Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Blackwater Lake – Maggie James

Novella
4*s

For someone who has repeatedly stated that shorter fiction is really not my cup of tea, I have had a short burst of reading quite a few examples of this craft lately, not at all in a bid to meet certain challenges, I hasten to add!
Blackwater Lake actually didn’t fit into any challenge but I do have a couple of the author’s books on my TBR and when another blogger reviewed this novella stating that it featured hoarding, I had to learn more and I wasn’t disappointed with what I found.

“It may not have been a lifestyle she chose, remember. Choice and compulsion don’t always go together.”

Matthew Stanyerhad left his Bristolian home as soon as he was able to, although at that time his mother’s hoarding was comparatively low level, he’d never been able to have friends round. As he got older, he visited sporadically but with the onset of his mother’s illness with dementia the visits became more frequent and his concern about the state his parents lived in multiplied. His father is still holding down his job as a groundsman for the Blackwater Estate but managing his wife’s condition is taking its toll. Then the day came when he couldn’t contact either of them and when he finds a note he knows that he will have to call the police. Even now as a grown man he wishes there was another way, he doesn’t want the state of the house to become public knowledge.

Matthew needs to clear the house out and starts sorting through the masses of papers and objects stored in the house, the tins of tuna hoarded for an eventuality only clear to his mother and the seemingly endless piles of clothes, many of which she’d never worn. When enough clutter has been sorted, Matthew uncovers some facts about his family all previously shrouded at best in secrecy or at worst shielded from his view in a veil of lies.

This is one meaty story for a novella, the characters see definite progression and end up as fully rounded people, although Matthew’s girlfriend is a little more of a shadowy being. I found the whole story of Blackwater Lake well and truly gripping all of which goes to show that a good story doesn’t need to be long to be satisfying. The plotting was also complex to fit into what amounts to a little under one hundred pages, and yet nothing felt rushed, the story easy to follow and I was on the roller-coaster ride to find out what happened in the past as well as the truth of what led to the disappearance of Matthew’s parents. I think it is often harder for a writer to give emotional depth to a story, particularly when the subject is male without moving towards the extremes yet although I never doubted the turmoil the chief protagonist was dealing with, the author didn’t allow those feelings to run out of control.

This absolute delight of a novella has confirmed that those books of Maggie James that have sat patiently on the TBR definitely need to be shuffled closer to the top of the mountain.

First Published UK: 27 September 2015
Publisher: Orelia Publishing 
No. of Pages: 93
Genre: Novella – Psychological Suspense
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (November 29)

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

I am currently reading The Dress Thief by Natalie Meg Evens as a change from all things dark and dastardly.

Blurb

Alix Gower may be poor but she’s also ambitious, and she’d do anything to secure her dream job in one of Paris’s premier fashion houses. But Alix also has a secret: she supports her family by stealing from the very houses she so adores.
But can Alix risk her reputation and her relationships forever? And is the handsome English reporter she keeps bumping into really to be trusted? Amazon

I have just finished reading Poison Panic: Arsenic deaths in 1840s Essex by Helen Barrell as I thought it was perfect timing, now that we are thinking about the big Christmas dinner, to brush up on poisoners…

Blurb

For a few years in the 1840s, Essex was notorious in the minds of Victorians as a place where women stalked the winding country lanes looking for their next victim to poison with arsenic. It’s a terrible image – and also one that doesn’t seem to have much basis in truth – but this was a time of great anxiety.

The 1840s were also known as the ‘hungry ’40s’, when crop failures pushed up food prices and there was popular unrest across Europe. The decade culminated in a cholera epidemic in which tens of thousands of people in the British Isles died. It is perhaps no surprise that people living through that troubled decade were captivated by the stories of the ‘poisoners’: that death was down to ‘white powder’ and the evil intentions of the human heart.

Sarah Chesham, Mary May and Hannah Southgate are the protagonists of this tale of how rural Essex, in a country saturated with arsenic, was touched by the tumultuous 1840s. Amazon

Next I intend to read Give Me The Child by Mel McGrath which was published to great acclaim earlier this year.

Blurb

Imagine your doorbell rings in the middle of the night.
You open the door to the police.
With them is your husband’s eleven-year-old love child. A daughter you never knew he had.
Her mother has been found dead in their south London flat.
She has nowhere else to go.
WOULD YOU TAKE HER IN? Amazon

What do you think? Any of these take your fancy? Please do leave your thoughts in the comments box below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (November 28)

First Chapter
Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

Having recently read a novella called Blackwater Lake (review to follow) by this author I thought I’d try one of her books which has been sat on the TBR since 2014, so my opener is selected from His Kidnapper’s Shoes by Maggie James, a novel full of psychological suspense.



Blurb

Daniel is my son. He has always been mine. And he always will be.

On some level deep inside, Laura Bateman knows something is wrong. That her relationship with her son is not what it should be. That it is based on lies.

But bad things have happened to Laura. Things that change a person. Forever.

For twenty-six-year-old Daniel, the discovery that his mother is not who he thought comes close to destroying him. As his world turns upside down, he searches for sanity in the madness that has become his life. Daniel is left with nothing but questions. Why did Laura do something so terrible? Can he move past the demons of his childhood?
And the biggest question of all: can he ever forgive Laura? Amazon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

1

JUDGEMENT DAY

My body aches. The wall against my back grinds into my bones, as does the bench under my bottom; however much I fidget, I can’t get comfortable. I guess they don’t build police cells with such considerations in mind. There’s no clock and I’ve lost track of how much time I’ve spent in this place. Two, maybe three hours? I wonder – why, I don’t know – how much longer they’ll keep me here. I remind myself it doesn’t matter. I feel strangely disconnected from such things. All I can think about is my son.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Well the writing certainly bought that scene to life for me, I could almost feel the discomfort but most of all I want to know what happens next.

So would you keep reading? Have you read any of Maggie James’ other books

Your thoughts in the comments box are always gratefully received.

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

CWA Anthology: The Mystery Tour #BlogTour

Short Stories
4*s

Contributions from:

Ann Cleeves, C.L. Taylor, Susi Holliday, Martin Edwards, Anna Mazzola, Carol Anne Davis, Cath Staincliffe, Chris Simms, Christine Poulson, Ed James, Gordon Brown, J.M. Hewitt, Judith Cutler, Julia Crouch, Kate Ellis, Kate Rhodes, Martine Bailey, Michael Stanley, Maxim Jakubowski, Paul Charles, Paul Gitsham, Peter Lovesey, Ragnar Jónasson, Sarah Rayne, Shawn Reilly Simmons, Vaseem Khan, William Ryan and William Burton McCormick

My Review

This collection of short stories consists of twenty-eight stories from a wonderful array of contemporary crime writers which take us on a mystery tour of different locations.

I’ve not always got on well with short stories although I have always appreciated the skill that goes into paring a tale back to the basics whilst leaving the reader satisfied with a small morsel, in that respect the form is more like fine dining than an all you can eat buffet! What I have decided is that while my level of enjoyment of the craft has increased reviewing an entire collection is a difficult task indeed but I will do my very best.

I did start the collection at the beginning, after all because the mystery tour has democratically decided to be published in alphabetical format by first names, one of my favourite, and most reliable authors is first. Ann Cleeves pens a story set around a mystery writer, possibly slightly past her prime, attending a convention for writers. The protagonist’s conviction in her own fame making for cringe-worthy, but oh so realistic reading as she looks down her nose at the newer authors giving away gifts to fans in a bid to gain popularity and the Agatha champion title. Sparse in its word count the story may be, but for those who relish brilliant characterisation, this is not a story that will leave you feeling unsatisfied.

I read a couple more of the stories in order, whistling through Anna Mazzola’s story on a family holiday by a lake, a place that holds a wealth of memories for its protagonist. After a handful I decided to go random, I know, I’m a brave reader! I thoroughly enjoyed reading the editor, Martin Edwards story The Repentance Wood in Dubai where Jeremy is enjoying a break in a plush hotel with sunshine and cocktails, more than that I cannot reveal. After choosing a couple of tales by authors I know well and therefore sure I would enjoy their display of their well-honed craft I dipped my toe into reading the stories written by authors who I haven’t previously tried.

Christine Poulson’s work stands out as an innovative piece of writing as it is made up entirely of items such as a bunch of flowers, a cake, a drinks bill, orders and hotel rooms until the accounting is complete.

I loved the variety of writing styles, the skill that tops the list of evidence and the differing locations as we criss-crossed the globe from the streets of Glasgow to a trek in South Africa as these writers pooled their stories to produce one of the most satisfying collections of short stories I have had the pleasure of reading. This is one book that will sit on my bookshelf as a reference guide to remind me of those authors whose work I haven’t yet tried. Ragnar Jónasson’s A Postcard from Iceland hammering home the message from fellow bloggers that this is a writer that I should read and sooner rather than later, and this wasn’t the only one. For the sake of my TBR I am supremely grateful that the book only contained twenty-eight stories because unusually, there wasn’t a single one which had me thinking, no, that wasn’t really for me.

I’d like to thank Orenda Books for providing me with a review copy of The CWA Short Story Anthology, this review is my unbiased thanks to them and the superb authors for providing me with an absolute wealth of entertainment. If you haven’t already done so, I highly recommend you buy a copy of this book. Need more convincing? Catch up with some of the other stops on the blog tour.

 

First Published UK: 15 November 2017
Publisher: Orenda
No. of Pages: 276
Genre: Short Story – Crime
Amazon UK
Amazon US

 

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

Take Two Shorts

Today I am sharing two mini-reviews of short stories. Of course just because a book is short doesn’t mean it has anything in common with another, but linking both of these are examples of how crime fiction can be used very effectively to make readers think about contemporary issues.

Short Story
4*s

Promises to Keep – Elizabeth Haynes

This short story is part of the author’s DCI Louisa Smith series sitting between her first book Under a Silent Moon and the second, Behind Closed Doors. As with many authors who decide to write a short story there is an issue at the heart, in this instance, child migrants.

Jo is on sick leave from her job as a custody sergeant troubled by the death of Mohammed, a young child migrant whilst in her care. Her partner DS Sam Holland is concerned and worried about her and the relationship is floundering. Jo runs daily through woods where child migrants meet and through her eyes the author presents us with a story that challenges and informs on our perceptions of this issue.

The writing is superb and although this story is very short, coming in at about 40 pages, the author manages to look at both the main issue and the pressures on their relationship which provides for an engaging read that makes you think.

Promises to Keep  was my twenty-ninth read for my Mount TBR challenge having been purchased in February 2014.

mount-tbr-2017

 

 

First Published UK: 24 February 2014
Publisher: Sphere
No. of Pages:  41
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Left For Dead – Jane Casey

 

Short Story
4*s

I have read the entire series of Maeve Kerrigan and this book sits before them all, featuring Maeve Kerrigan as a very young detective not long out of training school. Jane Casey has also decided to put an issue at the heart of her short story, this time the issue is domestic abuse starting with the shocking statement.

Two women died every week in the UK at the hands of a partner or ex-partner. On average, women endured thirty-five incidents of domestic abuse before contacting the police.

And then I showed up the thirty-sixth time and stumbled through my arguments for why the victim should trust us. As if we could save them.

This is a fast-paced story which takes us through a typical night with Maeve partnered by an older an experienced police officer. Whilst he is paternalistic he isn’t going to tell Maeve how to behave as she finds her feet with her colleagues battling sexism and what I would term as plain bad behaviour by some of her fellow officers.

The crime at the heart of this book is a shocking one, not for the faint-hearted, and one that gives Maeve an opportunity to demonstrate some of her fantastic observational skills that become apparent throughout this brilliant series.

As this book was more than double the length of Elizabeth Haynes it undoubtedly felt more in-depth and from my perspective makes for a great introduction into the series. As a seasoned and devotee to Maeve Kerrigan this was a chance to remind myself how much I enjoy the character whilst awaiting the next book in the series.

Left for Dead was my thirtieth read in my Mount TBR Challenge 2017, having been purchased in October 2013.

mount-tbr-2017

 

 

First Published UK: 25 July 2013
Publisher: Ebury Digital
No of Pages:  110
Genre: Crime Fiction 
Amazon UK

The Maeve Kerrigan Series in Order

The Burning
The Reckoning
The Last Girl
The Stranger You Know
The Kill
After The Fire
Let the Dead Speak

 

 

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (November 22)

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

My current read is The Lying Game by Ruth Ware which was published back in the summer and chosen by me because I enjoyed the author’s previous books In a Dark Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10

Blurb

The text message arrives in the small hours of the night. It’s just three words: I need you.
Isa drops everything, takes her baby daughter and heads straight to Salten. She spent the most significant days of her life at boarding school on the marshes there, days which still cast their shadow over her.

At school Isa and her three best friends used to play the Lying Game. They competed to convince people of the most outrageous stories. Now, after seventeen years of secrets, something terrible has been found on the beach. Something which will force Isa to confront her past, together with the three women she hasn’t seen for years, but has never forgotten.

Theirs is no cosy reunion: Salten isn’t a safe place for them, not after what they did. It’s time for the women to get their story straight… Amazon

That was after finishing Sinéad Crowley’s third book in the DS Claire Boyle series; One Bad Turn.

Blurb

How could your good friend become your worst enemy?

Being held hostage at gunpoint by her childhood friend is not Dr Heather Gilmore’s idea of a good day at work. It only gets worse when she hears that her nineteen-year-old daughter Leah has been kidnapped.

Sergeant Claire Boyle wasn’t expecting to get caught up in a hostage situation during a doctor’s appointment. When it becomes apparent that the kidnapping is somehow linked to the hostage-taker, a woman called Eileen Delaney, she is put in charge of finding the missing girl.

What happened between Eileen and Heather to make Eileen so determined to ruin her old friend? Claire Boyle must dig up the secrets from their pasts to find out – and quickly, because Leah is still missing, and time is running out to save her. Amazon

Next I plan to read Good Friday by Linda La Plante which takes us back to 1974 and Tennison’s early days as a young Detective.

Blurb

Every legend has a beginning . . .

During 1974 and 1975 the IRA subjected London to a terrifying bombing campaign. In one day alone, they planted seven bombs at locations across central London. Some were defused – some were not.

Jane Tennison is now a fully-fledged detective. On the way to court one morning, Jane passes through Covent Garden Underground station and is caught up in a bomb blast that leaves several people dead, and many horribly injured. Jane is a key witness, but is adamant that she can’t identify the bomber. When a photograph appears in the newspapers, showing Jane assisting the injured at the scene, it puts her and her family at risk from IRA retaliation.

‘Good Friday’ is the eagerly awaited date of the annual formal CID dinner, due to take place at St Ermin’s Hotel. Hundreds of detectives and their wives will be there. It’s the perfect target. As Jane arrives for the evening, she realises that she recognises the parking attendant as the bomber from Covent Garden. Can she convince her senior officers in time, or will another bomb destroy London’s entire detective force? Amazon

So it looks like November is ending on a crime filled note, what could be better?

What do you think? Any of these take your fancy? Please do leave your thoughts in the comments box below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (November 21)

First Chapter
Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

This week I’m choosing an upcoming read to share with you all Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict which will be published on 16 January 2018 in eBook format and 1 February 2018 in hardback.

Blurb

Clara Kelley is not who they think she is. She’s not the experienced Irish maid who was hired to work in one of Pittsburgh’s grandest households. She’s a poor farmer’s daughter with nowhere to go and nothing in her pockets. But the other woman with the same name has vanished, and pretending to be her just might get Clara some money to send back home.

If she can keep up the ruse, that is. Serving as a lady’s maid in the household of Andrew Carnegie requires skills she doesn’t have, answering to an icy mistress who rules her sons and her domain with an iron fist. What Clara does have is a resolve as strong as the steel Pittsburgh is becoming famous for, coupled with an uncanny understanding of business, and Andrew begins to rely on her. But Clara can’t let her guard down, not even when Andrew becomes something more than an employer. Revealing her past might ruin her future — and her family’s.

With captivating insight and heart, Carnegie’s Maid tells the story of one brilliant woman who may have spurred Andrew Carnegie’s transformation from ruthless industrialist into the world’s first true philanthropist.. Amazon

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

Prologue

December 23, 1868
New York, New York

The gentle melody of a Christmas song lifted into the air of his study from the street below. The music did nothing to change his mood or his actions. Ensconced behind the black walnut desk in his luxuriously appointed St. Nicholas Hotel suite, fountain pen in hand, Andrew Carnegie wrote like a madman.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A short intro this time chosen from the prologue which interestingly is dated five years after chapter one starts. I’ve been looking forward to reading Carnegie’s Maid for a while and the time is nearly here, at last.

So would you keep reading? Perhaps you’ve read Marie Benedict’s book The Other Einstein?

Your thoughts in the comments are always gratefully received.

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

Sunday Morning Coming Down – Nicci French

Crime Fiction
5*s

Well I’ve been an avid follower of this series since Blue Monday which was published back in 2012 and thought that this might be the last in the series but I’m pleased to report that we have on more book to go – Day of the Dead will be published in July 2018.

Frieda Klein is in a pensive mood from the off in this novel, probably not helped by the fact that a body has been found under the floorboards in her cottage. Not some random body but an ex-policeman who Frieda had employed. Despite the extreme provocation Frieda, as usual, doesn’t behave the way she is expected to. She is calm under the provocation of yet another message being sent to her by the man she believes has stalked her over the years Dean Reeve. As the police crowd in her friend DCI Karlsson currently on leave due to a broken leg turns up at the behest of the woman in charge of the investigation, Petra Burge.

Out of all the novels in this series this has the fastest pace, unsurprisingly given the opening, and we see far less of Frieda carrying out her work as a psychotherapist as she is consumed by trying to keep her friends safe from an unseen source. There is various moving around of the cast of friends that Frieda has amassed over the series; for someone who is supposedly such a difficult woman, she commands a hell of a lot of loyalty. As people move from one house to another shoring up their defences as the unlucky ones get all manner of payback for being her friend or associate, we see this wonderful bunch (well minus Olivia who needs a reality check, and fast) in action. I know they are fictional but the characters are friends and even outside the mayhem that surrounds Frieda they have their own issues which are far from small.

The plotting is amazing with a number of strands to follow although the police have little choice but to follow Frieda’s guidance, they also lay down some conditions of their own so Frieda has to co-operate with the media. Not the outcome a lady who values her privacy so highly would want but it illustrates perfectly that the loyalty shown to her by her friends is justified. I really don’t know how this duo turn out such complicated, yet immensely readable books. In some of the earlier books I tried to guess whether Nicci or Sean had penned various scenes, this book gave me no time to wonder on such things as I was so wrapped up in the action, but however they do it, the finished item is superb. Not for these authors warping the characters, the only one who has significantly changed along the way is Chloe and that is completely expected since she has grown into a young woman and fortunately doesn’t have to deal with the unhinged Olivia on a daily basis any longer – did I mention, I don’t rate Olivia as a character although it’s good to have someone like this in the mix, after all we all have someone who has to be tolerated as they can’t possibly be loved!

To say I’m excited about the release of book eight, Day of the Dead, the finale is a complete understatement but I really don’t know how the authors are going to top this one in terms of excitement or even if I’m going to survive saying goodbye to my fictional friends.

I’d like to say thank you to Penguin UK who allowed me to read a review copy of Sunday Morning Coming Down and thank you to Nicci French for keeping me thoroughly entertained. This unbiased review is my thanks to them all.

First Published UK: 13 July 2017
Publisher: Penguin
No of Pages: 416
Genre: Crime Fiction Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Previous Books by Nicci French featuring Frieda Klein

Blue Monday
Tuesday’s Gone
Waiting For Wednesday
Thursday’s Child
Friday On My Mind
Saturday Requiem 

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (November 19)

Last Sunday we managed to have a family trip to watch Murder on the Orient Express and although we weren’t completely convinced by some of the attempt to inject some fast-moving action into the story-line, a good time was had by all. Kenneth Branagh’s moustache was especially impressive.

The week finished with my annual visit to the Guide Dogs for the Blind Book Sale with a dear friend. The consequence of helping her find some great books to read is that I have a nice pile of new (second-hand) books.

This Week on the Blog

My first review this week was of The Foster Child by Jenny Blackhurst, an exciting read which despite the supernatural bent I still enjoyed despite normally avoiding books that bend in that direction.

My excerpt post was for an upcoming read The Dress Thief by Natalie Meg Evans, historical fiction which I hope will make me feel more elegant by default.

My This Week in Books post featured authors Gillian McAllister and Nicci French and a whole heap of others (what is a collection of authors called?) in the CWA Short Story Anthology: Mystery Tour which is edited by Martin Edwards.

My second review of the week was for The Scandal by Fredrik Backman, a book that totally won me over despite my doubts at the beginning of the read. I’m was so impressed I know this needs to be in the top ten reads of 2017.

And then I reviewed Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister which has also contributed to the now total confusion of what my best reads of 2017 are going to be – I’ve never had quite so many late contenders!

This Time Last Year…

I was reading Out of Bounds by Val McDermid, a story where the past doesn’t merely collide but crashes into the present. With the present part of the story feeling right on the button with a strand that explores the needs of Syrian refugees which was sensitively explored without the need for the author to over state her views on the subject. With an equally enthralling past mystery, or two this was a welcome reminder of just how skilled this author is.

You can read my full review here or click on the book cover.

Blurb


‘There are lots of things that ran in families, but murder wasn’t one of them . . .’

When a teenage joyrider crashes a stolen car and ends up in a coma, a routine DNA test could be the key to unlocking the mystery of a twenty-year-old murder inquiry. Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie is an expert at solving the unsolvable. With each cold case closed, justice is served. So, finding the answer should be straightforward, but it’s as twisted as the DNA helix itself.

Meanwhile Karen finds herself irresistibly drawn to another case, one that she has no business investigating. And as she pieces together decades-old evidence, Karen discovers the most dangerous kinds of secrets. Secrets that someone is willing to kill for . . . Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

Well apart from the Eleven books I picked up at the books sale which include three Reginald Hills, two Agatha Christies, Anne Cleeves, Kate Atkinson & Beryl Bainbidge amongst others, I also have added The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton which will be published in February 2018.

 


Blurb

‘Somebody’s going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won’t appear to be a murder and so the murderer won’t be caught. Rectify that injustice and I’ll show you the way out.’

It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.
But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.
The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath… NetGalley

And Fiction Fan has started her annual awards and given that she awarded The Lodger by Marie Belloc Lowndes her winning entry for the Vintage Crime Fiction/Thriller 2017 award despite having Verdict of Twelve by Raymond Postgate on the list meant I have to try it for myself.

Blurb

The Buntings are an elderly London couple who have fallen on hard times. They take in a lodger with the strange name of Mr. Sleuth, who pays handsomely for their shabby rooms. He seems to be a perfect gentleman but none the less they begin to suspect that he may be the Jack-the-Ripper-like serial killer known in the press as ‘The Avenger’. As the number of murders in the city begins to mount, and Mr. Bunting’s teenage daughter from an earlier marriage comes to stay, the couple must decide what to do about the man in their upstairs rooms. An early example of a psychological suspense story and a brilliant evocation of the fog-bound and gaslit streets of late Victorian London, The Lodger is still a wonderfully compelling thriller. Amazon

Finally I have a copy of The Image of You by Adele Parks from Headline Review which will be published in paperback on 22 February 2018 although if you can’t wait it is available for the kindle now.



Blurb

When all you can see is what they want you to see… Can you ever trust someone you meet online?

Anna and Zoe are twins. Identical in appearance, utterly different in personality, they share a bond so close that nothing – or no one – can rip them apart.

Until Anna meets charismatic Nick.

Anna is trusting, romantic and hopeful; she thinks Nick is perfect.

Zoe is daring, dangerous and extreme; she thinks Nick is a liar.

Zoe has seen Anna betrayed by men before. She’ll stop at nothing to discover if Nick is as good as he seems. Amazon

tbr-watch

All of those books mean that despite reading 4 DNF 1, having gained just a few more than that, my TBR now has stands at a total of 180
Physical Books – 108
Kindle Books – 55
NetGalley Books – 17

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

Anything You Do Say – Gillian McAllister

Psychological Thriller
5*s

Around this time of year I start to consider my Top Ten Books Published in 2017 along with many other bloggers, this year the list has been thrown into disarray with so many late entrants, including this novel. Anything You Do Say encompasses so many of the aspects that I enjoy: a moral dilemma, ‘sliding doors’ scenario, great characters who behave realistically and superb plotting all coming together to give a fresh feel despite the elements appearing in other novels.

Two friends meet for their regular Friday night out at a bar in London and meet a man who is slightly too pushy, deciding to leave they part ways and Joanna walks home taking the route by the canal when she hears someone following her. Now ladies, we’ve all been there – unable to tell whether the threat running through your head is real or imagined. What happens next will change Joanna’s life forever.

What do you do, I find myself thinking, when you think somebody is following you down a deserted strip of canal? When you could become a statistic, a news piece, a tragedy? Nothing. That’s the answer. You carry on. You hope.

Of course the title are known to all of us although I hope few of us have had them directed towards us:

The words are familiar, but it takes me a moment to place them. It’s not a hymn or a song lyric or a phrase. No. It’s a caution. The caution.

Joanna is a great character, you probably know someone like her. She works on the mobile library while she decides what she wants to do with her life. She avoids the nastier aspects of life by ignoring them; bills, decisions, babies are all put in a box to be dealt with later… or never. Her friend, Laura, has plans, big ones, she wants to be an artist and is far surer of herself by far than Joanna, not uncommon in a friendship pairing. In both scenarios that are presented following the late night encounter we see not only what the consequences of her decision has on Joanna but Laura and her partner Rueben and brother Wilf too but also Laura’s partner Jonty in a perfect example of the ripple effect.

With sparkling dialogue which is entertaining yet realistic I was drawn into the story before I’d finished the first page. I loved the friends, that pre-Christmas setting with Christmas trees sparkling inside the houses that Joanna passes as she walks home at the opening of the book is followed up with the changing seasons as we follow the two different outcomes of that night.

As much as I enjoy books with the ‘sliding doors’ aspect I won’t lie, it can sometimes be complicated keeping the two strands straight in your mind. Fear not, Gillian McAllister has a clear system for marking the two stories by using a heading and since the stories diverge from the start I didn’t have a moment’s confusion. What I did have, was compassion for Joanna, maybe that says something about my morals, but there was one particular moment when I had my heart in my mouth as things took a drastic turn for the worse and despite actually needing to be doing something else I wasn’t putting the book aside until my heart-rate settled.

I really enjoyed Gillian McAllister’s debut novel Everything But The Truth which I read earlier this year but this novel even surpasses that one. Usually when I read a book that I want my friends to read, I wait until I have posted my review – not this time – I have been urging many of my bookish friends to go get this book, now – especially as it is at an absolutely bargain price at the moment for the kindle. The paperback will be published on 25 January 2018. Whatever format you read, I urge you not to miss out but do beware, once started, you will not want to stop reading!

I am extremely grateful to the publishers Penguin UK who have provided me with a great selection of books this year, including Anything You Do Say, and Gillian McAllister who I sincerely hope is furiously writing another book for me to enjoy, this unbiased yet unashamedly gushing review is my thanks to them.

First Published UK: 19 October 2017
Publisher:  Penguin
No. of Pages:  400
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US (currently only Audible)