Tag Archives: novels

Scaredy Cat

As an avid reader of crime fiction there is not much in book form that I find really upsetting. For example my latest novel is one by Peter James called Dead like You. The perpetrator in the story has a fetish for designer high heels and uses them to do nasty things to his victims. I wouldn’t therefore call myself particularly sensitive. However whilst browsing Waterstones on Saturday with a friend we came across something that offended even me and had we not already eaten at the time would very likely have put me off my lunch.


That is just wrong. The idea that people would actually collect the hair left behind by little tiddles and then make finger puppets out of it is, if you ask me, truly disturbing. What next, Dusting with Dog Hair? Seriously?

Everyone has a different threshold when it comes to what they find repulsive or annoying. I think it’s the same with the written word. There are certain phrases that really wind me up, the use of ‘minds eye’ is one. He saw in his minds eye…

I am sure that grammatically it is correct to use it, but it is so very patronising. I may not be Mensa material, but I’m clever enough to understand when something is being imagined, or remembered or actually physically seen. I don’t always need it spelling out for me.  It’s like watching an episode of Big Fat Gypsy Weddings. They tell you every time they change a shot that ‘this is so and so, he has x number of kids’…you only told me 10 minutes ago, I don’t need telling again. I bet the gypsy programme would only be about 10 minutes long if they only told you things once.

Luckily so far, Dead Like You hasn’t used the phrase ‘minds eye’ and is currently gripping. I am a little concerned as I recently read that Peter James is a big fan of the paranormal and as I haven’t read his books before I don’t know if this stretches to his writing. That is another thing that really annoys me. When you are reading a crime novel that seems to be going really well, and it then turns into some fantasy/supernatural thing.

I like my crime to be nice and human. I want to know at the end of the book that a bad person will be caught and punished, not that they will simply create some imagined identity in order to explain away unrealistic things.  I’m about half way through and so far fingers crossed it all seems to be very natural, will keep you posted.


Filed under crime fiction, Reading

Never Look Back – review

The Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival Challenge (TOPCWFC for short) has got off to a flying start. My first book was by Laura Lippman called Never look back.

A brand new author for me, the story is about Elizabeth, now Eliza, who is married with 2 children including a teenage daughter. Eliza was kidnapped when she was 15 by Walter the serial killer (the choice of name could probably have done with some work) Walter is on death row for the killing of two girls, plus he was convicted of the rape and kidnapping of Eliza. (So technically not a serial killer but lets gloss over that point)

Returning to America after many years of living in England she receives a letter from Walter which leads to phone calls between them and then finally a visit. Walter is hoping he can use the power he had over a 15 year old Elizabeth, to manipulate the adult Eliza to change her story and get him a stay of execution.

The story flipped between past and present, and whilst it was not a fast paced thriller, it was a very clever page turner. The mix between the adult and the child story was intriguing, and the idea of starting from the end when the criminal has already been caught was an interesting idea.  The crimes themselves were almost secondary to a story that was about human emotion and reaction rather than a string of gruesome murders (usually my more favoured stories!)

Certain elements seemed a bit daft, for example she installs a separate land line phone purely for him to ring on, rather than a pay as you go mobile which could be turned off. But as a plot device used to build the tension that can be forgiven. Everyone knows that waiting for a phonecall is nerve racking, and the phone sitting in the corner helped build the suspense.

The story has a grounding in the idea of ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ Eliza spent six weeks with Walter, and during this time it seems as though she made little attempt to escape and was with him when the final victim was killed. In the story many believed at the time that Eliza was Walter’s girlfriend and involved willingly in the crimes. However I felt it was more that Eliza was simply scared and naïve rather than experiencing any real empathy towards Walter. She’s portrayed as quite weak and her adult self wants her husband to make all decisions and constantly asks his opinion. The reader is left wandering is this a reaction to her kidnapping, or is her

Walter himself thinks of her as different to the others, and uses this to try and make her believe that he didn’t kill the girl. The ending of the book was good although, more of a Coronation Street ending, than a Sherlock Holmes one. You knew what was going to happen, briefly you think there might be a surprise, then its back to what you thought would happen in the first place.  That’s not a criticism I happen to be a big Corrie fan.

One of the outcomes of the TOPCWFC (That’s never going to catch on!) is that it will help us decide which authors we definitely need to see talk, and which we can miss in favour of Betty’s coffee. I think Laura Lippman is a definite need to see.

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Filed under book review, Crime writing, Theakstons Festival