First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (November 24)

First Chapter

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 this week comes from Dead Centre by Joan Lock which appealed to my love of history and crime fiction.

Dead Centre


1887, the year of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee.
Trafalgar Square. London.
Unrest has been building for days, the unemployed gathering daily to protest and nightly to sleep.
The police are exhausted by extra duty; blamed for failing to do more to prevent the disorder, they grow increasingly bitter about the protesters’ accusations of brutality.
When a prominent member of one of the new socialist organisations is found dead at the foot of Nelson’s Column, it only adds more fuel to the protesters’ fire.
DI Best and Constable Roberts must juggle competing priorities as they search for the killer and attempt to manage the Trafalgar Square situation.
To make matters worse, Best catches a glimpse of Stark, a man guilty of murder in Whitechapel — the only witness to the crime is Florence Bagnall, Roberts’s fiancé.
As tensions rise and time begins to run out, Best realises that something terrible is about to happen…and that he may be powerless to stop it. NetGalley

~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

Chapter 1

October, 1887.
How long with this go on? wondered Detective Inspector Ernest Best as he contemplated the extraordinary scene before him.
On the ground all across Trafalgar Square lay hundreds of sleeping people: men, women and children. Some were alone more were huddled together for warmth. The October nights were becoming sharper now.
The luckier ones, or those who had got there early enough, or were more sensible, had found refuge in the lee of the sunken square’s eastern parapet or the western walls of the fountain basins which sheltered them a little from the chill north-east wind.

Please note that these excerpts are taken from a proof copy

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Filed under Weekly Posts

Nora Webster – Colm Tóibín

Historical Fiction 4*s

Historical Fiction

At times, unsurprisingly, I found myself struggling with the true portrayal of grief that rolls off the pages of this novel. Nora Webster is forty when we first meet her. Having been a traditional wife, she both fights against and leans into the role of a traditional widow. With her two eldest daughters away studying Nora is reunited with her two young sons, two boys that were looked after by her aunt Josie whilst Nora attended to Maurice during his stay in hospital. It is 1969 and Nora is living on the cusp of a changing world, a world she wasn’t even aware that she wanted to change, after all it was Maurice who was the political one, everyone loved Maurice’s conversation.

‘She wondered now that Maurice was dead if this would change, if she would have to say more’

This is a book, unlike Nora, has a lot to say, but it does so in an almost unobtrusive manner; an author who allows the reader to make the connections through the vignettes of Nora’s life, this being a book that allows us a glimpse of Nora’s life, as well as those of her family, before moving on. It isn’t a book where huge action takes place, rather a lot happens as this family find a new way in a changing world, without Maurice to guide them. So the book details the visitors, the wider family, the day Nora had her hair dyed, the day she sells the holiday home until we are able to build a picture of what life had been like, and what life looks like now. But rest assured, Nora is no wispy character, she can be a formidable opponent and can turn a spiky turn of phrase when necessary!

‘The golf club is a great place for information,’ Nora replied. ‘I’d join it myself if I could play, or if I was nosy enough.’

The story is set in Wexford, Ireland and Maurice had rescued Nora from an unhappy home with a mother who seemingly despised her. When left alone Nora is initially displays the very truisms of grief, wanting to be with people and yet longing for the time when she is left alone:

‘In future, she hoped, fewer people would call. In future, once the boys went to bed, she might have the house to herself more often. She would learn how to spend these hours. In the peace of these winter evenings, she would work out how she was going to live.’

Finding other’s expectation of how a widow should behave, intrusive:

‘And they would stand looking at her until she could not wait to get away from them. There was something hungry in the way they held her hand or looked into their eyes. She wondered if she had ever done that to anybody, and thought that she had not.’

And that was without the practical considerations of how they were to live now that there was little income. Rescue came in the form of her old job, the one she had before Maurice at Gibney’s. Reluctantly Nora goes to work leaving the boys to look after themselves on their return from work until it becomes apparent that this simply isn’t working. It takes Nora some time before she acknowledges that the loss of Maurice has had a massive impact on the two boys – the poignant scenes where they sit in the classroom, learning, the very rooms where they used to meet him after he had finished teaching for the day struggling with the new order of life. A life that isn’t helped because Nora’s grief seems to have disconnected her from her children, she views them and their problems from a distance, mindful of her own mother’s interference in her life, never wondering if this apparent disinterest is just as damaging.

A touching and emotional book, rooted in a specific time with the help of Donal’s obsession with the moon landing as we see Nora learn a new way, a time when she is more involved in the present and finds her own interests including some that she would never have explored if Maurice had live.

I’d like to thank the publishers Viking for giving me a copy of this evocative and insightful novel.


Filed under Books I have read

Reading Bingo for 2015


I had such fun finding books for this challenge last year that I’ve decided to repeat it with books I’ve read in 2015, click on the book covers to read my reviews

A Book With More Than 500 Pages

The Night Watch

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters Despite clocking in at 509 pages, I was bereft when this book finished. A tale told in reverse following three women in three distinct years; 1941, 1944 and 1947. This was an evocative and emotional read as well as being rich in historical detail.


A Forgotten Classic

The Go-Betweeen

I came late to the classic The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley. Told mainly through the eyes of 12 year old Leo Coulston as we go back to the year 1900, the year he got entangled with adult passions. This book with pitch-perfect prose had me longing for the story to never end -but end it did in the most shocking fashion, it is very rare to find a book with both a powerful opening and ending rarer still for the pages in between to be so exquisite.

A Book That Became a Movie

Sadly I have nothing for this box either, a few of the books I’ve read this year are going to be made into films, but not yet.

A Book Published This Year

The Kind Worth Killing

It is no surprise that there were lots of contenders for this square so I have picked a five star read; The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson. This psychological thriller owes a lot to Strangers on a Train, and has a truly cinematic feel to it. You will struggle to find a character to admire in the whole of the 325 pages, but if you are anything like me you will be interested in what makes them tick!

A Book With A Number In The Title

24 Hours by Claire Seeber is a completely compelling psychological thriller, one to be gobbled up with delight. Laurie is desperate to reach her young daughter Polly in this tale told over 24 hours. With the background being presented in the past tense the present tense ramped up the tension as the hour count increases!

A Book Written by Someone Under Thirty

I really don’t know how old the authors are so nothing for this one.

A Book With Non Human Characters

Nothing for this one either

A Funny Book

Although there are a few books I’ve read that could be described as farcical, I haven’t read any intentionally humorous reads this year.

A Book By A Female Author

The Sudden Departrure of the Frasers

The Sudden Departure of the Frasers by Louise Candlish
I had so many to choose from for this category but I settled on an author who was ‘new to me’ until I read this book, despite having a large back catalogue. This book details one young woman’s quest to find out what happened to the previous owners of her beautiful new house…

A Book With A Mystery

Smoke and Mirrors

I had quite a few options for this square too so plumped for the magnificent Smoke and Mirrors by Elly Griffiths whereby Inspector Stephens investigates the mystery of two missing children against the pantomime Aladdin being performed in the seaside town of Brighton in the 1950s.

A Book With A One Word Title


There was little doubt about the choice for this one although I had six (all very good reads) to choose from. Disclaimer by Renée Knight, is one of the best books I’ve read this year A fresh take on the psychological thriller where the truth unfolds slowly and what you thought you believed at first is turned on its head. Having widely recommended this book to others, it has been well-received by all who have read it.

 A Book of Short Stories

In a Word

My collection of short stories is In a Word: Murder edited by Margot Kinberg, this book was published in memory of Maxine Clarke, a well-respected book blogger. Included in the submissions many of the stories revolve around the world of publishing. There really is something for everyone in this collection with all well worth a read.

 Free Square

The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and the Missing Corpse

For my free square this year I have decided to go with the book with the longest title: The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and the Missing Corpse by Piu Marie Eatwell. This non-fiction book examines a court case that started in 1898 when a widow named Anna Maria Druce applied for the exhumation of the grave of her late father-in-law, Thomas Charles Druce. The tale behind this request and the case that rumbled on for a decade is completely fascinating.

A Book Set On A Different Continent

Death in the Rainy Season

Death in the Rainy Season by Anna Jaquiery is set in Cambodia.  I’ve read very little fiction set in Asia, and don’t recall another book set in this country so this seemed like a good choice for this box. Serge Morel is actually on holiday in Cambodia from his native Paris when Hugo Quercy, a French national, is murdered in a hotel room in Phnom Penh. Serge Morel is asked to stay and investigate which gives the reader an insight into how policing works in this country. A good mystery with a multi-layered storyline.

A Book of Non-Fiction

A Fifty Year Silence

My choice for this square is a memoir, and an unusual one at that; A Fifty Year Silence by Miranda Richmond Mouillot follows the author through her childhood memories of her grandparents, two people she didn’t realise had ever been married to each other, and her adult quest to uncover why these Anna and Armand who were Jewish and had been in France at the time of the Second World War, had separated.

The First Book By A Favourite Author

Silent Scream

This author has had her debut, second and third books all published this year, and all three books were awarded five stars by me. Silent Scream by Angela Marsons features DI Kim Stone, a fantastic protagonist, driven seemingly a hard-taskmaster, yet we are shown early on that her team are determined to go the extra mile for her which indicates there is far more to her character. Added to that there are multiple strands to engage the reader along with a satisfying conclusion. What more can a reader ask for?

A Book I Heard About Online

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

Since blogging I find most of my new author finds on-line and this book is one of the many I had to have after reading a review and exchanging comments with a fellow blogger.The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald is a book about friendship, being away from home and to be honest a far sweeter book than my tastes normally run with the saving grace it’s laced with humour, and books, and those books are ones we’ve read, not just the ones we think we should have.

A Best Selling Book

The Girl On The Train

The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins was the must-read book in 2015 for lovers of psychological thrillers, and surprise, surprise I read it and loved it. Rachel has become transfixed by the life of a couple she views through the train window on her way to work. When the woman disappears Rachel fears the worst but she is hampered in her investigations by her dependence on alcohol. A story where the reader is positively encouraged to trust no-one keeps the tension at fever-pitch!

A Book Based Upon A True Story

Dancing for the Hangman

Dancing for the Hangman is Martin Edwards‘ speculation on what really happened at 9 Hilltop Crescent in 1910. History tells us that Hawley Harvey Crippen murdered his wife, Cora and left part of her remains in the basement, a crime that condemned him to be hanged at Pentonville Prison. A fascinating and well-researched book which has made it impossible for me to separate fact from fiction.

A Book At the Bottom Of Your To Be Read Pile

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows had been on my radar ever since it was published in 2007. Shamefully, since it is written about our sister Channel Island, Guernsey, it has taken me all this time to read this epistolary novel about the German Occupation. I loved this book and from what I know of this period of history in Jersey, it was really well-researched, giving an authentic feel to the story inside its cover.

A Book Your Friend Loves

The Shadow Year

My friend loved The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell, and so did I with its dual time line, the past being the 1980s when five university friends decide to occupy a deserted cottage and live self-sufficiently. In the present we meet Lila who is struggling having recently had a still-birth when she is given an anonymous gift. Both time-lines had great stories with realistic characters.

A Book That Scares You

In a Dark Dark Wood

I rarely get scared by a book but In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware raised a few hairs on the back of my neck! Odd because despite the synopsis warning of a hen party, I didn’t expect quite such a nasty tale, it just goes to show that the fiction that closely imitates fact can be far more deadly than rampaging murderers! This is a book to read while safely curled up in the warm while being very grateful you are not holed up in the glass house in the forest with a group of hens!

A Book That Is More Than 10 Years Old

The Whicharts

I decided to pick the oldest book that I’ve read this year, The Whicharts by Noel Streatfeild, her book for adults that was then altered to create the children’s classic Ballet Shoes. I’ll be honest it was weird reading a book I had loved as a child, only to realise it had a far less positive beginning. A  lot of the pleasure of this book was nostalgic rather than based on this rather unpolished debut adult novel. I fear it has tarnished my memory of Ballet Shoes forever though!

The Second Book In A Series

No Other Darkness

No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary is the second in the Marnie Rome series, books which cover important issues in far more depth than is typical of the genre. Two boy’s bodies are found buried in a bunker but who put them there, and why? This author manages the mixture of investigative with the personal live’s of the protagonists just right – definitely a series that I will continue to await with anticipation.

A Book With A Blue Cover

The Hidden Legacy

The Hidden Legacy is the debut novel by G.J. Minett, a book that will challenge you to question important moral questions in an unobtrusive manner. The book starts with one of the most shocking openings I have read this year when an eleven year old boy sets fire to two girls in a school playground back in 1966 but this event will have repercussions through the decades.

How about you? How much of the card could you fill in? Please share!


Filed under Uncategorized

Stacking the Shelves (November 21)

Stacking the shelves

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you’re adding to your shelves, be it buying or borrowing. From ‘real’ books you’ve purchased, a book you’ve borrowed, a book you’ve been given or an e-book they can all be shared.

Mindful of the TBR, and you can see quite how bad this is in this post, I have only added a few books to my pile in the last three weeks!

First up I have a copy of The Darkest Secret by Alex Marwood, whose debut novel The Wicked Girls was a huge hit with me!

The Darkest Secret


Apologies for the general email, but I desperately need your help.
My goddaughter, Coco Jackson, disappeared from her family’s holiday home in Bournemouth on the night of Sunday/Monday August 29/30th, the bank holiday weekend just gone. Coco is three years old.

When identical twin Coco goes missing during a family celebration, there is a media frenzy. Her parents are rich and influential, as are the friends they were with at their holiday home by the sea.
But what really happened to Coco?
Over two intense weekends – the first when Coco goes missing and the second fifteen years later at the funeral of her father – the darkest of secrets will gradually be revealed…
Taut, emotive and utterly compelling, an unputdownable ‘ripped from the headlines’ novel that you will want to talk about with everyone you know. NetGalley

The Darkest Secret will be published on 7 January 2016

I also have a copy of No One Knows by J.T. Ellison because I found the synopsis intriguing and as you all know I am a sucker for a psychological thriller!

No One Knows


The day Aubrey Hamilton’s husband is declared dead by the state of Tennessee should bring closure so she can move on with her life. But Aubrey doesn’t want to move on. She just wants Josh back. It’s been five years since he disappeared, since their blissfully happy marriage—they were happy, weren’t they?—screeched to a halt and Aubrey became the prime suspect in his disappearance. Five years of emptiness, solitude, loneliness, questions. Why didn’t Josh show up at his friend’s bachelor party? Who anonymously sent Aubrey her favorite cocktail at the bar where Josh stood her up? Was he murdered? Did he run away? And now, all this time later, who is the mysterious and strangely familiar figure suddenly haunting her new life?
As her heroine faces the possibility that everything she thinks she knows about herself, her marriage, and her husband is a lie, New York Times bestselling author J.T. Ellison expertly peels back the layers of a complex woman who is hiding dark secrets beneath her unassuming exterior. In a masterful thriller for readers who love Gillian Flynn, Liane Moriarty, and Paula Hawkins, Ellison pulls you into a you’ll-never-guess merry-go-round of danger and deception. Round and round and round it goes, where it stops…no one knows. NetGalley

Publication date for No One Knows is 22 March 2016

And when I spotted Moon In a Dead Eye by Pascal Garnier I simply had to get a copy. Following my review of Boxes by the same author this was widely pronounced by his fans to be his best book.

Moon In a Dead Eye



Given the choice, Martial would not have moved to Les Conviviales. But Odette loved the idea of a brand-new retirement village in the south of France. So that was that. At first it feels like a terrible mistake: they’re the only residents and it’s raining non-stop. Then three neighbours arrive, the sun comes out, and life becomes far more interesting and agreeable. Until, that is, some gypsies set up camp just outside their gated community. NetGalley

I also purchased one e-book, The Bad Things by Mary-Jane Riley, a former BBC Journalist. I came across this book on Postcard Reviews, a blog well worth checking out for as Tracy features some fabulous books, and the review of The Bad Things was so good it made me weaken!

The Bad Things


Alex Devlin’s life changed forever fifteen years ago when her sister Sasha’s two small children were snatched in broad daylight. Little Harry’s body was found a few days later, but Millie’s remains were never discovered.
Now Jackie Wood, jailed as an accessory to the twins’ murder, has been released, her conviction quashed by the Appeal Court. Convinced Jackie can reveal where Millie is buried, Alex goes to meet her.
But the unexpected information Wood reveals shocks Alex to the core and threatens to uncover the dark secret she has managed to keep under wraps for the past fifteen years. Because in the end, can we ever really know what is in the hearts of those closest to us? Goodreads

PicMonkey Collage TBR

So since the 6 November when I counted up the TBR I have read 6 books, discarded one as a DNF, and gained 4, leading to a grand total of 170 books!

81 physical books
71 e-books
18 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?


Filed under Weekly Posts

The Go-Between – L.P. Hartley

Historical Fiction 5*s

Historical Fiction

I’m going to start with my overriding feeling – what a wonderful book, multi-layered, very English and an absolute delight to read! I really don’t know how I’ve got to this grand old age without anyone ever telling me that I should read, I don’t understand how I missed it but I’m very grateful for having tuned into part of the recent television adaptation which led me to its pages.

Of course I’d heard the opening line quoted and what a line it is! ‘The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there’. A line that sets the reader up nearly as well as ‘Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.’ So I turned the pages schizophrenically wanting to race ahead while slowing down to savour the wonderful prose, even better this is one of the best coming of age stories ever, better even than my favourite to date; Atonement by Ian McEwan.

As the book opens we meet Leo Coulston, a man in his sixties who has come across some belongings that have triggered a long repressed memories. He opens his diary, the diary he was keeping the year he went to Norfolk with his friend Marcus who lived at Brandham Hall in Norfolk. But first there are memories of the book itself, the object which first subjected Leo to ridicule but then in high regard amongst his school mates. The elderly Leo remembers his fascination with the zodiac, codes and magic before the trip itself that was to change the twelve year-old’s life forever.

At Brandham Hall Leo is at first petted by Marcus’s elder sister Marian who takes him shopping for some much-needed cooler clothes to combat the stultifying heat wave that Norfolk is experiencing. Like many a young boy, once Leo is suitably attired he becomes almost obsessive about recording the temperature which seems to keep on rising. With his friend laid up ill in bed Leo goes exploring and comes across neighbour and farmer Ted Burgess. Ted asks Leo to pass a message to Marian, and that is the start of his role as postman, Mercury and the Go-Between. Because as anyone except a naïve boy in 1900 would have realised, Leo is getting embroiled in a love affair, one that goes against the social mores of the time, especially as Marian is about to become engaged to the war-wounded Viscount Hugh Trimingham.

‘I had never met a lord before, nor had I ever expected to meet one. It didn’t matter what he looked like: he was a lord first, and a human being, with a face and limbs and body, long, long after.’

Needless to say Leo cottons on to some extent having been given an unsealed letter and tries to extricate himself from his role, but the lovers have no sympathy for his scruples. Both Ted and Marian use all the tricks at their disposal to keep him walking backwards and forwards delivering his messages in secret, and so the prose winds leisurely towards the dénouement and if that wasn’t enough, the simply heartbreaking epilogue…

This is an author who knows his craft with pitch perfect dialogue, not easy when the characters are pre-adolescent boys, a slowing down of pace when by rights the tension should be ratcheting up a notch, with many tableaux from the Edwardian era beautifully and evocatively spread out for the reader to lap up, I for one have never been so interested in a cricket match, and I doubt that I ever will be again.

This is a book that will haunt me for many years to come and is definitely a keeper, one day I will return to it and lap up the evocative prose and revel in a past where everything was indeed, very different.


Filed under Books I have read

The Secret By The Lake – Louise Douglas

Historical Fiction 4*s

Historical Fiction

I need to preface this review by stating that I am not a lover of ghostly matters and The Secret By The Lake has plenty of spookiness spread amongst its pages. But… somehow this didn’t feel quite as out of place as it might have done perhaps because the book was set in the 1960s with reference back as far as the 1930s and they were allowed to have ghosts back then!

Amy worked for the Laurent family in their beautiful home in Deusables, France ever since she had left home which consisted of her father and his beloved pigeons and her Grandmother; Amy’s mother left home when she was a small child never to return. With that background the Laurent family became her second family and when the time came for her to return home to care for her dying Grandmother Amy desperately missed her charge, ten year-old Vivienne. Soon after her Grandmother’s death a letter arrives from Julia Laurent. In a sudden change of circumstances Julia and Vivienne are living in a dilapidated cottage on the side of a reservoir in Somerset.

This book goes in for eeriness in spades, the locals are at best reserved and at worst, well, this isn’t a village where I’d like to visit much less live! If making the cottage fit for sale wasn’t hard enough Julia is filled with melancholy. To make matters worse her return to the family home has stopped her escaping the memory of her elder sister Caroline, who died aged just seventeen under somewhat of a cloud. If Julia was the sweet pretty younger daughter, history states that Caroline was the exact opposite. With no money and a cold winter to contend with things are bleak for them all.

Despite my misgivings I was keen to find out the truth of what happened all those years before, even if I couldn’t quite believe that the dead were determined to communicate quite so frequently with the living. There is as to be expected, an element of romance which should have provided some light relief but sadly the ghosts of the past seem to want to interfere with that too! One thing’s for sure, they are determined little ghoulies! I like books that can successfully carry some side-plots, and Louise Douglas uses this to add real depth to her characters although I didn’t really warm to Julia, who even giving credence for her despair, was far too content to allow the action to happen around her for my liking. Fortunately Amy’s tenacity made up for this and her depiction of a 1960s child, the hardest characters for a writer to successfully make feel authentic, worked well within this storyline. The tension rose because of the intense feeling that the ghosts must be appeased before history repeated itself in some terrible way, and as the dramatic dénouement died away I was left with a real sense of satisfaction.

I’d like to thank the publishers Black Swan for allowing me to read an advance proof copy of this book which is published today, 19 November 2015, in return for my honest opinion.


Filed under Books I have read

This Week In Books (November 18)

This Week In Books

Hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

At the moment I am reading Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín, a book that has been on my TBR for far too long. It is in fact over a year since I read Fiction Fan’s review of this book!

Nora Webster


It is the late 1960s in Ireland. Nora Webster is living in a small town, looking after her four children, trying to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. She is fiercely intelligent, at times difficult and impatient, at times kind, but she is trapped by her circumstances, and waiting for any chance which will lift her beyond them.
Colm Tóibín’s Nora is a character as resonant as Anna Karenina or Madame Bovary and Nora Webster is a novel that illuminates our own lives in a way that is rare in literature. Its humanity and compassion forge an unforgettable reading experience. NetGalley

I have recently finished the very enjoyable The Killing of Polly Carter by Robert Thorogood.

The Killing of Polly Carter

You can read the synopsis and an excerpt of this one in yesterday’s post

Next up I’m catching up on the Nicci French days of the week series with Friday On My Mind

Friday on my Mind


When a bloated corpse is found floating in the River Thames the police can at least sure that identifying the victim will be straightforward. Around the dead man’s wrist is a hospital band. On it are the words Dr F. Klein.
But psychotherapist Frieda Klein is very much alive. And, after evidence linking her to the murder is discovered, she becomes the prime suspect.
Unable to convince the police of her innocence, Frieda is forced to make a bold decision in order to piece together the terrible truth before it’s too late either for her or for those she loves. NetGalley

What are you reading this week? Do share!

See what I’ve been reading in 2015 here


Filed under Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (November 17)

First Chapter

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 this week comes from The Killing of Polly Carter by Robert Thorogood

The Killing of Polly Carter


When famous supermodel Polly Carter is found dead at the bottom of a cliff all signs point to suicide, but as the evidence continues to mount DI Richard Poole declares it to be a murder. Now, with a houseful of suspects Richard has to narrow the field and discover who the murderer is before it’s too late. At the same time his mother is arriving from England and throwing his whole perfectly ordered life into turmoil. Not only does she want to be involved in island life, but all signs are beginning to point to not all being right in Richard’s own family…something he cannot help but attempt to fix.NetGalley

~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro


Detective Inspector Richard Poole sat on the verandah of his beachside shack looking up at the cloudless Caribbean sky in inarticulate outrage.

A passing parrot had just crapped in his cup of tea. It didn’t seem possible, but Richard had watched the little bugger fly in over the sea and defecate in mid-air, the little ball of released guano flying in a perfect parabola only to land in his English Breakfast Tea with an accuracy, Richard realised, that Barnes Wallis could only have dreamed of.

Chapter 1

Richard Poole’s dark secret was that his mother Jennifer was about to arrive on the island. Why on earth she’d chosen to visit on her own, Richard had no idea, but he also had no idea how he was going to get through two wees of keeping her company, and that seemed the more pressing problem.

Please note that these excerpts are taken from a proof copy

Do you want to know more?

If you have an opening to share, please leave your link in the comments box below


Filed under Weekly Posts

As Good As Dead – Elizabeth Evans

Contemporary Fiction 4*s

Contemporary Fiction

Firstly this book appears to be marketed as a psychological thriller which revolves around an event twenty years in the past, this isn’t a good reflection of the book as the drama that is associated with this type of read is more or less entirely missing. What the reader does get is a look at the lives of two women who were undoubtedly set on a path by the crucial event. It is a look at friendship, loyalty and perhaps more subtly responsibility.

Charlotte is shy and comes from a non-literary background when enrols at the Iowa Writing Workshop when she meets Esmé, the woman who is to become her best friend. The two girls end up sharing a room while Charlotte waits for her boyfriend to join her on his return from Italy. Meanwhile, despite claiming to be shy and describing Charlotte as her best friend ever the friendship appears to be balanced in her favour from the very start. The author really does illustrate the realities of a competitive relationship between two young women.

The mystery is opened up by Esmé suddenly appearing on Charlotte’s doorstep twenty years after they parted company, an act which seems to be all the more bewildering because Charlotte had attempted to contact her previously and received no response. Why Esmé has reappeared is explored in flashbacks to the past and filled in with details of Charlotte’s literary success in the present. I felt that the lives the two girls led in the past was accurately portrayed, in particular Charlotte’s insecurity without ever labouring the point; my favourite kind of writing.

Indeed I loved the writing style, the slow understanding of the relationship between the girls, and later on their partners, which are typified by the least edifying of human characteristics, jealousy, envy and selfishness. None of these characters are ones who I’d fancy spending a great deal of time with, but this is barely recognised let alone confronted by those involved who for the main part are trying to keep a secret or expose one. The writing style is totally engaging and I was quickly drawn into the story but I would categorise this as literary fiction rather than boldly stating ‘As Good As Dead performs an exquisitely tuned psychological high-wire act’! The reality is one where instead of action, quiet contemplation is required by the reader to consider what happens when you can no longer trust those who you believe care about you.

Charlotte in particular seems to have deferred every major decision in her life to her husband whilst managing to hold down a successful literary career in a competitive world which brilliantly illustrates the seemingly competing sides of our personalities which is exactly what makes her feel so human to the reader. I might not have particularly warmed to her character but I felt I understood what made her tick. Esmé on the other hand wanted the easy route through life, she wants to have the literary career, the sought-after boyfriend, friends and family and turns to manipulation to get what she wants.

I’m not sure there is the substance or thrills included in this book based on the title or marketing that will satisfy the readers if that is what they are looking for, but I did enjoy this exploration of friendship and what happens when the bomb of betrayal is let off in its centre!

I’d like to thank Bloomsbury Publishing for allowing me to read a copy of As Good As Dead, prior to the publication date of 19 November 2015 in return for my honest opinion.


Filed under Books I have read

The Silent Dead – Claire McGowan

Crime Fiction 4*s

Crime Fiction

I can’t begin to imagine what it must have been like to grow up in Ireland during the Troubles and so it is just as difficult to understand how life is different, and the same, since the Good Friday Agreement which led to the demilitarisation of Northern Ireland. Claire McGowan describes both in what appears to this outsider, in an incredibly thoughtful and realistic way.

As the book opens the Missing Persons Unit set-up to find people on both sides of the border between Northern and Southern Ireland are asked to assist with the discovery of a body, this is unusual, normally their subjects are presumed to be alive. Mickey Doyle has been found hanged, presumed murder and was one member of the Mayday Five, a terrorist group who are strongly suspected of planting a bomb that killed sixteen people, including babies and children. The group have been called in because the remaining four members are also missing but tensions in the town are running high, not least because the Mayday Five have recently been found not guilty and until their disappearance were free to live their lives.

This is a tough book to read because of the raw grief of the survivors of the bomb illustrated in the meetings they hold to discuss those who went about their business on the day the bomb exploded changing the lives of those around them forever. Paula McGowan does a fantastic job of creating the tension between the survivors and the police who are committed to tracking down the Mayday Five, and finding whoever was responsible for Mickey Doyle’s murder. This is definitely a story that captures the conflict caused by doing the right thing for those who carried out a horrendous atrocity.

Part of the tale, that of what really happened on the day of the bombing is relayed in the form of a book by an investigative journalist that Paula uses as a guide to what is known locally to have happened, a source that is useful to her having been in England at the time. This also helps the reader to understand why each question posed to those in the town has to be so mindful of past grudges and the subtleties of the importance of religion seventeen years on from the Good Friday Agreement.

This is the third in the series that features Paula McGuire, a forensic psychologist who works for a missing persons unit based on the border between Paula is a likeable and realistic character. She returned to her childhood home to look after her father but has remained despite his recent marriage to her childhood sweetheart’s mother. There is still a feeling that Paula hasn’t made this her home, and the house has its own ghosts as her mother disappeared one day when Paula was a teenager and to this day no-one, despite Paula using all her investigative skills, knows what happened to her. This book continues that search and brings Paula into contact with more people who might be able to tell her the truth. However with her pregnancy nearing the end, Paula has more pressing matters to resolve, such as who is the father of her child, and building the right kind of relationship with both potential fathers. Oh yes, this book is full of tension, both professional and personal aided by seemingly impossible problems to solve and one where doing the right thing could cause harm to those who arguably hold the moral high ground.

I’ve read and enjoyed both the The Lost and The Dead Ground but really felt that the writing had moved up a notch which was incredibly readable despite the complicated storyline coupled with what is a highly complex background. I’m sure this would work well as a standalone novel but I do think there is lots to be gained from the previous two books in terms of the relationships that have formed and developed along the way.

I’d like to extend a huge thank you to the publishers headline for letting me read this book in return for my honest opinion. The Silent Dead will be published on 19 November 2015.


Filed under Books I have read