I’m sure I’m not the only one who is gutted that we’ll be missing this year’s Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival (TOPCWF) However if there is any small upside to it, it does mean that I am finally getting the time to catch up on all the books that have been gathering dust on my ‘to read’ pile since last year. One of which was The Nowhere Child by Christian White.
Last year the TOPCWF had a session called Antipodean Noir. This was one session where I didn’t actually have any of the books, although I was keen to purchase the new one by Jane Harper. Whilst stood perusing the session book stall I got chatting to a very nice chap about the authors in the session – long story short I walked away with all 4 books and realised when the session started that I had actually been talking to Craig Sisterson the chair of the panel, he should be a sales person not a journalist. Well I am very glad I was persuaded to buy this, as this was a superb debut novel.
The Nowhere Child tells the story of Kim an Australian photographer. One day a man turns up with a photo of her as a child. He says that Kim is actually called Sammy and that she was abducted from her home town of Kentucky, America twenty years ago. Kim can’t believe that her kind and caring mother who passed away could be an international child abductor, so she heads to America to try and discover the truth.
I found this story absolutely compelling. The story is set between past and present as Kim tries to find out what happened to her, and we also flip back to the lead up to Sammy’s abduction. The flipping between times was done expertly, and it almost felt like two different books (in a positive way) until the worlds finally collided. I especially liked the inclusion of the cult element and the rattle snake wielding preachers that I found fascinating.
Whilst the idea of missing children is one that has been done a lot, this felt like a completely new take on it. Although at its heart this is a family drama, the writing is superb and the element of suspense cuts across every page. I wanted to find out what had happened to Kim when a child, and the twist at the end was a complete surprise.
I would definitely recommend this superb debut novel to all mystery lovers.
I am a big fan of a Nordic noir, and have read and enjoyed previous novels by Kjell Ola Dahl so I jumped at the chance to be part of the blog tour for his latest release, Sister.
Sister is the latest instalment in the Oslo Detective series starring Detective Frølich. Frank is working as a Private investigator and is asked by his new girlfriend to look into the missing sister of a young asylum seeker. He is reluctant to take on the work but agrees. However when he is contacted by the author of a book about a suspicious ferry disaster he starts to realise things are not how they seem. When the missing woman is found and denies having a sister, Frølich is led to an old case. As the body count begins to rise, so do the questions he is asking.
I thoroughly enjoyed this twisty tale of intrigue and murder, that from a bit of a slow start soon picked up paced and zipped along at an almighty rate. This is a dark story, covering murder, political corruption, asylum seekers and people smuggling, however despite the darkness of the story there are elements of lightness and I like the humour that is peppered throughout the book.
The character of Frølich I find quite interesting, on the one hand he is the typical loner detective, we also see his interaction with his girlfriend which gives a softer side to him. As with previous novels by Kjell Ola Dahl the writing (and the translation) is seamless, leading you from one red herring to another without interruption, weaving through until the final dramatic scenes.
One of the things I really like about Nordic Noir is the sense of place that a lot of them have, and Sister is no exception. I have never been to Oslo, but after reading this series I would definitely put it on my list.
Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the blog tour:
When I was invited to join the blog tour for debut novel The Silent House by Nell Pattison, the premise sounded very interesting and I was not wrong.
Paige is a hearing person in a non-hearing world. She makes her living as an BSL interpreter and usually her work involves helping people understand doctors or going to fill in bank forms. Therefore when she is called on by the local police to help with a case, she isn’t ready for what she finds. A young girl has been murdered in her bed, a girl that Paige knew. She also knows the family, all of whom have become suspects. As Paige become more entwined with the case she begins to realise that her and her family could be in danger and that the killer could be closer than she thought.
The Silent House was a great read. I was fascinated by both the storyline and the setting. The deaf community portrayed in the book is a close knit group. Yet as with any group of people there are tensions and issues which all come to the fore as Paige finds out more about the crime and people’s involvement. I enjoyed finding out about a world that I didn’t know much about and how things we take for granted as hearing people such as someone ringing the doorbell can be difficult for a deaf person. (there is a flashing light used in case you are interested)
I thought the writing was very accomplished, it flitted easily between signing and non-signing conversations and it was clear at all times who was talking which for someone easily confused like me was great. I liked the character of Paige and her sister Anna, and I enjoyed the interaction between them. I did find Paige a bit emotional at times, however to be fair she isn’t someone who would be used to dealing with murder or dead bodies so it’s understandable that she might be a bit out of her depth.
This is obviously the start of a new series and I would definitely want to read the next instalment and find out more about what happens to Paige.
Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the tour to see what they thought of The Silent House:
I absolutely love Fiona Cummins’ previous novels, her debut Rattle is still one of my favourite books of 2016 and I have devoured her follow ups, so when her latest appeared on Netgalley I was rather excited.
When I Was Ten follows the Carter family. Twenty years previously Dr Carter and his wife were killed by their daughter in a case that gripped the nation. Ten year old Sara Carter was nicknamed the Angel of Death, but having served her time she now has a family and a life of her own. However when her older sister does her first ever TV interview, Sara’s life comes crashing down around her. The sisters childhood friend Brinley is now a journalist tasked with covering the breaking story, forcing the three women to confront the reality of that terrible night.
This was another superb novel from Fiona Cummins that was utterly compelling. The story is told from two viewpoints, the sister and the journalist and cleverly entwines the two in a way that keeps you wanting to know just a little bit more. As with all Fiona Cummins books you get a great insight into not only how messed up family dynamics can be but also how far people will go when they want to protect their secrets.
The writing is as always engaging and completely sucks you in. I thought the story itself was very clever. There were some very upsetting elements as you find out about the family itself and what happened in the lead up to the murder. It is a very emotional story based around family life. I did find the inclusion of the MP storyline a little unnecessary, as I didn’t really feel that his storyline added to the book much, however the reasons behind him being included became clearer as we hit the end. I liked the way the story was structured, it was very much an act in three parts as the story switches between the before and the after for the Carter sisters with little let up inbetween.
One of the things I really like about all of Fiona Cummins’ novels is the unexpected twists and turns that run throughout, whenever you think you have a handle on where it is going something else will happen that completely throws the theory out of the water. This was no exception.
When I Was Ten was yet another fantastic story from one of my favourite authors and I can’t wait to read what comes next from Fiona Cummins.