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The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond – a review

This is a book that had been sat on my kindle for a while and for some reason it had never made it to the top of my list until a recent trip to Manchester. When I realised I was sat in a bar with no new books to read and no internet connection I opened this without really knowing what it was about.

The Marriage Pact follows newlyweds Jake and Alice who are given a mysterious wedding gift, a membership of a very exclusive club that guarantees they will never get divorced. They just have to sign an agreement that states they will live by the rules of the Pact. Of course that seems to be an easy enough statement when they are still in that honeymoon phase, rules include always answering the phone when your spouse calls, buying them a present every month, arrange a trip away every three months. However these rules all seem fine and a bit of fun, until one of them gets broken and the full force of the pact takes effect. The crimes they committee against the marriage pact start off small, lawyer Alice is late at work a few days on the trot, she puts on a bit of weight so is made to see a personal trainer at 5am every morning. All of these things seem relatively small yet as the punishments keep coming the fear of the consequences of the pact become much bigger.

The Marriage Pact is a cracking little read, although you do have to suspend belief a bit. The concept that perfectly sane educated people would join what is essentially a cult that dictates how they have to act in their own lives is clearly not something that would happen in real life. However when you put that to one side this was a story that kept me hooked through to the end. The characters whilst a little annoying are quite likeable, and you feel for Alice as she tries to keep the full force of the punishments away from Jake. Yet on the other side you do wonder why both her and Jake don’t just say no!

I enjoyed the plot of this novel and the writing is good. The story is told from the point of view of Jake, and I think that was made me prefer Alice to him. He works as a marriage guidance counsellor and yet seems to completely miss the signs that there might be problems in his own relationship.

The Marriage Pact is an intriguing little tale, and whilst it is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea due to the unrealistic plot, personally I really enjoyed it. Thanks to netgalley for my copy. 


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Trust No One by Clare Donoghue – a review

I recently had a trip to London so took the opportunity to catch up with some of my new netgalley acquisitions.
Trust No One by Clare Donoghue has an intriguing strapline, ‘He never saw it coming, she always knew it would’. The novel starts with Richard having a barbeque with his two children, Harvey and Olivia. Everything is happy and it seems the family are moving on from the breakdown of the marriage. Next morning Richard is found dead. Detectives Locker and Bennett are called into investigate and what originally seems to be simply a case of premature death is actually more sinister. As the investigation begins it soon becomes clear that there are plenty of suspects and that everyone is hiding a secret.
This is apparently the third of the novels to feature this pair of detectives which I must confess I hadn’t realised until I finished reading. Therefore I suspect my enjoyment was slightly coloured by lack of knowledge of some of the back story.
This was an enjoyable and easy read, but for me it fell a little flat. It could have been really good and I thought that the storyline itself was interesting with a few twists and turns along the way but it just didn’t completely workout. None of the characters really seemed to work together, however I suspect with hindsight that’s because I hadn’t read the previous novels. The actions of them all seemed a bit clichéd, for example the young policeman was seeing the bosses daughter which didn’t really add to the story and was obvious as soon as it was mentioned he was seeing a girl he was being cagey about.
As I say though Trust No One was still enjoyable and did have it’s good points. It was interesting to read how the characters lives intertwined. All of the characters seem to be credible and to be unlikely murderers, yet equally any one of them could be the mystery person at the beginning of the book planning something bad. The additional chapters from the killers point of view add to the mystery.
Overall it was certainly worth a read although it may be best to start with the beginning of the series to enjoy this at its best.

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The Missing Hours by Emma Kavanagh – a review

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Emma Kavanagh’s third book The missing hours from netgalley.

The novel starts with the disappearance of recently widowed Selena Cole, walking away from her two daughters as they play on the swings. She returns a few hours later with no memory of where she has been and there being no trace of her movements. At the same time a body of a lawyer is found having been stabbed in a seemingly motiveless crime. Suspicion soon falls on his husband. Brother and sister Detectives Finn and Leah are assigned to the two cases as they slowly begin to merge together.

This was a really interesting novel. Set in the rather unfamiliar world of kidnap and ransom the story unfolded through a variety of voices including the detectives and those who worked for Cole Associates. There are also police reports, and case files as well as articles written by Selena explaining the origins of the business. I think this is a really good way to tell a story, especially one with so many twists and turns in it.

The characters in the book are all well written and believable. The detectives are given enough background that you care about them, yet not so much that it takes away from the actual investigations. Too often with new characters the majority of the novel is spent introducing them ready for the creation of a new series, whereas this didn’t have that feel (although I think the detectives would make a great series)

Selena Cole is an intriguing character and you never quite know if she is the victim or not. Clearly she has been through some terrible experiences and yet there seems something just a little off about her. Equally the other members of the business Cole associates all seem to be hiding something.

The insight into the world of kidnap and ransom was fascinating. It was a whole area that I didn’t really know existed and it made for a unique background to a murder mystery.

This was a quick read that I read over the course of a couple of days. I really enjoyed the story and despite being a few unanswered questions at the end it was an excellent novel that I’d highly recommend.

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Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton – a review

I was lucky enough to be given a copy of this for review via Netgalley.

Little Black Lies is a thriller set in the Falkland Islands. A child has gone missing and it’s not the first time that this has happened. The book is told from the viewpoint of three characters, Catrin, Rachel and Callum. A couple of years previously Catrin lost her two children in an accident. She has never come to terms with what happened, and so unlike her husband she has not been able to move on. She blames her ex best friend Rachel for the accident and we quickly find out Catrin is planning to kill her. Rachel herself has never been able to get over the accident and is being destroyed by the guilt she feels. Callum is an ex-soldier who is  suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and is trying to deal with this whilst also trying to support Catrin in the run up to the anniversary of the death of her two children.

This is the the second novel I’ve read by Sharon Bolton (review here) and just like the previous one I really enjoyed this book. The story, although based on the idea that there may be a serial child abductor, is much more than that. In fact this is almost a secondary story through the novel. The focus is on relationships, guilt and grief. The broken friendship between Catrin and Rachel, with both Rachel and Catrin struggling to move on from the accident, the ex-soldier who is in love with Catrin, and the relationships between those who live in such a small community.

The setting of the Falkland Islands was really interesting. I imagine most people always think of the Falkland Islands simply being somewhere we went to war over, however this book manages to portray the Islands as a somewhat imposing but beautiful place. There is obviously a real sense of community so the idea of a child going missing is difficult for them to believe. Catrin’s work as an animal conservationist and her actions within her  job whilst slightly upsetting to read at times again helped give a real sense of the bleakness of life of the Islands.

The story itself soon draws you in and there are plenty of twists and turns throughout that really keep you guessing. The ending comes as a bit of a shock, but personally I think it was fantastic. This was a bit of a slow paced book, despite only being based over 4 days, but that is actually a really good thing as it ensures that the tension is built up fully before the pace suddenly quickens.

This was a really good story that if you are a fan of psychological thrillers I would definitely recommend.


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