A Canadian book blog: Publishing, marketing, books and technology from a Canadian perspective

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Book Review: The Widow by Fiona Barton

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The Widow by Fiona Barton (Penguin Canada) is a dark psychological thriller. Glen Taylor is a smarmy, arrogant bastard. He marries Jean when she’s quite young and she’s blown away. Initially she seems to like him ordering her food and telling her what to wear or do. Glen is older, charming, and she sees it as him introducing her to the adult world. But when Glen gets fired from his job and starts driving a truck, the cracks begin to show. One day the police show up. A little girl has gone missing and Glen’s delivery truck was in the area. Next the media circus shows up, and they are relentless. The family is hounded. Glen is hiding something but Jean doesn’t know what. They both love children, didn’t have any of their own, couldn’t. But Glen wouldn’t hurt a child, or so Jean believes. The police feel differently and it goes to court. It’s there that Jean is truly blown away. Glen was fired for viewing child pornography at the office. He was buying and watching porn at night unbeknownst to her, and there are deeper, darker secrets that are revealed.

What I like about this book is that it opens with one of the reporters smooth talking her way into Jean’s house. The chapters are told from Jean’s perspective, the reporter’s, or the detective’s. Little by little the case is pieced together and the reader realizes the connections at the same time as the case unfolds. There’s lots of little deceptions, unfollowed leads and circumstantial evidence. The scenario is unthinkable, but the plot twists and psychological insights into the wife, the reporter and the detective make this a fascinating, rather than gruesome, read.

You can’t get a better quote than this:

“If you liked Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, you might want to pick up The Widow by Fiona Barton. Engrossing. Suspenseful.”—Stephen King

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A Flight of Gin

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This flight of fancy was a fun afternoon at Ashtons Gastropub in Dublin. €10 for 3 gin. I tried Blackwoods Vintage which was super paired with lime and tonic. Then Sw4 with lemon. And last Gordons Sloe Gin. I have never had sloe gin and didn’t know it was red. This one was a bit sweet and fruity, which could have been the 3 raspberries in it. Anyway, a fab afternoon with new tastes.

Blackwoods Vintage uses handpicked Shetland botanicals. Shetland is off the north coast of Scotland, towards Norway. The North Sea hits the Atlantic Ocean so there are long winters and short summers. All of this makes for good marketing copy and excellent gin. Taste wise this gin is a smooth citrus with a gentle floral and herbal note. My favourite of the 3, but also the first one I tasted.

Sw4 is a small-batch London Dry Gin from Britain, originally Clapham, South London, postal code SW4. It didn’t seem as smooth as the Blackwoods Vintage but it was definitely pleasant. The lemon slice I added made the lemon and juniper more pronounced. It was definitely piney, which I don’t see as a fault.

Gordon’s Sloe Gin. I had no idea what this was and was pleasantly surprised. It’s a red gin and definitely a tasty winter tipple. A modern-girl’s version of sherry? To make sloe gin, you need sloe berries, sugar and Gordon’s. Gordon’s is your best choice because of the high juniper content. The juniper blends with the fruity flavour of the sloes. You let all the ingredients hang out for 2 months or so and then strain your gin to separate it from the berries. Sloe berries? Yes, those are blackthorn drupes, a small berry that looks a bit like a blueberry and is a relative of the plum. It’s tart like pomegranate. Whoever thought to combine it with gin was a genius.