At this year’s festival I was lucky enough to meet debut author Robin Morgan-Bentley who was promoting his novel The Wreckage which I have recently read.
The Wreckage begins with Ben, a teacher who is on his way to work as normal. However this day Adam, in a last despairing act, jumps in front of Ben’s car succeeding in killing himself. In the aftermath Ben struggles to come to terms with what has happened, and to try and assuage his guilt he starts to develop a friendship with Alice, Adam’s widow, and her young son Max. However is this what Alice wants, and how will either of them manage to move on?
This was a fabulous book that seemed very accomplished for a debut novelist. I wouldn’t personally class this as a thriller in the traditional sense of a ‘grab you by the seat of your pants and hang on’ type of story, however it was absolutely gripping. From the dramatic start to the story that absolutely hooks you in, things slow down a little as both Alice and Ben come to terms with what has happened. The tension then starts to build back up as the relationship begins to grow and we find out more about the characters.
The story is told from the veiwpoints of both Alice and Ben. This is a really clever trick that means you see the same moment but from a different interpretation which adds to the tension in the novel. I found both characters equally likeable and annoying at times. Whilst clearly you have sympathy for them both having been through a horrific experience. You also want them to take a look at their actions and think of the consequences.
It’s tricky to say too much about the plot without giving away the twists but the story takes a darker turn towards the end and there are things I did not see coming. When I met Robin Morgan-Bentley I got his autograph and he asked me who my favourite author. I definitely enjoyed this novel as much as a Patricia Cornwall one!
You can buy your own copy of The Wreckage at Amazon.
I find Christmas an odd break. I had two weeks off work, so therefore you’d think I’d have loads of time, yet it always disappears in a flash of seeing people, drinking and the constant round of ‘how was Christmas, what are you doing for new year’. Therefore although I’ve managed to fit in a bit of reading my reviewing has really gone done the pan. Despite being someone who refuses to make New Year’s resolutions, if I was going to make one it would be to review more in 2020. So I am kicking off 2020 with a great novel, The Mother’s by Sarah J Naughton.
I have had this on my TBR pile for ages, however to be honest the idea of four mothers in a novel put me off picking it up. I assumed it would be a lot of women moaning on about children and motherhood and how tired they are etc. However I couldn’t have been more wrong. This was a story of four women who had met because they were pregnant at the same time, and became friends. Skip to four years later and the friendship is still growing strong, until one of the husbands goes missing. The police are stumped as to where he has gone, and talking to the friends throws up more questions than answers. Are they really such good friends? Would they keep each others secrets?
I read this quickly in a couple of sittings as I found it really drew me in. The characters were an odd bunch of people. You knew that on paper they didn’t work as friends, but then you also know in real life often the most unlikely people form strong bonds for a ariety of reasons. I enjoyed the style of writing that seamlessly switched between then and now as the secrets were gradually unfolded.
I enjoyed all the characters, although I wasn’t too keen on the detective Iona. She didn’t seem very well rounded to me, and spent more time worrying about her love life than actually focusing on the crime. However that is only a minor criticism and actually the police investigation is a very small part of this story. They mystery unravels through the viewpoints of the women, and I found myself frequently changing my mind as to what was happening.
This was a very accomplished debut novel that I would very much recommend. The Mother’s is available on amazon
As a blogger I am lucky to have virtually (and in some cases physically) met lots of fantastic bookie people. One of these was Noelle Holten, aka Crime Book Junkie. Therefore last week I was looking to stock up my kindle ahead of week of train journeys and her debut novel ‘Dead Inside’ was the first thing I searched for.
Dead Inside introduces us to DC Maggie Jamieson and her friend Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood. To the outside world Lucy has a great life. She has a good job, a doting husband and 2 happy step-children. Yet behind closed doors Lucy lives in fear of her abusive husband. Maggie has recently moved to a new team, the Domestic Abuse and Homicide Unit. She is keen to make her mark with her new colleagues and her first case starts with the murder of a known domestic abuser. As more bodies appear it seems there are links to Lucy but are things as they seem?
Dead Inside caught my interest from the start and didn’t let up. The story was intriguing, and it was clear that the knowledge Noelle must have gained from her years in the probation service added a great sense of authenticity to the novel. The story itself is quite brutal and in parts quite hard to read, which to me is exactly how it should be given the subject matter.
The two main characters were a great pairing. I personally found the character of Maggie a little annoying. During the briefing her eagerness to please and jump in with questions was frustrating to read, yet it gave a good insight into her character. Lucy on the other hand I had huge sympathy for, her character was clearly in turmoil. Having to deal with horrendous criminals during the day, and having to deal with her husband at home, the pressure that she was under just poured off the page. There were quite a lot of peripheral characters that were hard to keep track of at times, but that says more about my memory than anything about the writing. Towards the end of the novel, as all the strands start to come together you realise that all the characters have their own part to play in creating the story.
Dead Inside was an incredibly accomplished novel, and I can’t wait to read Noelle’s next one and to find out what is next for Maggie and Lucy.
You can find Dead Inside and the follow up Dead Wrong here.
I read the Fourth Monkey by JD Barker a while ago and loved it. I then got sent the Fifth to Die which sat on my bookshelf for a while forgotten, until the Sixth Wicked Child landed loudly through the letterbox. The problem with these novels is that they are pretty hefty tomes. As someone who does most of my reading whilst travelling, large books tend to get overlooked in favour of the handy kindle type. So on my recent week off I decided to treat myself by reading Fifth to Die, swiftly followed by Sixth Wicked Child, and what a treat!
The Sixth Wicked Child is the final novel in the 4MK trilogy. The story takes off immediately following Fifth to Die, the hospital is in lock down due to the threat of a virus outbreak, and Detective Sam Porter is on the run. The body count is increasing, and the only link is the words ‘Father Forgive me’ written near them. Porter is still hoping that he can catch Anson Bishop, the main suspect in the killings. Yet when Bishop hands himself in Porter realises that actually in this deadly game of cat and mouse he is not necessarily the cat.
The Sixth Wicked Child is a novel I literally couldn’t put down (luckily I was on holiday!) This is definitely a story where you need to have read the first two before you get to the final one, but they are a treat in themselves. I have thoroughly enjoyed all three of these novels and honestly feel that they are one of the best series I have read for a long time. The crimes are gruesome but the pace of the novels meant that you don’t dwell on that bit. The characters are all well rounded, yet the twists just keep coming, and the final reveal is just not something I saw coming at all.
All the stories are told with the inclusion of diary entries, none of which I have been keen on. Certainly in the Sixth Wicked Child I didn’t feel they worked as diary entries, to me personally they didn’t sound like they were actually written like someone would write a diary. However forget the diary part and read them as ‘flashbacks’ and they add an extra layer to the story.
This is one of those stories where you feel you get to know the characters and can separate good from bad. Then something happens and suddenly you feel like you don’t know who to trust after all. Although this is meant to be a review of The Sixth Wicked Child it is impossible to review it as a stand alone. I am actually really pleased that I had waited to read Fifth to Die because it meant that when I got to the end of it I didn’t have to wait to start the next one. These are a gripping, gruesome, superb novels that I would highly recommend. Just beware that once you start you won’t to stop.
The Sixth Child is available here.
I am a big fan of Peter James and so when his latest popped up on netgalley I downloaded it onto my kindle ready for a trip to Birmingham.
The Secret of Cold Hill is the sequel to The House on Cold Hill. The house itself has been torn down and in its place a new estate has been created. When James and Emily move in they believe they have found their perfect home. James is an artist and there is a studio room with fabulous views. Kate is a chef running her own business and there is plenty of space for her to create her ideal professional kitchen. This is a house with all the mod cons you could ask for, and even the slightly odd neighbours or the unfriendly locals can’t dampen their enthusiasm. However when things start to go wrong they begin to question their move. Anyone who has ever read any fiction with a ‘state of the art’ house will know that things are always going to go wrong, and this is no exception.
I thoroughly enjoyed this creepy story. It was an interesting take on the haunted house theme using a brand new building, but with old style creepy house storytelling. The noises and odd occurrences are soon escalating as the story takes hold through to an ending that I most definitely did not see coming.
I wasn’t too keen on the main couple to be honest, I found them both a little annoying and did feel that they jumped straight to the idea of ‘haunting’ a bit quickly. Personally I would have thought it was more likely an electrical fault. However the way the couple acted actually added to the tension. You weren’t sure whether they were overreacting or if it really was something more sinister. I particularly liked their interaction with the odd couple over the road. The Penze-Weedells were funny caricatures’ of your neighbourhood snobs, which added a great humour to the story yet didn’t give any kind of let up to the creepiness.
I have read most of Peter James’ books and although the Roy Grace series is still my favourite I hope I haven’t seen the last of Cold Hill House.
The Secret of Cold Hill is available here
I am unfortunately not the type of person who wins things. I rarely enter competitions as I know I won’t win, I don’t buy lottery tickets and when it comes to any kind of race, well suffice to say I have absolutely no competitive spirit whatsoever.
Therefore I was completely surprised to find out that I had actually recently won a giveaway by the lovelyEmma at Damppebbles to get a book of my choice from Book Depository. Now normally like a kid in a sweetshop it would take me hours to decide what book to pick, I’m not good with a lot of choice. However for once this decision was easy. Whilst at the TOPCWF I went to a session with both Adrian McKinty and Ian Rankin and thought that Adrian’s book sounded fascinating so that was my first choice. Well I certainly wasn’t disappointed.
The Chain starts with Rachel picking up the phone to hear a stranger tell her that her daughter has been kidnapped. In order for her daughter to be freed Rachel will have to kidnap another child. Any child ill do but if she goes to the police her daughter will die, if she doesn’t kidnap a child her daughter will die, if she deviates from her instructions in any way her daughter will die. Rachel is now part of the chain.
This was a novel that grabbed me by the throat and wouldn’t let me go. The story moves along with a terrific pace as Rachel suddenly turns from mild mannered mother to gun-toting kidnapper.
I liked the fact that despite the main focus of the book being The Chain and the kidnappings, the main characters were all well rounded and had back stories that meant the crimes they had to commit were even more out of context. Rachel is a divorcee who thinks that the cancer she thought she had beaten has returned. Her brother in law who becomes her partner in crime is Pete who is an ex-forces man suffering PTSD and a drug addict. The story shows us the fall out of the crimes and how the characters try to move on with their lives which is impossible when the chain still exists.
I did feel that the first half was a little better than the second. The second half gives us the insight into the perpetrators and what led to the creation of the chain which was interesting. Yet I felt it slowed a little in the middle, until the pace suddenly kicked up again towards the end. Saying that you almost needed the slight breather in order to continue on until the end. The premise of this story is something that I find really interesting, how far will ‘normal’ humans go if they are backed into a corner? This is a novel that explores exactly that.
I think this is the first novel I have read by Adrian McKinty and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would like to thank Damppebbles for my copy.
When I was asked to join the blog tour for the latest novel by Lin Anderson I was convinced that I had read previous by her, and the blurb for this one was so intriguing of course I said yes. However it actually turns out I don’t think I have read any of her’s before (this is why I need to start writing down everything I read) Well I have to say if Time for the Dead is anything to go by, I will definitely be reading the rest of her novels as this was terrific.
Time for the Dead is the 14th book in the Rhona MacLeod series and this one is set on the Isle of Skye. Forensic scientist Rhona is recovering from a hideous ordeal that has left her quite traumatised. Rather than go to the rehabilitation centre that is suggested she takes herself off to the remote island, agreeing to keep in touch with her colleague DS McNab via regular skype calls. When she finds what seems to be some kind of crime scene her curiosity kicks in. A body is then found at the base of the famous cliff known as Kilt Rock and Rhona begins to suspect that a group of army medics visiting the island after a tour of Afghanistan might not be just on the island for a holiday.
Time for the Dead was a cracking read that I thoroughly enjoyed. This is one of those novels where the setting is as much a character as any of the people being written about. I loved how the remoteness of the island added to the tension of the plot. As well as following the investigation on Skye, we also have chapters set in Afghanistan where we find out more about the medics and what they went through during their time in the country. These chapters were quite harrowing at times to read and the heat of Afghanistan contrasted darkly with the cold of Skye.
Rhona MacLeod was definitely one of the best characters I’ve read recently, especially once she teemed up with Blaze, the detective dog (well search and rescue but detective dog sounds better) I found her slightly frustrating, yet also incredibly strong and resilient. I liked her interaction with both McNab who has his own investigation to contend with, and with Detective Olsen who was visiting Skye on a walking holiday.
I do feel that I would have enjoyed this book even more had I read the previous novels in the series, yet there was enough background in this to ensure I knew what was happening. I very much enjoyed my first Rhona MacLeod story and will definitely be reading more.
To find out what others thought visit the other stops on the tour. Time for the Dead in available here.