I was sent a copy of this from Faber and Faber Ltd and despite not being my usual style of crime I thought it sounded intriguing.
Teenage Ava is sent to live with her grandmother after the death of her mother. Not only does Ava have to leave her home and everything she knows, she is going to live with a woman she has barely met. Grandmother Lane is an artist who is ill equipped to look after herself let alone a teenage girl. Lane already relies heavily on her assistant Oliver who seems to be the perfect help for them both but tensions soon start to simmer to the surface and Ava become suspicios that maybe Oliver isn’t the person he pretends to be.
This was an utterly compelling story that I really enjoyed. It was part character study and part crime story that weaved its way between past and present as we gradually uncover the story that was behind the estrangement between Lane and her daughter as well as learn more about Lane’s relationship with her partner.
I found all of the characters fascinating in their own way. Ava was a quiet unassuming child who had been put in a situation where she had to grow up quickly. Lane elicted both sympathy and frustration from me. Clearly she was struggling with her own health but won’t admit she’s suffering. Instead she chooses to self medicate and practically ignore her granddaughter and her grief. Oliver is a hard character to pin down, on the one hand it seems that he really cares for Lane, but equally there is a side of him that seems difficult to trust.
The novel is set in New Orleans and I loved the way the setting rumbled in the background giving a sense of history and providing a bit of colour in the otherwise sightly grey world of the book. The writing was impeccable and I felt it flowed seamlessly. The book flitted between present day and the late 90’s where we gradually uncovered more about Lane’s background and what led to the falling out with her daughter.
I very much enjoyed this story and the end was something I didnt see coming. I would highly recommend this intriguing and emotional novel.
The Long Weekend is sadly not a description of a nice few days away, instead it’s the focus of the latest blog tour that I was lucky enough to be invited on to.
The Long Weekend by Gilly McMillan starts with three friends arriving for a weekend away at an isolated farm house in the middle of the Moors. When they arrive they find a note that has been left telling them that one of their husbands is going to be murdered. As a storm hits they are stranded in the farm house with no phone signal and no way of contacting their families to find out what is happening. As the three friends become increasingly desperate to find out what is going on their friendship starts to fracture and the tension boils over.
The Long Weekend was a good story that I read over a weekend. What started off as a seemingly ‘run of the mill’ wild weekend story soon became something more intriguing as the stranded wives start to fear for their husbands and you start to find out about their backgrounds and their relationships.
The characters were not particularly likeable, in fact other than the daughter they are all pretty unpleasant. However I felt that this gave the story a different edge. You weren’t really rooting for any of the main characters, yet still I was compelled to see how it all played out. The story is told from multiple points of view not only the main characters but also a mysterious third voice who is clearly unhinged. There was also a third strand to the story which was that of the farmer and his wife trying to make a living against the odds which was quite moving.
I found this quite a clever twisty story. The numerous unreliable narrators did get a little confusing at the start, but it soon became clear. I have a read a few of the novels by Gilly Macmillan and have always found them to be very enjoyable and this was no exception.
To find out what others thought of The Long Weekend look out for the next stops on the blog tour.
I was pleased to be invited onto the blog tour for Leigh Russell’s new novel Deep Cover, book 16 in the Geraldine Steel series.
In Deep Cover Geraldine is still in York, whilst her partner Ian both in work and life has gone to London for a special assignment. When the body of a sex worker turns up Geraldine tries to put her turbulent personal life and worries about her ‘missing’ colleague behind her to track down the killer. However the trail soon goes cold and Geraldine and her new colleague Matthew are stuck hunting dead ends until the arrival of a second body. Meanwhile in London Ian has gone undercover to try and track down a group of drug dealers, but this is a personal quest too as the group are threatening Geraldine and Ian is determined to help her and her sister.
I enjoyed this novel, which was definitely a tale of two halves switching as it did between York and London. I must admit I preferred the York based story rather than the London one, but then I live in York so am probably a bit biased. I enjoyed the relationship between Geraldine and the new character Matthew and felt they bounced off each other well.
The narratives from Ian and Geraldine were interspersed with chapters told from Thomas’ point of view as the killer which I did enjoy. I felt these gave an interesting element to the story as you sensed how he was spiralling out of control. This is a fast paced novel and I found myself staying up late to finish ‘just one more chapter’
Deep Cover is the 16th novel to feature Geraldine and I think it would be difficult to read as a standalone as there is a lot of back story to cover, but also you are in for a treat if you have not yet read any of the Steel series so I’d definitely recommend starting at the beginning.
Find out what others thought of Deep Cover at the other stops on the blog tour.
I absolutely love Fiona Cummins’ previous novels, her debut Rattle is still one of my favourite books of 2016 and I have devoured her follow ups, so when her latest appeared on Netgalley I was rather excited.
When I Was Ten follows the Carter family. Twenty years previously Dr Carter and his wife were killed by their daughter in a case that gripped the nation. Ten year old Sara Carter was nicknamed the Angel of Death, but having served her time she now has a family and a life of her own. However when her older sister does her first ever TV interview, Sara’s life comes crashing down around her. The sisters childhood friend Brinley is now a journalist tasked with covering the breaking story, forcing the three women to confront the reality of that terrible night.
This was another superb novel from Fiona Cummins that was utterly compelling. The story is told from two viewpoints, the sister and the journalist and cleverly entwines the two in a way that keeps you wanting to know just a little bit more. As with all Fiona Cummins books you get a great insight into not only how messed up family dynamics can be but also how far people will go when they want to protect their secrets.
The writing is as always engaging and completely sucks you in. I thought the story itself was very clever. There were some very upsetting elements as you find out about the family itself and what happened in the lead up to the murder. It is a very emotional story based around family life. I did find the inclusion of the MP storyline a little unnecessary, as I didn’t really feel that his storyline added to the book much, however the reasons behind him being included became clearer as we hit the end. I liked the way the story was structured, it was very much an act in three parts as the story switches between the before and the after for the Carter sisters with little let up inbetween.
One of the things I really like about all of Fiona Cummins’ novels is the unexpected twists and turns that run throughout, whenever you think you have a handle on where it is going something else will happen that completely throws the theory out of the water. This was no exception.
When I Was Ten was yet another fantastic story from one of my favourite authors and I can’t wait to read what comes next from Fiona Cummins.