Keep Her Close by MJ Ford is a police procedural set in Oxford. It opens with DS Josie Masters in therapy as she tries to come to turns with the horrific events of her past. When a young girl goes missing from Jesus College swiftly followed by two more, it soon becomes clear that this case is personal. As Josie hunts for the kidnapper she is also struggling to move on from her past with a new relationship she is in danger of ruining with her paranoia, unless of course her paranoia turns out to have a basis.
Clearly Keep Her Close is the follow up to MJ Ford’s debut novel Hold My Hand which sadly I hadn’t read, and although this does work as a standalone I wish I’d read that first as it sounds great. Saying that I did enjoy Keep Her Close. The character of Josie is the usual mess of clever detective and dysfunctional social skills which work together to make her a very interesting protagonist. The story itself I thought took a little bit to get going which I suspect was down to the amount of background needed to fill us in with her past, but once some connections had been made between the girls it really picked up.
I have to say I had my suspicions about who was to blame all along but I did keep changing my mind throughout which is the sign of a good storyteller that can throw in enough red herrings to make you doubt yourself. Once the final chapters revealed it I could have kicked myself for not sticking with my original assumptions.
Overall I enjoyed Keep her Close, it was a good story and I will definitely keep a look out for more about Detective Josie Masters.
As a young girl (obviously only a few years ago) one of the first mystery writers I ever picked up was Mary Higgins Clark. Therefore I was very excited to be offered the chance to read a copy of her latest novel I’ve Got My Eyes On You’
The story starts with the body of Kerry being found in her parent’s swimming pool. Her parent’s had been away and she had thrown a party but despite the house being packed with people no one saw anything. Her boyfriend is the main suspect to start with, as they were known to have a pretty argumentative relationship. However there are other suspects including the boy next door who was upset that he didn’t get invited to the party and the mysterious big guy that was spotted by the neighbour. Kerry’s sister has just returned after travelling to work as a guidance counsellor at her sister’s old school and as well as dealing with her own grief she has to help her sister’s friends deal with theirs.
This was a great quick read that I thoroughly enjoyed. I must confess it wasn’t the most difficult mystery to solve, it was pretty obvious early on what the outcome might be. However that at no point spoils the story. The key to Mary Higgins Clark longevity is her characterisation and writing style. Short chapters make it an easy read that keeps you doing the classic just one more chapter then I’ll put the book down until early morning. The characters are all well rounded and there is a good mix of likeable and annoying ones. Of course as well as the mystery there is also a romance, and that just adds to the intrigue in the book.
As with all her novels this isn’t gruesome graphic novel, it is a story of a murder and of why it happened. I would recommend this if you want an easy fast yet satisfying read.
I am lucky enough to read many debut novelists which means I often get hooked on a series from the beginning. However the downside of having so many debut authors to read of course, is that it sometimes means that an authors later novels get pushed down the ever increasing ‘want to read’ pile in favour of debuts. This is what happened with Luca Veste. I read both the first two in the excellent Murphy and Rossi series and I have book three ‘Bloodstream’ and four ‘Then She Was Gone’ on the pile. Therefore when I realised that the new one by Luca Veste was available on netgalley and was a standalone story I jumped at the chance to read it.
The Bone Keeper starts with 4 children playing in the woods talking about the local mythical killer – ‘The Bone Keeper’ . The Bone Keeper steals children, slices them up and as you can probably guess, hangs onto the bones. The 4 children dare each other to walk through the tunnel where the Bone Keeper lives but only three of them come out the other side. Forward twenty years and a woman is found wandering round the streets covered in slash marks and saying that the bone keeper did it. DC Louise Henderson starts to investigate whilst dealing with her own issues and trying not to let herself believe that the Bone Keeper might actually be real.
This was a superb book that kept me absolutely engrossed on a recent trip up to Edinburgh. Everyone can recall stories from when they were young of the bogeyman in the woods, with every different place having a slight twist in the tale meaning they all have some personal connection. Therefore a tale about one of these stories coming to life is always going to be a page turner.
The Bone Keeper is set in Liverpool and this is a place that is as much a part of the book as the story itself. I can’t say I was particularly fond of the central character Louise, in fact I found her rather insipid, with very little that actually made me care about her at all. I did however like her partner Shipley, and the way the characters interacted. However the story is the element that really makes this novel stand out. In parts this crossed to being more of a horror story rather than a simple crime story which I really enjoyed. It takes real skill to write a novel that can scare whilst being realistic.
Whilst for fans of the Murphy and Rossi series this is a bit of a departure I would definitely recommend it if you like fiction that scares.
The Bone Keeper by Luca Veste is available on amazon
I have always been a bit wary of fitbit’s, so many people seem to wear them and in my head I’ve always imagined that somewhere there are aliens getting ready to take over the planet. They’ll just flick a switch and everyone with a fitbit will be turned into a killing robot. Therefore when I was invited onto the promotional blog tour for Black Matter I was happy to help!
Black matter is the debut novel by author GD Parker. It is book one of a three-part series that explores the depths of the unfolding high-tech world we now live in, making it a dangerous place.
Black Matter – the blurb
The future is now… it’s terrifying!!! Humanity locks jaws with the ever-increasing human desires towards highly advanced technological innovations making the world a dangerous place. Unanticipated horrific consequences unfold for Tommy McGregor when he partakes in a new high-tech innovation to enhance his health and wellbeing. He thought it would make him healthier, better looking and live forever…DI Valentina is out of her comfort zone when she’s tasked to track down a killer, unknown to her, hidden behind a digital mask. The future has already fallen upon humanity as she soon discovers, nothing is as it seems anymore as society embarks in technology that’s already here. A terrifying mystery, it feeds your imaginative mind’s eye – a fast-paced “whoisit” thrilling crime, novel that will leave you guessing until the end, (or will it?) As it leaves the hairs on your arms stand on end as you uncontrollably turn each page in this 3 part series.
Gareth was born in the UK in 1981. A family man he has spent much of his working life in South Wales working in a professional capacity. One day he made the decision write about an idea he dreamt about. Still working full time for a large organisation, he enjoys reading all manner of books, and spending time with his family.
If you would like to read this novel, set not too far in the future then it is out now. I bet it makes you think twice about keeping hold of your activity tracker though!
UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Black-Matter-order-must-read-thriller-ebook/dp/B07KJNDX1P
US – https://www.amazon.com/Black-Matter-order-must-read-thriller-ebook/dp/B07KJNDX1P
As you know I usually only feature fiction books on acrimereadersblog. I don’t read an awful lot of non-fiction. However there are some exceptions to this, and The Butchering Art was one. Author Lindsey Fitzharris was talking at the York Literature Festival but unfortunately I was unable to attend. So when I was invited to take part in the Blog Tour for the Wellcome Book Prize I jumped at the chance to read a copy of her book.
The Wellcome Book Prize celebrates the best new books that illuminate our encounters with health and medicine. The Butchering Art tells the story of Joseph Lister. In the 19th Century operating theatres were known as ‘gateways to death’ over half the people who had surgery died on the table. Lister was one of the first to believe that germs caused death and that antiseptic could kill them. This was a shocking claim in an era where surgeons didn’t even bother washing their hands before cutting people open! With lots of graphich detail, The Butchering Art is a fascinating tale of Victorian hospitals, where the cleaners were paid more than the surgeons.
The following extract gives a flavour of the book which is available on amazon.
Lister escaped many of the dangerous medical treatments that some of his contemporaries experienced while growing up, because his father believed in vis medicatrix naturae, or “the healing power of nature.” Like many Quakers, Joseph Jackson was a therapeutic nihilist, adhering to the idea that Providence played the most important role in the healing process. He believed that administering foreign substances to the body was unnecessary and sometimes downright life-threatening. In an age when most medicinal concoctions contained highly toxic drugs like heroin, cocaine, and opium, Joseph Jackson’s ideas might not have been too wide of the mark. Because of the household’s dearly held principles, it came as a surprise to everyone in the family when young Lister announced that he wanted to be a surgeon— a job that involved physically intervening in God’s handiwork. None of his relations, except a distant cousin, were doctors. And surgery, in particular, carried with it a certain social stigma even for those outside the Quaker community. The surgeon was very much viewed as a manual laborer who used his hands to make his living, much like a key cutter or plumber today. Nothing better demonstrated the inferiority of surgeons than their relative poverty. Before 1848, no major hospital had a salaried surgeon on its staff, and most surgeons (with the exception of a notable few) made very little money from their private practices. But the impact a medical career might have on his social and financial standing later in life was far from Lister’s mind when he was a boy. During the summer of 1841, at the age of fourteen, he wrote to his father, who was away attending to the family’s wine business, “When Mamma was out I was by myself and had nothing to do but draw skeletons.” Lister requested a sable brush so that he could “shade another man to shew the rest of the muscles.” He drew and labelled all the bones in the cranium, as well as those of the hands, from both the front and the back. Like his father, young Lister was a proficient artist— a skill that would later help him to document in startling detail his observations made during his medical career.
Now I never thought I would have to write the following sentence.
Apparently some people don’t like crime fiction.
I know it’s quite unbelievable isn’t it? How can people possibly not enjoy a good tale of murder and intrigue? Personally I don’t get it. It’s like people who don’t like red wine or cheese. I know people like that exist but these are not people who I’m likely to become friends with.
However maybe investigating life outside crime fiction isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I have recently read The History of Bees. I admit this is not something I would have picked up myself. Mr F bought it for me, as he’d seen something about it (on facebook I imagine!) Not being particularly at home in a bookshop he’ll have dashed in, asked a shop assistant for a copy and dashed out again. Clearly this is not a crime fiction book. I’ll be honest when he gave it to me I did start to wander if he knew me at all. However in the interests of home harmony I gave it a go. Well once I started I couldn’t put it down, this is a superb novel. I’d highly recommend it to everyone and I’m very glad I was given it, as otherwise I don’t think I would ever have read it.
That’s one of the great things about World Book Night, it encourages people to not only read more but to read stories they wouldn’t necessarily pick up. York Libraries are celebrating World Book Night in just that way. As well as encouraging people to donate books for Bookcase For All, they are also sharing the book love by asking people to donate a new copy of their favourite book to a library for others to enjoy, and to encourage a friend or neighbour to join the library. They are also getting people to read something different by asking the librarians for recommendations of books that have inspired them or going onto goodreads to tell people what books they enjoy.
As readers of this blog will know I am passionate about reading, and think anything that gets people reading is a good thing, I also think that people who love books also love talking about them. That’s why World Book Night and York’s celebration of it is such a good idea. Although I do think one night isn’t long enough, it should be endless! We all love to talk about books, and when you read something that is really gripping you want to tell everyone about it. Running ‘bookcase for all’ is another excuse for me to bang on about books and reading. It’s such a thrill for me when someone comes back after having taken a book I’ve recommended and asks if we’ve anymore by that author (admittedly in a recent case he asked if I had any more by Mark Birmingham, fingers crossed he meant Billingham or he may have been rather disappointed!)
So maybe there is something to be said for broadening one’s horizons in the reading world after all (I’m never going to like white wine though!)
World Book Night is on the 23rd April. Find out more about York’s celebration at York Explore or via the York Press
Also keep an eye out for Bookcase For All on Look North next week, potentially Monday!
According to the BBC, York has been voted the best place to live in the UK. Having been here for a few years since the age of 18 (Yes ok so technically I’ve been here a couple of decades rather than a few years but let’s not split hairs!) I would agree on the whole, although maybe not for the same reasons.
According to the highly trustworthy BBC (unless it’s the weather forecast which is always wrong) York is the perfect mix of heritage and hi-tech. Heritage yes but hi-tech? I am clearly missing something! I know that we have the the National Railway Museum but I’m not sure World’s fastest steam engine could be classed as hi-tech nowadays? The mystery plays are a fantastic thing to watch and this year they will be featuring a movable stage which of course is quite hi-tech I suppose (or at least it was when it was first done back in medieval times!)
What wasn’t mentioned in the report of course was one of my favourite things about York – no not the pubs and bars before you think it – but the libraries. We have a fantastic library service which puts on some great events. For example last week I went on a course to learn how to make notebooks. It was a fun day although I suspect Paperchase may be a bit worried about a fall in their profits now I can make my own. Stationary being my second favourite purchase after books.
York library also has a high crime rate. Not people walking off with a Winsey Willis biography under their arm, or pilfering the drawing pins from the notice board, but crime fiction events. Last year we had some big hitters talking including Val McDermid and Sophie Hannah. There was also Mark Billingham and Chris Brookmyre. This was a hilarious evening, made all the better personally by the looks on the faces of some of the attendees. Clearly two women behind me thought the event was going to be a talk by the WI about jam making rather than one involving frozen chickens in public toilets and dead bodies.
Coming up next month is another exciting sounding event called CSI’s in York – from the writing duo Margaret Murphy and Helen Pepper better known as Ashley Dyer. They are spending the afternoon showing us how to lift fingerprints and identify shoe evidence (you never know when that might come in handy)
Whilst I may not agree with some of the reasoning behind York being voted the best place to live, I certainly agree with the sentiment. Where else could you learn how to investigate a murder, see the only memorial in the country to women who lost their lives during the First World War and drink in a Viking bar all in the same afternoon? Not necessarily hi-tech but pretty amazing all the same.
Tickets for CSI’s in York are still available https://www.exploreyork.org.uk/event/csis-in-york-the-truth-about-forensic-investigating/https://www.exploreyork.org.uk/event/csis-in-york-the-truth-about-forensic-investigating/