Tag Archives: #crimefiction

Strangers on a bridge by Louise Mangos – a review

Alice is out running one morning and meets a man called Manfred on a bridge threatening to throw himself off. She manages to talk him down and after chatting returns home feeling unnerved but relieved that she has helped. When Manfred turns up at her house initially it is just a nice gesture to say thanks, however things start to take rather dark turn and she soon realises that her family might be in danger.

This was a really hectic ride of a story. Told only from the viewpoint of Alice this is a fast pace story that draws you in from the moment that Manfred comes into view. Personally I thought that Alice as a character was quite annoying, but this is partly what
draws the story along. A lot of her actions seem a bit suspect, such as getting in a car with a complete stranger and driving them miles. However we all love a flawed character and Alice is certainly one of those. The fact that the book is told only from the viewpoint of Alice means that you can’t tell how true things are as obviously she is biased. It also means that it gives the story a very claustrophobic feel, as you feel as though you are in Alice’s head.

Strangers on a Bridge is set against the background of the Swiss Alps. Alice is a loner in the village, an outsider who the police think is just being an hysterical English woman. There are some lovely descriptions of the place and the writing conjures up a wonderful atmosphere that adds to the tension of the novel as Alice get more and more desperate. The beautiful scenery is a terrific contrast to the dark obsession that fuels the story.

The story starts out as a seemingly simple tale of one man obsessing over a woman. However the twists soon turn this into something more unique. I really enjoyed this novel and thought it was a compelling read. The tale becomes more gripping as the obsession within it grows and the ending was one I really didn’t see coming. I’d highly recommend this novel that will keep you questioning who is right and who is wrong throughout.

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The Ice Swimmer by Kjell Ola Dhal – a review BLOG TOUR

I must confess to never having read any of the previous novels by Kjell Ola Dhal. However when he was introduced to me as the Godfather of Nordic Noir I jumped at the chance to be on the blog tour for his latest novel, and I’m glad I did.

In the Ice Swimmer it is a few days before Christmas and a woman is being pursued onto a tube station in Oslo. When she is then run over by a train it is at first assumed to be a suicide. Elsewhere a body has been pulled from a frozen lake. This time it is thought that he just fell whilst drunk and the cold got him. However as Detective Lena Stigersand and her colleagues Gunnarstranda and Frølich start to investigate, they begin to realise that there are more sinister forces at work, which reach far wider than they thought.

This is a superb novel that I genuinely couldn’t put down. Set in the cold streets of a Winter Oslo the atmosphere was chilly to say the least. It’s the kind of book where when you are reading the descriptions of the place you feel the need to put an extra jumper on as the cold seeps off the page.

I really enjoyed the character of Lena. Personally I felt she was a really welcome change to a lot of the current female leads out there. Often females are portrayed as either being whisky drinking, one night stand, no feeling types, or weak and pathetic needing to be ‘rescued’ Yet she wasn’t either. She was a tough police officer who could look after herself. However she had a natural vulnerable side to her that helped in her policing. Her health scare, and her blossoming relationship with a local reporter also helped to give her a multidimensional character that worked really well. Although her taste in music was little dodgy (Does anyone really like listening to Christmas music??)

The story itself is fast paced with a huge amount of twists and turns, yet it was easy to follow. The novel is the sixth in the Oslo detective series however it works as a standalone and although I would like to know more about the detectives, that’s because I enjoyed the characters so much rather than I felt I was missing anything. One thing that I also really liked was that to me this didn’t actually feel like it was a translation. Sometimes when reading translated books I find myself having to re-read bits to make sense of them, yet this didn’t which is testament to the translator Don Bartlett.

If you like novels where the story is gripping and the writing is so good that you actually feel like you are in the place it is set then I would highly recommend The Ice Swimmer. I will definitely be reading the rest of Kjell Ola Dahl’s novels.

Find out more about the Ice Swimmer and Kjell Ola Dahl by visiting the other stops on the blog tour or buy the book here:

 

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The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn – a review

As regular readers of this blog will know one of my favourite things about the TOPCWF is the opportunity it gives to read authors that have books coming out the following year. Sometimes these books include brand new authors and often there are some real gems within my book haul. One such gem is The Woman in the Window by A J Finn.  

The Woman in the Window tells the story of Anna Fox, a child psychologist who is suffering from severe agoraphobia. She hasn’t left her house in over ten months and spends her days either watching her neighbours through the windows, or watching old films in the company of red wine. When new neighbours the Russell’s move in she is drawn to their picture perfect family. Until the night she hears a scream and thinks she sees something that she wasn’t supposed to. Unfortunately no one believes Anna, thinking she has just let her drunken imagination run wild. Therefore it is left to Anna to prove that she isn’t mad.

This was an absolutely cracking novel. I have to say I read a similar story last year which helped me guess one of the major plot twists quite early on. Yet this in no way detracted from what was an superb read. It did literally keep me up all night. There is a scene with Anna in bed with her cat that really shouldn’t be read when in bed on your own with a cat.

I thought the story itself was interesting and really didn’t see the ending coming. I found the character of Anna incredibly likeable. Despite her excessive self-medication and the slight self-pitying feel to her, she is a character that you quickly feel sympathy for as she struggles with the reality she has created. The beauty of this story is that it is a slow burner, this draws you into Anna’s world and you actually feel like you are looking through the windows with her. Obviously the setting rarely changes, which means there are few descriptive paragraphs included which I felt gave it a really claustrophobic feel. I was drawn in from the beginning and you are gradually taken along with Anna as she slowly declines before the ending shatters into sight.

This was a superb story, with excellent writing that I would highly recommend. I look forward to reading more by AJ Finn and to what little gems will be in the TOPCWF 2018 goody bag this year.

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The Other Twin by LV Hay – a review

I was given a copy of this via Lovereading and actually read it a few months ago. 

The Other Twin starts with Poppy finding out her sister India has fallen to her death. Poppy then returns to Brighton for the first time in years in order to try and prove that her sister didn’t committee suicide. Whilst back in Brighton she meets up with her old boyfriend Matt, and his wealthy family who own half of the city. She also uncovers the mysterious Jenny who it seems had an online friendship with India. Yet what are they hiding?

The Other Twin was an interesting novel that kept me gripped through to the end. I liked the way the story was told, and the quality of writing meant that it was an easy fast read. I was certainly kept guessing right until the end. My only slight criticism, is that I did find the story a bit difficult to place in a time. It was clearly modern day as there were blogs and phones in use. Yet the characters seemed quite old fashioned to me, (there was a lot of legging wearing which is very 1980) and without wishing to give anything away this old-fashioned quality became even more obvious towards the end. The characters whilst interesting were hard to warm to, but this gives the story a certain edge of the seat quality.

The Other Twin was a nice summer read that I would recommend, despite my misgivings over their clothing choices.

 

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First thrills

This weekend I was very excited to write my first ever guest post which was featured on the wonderful cleopatra loves books site.

My post was part of a series she runs called put a book on the map. I was discussing Eva Dolan’s series of books which are set in my home town of Peterborough.

I really enjoyed writing the post, however it is very nerve wracking to see your own words on someone else’s blog. I knew when it was going to be published but I was almost too scared to look. When the comments started coming in I had to turn my tablet off and didn’t dare read them until I had a couple of wines in me. This was absurd as I don’t worry about posting on my own blog in the same way. I usually type them out and post after a quick spell check. For my guest post I wrote it and read it and rewrote it and read it and rewrote it again. I know Cleo has a much bigger following than my blog does, but honestly I spent more time on this than I ever did on any of my university essays’. Mind you this was much more interesting than anything I ever did at University.

This series is a great way of finding out about new books and brings to life the places where the novels are set. I think I even managed to make Peterborough sound like a place you should visit. Judge for yourself here. https://cleopatralovesbooks.wordpress.com/2017/04/01/put-a-book-on-the-map-bookonthemap-peterborough/

Whilst this was my first guest post I hope it’s not the last, and next time I might not be quite so worried about the response!

 

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Death at the Seaside by Kate Brody – a review BLOG TOUR

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this from the publisher. This was the second novel by Francis Brody that I have read this year as Francis was appearing at the festival earlier in the year.

This is not my usual type of reading to be honest, as I usually prefer something with a bit more of a modern twist, however I thoroughly loved this novel.

Kate Shackleton is a private investigator. She usually has a nice quiet August so she decides to treat herself to a little holiday and heads off to visit an old friend in one of my favourite places, Whitby. Of course it would be quite a dull book if it was purely about Kate’s paddling in the sea and eating kippers, so it’s not long before she meets a dead body, and finds out her friends daughter Felicity has gone missing. Felicity has left only a note and a pawn ticket for her mother’s watch guard. The jeweller who took the watch guard also happens to be Felicity’s Mother’s new gentleman friend. Kate obviously gets drags into the investigation and brings along her faithful staff.

This is definitely a story that would be classed as a cosy crime. There is no blood and gore, just a nice gentle mystery albeit with a dead body and some fortune telling thrown in. The novel is a lovely read especially if you know Whitby at all. The descriptions of places Kate visits and walks summon up vivid images of Whitby as it would have been in the 1920’s when the novels are set.

I did feel that the story was a little bit slow in parts. However I suspect that is more down to the difference between this and my usual reading fare, rather than anything wrong with the story itself. This is the kind of novel that you leaves feeling quite cheered up when you finish (despite the dead body) and the ending made me smile.

If you enjoy a nice ‘cosy crime’ novel along the lines of a Miss Marple then you definitely need to pick up some of Francis Brody’s work.

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Nemesis

So with one week and two days left to go until the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival I thought I’d have a bit of a check where I am with the TOPCWFC 2016. I had high hopes this year. Looking through the list there were a lot of authors that I’ve seen before and therefore there was a high chance that I had read something of theirs already. However it does look like sadly I may have taken on more than I can chew yet again. This challenge is beginning to be my nemesis.

On the positive side, I’ve realised I’d counted wrong in my initial plan. I had counted two authors separately although they write as a team, and I’ve also excluded one author on the grounds he only writes true crime and this is a fiction challenge (my challenge my rules!) However with only nine days before the festival I still have 4 authors to go. Now admittedly as I write this I’m about to finish an audio book of one, and I’m halfway through another in hard copy, yet I still suspect it’s going to be a case of so near yet so far.

Out of interest though I’ve listed all those books I have read below. Obviously with some authors I’ve read most of their novels and so I’ve just listed the most recent one. It was actually quite an interesting exercise going through the authors and seeing what I’d read. Although it has made me realise how many new books there are out there that I really want to read. If only I could find a job that would pay me to read books all day, fingers crossed for next year.

The TOPCWFC 2016

  1. Linwood Barclay – Broken Promise
  2. Mark Billingham – Time of Death (audiobook)
  3. Peter James – A Twist of the Knife
  4. Sharon Bolton – Little Black Lies
  5. Mari Hannah – The Murder Wall
  6. Ysra Sigurdardottir – The Silence of the Sea
  7. Julia Crouch – The Long Fall
  8. Helen Fitzgerald – The Cry
  9. Paula Hawkins – Girl on a Train
  10. Clare Mackintosh – I let you go
  11. Alex Marwood – The Wicked Girls
  12. Simon Brett – The Hanging in the Hotel
  13. Frances Brody – A Death in the Dales
  14. Ann Granger – Dead In the Water (audio)
  15. Catriona McPherson – Quiet Neighbours
  16. Ruth Ware – In a Dark Dark Wood
  17. Elly Griffiths – The Crossing Places
  18. Brooke Magnanti – The Turning Tide
  19. Kate Medina – Fire Damage
  20. Val McDermid – Splinter the Silence
  21. Sophie Hannah – A Game for all the Family (audio)
  22. Simon Kernick – The Murder Exchange
  23. Laura Lippman – After I’m Gone
  24. Martyn Waites – The Dolls House (Yes technically its Tania Carver but its my rules!)
  25. Laura Wilson – The Wrong Girl
  26. Jeffrey Deaver – The Skin Collector
  27. Mark Lawson – The Deaths
  28. Gerald Seymour
  29. Martin Holmen – Clinch
  30. J S Law – Tenacity (audiobook)
  31. Beth Lewis
  32. Abir Mukherjee – A Rising Man
  33. NJ Cooper – Vengence in Mind
  34. Paul Mendleson – The serpentine road
  35. Deon Meyer – Devil’s Peak
  36. Margie Orford – Daddy’s Girl
  37. Michael Stanley –
  38. (Micheal Sears and Stanly Trollop one author above)
  39. Pierre Lemaitre – Blood Wedding
  40. Bernard Minier – The Frozen Dead
  41. SJ Parris – 
  42. Martina Cole – The Life
  43. Tess Gerritsen – Last to Die
  44. Charles Cumming – A Divided Spy
  45. Frank Gardner (True Crime so not in the challenge)
  46. Kate Rhodes – River of Souls
  47. Gillian Slovo – Ten Days
  48. Neil Cross – Captured

 

 

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