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.
Keep Her Close by MJ Ford is a police procedural set in Oxford. It opens with DS Josie Masters in therapy as she tries to come to turns with the horrific events of her past. When a young girl goes missing from Jesus College swiftly followed by two more, it soon becomes clear that this case is personal. As Josie hunts for the kidnapper she is also struggling to move on from her past with a new relationship she is in danger of ruining with her paranoia, unless of course her paranoia turns out to have a basis.
Clearly Keep Her Close is the follow up to MJ Ford’s debut novel Hold My Hand which sadly I hadn’t read, and although this does work as a standalone I wish I’d read that first as it sounds great. Saying that I did enjoy Keep Her Close. The character of Josie is the usual mess of clever detective and dysfunctional social skills which work together to make her a very interesting protagonist. The story itself I thought took a little bit to get going which I suspect was down to the amount of background needed to fill us in with her past, but once some connections had been made between the girls it really picked up.
I have to say I had my suspicions about who was to blame all along but I did keep changing my mind throughout which is the sign of a good storyteller that can throw in enough red herrings to make you doubt yourself. Once the final chapters revealed it I could have kicked myself for not sticking with my original assumptions.
Overall I enjoyed Keep her Close, it was a good story and I will definitely keep a look out for more about Detective Josie Masters.
As a young girl (obviously only a few years ago) one of the first mystery writers I ever picked up was Mary Higgins Clark. Therefore I was very excited to be offered the chance to read a copy of her latest novel I’ve Got My Eyes On You’
The story starts with the body of Kerry being found in her parent’s swimming pool. Her parent’s had been away and she had thrown a party but despite the house being packed with people no one saw anything. Her boyfriend is the main suspect to start with, as they were known to have a pretty argumentative relationship. However there are other suspects including the boy next door who was upset that he didn’t get invited to the party and the mysterious big guy that was spotted by the neighbour. Kerry’s sister has just returned after travelling to work as a guidance counsellor at her sister’s old school and as well as dealing with her own grief she has to help her sister’s friends deal with theirs.
This was a great quick read that I thoroughly enjoyed. I must confess it wasn’t the most difficult mystery to solve, it was pretty obvious early on what the outcome might be. However that at no point spoils the story. The key to Mary Higgins Clark longevity is her characterisation and writing style. Short chapters make it an easy read that keeps you doing the classic just one more chapter then I’ll put the book down until early morning. The characters are all well rounded and there is a good mix of likeable and annoying ones. Of course as well as the mystery there is also a romance, and that just adds to the intrigue in the book.
As with all her novels this isn’t gruesome graphic novel, it is a story of a murder and of why it happened. I would recommend this if you want an easy fast yet satisfying read.