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on 1 June 2011
A good, if complicated, story with a cast of thousands, which at times took some following. I was uncomfortable with the amount of formatting, spelling, grammar and typing errors, and many times there were sentences with more than one tense in the same sentence, but you just have to stick with it. You need stickability to concentrate your way through it, but the effort is repaid in the end. A six hour time line takes controlling in such a long story and as most of it is told in flashback you have to keep your wits about you. A lot of the characters remembered and tried to tell their whole life story in the midst of whatever action they were involved in, which at times was disconcerting.
Mira's style is distinctive, full of telling details and well turned phrases, and repays the close attention needed. Yes, I like her style.
Now I'm off to download another one of hers, so that should tell you what you need to know.
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on 22 March 2012
My review of Mira Kolar-Bown's HIDING THE ELEPHANT (Simon Grant Mysteries) has now gone live on Amazon:

I've never read such a wonderful, complex mystery in a long time. Mira Kolar-Brown's writing reminds me a lot of P.D. James.

She elevates the genre to a much higher literary standard. Mind you, this is not a fast-paced, page-turning read. It takes some time and one has to concentrate because of the many plot and character complexities. Not my usual reading fare or preference, but I quite enjoyed the journey and the rather surprising conclusion.

It is a very complex mystery set in northeast England where I lived for a while as a young boy. It brought back some fond memories.

There's a lot to the story. The book starts with the protaganist,Detective Inspector Simon Grant, injured and being held at gun point by a killer called Dancer. Told through the skillful use of flashbacks, the story brings out the complexities of Inspector Grant and what makes him the way he is. The book is rich in complex characters and will drive you crazy trying to figure out who the killer is. I didn't.

HIDING THE ELEPHANT is a wonderful read, very satisfying and I can't wait to read the followup novel, LOCK UP YOUR DAUGHTERS (Simon Grant Mysteries) . Both books are a bargain at 77p. You can even get them both in a special edition, Two Simon Grant Mysteries
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on 19 November 2011
A good all round read!
I confess I don't normally read this genre; but after hearing so much about the book I decided to give it a try.
I'm so pleased that I did!
Yes, it does makes you concentrate; this in my view is an excellent thing.
There are flashbacks but these only add to the story.
I found myself wanting to know more and more as the story progressed.
All in all, Hiding the Elephant is a brilliant read.
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on 7 May 2012
Mira Kolar-Brown has created a fabulously intricate mystery that will keep you reading until you find out whodunit. Which will not happen until you reach the end!

Inspector Simon Grant finds himself outwitted by a killer, and tells us the story of how he got himself into this predicament. His tale is revealed through a series of flashbacks that are maddeningly deceptive and vague enough to throw you off the track every time you think you've figured out what's going on. Red herrings abound as you follow the convoluted trail to one scenario after the other.

Beautifully crafted - an impressive work by Ms. Brown, and I'm looking forward to reading the next in the series. Well done!
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on 4 May 2011
That's not criticism. It's praise.
Mira Kolar-Brown is a mystery writer.
And deceit in a mystery writer isn't a vice; it's a virtue.

It's no fun, for a mystery reader, to figure out who the murderer is by page fifty.
One of the obligations of a mystery writer is to keep mystery readers guessing.
And that, folks, is something that Ms. Kolar-Brown is really, really good at.

Want some proof of her capacity for duplicity?
Read Hiding the Elephant.
I'm willing to bet you won't hit on the murderer before you hit the last chapter.
And, as an extra zinger, there's even a revelation in the book's final paragraph.

Hiding the Elephant begins with Kolar-Brown's protagonist, Detective Inspector Simon Grant, being held at gunpoint by a murderer. The cops have nicknamed the killer Dancer. They have their reasons for the sobriquet, but so does the author: it enables her to conceal the sex of the killer.

Flashback: a plumber arrives and discovers Frances Swan, dead in her home. Dancer's victim is single, twenty-four years old, fairly well-to-do and an orphan who lives alone. Her throat has been cut, her fingers, ears and some of her hair chopped off. The area around her body shows signs of being staged. The forensics people discover that someone else has been sleeping under her roof, but in a separate bed.

In the days that follow, the mysteries continue to pile up: a small child has been killed by a hit-and-run driver. Is there a connection? The wife of the local veterinarian, a friend of the victim, takes off on a relief mission to Bosnia and disappears. (It is 1992, and the war is in full swing.) Is she a victim of the same or a different killer? A man is stabbed. Before dying, he utters some cryptic last words. What do they mean?

As Grant unravels the crime, Kolar-Brown unravels Grant.
The Inspector has issues with his boss and his wife.
He has relationship problems with his politically-engaged parents.
He is haunted by a traumatic event from his university years.
And he is deeply in love with his wife's sister.

All of this just for starters. There's more, much more.

Hiding the Elephant isn't just another crime novel.
It's a complex, engaging, seriously good book.

Read it. You'll be glad you did.
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on 11 July 2014
found this book difficult at first - jumping back and forth between timelines and plotlines made me giddy but never actually wanted to give up so that's a good read. characters well-defined and make me inclined to read the next book. if you like a detective story with a well-written storyline then this is the book for you
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on 2 October 2011
This book lists its style as 'literary fiction', so it's not supposed to be an easy read. At first it seems as if it's going to be a rewarding one though, as the structure becomes apparent; the main character, DI Simon Grant, is being held hostage by the main suspect in a murder case, and we jump repeatedly from the present to flashbacks illustrating the many and varied aspects of how he ended up there. So far so good, and the core characters - Grant, renegade son of two leading left-wing intellectuals, his wife Pippa, elder daughter of a local medical family, her sister Emma, the true love of Grant's life, Emma's husband Phil - all work well.

The problem, however, lies in the murder mystery, and the 'cast of thousands' (as another reviewer put it) involved in its investigation. This is a long book (7,800 Kindle locations) and by halfway through it I'd lost track of who all these Hales, Humbersides, Unsworths, Swans, Bates, Masters, Bowles (and a few others) were. By the time the murderer/hostage taker's identity was revealed, I could barely remember who they were. It's partly that the book is simply too long and disjointed, but also that the author does seem to expect you to remember everything as clearly as she does, so unless you've made copious notes and drawn a character chart, you can find yourself in a new scene feeling utterly lost. I stuck with it to the end, but I'm afraid I didn't find it a worthwhile experience.
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on 5 June 2013
Mira Kolar-Brown has recently had her first Simon Grant Detective story, `Hiding the elephant' professionally edited, and the result is a wonderfully crafted and well-presented book.
The story is rich in detail, with eye-opening flashbacks explaining how our protagonist finds himself in deep trouble when he is outwitted by a killer. Simon had one heck of a job getting out of that quandary.
During the policeman's dilemma, we find out how he works - what makes him tick - and slowly his full character is revealed. He is drawn in to investigate a murder in his home village, and few of his family and friends will escape scrutiny.
Mira takes us along an English `garden path' of mystery and suspense, with each added suspect playing their part on the stage. All along I tried guessing who the murderer was but it wasn't until the last few pages that the villain was revealed.

I was silly to have read the second Simon Grant mysteries before Hiding the elephant - but it in no way detracted from my enjoyment.
A great book, well edited and I'll certainly read the next in the series.

(I read the paperback version of this book)
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on 14 March 2014
When this book first came out, I tried to read it. For some reason I simply could not get into it. I was lost, had no idea who was who, no idea what was going on and was totally confused. So I set it aside.
Recently I read a sequel to this first book and totally loved it. So I decided to give HIDING THE ELEPHANT a second chance. I am so glad I did! This time I was immediately engaged. I didn’t recognize having tried to read it before and simply could not put the book down.

The story takes place in the present and the past. Characters are developed through a look back at past story, between passages of present plot development. I found this to contribute to the feeling of urgency and caused me to simply turn the page to find out what happens next. It was very hard to put the book down, even though I was interrupted by life.

Reading this book is very much like watching a tennis match between two very exciting players. Leading up to the climax of the book, an intense volley takes place and the reader is left breathless.
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on 4 August 2012
Sadly, the grammatical errors and poor formatting made me abandon this book in frustration. I persevered for 25% of the book, but decided that I had had enough. The characters felt chaotic and a little muddled. I would re-try this book if the errors were to be corrected.
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