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The Shut Eye by Belinda Bauer – a review

I was recently given a copy of this via netgalley and had saved it to read on a train journey to Birmingham. I was very glad I did, as I don’t think it is often that a book gets you thinking long after you finish it. Whilst there are plenty of books I read and thoroughly enjoy most of the time I’m just straight onto the next one. However this story really did pull me up at the end and the morning after I was still thinking about it.

The book starts with the disappearance of Daniel. His Dad worked in the garage over the road and Daniel had run out of the open door across to the garage before disappearing. All that remains is his footprints left behind in the wet concrete. His mother Amy spends her day sitting by these footprints polishing them and trying to protect them from the elements. DI Marvel wants to investigate the missing boy, but after having failed to find another missing girl called Evie he is instead assigned to a different case that he feels is rather beneath him. Amy rarely leaves the house but when she gets a flyer through her door advertising a local physic event (the shut eye of the title) she is so desperate she’ll grasp at any straw she can to find her son. The psychic Latham was previously involved in Evie’s disappearance and it is through him that the differing strands of the stories merge.

The Shut Eye is a very difficult book to review without giving away too much. There is an element of the mystic around it. Yet this is dealt with well and I didn’t get to the end feeling cheated which I usually do when a supernatural element is included.

The writing itself was seamless and I was utterly gripped from start to finish. The story is seen from not only the perspective of the detective but also Amy and Jack the parents of missing Daniel, as well as including the Chief’s wife and an insight into what happened to Evie. Throughout Shut Eye I felt in turn both sorry for and angry at the characters. The sense of isolation, and desperation that came through the pages made me really sorry for some at points, but just as forcefully their actions and stupidity made me want to strangle them.

One of the things that I felt made a refreshing change was that this (although I may be wrong of course) didn’t strike me as a book that was being written to start a series. Often and understandably people write books in order to have their detective at the forefront. However this felt like it was a completely stand along book being written because there was a great idea for a story rather than a great idea for a detective.

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and think that any book which is both thought provoking and enjoyable is definitely worth a read. It even made having to go to Birmingham a more pleasant experience.

 

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The White Swan by Paul Morrison – a review

Johnny is a psychic entertainer who returns to his home town of York for a show at the Opera House. He works with his Cousin Frankie. Her job is to go through the guest list for his show. She then goes to visit the guests under assumed guises in order to find background information that Johnny can use to pretend to have psychic ability.

When he arrives in York he is asked to visit a family whose sister was murdered the year before and the case still hasn’t been solved. Johnny is asked if he can help use his powers to find the killer. Whilst obviously he has no psychic powers he does become intrigued and looks into the family further.

I was asked to review this by Paul and was looking forward to it as a York girl myself. I enjoyed this novel although I did feel some of it could have done with better editing. The plot itself was quite good and did keep me reading, however I felt the ending was a bit disappointing and the motive was very thin.

Bits of the writing were also in need of a scrawl of red pen I thought. Whilst I was pleased it was set in York, and some of the descriptions really did give a good feel of the city, the word York was used too many times. It made alot of conversations seem quite unnatural, for example two people talking would say ‘we leave on…’ not ‘we leave York on…’ I almost felt that the book had actually been sponsored by Visit York (which is not a bad thing, York is a fantastic place)

Some of the characters were a bit one dimensional and none of them really stood out as deserving of sympathy. Unfortunately this meant that equally the victims within the book did not really make me care about them.

However overall I like the concept of a York Mentalist and the story itself was quite good. This was a debut novel and so I would read the next instalment, where hopefully my minor criticisms over the editing will be ironed out.

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