Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Still Me – Jojo Moyes

Contemporary Fiction
5*s

2019 whilst being a little poor on the actual reading front has been a great year in respect of the audio book having followed on from great success I had with this format especially with non-crime fiction genre.

Still Me is the last part in the trilogy written by the fabulously talented Jojo Moyes which started with Me Before You which I read as back in January 2013 where Lou Clark takes on a job being a nurse/companion to a quadriplegic man. This story was so popular, being later made into a film that Jojo Moyes bought Lou Clark back for more adventures. In After You we see her living a new life, meeting new people and coping with grief and her journey kept me company during my walks home from work and preparing food that I missed Lou Clarke so very much when this book finished and felt that the narrator Anna Acton now encapsulated the story for me so despite having a physical book it seemed obvious to continue in audio format.

In Still Me Lou Clarke has takes up a new job in New York through an old friend. New York is new and exciting and although Lou misses her boyfriend Sam in London, at times he seems very far away. With a whole new cast of characters in New York and this really is how Jojo Moyes captures the hearts of her readers – they are so well drawn, multi-layered and as far removed from clichés and stereotypes that lesser authors employ. There is no doubt in my mind when I was listening that Lou Clarke was a real woman, with problems not so very different to those that I have suffered, and despite being a fair bit younger than I am, it still manages to feel relevant as the cast of characters takes in the whole spectrum of people. We have the fussy old woman with her beloved dog, the unfriendly housekeeper, the spoilt rich wife, the personal trainer, the jock, the vintage clothes shop owner to name but a very few.

So although the characters are the chief pull of course even the most captivating of studies can’t stand up without a plot. Perhaps this novel has more of the general romance pitfalls than the previous two books, chiefly misunderstandings that are left to fester rather than spoken about on both sides, but despite this I was still swept along hoping for a good result for Lou whether that be a good man or no man at all. Pleasingly the latter is always a possibility especially as we also catch up with Lou’s brilliantly portrayed parents and sister as they come to terms with life not following the predictable route they thought it would. In fact Lou’s mother and her father’s reaction to life’s changes provided some of my favourite comedic moments in the book.

I finished Still Me quite some time ago but I won’t forget Lou Clarke in a hurry. It takes a special kind of skill to pen a story that has all the ranges of human emotions without it tipping into the sickly sweet arena and for someone like me who has an antipathy to ‘romantic’ tales that is high praise indeed!

First Published UK: 24 January 2018
Publisher: Penguin Books
No of Pages: 496
Listening Length: 13 hours 37 minutes
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Flower Girls – Alice Clark-Platts

Psychological Thriller
4*s

Over the years I have had an ongoing interest in books that portray children who kill. Not the cheeriest of subjects I grant you but I have read some really insightful fictional books that take a look at this thankfully rare circumstance. The Flower Girls was definitely at the darker edge of the subject and perhaps surprisingly less obviously based upon known cases.

Alice Clark Platts has created two characters Laurel and Rosie, sisters, who brutally killed another child one summer’s day. Rosie was just six years old on the day of the murder, far too young to be formally be punished but Laurel was sent to prison where she remains. Rosie is given a new identity to help her move on while Laurel remains in prison nineteen years on. Rosie, now Hazel is staying at a hotel when a young child goes missing and it is this that brings the past hurtling back to meet the present.

The brilliance of this book isn’t just the premise, nor is it really the plot which while ingenious is used as a vehicle to look at the wider issues surrounding all crime, but particularly that committed by a child. DC Lorna Hillier represents law and order, the hotel guests pretty much stand for the public in all their glory, most particularly those who will uee any excuse for making money and garnering publicity, of which the media are more than willing to exploit. This really is the grubby side of crime and seeing it presented as it is in The Flower Girls really brings home how awful society can be and that while there are degrees of wrong, wounds can be inflicted by seemingly minor acts.

While I enjoyed the book which is divided into parts including the ubiquitous flashback scenes taking in the murder in 1997 and the eventual reunion of the two sisters, it did seem to be trying perhaps too hard in places to stick to the psychological thriller brief complete with surprising twists and turns. I personally felt that this meant that the excellent and sensitive probing of such a complex issue got lost in some less realistic plot devices but this was really a personal and minor quibble in what was a satisfying read.

Overall this book feels very dark indeed. I think this feeling persists due to the shadowy nature of the girls’ early years and the decisions their parents make following the imprisonment of Laurel, overall this book made me feel incredibly sad for all the wasted lives contained within its pages. Understanding the parallels to society only served to underline my sadness. For all that, it was a well thought-out novel that will stay with me for quite some time to come.

First Published UK: 17 January 2019
Publisher: Raven/strong>
No. of Pages: 339
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2019, Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective – Susannah Stapleton #20BooksofSummer

Non-Fiction
5*s

 

I had high hopes for this book after all what self-respecting crime fiction lover with a strong interest in women’s history could resist. This book more than surpassed those high expectations, so much so that despite having other books to review (a whole stack of them) I couldn’t wait to share this one.

Maud West was good at self-promotion. She advertised in the press and submitted to interviews telling of her daring deeds both close to home and in far flung places. She dealt with blackmail, drugs and divorce cases from an office in Albion Place, opposite the British Museum in London.

Susannah Stapeton is interested in Maud West’s daring deeds, although right from the start she takes them with a hefty pinch of salt, for some reason doubting the gun toting spinster really had quite so much excitement when she set up her detective agency back in 1905. But what the author is more interested in is the woman behind the public face. So she goes a searching in the archives:

‘The age was off by a few years, but she undeniably showed the right amount of pluck. Besides, who better to catch villains than a former master criminal?’

This is a book that manages to balance a flavour of the reality of Maud West’s life as a ‘lady detective’ whilst providing the reader with a picture of life from the start of her detective work up to the outbreak of the second world war. While Maud West proclaims on her shadowing for divorce work, the author provides us with some real life examples of cases that were reported at the time emphasising the points of law that were required to secure a break from an unhappy life. We take in Maud’s skill at disguise, we take a trip to drug manufacture and its use in the 1920s, we touch on suffragette movement and the romance frauds more easily committed due to the large imbalance of women to men following the first world war. It’s fair to say we get a taster of so much social history set against an investigation into the private face of the public lady detective.

‘In fiction the woman detective is always young and fascinating; her skill in handling delicate situation and in solving the most puzzling mysteries arouses admiration. She is fearless and knows how to handle an automatic pistol. Prepare to be astonished: greet one in real life!’

I am hard pushed to decide which part I enjoyed more because hearing how Susannah Stapleton tracked down the ‘real’ Maud West was equally fascinating and will be of interest I’m sure to anyone who has dabbled in genealogy because here we have the author making the similar leaps and links, not all successful, that is required to get to the truth. I was honestly just as thrilled watching the author wondering about those other people living cheek to jowl on census night and putting their names to one side, and then seeing why they were there many pages further on. The style might not be to everyone’s taste but for me I found it leant an air of realism to the research is usually hidden from the reader.

One of the great problems with reviewing this non-fiction book that concentrates on a less than well-known subject is that there is little I can say because in a sense this is a detective novel in its own right and I would have been gutted if I’d had even an inkling of some of the information I discovered whilst reading it. I can say that there are some aspects of ‘real-life’ incredibly pleasing such as finding that Hawley Harvey Crippin worked from the same building as Maud West and it was here that Inspector Dew first interviewed him.

This style wouldn’t have worked as well had the author not adopted a light touch in terms of writing style. Whilst not a laugh out loud level of looking on the wry side of life…

‘… however it ended – Maud was plainly better off out of it. George Stafford Howell was a chancer. He admitted to the judge that he dropped the ‘Howell’ from his name when it suited him, and his business enterprises all seemed doomed to failure.’

So in short, if you want a non-fiction book with a difference then don’t miss out on this gem.

I am extremely grateful to the publishers Pan Macmillan for providing me with an advance copy of The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective, and of course to Susannah Stapleton for bringing this previously unheard lady detective to my attention. This unbiased review is my thanks to them.

This book encapsulates why I love reading; to be educated and entertained at the same time is a pleasure indeed and so it is fitting that this was the first of my 20 Books for Summer 2019 Challenge!

First Published UK: 13 June 2019
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
No. of Pages: 320
Genre: Non-Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (June 5)


WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.
The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

My current read or rather listen is I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney, this book is truly a haunting tale and I’m struggling to find enough time to feed my addiction to it. The narration by Stephanie Racine is superb!

Blurb

Aimee Sinclair: the actress everyone thinks they know but can’t remember where from.

Except me. I know exactly where you’re from, who you are, what you’ve done.

Your husband has gone missing and the police think you’re hiding something. You lie for a living, always pretending to be someone else. But that’s not new, is it?

Because I know you lied before. You’ve always lied. And the lies we tell ourselves are always the most dangerous…. Amazon

The last book I finished was Someone is Lying the latest psychological thriller by Jenny Blackhurst


Blurb

It’s been a year since Erica Spencer died in a tragic accident at a party, and the community where she lived has moved on with their lives.
Everybody has secrets.
But someone thinks it wasn’t an accident. Someone thinks it was murder.
Some are worth killing for.
And when an anonymous podcast names six local suspects, shockwaves ripple through the neighbourhood. Before the podcast is over, the police will be opening more than one murder enquiry. Because someone is lying…
But who? NetGalley

Next I plan on reading a book by a favourite author of mine, Denise Mina. Her latest standalone novel Conviction was recently published on 16 May 2019.

Blurb

It’s just a normal morning for Anna McDonald. Gym kits, packed lunches, getting everyone up and ready. Until she opens the front door to her best friend, Estelle. Anna turns to see her own husband at the top of the stairs, suitcase in hand. They’re leaving together and they’re taking Anna’s two daughters with them.

Left alone in the big, dark house, Anna can’t think, she can’t take it in. With her safe, predictable world shattered, she distracts herself with a story: a true-crime podcast. There’s a sunken yacht in the Mediterranean, multiple murders and a hint of power and corruption. Then Anna realises she knew one of the victims in another life. She is convinced she knows what happened. Her past, so carefully hidden until now, will no longer stay silent.

This is a murder she can’t ignore, and she throws herself into investigating the case. But little does she know, her past and present lives are about to collide, sending everything she has worked so hard to achieve into freefall. Amazon

So back in the familiar psychological thriller territory this week but nevertheless three very different tales to be told.

What are you reading this week?

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (June 4)

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by from I’d Rather Be At The Beach who 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.

Well since it is now June I need to knuckle down and read the books on my 20 Books of Summer 2019 challenge list so my opening this week comes from a book due to be published on 16 July 2019; The Other Mrs Miller by Allison Dickson promises us a mixture between Gone Girl and Killing Eve!!

Blurb

Two women are watching each other.
Phoebe isn’t sure when the car started showing up. At first she put it down to the scandal around her late father, but she’s certain now it’s there for her. What’s interesting about an unhappily married housewife, who barely leaves her house?

Only one knows why.
Every morning, not long before your husband leaves for work, I wait for the blinds beside your front door to twitch. You might think I’m sitting out here waiting to break into your house and add a piece of your life to my collection. Things aren’t quite that simple. It’s not a piece of your life I want.
When a new family move in across the street, it provides Phoebe with a distraction. But with her head turned she’s no longer focused on the woman in the car. And Phoebe really should be, because she’s just waiting for an opportunity to upend Phoebe’s life… Amazon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

Chapter One

The blue care is there again this morning. It’s parked just down the block, never in the same spot twice, but always within easy view of Phoebe’s peering eyes. The older Ford Focus, with its rusted fenders and a cracked windshield that makes seeing the driver almost impossible, even with powerful binoculars, would go unnoticed almost anywhere else in Chicago. But on a quiet Lake Forest street, where a three-year-old Land Rover seems ancient, it sticks out like a rotting incisor in a set of bleached teeth. The only clue to the driver’s identity is a magnet on the front passenger door that says Executive Courier Services, but she has yet to see any delivery take place. Phoebe isn’t exactly sure when the car first started showing up, but once she noticed its repeat visits, she began keeping a log like the sort of busybody neighbourhood watch captain that would ordinarily annoy her.

Would you keep reading?

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

The Evidence Against You – Gillian McAllister

Psychological Thriller
5*s

Gillian McAllister has already cemented herself as an author whose books I must read so it is fair to say I had very high expectations for The Evidence Against You. Once again the author almost poses her question from the first page of the book, in this case how would you feel if your father, a man who has been in prison for the last seventeen years for the murder of your mother, wants to convince you of his innocence. Yes I acknowledge it’s unlikely that that happens to many people but what Gillian McAllister is great at doing is that after she has posed her question she introduces you to characters that you can absolutely believe in.

Izzy’s mother Alex was murdered. Her body was found in woods some twenty years ago and her father was imprisoned for her murder. But that was then, now Izzy runs her mother’s restaurant even though she isn’t particularly fond of the industry or that interested in the food created there but she has the support of her cousin. Izzy is married to Nick, a police analyst who is her ‘rock.’ Nick would rather her father, Gabe, was left in the past and he’s undoubtedly worried when Gabe turns up seeking Izzy’s undivided attention, seeking to prove that he was innocent of any wrongdoing.

So we have a great premise, some well-drawn and convincing characters and into the mix the author places them all on the Isle of Wight. This being a small community which of course gives us endless secrets either kept close to chests by those islanders who either didn’t want to get involved or those who thought that they would benefit more from keeping quiet. Of course when Gabe makes his way back to the island the news is out – Gabe and Izzy can’t meet without being spotted by someone. A small town setting gives the reader a whole spectrum of levels of secrecy to deal with and it is one I am particularly fond of; living on an island myself I know how precarious secrecy can be depending who knows the secret!

The structure of the story is that of flitting backwards and forwards through town to the events before and immediately after Alex’s murder to those in the present day. The author has done a great job of making the character of Izzy consistent enough to recognise that it is the same person while providing some aspects to show both character growth and change due to the trauma that she has had to deal with since that day.

Once again I found this to be an incredibly addictive read. I did not want to put the book aside, I needed to know what conclusion Izzy would come to and how she would deal with whatever that might be. I was not disappointed and so I’m left hoping that this brilliant author has another incredible idea up her sleeve for me to consume soon.

I am extremely grateful to the publishers Penguin UK The Evidence Against You, and of course Gillian McAllister. This unbiased review is my thanks to them.

First Published UK: 18 April 2019
Publisher: Penguin
No. of Pages: 448
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Previous Books by Gillian McAllister
Everything But The Truth
Anything You Do Say
No Further Questions

Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2019

20 Books of Summer 2019 #20BooksofSummer


Well once again I am joining Cathy746 with her annual 20 books of summer challenge, a challenge I have met with varying degrees of success (or failure). Normally I choose only physical books from my own shelves but with my lacklustre reading this year I have decided that I need to keep this easy with a wide variety of genres and types to keep me going…

So like Cathy from 3 June until 3 September I will be attempting to read my 20 Books of Summer.

You join in with your own 20 (or 10, or 15!), and link your post with your choices to the Linky on Cathy’s blog so we can all cheer each other on!

So without further ado here are my books:

1. The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective by Susannah Stapleton.

NetGalley – eBook – Non-Fiction

Maud West ran her detective agency in London for more than thirty years, having started sleuthing on behalf of society’s finest in 1905.

Her exploits grabbed headlines throughout the world but, beneath the public persona, she was forced to hide vital aspects of her own identity in order to thrive in a class-obsessed and male-dominated world. And – as Susannah Stapleton reveals – she was a most unreliable witness to her own life.

Who was Maud? And what was the reality of being a female private detective in the Golden Age of Crime? Interweaving tales from Maud West’s own ‘casebook’ with social history and extensive original research,
Stapleton investigates the stories Maud West told about herself in a quest to uncover the truth. With walk-on parts by Dr Crippen and Dorothy L. Sayers, Parisian gangsters and Continental blackmailers, The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective is both a portrait of a woman ahead of her time and a deliciously salacious glimpse into the underbelly of ‘good society’ during the first half of the twentieth century.

2. The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon

Own Copy – Physical – Crime Fiction

England,1976.

Mrs Creasy is missing and The Avenue is alive with whispers. As the summer shimmers endlessly on, ten-year-olds Grace and Tilly decide to take matters into their own hands.

And as the cul-de-sac starts giving up its secrets, the amateur detectives will find much more than they imagined…

 

3. Perfect Remains by Helen Fields

Own Copy – eBook – Crime Fiction – Series

On a remote Highland mountain, the body of Elaine Buxton is burning. All that will be left to identify the respected lawyer are her teeth and a fragment of clothing.

In the concealed back room of a house in Edinburgh, the real Elaine Buxton screams into the darkness…

Detective Inspector Luc Callanach has barely set foot in his new office when Elaine’s missing persons case is escalated to a murder investigation. Having left behind a promising career at Interpol, he’s eager to prove himself to his new team. But Edinburgh, he discovers, is a long way from Lyon, and Elaine’s killer has covered his tracks with meticulous care.

It’s not long before another successful woman is abducted from her doorstep, and Callanach finds himself in a race against the clock. Or so he believes … The real fate of the women will prove more twisted than he could have ever imagined.

 

4. I know Who You Are by Alice Feeney

Own Copy – Audiobook – Psychological Thriller

Aimee Sinclair: the actress everyone thinks they know but can’t remember where from. But I know exactly who you are. I know what you’ve done. And I am watching you.
When Aimee comes home and discovers her husband is missing, she doesn’t seem to know what to do or how to act. The police think she’s hiding something and they’re right, she is – but perhaps not what they thought. Aimee has a secret she’s never shared, and yet, she suspects that someone knows. As she struggles to keep her career and sanity intact, her past comes back to haunt her in ways more dangerous than she could have ever imagined.

 

5. Victorian Murders by Jan Bondeson

Own Copy – Physical Book – Non-Fiction

This book features fifty-six Victorian cases of murder covered in the sensational weekly penny journal the Illustrated Police News between 1867 and 1900.
Some of them are famous, like the Bravo Mystery of 1876, the Llangibby Massacre of 1878 and the Mrs Pearcey case of 1890; others are little-known, like the Acton Atrocity of 1880, the Ramsgate Mystery of 1893 and the Grafton Street Murder of 1894. Take your ticket for the house of horrors.

 

 

6. Conviction by Denise Mina

NetGalley – eBook – Psychological Thriller

It’s just a normal morning for Anna McDonald. Gym kits, packed lunches, getting everyone up and ready. Until she opens the front door to her best friend, Estelle. Anna turns to see her own husband at the top of the stairs, suitcase in hand. They’re leaving together and they’re taking Anna’s two daughters with them.

Left alone in the big, dark house, Anna can’t think, she can’t take it in. With her safe, predictable world shattered, she distracts herself with a story: a true-crime podcast. There’s a sunken yacht in the Mediterranean, multiple murders and a hint of power and corruption. Then Anna realises she knew one of the victims in another life. She is convinced she knows what happened. Her past, so carefully hidden until now, will no longer stay silent.

This is a murder she can’t ignore, and she throws herself into investigating the case. But little does she know, her past and present lives are about to collide, sending everything she has worked so hard to achieve into freefall.

 

7. Saplings by Noel Streatfeild

Own Copy – Physical Book – Classic

Noel Streatfeild is best known as a writer for children, but had not thought of writing for them until persuaded to re-work her first novel as Ballet Shoes; this had sold ten million copies by the time of her death.

Saplings (1945), her tenth book for adults, is also about children: a family with four of them, to whom we are first introduced in all their secure Englishness in the summer of 1939.

‘Her purpose is to take a happy, successful, middle-class pre-war family – and then track in miserable detail the disintegration and devastation which war brought to tens of thousands of such families,’ writes the psychiatrist Dr Jeremy Holmes in his Afterword. Her ‘supreme gift was her ability to see the world from a child’s perspective’ and ‘she shows that children can remain serene in the midst of terrible events as long as they are handled with love and openness.’ She understood that ‘the psychological consequences of separating children from their parents was glossed over in the rush to ensure their physical survival… It is fascinating to watch Streatfeild casually and intuitively anticipate many of the findings of developmental psychology over the past fifty years.’ ‘A study of the disintegration of a middle-class family during the turmoil of the Second World War, and quite shocking’ wrote Sarah Waters in the Guardian. Saplings was a ten-part serial on BBC Radio 4 in 2004.

 

8. Oustide Looking In by Michael Wood

Own Copy – eBook – Crime Fiction – Series

When elderly George Rainsford goes to investigate a suspicious noise one night, the last thing he expects to find is a bloodbath. A man has been killed and a woman brutally beaten, left for dead.

The victims are Lois Craven and Kevin Hardaker – both married, but not to each other. Their spouses swear they knew nothing of the affair and, besides, they both have alibis for the attack. With nothing else to link the victims, the investigation hits a dead end.

The pressure is on for investigating officer, DCI Matilda Darke: there’s a violent killer on the loose, and it looks like her team members are the new targets. With no leads and no suspects, it’s going to take all Matilda’s wits to catch him, before he strikes again.

 

9. Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

Own Copy – Audiobook – Contemporary Fiction

For as long as anyone can remember, Britt-Marie has been an acquired taste. It’s not that she’s judgemental, or fussy, or difficult – she just expects things to be done in a certain way. A cutlery drawer should be arranged in the right order, for example (forks, knives, then spoons). We’re not animals, are we?

But behind the passive-aggressive, socially awkward, absurdly pedantic busybody is a woman who has more imagination, bigger dreams and a warmer heart than anyone around her realizes.

So when Britt-Marie finds herself unemployed, separated from her husband of 20 years, left to fend for herself in the miserable provincial backwater that is Borg – of which the kindest thing one can say is that it has a road going through it – and somehow tasked with running the local football team, she is a little unprepared. But she will learn that life may have more to offer her that she’s ever realised, and love might be found in the most unexpected of places.

10. 99 Red Balloons by Elisabeth Carpenter

Own Copy – eBook – Psychological Thriller

wo girls go missing, decades apart. What would you do if one was your daughter?
When eight-year-old Grace goes missing from a sweetshop on the way home from school, her mother Emma is plunged into a nightmare. Her family rallies around, but as the police hunt begins, cracks begin to emerge.
What are the secret emails sent between Emma’s husband and her sister? Why does her mother take so long to join the search? And is Emma really as innocent as she seems?
Meanwhile, ageing widow Maggie Taylor sees Grace’s picture in the newspaper. It’s a photograph that jolts her from the pain of her existence into a spiralling obsession with another girl – the first girl who disappeared…

 

11. The Other Mrs Miller by Allison Dickson

NetGalley – eBook – Psychological Thriller

Two women are watching each other.
Phoebe isn’t sure when the car started showing up. At first she put it down to the scandal around her late father, but she’s certain now it’s there for her. What’s interesting about an unhappily married housewife, who barely leaves her house?

Only one knows why.
Every morning, not long before your husband leaves for work, I wait for the blinds beside your front door to twitch. You might think I’m sitting out here waiting to break into your house and add a piece of your life to my collection. Things aren’t quite that simple. It’s not a piece of your life I want.
When a new family move in across the street, it provides Phoebe with a distraction. But with her head turned she’s no longer focused on the woman in the car. And Phoebe really should be, because she’s just waiting for an opportunity to upend Phoebe’s life…

 

 

12. They Walk Among Us by Benjamin Fitton, Rosanna Fitton

Own Copy – Audiobook – Non-Fiction

A Chilling Casebook of Horrifying Hometown Crimes
How well do you really know your friends?

Neighbours, friends, doctors and colleagues. We see them every day. We trust them implicitly. But what about the British army sergeant who sabotaged his wife’s parachute? Or the lodger who took his landlady on a picnic from which she never returned? From dentists to PAs, these normal-seeming people were quietly wrecking lives, and nobody suspected a thing.

In this first book from the addictive award-winning podcast They Walk Among Us, Benjamin and Rosanna serve up small-town stories in gripping detail. They’ve hooked millions of listeners with their intricate and disturbing cases, and now they dig into ten more tales, to provide an unforgettably sinister true-crime experience, scarily close to home.

It could happen to you.

 

13. Roar by Cecilia Ahern

Borrowed – Physical Book – Short Stories

Have you ever imagined a different life?

Have you ever stood at a crossroads, undecided? Have you ever had a moment when you wanted to roar?

From much-loved, international bestseller Cecelia Ahern come stories for all of us: the women who befriend us, the women who encourage us, the women who make us brave. From The Woman Who Slowly Disappeared to The Woman Who Returned and Exchanged her Husband, discover thirty touching, often hilarious, stories and meet thirty very different women. Each discovers her strength; each realizes she holds the power to make a change.

Witty, tender, surprising, these keenly observed tales speak to us all, and capture the moment when we all want to roar.

 

 

14. The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell

NetGalley – eBook – Psychological Thriller

In a large house in London’s fashionable Chelsea, a baby is awake in her cot. Well-fed and cared for, she is happily waiting for someone to pick her up.
In the kitchen lie three decomposing corpses. Close to them is a hastily scrawled note.
They’ve been dead for several days.

Who has been looking after the baby?
And where did they go?
Two entangled families.
A house with the darkest of secrets.

 

 

15. The House of Stairs by Barbara Vine

Own Copy (Re read)- Physical Book – Psychological Thriller

Lizzie hasn’t seen her old friend, Bell, for some fourteen years, but when she spots her from a taxi in a London street she jumps out and pursues her despite ‘all the terrible things’ that passed between them. As Lizzie reveals those events, little by little, the women rekindle their friendship, with terrifying results …

 

 

 

16.. The Hireling by L.P. Hartley

Own Copy – Physical Book – Classic

Overcome with grief at her husband’s death, Lady Franklin, an eligible young widow, unburdens herself to Leadbitter – a gallant, hard-bitten ex-soldier who has invested his savings in the car he drives for hire – as he takes her on a series of journeys.

He in turn beguiles her with stories of his non-existent wife and children, drawing her out of her self-absorption and weaving a dream-life with Lady Franklin at its heart. Half-hoping to make his dream come true, Leadbitter takes a bold, not to say reckless, step which costs him dearly, and brings these characters’ tangled story to a dramatic and unexpected conclusion.

 

17. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Own Copy – Audiobook – Contemporary Fiction

Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.
One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

 

18. The Girl in the Letter by Emily Gunis

Own Copy – eBook – Historical Fiction

A heartbreaking letter. A girl locked away. A mystery to be solved.
1956. When Ivy Jenkins falls pregnant she is sent in disgrace to St Margaret’s, a dark, brooding house for unmarried mothers. Her baby is adopted against her will. Ivy will never leave.
Present day. Samantha Harper is a journalist desperate for a break. When she stumbles on a letter from the past, the contents shock and move her. The letter is from a young mother, begging to be rescued from St Margaret’s. Before it is too late.

Sam is pulled into the tragic story and discovers a spate of unexplained deaths surrounding the woman and her child. With St Margaret’s set for demolition, Sam has only hours to piece together a sixty-year-old mystery before the truth, which lies disturbingly close to home, is lost for ever…
Read her letter. Remember her story…

 

19. The Poison Garden by Alex Marwood

NetGalley – eBook – Crime Fiction

Where Romy grew up, if someone died you never spoke of them again.

Now twenty-two, she has recently escaped the toxic confines of the cult she was raised in. But Romy is young, pregnant and completely alone – and if she is to keep herself safe in this new world, she has some important lessons to learn.

Like how there are some people you can trust, and some you must fear. And about who her family really is, and why her mother ran away from them all those years ago.

And that you can’t walk away from a dark past without expecting it to catch up with you…

 

20. The Black Sheep by Sophie McKenzie

Own Copy – Physical Book – Psychological Thriller

Your life is in danger – and the death threats are coming from someone close to you. But who?
Someone in your family is lying to you.

Francesca was widowed a year ago. Since then she has focused on her children, trying to soothe their grief as well as her own. Her husband and father never quite saw eye to eye but no one could have cared more for her in the past year than her close-knit family. Finally, she feels she might be ready to move on with life.

Until she is contacted out of the blue by someone who says he must get information to her. That her husband’s death wasn’t what it seemed. And that her family know more than they say ….

Who can Francesca trust? And what will happen to her if she puts her faith in the wrong person?

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (May 29)


WWW Wednesday is run by Taking on a World of Words.
The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

I have just started reading Someone is Lying by Jenny Blackhurst an author whose psychological thrillers have fascinated me in the past. Someone is Lying will be published in the UK on 31 May 2019.



Blurb

One year after Erica Spencer trips and falls down a flight of stairs at a lavish Halloween party, the residents of the exclusive gated community where she lived have comes to terms with her death and moved on with their lives.

Until one day, a post on the school’s website announces there will be a podcast to expose what really happened on the night of the accident. Six suspects are named, with the podcaster promising to reveal the murderer by the end of the series.

Everyone in this community has secrets to keep, and one of them is already a killer. Amazon

The last book I finished was one from my own collection; Babies, ghosts and asylums all have their part to play in
The Evening Spider by Emily Arsenault. This is a creepy story that links two women’s lives years apart.


Blurb

A gripping blend of psychological suspense and historical true crime, this riveting novel—inspired by a sensational real-life murder from the 1800s—by critically acclaimed author Emily Arsenault delivers a heart-stopping mystery linking two young mothers from different centuries.

Frances Barnett and Abby Bernacki are two haunted young mothers living in the same house in two different centuries.

1885: Frances Barnett is in the Northampton Lunatic Hospital, telling her story to a visitor. She has come to distrust her own memories, and believes that her pregnancy, birth, and early days of motherhood may have impaired her sanity.

During the earliest months of her baby’s life, Frances eagerly followed the famous murder trial of Mary Stannard—that captivated New Englanders with its salacious details and expert forensic testimony. Following—and even attending—this trial, Frances found an escape from the monotony of new motherhood. But as her story unfolds, Frances must admit that her obsession with the details of the murder were not entirely innocent.

Present day: Abby has been adjusting to motherhood smoothly—until recently, when odd sensations and dreams have begun to unsettle her while home alone with her baby. When she starts to question the house’s history, she is given the diary of Frances Barnett, who lived in the house 125 years earlier. Abby finds the diary disturbing, and researches the Barnett family’s history. The more Abby learns, the more she wonders about a negative—possibly supernatural—influence in her house. She becomes convinced that when she sleeps, she leaves her daughter vulnerable—and then vows not to sleep until she can determine the cause of her eerie experiences.

Frances Barnett might not be the only new mother to lose her mind in this house. And like Frances, Abby discovers that by trying to uncover another’s secrets, she risks awakening some of her own. Amazon

Next I’m planning on a non-fiction outing with The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective by Susannah Stapleton. Taking a look at historical secrets and lies with this lady PI sounds terrific.

Blurb

Maud West ran her detective agency in London for more than thirty years, having started sleuthing on behalf of society’s finest in 1905.

Her exploits grabbed headlines throughout the world but, beneath the public persona, she was forced to hide vital aspects of her own identity in order to thrive in a class-obsessed and male-dominated world. And – as Susannah Stapleton reveals – she was a most unreliable witness to her own life.

Who was Maud? And what was the reality of being a female private detective in the Golden Age of Crime? Interweaving tales from Maud West’s own ‘casebook’ with social history and extensive original research,
Stapleton investigates the stories Maud West told about herself in a quest to uncover the truth. With walk-on parts by Dr Crippen and Dorothy L. Sayers, Parisian gangsters and Continental blackmailers, The Adventures of Maud West, Lady Detective is both a portrait of a woman ahead of her time and a deliciously salacious glimpse into the underbelly of ‘good society’ during the first half of the twentieth century. NetGalley

So I have a psychological thriller, a bit of a mixture with a strong dash of historical fiction and historical non-fiction – quite a good variety if I do say so myself.

What are you reading this week?

Posted in Book Offers, Book Review, Five Star Reads

Degrees of Guilt – HS Chandler

When I spied an excellent review for this book on Chocolate’n’Waffles blog, I knew I had to get a copy to read for myself. Now I have to confess I haven’t read any of the author’s books written under the name Helen Fields although I do have the first book in Human Remains, the first in the DI Callanach series on my kindle. But like any dedicated bookworm, I know what I like and right near the top of the list is books set in a courtroom and not far behind are ones that pose a moral dilemma.

Maria is in the dock. No shades of grey are instantly apparent, her husband the eminent ecologist Edward Bloxham is dead. She called the police and greeted them on the front drive holding the weapon, a broken chair leg.
Lottie Hiraj is on the jury she’s a young mother and deep down the chance to do something other than keep house for a while is a little bit appealing. But can casting judgement on another person’s life be something that you can do without it changing you?

The majority of the book is set in Bristol Crown Court either in the court itself or in the jury room where the twelve selected members of the public are sequestered while they wait for the next act and ultimately go to make their judgement. What happens in between is both insightful with hefty dashes of surprise as the author.

I loved the entire premise as much as I hoped I would. This courtroom drama was spot on even though the author took the more difficult route by giving us an opening where we see the immediate aftermath of Edward’s murder. The peek into the life of Maria and Edward is fascinating and disturbing in equal measures. This book was written after some recent changes to the law and therefore hopefully a shift in society’s awareness of the issues. The characters are well drawn, mainly multi-layered and fairly diverse in their backgrounds– just what the jury system is supposed to deliver? Of course the perpetrator and the jury aren’t the only main players we also have the barristers, a psychologist and the police making their point, bringing their own thoughts into the courtroom to be held up for inspection. Interestingly the author borrows from the court system to tell her story but doesn’t get too hung up on all the legalities to make the story work, those who are sticklers for true representation may find this hard to take.

What I didn’t expect was that the book was far less straightforward than I expected, parallels are subtlety drawn between Maria’s life with Edward and Lottie’s with her husband Zain which made me feel quite uncomfortable at times but fear not this isn’t a book which depends upon something quite so obvious, there is far more to this story than you might think! In fact this is the first book in an absolute age that I didn’t want to be parted from, and while that may be partly down to timing, I can’t deny that biggest reason is because it is a gripping tale.

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC for Degrees of Guilt from the publishers Trapeze, this unbiased review is my thanks to them, and the author – be assured I will be reading Perfect Remains before too long!

 

First Published UK: 16 May 2019
Publisher: Trapeze
No of Pages: 368
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Blood Orange – Harriet Tyce

Psychological Thriller
3*s

We have a lawyer and an affair both of which led me to believe that perhaps we would also have a story in the vein of Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty but apart from both featuring a piece of fruit in the title there wasn’t an awful lot that the two had in common.

Anyway in Blood Orange we have Alison a woman who has the high-powered job, a husband, Carl, a young daughter, Mathilde, and a lover, Patrick … and to top it all off she has finally got her very first murder case to take to trial.

And I suppose this is the crux of the problem I had with the book. Harriet Tyce practiced as a criminal barrister for over a decade, she therefore has the knowledge to bring realism into the fictional scenes surrounding her defence of a Madeline Smith who is accused of killing her husband. Sadly most of this aspect of the book is overtaken by Alison’s car-crash of a personal life.

Alison is what is termed a ‘flawed’ character and I partly blame myself for ignoring this flag when choosing a new book to buy because while I can enjoy a novel even if I don’t like a character, I’m not nearly as keen on those who act against their own perceived best interests. I am fairly confident that in real life you have to be smart and strong to become a barrister, Alison appeared to be neither – the fact that the scenes with her lover took submission to a whole new level could be potentially be excused as part of a type of relationship but she was a pathetic mother, a whiny wife and yet did nothing to improve any facet of her home life. Instead the only thing Alison seemed good at was drinking and sadly I don’t find that fun to witness, or even read about.

So that’s what I found less than convincing but I did read the entire book in part to find how the trial went for Madeline, and to see whether Alison could stop her self-destructive behaviour long enough to see how toxic most of the people in her life were. So while the psychological angle wasn’t quite what I expected this was a study of deeply troubled people and could be a text book study of all the varied abusive relationships to be encountered.

This is one dark book and perhaps if I’d been fully prepared for just how dark it was going to be, I would have approached it with a different mind-set and possibly enjoyed it more as a result.

 

First Published UK: 21 February 2019
Publisher: Wildfire
No of Pages: 336
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US