Tag Archives: crime fiction

The Girl Before by JP Delaney – a review

I read this on a recent quick train trip to London.

The Girl Before is set in a house. A house unlike any other house. Everything is controlled via computers, from the lighting that is set based on the sunlight available, to the shower that only activities when you step into it. The house has a list of rules that are frankly ridiculous, but the characters in the book still seem to think it is a good idea to move in. The house even tells those living in it their weight and their current mood thanks to a series of questions that they have to answer at regular intervals. The story is told from two viewpoints. Emma moves in with her boyfriend after suffering a serious breakin that has left her scared to be at home. Unfortunately Emma doesn’t get to stay in the house too long due to an accident. A few years later and Jane moves in after a heartbreaking bereavement and soon discovers that living by the rules isn’t easy. We follow both of the women as the stories start to collide, linked together by the owner of the house the rather controlling Edward.

I thought this was a bizarre but really good read. It isn’t a particularly believable book. Surely no one would actually live somewhere they were not allowed to keep books? Yet as I’ve often said, in fiction fact doesn’t always matter. I enjoyed both the different viewpoints, and both stories were interesting without revealing any important details too soon. If I had any criticism of it however it would be that the two voices are not actually that different. This did mean that occasionally I had to go back and check which woman I was reading about. Yet this could have been done on purpose due to the fact that the two women are so similar. I did enjoy all the elements of the house though. Can you imagine having to sit down and answer some psychological profile before you are allowed hot water for a shower?

Whilst I don’t think this was necessarily the best book I have read and the mystery ending wasn’t that much of a shock it was a quick fun read. Don’t let the fact it is yet another book using the word girl in the title put you off, as it is an interesting premise of how far some people will go when life gets out of control. Apparently it is being made into a film soon which I think will be excellent and The Girl Before was a good way to pass a dull train trip.

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Here and Gone by Haylen Beck – a review

I was given a copy of this via netgalley, and have to admit it did kind of fall off my reading radar until very recently.

Here and Gone by Haylen Beck starts with Audra and her two children driving across Arizona, in an attempt to flee her abusive husband. When she gets stopped by the police she is clearly nervous about being caught. However she soon realises that she is in more trouble than she could possibly have dreamt of.

This was an interesting novel that certainly kept my attention. However I must admit I didn’t think it was the most original storyline. Without wishing to give away too much information the story itself was relatively predictable, the motives behind the crime will probably be obvious to most avid crime fiction fans early on. However despite that, this book was an absolute page turner.

Books are often described as ‘roller coasters’ and without wishing to sound clichéd this is a perfect description for this novel. As soon as the police stop Audra you know that bad things are going to happen, and when they do the reactions of the characters will have you on the ‘edge of your seat’.

Cliches aside, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The writing is superb and I really liked the way that this was a story that relied on good writing to push it along, not just throwing in twists and turns at every moment. The descriptions of the characters and the emotions they are going through are gripping. The overall premise is about a woman and her fierce desire to protect her children, no matter the danger to herself. The sheer determination of Audra will keep you turning the pages.

To me this felt different from a lot of novels written about women protecting their children. Audra was a person who teamed up with a man. Yet she didn’t expect him to rescue her or her children, she was going to do that herself.  There is violence and some disturbing details in this story, but it is all relevant to setting the atmosphere.

Haylen Beck is the pen name of Stuart Neville, yet it is only the name that has changed not the superb writing. This was a great, if disturbing read that I’m glad came back onto my radar.

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The Silence – Q and A with Katharine Johnson BLOG TOUR

Today I am delighted to welcome Katharine Johnson to acrimereadersblog. Katharine is the author of The Silence, a great novel about secrets and lies.

Thanks for joining me Katharine. I thoroughly enjoyed The Silence and thought it was a great story. Did your writing skills come natural or did you have to attend courses to help you develop that creative side?

I’ve always liked writing and I’ve been a non-fiction writer for years but when I decided to look more seriously into writing fiction a few years ago I did a writing course with the Writers Bureau. I also read lots of advice pieces about creative writing because the rules change all the time. Things that were acceptable or even encouraged a few years ago are frowned on today,  like using exclamation marks and adverbs.

What books/authors inspired your writing journey?

So many! Whenever I read a good book it makes me want to write one.

I know that feeling! How does it feel to know that your books inspire others? Whether readers with a response to the content or other aspiring authors?

I’m not sure that’s happened yet but being able to connect with people in this way is a lovely thought.

Do you have any writing rituals? What are they?

Not really – I just write when the I get the chance.

If you could have written any literary character, who would it be and why?

Great question! I suppose Rebecca – such a vivid character and we never even see her.

Great answer! Thanks very much for joining me today Katharine. If you want to find our more about Katharine’s novel the Silence make sure you look out for other posts on this tour. Tomorrow visit:

https://keeperofpages.wordpress.com/

https://cluesandreviews.wordpress.com/

http://www.mistimoobookreview.co.uk/

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Need You Dead by Peter James – a review BLOG TOUR

I am a huge fan of Peter  James and have met him a couple of times. Most notably when Me and the Sister went to see A Perfect Murder at the Opera House in York and unexpectedly and rather excitingly saw him outside. With hindsight I’m pretty sure we were the only two in the audience who had a clue who he was at that point, and I suspect we were maybe borderline stalking him for the rest of the show but it certainly added to our enjoyment (And it was a really good play)

Therefore I was thrilled to be asked to take part in this blog tour for his latest novel Need You Dead.

Need You Dead is the thirteenth book in the award winning Roy Grace series and as the tenth stop on the tour I get to take a quick look at the case file for his tenth book Want You Dead.

The victim in this case file is Red Westwood. Red was a single women who decided to try her hand at internet dating. Unfortunately things don’t go to plan and her and the man in question Bryce Laurent soon split up.

Whilst at first he seems to have taken the breakup ok, soon things start to go downhill and our victim Red ends up in police protection. The main suspect is her ex Bryce, but without witnesses  Grace needs his best team on the case.

Moving forward to the new book, Roy Grace is still with his wife Cleo (who he married in Want You Dead) but there are problems on the horizon as Roy brings his ‘long lost’ ten year old son Bruno to live with them. The victim in Need You Dead is Lorna Belling. She has been having an affair in a bid to escape her violent marriage, so when she is found dead in her bathtub it looks as though it is an easy to solve case. Yet soon the evidence starts to point elsewhere.

Need You Dead is another great novel from Peter James. It is a police procedural that is told in a simple straightforward timeline which makes a nice change from a lot of the previous backwards and forwards stories I’ve been reading. It was a really fast paced novel, with some very exciting chase scenes. I have to admit though there were some annoying bits where you know Roy is going to talk to someone, but we know he really shouldn’t. In fact this is probably the first book I’ve read in a long while that practically had me shouting at the pages, which shows just how engrossing it is.

One of the things I really like about this series is the amount of research in each novel. The police procedural part of the stories are fascinating, but at no point do the descriptions overpower the story. The characters are always well drawn and right from the beginning you really care about them when bad things start to happen.

There was quite a lot of back story involving Roy Grace and his family, so there are bits that if you haven’t read the previous novels you might find yourself skipping over. However the main storyline can still work as a stand alone novel, and it is definitely one that will keep you guessing until the end.

I would thoroughly recommend reading all of the Roy Grace series and Need You Dead doesn’t disappoint. I do wonder how many variations of titles using the word ‘dead’ Peter James can keep coming up with though, I certainly hope he doesn’t run out of ideas soon!

Need You Dead, the thirteenth in the award-winning DS Roy Grace series by Peter James, is out 18th May (Macmillan, £20.00)

For the next stop of the tour head over to https://forwinternights.wordpress.com/ who will be looking at a Person of Interest tomorrow.

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Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson – a review BLOG TOUR

I was delighted to be asked to be part of the blog tour for Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson.

BLOCK 46 COVER AW.inddBlock 46 is a novel that travels not only between cities but also time. In modern day London we meet true crime writer Alexis Castells. When her friend jewelry designer Linnea doesn’t show up for the launch of her new collection, at first it is thought she has just missed her flight back. However is not long before her body is discovered mutilated in Sweden, and links are soon made with a similar murder of a young boy in London. Alexis teams up with profiler Emily Roy to try and catch the perpetrator. Alongside this we are introduced to Erich Ebner in 1944. He has been transported to the Buchenwald Concentration Camp and is trying to survive the horrors of the Holocaust as best he can.

I thought this was an incredible debut novel that was absolutely gripping yet disturbing at the same time. Block 46 has been translated from French and is written with very short chapters. This is a style I personally like, and it suited the story.. Some of the scenes within the Camp were so disturbing that actually longer chapters would have been hard to deal with. Initially I did find that the story seemed a bit slow, although I suspect this was due to the chapters set in Buchenwald being so completely intense that they made the modern tale a little flat. This didn’t stay the case for long though and once I got into it the story was utterly compelling.

The characters were interesting, and I very much liked the rather standoffish and rude but brilliant Emily Roy. Alexis I found a bit more annoying, but still very readable and I felt the pair together made a good duo. This is a book full of twists that kept me reading, although I have to say that I did guess one person would be involved right from the start. However this is no way ruined the book, as how they were involved was a complete shock.

Block 46 did take me longer to read than is normal for me, yet I think this was because actually unusually for a speed reader like me, I was compelled to read every word. It is a very dark and disturbing book, so not for the fainthearted. Yet the story has a certain flare about it that makes you think, rather than just recoil. I would highly recommend this novel and think it is definitely one of the best I’ve read so far this year.

Thank you to the publishers Orenda Books and Anne Cater for my copy of the book.

 

 

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My Sister by Michelle Adams – a review

I was given a free copy of this at the festival last year, and it has only just reached the top of my rather teetering ‘to be read’ pile.

My Sister is the debut novel by Michelle Adams. It tells the story of Irini who was given away by her parents at the age of three. They chose to keep her sister Elle rather than her,  a decision which she has never understood. Over the years Irini has had sporadic contact with her sister, but every time it has ended badly with her sister seemingly always getting her trouble. Now a grown up living with her boyfriend, Irini hasn’t had any contact with her family for years. However when she finds out that her mother has died she heads back to the family home for the funeral. It becomes clear that there are secrets around every corner and Irini becomes determined to find out the truth about why she was given away.

This was a good read, and I enjoyed it. The story was interesting and the intrigue behind why parent’s would chose one sister over the other kept the pages turning. Yet there was just something that didn’t really work for me. I have read quite a few books around Sisters over the past, being one of a pair of sisters myself this premise always intrigues me. Yet these two just left me a bit cold. Don’t get me wrong, the story itself was a good drama. The writing had a nice easy flow about it, and it was a fast read. Yet for me, I just felt that there were a few too many incidents that were a little implausible. I also thought personally that the ending was rather abrupt and slightly out of left field. Although on the other hand it may have been that I missed some of the hints as I did get a little bored in the middle and maybe didn’t concentrate as I should.

What I did like was the sense that this was a novel that could have been set in any era. Ignoring the obvious mobile phone references, it had quite an eerie feel to the story which was quite unusual. Most of the action takes place in a big Gothic style old house with dusty unused rooms. The house is in a village full of local people who love a gossip but won’t interact with strangers. Overall the story itself was good, and I wanted to find out the truth as much as Irini but it unfortunately just didn’t blow me away. However it is a debut novel and I would certainly look out for Michelle Adams’ next one.

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Porcelain: flesh of the innocents by Lee Cockburn – a review Spring Reading Week BLOG TOUR

​I was given a  copy of Porcelain: flesh of the innocents by Lee Cockburn from the publisher Clink Street Publishing and I am delighted to be part of their spring reading week.

Porcelain is described as vivid, dark and unsettling and it most certainly is. Set in Edinburgh, the story starts with two five year old’s being horrifically abused by their mother and her boyfriend. Fast forward twenty years and the police are dealing with a vigilante killer who is preying on people with links to paedophilia. At each murder scene a porcelain doll is found. DS Nicks is leading the investigation as she still struggles to come to terms with the outcome of her last big case.

This was actually the second novel by Lee Cockburn and I hadn’t read the first which is referred to quite a lot but this still seems to work as a stand alone novel.

Porcelain was a novel that very much divided my opinion. The storyline was definitely not for the fainthearted. It deals with some horrific issues, and it is pretty graphic. It’s testament to the quality of the writing though that you want to continue to the end.

However I really wasn’t keen on the main character of DS Nicks. I was disappointed by this as I usually love a good strong female lead, yet I struggled with Taylor Nicks. Her attitude to her colleagues seemed very much at odds with how a professional should act. She basically sleeps with every female she sets eyes on and this means practically every other chapter is a long description of her encounters. I have to admit to getting a bit bored of so many graphic sex scenes that I felt were just a distraction from the actual story so I did skip over them a bit. Of course this detachment may have been because I hadn’t read the first novel, so I may have felt more sympathy with the detective if I had had more knowledge of her background. I did like the character of family man Detectives Marcus Black though and he is a good contrast to his partner DS Nicks.

However despite my reservations the police procedural element of this book was excellent. Lee was previously in the police force and her knowledge is clear. Despite the dark elements of the plot the story moves along at a pace, and there are plenty of twists and turns. Every time I thought I knew how it was going to pan out there was a new twist ahead.

If you like your crime novels to be dark then this is definitely one for you although it’s probably a good idea to read her first novel Devil’s Demise before embarking on this one.

Thanks very much to Clink Street Publishing for letting me take part in the Spring Reading Week which is now at an end but has been a great way to find some new reads. 

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