Her Secret Past by Kerry Watts starts in 1990 with the murder of an elderly couple by their grandaughter Alice’s and her boyfriend David. Nearly 30 years later DI Jesse Blake and DC Dylan Logan are called to the scene of another double murder. They arrive to find the bodies of Malcolm and Jean Angus in their remote Perthshire farmhouse. Searching the couple’s property, Jessie learns about a vicious dispute with a nearby land owner, Rachel Ferguson, and when Jessie looks into Rachel further, she doesn’t expect what comes up. Rachel isn’t the person everyone thinks she is and a previous murder conviction just made her Jessie’s prime suspect. Alongside her frantic search to find the couple’s murderer Jessie’s life get even more complicated when her ex-husband suddenly reappears in her life bringing with him a new girlfriend.
This was a really good premise based around the idea of young girl involved in a heinous crime who is given another life. Yet the past always comes out in the end (in novels at least) and nobody is necessarily as innocent or as guilty as they may at first seem.
I enjoyed the story and liked the main characters of Jessie and Dylan. This is the first book I’ve read by Kerry Watt’s although it is the third in the series so I suspect that there is back story that I’ve missed, but that certainly didn’t spoil my enjoyment. They made a good team and I liked the way they bounced off each other.
The book frequently switched between time frames and all the different characters, yet despite all the complexity it was easy to keep track of them all thanks to the quality of the writing and how they were dealt with. I also felt that although there were some bits that clearly ended on a cliff-hanger ready for the next book on the whole everything was wrapped up nicely.
This was a good story that was a quick paced read with some great twists and turns, well worth a read! A big thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources and for a review copy.
I bought this novel a while ago as Bella Mackie was due to appear at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate. Unfortunately she was ill at the time, so it ended up at the bottom of my book pile until recently.
How to kill your family is the debut crime fiction novel from Bella. It introduces us to Grace. Grace is in prison for a murder she didn’t committee, however there is the matter of a few murders she did commit but just hasn’t been caught for. When Grace found out that her absentee father was rich and had refused to acknowledge her Mother she decided to make him pay by killing off members of his family.
How to kill your family was an at time hilarious, at times dark read, that I thoroughly enjoyed. The premise of the book was relatively simple – a wronged woman taking revenge, but there was much more to it than that. We find out about Grace’s real crimes through her diary which she starts in prison (lets skip the probably not sensible plan of admitting to things in writing whilst in prison!) and details all the whys and hows of her crimes.
The character of Grace was a bit of a mixed one for me, although there were bits of her I liked, there were also bits that just seemed a bit too needy for someone who had killed 6 people. Her observations on life and the people around her were exactly what so many of us think but don’t want to admit. It reminded me a little of American Psycho but with a more likeable protagonist. There was a lot of rambling about the state of the world and the varying groups that Grace didn’t like (think everyone but her!) but these observations were often funny and very sharp. They did occasionally make for some longish chapters but they added to the overall tone of the story.
I loved the way the story went backwards and forwards between the prison and the planning and execution of the killings. Each murder is planned to be a fitting end to the family members life so they are all different and take Grace from a frog conservation pond to Puerto Banus in order to realise her plan.
How to kill your family was a superb novel that I very much enjoyed and I look forward to reading more from Bella Mackie.
I am a big fan of Will Carver and so was delighted to be invited onto the blog tour for his latest novel Suicide Thursday.
In Suicide Thursday Eli has a job he wants to resign from, has a girlfriend he wants to break up with and has a novel he wants to write but can’t get past the first chapter. He also has a big problem in separating fact from fiction in his life. When his best friend kills himself, it motivates Eli to try and finally finish something himself, with the help of his therapist.
Suicide Thursday was another terrific read from an author that never ceases to amaze me. It’s difficult to describe the book as there is so much in it. There often feels to be a lot of elements that just don’t fit but that is part of the writing style that I really enjoy wondering where all the threads will end up, trying and failing to guess where everything is heading.
I love Will Carver’s novels but will admit that they are not always easy reads. It’s not only the fact they deal with big issues, but also the way of writing. The stories are character led and everything is told from the point of view of the characters meaning that every word is important. There are no long descriptions of places and cities, just the thoughts and feelings of the characters which gives a really unique feel to it.
Most of the story is told from the point of view of Eli. He has an inability to finish anything, hence his first chapter library where he stores over 700 first chapters of novels he has written, none of which he’s even written the words Chapter 2 on. Eli was an interesting if unlikeable character. He seems to spend a lot of his life blaming everyone else for his failure to finish anything. Yet there was still part of him that I felt sympathy for, as his life seems to spiral.
There are also interludes from other characters in the story, including girlfriend Jackie who was also friends with Eli’s best friend Mike, we meet the two Ted’s and also Eli’s work colleagues. The change of viewpoint is done rapidly backwards and forwards between Eli and the others which adds to the unnerving and disorientating atmosphere of the book.
Whilst the story is dark, there is an element of comedy running throughout that will in turn make you laugh out loud, and gasp in shock. I absolutely cannot recommend Suicide Thursday highly enough!
Find out what others thought of the book by visiting the other stops on the blog tour.
I am a huge fan of John Marrs so was excited to be invited onto the blog tour for his latest Keep It In The Family.
Keep It In The Family begins with Mia and Finn who have bought a derelict house to do up and turn into their dream family home. When Mia falls pregnant, they rush to get it finished. All is going well until Mia discovers a message written on a skirting board: I WILL SAVE THEM FROM THE ATTIC. When they head up to the attic they soon realise that the house is hiding a terrible secret. It’s a secret that Mia becomes obsessed with and as she searches for the truth, she realises that she and her family are in danger.
Keep It In The Family was a great read. With John Marr’s you know that you are going to get a twisty tale with a dark undertone and this certainly didn’t disappoint. The story kept me hooked from the beginning as Mia and Finn start to fall apart whilst the family secrets become exposed and nobody is who they first seemed.
Most of the characters were intentionally unlikeable and even those who I really wanted to feel sympathy for such as Finn made it very difficult with some of their actions. I found the character of Mia supremely frustrating at times. Whilst I do understand her compulsion to work out what had happened, her actions put her and her son in danger and you just wanted her to stop!
One of the things I like about John Marr’s books are the fact that the stories often don’t just focus on the crime but also the actual repercussions of it. Even once we found out the perpetrator the story doesn’t stop but continues to throw in twists and turns until the main finale.
The writing is slick, with short chapters that keep you gripped throughout and I read it over the course of a few nights. I absolutely love John Marrs books and would definitely recommend this.
Find out what others thought by visiting the other blog tour stops.