Tag Archives: crime

Hurting Distance by Sophie Hannah – a review

I have read quite a few of Sophie Hannah’s books although not in order and have always enjoyed them. This one was no exception. Naomi is having an affair with Robert who then goes missing. Meanwhile Detective Claire is having a relationship with local chalet owner Graham until she is called in to investigate the disappearance. Their lives and Naomi’s past soon become interlinked and what starts off as a missing person with an odd wife, becomes something more sinister altogether.

This was a quick read book that I enjoyed. The pace of the story is good, and there is enough intrigue to keep you guessing. It’s most definitely a crime book, although it is not based around a murder. The crime is pretty horrific, but I didn’t think it was overly graphic in its inclusion.

I did find the characters all a bit confusing but I suspect that’s mainly because I have read the books out of order and was not sure of the central characters relationship at this stage. Equally some of the relationships seemed a bit unrealistic, for example Naomi is portrayed as an independent business woman, but apparently she falls for a rather dull sounding lorry driver who can only see her once a week in what sounds like a rather sleazy cheap hotel. Sorry but surely thanks to the genius that is laterooms.com all affairs are now conducted in a 4 star hotel minimum!

I find that Sophie Hannah’s books are always a fascinating read with a real mix of characters. She has the ability to make you start out believing x is good and y is bad, but by the end of it any initial preconceptions have been turned inside out and upside down. There is never a simple black and white story. I also like the way the story is written from differing viewpoints, each one identified by the different way the date is written at the start of the chapter.

I think this novel is definitely worth a read, although it may be an idea to start at the beginning of the series and keep them in order.

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The Devil’s Fan Club by Mark Kirkbride – a review

This review first appeared on Nightstand Novels who sent me a copy of The Devil’s Fan Club by Mark Kirkbride.

There is a serial killer on the loose and it seems to twins James and Louise that for some reason the killer is targeting their friends and acquaintances. The twins are trying to rebel against the strict religious upbringing forced on them by their parents and so are excited that at a fancy dress party they meet the Devil, in the guise of Nick. He invites them to join a very exclusive club called the Devil’s Fan Club, however there is one catch. In order to join they will have to do an initiation test, kill their parents.

I am in two minds over this book. I thought the story itself was an interesting idea, and the ending was quite clever, but overall I found it just seemed to be trying too hard. I’m not easily disturbed by fiction, as someone who spends their spare time reading crime books you soon learn that fiction and reality are very separate entities; however I think this book just went too far for no reason.

The relationship between the twins was incredibly strange, and I’m not really sure of the purpose of this. If it was to make the reader understand why they are so easily influenced by the ‘Devil’ then I think it was unnecessary. There are other more believable ways to make people seem mentally unstable. Whereas the ‘Devil’ was a well written if somewhat sinister character, but would in the end have made more of an impact had the twins been more normal.

Personally I was not keen on the writing style. I realise its personal preference but to me it seemed that the writer was just using too many unnecessarily complicated words. I’m all for learning new words but I almost got the sense that the writer had gone a bit free and easy with the thesaurus (remember that episode of Friends where Joey writes the letter to the adoption agency?) For example ‘They gradually coalesced to form something inchoate, something vaguely marsupial – every transmogrification….’ Really, they were just having sex!

There also seemed to me to be some dubious grammar, now I admit it’s been a long time since I was at school and the rules may have changed but I was always told that you didn’t start a sentence with ‘And’. I know it’s often said that rules are meant to be broken, but to me rules like these are there for a reason and it interrupts the flow of the story.

Despite those complaints I quite enjoyed the book and I thought some of it was well written. There were some scenes that felt like they were in a proper old fashioned horror story and the idea was a good one. Unfortunately the style of writing was not for me.

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The Vanilla Gigolo Prescription by William Norrett – a review

VGPCover_03_17_12 I was very excited about reading this book as it was the first proper paper copy book I’ve been asked to review. Not only was it a real book sent from America in a jiffy bag (its always exciting getting a jiffy bag through the post) it was also on really shiny white paper which for some reason I found very pleasing.

However I am not someone who can talk myself into liking and therefore finishing a book just because I should. If I were, I would have read War and Peace, and actually finished anything by Stephen King. There are too many books I want to read to waste time on stuff that is hard going.

I’m pleased to say therefore that the Vanilla Gigolo Prescription was anything but hard work. It was excellent. The story, albeit only loosely fitting the description of crime, was focused on script writer Sean who is part of an improvisational acting group called the Vanilla Gigolo Prescription. They have spent years playing small venues around Hollywood, never making the big time. Now with four members, they started off as a five piece until Finn became a famous movie star and left them behind. He returns looking for help from Sean but having been stung by him before they are understandably wary. However Sean obviously does get involved (otherwise it would be a very short story) and gets in all sorts of trouble as a consequence.

I really enjoyed this book, and at points it had me laughing out loud. The story itself was fast moving, and just when you thought you knew where it was going it would switch direction. The main characters of Sean and Finn are both well drawn using flashback scenes, which eventually show why they have ended up the way they are. Sean is one of those people who just need a good wake up slap, however by the end of the story, thanks to his humour and wit I found I was really routing for him to make a go of it all.

All of the characters seemed very believable and unlike some books a lot of the conversations were the kind of mundane chit chat that tends to make up the majority of conversation between friends rather than specifically put in just to move the plot forward. There was a lot of the interaction between the group and I’ve learnt more than I ever needed to know about how improvisation groups warm up and practice, it’s not just getting up on stage! One thing I really enjoyed with this book was the style of writing. As well as the fact that it was all very quick witted and amusing, it was also very cleverly written. If one big word could be used instead of a small one then it was. This all added to the atmosphere of the book, and made it a very enjoyable read. I would definitely recommend it, especially to fans of Carl Hiaasen.

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Dead Like You – A review

I’ve finished book three of the TOPCWFC (I’m determined to start a trend!) and I was not disappointed. Dead like you by Peter James is set in Brighton and is based around a serial rapist known as the Shoe Man. Detective Roy Grace failed to solve a series of rapes back in 1997 by a man who had a fetish for high heeled designer shoes, a woman went missing and then the perpetrator seemingly disappeared. Back in the present day and women are again being raped and Grace believes it may be a copycat, or indeed the original ‘Shoe Man’ returned.

The story was well paced and it easily slips back and forth between the past and present day. There are two main suspects and throughout the book the evidence is all pointing to a taxi driver called Yac who lives on a houseboat and collects toilet chains (more interesting than stamps I suppose) The other suspect is a boss of a security firm that specialises in cctv and who seems to do very little other than go for Chinese meals.

I found the book to be a really easy read and it contained just enough of the background story of the main characters to make it interesting without actually taking over from the main event.  Once the killer has been revealed it does become very obvious who it was and looking back I feel that actually it should have been simple to figure out what happened but that can be the sign of a good story, all the clues were there but they were easily missed.

However in a rather unusual twist there are actually two perpetrators and only one is punished.  I felt this made the ending of the book a bit uncomfortable, the bumbling idiot turns violent criminal and actually gets away with it but then sometimes books should make a person uncomfortable and question what has been written.

Both the old story and the new one are cleverly intertwined in the end, and all the elements seem to slot into place. Some bits were a little predictable, for example the criminal was abused by his mother with her high heels, but I don’t feel that any of it detracted from the twists and turns of the story.  This was the 6th in the series of Roy Grace novels and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for his others.

The book, like the rest of the series, was set in Brighton and many of the crimes take place in high profile hotels, and local landmarks. Having recently had a couple of very nice weekends in Brighton I can recommend it as a fantastic place to visit and certainly not a hot bed of crime. However I would now think twice before wandering the lanes and purchasing a new pair of designer shoes!

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