Alice is out running one morning and meets a man called Manfred on a bridge threatening to throw himself off. She manages to talk him down and after chatting returns home feeling unnerved but relieved that she has helped. When Manfred turns up at her house initially it is just a nice gesture to say thanks, however things start to take rather dark turn and she soon realises that her family might be in danger.
This was a really hectic ride of a story. Told only from the viewpoint of Alice this is a fast pace story that draws you in from the moment that Manfred comes into view. Personally I thought that Alice as a character was quite annoying, but this is partly what
draws the story along. A lot of her actions seem a bit suspect, such as getting in a car with a complete stranger and driving them miles. However we all love a flawed character and Alice is certainly one of those. The fact that the book is told only from the viewpoint of Alice means that you can’t tell how true things are as obviously she is biased. It also means that it gives the story a very claustrophobic feel, as you feel as though you are in Alice’s head.
Strangers on a Bridge is set against the background of the Swiss Alps. Alice is a loner in the village, an outsider who the police think is just being an hysterical English woman. There are some lovely descriptions of the place and the writing conjures up a wonderful atmosphere that adds to the tension of the novel as Alice get more and more desperate. The beautiful scenery is a terrific contrast to the dark obsession that fuels the story.
The story starts out as a seemingly simple tale of one man obsessing over a woman. However the twists soon turn this into something more unique. I really enjoyed this novel and thought it was a compelling read. The tale becomes more gripping as the obsession within it grows and the ending was one I really didn’t see coming. I’d highly recommend this novel that will keep you questioning who is right and who is wrong throughout.
This is a book that had been sat on my kindle for a while and for some reason it had never made it to the top of my list until a recent trip to Manchester. When I realised I was sat in a bar with no new books to read and no internet connection I opened this without really knowing what it was about.
The Marriage Pact follows newlyweds Jake and Alice who are given a mysterious wedding gift, a membership of a very exclusive club that guarantees they will never get divorced. They just have to sign an agreement that states they will live by the rules of the Pact. Of course that seems to be an easy enough statement when they are still in that honeymoon phase, rules include always answering the phone when your spouse calls, buying them a present every month, arrange a trip away every three months. However these rules all seem fine and a bit of fun, until one of them gets broken and the full force of the pact takes effect. The crimes they committee against the marriage pact start off small, lawyer Alice is late at work a few days on the trot, she puts on a bit of weight so is made to see a personal trainer at 5am every morning. All of these things seem relatively small yet as the punishments keep coming the fear of the consequences of the pact become much bigger.
The Marriage Pact is a cracking little read, although you do have to suspend belief a bit. The concept that perfectly sane educated people would join what is essentially a cult that dictates how they have to act in their own lives is clearly not something that would happen in real life. However when you put that to one side this was a story that kept me hooked through to the end. The characters whilst a little annoying are quite likeable, and you feel for Alice as she tries to keep the full force of the punishments away from Jake. Yet on the other side you do wonder why both her and Jake don’t just say no!
I enjoyed the plot of this novel and the writing is good. The story is told from the point of view of Jake, and I think that was made me prefer Alice to him. He works as a marriage guidance counsellor and yet seems to completely miss the signs that there might be problems in his own relationship.
The Marriage Pact is an intriguing little tale, and whilst it is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea due to the unrealistic plot, personally I really enjoyed it. Thanks to netgalley for my copy.
I am a very lucky person to have a job I enjoy. One of the things I really enjoy about my job is the fact that I’m often out of the office. Now of course this is great for a reader like me, hours either sat on trains with a book, or driving round in a car with an audio book blaring are never time wasted. The other big bonus about my job, is I’m often out of the office.
Yes I know that is a repeated sentence, but frankly it is such a bonus it is worth repeating. Offices are funny things. People who have never worked in offices will never understand the day to day resentment that builds up amongst normally sane people. Those that outside the shackles of the 9-5 would normally be nice people inside those hours become like extras on The Walking Dead, out to drink the blood of anyone that dares to get on their nerves. Little things take on huge significance and can take up whole days, first with the discussion around the perceived misdemeanour and then the inevitable policy that will be introduced to attempt to put a stop to the war.
Take for example the phantom porridge bowl leaver in our place. Every day someone has their breakfast in the office. This is of course the first gripe, should it be allowed? Some say yes, some say no, some say this is akin to treason and should be dealt with as such. When finished with the bowl it then gets left in the sink rather than put in the dishwasher. The dishwasher is next to the sink, is it really so difficult to put it in one rather than the other? Of course like all good office workers no one actually works out who the offender is and confronts them. Instead people write big notes which they hang over the sink to be completely ignored by the phantom porridge bowl leaver.
The latest scandal to hit the office however relates to toilet roll. Someone is taking the nice big industrial toilet rolls that I purchase for the office bathrooms, removing them and replacing them with cheap lidl versions. Why would anyone do that? Maybe they have a cat related to mine that likes to ensure all toilet paper is in as tiny pieces as possible and preferably laying on the floor. Yet unless they have an industrial sized toilet roll holder in their toilets how are they even going to hang it up? Maybe they are getting ready for Halloween and are going to throw it over houses that don’t have good enough sweets. Yet we are a bunch of middle aged women, not American children! Of course what I should do is calmly call a staff meeting and explain that the toilet roll is for staff use and shouldn’t be replaced with cheap tracing paper. However that would not be proper office etiquette. Oh no, I’m going to write a big sign to stick in the toilets, and if that doesn’t work I think I might write a policy about correct toilet paper usage. If that doesn’t work I’m thinking of installing CCTV in the toilets to catch the offender, surely there is nothing wrong in that?
Luckily for both me and the rest of the staff I am not currently in the office. Therefore I shall stick to reading my book and hope that by the time I’m back in Halloween will be over and the need for industrial size toilet rolls will no longer be a problem. Like I say the big bonus in my job is I’m often out of the office!
I have a confession to make, when I was invited to take part in the blog tour for Lilja Sigurdardottir’s new novel Trap I jumped at the chance as there was a copy of her first novel Snare on the bookshelf and I had thoroughly enjoyed her appearance at the TOPCWF. However it wasn’t until I started reading Trap that I realised I had never actually got around to reading Snare (not a surprise if you knew the size of my ‘to be read’ pile. Well I might be reading them in the wrong order but Snare is definitely going to the top of the pile now I’ve read Trap.
Trap starts with Sonja and her son Thomas living in Florida, enjoying the sunshine but on the run and looking over her shoulder. The reason for this soon becomes clear as Thomas is kidnaped by his father. Sonja and Thomas have to return to Iceland where her lover Agla is waiting. Agla is awaiting sentencing for financial misconduct, yet she also owes a lot of money to some rather unpleasant people. Sonja has a plan to bring down her ex-husband and the drug barons running the city, along with help from customs officer Bragi. However things don’t go to plan and Sonja is soon in more trouble than she can handle.
Trap is a fast paced crime novel that will keep you turning the pages (or pressing the kindle button) The title of the novel is a fitting description of both Sonja’s predicament and also the overall feeling you get when reading it. The writing draws you into the story and you feel the frustrations of the characters as they try to deal with the fallout and things don’t go to plan. I really enjoyed the characters within this novel, especially the relationships between Sonja and her son and also between Sonja and Bragi who is torn between doing his job and helping Sonja.
The setting is interesting, with the action mainly taking place in Reykjavik and the descriptions of the place add to the chilling tone of this novel. Some of the financial elements went a bit over my head but that in no way detracts from my enjoyment.
I absolutely recommend Trap if you are a fan of a fast paced Nordic set novel, I can’t wait to go back and find out how the series began.
Make sure to visit the other stops on the blog tour to find out more about this fantastic series of novels.
Trap is available to purchase now at Amazon.
For my final review of the week I am very excited to be taking part in the John Le Carré blog tour. Now I must confess that I have never actually read any of John le Carré’s books before. I know that is shocking but then I’ve also never seen a James Bond film so I’m maybe not the normal target audience. However I do like to read books that I wouldn’t necessarily choose myself therefore when I was asked to take part in a blog tour by Penguin Modern Classics I jumped at the chance to discover a new (to me) author.
Yesterday Penguin completed a major nine-year project to publish twenty-one of John le Carré’s novels in Penguin Modern Classics. The last one to be published is The Little Drummer Girl which is also going to be the subject of a major six-part BBC adaptation this October produced by the team behind The Night Manager.
John Le Carré is the living author with the greatest number of works awarded this classic status. To celebrate this achievement I am delighted to say I have now read one of his books, namely The Secret Pilgrim.
The Secret Pilgrim, although following on from a trilogy, was actually probably a really good one for me to start with. The main character of George Smiley clearly features in this book however the main focus is actually on a character called Ned. Ned has asked George to give a speech to a group of pupils at a spy school. As George begins to talk Ned is reminded of varying points of his own career and we are then treated to stories from Ned’s past as we follow him from his first assignment through to his final interrogations and from a young single spy to a rather unfaithful married one.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Secret Pilgrim. The book almost felt like a series of short stories with George Smiley’s speech being rather peripheral. It was fascinating to read about the exploits of Ned and his colleagues and I really enjoyed the fact that due to the nature of the book each story was simple and easy to follow (perfect for someone like me with a rather short attention span!) One thing that struck me was actually the story although written in 1990 still resonates today, with its ideas that things are not always what they seem and that sometimes the lines between right and wrong get blurred. Whilst I imagine that a lot of the characters make appearances in previous novels I think this works perfectly as a stand alone book and is a great introduction to the world of espionage.
If you would like to give The Secret Pilgrim a go yourself then as luck would have it thanks to the lovely people at Penguin Modern Classics I have a copy to give away. To be in with a chance to win simply comment, or share this post or retweet my tweet about it. The winner will be picked on Friday 5th October.
The Secret Pilgrim and all of the novels are available on amazon.
To find out about the other 20 books in the series make sure you visit the other stops on this exciting blog tour.
I am on a role recently with excellent books and my next one was no exception. After He Died by Michael J. Malone.
After He Died starts as you might expect from the title with a death. Thomas Gadd the husband of Paula has died of a heart attack. Paula had seemingly been leading a rather charmed life until the death of her son in a car accident a few years previously and now the death of her husband who she adored. Whilst at the funeral a young woman called Cara comes up to Paula and slips a note in her pocket telling her that her husband is not the man she thought he was. Paula eventually agrees to meet up with the woman to find out what she means. This meeting leads to Paula soon realising she may not have known her husband of thirty years as well as she thought she did and that both her and Cara might be in more danger than she had ever known.
After He Died was an intriguing story that kept me guessing to the end. At first it is easy to assume that Thomas Gadd has another family which is often how this kind of story pans out, but not in this case. The plot is a twisty and clever weaving of hidden facts and characters that drag you along until the end. I liked the two main female characters of Paula and Cara although at some times their actions were a little frustrating. The male characters namely Thomas’ two brothers were very much chalk and cheese and balanced each other out nicely, as well as giving an added dimension to the story outside the marriage of Paula and Thomas.
The writing style is quite poetic (not surprisingly given that Michael J Malone is a poet as well as a novelist) and it has a flow that is propelled along by the short snappy chapters. There is quite a lot of complicated financial mystery within this story, which gives it an added element taking it to a different place than just your normal domestic noir. One really stand out element of this book is the setting. The story takes place in Glasgow and the surrounding area, with some fantastic descriptions of places that make you want to visit. Occasionally there were Scottish phrases and words among the paragraphs yet this didn’t distract from the story even for a non-Scottish speaker like me, it just added to the charm and intrigue.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and would recommend if you like your fiction with strong characters and great writing.
Whilst normally I wouldn’t post twice in one day, sometimes there are just books that it is impossible to say no to, and this was one of them. The Infinite Blacktop is the first I have read by Sara Gran, although it is actually the third novel featuring Private Investigator Claire De Witt.
The book starts with a bang, literally, as Claire comes round after a car accident and realises that someone is trying to kill her. This starts off a novel that is actually three stories in one. There is the mystery in the present day of who is trying to kill Claire. We then shoot back to 1986 where Claire and her friends are teenage detectives until one of them goes missing. Then in the middle we visit 1999 where Claire is trying to get enough hours under her belt to qualify for her PI license investigating a murder in the art world.
I must confess that this took a little while for me to get into. It read at first as a bit Agatha Raisin with each title being The Case of something. (Yes I know lots of other classic detective stories also use this idea that’s just the one that sprang to my mind!) However Agatha Raisin this certainly wasn’t. Claire is moody, violent, has a penchant for drug taking and is happy to use whatever methods necessary to protect herself and solve her cases. I think I would probably have warmed to her more if I had read the previous books whereas in this I didn’t really take to her much. However the stories themselves were interesting. I especially liked the younger version of Claire and it was clever how all the parts interwove throughout.
This was an good read, despite the three timelines it was easy to keep track of and the story went along at speed. Once you get into the swing of the writing I really enjoyed it. Despite my odd reservation about some of Claire’s actions it shows what people are capable of when they are pushed. It is also fascinating to find out about Claire’s previous life and these other time lines give a great insight into why Claire is like she is.
If you like strong female lead characters who take no prisoners then you can’t go far wrong with this gritty tale of a female PI. I will definitely be starting this series from the beginning.
Sara Gran is the author of five critically acclaimed novels, including Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead, Come Closer and Dope. She also writes for film and TV, including ’Southland’ and ’Chance’, and has published in The New York Times, The New Orleans Times Picayune and USA Today.
Her latest novel is available here
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