Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Dying Light – Alison Joseph

Crime Fiction
4*s

As regular visitors to my blog are aware I do like my crime fiction to be served up from an unusual perspective every now and again and so when, I came across a fantast spotlight post written about this book on Confessions of a Mystery Novelist which not only indicated it was UK crime but that the setting was in part at least within a woman’s prison, oh and the chief protagonist is a nun, I had to investigate more closely. If you haven’t come across Margot’s blog before now and you enjoy crime fiction, you really do owe it to yourself to pay a visit.

The Dying Light is actually the fifth in Alison Joseph’s Sister Agnes series and although it was clear while reading the book there was possibly some background to Agnes herself that is pertinent to who she is, it didn’t in any way distract from the main story.

The story is on the surface at least, a simple one. One of the women in the prison is told her father has been murdered, not only that but the suspect is the young woman’s boyfriend, the man she was hoping to return to on her imminent release and turn over her new leaf. Everyone assumes the crime is drugs related but Cally is convinced that her boyfriend Mal is innocence, and asks Sister Agnes for help.

The mystery takes us to the dark world of crime but one with a very human face. I am usually a reader who is turned off by reading about in-fighting amongst villains or gangs but because of the way the way this is presented I was as keen as Agnes to understand why Mal would have turned on Cliff.

It helps that Agnes is quite unlike the nun personae that I expected. She’s a young woman, very devoted I’d say not so much to her faith but to doing the right thing. She has her own struggles of course, during this book, her mother is very ill and there are calls from her native France for her to return to see her matched by a reluctance from Agnes to do so. Is she, as her friends suspect, using the struggles of the women in the prison where she works a front for avoiding her own problems?

It is hard for a writer to truly transport anyone to an unfamiliar setting but I thought that Alison Joseph chose key points of prison life that her readers could easily imagine to draw us through into a building which is full of despair, and violence along with some hope for a better future. The power struggles between the women, and those in charge of them, was realistically but not overdramatised skilfully recreating the atmosphere.

I’d say that The Dying Light is a book that had me thinking about some of the issues it raised almost as much as the mystery itself. That isn’t to say this is a book you can only enjoy if you are religious, far from it, what it does is bridge the gap between the religious and the philosophical whilst never forgetting that its prime purposes is to entertain the reader.

First Published UK: 1999
Publisher: Headline
No of Pages: 248
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (October 10)

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

Buoyed up by last weeks rare occurrence of actually finishing three whole books I’m hoping this week’s choices are equally successful.

My current read is one of my own books, and unsurprisingly for me, book three of a series and yes, I’ve not read any others about Sister Agnes!  The Dying Light by Alison Joseph has been on the TBR since 27 October 2014 and it’s starts well…

Blurb

Young and fiercely independent, Sister Agnes Bourdillon has never felt the need of a wimple to express her spirituality. But her strength is tested by her secondment to Silworth, a South London women’s prison.

She does, however, find the work compelling, as she attempts to negotiate the network of bullies and victims, loyalties and hatreds, prisoners and jailers, searching to understand the often violent histories that lie behind each woman.

Then the father of Cally Fisher, one of the most turbulent inmates, is shot dead. The chief suspect is Cally’s boyfriend. Reminded unnervingly of how she is losing her own mother, who is rapidly retreating from reality in a French nursing home, Agnes finds that she too has become entangled in a dark world that stretches further than the prison walls… Amazon

The last book I finished was Sinclair McKay’s Victorian True Crime book The Lady in the Cellar which has recently been published.



Blurb

Number 4 Euston Square was a respectable boarding house, well-kept and hospitable, like many others in Victorian London. But beneath this very ordinary veneer, there was a murderous darkness at its heart.

On 8th May 1879, the corpse of former resident, Matilda Hacker, was uncovered by chance in the coal cellar. The investigation that followed this macabre discovery stripped bare the shadow-side of Victorian domesticity, throwing the lives of everyone within into an extraordinary and destructive maelstrom. For someone in Number 4 Euston Square must have had full knowledge of what had happened to Matilda Hacker. Someone in that house had killed her. How could the murderer prove so amazingly elusive?

Bestselling author, Sinclair McKay delves into this intriguing story and sheds light on a mystery that eluded the detectives of Scotland Yard. Amazon

And next I intend to read Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan as October’s chosen read for The Classics Club.


Blurb

The French Riviera: home to the Beautiful People. And none are more beautiful than Cécile, a precocious seventeen-year-old, and her father Raymond, a vivacious libertine. Charming, decadent and irresponsible, the golden-skinned duo are dedicated to a life of free love, fast cars and hedonistic pleasures. But then, one long, hot summer Raymond decides to marry, and Cécile and her lover Cyril feel compelled to take a hand in his amours, with tragic consequences.

Bonjour Tristesse scandalized 1950s France with its portrayal of teenager terrible Cécile, a heroine who rejects conventional notions of love, marriage and responsibility to choose her own sexual freedom. Amazon

So I’ve shown you mine, what does your reading week look like?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (October 31)

Friday Finds Hosted by Should be Reading

FRIDAY FINDS showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

So, come on — share with us your FRIDAY FINDS

This week I’m thrilled to say NetGalley was kind enough to approve me for a copy of Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín after reading a fantastic review of this book on FictionFan’s Book Reviews, although I have a horrible feeling that I may have to add more books by Colm Tóibín if this lives up to my expectations.

Nora Webster

Blurb

Set in Wexford, Ireland, Colm Tóibín’s superb seventh novel introduces the formidable, memorable and deeply moving Nora Webster. Widowed at forty, with four children and not enough money, Nora has lost the love of her life, Maurice, the man who rescued her from the stifling world to which she was born. And now she fears she may be drawn back into it. Wounded, strong-willed, clinging to secrecy in a tiny community where everyone knows your business, Nora is drowning in her own sorrow and blind to the suffering of her young sons, who have lost their father. Yet she has moments of stunning empathy and kindness, and when she begins to sing again, after decades, she finds solace, engagement, a haven—herself. Amazon

I also have a copy of a book not out until June 2015 which seems slightly ridiculous and required another tab on the TBR excel spreadsheet! I requested After We Fall by Emma Kavanagh after reading so many good reviews of Falling by the same author.

After We Fall

Blurb

A moody, intense debut psychological thriller by a former police psychologist, this debut novel explores four lives that fall apart in the tense aftermath of a plane crash, perfect for fans of Tana French, S. J. Watson, and Alice LaPlante. Unraveling what holds these four together is a tense, taut tale about good people who make bad decisions that ultimately threaten to destroy them. Debut author Emma Kavanagh deftly weaves together the stories of those who lost someone or something of themselves in one tragic incident, exploring how swiftly everything we know can come crashing down. NetGalley

Somehow I managed to make a couple of purchases too this week. After reading a Tuesday Teaser about My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni on My Dog Eared Purpose I was sold,and promptly bought a kindle copy for the bargain price of 99p as a Kindle First Reads. I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of this program before; basically you can get one of four books that is yet to be released for 99p each month. I can see that this will add another twelve books a year to the already sky high TBR. Anyway back to the book, My Dog Eared Purpose has now written a great review that endorses my choice.

My Sister's Grave

Blurb

Tracy Crosswhite has spent twenty years questioning the facts surrounding her sister Sarah’s disappearance and the murder trial that followed. She doesn’t believe that Edmund House—a convicted rapist and the man condemned for Sarah’s murder—is the guilty party. Motivated by the opportunity to obtain real justice, Tracy became a homicide detective with the Seattle PD and dedicated her life to tracking down killers.
When Sarah’s remains are finally discovered near their hometown in the northern Cascade mountains of Washington State, Tracy is determined to get the answers she’s been seeking. As she searches for the real killer, she unearths dark, long-kept secrets that will forever change her relationship to her past—and open the door to deadly danger. Amazon

Finally I also weakened when reading Margot Kinberg’s In the Spotlight post featuring The Dying Light by Alison Joseph.

The Dying Light

Blurb

Young and fiercely independent, Sister Agnes Bourdillon has never felt the need of a wimple to express her spirituality. But her strength is tested by her secondment to Silworth, a South London women’s prison. She does, however, find the work compelling, as she attempts to negotiate the network of bullies and victims, loyalties and hatreds, prisoners and jailers, searching to understand the often violent histories that lie behind each woman.
Then the father of Cally Fisher, one of the most turbulent inmates, is shot dead. The chief suspect is Cally’s boyfriend. Reminded unnervingly of how she is losing her own mother, who is rapidly retreating from reality in a French nursing home, Agnes finds that she too has become entangled in a dark world that stretches further than the prison walls… Amazon

What did you find to read this week?