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

The Chalk Pit – Elly Griffiths – Blog Tour (#BookReview)

Crime Fiction 5*s
Crime Fiction
5*s

I am a huge fan of this series which features the down to earth Dr Ruth Galloway and the surprisingly complex DCI Harry Nelson so I was thrilled to be asked to be part of the Blog Tour to celebrate the publication of The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths, the ninth book in the series which was published on 23 February 2017.

the-chalk-pit-blog-tour

To kick off the tour I give you my humble opinion of this great book!

Book Review

Another outing for Ruth Galloway and this time the action is firmly set in Norwich when bones are found in an underground tunnel under Guildhall, which is something of an inconvenience for Quentin Swain the architect who is looking to use the space to build a swanky restaurant. Ruth overcomes her dislike of enclosed spaces to take a trip below the city to take a look; she’s fairly sure that they are old bones so sends them off to be tested.

Meanwhile the police are investigating the disappearance of a homeless woman, Babs in Norwich who has disappeared without trace. Eddie who has made the police station his bedroom, has reported her missing and it is clear when the police starts talking to the other members of the community, that they are worried about her too, but many are cautious of the police. And then a housewife goes missing in very suspicious circumstances and the police are forced to consider whether there can be a link to Babs.

I have to say that this book treats the subject of homelessness with far more nuance than any other that I’ve read. Elly Griffiths has given each of the many men, and they usually are men, a realistic story of how they came to be on the street, and why they are unwilling to accept the help offered to them but she has resisted the urge to make them all out to be saints which means that her attempts to make them realistic characters is so much more effective.
One of the many aspects of this series which I love is the link between Ruth and DI Nelson through their daughter Kate and the peek behind their working lives into what can only fairly be described as muddled. These insights leak around the side of the main investigation, never overwhelming it but often cleverly linking or echoing the themes.

In this book Kate is offered the part in a play. Ruth isn’t too sure whether this is a good idea but a few words from her mother and outright disapproval from Nelson means that Kate winds up playing the child Alice in a quirky adaption of that famous story called Alice Underground. The adult Alice being played by Cassandra wife of DS Clough.

The other aspect I really enjoy is that upon opening up the latest in the series I feel like I’m meeting old friends with the characters, distinct and engaging as ever, we had plenty of news to catch up on while underground tunnels were being searched and pits opening up in the road are causing chaos in Norwich. Ruth Galloway also links back to past books with little asides so this really is one of those series which is best read in order although there is a helpful who’s who guide at the back of the book for those of you reckless readers who are happy to dive in straight at book nine!

The familiarity of the characters alongside the first person narrative really make me feel that I am part of the book. So I know what’s going on and I can often predict the individual character’s response, but the plotting is so devious that I am no match for the detectives, I am merely on the side lines waiting for them to crack the case in indomitable style.

Although to be honest there isn’t one of these books that I haven’t enjoyed, the plotting in this one seemed tauter and the links more robust than some of the previous books. When you combine the excellent mystery with some intriguing personal lives and a look at a community which rarely has an accurate spotlight trained on it whilst seamlessly providing the history of the underground tunnels in Norwich, The Chalk Pit was a sure fire winner.

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Elly Griffiths – Sara Reeve

Dr Ruth Galloway Books in Order

The Crossing Places
The Janus Stone
The House at Sea’s End
A Room Full of Bones
Dying Fall
The Outcast Dead
The Ghost Fields
The Woman in Blue

First Published UK: 23 February 2017
Publisher: Quercus
No of Pages:  384
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Mount TBR 2017

The Thirteen Problems – Agatha Christie

Short Stories 3*s
Short Stories
3*s

So after finally allowing Miss Marple into my life just last year with Murder at the Vicarage, I decided to try another book which featured this sharp, yet elderly spinster of St Mary Mead. What I didn’t quite appreciate was that The Thirteen Problems wasn’t really the second book in the series as denoted by Goodreads but a collection of linked, but essentially short stories, featuring the accidental detective.

The collection starts with The Tuesday Night club held at Miss Marple’s house where each of the six friends, including Miss Marpe’s nephew, Raymond West, the Vicar, Dr Pender, Former Scotland Yard Commissioner Sir Henry Clithering, an artist, Joyce Lempriere and the solicitor Mr Petherick gather round while Miss Marple knits and they discuss a seemingly unsolvable problem which only they know the answer to. Amazingly, because I really doubt I could find one friend, let alone six, to come up with a mystery of this standard, they all have a story to tell.

Dr Henry Clithering kicks things off with a dastardly plot complete with poison where three people ate the poisoned food but only one died.

Raymond recounts his tale of Ingots of Gold complete with Cornish smugglers and a ship wreck.

Joyce’s tale is also set in Cornwall and features a missing woman and a mysterious puddle of blood on the pavement
Dr Pender recounts an odd fancy dress party where one of the guests is stabbed through the heart in front of witnesses but no-one knows how or where the weapon went.

The legal man Mr Petherick has a tale which involves spiritualists and a will made in their favour – another taxing mystery as who would want to alter a will made in their favour.

Miss Marple’s own tale is probably my favourite in the whole book and not only because it features poison but a play on words.

It is a whole year later before the second set of six mysteries are heard at a dinner party held by Colonal Arthur Bantry and his wife Dolly in St Mary’s Mead. The dinner party also has Sir Henry Clithering in attendance along with, actress Jane Helier and Dr Lloyd ( a doctor of medicine this time) and of course Miss Marple herself.

Arthur Bantry has a spooky tale of mediums and ghosts appearing to an anxious woman in the Blue Geranuium
Dr Lloyd’s story is set in the glamorous location of Gran Canaria and a drowning he happened upon.

Sir Henry Clithering’s tale is in part philosophical on the harm of being a suspect with no way of proving your innocence. His tale had four men one of whom must have committed murder but with no obvious solution all remained suspects.

Spousal murder is Miss Marple’s contribution is set in a hydro spa where the sharp-eyed spinster is convinced murder is about to be committed but could she stop it in time?

More poison, this time from foxglove leaves from Dolly who recounted this domestic murder which seemed one that was likely to backfire onto the perpetrator.

The final dinner party story is from Jane Helier who tells a muddled tale of her ‘friend’ and a burgled bungalow that tends towards the preposterous. Even better Jane doesn’t have a solution but all becomes clear in Miss Marple’s whispered response to her problem.

Finally we have a lone tale where Miss Marple approaches Sir Henry Clithering some months later when he is visiting the Bantry’s again. This time the mystery is firmly local with a young girl having drowned whilst in the family way. Miss Marple is convinced it is murder and not suicide and needs Sir Henry to insert himself in the local police investigation to ensure justice is done.

There were some very clever stories in the mix but I have to be honest, I prefer a full length tale and thirteen murderous plots from a small number of people l began to feel a little contrived.

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First Published UK: 1932
Publisher: HarperCollins
No of Pages:  228
Genre: Short Stories
Amazon UK
Amazon US

 

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads, Mount TBR 2017

The Other Typist – Suzanne Rindell

Historical Fiction 5*s
Historical Fiction
5*s

The Other Typist is Rose’s tale we hear of her life working as a typist in a Police Precinct in Brooklyn, her shared room in a Boarding House with the room divided by a curtain, the other half containing a woman who Rose possibly dislikes, but definitely feels superior to. In 1920s Brooklyn the Prohibition period is in force and the Police Commander has decided that his force should be arresting those running the latest speakeasy which has popped up and then melt away around the city.

Enter Odile, a beautiful graceful creature, one with bags of sophistication, beautiful clothes and an easy manner. Odile is the ‘other typist’ the newest to join the typing pool. Rose is instantly both bewitched and disapproving of Odile, well that is until Odile decides to befriend her which leads to a chain of events that Rose could never have predicted.

The two girls become friends and moving from typing up the statements and sometimes confessions of the local gangsters and crooks, the girls attend the very speakeasy the police force they work for are supposed to be bringing to justice. There is a real sense of place and time in The Other Typist. I could quite have easily joined them on a night out in a beaded dress and sipping the champagne cocktails which were strictly prohibited. I think the secret locations with passwords required to gain entry would only make a night of partying with the select few who were in the know all the more alluring.

Rose narrates her story with a distinctive voice. We hear that Rose was an orphan, who was bought up by nuns but clearly a clever girl; she was one of the lucky ones who got an education. She is so obviously Odile’s inferior on the social scale but Rose has a sense of superiority that outweighs, well nearly, these facts. Indeed Rose’s narrative strongly reminded me of Barbara Covett in Zoe Heller’s novel What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal, both require a different label to ‘unreliable narrator’ I suggest ‘nebulous narrator’ is a far more accurate description as even at the end of the book, it was hard to separate the facts from the fiction. Rose’s sense of superiority is an overriding feature of her narrative style, and yet there is a sense that she realises that this is unfounded at times, all of which should make her unlikeable to her reader, but it didn’t, I felt a certain amount of fondness for this spiky young woman. Of course there are a number of other characters who have their parts to play but it must be remembered that all of these characters are viewed through Rose’s eyes, and Rose is only really watching one person, Odile.

Fairly early on in the book we learn that Rose is recounting her story from a hospital and so we get some sense of where the ending might lie, but the fun is entirely in the journey. So we follow Rose to work where she admires the Sergeant but isn’t quite so sure about the Lieutenant. Where she types faster than anyone else, naturally without making any mistakes. A life where she is able to judge how a particular interview will play out and yet she melts into the background where the police, all men of course, go about getting their confessions. We watch as her certainties about right and wrong unravel under Odile’s influence as she whirls around the dance floor with the latest contraband cocktail in hand until life whirls a little bit too fast and the wheels come off.

This was a superb story, even more so when you consider that this is the author’s debut novel and it was one which had me completely entranced with an ending has had me pondering for a good few days now. If like me you had this lingering on some TBR list of one description or another, don’t delay pull it out and read it!

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First Published UK: 2013
Publisher: Allison & Fig Tree
No of Pages:  369
Genre: Historical Fiction – Psychological
Amazon UK
Amazon US

 

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Trophy Child – Paula Daly

Psychological Thriller 4*s
Psychological Thriller
4*s

Bronte is just ten years old but she has a punishing schedule of piano classes, harp lessons and because her mother Karen Bloom is worried about the way she reads aloud, she also needs to fit in some drama classes to help that out. Of course she also has extra homework to ensure that she excels in every subject, but things in the Bloom household hide more than the obvious maternal pushing of Karen.

Noel Bloom is a doctor who seems to also be keen on alcohol, or maybe this is a mask for avoiding his home life aka known as Karen. Noel had left his first wife Jennifer when Karen became pregnant with Bronte. Jennifer now lives in a nursing home due to her MS which means that Noel’s first daughter Verity, now a feisty teenager lives with him too. Oh and there is Karen’s son from a previous relationship, a relationship she doesn’t want to discuss. Ewan now in his late teens is something of a disappointment to Karen and she is determined that Bronte will be far more successful.

So far so good, we have all met a Karen, a woman who imagines that the other mothers are lazy and misguided, a woman the is focussed on getting the best for her daughter no matter the cost. Then something happens which turns everything on its head and life for the Bloom family will never be the same again!

Paula Daly is at her best when she is creating characters we love to hate. She has made Karen a figure that can’t be pitied, so what emotions are left? She is also far better than many writers at creating convincing characters of the children. Although for a good part of the book Ewan was only partially visible, he too comes into his own later on, with a convincing performance that works to round the stereotypical view painted by his mother of a no-hoper.

As the plot begins to unfold the cracks in the family really begin to show and with each member taking a stance, I wouldn’t want to have lived there as they circled and protected in equal measure. Because underneath the plotline this is a story about relationships too. Modern blended families provide a wealth of complex bonds, that between Verity and Bronte being my favourite of the entire book. Two sisters who have had very different upbringings, have different aptitudes and different mothers are nonetheless siblings.

But best of all this book features the return of DS Joanne Aspinall, one of my favourite characters who first appeared in Just What Kind of Mother Are You? And she has a much larger part to play this time. She is running an investigation that involves the entire Bloom family, and she will get her answers. She also provides much of the witticisms that appear in The Trophy Child which despite the seriousness of the subject, gives the book a real jaunty feeling at times.

All in all a totally compelling read which had me engrossed, madly guessing the outcome from the very first page, all whilst giving me the impression that I was part of the investigation, if only I could sort out those red herrings from the clues that gave the answers. How did I do? Pretty badly, as usual although I had one strand cracked early on, Paula Daly was just far too wily for this amateur detective.

I would like to thank the publishers Grove Atlantic for giving me a copy of The Trophy Child. This review is my thank you to them and the incredibly talented Paula Daly.

First Published UK: 26 January 2017
Publisher: Bantam Press
No of Pages:  352
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Previous Books by Paula Daly

Just What Kind of Mother Are You?
Keep Your Friends Close
The Mistake I Made

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

My Sweet Revenge – Jane Fallon

Contemporary Fiction 4*s
Contemporary Fiction
4*s

This is a light read which was much appreciated and what more appealing subject than laughing at a hapless, and dare I say it, self-opinionated man, whose wife has become invisible to him after twenty odd years of marriage?

I loved Paula, a slightly overweight woman, who had aspirations to be an actress when she first met Robert but those dreams were put on hold whilst he pursued his acting ambitions and she stayed at home and looked after the baby. She’d been fooled by the ‘I’ll concentrate on my career first and then it will be your turn’ line and of course, it had never been her turn.

Paula’s baby is now about to leave for university and Paula has a part-time job in a coffee shop when she unwittingly spies a text on Robert’s phone that has only one conclusion. Robert is having an affair with one of his fellow cast members on the popular TV drama Farmer Giles.

I can safely confirm that Jane Fallon is back on form with this funny novel detailing how Paula is going to take her revenge. There are laughs to be had at everyday life that we all share – how is it that a novice running for a bus means you’re not stared at (or laughed at) while donning fitness gear and attempting to do it properly means that all heads swivel towards you? Robert’s role on a long running drama – think of a racier version of The Archers on TV, also has plenty to quip about as does the other woman’s penchant for hot yoga! Paula’s method for revenge is inspired although somewhat ambitious and also leads to some somewhat awkward situations.

All of this might give the impression that what happens is predictable, but it isn’t, the author has managed to create some creative twists in the tale which added a great deal of pleasure and apprehension to the plot. Despite no lives being at risk, just hearts, there were some truly cringe worthy moments for me to chuckle at.

The storyline flows and Paula had my sympathy because she wasn’t too whiny about finding out the truth – I know that in ‘real life’ this isn’t particularly likely but it was refreshing to read a book where she missed the self-pitying stage almost instantly and moved straight on with a plan! How refreshing to read a book that isn’t full of the misery of human nature but one which allowed me to laugh at the absurd way we humans often behave whilst sharing some of the less than charitable thoughts that I have about some types of character, their pastimes and ambitions from time to time! She may have been cheated on but it would take far more than that to beat Paula.
My Sweet Revenge moves at quite a pace with never a dull moment with even the seemingly benign domestic scenes taking in the truths of life which made them easy to recreate in the mind’s eye.

The perfect book to relax with, a good holiday read, or honestly a book to pick up and read wherever you fancy – in my case on a plane, in a car, on a train and of course my favourite place, tucked up in bed.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to the publishers Penguin UK who gave me a copy of My Sweet Revenge. My unbiased review is my thanks to them and the hugely entertaining Jane Fallon.

First Published UK: 12 January 2017
Publisher: Penguin
No of Pages:  416
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Sewing the Shadows Together – Alison Baillie

Crime Fiction 4*s
Crime Fiction
4*s

I like my crime fiction to feature past crimes which are bought into the present, that feeling of past and present becoming so tightly linked is really appealing and so the premise to Sewing the Shadows Together called to me from the moment I read the synopsis.

Shona McIver was raped and murdered over thirty years ago, she was just thirteen years old Her brother Tom and her family moved to South Africa following the shocking crime in in Portobello, the seaside suburb of Edinburgh. Her best friend Sarah remained in Portobello but what happened left a long shadow over both of their lives.

In the present day it is announced that the once young man, committed to hospital after being convicted of her murder, is to be released. Worse still it has been proved that he wasn’t the murderer. Tom is in Portobello at the time the police re-open their investigation having travelled over on family business and to attend a school reunion. What better background can you conjure up than a reunion organised by just the sort of woman who always organise such events, pushy and shallow with a conviction that everyone must have fun! The question is, is the real killer someone Tom and Sarah know; will the murderer be unmasked?

The emotions are so perfectly drawn in this novel. There is a bit of everything on the entire spectrum and because I was so drawn into the tale, I really felt the highs along with the lows. With a fast-moving plot with a surprising number of potential suspects who could have been part of the secret that Shona mentioned on the evening she disappeared. The result for the reader is many theories built and swiftly dashed to smithereens as another smidgen of information is revealed; just the kind of plotting I most enjoy. Although there was one moment when the coincidence seemed a little too convenient, on the whole I was convinced by the plot, in other words the clues were there.

And then there is the setting, which, because I chose to read Sewing the Shadows Together because Joanne from Portobello Book Blog and Alison Baillie have kindly provided a piece for the next Put A Book on the Map post which will be up tomorrow, is nothing but evocative. I have never been to Edinburgh and yet the seaside suburb of Portobello lends itself perfectly to the scene of the murder.  Don’t you think a murder committed in beautiful surroundings, seems so much more horrific? It is also presented as a fairly close-knit community back in the 1970s with enough key items from the time as markers but not so many that it feels like a trip into nostalgia. Not that all the action takes place in this setting, we journey to the Outer Hebrides to visit some of Tom’s scary relations and back to South Africa when he returns to visit his beloved aunt for one last time. There is no doubt in my mind that Alison Baillie is not only able to weave a convincing story but is able to make you feel as if you’ve visited the places themselves. Amazing as I have no first-hand knowledge of any of these settings.

There are a wide range of characters in the book, and as there are quite a few the author has managed to keep them distinct and interesting, although in some cases far from likeable and at times I couldn’t help wonder why this beautiful seaside setting hadn’t seen more murders over the years!

First Published UK: 23 July 2015
Publisher: Matador
No of Pages:  377
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Doll Funeral – Kate Hamer

Contemporary Fiction 4*s
Contemporary Fiction
4*s

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I requested The Doll Funeral because not only is it set in the Forest of Dean, in Gloucestershire, where I grew up, but it also features a thirteen year old girl, named Ruby, in 1983, the year I turned thirteen too – in short the parallels were too similar to not see what The Doll Funeral had to offer.

Ruby finds out she is adopted on the day of her thirteenth birthday up until this time she had no idea. All she learns is that she was a few months old before she was taken in by Barbara and Mick. Living on the very edge of the dense forest, Mick is cruel and bitter following the loss of his daughter at the tender age of three and Barbara is ineffectual against his rages. Ruby is a fairly solitary child, she takes to roaming the forest often accompanied by ‘Shadow’ a young boy who she has seen for as long as she can remember, a boy who never ages. Whether he is real or whether he is a figment of Ruby’s imagination is for you to decide.

Ruby decides to invoke the spirits in the forest to help her find her parents. Part of this is to light fires and chant incantations and of course there is a funeral for a doll. Finding her real parents who will take her away is the only way she can see to escape the ire that she provokes in Mick, especially now her beloved Grandmother has died, she has no refuge at all.

One day she makes friends with an older boy, Tom, and in time visits his home, a house where his parents had decided to live off the land, but they are not there, just his siblings an older sister and a younger brother. Food is often rabbit and vegetables from the land, the money their parents sent regularly at first no longer appearing.

We know who Ruby’s mother is through Anna’s story, set in 1970 and split between life in London and that in the forest. This element of the story was fascinating and spurred me on when the weirdness of Ruby’s story got a little bit too much.

The writing is so evocative, and although I didn’t need too many prompts to picture the house backing onto the deep and dark forest, I think the author did a fantastic job of conjuring up the oppressiveness and remoteness of this area. It also recreated a time not in reality so far in the past, where children were left to their own devices, we certainly were, which went more than some way in explaining why Ruby was able to roam deep into the forest away from any living eyes.

I have made no secret of the fact that I’m not a big fan of ghosts in my reading, or anywhere else for that matter, but there was something incredibly appealing, not least the superb writing, which has made me make an exception to that rule for The Doll Funeral. I’m not going to lie, the things Ruby ‘sees’ form a large part of the book, but, taking into consideration the atmosphere of the forest as described by Kate Hamer, it worked for me. The story revealed is very sad in parts, and the parents of all the children are just too awful for words. Perhaps that’s why Ruby and her first person, present tense narrative stole a small piece of my heart.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Faber & Faber who answered my pleas for a copy of this book ahead of publication in hardback, today, 16 February 2017.

First Published UK: 16 February 2017
Publisher: Faber & Faber
No of Pages:  368
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

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

He Said/She Said – Erin Kelly

Psychological Thriller 5*s
Psychological Thriller
5*s

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

Previous Books by Erin Kelly

The Poison Tree – 2010
The Sick Rose – 2011
The Burning Air -2013
The Ties that Bind – 2014
Broadchurch: The Novel – 2014

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Mount TBR 2017

The Yellow Wallpaper – Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Short Story 4*s
Short Story
4*s

This may be a short story but it is a disquieting one to say the least. Based upon the author’s experience in the late 1800’s when diagnosed by a physician of a nervous disease she was prescribed ‘rest cure’ which meant that she was to stay in bed all day and only allowed mental stimulation for two hours a day… this led to a near total mental decline.

The story features a young woman who has a baby, although he or she, is kept well ‘off-page’ as the subject who has moved into an old house with a creepy feel to it as she lies in a room with yellow peeling wallpaper.

The journal entries written by the woman in the bed, written in secret to hide them from her physician husband, who has diagnosed her with a nervous disease and banned her from leaving the house or having any mental stimulation.
Alone in the room the woman sees first patterns and then more disturbing things in the yellow on the wall which mirror the stretching and then the breaking of her mind although the ending is cleverly left open to interpretation.

The author wrote the story to warn others against rest cures but it has come to be viewed as one of the earliest examples of feminist writing and I can’t disagree. Somehow you can’t imagine a healthy man struggling with a new role in life being told to go to his room until he felt better!!

This is one of those stories that make me truly grateful that I was born when I was!

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First Published: 1892
No of Pages: 27
Genre: Short Story
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Rush of Blood – Mark Billingham

Crime Fiction 4*s
Crime Fiction
4*s

So you’re on holiday in Florida, you’ve met up with another two couple’s from the UK, spent time together all fairly standard stuff and then on the last day, a girl goes missing from the resort. You’re interviewed by the police and allowed to return to the UK. Would you make a date to meet up with your fellow holidaymakers away from the sun?

Well that’s exactly what the couples in our story did. It has to be said some were keener than the others to get together but they grouped together round Angie and Barry’s table they begin to get to know each other on home ground so to speak. Inevitably the conversation becomes dominated by what could have happened to Amber-Marie and how she had disappeared so suddenly. Of course it goes without saying that one uncomfortable dinner party isn’t enough for these intrepid travellers, as Ed and Sue host one as do Marina and Dave. For the reader who doesn’t have to endure the actual company, these are brilliant parties with each character showing their hand a little bit more.
Over in Florida Amber-Marie’s mother Patti Lee Wilson is naturally distraught and the manager of the resort where she has camped out is fearing she is bad for business, or he’s simply run out of what little compassion he has.

Jeff Gardner is working the case in the US and left to voice the increasingly trite sounding reassurances that the case is getting the department’s full attention. And then there is a murder in the UK and a bright trainee PC, Jenny Quinlan decides to contact Jeff and so the investigation progresses both sides of the Atlantic.

In between the dinner parties themselves not only does the investigation gather pace but we hear what the characters are doing, what worries them and, for some, what have they found on the internet that they can mull over and dissect at the next meeting. We also hear the killer’s voice but I have to admit, it wasn’t who I thought it would be.

I can safely say that none of the characters have bucket loads of redeeming features but they are all recognisable, you probably work with at least one of them! There characteristics range from mousey through to an arrogant assumption that their opinion is what everyone is waiting for, from the geeky nerd to the wannabe actress and from the neurotic to the grumpiest man on the planet – why the couples are with each other is intriguing enough let alone why they would voluntarily chose to spend time with the other couples!

In a nutshell that is the beauty of Rush of Blood this standalone novel has a different feel to the Tom Thorne books, although fans will be pleased to hear he does have a cameo role. While there is a mystery to solve it is more firmly in a whodunit than a why which makes it possible for the author to experiment with the amusing character studies which contrasts behaviour between the couples themselves and how they behave in a group situation… and the author doesn’t neglect the detectives either but I’ll let you make your own minds up about them!

I found Rush of Blood an absolutely fascinating read whilst vowing to myself to make sure I look as unfriendly as possible on any future holidays I may take!!

I’d like to thank Grove Atlantic for allowing me to read Rush of Blood. This honest review is my thanks to them.

First Published UK: 2012
Publisher: Grove Atlantic
No of Pages:  400
Genre: Crime Fiction
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