In 2015 to celebrate reviewing for five years I started a series entitled Five of the Best where I chose my favourite five star reads which I’d read in that month. Later in 2018 I will be celebrating Five years of blogging and so I decided it was time to repeat the series.
You can read my original review of the book featured by clicking on the book cover.
My choice of review for April 2014 is Keep Your Friends Close by Paula Daly. This psychological thriller had me absolutely gripped. The plot concerns two friends and following a bit of domestic trouble Natty returns home to find here previous loyal and loving husband Sean, has fallen in love with her best friend Eve. The compulsive angle of the book stems from the observation of how the two women play their respective hands from here on in, That alongside some brilliantly flawed characters including some wonderful secondary ones; my favourites being the Policewoman Joanne Aspinall and her aunt Jackie as well as Natty’s father Ken. These true to life people served to add another layer of enjoyment to the story
Your best friend isn’t who you think she is.
You’ve been friends since university, when you became the people you are today.
You don’t see each other enough but when you do it’s as if you’ve never been apart.
She’s one of the family. You would trust her with your life, your children, your husband.
And when your daughter is rushed to hospital, you’re grateful that she’s stepping in at home, looking after things.
But your best friend isn’t who you think she is. You’re about to find out just how wrong you were. Amazon
Strongly indicating that I read great psychological thrillers in April my five star read for April 2015 was one of the hits of the year; Disclaimer by Renée Knight. When Catherine Ravenscroft comes across a book in her new house she idly picks it up and starts reading, as you do! Imagine her shock when she realises the story is about her, or more specifically, a secret she’s kept for twelve years. The author obviously plays with her reader, swinging the emotions this way and that, but it is so skilfully done, I lapped it all up waiting to find out what surprise she was going to spring on me next.
When an intriguing novel appears on Catherine’s bedside table, she curls up and begins to read.
But as she turns the pages she is horrified to realize she is a key character, a main player.
This story will reveal her darkest secret.
A secret she thought no one else knew… Amazon
April 2016 seems to be awash with brilliant books and I have struggled to choose a favourite and finally have decided to feature a book that is not crime fiction, or a psychological thriller.
Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain by Barney Norris features five characters whose lives collide. The setting of Salisbury could almost be the sixth character in the book, it’s history resonating through this literary novel. The opening holds a few surprises, but it is worth sticking with flower seller, Rose’s tale as it contains hidden depths which may only become apparent later on…
The triumph of this book was the intersecting of these dissimilar characters, their troubles are their own, the way they deal with those problems are individual and yet there are threads criss-crossing Salisbury that connect them all, some in the past, all in the present. In the hands of a less accomplished writer it would be easy for these connections to feel false, to rely too much on coincidence and yet Barney Norris avoids any clunkiness, there is absolute authenticity in the device as well as the characters.
<‘There exists in all of us a song waiting to be sung which is as heart-stopping and vertiginous as the peak of the cathedral. That is the meaning of this quiet city, where the spire soars into the blue, where rivers and stories weave into one another, where lives intertwine.’
One quiet evening in Salisbury, the peace is shattered by a serious car crash. At that moment, five lives collide – a flower seller, a schoolboy, an army wife, a security guard, a widower – all facing their own personal disasters.
As one of those lives hangs in the balance, the stories of all five unwind, drawn together by connection and coincidence into a web of love, grief, disenchantment and hope that perfectly represents the joys and tragedies of small town life. Amazon
April 2017 saw me reviewing Little Deaths by Emma Flint. Not only was this fictionalised account of a true crime mesmerising, it set me on a journey of discovering a whole sub-genre of crime fiction.
This is the sad tale of the disappearance, and sad murders of Ruth Malone’s two children. From the beginning Ruth is condemned for her lifestyle, her working class neighbours disapproved of her social life since her separation from the children’s father.
Emma Flint has provided us with one of the most complex of female characters and each incident can be viewed from differing angles and the conclusions made will depend on which one you personally consider to be most realistic. This creation really takes the book way beyond a simple rehash of the crime itself. I felt I knew Ruth, I could both identify with some of her thoughts whilst at other times wonder why she made life quite so hard for herself, after all she was far from stupid – perhaps that was her downfall?
It’s the summer of 1965, and the streets of Queens, New York shimmer in a heatwave. One July morning, Ruth Malone wakes to find a bedroom window wide open and her two young children missing. After a desperate search, the police make a horrifying discovery.
Noting Ruth’s perfectly made-up face and provocative clothing, the empty liquor bottles and love letters that litter her apartment, the detectives leap to convenient conclusions, fuelled by neighbourhood gossip and speculation. Sent to cover the case on his first major assignment, tabloid reporter Pete Wonicke at first can’t help but do the same. But the longer he spends watching Ruth, the more he learns about the darker workings of the police and the press. Soon, Pete begins to doubt everything he thought he knew.
Ruth Malone is enthralling, challenging and secretive – is she really capable of murder?
Haunting, intoxicating and heart-poundingly suspenseful, Little Deaths is a gripping novel about love, morality and obsession, exploring the capacity for good and evil within us all. Amazon
My choice for April 2018 is something of a forgone conclusion despite the fact I revieed many enjoyable books this month – Sharon Bolton takes the top spot though for her book set mainly in 1969 in the small town of Sabden in the shadow of Pendle Hill, the place made famous by the witch trials of 1612. The Craftsman is a chilling novel, no doubt about it with missing children, an undertaker and a young, bright WPC anxious to do her best.
We also see the fallout of the murders thirty years later when WPC Florence Lovelady returns to the town to attend the funeral of Larry Glassbrook a coffin maker. Sharon Bolton manages to keep the two versions of the woman completely in sync without losing any of the comparable innocence of the earlier time period. A stunning novel which is seared onto my memory.
Devoted father or merciless killer?
His secrets are buried with him.
Florence Lovelady’s career was made when she convicted coffin-maker Larry Glassbrook of a series of child murders 30 years ago. Like something from our worst nightmares the victims were buried…ALIVE.
Larry confessed to the crimes; it was an open and shut case. But now he’s dead, and events from the past start to repeat themselves.
Did she get it wrong all those years ago?
Or is there something much darker at play? Amazon
If you want to see what the five books featured on Five of the Best for March 2011 to 2015 were you can do so here
How many of these have you read? Did you enjoy them as much as I did? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Five of the Best 2018