Lydia opens her diary, picks up her pen and prepares to commit her sins to its pages. Overwhelmed by her illness she finishes her entry by stating ‘A good mother loves fiercely but ultimately brings up her children to thrive without her. They must be the most important thing in her life, but if she is the most important thing in theirs, she has failed.’ These words underpin the rest of one of the darkest stories I have read.
Set over a weekend from 1st to 3rd November 2013 Lydia’s family get together at Far Barn in Saxby, Devon to spread her ashes. Lydia’s husband Rowan, her adult children Sophie, Tara and Felix gather together along with an assortment of partners and offspring. Without a television or mobile signal and only a tape deck and record player for music being at Far Barn is like going back in time and that is without the family memories of former holidays. The scene is set for a claustrophobic weekend where the consequences of the past make themselves known. When Felix’s new girlfriend disappears with Sophie’s baby on bonfire night the secrets of the past come tumbling out with each character having a part to play in this well-crafted story.
This was a riveting read with carefully presented twists along the way. Erin Kelly showcases her talents as a master of plotting. The characters that inhabit the pages of this book were distinct and when revelations were made about them these assimilated with previous knowledge with no jarring at all.
This is right up there as one of the best books I have read this year; I’d go as far as to say Barbara Vine has a rival.
Erin Kelly is the author of two other books both of which I thoroughly enjoyed
2013 was a great book reading year for me, I have read many great books of a variety of genres, although as usual the majority were crime fiction! It has been a real struggle to whittle this list down to 10 but here they are, in no particular order!
Click on the book covers to read my reviews.
The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler
My list starts with a book set in a bookshop. This was a great book for this booklover, with references as diverse as Paddington Bear and 1984 littering the pages, great characters and a bookshop I wanted to work in!
A rousing celebration of books, of the shops where they are sold, and of the people who work, read, and live in them… The Burning Air by Erin Kelly
Of course it was love for my children, love for my son, that caused me to act as I did. It was a lapse of judgement. If I could have foreseen the rippling aftershocks that followed I would have acted differently, but by the time I realised the extent of the consequences, it was too late.
A superb psychological thriller set in Devon over one claustrophobic weekend in November 2013 this book rivals Barbara Vine for one of the best books in this genre.
Dot by Araminta Hall
a long-forgotten photograph of a man, his hair blowing in the breeze. Dot stares so long at the photograph the image begins to disintegrate before her eyes, and as the image fades it is replaced with one thought: ‘I think it’s definitely him.’
Secrets and female relationships dominate this book. Full of delightful characters with an undertone of humour to lighten the emotions that must surely melt the hardest of hearts.
Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty
Safety and security are commodities you can sell in return for excitement, but you can never buy them back.
This powerful book was my surprise find of 2013. A women in court but how and why? At its core this is a book about how we perceive ourselves, through our own eyes and what is reflected back to us in the eyes of others.
Entry Island by Peter May
The investigation itself appears little more than a formality. The evidence points to a crime of passion: the victim’s wife the vengeful culprit. But for Sime the investigation is turned on its head when he comes face to face with the prime suspect, and is convinced that he knows her – even though they have never met.
I had the final part of the Lewis Trilogy down as a favourite of 2013 but have decided Peter May can’t have two books on the top ten (but if you haven’t read the Lewis Trilogy I suggest you do!) so have decided his latest book set between a past on the Isle of Lewis and the present in Canada was the winner for fantastic characters along with a well plotted tale of a woman accused of murder and a past that must be found.
What Lies Within by Tom Vowler
when a convict escapes from nearby Dartmoor prison, their isolation suddenly begins to feel more claustrophobic than free. Fearing for her children’s safety, Anna’s behaviour becomes increasingly irrational. But why is she so distant from her kind husband Robert, and why does she suspect something sinister of her son Paul? All teenagers have their difficult phases…
This was another great find part psychological thriller but containing elements of so much more; a mystery, a crime and relationships.
A Funeral for an Owl by Jane Davis
Times have changed since Jim Stevens chose to teach. Protocol designed to protect children now makes all pupil/teacher relationships taboo – even those that might benefit a student.
This is one of those stories that stays with you long after you have closed the book. Jane Davis Davis really does bring characters to life, mothers, fathers, friends, teachers are all perfectly described along with their actions and reactions to events. (oh and if you have copy I’m mentioned in the acknowledgements!!)
The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell
Because something has happened that will call them home, back to the house they grew up in – and to what really happened that Easter weekend all those years ago.
Lisa Jewell really knows how to write a great story, her books never fail to delight me as they are so much more than ‘chick-lit’ they deal with serious issues without becoming depressing. This is my favourite (I think) of all her novels.
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty
At the heart of The Husband’s Secret is a letter that’s not meant to be read
My darling Cecilia, if you’re reading this, then I’ve died…
Another great story-teller (I read What Alice Forgot after this one) with all the ingredients included; a believable plot, characters that are well-developed and writing that pulls the reader in from the first page, plus this isn’t the story you think it is going to be!
The Cry by Helen Fizgerald
He’s gone. And telling the truth won’t bring him back…
When a baby goes missing on a lonely roadside in Australia, it sets off a police investigation that will become a media sensation and dinner-table talk across the world.
A lot of tension in this book, this is definitely not light reading but it is certainly absorbing and haunting.
Cleopatra’s Top Ten Books Published in 2014
2014 was a fantastic reading year for me although even I was shocked to see that I’d marked a whopping 42 books as 5 star reads this year! Yes that’s quite a lot but to be honest I award stars on instinct when I review and (conceitedly) assume those who look at my reviews read the words, rather than depend on this arbitrary system. One reason I enjoy choosing my Top 10 is because it is interesting to see whether on reflection this instinctive scoring holds true for me. Surprisingly it does and I didn’t feel I had to downgrade any of my choices this year but for those of you who assume I ponder and deliberate and weigh up the merits of one five star read against another, I’m sorry, I don’t.
Fortunately as this post concentrates on books published in 2014, I’ve been able to remove a few of my choices, but as you can imagine it was quite a task to get the list whittled down to just 10. As a compromise some books that I love were featured on my blog post Reading and Reviewing in 2014 !
To help with the decision making I have decided to pick the best from some other genres too starting with Historical Fiction. The winner this year is my most recent five star review
What can I say, beautiful engaging writing, three-dimensional characters, great period detail and…. a crime! This book has a slow start but don’t let that fool you, I had to slow down my reading towards the end as I didn’t want the story to end. Set in the early 1920’s Sarah Waters captures the herald of change with the classes and the genders having to adapt to a new way of life.
My Non-Fiction choice isn’t strictly a book that was published in 2014, that originally occurred back in 1974 but it was republished in 2014 (and this is my blog so my rules!)
This book looks at Middle Class Victorian Murderesses in the United Kingdom and France during the Victorian period. It is far more than a recap of the crimes as the author makes a link between the time, place and class of woman to commentate on women’s lives during this period. A fascinating and far more scholarly work than I anticipated.
I don’t know what made me choose this book, but I’m so glad I did. Told between past and present this has a book in a book, historical details and a cast of characters whose actions are at times reprehensible but who are entirely human made up of good points as well.
This superbly written book invites the reader to absorb every word as it lays the groundwork for what happened on the day in question. The groundwork begins in 1983, the year I became a teenager and the details took me right back to that era. It’s no coincidence that Tom Vowler’s debut novel What Lies Within made my top ten listing for 2013 with this almost understated but perceptive writing.
One of my favourite types of novel that concentrate on the why of a mystery rather than the who. Unravelling Oliver peels back the layers of the man who starts this book by saying ‘I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.’ The multitude of narrators that have interacted with Oliver through his life create a satisfactory background to the man and it isn’t as straightforward as you may imagine.
Favourite book from an established Crime Series. This was a tough one as all the latest books from series I follow, especially Sharon Bolton’s and Peter James’ produced great books this year, however my final choice for this category features Maeve Kerrigan
DC Maeve Kerrigan is caught up in a spate of police killings in the fifth in this series. Once again Jane Casey gets the balance of the police investigation to the personal lives of the characters we know and love (I admit to a little crush on DI Josh Derwent) with a story that is told at the perfect pace. If you haven’t read this series I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Best Start to a New Crime Series goes to a series that features another woman, Detective Grace Fisher, a crime reporter and missing students.
There was so much to love in this book, a great plot multiple storylines, well-rounded characters all backed up by a decent plot, in fact there was so much going on in this book to enjoy I felt like I’d read a banquet of a book by the time I’d finished.
There were two New to me author’s whose books were so good I had to read more – and after tossing a coin between the winner and Colette McBeth I award this one to:
This choice is another book peopled by well-rounded, if flawed characters. Natty’s husband Sean falls in love with her friend Eve but it appears that this isn’t the first time Eve has behaved in this way, the fallout is spectacular.. After reading this book I immediately bought a copy of Just What Kind of Mother Are You? which was equally as good.
My final two choices are simply two excellent books that I loved and have recommended far and wide ever since I read them.
When a boy is found murdered in the grounds of an exclusive girl’s school the police need to penetrate the secretive world of teenage girls, not a task for the faint-hearted. Not only does this book have all the requisite ingredients for a great read; characters, plot and pace, it is also an enormously fun read, so much so I dubbed it ‘Mallory Towers for Grown Ups’
Another book set in a school, this time in a primary school and the action takes place at a fund-raiser. Liane Moriarty has created such wonderful characters, brilliant dialogue and the most bizarre murder scene ever. This is a book that packs a punch with much more lurking beneath the seemingly light exterior. This author also made my 2013 top 10 list with The Husband’s Secret.
Cleopatra’s Top Ten Books Published in 2015
Well 2015 has provided me with a great selection of books, so good that I originally had 50 (yes 50!!) books that I had awarded the highest five stars too – now even I can’t pretend that 48 books equals 10. What to do? Well as I decided back in 2013 when I started this blog to feature books published in that year I got to discard some of the older books and two got carried forward to next year – that left me with a mere 39 books to select from.
With such a selection to choose from I’ve had to accept that it is inevitable that some great books are not featured this year but I’ve finally settled on my final list which despite me assuming that my best of each month posts would reflect these closely, this exercise has just proved to me that sometimes it is after letting a book settle a while that you realise those that have really made an impact.
This year is particularly crime heavy, even for me but I hope I’ve managed to show what is available across the spectrum, it isn’t all serial killers and missing children you know!
So in no particular order here we go:
If you click on the book covers you can read the full review for each book
The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson
A modern take on Strangers on a Train which is ingenious; Ted and Lily meet in an airport lounge and for a bit of fun Lily suggests they should only tell each other the truth. On the flight Ted reveals that he wants to kill his wife as she has been unfaithful, Lily taking the moral high-ground offers to help him. If you like your book with plenty of twists and turns, this could be just the right book for you.
Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica
Perhaps you, like me enjoy books that really delve into the psyche of the characters? If so Pretty Baby will provide just that along with a story which will keep you gripped. Heidi decides to befriend a young woman, Willow when she sees her at a train station with a young baby. Unsurprisingly her husband Chris isn’t totally up for the idea especially as Willow and Ruby look like they are becoming a permanent fixture in their lives with little thought for their own daughter Zoe. The placing of the narratives by Chris and Heidi in the past in relation to Willow’s, as told to a third-party, in the present casts a dark shadow over each episode and the full story is gradually revealed.
The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife and the Missing Corpse by Piu Marie Eatwell
The only non-fiction choice this year not only had a killer of a title, but it also had one of the most riveting stories I’ve ever read, more so because it was true! The book covers the story behind a number of court cases that spanned a decade which all centred on the belief that Thomas Charles Druce, the owner of a Victorian Bazaar was actually the 5th Duke of Portland, an eccentric and reclusive man. As I say this is a fascinating look at not only the court cases but also gives the reader a glimpse of how real people behaved during the late Victorian and Edwardian periods which isn’t quite how the history books portray it.
Burnt Paper Sky by Gilly MacMillan
Ok so now we do have one missing child story for the mix, but there is far more to this book than the heart in the mouth search for a lost child. Set in Bristol this book gave me an idea of what sort of information I react to when I read or see media reports about crime – what triggers in the news cause me to make snap judgements about the truth behind the news? A very clever book that made me think as well as being totally entertaining from an investigative perspective with this unfolding chronologically I needed to know the outcome.
Note readers in the US can read this under the title What She Knew in 2016
Lost Girls by Angela Marsons
Angela Marsons had her debut novel published in February 2015 and this was her third book featuring the likeable Detective Kim Stone – yes you read that correctly, this is the third in the series. I could easily have included all of her books but this was my favourite premise. More lost children I’m afraid… Two friends are kidnapped but the kidnapper has an extreme way of pushing up the money they will receive, the two sets of parents are pitted against each other! As you can imagine the fallout is spectacular.
Disclaimer by Renée Knight
Back in April I predicted this book would make my top ten reads of the year, and it has, one book that didn’t need to settle, I knew this was a hit more or less from the first page. It was also one of the hardest to review as there is so little that can be said about the plot without inadvertently spoiling it for others. I liked that the author skilfully manipulated my emotions, over and over again. If you want a book that is full of surprises, choose this book. I have recommended this far and wide (in the real world) and everyone who listened, has loved it!
Smoke and Mirrors by Elly Griffiths
Missing children again, but this time back in history being set in Brighton in 1951. In the second in the Max Mephisto the book is far more a complex puzzle with a feel of an old-fashioned detective novel with clues rather than forensics at the fore. Tied in with a production of Aladdin there is links to another murder years before all to be solved by a wonderful cast of characters. Fancy trying a different type of crime fiction – this could be for you.
A Game For All The Family by Sophie Hannah
The queen of psychological thrillers completely wowed me with this, a stand-alone novel which had me utterly and completely confused. Now I see you scratching your heads because that doesn’t sound like fun but therein lies the genius of this book. Told in part in a story written by a teenager and part in real-life the writing was thoroughly entertaining even if I couldn’t for the life of me work out what the point was – rest assured there was a point and I don’t think I’ll ever forget this amazing read.
Hidden by Emma Kavanagh
Want a mixture of investigative and psychological crime fiction? Hidden opens with a shooting at a Welsh hospital and the descriptions aren’t for the faint-hearted. What follows is an in-depth look at the crime from multiple viewpoints over an ever-changing time period before and after the shooting.. the result is amazing – this complex structure worked, against all odds.
The Hidden Legacy by G.J. Minnet
This debut novel is another book that has an opener that will become seared on your memory when a young boy sets fire to two girls in a school playground yet the opening is backed up by a thoughtful, deep and in places deeply moving novel with some of the most consistently rounded characters I have ever had the pleasure to read about. With a mystery legacy for one woman and secrets bubbling throughout, this is a book that made me think about all manner of moral questions. Most definitely the surprise hit of the year for me!
So my top ten is just that – ten great books that have stamped themselves onto my memory in a variety of ways.
If you want to see more of the 144 books I’ve read in 2015
Erin Kelly has once again proved that she is an extremely talented writer, one who weaves a tale full of twists and turns, yet without resorting to cheap tricks. This is a book that stands proud in a now crowded genre, one that relies on superb plotting and brilliantly nuanced characters, the result being I was convinced by both.
In 1999 Laura and Kit were at Lizard’s Point in Cornwall to watch the total eclipse of the sun. For Laura this was her first experience but Kit and his twin brother Mac had, along with their father Lachlan, travelled far and wide as part of a group of eclipse chasers to see this rare phenomenon. In Cornwall Mac, his girlfriend Ling and Kit had decided to make some money to cover the trip by selling hot drinks at the festival but with the British weather being, well, British, the event isn’t as well attended as expected. Laura turns up having travelled down later and watches the eclipse with suitable awe and then stumbles across a young woman, her own age, being raped. Or that is what she believes.
With the story moving backwards and forwards from 11 August 1999 to fifteen years later when Kit is planning to travel to the Faroe Islands, chasing another eclipse, we learn what an impact that meeting had on all four characters and the ripples haven’t decreased with the passing years.
He Said/She Said looks at the issue of rape from a number of perspectives with the court room reflecting the crux of the matter, as the title indicates. Jamie, the accused says that Laura got it wrong, he was having consensual sex with Beth when he was interrupted by the couple. Beth maintains it was non-consensual but she froze in the moment. Kit didn’t see anything, he was lagging behind but followed Jamie when he left the scene at Laura’s behest. There are other elements familiar from news reports of some recent big trials not least the fact that Jamie’s family are wealthy, he has a top lawyer and his family, including his fiancée, are in the courtroom supporting him. Who will the jury believe?
So we have a very modern tale told in the main by Laura and Kit which should have concluded the day the trial was over but Beth needing support from those who were there turns up at their London flat and is welcomed, at least by Laura. Kit is less sure, worried that if there is an appeal, that the girls have undermined any chance of a retrial by potentially being accused of colluding with each other. Three’s a crowd begins to be a very apt saying as tensions increase.
This is an involved and thoughtful tale, one that really did make me think but I’m delighted to report that Erin Kelly never forgets that she is writing to entertain her reader and she avoids bashing the reader over the head about rape, and the trials that all too rarely follow such an accusation. I believe it is a sign of a writer who has confidence, not only in herself, but of her readers to air the important issues this way.
I’m not going to say any more about the plot, which is excellent not only in the premise but also in its execution. The pace had me travelling through the chapters, headed up by images of the sun at various points of an eclipse, as I became more immersed in a story and characters that I truly believed in.
Trust me, you really don’t want to miss out on this book!
First Published UK: 20 April 2017
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
No of Pages: 416
Genre: Psychological Thriller Amazon UK Amazon US
As I have now been reviewing for over five years I thought I’d highlight my favourite book for each month from 2011 until 2015 to remind myself of the good ones. When we are talking five years ago, they must be good if I still remember them!
In October 2011 I was introduced to a series which is now a firm fixture on my reading list when I was offered a copy of The Reckoning by Jane Casey by Amazon Vine. I was so captivated by Maeve Kerrigan I instantly got myself a copy of The Burning which was the first in the series.
To the public, a killer who targets paedophiles is a hero. And even the police don’t regard the murders as a priority. Maeve Kerrigan is shocked by the violence inflicted during these kills – the victims were made to suffer. She believes no-one should be allowed to take the law into their own hands. However, as this serial killer’s violence begins to escalate, she is forced to decide how far she’s prepared to go to ensure justice is served … Goodreads
My choice for October 2012 is a tough one as I was on holiday during this month and, as always, had spent an age choosing the best books for the trip. The book that made the most impact was The White Lie by Andrea Gillies, a story that spans many years where a number of secrets are slowly but oh so assuredly revealed.
On a hot summer’s afternoon, Ursula Salter runs sobbing from the loch on her parents’ Scottish estate and confesses, distraught, that she has killed Michael, her 19 year old nephew.
But what really happened? No body can be found, and Ursula’s story is full of contradictions. In order to protect her, the Salters come up with another version of events, a decision that some of them will come to regret.
Years later, at a family gathering, a witness speaks up and the web of deceit begins to unravel. What is the white lie? Only one person knows the whole truth. Narrating from beyond the grave, Michael takes us to key moments in the past, looping back and back until – finally – we see what he sees. Goodreads
My choice for October 2013 was also made from my holiday reading choices, so competition was again fierce but in many ways easier as I read one of my favourite psychological thrillers of all time; The Burning Air by Erin Kelly. If you haven’t read this yet, now is a good time as the storyline spans Bonfire Night!
Click on the book cover to read my review
Of course it was love for my children, love for my son, that caused me to act as I did. It was a lapse of judgement. If I could have foreseen the rippling aftershocks that followed I would have acted differently, but by the time I realised the extent of the consequences, it was too late.
The MacBrides have always gone to Far Barn in Devon for Bonfire Night, but this year everything is different. Lydia, the matriarch, is dead; Sophie, the eldest daughter, is desperately trying to repair a crumbling marriage; and Felix, the youngest of the family, has brought a girlfriend with him for the first time.
The girl, Kerry, seems odd in a way nobody can quite put their finger on – but when they leave her looking after Sophie’s baby daughter, and return to find both Kerry and the baby gone, they are forced to ask themselves if they have allowed a cuckoo into their nest… Goodreads
In October 2014 I read Good Girls Don’t Die by Isabelle Grey, a rich book with multiple storylines all rounded up with a good plot – a complete banquet of a book. It has recently been announced that the second in this series, Shot Through The Heart, will be published in March 2016
Click on the book cover to read my review
You’d know if someone close to you was capable of lethal violence, right?
Accused of grassing up a fellow officer and driven brutally out of home and job, Grace Fisher is thankful to survive some dark times and find haven with the Major Investigation Team in Essex.
One female student is missing, last seen at a popular bar in Colchester. When a second student, also out drinking, is murdered and left grotesquely posed, the case becomes headline news.
Someone is leaking disturbing details to a tabloid crime reporter. Is it the killer? Or a detective close to the case?
With another victim, and under siege by the media, the murder enquiry hits a dead end. The review team brought in to shake things up is headed by Grace’s old DCI. Who is going to listen to her now? Amazon
October 2015 has been a good reading month but my favourite is The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell which was a rich and engrossing read. With the ‘past’ element of the story was set in 1980 to 1981, years that I clearly remember events from, I felt slightly disconcerted that my lifetime is being portrayed as history… A deeper book than I would have suspected from the cover!
Click on the book cover to read my review
On a sultry summer’s day in 1980, five friends stumble upon an abandoned lakeside cottage hidden deep in the English countryside. For Kat and her friends, it offers an escape; a chance to drop out for a while, with lazy summer days by the lake and intimate winter evenings around the fire. But as the seasons change, tensions begin to rise and when an unexpected visitor appears at their door, nothing will be the same again.
Three decades later, Lila arrives at the same remote cottage. With her marriage in crisis, she finds solace in renovating the tumbledown house. Little by little she wonders about the previous inhabitants. How did they manage in such isolation? Why did they leave in such a hurry, with their belongings still strewn about? Most disturbing of all, why can t she shake the feeling that someone might be watching her?
The Shadow Year is a story of secrets, tragedy, lies and betrayal. It’s a tale that explores the light and dark of human relationships and the potential the past has to not only touch our present, but also to alter our future. Goodreads
This post has been blogged at Petrona Remembered in memory of book blogger Maxine who loved crime novels, please visit the blog to learn more about Maxine and to see what other books have been recommended to her.
When I originally signed up to recommend a novel to Maxine I foolishly thought the task would be easy, I’ve read loads of crime fiction and give people recommendations on what to try frequently enough that the names of those authors trip off my tongue. Giving a recommendation to someone who was as well read as Maxine was tough, so I concentrated on the aspect of crime fiction writing she found most appealing, those that covered a social issue, a political idea or troubling aspect of the human condition. I believe I found the perfect book my choice definitely covers two of these, with a hint of the other, and it is one of my favourite crime reads of all time.
The Burning Air by Erin Kelly
Lydia opens her diary, picks up her pen and prepares to commit her sins to its pages. Overwhelmed by her illness she finishes her entry stating ‘A good mother loves fiercely but ultimately brings up her children to thrive without her. They must be the most important thing in her life, but if she is the most important thing in theirs, she has failed.’ These words underpin the rest of one of the darkest stories I have read.
Lydia and Rowan McBride had a successful life, Rowan a headmaster at a prestigious private school and Lydia a magistrate with altruistic nature. Their three children Sophie, Tara and Felix grew up with all the benefits this background afforded them attending their father’s school. Lydia’s husband Rowan, her adult children Sophie, Tara and Felix gather together along with an assortment of partners and offspring over a cold November weekend to scatter her ashes at Far Barn, the scene of many happy family holidays. Without a television or mobile signal and only a tape deck and record player for music being at Far Barn is like going back in time. And so the scene is set for a claustrophobic weekend where the consequences of the past make themselves known. When Felix’s new girlfriend disappears with Sophie’s baby on bonfire night the secrets of the past come tumbling out with each character having a part to play in this well-crafted story.
So where you might ask are those aspects so beloved by Maxine? Well this is a book about obsession which sparks acts of violent revenge, a human condition which left unchecked can cause utter devastation as this novel demonstrates. The cause of the vengeance is someone who believes the family were responsible for a bright, intelligent child from a mixed-up background missing out on the chance of attending the private school, the one that the younger McBride’s attended because their father was headmaster. This single event sparked an obsession with the McBride family that lasted many years the pursuit of revenge having a corrosive effect on all who stepped into its path.
This is a fascinating look at some views about private education, does it provide an advantage regardless of the ability of the child attending? Likewise the converse, if a child is intelligent would they thrive in any educational facility? What does a private school offer children of all abilities that aren’t available in the state system? Or is it perhaps a little more complex than any of those questions? Isn’t it a social as well as a political issue that an education that can be bought is more desirable than the one that the vast majority of children attend?
In many ways The Burning Air is a book about moral issues with degrees of guilt and innocence being far more important, certainly in the background to this story, than the absolutes of right and wrong. I prefer my reading matter not to be black and white and so I think this book will be interpreted in a variety of ways depending on how morally responsible the reader holds the perpetrator.
As I hope you can see there is plenty to think about in this novel but just for avoidance of doubt, it is also a great read, with plenty of twists and turns which I have done my level best to avoid spoiling whilst writing this recommendation post for Petrona Remembered.
This will be a short review of what is essentially a bit of background to Broadchurch Season Two. There is one short story released at midnight following the airing of each of the eight weekly episodes and this is the first.
Having missed the first series of what was a ‘must-watch’ show I caught up with this via Erin Kelly’s book from series one of the ITV Television series simply named Broadchurch. I loved the book so much that I then watched the series to compare and contrast the book and the series and came to the conclusion that each medium had their merits, of course the mystery wasn’t as great while watching this on TV since I knew what had happened, but I am very fond of David Tennant and there was plenty to absorb with the character interactions to make that more or less irrelevant. So I was ready and waiting at 9:00pm on Monday night and watched the first episode of the second series and wow.. I wasn’t expecting that.
I’m not usually gullible especially where marketing is concerned but when I saw that each episode had a book well surprise surprise, I couldn’t resist, particularly as once again this has been penned by Erin Kelly who is one of my favourite authors (but maybe I’d prefer her to write another great book like The Burning Air)
This episode covers what happens to Ellie Miller when she leaves Broadchurch following the end of series one. There was nothing in this story that appeared the first episode but it does serve to give us some background into Ellie’s life since the uncovering of the murderer; her feelings, her life in a new place, her job serving for a different police force and her hopes for the future. I wonder if the other books will cover the background of the other characters or whether they will follow a different format.
An engaging read that is a useful addition for ardent fans of the show this short story was well worth the 99p that I spent on it despite the fact it is only 17 pages long and I just know that I’m going to have to read the other seven that will appear.
Did you watch on Monday? What do you think about having books, albeit short ones, to accompany the series?
FRIDAY FINDS showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).
So, come on — share with us your FRIDAY FINDS!
Happy Friday! So this week I have a few more finds that have made their way into my house. NetGalley have provided me with some wonderful books starting for The Girl Next Door by Ruth Rendell which I really wanted to read as this contains crimes from the past and the present.
When the bones of two severed hands are discovered in a box, an investigation into a long buried crime of passion begins. And a group of friends, who played together as children, begin to question their past.
‘For Woody, anger was cold. Cold and slow. But once it had started it mounted gradually and he could think of nothing else. He knew he couldn’t stay alive while those two were alive. Instead of sleeping, he lay awake in the dark and saw those hands. Anita’s narrow white hand with the long nails painted pastel pink, the man’s brown hand equally shapely, the fingers slightly splayed.’
Before the advent of the Second World War, beneath the green meadows of Loughton, Essex, a dark network of tunnels has been dug. A group of children discover them. They play there. It becomes their secret place.
Seventy years on, the world has changed. Developers have altered the rural landscape. Friends from a half-remembered world have married, died, grown sick, moved on or disappeared.
Work on a new house called Warlock uncovers a grisly secret, buried a lifetime ago, and a weary detective, more preoccupied with current crimes, must investigate a possible case of murder.
In all her novels, Ruth Rendell digs deep beneath the surface to investigate the secrets of the human psyche. The interconnecting tunnels of Loughton in THE GIRL NEXT DOOR lead to no single destination. But the relationships formed there, the incidents that occurred, exert a profound influence – not only on the survivors but in unearthing the true nature of the mysterious past. NetGalley
Next I got a copy of Heartbreak Hotel by Deborah Moggach, I have loved so many of this author’s previous books and this sounds like a real winner.
When retired actor Buffy decides to up sticks from London and move to rural Wales, he has no idea what he is letting himself in for.
In possession of a run-down B&B that leans more towards the shabby than the chic and is miles from nowhere, he realises he needs to fill the beds – and fast.
Enter a motley collection of guests: Harold, whose wife has run off with a younger woman; Amy, who’s been unexpectedly dumped by her (not-so) weedy boyfriend and Andy, the hypochondriac postman whose girlfriend is much too much for him to handle.
But under Buffy’s watchful eye, this disparate group of strangers find they have more in common than perhaps they first thought…NetGalley
… and another book that was on my wishlist, A Week in Paris by Rachel Hore, another of my must read authors.
1961: Born on the day that WW2 broke out, 21-year-old Fay Knox cannot remember her early childhood in London, before she moved to a Norfolk village with her mother, Kitty. Though she has seen a photograph of her father, she does not recall him either. He died, she was told, in an air raid, and their house destroyed along with all their possessions. Why then, on a visit to Paris on tour with her orchestra, does a strange series of events suggest that she spent the war there instead? There is only one clue to follow, an address on the luggage label of an old canvas satchel. But will the truth hurt or heal?
1937: Eugene Knox, a young American doctor, catches sight of 19-year-old Kitty Travers on the day she arrives in Paris, and cannot get her out of his mind. She has come to study the piano at the famed Conservatoire, and lodges at a convent near Notre Dame. Eugene and Kitty will fall in love, marry and have a daughter, but France’s humiliating defeat by Germany is not far behind, and the little family must suffer life under Nazi occupation. Some Parisians keep their heads down and survive, others collaborate with the enemy while others resist. The different actions of Eugene, Kitty and their friends will have devastating consequences that echo down the generations. NetGalley
Lastly, yes only 4 from NetGalley this week, is Broadchurch by Erin Kelly. Now I didn’t watch the TV series and so I wasn’t planning on reading this book until I realised that it is written by one of my favourite authors, which you’ll know all about if you have read my rave reviews of The Burning Air and The Ties That Bind. Fortunately I’m sure I’ll enjoy the book having listened to others discussing the show.
It’s a hot July morning in the Dorset town of Broadchurch when Beth Latimer realises that her eleven-year-old son, Danny, is missing. As Beth searches desperately for her boy, her best friend, local police officer DS Ellie Miller, arrives at work to find that the promotion she was promised has been given to disreputable Scottish outsider DI Alec Hardy.
When Danny’s body is found on the beach Ellie must put her feelings aside as she works with DI Hardy to solve the mystery of Danny’s death. As the case becomes a murder investigation the news hits the national press, jolting sleepy Broadchurch into the national spotlight.
As the town’s secrets begin to unravel, members of this tight-knit community begin to consider those in their midst. Right now it’s impossible to know who to trust…NetGalley
Lastly after reading about Drawn from Memory by E.H. Shepard on Heavenali’s blog I simply had to own a copy – so I do! This autobiography of the man who illustrated my favourite childhood book, Winnie The Pooh is full of illustrations of his childhood in London towards the end of the nineteenth century. Heavenali’s description of this magical book, and later its sequel Drawn from Life is well worth a read, in fact I can confidently predict it won’t be long before you see the sequel featured here!
An evocative childhood memoir by the much-loved illustrator of Winnie the Pooh and The Wind in the Willows. In this autobiography, E.H. Shepard describes a classic Victorian childhood. Shepard grew up in the 1880s in Saint John’s Wood with his brother and sister. He was surrounded by domestic servants and maiden aunts, in a an age when horse-drawn buses and hansom cabs crowded the streets. Recalling this time with charm and humour, Shepard illustrates these scenes in his own distinctive style. Goodreads
There is nothing more enthralling for me than reading about a writer researching a story, especially when the story being planned is about a murder!
Luke a journalist who blotted his copybook, is convinced his big break can happen if he can emulate the great true-crime book In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. When he decides to leave Leeds for Brighton it is with the taste of failure in his mouth following the disappointment of a lost opportunity he finds the perfect subject to research; gangster turned philanthropist, Joss Stone whose partner in crime, Jacky Nye was murdered in 1968. Jacky Nye was strangled and thrown into the sea only to be discovered washed up at West Pier some days later, all evidence as to what had happened erased. Luke is convinced he has found the perfect story and sets about his research, throwing caution to the wind when he is repeatedly advised to find a different subject. It soon becomes clear that perhaps Luke should have heeded these warnings.
This is a fast-paced book with numerous twists and turns as Luke tries to find those who know the answers to the long ago mystery, including the young woman in the red dress who was seen fleeing the scene. In this book, you don’t only get a fantastic plot but also vivid descriptions and a theme of redemption running throughout. This changes The Ties That Bind from a straight mystery to something more complex, a book that made me think about the atonement of sins, both large and small.
Erin Kelly is one of my favourite writers with her last book The Burning Air being one of my favourite reads of 2014. The change in subject in this book just serves to underline that this is an author who writes distinctly different books but always manages that special array of characters that walk off the pages and into your imagination, so clearly that you miss them when the book is finished. In The Ties That Bind there is an abundance of different characters, Joss Stone is a puzzle, why did he turn his back on the gangster lifestyle? Why is Jem, Luke’s previous partner so controlling, and why, despite despising his behaviour, did I feel a vested interested in his well-being? And what was the relationship with the recently deceased Kathleen Duffy, whose house Luke is renting, and Joss Stone? You’ll have to read the book to find out?
I am extremely grateful that the publishers Hodder & Stoughton provided me with a copy of this book to review. This book was published on 8 May 2014.
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to
My Teaser this week is from The Ties That Bind by Erin Kelly
Luke is a true crime writer in search of a story. When he flees to Brighton after an explosive break-up, the perfect subject lands in his lap: reformed gangster Joss Grand. Now in his eighties, Grand once ruled the Brighton underworld with his sadistic sidekick Jacky Nye – until Jacky washed up by the West Pier in 1968, strangled and thrown into the sea. Though Grand’s alibi seems cast-iron, Luke is sure there’s more to the story than meets the eye, and he convinces the criminal-turned-philanthropist to be interviewed for a book about his life.
Luke is drawn deeper into the mystery of Jacky Nye’s murder. Was Grand there that night? Is he really as reformed a character as he claims? And who was the girl in the red coat seen fleeing the murder scene? Soon Luke realises that in stirring up secrets from the past, he may have placed himself in terrible danger. Goodreads
I’ll wait until you’ve got your taped confession, or some other supporting evidence – something to prove to me, and to potential publishers, that you really own this story. I think it’s for the best, after what happened last time.
I’ve only just started this book but based on how much I loved Erin Kelly’s The Burning Air ,I think I’m in for a treat.