Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

A Double Life – Flynn Berry

Crime Fiction
4*s

It is no secret that I am incredibly fond of books that use true crime as a starting point for a fictional account and so I simply had to read Flynn Berry’s second book which is loosely based upon Lord Lucan, the man who killed his nanny and then disappeared in 1974.

Claire Alden was eight years old when one night she was woken by some noise and found her beloved nanny, a young woman by the name of Emma covered in blood on the kitchen floor. Some time later she was scooped up and removed from the house. Her mother was in hospital and she was sent to stay with one of her friends with her young baby brother Robbie while she recovered. Her realisation that her father was suspected of the murder was slow but the effects it had bred an obsession that has lasted a lifetime.

In the present day Claire is a doctor. A caring woman who every now and again gives us a run-down of the ailments she’s treated that day. But she has a secret, her name isn’t Claire and she’s been in hiding for so very long whilst also watching, trying to find out what happened to her father. What sparks the latest flurry of obsession is that the police have been in touch, there has been a sighting and once again Claire lets herself believe that this might be the one, they actually might find him.
This is a dark book, full of foreboding as to what might be waiting for Claire. She looks back to their days in Belgravia followed by flight from the media and prying eyes to Scotland. What makes it all so much worse is her father’s friends seem to be working to a different reality. One where Claire’s mother had set him up for the murder, and that she’s an unfit mother.

Alongside the main theme is that of friendship, particularly that forged at a typically English public school with its societies where bonds are formed to last a lifetime no matter what. James and Rose were two of her parent’s best friends and so they are one of the subjects who Claire has tracked over the years. She’s followed them to work, she checks them out online and she wants to get inside their house and lives to find out what they know. There is a resentment that the life of privilege has not only protected her father but those friends who she suspects know more than they’ve ever let on.

Claire might be a highly functioning member of society but her younger brother has fared less well although he has no memory of their father it has marred his life too. These two damaged souls give the reader the chance to think about the often forgotten victims of crime. The children of murderers often overlooked and yet in this case they have grown up under a dark shadow indeed.

I was taken with the dual time line that works forward through the days from before the murder alongside Claire’s search for the truth. The tension is constant and the ending explosive.

I’d like to thank the publishers Orion for allowing me to read an advance review copy of A Double Life, a fascinating read that has already had me seeking out a copy of Flynn Berry’s debut novel Under the Harrow, winner of the Edgar Award for Best First Novel in 2017.

First Published UK: 31 July 2018
Publisher: Orion
No of Pages: 288
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

 

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Murder Mile – Lynda La Plante

Crime Fiction
4*s

Jane Tennison has made it to a Detective Sergeant by the time Murder Mile begins, although being 1979 she is known as WDS just in case anybody should be any doubt that she is female. The widespread strikes that occurred in the ‘Winter of Discontent’ mean that rubbish is piling up in the streets and the rats are becoming brave. All is quiet on the night shift though until an unidentified woman is found dead, amidst the rubbish on the streets of Peckham, a less than desirable area of London.

I love this series which takes us back to Jane Tennison’s earliest years. The fairly well-to-do young woman who defied her mother to become a policewoman instead of making a desirable marriage always had the spark of the woman we know she became (through the TV series Prime Suspect) but she is raw, prone to thinking and talking far too much for her junior rank, and most crucially being female in what was very much a man’s world.

By 1979 she has been promoted and is fairly established, now the sexism is less overt, but not by any means eliminated but although these elements are not only present, but absolutely fascinating, fortunately the author has remembered that readers of crime fiction want a solid mystery to solve as well as enlightenment about the (relatively) recent social history.

So we have one dead body which despite some elementary mistakes made during securing the crime scene, is quickly promoted to a murder. With Jane forgoing sleep to secure herself a place on the investigation team she follows a lead. Where it takes her has trouble written all over it in very large letters. Alluding to interference from the Masons many of whom she knows to be in the police force, has Jane learnt how to hold her tongue at the right time.

There have recently been a few debates on crime fiction series in the book blogger world, and here we have an acclaimed writer making the most of the form by using it to develop her character. This character development is all the more believable because we know the finished article so to speak.

Having started with a fairly meek young woman, by this, book four in the series we have a far more firm and decisive woman, one who is no longer so easily put off her stride by her peers and is learning that no matter how brilliant her deductive skills, policework depends on an entire team. That tightrope is now being walked a little more carefully by the young detective.

Great characters can only take us so far in crime fiction though and of course in the hands of such an assured writer as Lynda La Plante the reader is guaranteed a solid plot, fairly told with enough red herrings to keep those brain cells ticking over and evaluating the facts while the clues unfold at a pace that feels natural to the background investigation. In fact, everything I look for in my crime fiction.

I’d like to thank the publishers Bonnier Zaffre for allowing me to read an advance review copy of Murder Mile which will be published on 23 August 2018. Not a book to be missed for those who enjoy a trip back to the past alongside good quality crime fiction.

First Published UK: 23 August 2018
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
No of Pages: 384
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Previous Books in the Tennison Series

Tennison: Prime Suspect 1973
Hidden Killers
Good Friday

Posted in 20 Books of Summer 2015!, Book Review, Books I have read, Mount TBR 2018

The Lighthouse – P.D. James #20BooksofSummer

Crime Fiction
4*s

One of my favourite tropes in mystery novels one where there is a limited number of suspects. This is quite hard to make believable even in times gone by, but in more modern settings it has to be a challenge to have a cast iron setting. One of the only reasonable places for this set-up has to be an island which no-one can get to, and of course no-one can leave. P.D. James has therefore sensibly chosen the secluded island of Combe off the coast of Cornwall. Even better this island is used as a retreat for under-pressure men and women, only those of the better classes need apply of course.

At the time of the unexplained death on the island was preparing for some very important guests and so the murder needs the brightest and the best to investigate, so that would be Commander Adam Dalgliesh, DI Kate Miskin and Sergeant Francis Benton-Smith. They all drop there current work and hurry to the island.

In the best traditions of this kind of murder mystery is that the dead person wasn’t exactly a likeable person. I say the best tradition because it is far easier to read about murder when there is a part of you that can’t help feel that it isn’t any great loss to the world. This way you can concentrate on helping the police from the side-lines without any emotional involvement wasted.

I’ve always enjoyed reading P.D. James’s novels and this one was no exception, the plotting was brilliant with many of the limited number of suspects having a reason to what the victim bumped off, it wasn’t at all easy to detect who the perpetrator was with my thoughts changing as the story progressed.

The characters are predictably an unusual bunch and most of them quite frankly not the kind you would invite around for dinner, but they were distinct with some depth and of course their own motivation for wanting the victim dead, but being unlikable doesn’t mean they are killers.

So onto the setting, an island complete with all the features of island life. The reliance on being able to escape is dependent on the tides, the visibility through the continual threat of mist and fog and of course not forgetting the main feature the lighthouse which despite being on the coast, holds centre stage within the book itself.

This book was written in 2005 and features the SARS which was the health scare of this time, being a highly infectious respiratory disease and it is worth noting that the author was the grand age of 84 at the time it was written. It did become fashionable to say that the latter books lack the originality of those written earlier but having read this one and comparing it to modern crime writers I am moved to say, I like the certain old-fashioned feel, and find some of the author’s attempt to modernise the writing more jarring than when she followed her heart and wrote to a plot that is tried and tested with her own twists which are devious and clever. The Lighthouse is the 13th out of 14 in the Adam Dalgliesh series

The Lighthouse is my eleventh read in my 20 Books for Summer 2018 Challenge and one that took me back to an author who became a firm favourite at the start of my foray into crime fiction.

First Published UK: 2005
Publisher: Faber & Faber
No of Pages: 480
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2018, Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads, Mount TBR 2018

The Dry – Jane Harper #20BooksofSummer

Crime Fiction
5*s

Ok I know I’m a little late to the party with my reading of this one, which is more or less unforgivable given all the accolades this crime fiction book was given at the time of publication, but I admit it, I was wrong and it should have been a prioritised read far earlier on.

After all despite my preference for a good police procedural set in the UK where I understand the rules and behaviours Now I have read The Dry I have to agree that there are far worse places to set your novel than Australia. This is particularly  true of course if like Jane Harper you live in Melbourne. It is a credit to the quality of her writing that this book got optioned in so many territories from the off.

So I started the book and quickly got immersed in an outback town in the middle of a drought (not a minor one with a few weeks of no rain, but a sustained amount of heat and no rain at all) was overtaken by the murder/suicide of a farmer and his family. All the anger and worry in Kiewarra previously without a physical outlet is focussed on this tragedy. So the story starts and we have a killer sentence:

“It wasn’t as though the farm hadn’t seen death before, and the blowflies didn’t discriminate. To them there was little difference between a carcass and a corpse.”

The local policeman, Roco is investigating while Aaron Falk, a friend of the suspected perpetrator, Luke Hadler, is using his leave to help Luke’s father, unofficially. The problem is that years before Aaron Falk and his father had to leave town over suspicions that he was involved in the death of his friend, Ellie. Luke and Aaron had an alibi but that didn’t stop people talking, and believe me, this was no low-level grumbling. So Aaron is back to investigate what happened at his old friend’s farm and he can’t quite believe that his friend would have committed such an atrocity but are events from the past clouding his judgement.

“And yes, he battled the daily commute to work and spent a lot of his days under fluorescent office lights, but at least his livelihood didn’t hang by a thread on the whim of a weather pattern. At least he wasn’t driven to such fear and despair by the blank skies that there was even a chance the wrong end of a gun might look like the right answer.”

Now once again the book absolutely checks my preference for crime fiction having elements from the past intersecting with those in the present. And the mystery of what happened to Ellie looms larger the longer Aaron stays in Kiewarra.

You could say two solid mysteries, well-plotted and convoluted enough to keep the keenest of minds working on their theories is enough for an author but Jane Harper’s real skill is bringing the characters to life. Now you may not like them all but you won’t forget many of them, I can assure you of that. The characters alongside the town (which is almost a character in its own right) give the story an oppressive feel which is underlined by episodes from the past being placed throughout the book, the distinction being marked by italics and tense. Much later we hear from Ellie herself which gives us a three-sided view of life, and death.

This is a superb novel and of course I know that there is a second in the series called Force of Nature. Since I can assure you this isn’t one of those frustrating books that leaves on a cliff-hanger, I’m not quite sure how that one can possibly play out (I’ve resisted looking at the synopsis) but I am very sure that the quality of Jane Harper’s writing means that I can’t afford to miss out.

“Death rarely changes how we feel about someone. Heightens it, more often than not.”

I’m so very pleased that I chose this book to be the eighth read in my 20 Books for Summer 2018 Challenge, I shouldn’t have left it quite so long!

First Published UK: 1 June 2017
Publisher: Abacus
No of Pages:432
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2018, Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads, Mount TBR 2018

Child’s Play – Reginald Hill #20BooksofSummer

Crime Fiction
5*s

No holiday is complete without one of Reginald Hill’s marvellous books in the Dalziel and Pascoe series and fortunately despite reading many of these books previously, each has been a delight to revisit, well, except the first in the series A Clubbable Woman which was horrendously dated having been written in 1970 and in my opinion not up to those later in the series. Child’s Play was published in 1986 and manages to be both an appealing police procedural with a hefty nod to the whys as well as the who in the course of the investigation.

Mrs Gwendoline Huby has died and when her will is read by the local solicitor (I do miss these formal will readings in more modern fiction) it turns out that those who were expecting the proceeds are to be sorely disappointed. First in line to the funds is her son, Alexander Huby, presumed dead in Italy courtesy of WWII. Gwendoline Huby never believed this was the case and has steadfastly expected her son to return home during the intervening forty-year period going as far as to advertise in newspapers and pay private investigators to find him. She’s not unrealistic though so if Alexander hasn’t returned by the year 2015 on his ninetieth birthday (shocking to think that was some 30 years hence!) then the proceeds of the will are to be divided between three charities; one-third for animal rights, one-third for a services benevolent fund and the remaining third for a fascist woman’s movement.

Now as coincidence would have it on the day of the funeral a man turns. He’s about the right age has a light, but relatively accurate back story, and an Italian suit and he cries out ‘Mama’. Is he Alexander Huby returned to Yorkshire just too late, or could this be an imposter? Meanwhile, given that charity begins at home, the three charities aren’t too keen on waiting so long for the promised inheritance either and determine to act to get the rest of the family on side and the money paid out, to them!

The book is deemed a tragi-comedy in three acts by the author himself, and I really can’t disagree. What I do love about the entire series is although there is the very important matter of murder at the heart of each novel, and sometimes the characters have an urge to take themselves far too seriously there is always a thread of humour to stop proceedings from becoming too grim.

Another feature is that often one or other of Dalziel or Pascoe take the leading role, but in this delightful story we really learn more about Wield, the ugly policeman who is often given the supporting role, on the fringes of the action. In this book, very fitting for the times he is contacted by a former lover. The issue being is that Wield is gay, something the self-professed sensitive guy Pascoe has never realised and there is pressure from above when it appears the local paper is proposing an expose of homosexual policemen. Dalziel, not quite being the uncouth brute he presents himself as really gets to show us the other side, because he always knew. This, given the year of publication was possibly a timely if challenging read for crime fiction lovers; it is often only retrospectively that you realise how much attitudes have changed.

You’ll notice I haven’t said too much about the plot, there is no need, it is multi-stranded and superbly executed ably supported by a brilliant cast of characters from the provincial solicitor to the young blackmailer, from the sleazy journalist to the hard-nosed publican all there to be laughed with, and on occasion at as hopes are dashed and fears are sometimes unrealised.

Child’s Play was my sixth read in my 20 Books for Summer 2018 Challenge and Reginald Hill made sure it was a sheer delight – I think I’m enjoying this series even more on the repeat reads.

First Published UK: 1986
Publisher: HarperCollins
No of Pages:368
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Dalziel & Pascoe Series

A Clubbable Woman (1970)
An Advancement of Learning (1971)
Ruling Passion (1973)
An April Shroud (1975)
A Pinch of Snuff (1978)
A Killing Kindness (1980)
Deadheads (1983)
Exit Lines (1984)
Child’s Play (1986)
Under World (1988)
Bones and Silence (1990)
One Small Step (1990, novella)
Recalled to Life (1992)
Pictures of Perfection (1994)
The Wood Beyond (1995)
On Beulah Height (1998)
Arms and the Women (1999)
Dialogues of the Dead (2002)
Death’s Jest-Book (2003)
Good Morning, Midnight (2004)
The Death of Dalziel (2007)
A Cure for All Diseases (2008)
Midnight Fugue (2009)

Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2018, Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Raven Black – Ann Cleeves #20BooksofSummer

Crime Fiction
5*s


This is the first in the Shetland series and a book that has sat patiently on my bookshelf for many years, so many in fact that I have watched the TV series and still not read any of the books but the 20 Books of Summer 2018 challenge changed all that.

Now I’ll be honest, I usually prefer to read the books before watching them featured as I tend towards noticing the differences between descriptions of characters and that’s before we get onto the adaptions made for the small screen. I did love Douglas Henshall in the role of DI Jimmy Perez but I have a fairly short memory so I was sure I would have forgotten the plot. I was wrong but that didn’t in any way spoil my enormous enjoyment of this nuanced crime novel.

Two girls pay a visit to the local weirdo Magnus Tait on New Year’s Eve, they are drunk and have done it for a dare. No big deal Magnus loved having the visitors, probably because he didn’t understand their motivation. All was well until a couple of days later when Catherine Ross is found dead in a field, not far from Magnus Tait’s home. Magnus is the sort of character that is a familiar character from mine, and I suspect many other reader’s childhoods. The man that the children steered clear of for reasons that no-one quite understood. Of course our fictional character has taken it up a level, he was arrested, but not charged, with the disappearance of a child years before and ever since the Islanders have given him a wide berth.

The atmosphere of a small community coupled with the fabulous landscape are bought to life by Ann Cleeves words. This isn’t a tale that could happen anywhere, the Shetland Isles are almost a character in their own right. Cut off from the rest of the world in inclement weather, island life reflects modern life with a twist. The Police investigation has to balance the need to be seen to be doing something with avoiding inflaming needless tensions around someone who has already suffered, and who quite frankly is clearly disadvantaged.

The book also gives us a peek behind the life led by the teenagers on the island as well as contrasting those who are ‘incomers’ and kept at arm’s length. Catherine Ross was an outsider having come to the island to live with her father following the death of her mother. The grief of the father and the impact on his daughter also plays a part in the storyline.

You might think from all my rambling about what aspects are included within this book, that the mystery wasn’t much to write home about. You’d be wrong. The plot is so cleverly executed, this is a writer who knows how to pace her writing for the maximum tension without using a single weak device to do so. Even though I found I did remember far more of the TV series than I thought I would, in many ways that meant that I could admire the other aspects that really lends a depth to this crime novel. I will definitely be seeking to read more of this series, and of course this author.

Raven Black was my fourth read in my 20 Books for Summer 2018 Challenge and I was transported from the hot sunshine to a very cold, windy place full of varied and three-dimensional characters.

First Published UK: 2006
Publisher: Pan
No of Pages: 400
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

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

Dying Truth – Angela Marsons

Crime Fiction
5*s

Angela Marsons burst onto the crime writing scene a mere three years ago and yet here I am reading the eighth book in the Kim Stone series already! This is a popular series because not only do the books have a modern feel, often the crime is based in an area that could be lifted from a news article, but the characters, particular those in Kim’s team are so realistically portrayed that it is easy to forget that this is a work of fiction.

In Dying Truth we have a thirteen year old girl who has apparently committed suicide from jumping from the roof of her expensive boarding school. The immediate narrative from those in the school is that Sadie was a ‘troubled girl’ but Kim wants to know more. Those words don’t explain to her quite how such a young girl can take such desperate measures and she’s determined to find out more.
Heathcrest Academy is an exclusive establishment and because of that there is the perception that the children, and more importantly their parents are somehow more elite than the everyday kid. Sadie Winters is a loner, the other kids with their overinflated egos pretty much ignore her but she doesn’t seem to mind. Although Sadie’s elder sister Saffie is also at the school, that hasn’t helped and when Kim meets their parents, she thinks she may understand why, but something doesn’t add up.

Then just as Kim begins to push for Sadie’s death to be investigated, there is another death and Kim is more determined than ever to winkle out the secrets that are hidden behind the fancy panelling, and opulent façade.

Angela Marsons has a great knack of writing stories that weave different strands together, never forgetting the psychology of crime but still presenting the story as a police procedural. Because of the nature of the deaths in this book our dear DI Kim Stone is forced to seek out her nemesis Alex Thorne for advice about kids who kill. This chapter is one of the most chilling exchanges that I’ve read, the truth underpinning this work of fiction is what makes the entire series so great.
There is another element to the storyline dealing with secret societies, something that has popped up from time to time in real-life tragic stories and yet each time this subject was broached in the book, I had to remind myself to close my mouth which dropped open in horror, not because I didn’t believe what I was reading could happen, but because I did!

If you haven’t started this fantastic series, do and not with this book because they are all amazing and each time I read a new one I say it was ‘the best yet’ and I’m going to again because it is true. The interaction between the characters is so natural and at times, like when Dawson tried to cheer up the ‘fat kid’ Geoffrey Piggott, it bought tears to my eyes with the careful yet supportive way he spoke, demonstrating the brilliance of the character himself, but then I love all of this small team and I can’t wait to see what life (or death) throws at them next.

First Published UK: 18 May 2018
Publisher: Bookouture
No of Pages: 386
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Previous Books featuring Kim Stone
Silent Scream
Evil Games
Lost Girls
Play Dead
Blood Lines
Dead Souls
Broken Bones

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

In the Dark – Cara Hunter

Crime Fiction
5*s

This is the second in the series by Cara Hunter featuring DI Adam Fawley. It might be set in Oxford but we have quite a different type of detective, crimes and characters than those who featured in Inspector Morse.

DI Adam Fawley falls into the breed of likeable detective. As you’d expect, he has some baggage, but in his case his past is one that is only likely to illicit sympathy. We learn a little more about him following on from his first outing Close to Home but his story is very much in the background, the foreground is most definitely the crimes committed in the quiet Oxford street where a woman and a young child are found locked in a basement.

The woman Vicky and child are starved and thirsty and severely traumatised, Vicky not speaking at all at first and with the owner of the house, Dr William Harper, is denying all knowledge of them the police are up against it trying to work out who the prisoners are, and more importantly how long and why they’ve been locked up. In their search for clues they realise that the house backs onto the garden of the home of a missing woman called Hannah Gardiner.

There are lots of characters who all add rich detail to what becomes an investigation into the two women, and of course the child who is too young to be able to tell them anything. The police team of course consists of more than DI Fawley and the relationship between the officers is good with Detectives Quinn and Gislingham (Gis) providing a realistic view of how to survive working on such a harrowing investigation.

“Gis, who has always been exceptionally good at knowing when to stop digging, and Quinn who carries his own set of shovels“

The author has worked hard though to provide a reasonable complement of police, all with distinct personalities which is far more realistic that the older style police procedurals with just a couple of detectives involved in solving a case. Another example that gives this book an up-to-date feel is the full use of the female detectives and supporting police personnel throughout the story. As in real life they are no longer used just to pass hankies these women are involved from beginning to end.

With the use of news reports from BBC Midlands and the like, inserted into the story the author also moves away from the more traditional tale that is told just from one viewpoint, this element is built upon with transcribed interviews, including from those living in Frampton Road. These are brilliant, the author telling us so much about the area from both the content and the words used.

This, as was the first book, is a fast-paced police procedural with the author liberally sprinkling her story with red-herrings to keep her reader’s guessing and I for one lapped it all up and I’m eager for the next book by this author to see what dark mystery Oxford will serve up for us next.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Penguin Books UK who allowed me to read an advance copy of In the Dark. This unbiased review is my thanks to them and of course Cara Hunter for keeping so thoroughly entertained if a little traumatised by what was waiting for me on this visit to Oxford!

First Published UK: 12 July 2018
Publisher: Penguin Books UK
No of Pages: 448
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Lisa Jewell Novels

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Mount TBR 2018

Cry for Help – Steve Mosby

Crime Fiction
4*s

A woman’s body is found. She hasn’t been stabbed or shot, instead she has been tied up and left to die of dehydration. Somehow seems far more brutal, and what on earth is the motive?

Dave Lewis is a man with plenty of baggage, his brother died as a child and his parents were consumed with grief. He works a magician and denounces those mediums who he feels preys on those like his parents, desperate to have some contact with their loved ones. Dave narrates his part of this story in the first person and we soon learn that tragically one of victims is known to him. He’s consumed with guilt that he didn’t try to find out how she was. How in this day and age where we are connected electronically to each other can people in your life fade so quickly into the background?

The detective is Sam Currie who has his own baggage to deal with. He has to put all of that to one side though and try and work out who the killer is and what they are trying to achieve. When a woman gets in contact pointing the finger at a suspect, he follows the lead, but is it the right one?

With the bulk of the book told from the third person covering the investigation and the other aspects to the case, it is fair to say this is a complex, and dark story. This multi-threaded story has a reoccurring theme of responsibility. Obviously our detective has responsibility for finding the killer, particularly one as twisted as this individual seems to be. But was Dave responsible for the death of his brother? Is it really up to him to stop the charlatans profiting from the grief-stricken, or should he allow those who want to believe so desperately to find solace where they can? On the much broader note, are we as a society less connected to each other than we were before the massive advancement of technology. Perhaps actually seeing your friends with your own eyes is more reliable than receiving a text message and assuming all is well. What happens though if that message isn’t sent by your friend and actually they are far from well? How do we know? This theme is meticulously carried through the book, and I do like books that make me reflect in this type of way.

That’s not to say Cry for Help isn’t a satisfying crime fiction novel in its own right, it is with plenty of action, twists and turns and red-herrings and expert plotting to hold this reader’s attention. I have to admit it did take me a while to settle into the style and work out what on earth is happening. I’m not particularly squeamish normally but I did find the descriptions of the girl’s deaths disturbing to say the least. I’m not always entirely sure where the line is between being inventive and going too far but I’d say this was on that very line!

This is the second book I’ve read by this author, the first being Black Flowers, another disturbing and memorable read and I bought Cry for Help after reading that one back in 2011. So you’ve guessed it, this is also a read for my Mount TBR Challenge 2018 being the 20th book I’ve read since 1 January 2018 from my own bookshelves purchased before 31 December 2017.

First Published UK: 2008
Publisher: Orion
No of Pages: 288
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Mount TBR 2018

Sweet William – Iain Maitland

Crime Fiction
4*s

Sometimes when you have quite a few books on your TBR, many of which I have added because of the wonderful reviews my fellow bloggers have written, I don’t remember any of the details of quite why I bought them. In my defence I read many books and even more reviews of books so I can’t be expected to remember the finer details. So in short it isn’t that unusual for me to dive into a book with only a faint idea of what to expect. I can safely say, I didn’t expect what I got with this book, one that is anything other than forgettable.

Raymond Orrey has a plan. He is going to escape from the psychiatric unit, his current home to find his son William and take him away to the South of France to live a blissful life. Orrey is not mad, not like his fellow guests at the Nottinghamshire hospital, he doesn’t dribble or rock himself, he’s planned his escape, as well as he possibly can and he knows where he needs to get to. To the house in Aldeburgh where his son William is visiting with his ‘new’ parents, to attend the parade for Halloween and maybe to have a ride at the funfair. Raymond is going to take William away to a better life, with him, his father.

William is really quite small but he’s had a hell of a disrupted life in that short time and although the short break in the holiday home isn’t friction free – after all, families all have their tensions especially when more than one generation gathers at a time and his ‘grandparents’ are part of the treat. William is also diabetic and not a fan of having his blood tested for sugars.

What follows is mad. Not a politically correct word I’ll admit but the most suitable one. Reading Sweet William is a bizarre experience. Raymond Orrey gives us a blow by blow account of his escape and his thoughts. We are drawn into his world when he seems to ask advice when his plans go awry. Seeing as he didn’t really have any beyond escaping and travelling to his son, this happens frequently. Should this man run or try to blend in with the crowd? Would the police be looking for him or does he have time before they are alerted? We have the questions and then see what he chose in the next chapter – this goes on for 48 hours and is exhausting. Why? Because it pulled this reader entirely into a world where it is hard to keep reminding yourself that Raymond is mad, most likely very dangerous and it doesn’t matter how many times he tries to convince you otherwise. Of course we are never convinced by those who need to repeatedly tell us they aren’t mad but this author has written this so well that sometimes despite this, you get drawn into Raymond Orrey’s chaotic world so that when he weighs up his options you find yourself predicting which, if any, will be the most successful whilst keeping in mind the careful care needed to keep William safe and well, care I wasn’t sure his father would manage.

This is an unusual piece of crime fiction, I’m so glad I took Fiction Fan’s advice, the skill of the writer is abundantly apparent even if the title is entirely misleading, this is the darkest read I’ve unexpectedly fallen into in a long, long time! That said I can’t wait to see what this author produces next.

This is the 18th book I’ve read and reviewed as part of my Mount TBR Challenge for 2018. I am aiming to read 36 books across the year from those purchased before 1 January 2018. Sweet William was purchased on 28 December 2017 thereby qualifying by the skin of its teeth!

First Published UK: 19 October 2017
Publisher: Saraband
No of Pages: 251
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US