Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sunday Salon: A Commonplace Killing, The Wrong Girl

Can you believe it’s time for another Sunday Salon where we discuss the wonderful books we’ve discovered during the past week? Where has the time gone? There’s a nip in the air foretelling of autumn just around the corner. 

I have two amazing books to tell you about today. One is by a ‘new-to-me’ author and the other is the second installment in a wonderful new series by one of my favorite authors. First, the novel by the late Siân Busby, an award winning novelist. Then the second book in the Jane Ryland series by award-winning author Hank Phillippi Ryan.


A Commonplace Killing - ImageThe events prior to the killing and the steps of the murder investigation are told simultaneously in author Siân Busby’s last novel, A COMMONPLACE KILLING.

The late author beautifully weaves the past and the present in such a manner you don’t realize at first that the two events aren’t taking place at the same time. The story flows smoothly as it transitions keeping a steady pace.

This psychological thriller is set in post-World War II London and follows the double life of a seemingly proper middle-class woman, Lillian Frobisher. When Lillian’s body is found in an abandoned churchyard, it’s assumed she was the random victim of rape. Evidence shows she was strangled, but not raped.

It’s up to Divisional Detective Inspector Jim Cooper to find the person responsible for this ‘commonplace killing.’ Cooper begins to look into her private life and why her husband didn’t report her not returning home. What the DDI finds is a seedy double life the victim hid from her family and a postwar London that has none of the cheery optimism portrayed in newsreels.

A COMMONPLACE KILLING is suspenseful, intriguing and spellbinding as readers are taken back in time to London and the harsh reality of life after the war. Rich in history, the author’s vivid descriptions and details places the reader in the middle of the bombed landscape, the meager lifestyles and the broken promises.

The last 20 pages of the novel were transcribed from a handwritten manuscript following the author’s death. There is less intense descriptions and details in these pages, but at the same time carries the story just as well. In some ways, the stark contrast to the earlier rich embellishments makes the ending more dramatic.

Busby’s characters are well-developed with sharp contrast. They are courageous, yet flawed; broken, yet not without dreams. The author gives you a good sense of the time, place and the people trying to survive. The gripping story will hold your attention as you try to uncover the truth.

Busby has an alluring way of telling a story concerning a time I’ve always found difficult to read about. You might be tempted to read this story solely because the author died as she completed the work. However, I would recommend reading it solely because it is a psychological thriller that will captivate you with strong characters, rich descriptions and a well-balanced plot.
A Commonplace Killing by Siân Busby, Atria Books/Marble Arch Press, @2013, ISBN: 978-1476730295, Paperback, 272 Pages

FTC Full Disclosure - This book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
I can not tell you about this fascinating novel and not tell you a bit about the author and how this story finally came to be published.
Siân Busby, an award-winning writer, broadcaster and filmmaker, was married to BBC Business editor, Robert Peston, and the mother of two sons. She published four books, including THE CRUEL MOTHER, a memoir of her great-grandmother that won the MIND Book Award in 2004, and a novel, McNAUGHTEN, a highly acclaimed historical novel published in 2009.

Busby died in September 2012 after a long battle with cancer. Following her death, her husband transcribed her handwritten manuscript for the end of A COMMONPLACE KILLING. He did not known until reading the handwritten pages that she had completed the novel despite the toll the illness took on her in the end. Peston gives a beautiful tribute to this wife in the prefaces of the book and provides more about the story, as well as what sparked the idea for the novel.

THE WRONG GIRL by Hank Phillippi Ryan

The Wrong Girl coverOne of the things I especially enjoy about author Hank Phillippi Ryan’s Jane Ryland Series is how realistic her characters are, particularly her protagonist.

Narrator Ilyana Kadushin does an excellent job giving individual voices to the various characters in Ryan’s THE WRONG GIRL. Kadushin conveys the vast array of emotions the different characters experience. Her cadence holds your attention and heightens the drama of Ryan’s new suspense thriller.

Newspaper reporter Jane Ryland agrees to help former colleague Tucker Cameron with a personal issue concerning her adoption. Tucker has been reunited with her birth mother through the Brannigan Family and Children Service. However, she’s afraid she’s the wrong girl because of several items that were supposedly left with her when she was an infant.

Meanwhile, Detective Jake Brogan - Jane’s ‘sort of’ boyfriend - has his hands full investigating the murder of a woman that left two toddlers unharmed. In addition, Jake believes there had also been a baby at the scene and is now missing.

As Jane and Tucker search for answers to Tucker’s real birth mother, Jake’s murder investigation leads to the same adoption agency. When there are more murders and Jane is threatened, the cases collide turning the lives of several people upside down.
Ryan has a knack for creating realistic and likable characters. She gives them strength and courage, but also flaws and self-problems. The secondary characters are also well-developed adding depth and flavor to the story. 

The plot of THE WRONG GIRL flows smoothly and at a quick pace. While there are a number of things happening at once, the reader/listener isn’t lost in any confusion. The dialogue, as well as the bantering, among the characters pulls you in holding you captive as you try to figure out who the bad guys really are.

Ryan’s detailed descriptions of the locations enhances the story painting a vivid landscape of the setting. In addition, she brings out the true worries and fears print journalists face daily with cut backs and lay offs. Her own journalism background enriches the working aspects of this story. Her descriptions of Jane’s inability to get to the point of telling something without going into great deal hits home for this former newspaper journalist.

THE WRONG GIRL is a roller coaster ride of emotions topped off by suspense, humor and touches of romance. The action is heart-pounding, the characters memorable, and the intrigue spine-tingling.

The Wrong Girl by Hank Phillippi Ryan, A Jane Ryland Novel, Performed by Ilyana Kadushin, Macmillan Audio, @2013, ISBN: 978-1427232038, Unabridged, 11 Discs, Listening Time: 13.5 Hours 

FTC Full Disclosure - This audio book was sent to me by the publisher in hopes I would review it. However, receiving the complimentary copy did not influence my review.
Thanks for stopping by today. Hope you’re having a grand Sunday and finding time to do a bit of reading. Is there an era of history that you enjoy reading about more than others? What is your take on the adoption system?


  1. Two historical mysteries to add to my list!

  2. These both sound awesome! I must add them to my list...thanks for sharing.



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