Tuesday 31 January 2017

Sarah A Denzil

This is a brilliant example of a psychological thriller. For  me, it stands out from the clones.

Silent Child

Amazon.com link

My review -

Single mum Emma’s six year old boy, Aiden, went missing in a flood, presumed drowned. Seven years later he is declared legally dead. Emma later marries – not the father – and is heavily pregnant with a second child, when Aiden returns. He is under-weight for a sixteen year-old, has an old ankle injury, and seems in shock. He doesn’t, or can’t, speak. Yet Emma is determined to find out who took him and what happened to him in those missing years.

I’ve read lots of psychological thrillers and at times, they merge into one in the memory, but this book is different. I think I’ll be a long while thinking about it. Emma is in the throes of ‘baby brain’ and is very emotional, as you can imagine. She jumps from one suspect to another and we get sucked into her rationale for those suspicions, even though we can often feel she’s over-reacting. People try to lean on her and persuade that her son may be dangerous to the baby. The reader isn’t sure – doesn’t know any more than she does. The writing style is easy and elegant and I raced through this, dying to know the answers. A great example of the genre and highly recommended.

Saturday 21 January 2017

Kate Hughes

A new writer to me but Kate has a real empathy with her characters.

My review - 

Sophie lives with her two daughters, teenaged Chloe and her younger sister, Rosie. Rosie is twelve years old and autistic. She is strong and has begun to express her frustration by biting and scratching. Sophie puts up with it but when Rosie starts to attack her grandmother, Diane, and her sister, Chloe, Sophie knows the time has come to think about residential care. Her estranged husband now lives in Ireland and Sophie knows he doesn’t understand how hard it is to keep going.

The characters in this book are so human, you can totally believe in, and empathise with, them all. Sophie is left with grief and guilt as a result of sending her daughter to live away from home. We’re taken through her own feelings and thought processes. It’s very interesting to see her beginning to live her own life again, though she can’t shake the guilt that she shouldn’t be. It’s a lovely, sad, gripping but eventually life-affirming story. Highly recommended.

Friday 20 January 2017

Andrew Barrett

The latest in a series which keeps improving - there's a challenge, Mr Barrett!

Ledston Luck

My review - 

Eddie Collins is such an annoying man. Sometimes I could slap him. He’s irascible, angry, stubborn, but usually, he’s right. He’s a man driven by a desire for justice. He’s at a scene when a booby-trap kills his colleague and injures him. It’s the scene of an old murder, but a new killing, also booby-trapped makes old and new murders come together. Someone higher in the system is trying to frustrate the case and sideline Eddie. They didn’t reckon with the fact that Eddie won’t let go, especially when he’s angry – and he feels guilty.

The wonderful thing about an Andrew Barrett book is that you often don’t totally like the goodies and you feel strong sympathy for the baddies. As with real life, there are no black and white characters, but many, many shades of grey. Stories like this make you think and there are often no easy answers. This book’s packed with action but there’s room for thoughtful contemplation, too. It works on many levels. A brilliantly good read.

I received an advance review copy of this book.

Thursday 12 January 2017

Alan McDermott

Old author (not in years!) new series - excellent!


Amazon.com link

My review -

Trojan is the start of a new series by Alan McDermott whose Tom Gray series I’ve enjoyed very much. Some of the characters in this new book have appeared before but it’s not necessary to have read previous books. The feel of this story is bang up to date and, with recent events, feels horribly plausible. Five young women, each accompanied by a child, have undergone an operation to secrete a highly dangerous substance within their bodies so it can be smuggled into Britain. MI5, chiefly Andrew Harvey and his team, have the task of finding the phials in order to prevent a terror incident of considerable magnitude.

The pace of this story is fast and exciting, the storyline shifting and twisting as the terror plot is revealed. Harvey acts upon one clue and another problem falls in his path. His personal life takes on a new turn too, and his boss is being hounded by a Home Secretary determined to oust her from her post. Right to the end, the story maintains the excitement and horror of a potential massive terror attack. A very convincing and rather scary plot and an excellent read.

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

Monday 9 January 2017

S E Lynes

A new author to me - I love a discovery! And I love this book.

My review -

Shona and her partner Mikey move up to the Aberdeen area when he gets an offshore oil job. She’s a journalist so can work from anywhere, but found herself pregnant with their first child so is at home all day with baby Isla. Their cottage is remote and she loves it but when he goes for his fortnight offshore, she’s lonely and makes friends with another mother, Valentina.

The author has really got inside the head of a mother here. Shona is sleep-deprived and suffering from a bad case of baby brain, when she find herself walking in a nearby village and seeing a picture of her husband through the window of a house. Things fall apart, as they say. This book is quite claustrophobic in that there are so few characters and their interactions and relationships are very intense. The story is complex but utterly believable and it was interesting that I was aware of my ideas about the characters changing as Shona learnt more about them herself. I found it gripping and exciting – it kept me up! Very good story indeed.

Sunday 8 January 2017

Lexie Conyngham

Lexie is a historian who writes murder mysteries. I love them!

Death of a False Physician

Amazon.com link

My review - 

In this, the second of the Hippolyta Napier series, we meet her mother and sister. They do not impress, being rather rude and imperious and treating Hippolyta, in her own house, as one of the servants. They have come to take the waters at the local spa, attracted by the presence of the travelling physician, Dr Gilead. Hippolyta’s husband, Patrick, the local doctor, is not impressed by the new doctor in residence at the hotel and spa. Hippolyta is worried that her mother seems tired and is obviously taking the patent medicine. Her sister waspishly decries the treatment and the following of Gilead from spa to spa.

I love these stories. I love the time and the setting, early in the 1800s. Hippolyta is a great character, young, intelligent, yet in the face of parental overwhelmingness (new word?) she’s unsure of herself. We toss around the suspects, she and the reader, until in the very final pages we can see what’s been happening and how we’ve allowed ourselves to be misled. A really gripping story I had to pull myself away from in order to eat!

Saturday 7 January 2017

Faith Mortimer

Another cracker from Faith Mortimer. She gets into people's heads!

My review - 

After fighting to free herself from an abusive relationship, Gillian escapes abroad and finds a job on a yacht owned by the wealthy Harry. She’s later offered the opportunity to take a peaceful break on Harry’s private island, which she leaps at. She’s in for far more than she could have guessed.

This book is a roller-coaster, taking both Gill’s hopes and fears, and those of the readers, on a breath-taking adventure. There are some heart-in-mouth situations and you’ll find yourself wanting to shout at some of the characters for their actions or attitudes. I didn’t guess the stunning outcome but the story whipped me along in its wake. A great read.

I received a review copy of Paradise Prison.

Tuesday 3 January 2017

Lexie Conyngham

An old favourite author with a brand new series. Don't you just love it when that happens? 

My review -

Hippolyta Napier, the heroine of this new series by mystery author Lexie Conyngham, comes to Ballater as the new wife of Patrick, one of the doctors in the little spa town. She comes across two bodies, those of Colonel Verney and his manservant, when calling upon the colonel’s niece with a view to a sketching expedition. She takes it upon herself to solve the mystery. Her suspicions, before she finds the answer, range widely.

In some ways Hippolyta reminded me of Jane Austen’s Emma, intelligent and insistent upon doing things her own way. She’s young and enthusiastic and positive that she knows best. As always with this author, the characterisation is spot on and the story involved and intriguing. I didn’t guess! Some writers’ books are as comfortable as your favourite outfit and I’m pleased to say that, though I’ve been a great fan of the Murray of Letho series, I’m becoming a huge fan of the resourceful Mrs Napier. A great read and a good start for the new series.

Monday 2 January 2017

Sherry Mayes

A new author to me, but based on this, a good one!

Amazon.com link

My review -

Jody Angel Taylor is eighteen and lives in a small American town with her parents. She’s bright, very pretty and the height of her ambition is to marry early and have a family, as her mother did. Her mom is keen that she enter (and win) pageants and beauty contests, which she does with huge success. Then her world is rocked to the foundations when her car is forced off the road by a truck, she’s critically injured and told she’ll never walk again.

The author really gets into the head of a teenager here, and I believe it was based on a true story. Jody has to accept that her friends valued her as the successful and pretty beauty queen she was, and without that, they drop her. We are all, at least in part, the product of our own imagination and ego, and when that is taken away from us, we have the difficult, and seemingly hopeless, task of building ourselves back up into people we can be proud to be. After her accident, Jody sees other parts of what was her ‘perfect life’ begin to fall apart at the seams. She finds one or two people who enable her to see her potential, even with legs that don’t work. This is both entertaining and thought-provoking and a great story.