to see it ending. Emma Carstairs is my new favorite heroine and so different from Clary or Tessa. 

Queen of Air and Darkness begins right after the events at the end of Lord of Shadows and man oh man what a chain of events they were. Besides Kingdom of Ash,  Queen of Air and Darkness is also a top pick for most anticipated releases this fall. Not only is it the ending to a terrific trilogy, but as Clare puts it, “the ending to the Shadowhunter world as we know it.” And if we know Clare, this book is definitely going to go out with a bang. 

I originally had preordered the Kindle edition of Queen of Air and Darkness because of it’s size, but then I read on Clare’s website about the exclusives the first editions will have, so I quickly cancelled my Kindle preorder, and preordered a physical copy. I’ll find the space on my shelves somewhere. 😉 

Queen of Air and Darkness will be released on December 4th. 

 

Well, that rounds out 2018. I will be posting my 2019 preorders soon so stay tuned! In the meantime, are there any books you think I missed? Let me know! I’m always looking for recommendations. 

 

Until next time! 

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Book Review: The Death of Mrs. Westaway

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“It was a scratch on the glass–in fact, more than one. It was writing.”

HELP ME. 

 

WOW. This book. I had never read anything by Ruth Ware, but I did pick up her The Woman in Cabin 10 book a while ago at one of my local bookstores. I will definitely be reading that soon now. This book is the perfect spooky read for October. I found myself wanting to stay up late to finish the book, but ended up waiting until the next morning because it was that spooky. Ware’s writing instantly transforms you into the English countryside. You can seen the expansive fields, smell the sea air, and hear the gravel crunching beneath your feet. There are moments when your hair stands on end, your heart beating a little too fast as you read through a chapter. 

This review will contain some spoilers.


 

 

 

The book follows Harriet “Hal” Westaway, a young woman who lives in Brighton and works as a tarot reader on the Brighton pier. Still grappling with her mother’s death three years previous,  Hal is a bit “down on her luck.” She owes money to a not so nice loan shark, and if she doesn’t come up with the money fast, there will be consequences. When checking the mail one afternoon, Hal notices a letter from a lawyer in Penzance. Confused, she opens the letter and discovers that the lawyer is a family estate lawyer sending his condolences due to the recent passing of her grandmother. He asks that she come to Penzance for the reading of the will as she is being bequeathed a small fortune. 

The only problem….Hal’s grandmother died over twenty years ago. But Hal realizes she has no other option, and she’s not going to get the money to pay off her debt any other way. So she packs a bag and heads up north to the mysterious manor, Trepassen. 

When Hal arrives, she meets her mother’s siblings for the first time, Ezra, Abel, and Harding. Harding is the oldest and definitely has an ego, Abel is the warm and kind one, immediately hugging Hal when she explains who she is, and Ezra, being the youngest is sarcastic and a bit of an asshole. 

“But the woman standing outside her doorway just now held no cane, and her approach had been utterly silent.” 

The house is run by Mrs. Warren, a cranky old lady, who has worked for the family for forever. She immediately takes a disliking to Hal, which makes Hal worried Mrs. Warren knows her deception. After initial greetings, Mr. Treswick, the lawyer to old Mrs. Westaway, shows up and proceeds with the reading of the will. Hal is impatient and would like to get the reading done as soon as possible so she can return to Brighton. So it comes as a shock to everyone when Mr. Treswick announces she is not in fact inheriting a few hundred pounds, but the whole Trepassen Estate. Wowza. 

Needless to say Harding Westaway is not too pleased. With him being the eldest son, he assumed he would inherited the Estate. Hal being awarded the Trepassen Estate is the main catalyst for the plot of the book. After she’s awarded the Estate, things begin to happen that make her believe Trepassen has a more sinister past than what the family claims. 

 I don’t want to give tooooo much else away, but just know the last half of the book is a wild ride. It’s full of dark, family secrets (which I LOVE), and there’s a huge twist at the end that just makes you go ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

So, if you are looking for a spooky October read pick this beauty up! The book starts out as a slow burn, so don’t let it discourage you, it picks up. It took me a few chapters to get into it, but once I got to that point I was hooked and read it in about a day and a half. 

If you want to know more about the book, you can so here

 

Until next time!

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Fall Weekends Are For Baking

I don’t know about you, but when the weather gets a bit cooler all I want to do is bake, bake, bake. Which is grand and lovely in theory, but kind of difficult when you live in a small apartment and have less than ideal counter space! But I make do with what I have. This weekend was ideal baking weather: rainy and chilly. So I decided to whip out my pie pan and get baking. 

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prepping my pie crusts 

I decided to make three things, chicken pot pie, Asian pear and apple pie, and slow cooker turkey chili. (I know this one isn’t technically baking but I don’t care 😉 )

I’ve never made my own pie crust before *gasps* simply because growing up my mom never did so I never learned properly. But, I recently bought a bunch of flour at the grocery store thinking if I bought the flour I would be inspired to learn. It sort of worked?

I found the pie crust from Serious Eats through a Google search. And let me tell you. THIS CRUST IS MAGICAL. DELICIOUS. AMAZING. ALL OF THE WORDS.  I know it was that good because I got a text from the boyfriend as he was eating leftover pot pie saying “omg this crust is so good.” 

The chicken pot pie recipe I used was from Taste of Home, and it was also a result of a Google search. (do you see a pattern here?) It took me a while to find a recipe that I liked, and I’m VERY happy I decided to take a chance on this one.

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pot pie before the oven. YUM!

 

The recipe calls for enough to make two big pies, but since I was only cooking for two people I just halved the ingredients and there was more than enough for us. I also omitted the corn, and added frozen carrots instead of fresh carrots. The one thing that I would do differently for next time would be to add a little more chicken broth because the sauce was a little too thick for my liking. But other than that no complaints! I made it on Saturday and it was perfect comfort food for a rainy night.  

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the final result

 

On Sunday morning I woke up early, around 7:30, and started prepping everything for my turkey chili. I never follow a recipe for my chili and I’m always adding or omitting things here and there every time I make it. So it’s never really the same twice. Which I love. I decided to put the chili in the slow cooker because I knew I would be making a pie later that day, and I wanted my oven/stove area freed up for that because small kitchen probs.

This time around I used:

1 lb Jennie-O Ground Turkey
1 yellow onion
1 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 8-oz of tomato sauce
1 can of kidney beans
1 can of chili beans
4 small cloves of garlic, chopped
onion powder & chili powder (I just gave a good sprinkle)
pinch of salt & pepper

I cooked the chili on low for about 8 hours. 

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chili at about hour three

 

It turned out so good. With a little cheese and sour cream on top, yum! Since it was rainy on Sunday too it was perfect chili weather. Granted, I made enough for a small village, but that’s what freezers are for! 🙂 

 

On Sunday afternoon, while the chili was cooking away, I made my Asian pear and apple pie. I used the recipe from A Cozy Kitchen, and if you are not following Adrianna’s blog or Instagram you need to right this second. She makes the most delicious pies, soups, and all around comfort food. Plus she makes step by step videos on her Instagram stories that are fun to watch! 

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all of the stuff for the pie

The recipe was super easy to follow and didn’t require a lot of ingredients or a lot of steps, which I LOVE. I’m a big fan of recipes with not a lot of steps or ingredients because I don’t have the time or money.

Looking at you Ina Garten. Love ya, but ain’t nobody got time for that.

For this recipe, you peel the apples and pears and throw them in a big bowl, and dump all of the other dry ingredients in with it, give it a good mix, and let it sit while you roll out your pie crusts. that’s. it.

After you have constructed your pie, the recipe instructs you to put it in the freezer for 20 minutes before putting it in the oven so it can firm up a bit, and it helps prevent shrinking. I have a small freezer that is currently chuck full of frozen food at the moment so I put mine in the fridge for only 10 minutes before putting it in the oven. Mine turned out just fine, but I also used a different crust than what the recipe calls for, so keep that in mind! 

 

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swoon worthy

 

Needless to say it was a fun weekend of baking and cooking up a storm, but I did tell the boyfriend to not expect this ALL of the time. 😉 

 

 

Until next time! 

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Book Review: Sex Object

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“Who would I be if I didn’t live in a world that hated women?” 

After the past couple of weeks in U.S. current events I have found myself asking the same question. Which is one of the reasons why I picked up Jessica Valenti’s book Sex Object. I have been a fan of hers for a while now, following her on Twitter and reading her articles for The Guardian and now Medium. She’s unapologetic in her writing and I love that about her.  She gets it.

She doesn’t have the energy for the internet trolls anymore (I mean, who does?!) and even though she knows she should have compassion, she doesn’t. She doesn’t feel bad for them. She doesn’t have compassion for them. She hates them, and that’s all she has. And I think that’s important to remember. Just because we are women does not mean we can’t have anger, or hate. It’s okay to have those feelings.

At a little over 200 pages, Sex Object is a quick read. I read it in one sitting and I haven’t read a book in one sitting in a very long time. (At least without falling asleep first) 

What was so refreshing about Valenti’s work vs. other feminist books I have read was her complete and utter bluntness and honesty without trying to sound too “academic.” Don’t get me wrong, I love reading some good books on feminist theory, (I once took a 4 hour feminist theory class in graduate school) but sometimes I just want to read something that makes me say “yeah, that” or “yessss girl, get it.” What can I say, I love a good rage read.

The first essay in her book, “Line Violence” had me highlighting almost every single word. To me, it echoed Betty Friedan’s “the problem with no name” but instead of talking about 1960’s housewives, Valenti discusses the no name for the side effects of women who have experienced trauma in their lives — whether getting catcalled while walking down the street or being sexually assaulted — all women know what that feeling is.

“…We still have no name for what happens to women living in a culture that hates them…When you catch a cold or a virus, your body has ways of letting you know that you are sick–you cough, you get a fever, your limbs literally hurt. But what diagnosis do you give to the shaking hands you get after a stranger whispers ‘pussy’ in your year? What medicine can you take to stop being afraid that the cabdriver is not actually taking you home?” 

Part I of Sex Object reads like a manifesto. It’s a declaration of finally deciding to own our bodies for ourselves and no one else. Saying we are done being your objects of desire or affection. It’s time to change the narrative so what our grandmothers, our mothers, and what we went through won’t happen to our daughters. It ends with us. Part I will have you nodding enthusiastically, and dare I say—positive for the future?

Parts II & III of Sex Object felt more of the classic memoir writing you would expect. Valenti details her life growing up in New York, relationships, and her very honest experience with getting two abortions. Valenti had me laughing one minute and in tears the next. Her vulgarity and “in your face” descriptions of her sexual encounters with either one night stands or boyfriends were probably some of my favorite stories. Why? Because they were so HONEST and written with such confidence. So many times we read stories about how women should not date too much because we can’t be seen as “too loose” or “too wild.” It’s the never ending societal expectation that women are to be pious.

A particular moment where I found myself nodding in agreement was the essay about how Valenti met her husband, and how she was questioning his “niceness” at first. She explains that when it comes to romantic relationships, women believe we don’t deserve someone who treats us as our equal. We believe that when we do find someone who does treat us equally it’s a gift rather than a given. The fact that we are programmed to think it’s a gift rather than a given is a problem. Being treated nicely feels somehow inherently wrong to us, and why is that? According to Valenti, “when confronted with the love you deserve, it is easier to mock it than accept it. Especially when everything else you have experienced of love and connection is based on something more like control or disdain.”

10/10 would recommend to anyone. Loved this book so much.

 

 

Until next time!

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Book Review: Lethal White

 

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Lethal White
, the fourth installment of Robert Gailbrath’s Cormoran Strike series, proves to be the best one yet (In my humble opinion). I quickly learned I was of the minority for not really enjoying Career of Evil. I felt it moved too slow and after a while the plot seemed obvious. However, I did thoroughly enjoy learning more about Cormoran’s past. And that ending?! Well.

Going into Lethal White I was eager to dive back into the worlds of Robin and Cormoran. I’m glad I only finished Career of Evil a couple of months ago, because Lethal White begins right where Career of Evil left off. 

For anyone who is not familiar with the plot of Lethal White:

When Billy, a troubled young man, comes to private eye Cormoran Strike’s office to ask for his help investigating a crime he thinks he witnessed as a child, Strike is left deeply unsettled. While Billy is obviously mentally distressed, and cannot remember many concrete details, there is something sincere about him and his story. But before Strike can question him further, Billy bolts from his office in a panic.

Trying to get to the bottom of Billy’s story, Strike and Robin Ellacott—once his assistant, now a partner in the agency—set off on a twisting trail that leads them through the backstreets of London, into a secretive inner sanctum within Parliament, and to a beautiful but sinister manor house deep in the countryside.

And during this labyrinthine investigation, Strike’s own life is far from straightforward: his newfound fame as a private eye means he can no longer operate behind the scenes as he once did. Plus, his relationship with his former assistant is more fraught than it ever has been—Robin is now invaluable to Strike in the business, but their personal relationship is much, much trickier than that.

 

**This review will contain major spoilers. If you have not read the book yet, stop now**


 

 

 

 

Lethal White opened at Robin and Matthew’s wedding right after the ceremony aka right after Cormoran drops a flower-pot and Robin says her “I do” vows while looking at Cormoran. Matthew of course gets angry because he still believes Robin secretly has the hots for Cormoran. Robin FINALLY finds out Matthew deleted Cormoran’s calls and voicemails from her phone, and a huge fight happens at their wedding which results in Robin’s brother punching Matthew. After the drama of the opening chapter, the book jumps an entire year and we are transplanted in the midst of Cormoran and Robin’s lives. Robin and Matthew are of course unhappy and Cormoran seems to have a healthy relationship with a woman who owns a vintage shop, Lorelei. The agency appears to be running better than ever since Cormoran caught the Shacklewell Ripper, and they are able to hire some extra help, including a man Cormoran once had to investigate during his army days, Sam Barclay.

Throughout Lethal White, it was hard to read exchanges between Matthew and Robin because let’s face it, Matthew is awful. He’s been awful this entire series. I was hoping Robin would come to her senses at the end of Career of Evil and decide to not go through with the wedding, but alas. During Lethal White you find out Robin has been experiencing panic attacks as a result of the events during Career of Evil. I mean, who wouldn’t have some resulting affects from being attacked?! Matthew of course is not supportive which makes Robin hide her attacks from Matthew. Needless to say I was jumping for joy when Robin decided to leave Matthew once and for all at the end for sleeping with Sarah Shadlock AGAIN. Gross.

The plot of the book at first seems simple enough: a young man named Billy comes into Strike’s office claiming to have witnessed a murder of a child when he was younger. However, because Billy suffers from a serious mental illness, and has been off his medication, he is not very coherent and Strike is reluctant about his story. But if we know Strike it’s not going to leave his mind entirely.

And it doesn’t.

Strike decides to do a bit of digging and finds out Billy’s full name is Billy Knight and he has an older brother, Jimmy Knight, who heads a local radical activist group who are against the London Olympics. Strike decides to attend one of the group’s meetings in hopes Jimmy knows where Billy’s whereabouts are.

Jimmy says he doesn’t know where his brother is, but Strike isn’t so sure he’s being honest.

Here’s where the plot starts to thicken in true Gailbrath fashion. 

After Strike attends the activist meeting, he gets a call from the Minister of Culture, Jasper Chiswell who believes Jimmy Knight is the person black mailing him for unknown reasons Chiswell won’t say. Just that it was “in the past.” Chiswell is hoping Strike will help him obtain information on not only Jimmy Knight, but who he believes is truly responsible, Geraint Winn. Winn is the husband of Della Winn, who is the Minister for Sport. Of course, readers are left in the dark as to the specifics of Chiswell’s reasoning’s behind the blackmail. Strike agrees to help out Chiswell because he is offering to pay a pretty penny. He instructs Robin to go undercover at parliament as one of Chiswell’s many godchildren to try and bug Winn’s office, and has Sam Barclay go undercover in Jimmy Knight’s activist group to gain Jimmy’s trust.

During Robin’s time in parliament the reader is introduced to multiple characters. First, there is Isabelle Chiswell, who goes by Izzy. Izzy is one of Jasper Chiswell’s daughters from his first marriage. Next, you meet Raphael, the half brother to Izzy. Raphael is seen as the black sheep of the family due to a drunken accident that caused the death of a young mother.Plus, he’s seen as the illegitimate child from the other Chiswell children because his mother had an affair with Chiswell while he was married to his first wife–the mother of the other Chiswell children. The book then introduces you to Kinarva Chiswell, Jasper Chiswell’s third wife and whom his children have nicked-named Tinky the Second. She’s described as being young enough to be his daughter, and comes across as shrill and aloof. Even at times needy.

Robin is successful in bugging Winn’s office and finds out that Geraint Winn has been embezzling money from his wife’s charities. Strike uses that information to have Winn back off Chiswell.

But then….Chiswell commits suicide. (or does he?)

Here we have what I consider to be our second main plot line: find out what happened to Jasper Chiswell. Mind you, we still have no idea if Billy Knight did in fact see a child murdered when he was younger. Are the two connected?

Izzy Chiswell believes Kinarva killed Jasper as she was preparing to divorce him, but there is no proof. The rest of the family believes it was a suicide. Strike believes it was a murder and Jimmy Knight is somehow responsible, but Strike has no proof. The last half of the book focuses on Jimmy Knight and his past. You find out Jimmy and Billy actually grew up on the Chiswell’s country side property, and their father worked for Jasper Chiswell doing something that “at the time was not illegal but is now” according to Chiswell’s words before he died. Strike is stumped about what this could mean.

Robin goes undercover again at a local shop to try to obtain information from Jimmy Knight’s girlfriend, Flick. Her work pays off when she goes to a house party at Flick’s and discovers a stolen note hidden in the bathroom written by Jasper Chiswell right before his death. Flick stole the note believing it had something to do with Jimmy. Robin is able to deter from this note that Flick posed as Chiswell’s cleaning lady to help Jimmy blackmail Chiswell. After Chiswell initially refused to pay Knight, Knight turned to Geraint Winn who blamed Chiswell’s oldest son Freddie for the suicide of his daughter, Rhiannon. Strike and Robin discover that Chiswell used to build gallows with Jimmy Knight’s father and when Jimmy’s father passed away, Chiswell cheated the Knight sons out of $40 million dollars — the sale of two gallows, and the amount Chiswell was being blackmailed for.

That makes the blackmailing part of the plot all wrapped up nice in a little bow. However, we still do not know who the killed Jasper Chiswell and if Billy Knight really did in fact see a child die.

To the question if Billy Knight saw a child murdered, the short answer is no. What he saw was Freddie Chiswell choke Raphael to unconsciousness one night “up by the horse” — meaning up by the local horse engraving on the hill. When Strike reveals the news to Billy in the final chapter he is relieved.

Now. Was Jasper Chiswell murdered or did he commit suicide? The answer: of course it was murder. It wouldn’t be a classic Robert Gailbrath novel if it wasn’t murder! But who did it? It wasn’t just one person you see, it was two people in fact. One person who wanted to be loved, and another wanting freedom.

The culprits? Kinvara and Raphael.

I will admit the reveal of who had committed the murders was not as fun as finally finding out all of the Chiswell family secrets. I kind of expected Kinvara to be somehow involved so to me it wasn’t a surprise. You almost  feel a bit of remorse for her as she is portrayed as nothing more than a woman who wanted out of a loveless marriage and found somehow who she thought loved her back.

Raphael’s guilt was a surprise only in the bone chilling way he describes the plot to kill his father. How calculating and manipulating he was makes him the perfect murderer. Finally, he reveals he was eventually planning to kill off Kinavara, and his mother whom he describes as nothing but a high priced whore. What a charming guy. His reasoning for killing his father? He wanted freedom. He wanted what he thought was owed him and to be done with the family.

This was my favorite book so far in the Cormoran Strike series and I cannot wait for the next one. I hope Robin stays away from Matthew, and that the agency stays afloat. It was revealed in the earlier part of the book that a major developer had bought the building Strike lives and works in. Let’s hope they’re allowed to stay or hey–maybe this means they can move into a bigger office and get more clients!

Let me know if you’ve read Lethal White and what you thought about it.

 

Until next time!

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