Tuesday 29 March 2016

Caroline Mitchell

This is the first of Caroline Mitchell's books I've read and it's the third in a series - not usually the best way to meet a new author. However, I had the opportunity to review for Netgalley and I took it. So glad I did! Due for publication on April 14th but available on pre-order now.

The Silent Twin


My review -

This is the third novel featuring DC Jennifer Knight but it’s the first I have come across. Sometimes it's very hard to pick up partway into a series but this stands as a perfectly good one-off. Abigail, a nine year-old twin, disappears and Jennifer is Family Liaison Officer for the family. The mother is under the suspicion of many because of her strange, cold demeanour. The other twin, Olivia, refuses to speak after the disappearance but Jennifer Knight has special psychic abilities and the missing twin manages to communicate, via her sister, with DC Knight. Her sensitivity also picks up disturbances and old hatred and anger within the house.

Caroline Mitchell has pulled off a great story here, in which I suspected just about everyone of causing Abigail's disappearance. Eventually I was right but only because everyone gave me reason for suspicion. It's great to find a series like this and I know I shall be picking the others up in due course. A really good read.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to review this book.

Thursday 24 March 2016

Holly Seddon

A debut novel which I was totally hooked on.

M y review -

Amy is in a persistent vegetative state after having been attacked and left for dead at the age of fifteen. Nobody has been accused of the attack. Jake, her boyfriend at the time, visits her bedside. He's had to move on with his life and another fifteen years on, he's married with a baby on the way. His wife doesn't know about Amy. Alex is a washed-up journalist who is killing herself with alcohol. Her marriage and career have failed as a result but she takes an interest in Amy's case and tries to bring her justice.

There's a real feeling of walking on eggshells in this novel, which is presumably the meaning behind the enigmatic title. Jake's wife, since her pregnancy, has become viciously and irrationally jealous and Alex still yearns for her ex-husband. You get a sense of so much more beneath the surface. Jake's brittle mother and emotionally distant father add to the feeling that something is building up. But the real star of this story is Amy, supposedly brain dead. You must read this.

Lexie Conyngham

A change from her historical whodunit series, this is a story of stories. Totally charming.

My review -

It's wartime and young Dr Marian Cowie is taking a break from arduous duties in London during the bombing. She is staying in her grandmother's old cottage in a Scottish village near Aberdeen. On her first night a German plane crashes and gouges a chunk from the Fairy Hill and in the disturbed earth she finds a skull. The remains seem to be around twenty years old and Marian starts to ask the locals if anyone knows of somebody who disappeared around that time. The result is a string of stories told to her by the locals.

It took me a while to appreciate that these were stories and not one-sided conversations. When I did, I began to pick up little pieces of the local lore just as Marian did. The Scottish voice comes over beautifully in the telling and it's impossible not to hear it in your head with the accent. Eventually, along with Marian, we discover whose body has been buried in the hill and also who was responsible for putting it there. I found this a charmingly told and witty selection of little tales which all, in their way, threw light on the overall story.

Wednesday 23 March 2016

Jim Webster

Another episode from Port Naain.

My review -

Reading these Port Naain stories is like revisiting old friends. I'm very fond of the character Benor, the cartographer, who has been engaged to map a tomb-yard, measure the mausoleums and note down the inscriptions. He's assisted by young Mutt who now demands higher pay as he's an apprentice. While at the tomb-yard, they overhear evidence pointing to who is responsible for the death of young girls from a local large estate. As the title implies – things turn a tad spooky.

As always, the humour's wry, the characters are believable and there are more stories promised.

Tuesday 22 March 2016

Angie Smith

Angie Smith's final book in her trilogy is a great finale. I wonder what she'll give us next?

Desperate Measures


My review -

This is the third book in the CXVI trilogy and is as complex and fast-moving as Angie Smith's readers have come to expect. Greg Woods has retired and is suffering from a serious illness. He is helped by Zoe, a young journalist, to find his old working partner Maria Barnes. These two had a deep relationship and we see more of it here. Zoe is in contact with two computing experts who've been captured by terrorists and forced to do some heavy duty hacking. There's lots of action, some people get their comeuppance and the story is explosive in every sense.

This is a satisfying ending to a story which followed double-dealing in high places and many a time I guessed wrongly as to whose side some of the characters were on. It's gripping, thrilling, and - the best thing I can say about a book - I cared about what happened to the characters. Excellent stuff.

Saturday 19 March 2016

Charlie Wade

This book tells of an alternative Britain where, at some point, things went wrong. Okay, more wrong.

The Bailout


My review -

This story takes a simultaneously humorous and sobering look at a British economy which crashes and is bailed out by a consortium of Eastern countries. Within a very short time, Britain becomes a police state, people work for food – canned ‘chicken’ stew from China – and dissenters are shipped to labour camps on the Isle of Wight. Our story follows a group of these people, who are forced to pedal exercise bikes to produce electricity, or work fields by hand to produce crops they can’t afford to eat.

The story is humorously told but the situation it portrays is bleak. We wouldn’t put up with it, would we? It made me wonder how far things would have to go, where the tipping point would be, before we found ourselves in this kind of mess. I enjoyed the characters, all quite believable, and their relationships with one another. I also liked the ending. Can a worm turn? Read this and find out!

Saturday 12 March 2016

Alison Baillie

A new author to me, and I really enjoyed Alison Baillie's style. 

Sewing the Shadows Together


My review -

Tom McIver’s family moved to South Africa after his thirteen year-old sister was murdered. He’s back in Scotland to scatter his mother’s ashes when he finds that new DNA evidence exonerates the supposed killer who is released after serving thirty-five years in prison. This means that the case is re-opened. He meets up again with Sarah, his sister’s best friend, now married to Rory, his own best mate from school. Relationships are closely examined and it all becomes complicated.

I really enjoyed this story. The characters were well drawn, including a monstrously self-obsessed mother, a wife and mum who puts everyone before herself, a number of unpleasantly obsessive and strict fathers and, I was pleased to see, some very balanced children who boosted my faith in humanity. The story weaves in and out of the characters’ lives and the suspicions and doubts of Tom and Sarah concerning the murder. It was a gripping and satisfying read which I thoroughly recommend.

Tuesday 8 March 2016

Paul Fenton

This is an epic tale of a possible future for Australia. It's dark, action-packed and, because it's by P A Fenton, it's laced with a dark humour. Excellent stuff!

My review - 

The title comes from a supposed WW2 defence line on the map of Australia which divided the continent up in the event of invasion by Japan. In this ‘not too far in the future’ story, the idea is resurrected. The banks have crashed, people are bankrupt and law and order breaks down. Queenslanders form a militia to fight to defend their own territory, which would be lost in the event of invasion – though they can’t agree on who the invader will be. The core of the Queenslanders is made up of sensible and concerned citizens but it inevitably accretes a crust of violent psychopaths out to loot and kill. In the middle of this, star couple Dave, a tennis ace, and Jenny, a Hollywood star, are separated – right in the middle of a row.

You never get two books the same from Paul Fenton. No formulaic, cookie-cutter clones with him. I love the fact that there are lots of characters, all with a real part to play. If you teased one out, there’d be something missing from the tale. He writes eloquent and intelligent prose into which he injects a dark humour. This story played out in my mind like an action movie and I rushed along in its wake. It’s sobering to think how easily the civilisation we cherish can break down. A thoroughly good story.