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

Anything For Her – G.J. Minett #BlogTour #BookReview

Psychological Thriller
5*s

Well once again G.J. Minett has demonstrated that he knows not only the ingredients required for great story-telling but also when to whisk the mixture slowly and when to turn the speed up, the result a story that may make you wonder if you should have caught on a little earlier but ultimately leave you feeling satiated.

So what’s it all about? Well Billy Orr is back home visiting his older sister, Mia who is ill. He stays on the train at Ashford International – as Billy says the name brings out the cynic in him.

‘It came across as just that little bit too desperate to impress, as if seeing to confer upon the place a status, a sense of glamour and mystery which was never entirely warranted by the town itself. Even the positioning of the word felt lie an afterthought, almost a pose if you like.’

Right from this point, in other words very early on, I liked Billy, saying to myself, he thinks the way I think.

Billy is home in Rye to keep Mia company while her husband Matthew travels for work and although they’ve both assured him that Mia will be ok, the bond between brother and sister is especially close given that Mia, nine years his senior, looked after Billy following the sudden deaths of their parents when he was still in his teens.

The story elegantly shifts backwards and forwards in time, from the present day to an event in 2002, thirteen years before the heart of the story. In the present Mia and Billy go to the supermarket in Tenterden and he’s browsing the cereal aisle when who should he see but his first love Aimi. Now it is clear almost immediately that Mia was not impressed by this chance meeting but she’s content to let them have a five-minute chat, her about her marriage to the son of the local ‘Mr Big’ but she knows that her leaving Billy as a teenager had broken his heart and their closeness has translated into a slightly overbearing attitude as to Billy’s well-being. Aimi wants to talk to Billy but wants him to keep it a secret and sadly the poor bloke doesn’t realise that he should walk away without a backwards glance.

I’m not actually going to say anything else about the plot except to say that the seemingly disparate pieces of information are anything but. I think the author must have had a massive wall of sticky notes to keep track of all the information! Not that this book is complex to read, far from it, but neither is it packed full of irrelevant details, the extra words only ever coming in to paint an evocative scene, a sense of place or time.

Then the clouds came scudding across like locust swarms, treacle black, thick as molasses chasing the light from the sky and squatting over the West End like some malevolent entity. Nature’s literal five o’clock shadow.

The people are well-drawn the ‘at home’ scenes between Mia, Matthew and Billy only too believable, far more so I think than those books where families sit around having witty chats with one another – here there are several points where it is all too obvious that manners keep the family together but their true selves are at times somewhere entirely elsewhere. There are people to hate, people to wonder at, people who remind you of yourself or others and at some point you are going to realise some of these people are hiding something, what is the question?

I am very grateful to the publishers who provided me with a copy of Anything For Her, and of course to be invited to be part of this blog tour. This unbiased review is my thanks to them and to Graham for providing me with another brilliant read. If you haven’t read this author’s previous work, I would urge you to do so each one so different yet at the same time the complex plots are effortlessly read leaving a sense of deep satisfaction.

      Graham Minett

 

 

 

 

 

First Published UK: 30 November 2017
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
No of Pages: 368
Genre: Psychological Thriller 
Amazon UK
Amazon US – currently unavailable

Books by G.J. Minett

The Hidden Legacy
Lie In Wait

Don’t forget to catch the other stops on the blog tour!

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Give Me The Child – Melanie McGrath

Psychological Thriller
4*s

This is the sort of book to read when your own family gets too much and we all know that season is fast approaching!

There is a knock at Cat Winter’s door in the middle of the night, going through the possibilities of which family member has had a disaster requiring such an action Cat is wrong-footed when she realises the young child, about the same age as her own daughter Freya, who stands pale and unspeaking, is actually her husband Tom’s daughter. Yes, not the news you really want especially as Ruby’s mother has been found dead and there is no-one else to take her.

Firstly I’m so pleased that the author has a sense of humour about this scenario.

As Tom spoke I couldn’t help thinking just how bloody old and worn and unoriginal the story sounded, a clapped-out tale of a faithless husband led on by some mysterious femme fatale. If you saw it on TV, you’d reach for the remote. This wasn’t us. This wasn’t who we were meant to be. So how was it that it was what we had become?

Her assurance that this was a somewhat overused storyline led me to believe that there was far more on offer, and boy there was. Ruby is a beautiful child but Cat simply can’t relate to her and becomes increasingly anxious about the way she interacts with Freya. This might sound overly dramatic but we know that Cat had some illness that led her to be admitted to a psych ward during her pregnancy so that explains part of her anxiety, the other part is explained by the work Cat does as child psychologist with damaged children, she’s seen the worst that they offer and fears poor Ruby has some kind of personality disorder.

Tom Winter I quickly surmised was not the man you’d want by your side when dealing with life’s daily battles and since he seems to protect Ruby at Freya’s expense the tension in the book quickly mounts and battle lines are firmly drawn.

This is one of those books that you settle down to and enjoy the ride, I don’t usually like the children in my fiction, certainly not ones who are yet to reach their teens reeking of malevolence, but Ruby does but her actions are enacted relatively subtlety and in a way that is age-appropriate which made it all a bit easier to swallow. With new revelations or more the pieces fitting together as Cat digs deep to find out where all the secrets are buried whilst simultaneously trying to keep her own daughter out of Ruby’s clutches this is a fast-paced read.

Although this book begs the question ‘What would I do?’ I didn’t feel with this one that I could realistically enter the game because in my world Tom would pack his and his daughter’s bags and go and deal with whatever seeds he had sown (literally) on his own but that didn’t stop this being a very entertaining way to spend a cold and wintery day.

I was fortunate enough to receive a proof copy of Give Me the Child from the publishers HQ and this unbiased review is my thanks to them.

First Published UK: 27 July 2017
Publisher: HQ
No of Pages: 384
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

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

Good Friday – Lynda La Plante

Crime Fiction
5*s

Reading Good Friday I realised how much great crime fiction I’ve missed out on by somehow eschewing Lynda La Plante’s previous books. Indeed it was only the pull of going back to the 1970s that persuaded me to watch the recent TV series Prime Suspect 1973 which I think covers the first book, Tennison: Prime Suspect 1973. Anyway I thoroughly enjoyed the TV series so when I was offered this book, I was delighted to accept and prepared myself for a trip back to 1975 when the IRA were active in the UK.

By the time this, the third in the prequels to the Jane Tennsion series, opens Jane is now a Detective working out of Bow Street in London. She’s feeling a little frustrated at being given the lowly jobs and seeking a way to find a route to a more exciting future. She’s still young, still very much trying to break free from her parent’s expectations but old enough to be tiring of life in the Section house. One morning after she’s climbed up the steps at Covent Garden Station (the lift was out of order otherwise unless you want to have the life sucked out of your lungs on the dizzy climb up the spiral staircase, you don’t attempt that climb, I’ve done it once and said never again!) she sees a woman shouting after a man who has left a rucksack. Sadly the rucksack contains a bomb that goes off and Jane immediately is caught up in the aftermath of tending to the injured.

                        Covent Garden Staircase

It is interesting to see that despite being set over forty years ago, the media play a key role in the story. Although Jane is clear that she didn’t get a proper view of the suspected bomber, she goes to a press conference where an e-fit picture is given to the press. Unsurprisingly this puts Jane not only in the firing line of the media attention, but also potentially compromises her own safety.

Through all the mayhem, trauma and fear that follows the bomb explosion, Jane’s new boss in CID is adamant that she should attend the annual CID dinner at St Ermin’s Hotel, so she has a posh dress to find. All of this lends a somewhat congruous edge to the hunt for the bomber as I’m used to reading books where no-one gets leave, certainly time to prepare for a dinner wouldn’t be top priority, and yet in some ways it felt realistic, Jane after all, despite being important as a witness is not part of the main investigation.

                    St Ermin’s Hotel

As well as the investigation into the bombing we see Jane move away from the Section House into a small flat of her own, complete with disasterous room-mate. We see the stringent rules imposed by the Police Service on its officers at that time, and we also get a glimpse of what life was like for a young woman in the capital during the 1970s. Jane hasn’t yet got the steely edge she will acquire later on, but she does show us some of the tenacity and brilliant thinking which will emerge into the light later in her life. Alongside this there is some ingenious plotting so which had me turning the pages faster than the speed of… well as fast as I could read them!

This was a brilliant read by an author whose work I will be belatedly seeking out during 2018 and I’d like to say a huge thank you to Bonnier Zaffre for sending me a copy of Good Friday, this review is my unbiased thanks to them and to Lynda La Plante for a wonderful read.

First Published UK: 24 August 2017
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
No. of Pages: 400
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

One Bad Turn – Sinéad Crowley

Crime Fiction
4*s

I really do enjoy this series featuring DS Claire Boyle which is based in Dublin partly because her thrillers are bang up to date with elements that are familiar to us all.

In this, the third book in the series, DS Claire Boyle takes centre stage being right at the heart of an incident in a Doctor’s surgery. The story includes the back story, stretching back through the decades, of Dr Heather Gilmore and her childhood friend Eileen Delaney but Eileen has a grudge against the Doctor. So while a gun is being waved around in the surgery in the present the reader has the far happier memories of two girls who were once so close.

This is the fastest moving of the novels in this series but the author doesn’t neglect what I like so much about her books which is that they are realistic with people absolutely at their heart. Claire’s own personal life is ever-present as she juggles life with her husband and young daughter with her single-minded approach to solving cases within the force. Needless to say, as in many families, this can sometimes be a bumpy ride particularly as Mark’s own business is taking off and scheduling in time to look after their child isn’t always easy or possible when in the middle of a major investigation. There are times that Claire can come across as a bit unfeeling in this area but I do think it’s an incredibly realistic portrayal of the lives of so many couples who are building careers or businesses whilst also managing to bring up a child in a loving home.

We are not even over the sit on the edge of the seat read about the incident in the Doctor’s surgery when are then launched into the hunt for a kidnapper and the kidnapped girl, Leah, Heather Gilmore’s nineteen year old daughter. This needs the police to switch from diffusing a difficult situation to solid police-work, but fear not the pace doesn’t let up one iota Claire and her colleague Philip Flynn, along with the rest of the team set about searching for Leah. Phillip Flynn has been injured so can’t go racing about but that doesn’t stop him following up on hunches but there are no wild guesses that solve the crime, my pet hate, this crime will only ever be solved by following up on leads and finding the one with the perpetrator at the end.

I started this review by saying how much I love the very modern aspect of this series and one theme that runs through this book is the rise of the Celtic Tiger, and sadly its very rapid decline. Dublin has a whole host of people caught up in both the boom and bust and the catastrophes that followed are illustrated within this book with such a moving story which for me was by far the highlight of the book especially. This more reflective element was elegantly handled particularly as a back-drop to what is ultimately a fast-paced action paced read.

I received my copy of One Bad Turn from Amazon Vine and it is currently available for kindle readers, the paperback will be published in 2018.

First Published UK: 1 June 2017
Publisher: Quercus
No. of Pages: 352
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Previous Books in the Claire Boyle Series

Can Anyone Help Me? 
Are You Watching Me?

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Lying Game – Ruth Ware

Psychological Thriller
4*s

I love a psychological thriller that is based on female friendship because on the whole this is one of the most underused relationships within this type of fiction. In The Lying Game we meet four women who built their friendship at boarding school – yes, I also can’t resist boarding school fiction either probably a hangover of my love of Mallory Towers as a child. The four girls were well passed the midnight feast escapades by the time they met, well into their teens and their illicit acts had more to do with alcohol, cigarettes and escaping across the marshes to one of the number’s nearby cottage.

Now an adult, Isa has a young baby and in the early hours she receives the text she hoped she never would, just three stark words that chill her ‘I need you.’ The text comes from Kate, her friend in Saltern, the one who never left the area where the four friends boarded. As Isa makes her excuses and takes the train to Saltern, she’s wondering whether Fatima and Thea are also making their way to the cottage. Needless to say they also received the text. And the reader, having read the opening chapter knows why – a dog has made an unwelcome discovery on the marshes.

The four girls, now women, were quite different and rarely the gentle exploration of religious beliefs was welcomed by this reader as we see how Fatima’s relaxed approach as a teenager has altered as she has grown, married and had a family. Now a doctor she wears her headscarf and follows the teachings as a Muslim. Thea is not so secure in life, struggling to find her calling she marshals her life with too much booze and too little food. And Isa, with her position in the legal profession on hold while she’s on maternity leave, appears to have put the past behind her. As for Kate, she has clung on, living in her artistic father’s house in Saltern, the scene of their childhood escape route, and ignoring the rumours that still swirl around the village as she clings to the past.

This is the sort of novel you can race through with ease and although it starts slowly, I was invested from the first page wondering what secrets the four were hiding. The title comes from the time the four became friends, excluding the other boarders in the type of friendship that is peculiar to some teenage girls. There was no room for anyone, or anything else in their lives and any potential hangers-on were kept at bay by the game devised by Thea – ‘The Lying Game’ invented to play pranks, not on any new girls, but those popular girls, and teachers, the ones who made sure their superiority was not in doubt.
Although the book didn’t have the huge twist that readers have come to expect from the genre, the exploration of friendship, both as teenagers, and adults was perfectly executed and the setting was brilliant. I felt I was there with the women, looking out over the landscape, in the unique cottage or even in the somewhat shabby boarding school with its endless staircases.

The Lying Game would make the perfect holiday read, escapism bound up with truths that many readers will identify with.

I am very grateful to the publishers Random House UK who provided me with a copy of The Lying Game which was a thoroughly engaging read; this unbiased review is my thanks to them. For those of you who prefer to read paperbacks, this one will be published in that form in March 2018.

First Published UK: 15 June 2017
Publisher: Harvill Secker
No. of Pages: 384
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Previous Books by Ruth Ware

In a Dark Dark Wood
The Woman in Cabin 10

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 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 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 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)