The Cuckoo by Julia Crouch – a review

Julia Crouch is in the session entitled Deadlier than the Male, which I have to say seems a strange session for her to be in. Having just read her book ‘The Cuckoo’ it wasn’t particularly gruesome, or violent especially when compared to someone like Chelsea Cain  or Jilliane Hoffman and so I wander if she would have been better in a different session or if she is there to give the opposing view and prove that crime doesn’t need to be violent to be engaging.

Whilst less graphic than the usual books I prefer I thought the story was great. It really was one I couldn’t put down. Rose has an apparently idyllic life in Bath with her husband Gareth and 2 children Anna and Flossie (yes that was the name that she decided to give the baby. My parents had a habit of calling me that when I was little but you can’t christen someone it. It’s a good job that child isn’t real or she really would have a bad time at school!)

Anyway Rose gets a call to say her best friend Polly’s husband has died at their home in Greece, so Rose invites Polly and the boys to stay with her. As the title of the story would suggest this is a bad move and things soon go wrong. Baby’s overdose, animals gets killed, champagne gets spiked. Its obvious that Polly is to blame.  Yet despite people trying to warn Rose, the hold that her friend has over her is just too much. Eventually things come to a head between Rose, Polly and husband Gareth.

 I really enjoyed this book. Its not dramatic, or a fast story. It reminded me a bit of One Moment One Morning by Sarah Rayner in that you really want to keep reading but look back and realise nothing really happened. This book is not perfect in anyway, the story is quite slow and I think some of the descriptions of the minutia of Rose’s life (plus all the brand name dropping) should have been stripped out a bit. However I can see that this was maybe done on purpose and the minutia helped build up a feeling of suspense and create an almost claustrophobic atmosphere.

Rose wasn’t the most likeable character, and had rather dubious morals however you still wanted to know what was going to happen next. Polly is one of those characters that you dislike straight away and really want to see punished, but somehow you know that won’t happen. I think its more a ‘chick lit’ book than a crime story, and certainly wouldn’t be described as a gruesome story. I would definitely be interested in reading more by this author though and look forward to seeing how she will fit into the Harrogate session.

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Filed under book review, crime fiction, Theakstons Festival

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