I am a huge fan of this series which features the down to earth Dr Ruth Galloway and the surprisingly complex DCI Harry Nelson so I was thrilled to be asked to be part of the Blog Tour to celebrate the publication of The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths, the ninth book in the series which was published on 23 February 2017.
To kick off the tour I give you my humble opinion of this great book!
Another outing for Ruth Galloway and this time the action is firmly set in Norwich when bones are found in an underground tunnel under Guildhall, which is something of an inconvenience for Quentin Swain the architect who is looking to use the space to build a swanky restaurant. Ruth overcomes her dislike of enclosed spaces to take a trip below the city to take a look; she’s fairly sure that they are old bones so sends them off to be tested.
Meanwhile the police are investigating the disappearance of a homeless woman, Babs in Norwich who has disappeared without trace. Eddie who has made the police station his bedroom, has reported her missing and it is clear when the police starts talking to the other members of the community, that they are worried about her too, but many are cautious of the police. And then a housewife goes missing in very suspicious circumstances and the police are forced to consider whether there can be a link to Babs.
I have to say that this book treats the subject of homelessness with far more nuance than any other that I’ve read. Elly Griffiths has given each of the many men, and they usually are men, a realistic story of how they came to be on the street, and why they are unwilling to accept the help offered to them but she has resisted the urge to make them all out to be saints which means that her attempts to make them realistic characters is so much more effective.
One of the many aspects of this series which I love is the link between Ruth and DI Nelson through their daughter Kate and the peek behind their working lives into what can only fairly be described as muddled. These insights leak around the side of the main investigation, never overwhelming it but often cleverly linking or echoing the themes.
In this book Kate is offered the part in a play. Ruth isn’t too sure whether this is a good idea but a few words from her mother and outright disapproval from Nelson means that Kate winds up playing the child Alice in a quirky adaption of that famous story called Alice Underground. The adult Alice being played by Cassandra wife of DS Clough.
The other aspect I really enjoy is that upon opening up the latest in the series I feel like I’m meeting old friends with the characters, distinct and engaging as ever, we had plenty of news to catch up on while underground tunnels were being searched and pits opening up in the road are causing chaos in Norwich. Ruth Galloway also links back to past books with little asides so this really is one of those series which is best read in order although there is a helpful who’s who guide at the back of the book for those of you reckless readers who are happy to dive in straight at book nine!
The familiarity of the characters alongside the first person narrative really make me feel that I am part of the book. So I know what’s going on and I can often predict the individual character’s response, but the plotting is so devious that I am no match for the detectives, I am merely on the side lines waiting for them to crack the case in indomitable style.
Although to be honest there isn’t one of these books that I haven’t enjoyed, the plotting in this one seemed tauter and the links more robust than some of the previous books. When you combine the excellent mystery with some intriguing personal lives and a look at a community which rarely has an accurate spotlight trained on it whilst seamlessly providing the history of the underground tunnels in Norwich, The Chalk Pit was a sure fire winner.
Another week and another the lovely Emma from damppebbles spotted my name in the paperback release of Little Bones by Sam Blake. There is something exceptionally thrilling to seeing your words quoted, so thank you Bonnier for picking my review!
This Week on the Blog
A busy one with four reviews posted starting with my thoughts on My Sweet Revenge by Jane Fallon, the book that accompanied me on my travels a couple of weeks back.
My excerpt post this week was for Quieter Than Killing by Sarah Hilary, the fourth in the London Detective Inspector Marnie Rome series.
On Wednesday I outlined my fabulous line-up of books for the week which included Agatha Christie, Denise Mina and Jane Casey – if nothing else it has been a fantastic book week!
A tiger mum was the subject matter of my second review of the week in The Trophy Child by Paula Daly, although whichever subject she choses to spin a story around, this author is always a hit with me.
Then came a five star review for The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell, If you haven’t read this book, you really should which is definitely my best choice for the Mount TBR Challenge yet, although once again I am fighting the urge the second book she wrote to the TBR!
Last up review wise was my thoughts on The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie, a collection of linked short stories posed as a problem with Miss Marple. This was another book read as part of the TBR Challenge which is currently on track with 6 books read and reviewed by the end of February!
This Time Last Year…
I was reading a Non-Fiction book about the last woman hanged in New South Wales which sparked my interest in poisoning as a murder weapon. Last Woman Hanged by Caroline Overington wasn’t just about the crime and punishment though the links were made to the woman’s movement which was behind a valiant attempt to have Louisa Collin’s sentence commuted.
If you’d like to you can read my full review here or click on the book cover.
Darlinghurst Gaol and the last woman hanged in New South Wales. Both of Louisa’s husbands had died suddenly and the Crown, convinced that Louisa poisoned them with arsenic, put her on trial an extraordinary four times in order to get a conviction, to the horror of many in the legal community. Louisa protested her innocence until the end.
Much of the evidence against Louisa was circumstantial. Some of the most important testimony was given by her only daughter, May, who was just 10-years-old when asked to take the stand. Louisa Collins was hanged at a time when women were in no sense equal under the law – except when it came to the gallows. They could not vote or stand for parliament – or sit on juries. Against this background, a small group of women rose up to try to save Louisa’s life, arguing that a legal system comprised only of men – male judges, all-male jury, male prosecutor, governor and Premier – could not with any integrity hang a woman. The tenacity of these women would not save Louisa but it would ultimately carry women from their homes all the way to Parliament House. Amazon
Stacking The Shelves
This week I have gained a copy of The Housekeeper by Suellen Dainty which is already available in eBook but will be published in paperback on 9 March 2017.
“I am the housekeeper, the hired help with a messy past who cleans up other people’s messy lives, the one who protects their messy little secrets.”
When Anne Morgan’s successful boyfriend, (who also happens to be her boss), leaves her for another woman, Anne finds herself in desperate need of a new job and a quiet place to recover. Meanwhile, her celebrity idol, Emma Helmsley, is in need of a housekeeper, an opportunity which seems too good to be true.
Through her books, website, and blog, Emma Helmsley advises her devoted followers on how to live a balanced life. Her husband, Rob, is a high profile academic and her children, Jake and Lily, are well-adjusted teenagers. On the surface, they are the perfect family. But Anne soon finds herself intimately ensconced in the Helmsley’s dirty laundry, both literally and figuratively. Underneath the dust, grime and whimsical clutter, everyone has a secret to hide and Anne’s own disturbing past threatens to unhinge everything.
For fans of Notes on a Scandal and The Woman Upstairs, The Housekeeper is a nuanced and nail-biting psychological thriller about the dark recesses of the human mind and the dangerous consequences of long-buried secrets. Amazon
I was also approved on NetGalley to read The Escape by C.L. Taylor which will be published on 23 March 2017. I have read all of this author’s previous books and I’m really looking forward to this one.
“Look after your daughter’s things. And your daughter…”
When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn’t. The stranger knows Jo’s name, she knows her husband Max and she’s got a glove belonging to Jo’s two year old daughter Elise.
What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo’s own husband turn against her. No one believes that Elise is in danger.
But Jo knows there’s only one way to keep her child safe – RUN. NetGalley
I also already had, but hadn’t featured a copy of The People at Number 9 by Felicity Everett which is out in April 2017.
‘Have you met them yet, the new couple?’
When Gav and Lou move into the house next door, Sara spends days plucking up courage to say hello. The neighbours are glamorous, chaotic and just a little eccentric. They make the rest of Sara’s street seem dull by comparison.
When the hand of friendship is extended, Sara is delighted and flattered. Incredibly, Gav and Lou seem to see something in Sara and Neil that they admire too. In no time at all, the two couples are soulmates, sharing suppers, bottles of red wine and childcare, laughing and trading stories and secrets late into the night in one another’s houses.
And the more time Sara spends with Gav and Lou, the more she longs to make changes in her own life. But those changes will come at a price. Soon Gav and Lou will be asking things they’ve no right to ask of their neighbours, with shattering consequences for all of them… NetGalley
A case of historical child sex abuse by a famous doctor is linked to the murder of his young and popular colleague at a summer camp deep in the Essex woods.
A young psychiatric registrar is found beaten to death in the woods close to a summer camp for young patients suffering from eating disorders. It is run by the charismatic, world-renowned Professor Ned Chesham. DI Grace Fisher investigates, but it is not long before she is pulled from the case – to head up a Metropolitan Police review into a cold case involving Chesham himself.
Nearly twenty years ago, one of Chesham’s patients made allegations that he sexually assaulted her. The investigation at the time found no conclusive proof, but Grace soon discovers another victim, and a witness whose account never reached the police. Does this mean the original investigation was bungled? Scotland Yard would certainly like her to conclude otherwise.
As Grace uncovers the lies that led to the young doctor’s murder, she discovers the full extent of the damage done to Chesham’s ‘special girls’ – and the danger they are still in. NetGalley
and finally You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmood a book that captured my attention and my new found enjoyment in court room dramas. You Don’t Know Me is being published by Penguin on 4 May 2017.
An unnamed defendant stands accused of murder.
Just before the Closing Speeches, the young man sacks his lawyer, and decides to give his own defence speech. He tells us that his barrister told him to leave some things out. Sometimes, the truth can be too difficult to explain, or believe. But he thinks that if he’s going to go down for life, he might as well go down telling the truth. There are eight pieces of evidence against him. As he talks us through them one by one, his life is in our hands.
We, the reader – member of the jury – must keep an open mind till we hear the end of his story. His defence raises many questions… but at the end of the speeches, only one matters: Did he do it? NetGalley
What have you found to read this week?
Since my last post I’ve read 3 books and gained just 2 – although I found a missing book from the TBR list while another 2 were discarded.. so the grand total is 189
Physical Books – 111
Kindle Books – 65
NetGalley Books – 13
So after finally allowing Miss Marple into my life just last year with Murder at the Vicarage, I decided to try another book which featured this sharp, yet elderly spinster of St Mary Mead. What I didn’t quite appreciate was that The Thirteen Problems wasn’t really the second book in the series as denoted by Goodreads but a collection of linked, but essentially short stories, featuring the accidental detective.
The collection starts with The Tuesday Night club held at Miss Marple’s house where each of the six friends, including Miss Marpe’s nephew, Raymond West, the Vicar, Dr Pender, Former Scotland Yard Commissioner Sir Henry Clithering, an artist, Joyce Lempriere and the solicitor Mr Petherick gather round while Miss Marple knits and they discuss a seemingly unsolvable problem which only they know the answer to. Amazingly, because I really doubt I could find one friend, let alone six, to come up with a mystery of this standard, they all have a story to tell.
Dr Henry Clithering kicks things off with a dastardly plot complete with poison where three people ate the poisoned food but only one died.
Raymond recounts his tale of Ingots of Gold complete with Cornish smugglers and a ship wreck.
Joyce’s tale is also set in Cornwall and features a missing woman and a mysterious puddle of blood on the pavement
Dr Pender recounts an odd fancy dress party where one of the guests is stabbed through the heart in front of witnesses but no-one knows how or where the weapon went.
The legal man Mr Petherick has a tale which involves spiritualists and a will made in their favour – another taxing mystery as who would want to alter a will made in their favour.
Miss Marple’s own tale is probably my favourite in the whole book and not only because it features poison but a play on words.
It is a whole year later before the second set of six mysteries are heard at a dinner party held by Colonal Arthur Bantry and his wife Dolly in St Mary’s Mead. The dinner party also has Sir Henry Clithering in attendance along with, actress Jane Helier and Dr Lloyd ( a doctor of medicine this time) and of course Miss Marple herself.
Arthur Bantry has a spooky tale of mediums and ghosts appearing to an anxious woman in the Blue Geranuium
Dr Lloyd’s story is set in the glamorous location of Gran Canaria and a drowning he happened upon.
Sir Henry Clithering’s tale is in part philosophical on the harm of being a suspect with no way of proving your innocence. His tale had four men one of whom must have committed murder but with no obvious solution all remained suspects.
Spousal murder is Miss Marple’s contribution is set in a hydro spa where the sharp-eyed spinster is convinced murder is about to be committed but could she stop it in time?
More poison, this time from foxglove leaves from Dolly who recounted this domestic murder which seemed one that was likely to backfire onto the perpetrator.
The final dinner party story is from Jane Helier who tells a muddled tale of her ‘friend’ and a burgled bungalow that tends towards the preposterous. Even better Jane doesn’t have a solution but all becomes clear in Miss Marple’s whispered response to her problem.
Finally we have a lone tale where Miss Marple approaches Sir Henry Clithering some months later when he is visiting the Bantry’s again. This time the mystery is firmly local with a young girl having drowned whilst in the family way. Miss Marple is convinced it is murder and not suicide and needs Sir Henry to insert himself in the local police investigation to ensure justice is done.
There were some very clever stories in the mix but I have to be honest, I prefer a full length tale and thirteen murderous plots from a small number of people l began to feel a little contrived.
First Published UK: 1932
No of Pages: 228
Genre: Short Stories Amazon UK Amazon US
The Other Typist is Rose’s tale we hear of her life working as a typist in a Police Precinct in Brooklyn, her shared room in a Boarding House with the room divided by a curtain, the other half containing a woman who Rose possibly dislikes, but definitely feels superior to. In 1920s Brooklyn the Prohibition period is in force and the Police Commander has decided that his force should be arresting those running the latest speakeasy which has popped up and then melt away around the city.
Enter Odile, a beautiful graceful creature, one with bags of sophistication, beautiful clothes and an easy manner. Odile is the ‘other typist’ the newest to join the typing pool. Rose is instantly both bewitched and disapproving of Odile, well that is until Odile decides to befriend her which leads to a chain of events that Rose could never have predicted.
The two girls become friends and moving from typing up the statements and sometimes confessions of the local gangsters and crooks, the girls attend the very speakeasy the police force they work for are supposed to be bringing to justice. There is a real sense of place and time in The Other Typist. I could quite have easily joined them on a night out in a beaded dress and sipping the champagne cocktails which were strictly prohibited. I think the secret locations with passwords required to gain entry would only make a night of partying with the select few who were in the know all the more alluring.
Rose narrates her story with a distinctive voice. We hear that Rose was an orphan, who was bought up by nuns but clearly a clever girl; she was one of the lucky ones who got an education. She is so obviously Odile’s inferior on the social scale but Rose has a sense of superiority that outweighs, well nearly, these facts. Indeed Rose’s narrative strongly reminded me of Barbara Covett in Zoe Heller’s novel What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal, both require a different label to ‘unreliable narrator’ I suggest ‘nebulous narrator’ is a far more accurate description as even at the end of the book, it was hard to separate the facts from the fiction. Rose’s sense of superiority is an overriding feature of her narrative style, and yet there is a sense that she realises that this is unfounded at times, all of which should make her unlikeable to her reader, but it didn’t, I felt a certain amount of fondness for this spiky young woman. Of course there are a number of other characters who have their parts to play but it must be remembered that all of these characters are viewed through Rose’s eyes, and Rose is only really watching one person, Odile.
Fairly early on in the book we learn that Rose is recounting her story from a hospital and so we get some sense of where the ending might lie, but the fun is entirely in the journey. So we follow Rose to work where she admires the Sergeant but isn’t quite so sure about the Lieutenant. Where she types faster than anyone else, naturally without making any mistakes. A life where she is able to judge how a particular interview will play out and yet she melts into the background where the police, all men of course, go about getting their confessions. We watch as her certainties about right and wrong unravel under Odile’s influence as she whirls around the dance floor with the latest contraband cocktail in hand until life whirls a little bit too fast and the wheels come off.
This was a superb story, even more so when you consider that this is the author’s debut novel and it was one which had me completely entranced with an ending has had me pondering for a good few days now. If like me you had this lingering on some TBR list of one description or another, don’t delay pull it out and read it!
First Published UK: 2013
Publisher: Allison & Fig Tree
No of Pages: 369
Genre: Historical Fiction – Psychological Amazon UK Amazon US
Bronte is just ten years old but she has a punishing schedule of piano classes, harp lessons and because her mother Karen Bloom is worried about the way she reads aloud, she also needs to fit in some drama classes to help that out. Of course she also has extra homework to ensure that she excels in every subject, but things in the Bloom household hide more than the obvious maternal pushing of Karen.
Noel Bloom is a doctor who seems to also be keen on alcohol, or maybe this is a mask for avoiding his home life aka known as Karen. Noel had left his first wife Jennifer when Karen became pregnant with Bronte. Jennifer now lives in a nursing home due to her MS which means that Noel’s first daughter Verity, now a feisty teenager lives with him too. Oh and there is Karen’s son from a previous relationship, a relationship she doesn’t want to discuss. Ewan now in his late teens is something of a disappointment to Karen and she is determined that Bronte will be far more successful.
So far so good, we have all met a Karen, a woman who imagines that the other mothers are lazy and misguided, a woman the is focussed on getting the best for her daughter no matter the cost. Then something happens which turns everything on its head and life for the Bloom family will never be the same again!
Paula Daly is at her best when she is creating characters we love to hate. She has made Karen a figure that can’t be pitied, so what emotions are left? She is also far better than many writers at creating convincing characters of the children. Although for a good part of the book Ewan was only partially visible, he too comes into his own later on, with a convincing performance that works to round the stereotypical view painted by his mother of a no-hoper.
As the plot begins to unfold the cracks in the family really begin to show and with each member taking a stance, I wouldn’t want to have lived there as they circled and protected in equal measure. Because underneath the plotline this is a story about relationships too. Modern blended families provide a wealth of complex bonds, that between Verity and Bronte being my favourite of the entire book. Two sisters who have had very different upbringings, have different aptitudes and different mothers are nonetheless siblings.
But best of all this book features the return of DS Joanne Aspinall, one of my favourite characters who first appeared in Just What Kind of Mother Are You? And she has a much larger part to play this time. She is running an investigation that involves the entire Bloom family, and she will get her answers. She also provides much of the witticisms that appear in The Trophy Child which despite the seriousness of the subject, gives the book a real jaunty feeling at times.
All in all a totally compelling read which had me engrossed, madly guessing the outcome from the very first page, all whilst giving me the impression that I was part of the investigation, if only I could sort out those red herrings from the clues that gave the answers. How did I do? Pretty badly, as usual although I had one strand cracked early on, Paula Daly was just far too wily for this amateur detective.
I would like to thank the publishers Grove Atlantic for giving me a copy of The Trophy Child. This review is my thank you to them and the incredibly talented Paula Daly.
First Published UK: 26 January 2017
Publisher: Bantam Press
No of Pages: 352
Genre: Psychological Thriller Amazon UK Amazon US
I’ve just started The Long Drop by Denise Mina which is due to be published on 2 March 2017. The story is based upon Peter Manual, a killer in 1950’s Glasgow
William Watt wants answers about his family’s murder. Peter Manuel has them. But Peter Manuel is a liar.
William Watt is an ordinary businessman, a fool, a social climber.
Peter Manuel is a famous liar, a rapist, a criminal. He claims he can get hold of the
gun used to murder Watt’s family.
One December night in 1957, Watt meets Manuel in a Glasgow bar to find out what he knows.
Based on true events, The Long Drop is an extraordinarily unsettling, evocative and compelling novel from a writer at the height of her powers. NetGalley
I have just finished The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie another one to add to my Mount TBR Challenge as this story featuring Miss Marple was plucked from my own bookshelf.
The Tuesday Night Club is a venue where locals challenge Miss Marple to solve recent crimes…
One Tuesday evening a group gathers at Miss Marple’s house and the conversation turns to unsolved crimes…
The case of the disappearing bloodstains; the thief who committed his crime twice over; the message on the death-bed of a poisoned man which read ‘heap of fish’; the strange case of the invisible will; a spiritualist who warned that ‘Blue Geranium’ meant death…
Now pit your wits against the powers of deduction of the ‘Tuesday Night Club’. Amazon
Next I’m planning to read Let The Dead Speak by Jane Casey which is going to be published on 9 March 2017 which seems to be a busy day in the world of book publishing.
When eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns to her West London home she finds her mother missing, the house covered in blood. Everything points to murder, except for one thing: there’s no sign of the body.
London detective Maeve Kerrigan and the homicide team turn their attention to the neighbours. The ultra-religious Norrises are acting suspiciously; their teenage daughter and Chloe Emery definitely have something to hide. Then there’s William Turner, once accused of stabbing a schoolmate and the neighborhood’s favorite criminal. Is he merely a scapegoat, or is there more behind the charismatic facade?
As a body fails to materialize, Maeve must piece together a patchwork of testimonies and accusations. Who is lying, and who is not? And soon Maeve starts to realize that not only will the answer lead to Kate Emery, but more lives may hang in the balance. Goodreads
Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.
My opening paragraph this week comes from an author whose books really do have their finger on the pulse of modern life while not forgetting that the reader needs to have more than an issue to hang their hat on – Quieter Than Killing by Sarah Hilary.
Sometimes staying silent is the only way to survive.
You only ever ask that. Why did I do it? You never ask what they did.’
The winter cold is biting, and a series of assaults is pulling DI Marnie Rome and DS Noah Jake out into the frosty, mean streets of London far more than they’d like. The attacks seem random, but when Marnie’s family home is ransacked, there are signs that the burglary can have only been committed by a child – and someone who knows all about her. It will take a prison visit to her foster brother, Stephen, to help Marnie see the connections – and to force both her and Noah to face the truth about the creeping, chilling reaches of a troubled upbringing. For how can a damaged child really leave their past behind them? NetGalley
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro
Six years ago
He’s washing the car – slapping water, sloppy. She’s in the kitchen, cutting. Not meat and not bread, something that chunks under the knife. Carrots, or onions. The sounds soak up through the house to where Stephen is sitting in the room with the red wall.
Her room. The shelf over the bed is full of her things. Books and pictures, and the dark blue box with its snarl of bracelets. His favourite is the horseshoe charm, silver, curved like a half-finished heart. He wears it under the sleeve of his pyjamas, in bed. They said they’d put her things away into the attic if he wanted but he said no, he didn’t mind. He likes looking at her things, it makes him feel safe. He sleeps with her books weighted around him like stones.
This is a light read which was much appreciated and what more appealing subject than laughing at a hapless, and dare I say it, self-opinionated man, whose wife has become invisible to him after twenty odd years of marriage?
I loved Paula, a slightly overweight woman, who had aspirations to be an actress when she first met Robert but those dreams were put on hold whilst he pursued his acting ambitions and she stayed at home and looked after the baby. She’d been fooled by the ‘I’ll concentrate on my career first and then it will be your turn’ line and of course, it had never been her turn.
Paula’s baby is now about to leave for university and Paula has a part-time job in a coffee shop when she unwittingly spies a text on Robert’s phone that has only one conclusion. Robert is having an affair with one of his fellow cast members on the popular TV drama Farmer Giles.
I can safely confirm that Jane Fallon is back on form with this funny novel detailing how Paula is going to take her revenge. There are laughs to be had at everyday life that we all share – how is it that a novice running for a bus means you’re not stared at (or laughed at) while donning fitness gear and attempting to do it properly means that all heads swivel towards you? Robert’s role on a long running drama – think of a racier version of The Archers on TV, also has plenty to quip about as does the other woman’s penchant for hot yoga! Paula’s method for revenge is inspired although somewhat ambitious and also leads to some somewhat awkward situations.
All of this might give the impression that what happens is predictable, but it isn’t, the author has managed to create some creative twists in the tale which added a great deal of pleasure and apprehension to the plot. Despite no lives being at risk, just hearts, there were some truly cringe worthy moments for me to chuckle at.
The storyline flows and Paula had my sympathy because she wasn’t too whiny about finding out the truth – I know that in ‘real life’ this isn’t particularly likely but it was refreshing to read a book where she missed the self-pitying stage almost instantly and moved straight on with a plan! How refreshing to read a book that isn’t full of the misery of human nature but one which allowed me to laugh at the absurd way we humans often behave whilst sharing some of the less than charitable thoughts that I have about some types of character, their pastimes and ambitions from time to time! She may have been cheated on but it would take far more than that to beat Paula. My Sweet Revenge moves at quite a pace with never a dull moment with even the seemingly benign domestic scenes taking in the truths of life which made them easy to recreate in the mind’s eye.
The perfect book to relax with, a good holiday read, or honestly a book to pick up and read wherever you fancy – in my case on a plane, in a car, on a train and of course my favourite place, tucked up in bed.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to the publishers Penguin UK who gave me a copy of My Sweet Revenge. My unbiased review is my thanks to them and the hugely entertaining Jane Fallon.
First Published UK: 12 January 2017
No of Pages: 416
Genre: Contemporary Fiction Amazon UK Amazon US
I didn’t post a wrap up last week as I had gone away on a little jaunt, firstly to London where I met up with Bibliobeth to attend a Book Blogger event organised by Headline books – I had a great evening, had long chats with publicist Georgina Moore (Chief Communications Officer) and authors: Julia Crouch, Alison Weir, Colette McBeth, Amanda Reynolds and Adele Parks as well as some other bloggers – this goes some way to explaining some of the recent additions to my TBR. I had a fantastic evening.
From there I made a trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon where unfortunately the great Bard was fairly silent but myself and my oldest (in that we’ve been friends the longest) friend had a wonderful weekend catching up and having fun. I then made a trip to Malvern to visit relatives before making it back to Jersey via a Post Office so I could send my books home as they wouldn’t fit in my carry-on case!
This Week on the Blog
Well I’m going back to the week before because I simply have to feature my review of He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly which is my favourite read of the year so far. A story of a coupling interrupted in 1999 leads to a court case with a young man charged with rape. What really happened on the day of the solar eclipse that day will have long lasting consequences for all involved.
My extract post this week was from The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurdardottir the first in the Children’s House Series.
My This Week in Books post featured among other’s The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell, another book to count towards my Mount TBR challenge.
On Thursday my first review of the week was for The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer which I enjoyed far more than I would have been expected since it contained strong supernatural elements.
On Friday I posted my review for Sewing the Shadows Together by Alison Baillie. This story of a past murder in Portobello, Edinburgh was then the subject of yesterday’s Put a Book on the Map feature written by Joanne of Portobello Book Blog and Alison Baillie. I’m really enjoying the posts that are the collaboration between the author and book bloggers which really add some context to the books being discussed.
This Time Last Year…
I was reading The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett. This sliding doors novel which has three different versions of a life, kicked off by a student falling off her bike in 1958 was exceptionally well written and one of my favourite novels of last year. Each version of Eva and Jim’s life is full of minor details as well as the bigger events which steer them down different paths which made for a satisfying and enjoyable read.
If you click on the cover you can read my full review
What if you had said yes . . . ?
Eva and Jim are nineteen, and students at Cambridge, when their paths first cross in 1958. Jim is walking along a lane when a woman approaching him on a bicycle swerves to avoid a dog. What happens next will determine the rest of their lives. We follow three different versions of their future – together, and apart – as their love story takes on different incarnations and twists and turns to the conclusion in the present day.
The Versions of Us is an outstanding debut novel about the choices we make and the different paths that our lives might follow. What if one small decision could change the rest of your life? Amazon
Stacking the Shelves
So back to the wonderful Headline Book Blogger event where I picked up a much wanted copy of An Act of Silence by Colette McBeth which is due out in June 2017, which Colette kindly signed for me.
These are the facts I collect.
My son Gabriel met a woman called Mariela in a bar. She went home with him where they had sex. They next morning she was found in an allotment.
Mariela is dead.
Gabriel has been asked to report to Camden Police station in six hours for questioning
Linda Moscow: loving mother to Gabriel. Linda promised herself years ago that she would never let her son down again. Even if it means going against everything she believes in – she will do anything to protect him. She owes him that much.
Gabriel Miller: the prodigal son. He only ever wanted his mother’s love, but growing up he always seemed to do the wrong thing. If his mother could only see the bad in him – how could he possibly be good?
How far will a mother go to save her son? Linda’s decision might save Gabriel, but it will have a catastrophic impact on the lives of others. What would you do if faced with the same impossible choice? Amazon
After having a wonderful chat with Amanda Reynolds I was delighted that she signed my copy of Close to Me which will be out in April 2017.
When Jo Harding falls down the stairs at home, she wakes up in hospital with partial amnesia – she’s lost a whole year of memories.
A lot can happen in a year. Was Jo having an affair? Lying to her family? Starting a new life?
She can’t remember what she did – or what happened the night she fell.
But she’s beginning to realise she might not be as good a wife and mother as she thought. Amazon
Bibliobeth bought me her spare copy of Girls On Fire by Robin Wasserman which is due out in May 2017
This is not a story of bad things happening to bad girls. I say this because I know you, Dex, and I know how you think.
I’m going to tell you a story, and this time, it will be the truth.
Hannah Dexter is a nobody, ridiculed and isolated at school by golden girl Nikki Drummond. But in their junior year of high school, Nikki’s boyfriend walks into the woods and shoots himself. In the wake of the suicide, Hannah befriends new girl Lacey and soon the pair are inseparable, bonded by their shared hatred of Nikki.
Lacey transforms good girl Hannah into Dex who is up for any challenge Lacey throws at her. The two girls bring their combined wills to bear on the community in which they live and think they are invulnerable.
But Lacey has a secret, about life before her better half, and it’s a secret that will change everything . . . Amazon
In the post I was delighted to receive Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton – one of my favourite authors which is being published on 20 April 2017.
Just before dawn in the hills near the Scottish border, a man murders a young woman. At the same time, a hot-air balloon crashes out of the sky. There’s just one survivor.
She’s seen the killer’s face – but he’s also seen hers. And he won’t rest until he’s eliminated the only witness to his crime.
Alone, scared, trusting no one, she’s running to where she feels safe – but it could be the most dangerous place of all . . . Amazon
From NetGalley I was delighted to be given a copy of Let the Dead Speak by Jane Casey which is out next month – and it features Meave and Josh!!
When an 18-year-old girl returns home to find her house covered in blood and her mother missing, Detective Maeve Kerrigan and the murder squad must navigate a web of lies to discover the truth…
When eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns to her West London home she finds Kate, her mother, missing and the house covered in blood. There may not be a body, but everything else points to murder.
Maeve Kerrigan is young, ambitious and determined to prove she’s up to her new role as detective sergeant. In the absence of a body, she and maverick detective Josh Derwent turn their attention to the neighbours.
The ultra-religious Norrises are acting suspiciously; their teenage daughter definitely has something to hide. Then there’s William Turner, once accused of stabbing a schoolmate and the neighbourhood’s favourite criminal. Is he merely a scapegoat or is there more behind the charismatic façade? As the accusations fly, Maeve must piece together a patchwork of conflicting testimonies, none of which quite add up. Who is lying, who is not? The answer could lead them to the truth about Kate Emery, and save the life of someone else. NetGalley
Surprisingly I have more books added to the TBR which will be revealed next week…
What have you found to read this week?
Since my last post I’ve read 6 books and gained 10!! so the grand total is 192
Physical Books – 115
Kindle Books – 65
NetGalley Books – 12
I am thrilled to welcome Joanne who blogs at Portobello Book Blog and Alison Baillie author of Sewing the Shadows Together to put a book on the map in the suburb of Portobello, Edinburgh, Scotland. Joanne and Alison have taken the role of interviewer and interviewee to bring Portobello to life – they have kindly provided all the wonderful photos that accompany this piece.
Sewing the Shadows Together gives us the beautiful setting of a seaside suburb of Edinburgh, Portobello, as the backdrop of a horrible crime, that of the murder of a young teenage girl, Shona McIver.
Can the mystery of who killed her possibly be solved more than thirty years later? Tom, Shona’s brother, hopes so having heard that the man who committed the crime is to be released from hospital which coincides with his return from South Africa to scatter his mother’s ashes and to attend a school reunion.
Portobello is a coastal suburb of Edinburgh the capital of Scotland. This residential area has a promenade stretching between Joppa and Craigentinny.
Without further ado I will hand over to Joanne and Alison.
Hi Alison – when I first heard about your book, I knew I just had to read it as it’s not just set in Edinburgh, but right here in Portobello where I live! What made you decide to set the book here?
Portobello, the beautiful seaside area of Edinburgh, is where my mother was born and brought up. As a child I spent all my holidays here with my grandparents so it has always been a very special place for me. I love the long golden beach, the promenade running along it and the grey-stone Victorian villas. Later my first teaching post was at Portobello High School and it was then that the idea for Sewing the Shadows Together first came to me.
Thanks Alison – I know that you were inspired (if that’s theright word) by really awful events which took place in and around Edinburgh. Can you explain about that and say a bit more about what the book’s about?
Yes, Joanne. Around that time there were two tragic events that made a lasting impression on me. Firstly, in 1977 two seventeen-year-old girls disappeared from the World’s End pub on Edinburgh’s Roval Mile. I knew this place well as it was near Moray House College where I had done my teacher training. The bodies of the girls were found a few days later, but the identity of the murderers was not discovered for many years. This uncertainty and lack of closure had a devastating effect on the families, and I think every young person in Edinburgh at that time felt very aware of the crime. It could have been any one of us who went out for a drink on a Friday night.
Then in July 1983 something happened in Portobello that affected me deeply. A five-year-old girl disappeared while playing on the prom. Her body wasn’t found until twelve days later, three hundred miles away. She was one of the victims of the serial killer, Robert Black. Even though I didn’t know the family, I could identify with them so much as my sons were about the same age and we often played on the beach near the place where she disappeared.
In the days before she was found the atmosphere in Portobello was charged with fear and bewilderment. The whole town was on edge, desperately hoping the little girl would be found. Rumours and suspicions ran through the community, and even my granny’s garden and shed were searched by the police, I will never forget that mixture of hope and apprehension before the body was discovered.
I wondered then how her family and friends would ever be able to come to terms with what had happened. And so the seeds of Sewing the Shadows Together were sown. In it the lives of Tom, the brother, and Sarah, the best friend, of a teenage girl murdered in Portobello are scarred by the tragedy for their whole lives. They meet up again at a school reunion many years later and when the local misfit who’d been convicted of the crime is proved innocent, suspicions fall on family and friends. They discover dark secrets before the real killer is eventually revealed.
I remember being in holiday in the Borders then and the police searching the river for the missing Portobello girl. I didn’t live here then: I lived in Leith. Both places have a really strong sense of community. When you and I were first in touch we realised we knew a lot of people in common in Portobello. That sense of community is one of the reasons I love living here. Do you have a favourite place in Portobello?
The sense of community is very strong in Portobello, and it is one of the reasons I loved it, especially as a child. My grandparents had both been born and brought up in Portobello, so they seemed to know everybody and we had relatives on every corner. My grandfather was very sociable and it took ages to walk along the High Street with him as he stopped to tip his hat and greet everyone we met. I loved walking round with my grandmother too as she could talk about the history, the long-gone pier, the ice-cream parlours and the first family to have a motor-car.
My favourite places have to be the beach and the prom. When I go back to Portobello now I always walk there, looking across the Firth of Forth to Fife and smelling the sea air. Sewing the Shadows Together starts with Tom coming back to Portobello and walking along the prom and for him like me the place is full of memories, such as the red-stone swimming baths where we learnt to swim.
Another favourite place has to be my grandparents’ house in St Mary’s Place, a quiet street not far from the prom. I loved it, a typical grey-stone Victorian villa, which I used for HJ Kidd’s house in the book. It was a very short walk down James Street to the beach and when I go back to Portobello I always walk down from there to the prom as I did as a child. My grandmother had lived in one of the red-stone tenements on the corner of James Street and the prom when she was young, and I used that flat for Tom’s childhood home. Just writing about this takes me back to this place I love.
Yes I love the prom too. I walked along the beach this morning and even though it was dull and a bit misty, it was still beautiful as the sea was so calm and peaceful. When I was reading Sewing the Shadows Together, I couldn’t help but notice that some of the geography wasn’t quite as it should be and some places had different names. Why did you decide to do that?
I wanted to capture the atmosphere of Portobello, rather than be strictly geographically accurate. I also didn’t want to the scene of tragic events, for example where the body was found, to be too recognisable. I therefore invented an imaginary park, moved buildings to fit in with the story and changed the names of institutions, like the school, because they were not true to life.
Well I think you did an excellent job of making Portobello a character in itself in your book. As you know, I really enjoyed Sewing the Shadows together. If anyone would like to read my review you can read it here
Now don’t forget to hop over to see Susan The Book Trail to see the details of the book setting on her wonderful map.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to both Joanne and Alison for this wonderful post which I had a sneak preview of before recently reading Sewing the Shadows Together. It is wonderful to see the pictures, to read the inspiration behind the story and of course read the book itself which is my favourite type of crime fiction, one that brings the past and the present together.
All books featured in this #BookOnTheMap project will get a place on the Master Page listing crime fiction by their destination with links to the wonderful collaboration between authors and bloggers.
Please email me at email@example.com if you would like to participate in this feature.