I was lucky enough to meet Laura Lippman at the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival a couple of year’s ago and have always been a fan of her books. Therefore I jumped at the chance to be the final stop on the blog tour for her latest novel Sunburn.
Polly is on a family holiday to the beach when she walks off leaving behind her husband and daughter. She lands in a small town in Delaware and gets a job at the High Ho restaurant. She is soon joined by the mysterious Adam who gets a job as a cook. Whilst he is obviously following Polly for some reason, it is soon clear that he also has secrets. As they both become more drawn into each other’s worlds the lines between truth and lies get more blurred.
This was a really intriguing story. Whilst it wasn’t one you’d class as fast paced, it felt almost hypnotic in it’s telling. It has been likened to some of the classic noir tales such as those by James M. Cain and that is a great comparison. It starts off as a relatively simple premise, we are lead to believe that Polly is the kind of woman who can leave her child behind and therefore is uncaring. Yet as the story flows you realise that things are not as black and white as they seem. Adam could be Polly’s hero turning up just when she needs someone. Yet there is more to him than meets the eye and it soon becomes clear he is not necessarily the person we are first led to believe.
This was change from my usual books, but I really enjoyed it. The gentle pace made for a nice relaxing read on a train. However the twists were certainly there and even though you feel you know most of the story by the time you are halfway through there is still so much that is unknown you just have to carry on. I really liked the fact that everytime I thought I had a handle on who was good and who was bad something else became clear and thoughts changed.
It’s hard to say more without giving away the plot, but suffice to say for me the ending was perfect. I would thoroughly recommend Sunburn especially if like me you enjoy reading a strong female lead in a very compelling story.
Sunburn is available here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sunburn-Laura-Lippman-ebook/dp/B0771X1KMX
Don’t forget to visit the other stops on the blog tour.
I received a copy of Rattle by Fiona Cummins in the goody bag at the festival back in July. It wasn’t one that I heard of before although my sister had seen in advertised. Needless to say the cover picture of the rib cage and the line on the back stating ‘a psychopath more scary than Hannibal Lecter’ meant this seemed right up my street, and it most certainly was.
Rattle introduces us to Detective Etta Fitzroy. She is investigating the case of Clara who has gone missing. This isn’t her first missing child case, and sadly for young Jakey it won’t be her last. Both missing children suffer from unusual bone conditions. It is this that singles them out for the ‘Bone Collector’ who is looking to add to his families heirlooms.
I can honestly say I thought this was one of the best books I have read in ages and I couldn’t stop reading. The premise of a man who abducts children being followed by a troubled detective with family issues isn’t that original. Yet the twists and turns within this story really did make it feel ‘new’. The main character of Etta was ok, and despite her issues, to me she felt like a detective that actually put the job first. This can often be lacking in female leads and was refreshing. However what I really liked was the insights we got into the characters involved. Many of the chapters are told from the point of view of the familes, so you really feel like you know them and care about them, they are not just faceless victims.
Some of the scenes within Rattle are truly chilling. I really enjoyed the style of writing, and the descriptions within the novel. The visions they conjure up in part of the book will stay with you after it’s finished. I love a good serial killer story, especially one that has you double checking all the doors are locked before you carry on reading. The Rattle certainly did that. It was the perfect balance of scary thriller, and excellent character led story.
This was one of the best books I have read all year, and an incredibly accomplished debut. An excellent addition to this year’s goody bag and I hope there is lots more to come from Fiona Cummins.
I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this from the publisher. This was the second novel by Francis Brody that I have read this year as Francis was appearing at the festival earlier in the year.
This is not my usual type of reading to be honest, as I usually prefer something with a bit more of a modern twist, however I thoroughly loved this novel.
Kate Shackleton is a private investigator. She usually has a nice quiet August so she decides to treat herself to a little holiday and heads off to visit an old friend in one of my favourite places, Whitby. Of course it would be quite a dull book if it was purely about Kate’s paddling in the sea and eating kippers, so it’s not long before she meets a dead body, and finds out her friends daughter Felicity has gone missing. Felicity has left only a note and a pawn ticket for her mother’s watch guard. The jeweller who took the watch guard also happens to be Felicity’s Mother’s new gentleman friend. Kate obviously gets drags into the investigation and brings along her faithful staff.
This is definitely a story that would be classed as a cosy crime. There is no blood and gore, just a nice gentle mystery albeit with a dead body and some fortune telling thrown in. The novel is a lovely read especially if you know Whitby at all. The descriptions of places Kate visits and walks summon up vivid images of Whitby as it would have been in the 1920’s when the novels are set.
I did feel that the story was a little bit slow in parts. However I suspect that is more down to the difference between this and my usual reading fare, rather than anything wrong with the story itself. This is the kind of novel that you leaves feeling quite cheered up when you finish (despite the dead body) and the ending made me smile.
If you enjoy a nice ‘cosy crime’ novel along the lines of a Miss Marple then you definitely need to pick up some of Francis Brody’s work.
This was the second novel by writer Ruth Ware who I first encountered at the festival last year (so excited by her debut novel were me and the Sister we even got dressed up for photos!) so I was very pleased to get a free copy of the Woman in Cabin 10 via netgalley.
The Woman in Cabin 10 starts off with a break in at journalist Lo Blacklock’s flat. She is already quite highly strung and this understandably causes her to go into a state of paranoia and panic. In order to help get over the break in she accepts an assignment on a cruise ship. It is supposed to be ten days of pure relaxation and sightseeing. Unfortunately the first night of sailing Lo thinks she sees a woman pushed over board. Despite there not being anyone reported missing she is adamant this has really happened and won’t let it go. Due to her fragile mental state and excessive drinking no one else believes her. Interspersed with us finding out what is happening on board we also hear from her friends and colleagues who are worried that she seems to have disappeared.
Whilst this was an enjoyable read I don’t think it was quite as good as the first novel. It did unfortunately feel a little bit similar to Girl on a Train to me. However saying that, I really enjoyed Girl on a Train so that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The main problem was that I didn’t really like the main character. She was incredibly annoying, and whilst you care about the crime that may or may not have been committed a lot of the time you wanted to just tell her to leave it alone.
Yet despite that I did enjoy reading this. It was another fun fast read and at no point did I guess the outcome which kept me turning the page to find out what was happening. I like the style of novel that uses an unreliable narrator and this certainly ticked that box. The setting on a cruise ship was interesting as it gave it that locked room feel where the list of suspects is limited and you get an incredibly claustrophobic feel.
This is the second book I’ve read recently based on a cruise ship (Distress Signals by Catherine Ryan Howard being the other one) and it is a fascinating setting. Overall I did enjoy this and will certainly be looking out for more from Ruth Ware