Tag Archives: crime thriller

Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent – a review

I have seen some good reviews of this early last year so decided to treat myself to a copy to pass the time of a train trip over to Manchester.

The book opens with Alice in a coma after her husband Oliver has savagely beaten her.  It’s an act that has shocked everyone as from the outside it seemed they had the perfect life. Oliver was a very successful children’s book author and Alice was the illustrator that brought the books to life. It is from this point after the brutal attack that we begin to go back through Oliver’s life and find out about his childhood and the people he has met along the way. We are also introduced to the other characters in the novel all of whom have their own personal views of Oliver which we are gradually privy to.

I thought this was a great story that I sped through. It does seem at the moment that I’m reading a lot of ‘behind the scenes of a marriage’ styles of book, which this clearly follows. However this was a different take on the theme, focusing as it does on Oliver and his past. Whilst I can’t bring myself to say I actually felt sympathy for him, there were moments when you do feel empathy as he had clearly had a terrible life.

The other characters within the book were interesting although I must confess to being impatient to get back to Oliver a lot of the time. The dynamics of the different characters seemed to work well, and as the stories began to emerge you become more drawn in. It was very well written and I thought the title was very apt. It really did show the unravelling of a person’s personality and how the different strands all interweave to make a whole. Again it brings up the idea of nature versus nurture, was Oliver born bad or was he made that way?

This was a really good novel that is an excellent debut from a clearly talented author. I look forward to reading more from Liz Nugent.

 

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The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle – a review

This was a novel that I picked up at the festival last year, mainly because I liked the bright red cover with the snake on the front. The blurb itself didn’t give away a lot about the story so it ended up quite low down on my to be read pile. I recently saw a couple of good reviews of it which intrigued me so picked it up to give it a go. I’m very glad I did.

Roy is an aging con-artist who despite already being very comfortably off can’t help trying to fleece more people. He meets lonely widower Betty via internet dating and is soon worming his way in with her and her family. It’s not long before he moves in and starts dispensing financial advice. As this story moves forward we also start to see what happened to Roy during his life as we go backwards through his history.

The Good Liar was an utterly engaging read. I must confess it started off quite slowly and I nearly gave up during the first few pages, but it soon dragged me in. The story at first seemed as though it was just a simple story of a con artist attempting to take an innocent old women’s savings. Yet it soon became completely engrossing and much more than just a replay of a long con. Whilst at no point did I find myself having sympathy with Roy I did find his history fascinating as we follow him back through his lifetime.

The writing in the book is excellent and I found the twists and turns to be very clever. The switching chapters were easy to follow and once you got into the style of them it was a good read. I thought it was interesting that the flashbacks go backwards which added to the suspense.

It is very difficult to review this book without giving away the plot and for me part of the enjoyment was that actually I didn’t have a clue what was going to happen until I read it. Therefore I don’t want to spoil it for others by giving too much away. I can imagine it is going to be a big hit with book groups as it is a story that needs to be talked about and will divide opinion. However I thoroughly enjoyed it and whilst sadly the cover is no longer red, the snake is still there so I would definitely recommend picking it up.

 

 

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Behind closed doors by B A Paris – a review

I was sent a copy directly from the publishers of Behind Closed Doors by B A Paris. As well as the excitement of being asked to read any kind of free book, this had the added bonus of being a real paper copy. However despite my clear excitement at the jiffy bag containing the book  arriving in the post, it’s still important that I write an honest review – therefore I’m pleased to say I thought this was excellent.

Jack and Grace seem like the perfect couple. They are clearly devoted to one another as they never leave each other’s side. They have the perfect house, and the perfect lifestyle at least on the outside. Jack works full time as a lawyer specialising in defending the victims of domestic abuse. Grace is sole carer for her sister Millie who has downs syndrome and when she leaves her current school Jack and Grace will have her live with them. To all their friends and colleagues it seems like a perfect domestic household. However, as the title of the book suggests, behind closed doors things are not what they seem.

I read this over the course of a weekend as I really didn’t want to put it down. The story flips between past and present. We start off by seeing Jack and Grace being the hosts to their friends at a dinner party before we flip back to find out how they met. The two time frames eventually merge to the grand finale which has a twist that I didn’t see coming but really appealed to my sense of justice.

I must admit that the story is a little hard to believe at first. How can one person possibly be kept prisoner by another? You think it would never happen to you, you’d be much too clever. However as the story progresses you realise just how manipulative some people can be and just how much fear can control lives.

This was one of those rare books that once I’d finished I had to stop and take a break rather than just pick up another book straight away. The impact of the story almost doesn’t hit you properly until you finish it, put it down and think about it. Having been involved in the local domestic abuse services charity as a volunteer a few years ago I have read a number of novels around the subject, yet this one stands out. Not only are the characters intriguing, the plot is fast moving and the quality of the writing seems really good. The two timelines were exceptionally well done and didn’t have me flicking backwards and forwards to keep it all straight like a lot of them do.

Behind Closed Door’s  is released in 2016 and I suspect it’s going to be one of next year’s best sellers. It definitely lived up to the initial excitement of receiving the jiffy bag.

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