Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Ice Beneath Her – Camilla Grebe

Psychological Thriller 4*s
Psychological Thriller

Set in Sweden this psychological thriller is one that will chill you as much as thrill you.

“You never know friend or foe, ’til the ice beneath gives way.”

A woman is found dead, her head separated from her body with her eyes staring towards the doorway. The police force recall a case ten years previously where another victim, a man was found in similar circumstances. Are the cases linked? And where is Jesper Orre the owner of the house where the unknown woman was found?

This book is told from the viewpoint of Emma Boham, a sales assistant who works at Clothes & More, police officer Peter and Hanne a psychological profiler. All three have issues of one kind or another and these add a whole other dimension to the story as we are treated to all their back-stories that enables the reader to understand their actions in the present.

Emma Boham is the fiancé of Jesper Orre and her story starts in the past, working forwards to the discovery of the woman’s body. Jesper insisted that their relationship was kept a secret and we hear the stress of being the CEO at Clothes & More as told to Emma, these aren’t helped by malicious and frequent media articles attacking him as a person and the harsh working conditions imposed on the staff. Through Emma we get to see the business from not only her perspective but those of her colleagues with black marks being displayed on the calendar for infringement of the rules.

Peter’s story is one of loneliness and isolation, a man who has long-standing commitment issues and a teenage son who he doesn’t engage with although still being infrequently in touch with his mother. Of course we don’t just learn about Peter but also the investigation into the murder but with the pressure on to get results and no idea who the woman it is safe to say the investigation is struggling, which is why they turn to psychological profiler Henne.

I found Henne’s story the saddest of all of the three narrators. Trapped into a marriage with an authoritarian man she is also suffering with emergent dementia but she’s keen to help out especially when she was involved in the similar case ten years previously. Her love of the Innuits is evident throughout her narration and links neatly to the quote above that led to the title of this book.

I was really drawn into this story immediately, I am a lover of character led crime fiction and there were plenty of characters, aside from the main narrators to puzzle over, to sympathise with whilst occasionally being frustrated by their inability to move out of their destructive lives.

With many of the chapters ending on a revelation and then moving to another narrator and a whole new line to explore this is a book that begs its reader to read just a little bit more and of course before you know it, you’re racing towards the finishing line with heart pounding as all the pieces fall rapidly into place. I did have an inkling on one of the key players but as in the best of this type of book, guessing the person is one thing, identifying the real motive is something else entirely so close but no cigar on that score!

I really loved the setting which is mainly in Stockholm and the cold dark weather complete with snow played the perfect part in this drama that chilled me to the bone.

I haven’t read any of Camilla Grebe’s previous books which she co-wrote with Asa Träff, but the first, Some Kind of Peace is on my wishlist now!

I’d like to thank Bonnier Publishing for giving me an advance copy of The Ice Beneath Her and this unbiased review is my thank you to them. I can’t however finish this review without mentioning the brilliance of the translation by Elizabeth Clark Wessel which was so good I wouldn’t have known that this book wasn’t originally written in English.

First Published UK: 8 September 2016
Publisher: Bonnier Publishing
No of Pages: 400
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

My Husband’s Son – Deborah O’Connor

Psychological Thriller 4*s
Psychological Thriller

Sometimes I just want to be swept away by a story but what does it for me isn’t a great romance, no my getaway is fraught with angst and secrets, a quest for the truth and a bit of action. Deborah O’Connor must have known this when she wrote My Husband’s Son!

We first meet Heidi when returning from a sales pitch she walks into an off-licence for a bottle of wine! So far so typical but in the back of the shop is a young boy who she thinks is the spitting image of her husband’s missing son, Barney.

Heidi has also lost a daughter, although the details of her daughter’s murder are left fairly sketchy throughout the book. Jason’s loss is different, he firmly believes his son is still alive and he still deals with the double-edged sword which is the press interest in the story. His study, holds the age progression pictures that have been generated to keep the public aware that Barney is still missing. Jason and Heidi got together after his marriage to Barney’s mother Vicky withered in the year after losing Barney.

I like a book with secrets and this book is dripping in them, and most are not where or what you expect at all but what the reader has to decide is the boy Barney or is Heidi just seeing what she wants to see? And all the while as the story of the disappearance is poured over while Heidi’s obvious distress at the loss of her daughter and her longing for another child is ever present. This is a relentless tale and one that I got completely caught up in. Quite often when plots are fairly unrealistic either in the events or the character’s actions, I get pulled out of the story which ruins the experience for me but even though Heidi’s actions seemed at best a little disordered, I was able to buy it. Perhaps because of the circumstances she found herself in.

Unusually, and I only realised this when I was reading My Husband’s Son, there is a fair amount of sex in this novel – not overly salacious in detail but enough to take me by surprise because I realised that the books I read rarely have sex-scenes in them at all, rest assured though this is all linked with the main story-line!

With Heidi trying to get Jason to believe she’s found his son and forced to take devious routes to get to the truth it is unsurprising that she finds herself in a spot of bother more than once. That does mean of course that there is plenty of action as well as a general feeling of unease that pervades once you realise that everything is not quite what it first appeared to be!

What My Husband’s Son is, is a perfectly paced piece of psychological suspense. A book that drives on unremittingly dragging the reader along in its wake. I found myself reassessing what I thought was going to happen as another piece of information was slipped into a scene and that continued without the dreaded dip up until the end.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to the publishers Twenty7 Books for another excellent debut novel, and for allowing me to read a copy of My Husband’s Son before the eBook publication date of 16 June 2016.

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

A Tapping At My Door – David Jackson

Crime Fiction 5*s
Crime Fiction

Prefaced by some lines from Edgar Allan Poe’s poem The Raven, rarely have I been so spooked by a book as I was on opening this book where Terri Latham is sat at home having a glass of wine when she hears a tapping at her door… I’m don’t have a particularly nervous nature but I was there, alongside Terri while she debated whether or not to investigate! There is no need to add that David Jackson is a master at setting a scene.

ONCE upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

Next we meet DS Nathan Cody at work in the Major Investigation Team who has just found out one of his old girlfriends has joined the team, even better they are to be partners – now that’s not awkward is it? The fact that Megan Webley is now engaged to someone else just ups the potential for problems and while I’m not saying there are none, the author is rightly restrained in keeping the personal life on the fringes of the action allowing the fabulous, and it is outstanding, plot to take centre stage.

I instantly liked Nathan Cody, a former undercover policeman, he clearly had dealt with a major incident in this role, but what it was isn’t revealed for quite some time. This explains his shortish temper, particularly with local reporter, suffers with insomnia and has a hint of recklessness about him but again, David Jackson doesn’t overplay these issues, they are there and clearly a concern, not least to Cody himself, but he does work as part of a team and there are minimal lone wolf moments.

In fact all the characters are beautifully drawn from the victims, suspects and officers and other randomers, every single one was distinct, note authors this always helps the reader keep the story straight, and yet utterly authentic primarily because like real people they aren’t acting a part they are made up of many different facets, so while Cody may bark at a reporter he is capable of helping an elderly man with some shopping moments later, a lovely touch that keeps the reader in tune with, and engaged with the character.

So we have a fabulous plot and great characters so onto the Liverpool setting. This was also very well done with its helpful explanation of the difference between the new touristy bits and those slightly rougher parts of town cleverly slipped into the story to give a sense of place and to me this felt distinct from any generic English city.

But best of all the writing comes with a good dose of wry humour which I love. This meant that despite some gruesome murders, I certainly wouldn’t recommend this book to those with weak dispositions, the book never felt depressing.
I can’t recommend this book enough, it is definitely going to be in my top ten reads of 2016, there isn’t one bit that could have been better!

I’d like to say a big thank you to Bonnier Publishing for my copy of this book, this review is my unbiased thank you to them. A Tapping At My Door was published on 7 April 2016.