Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Wych Elm – Tana French

Crime Fiction
4*s

Having been an ardent follower of this author’s crime fiction in the Dublin Series, I was very excited indeed to hear she was publishing a stand-alone novel. It would be so easy to say this is different to that series but since one of the things I’ve enjoyed most about this author’s books is the fact that each one had a unique feel which sets it apart from most crime fiction series.

This book does however focus perhaps more on the psychological aspects of crime than her previous novels with a house also playing the part of centre stage.

Happy go-lucky Toby has had an easy ride of life and when things have gone wrong he has used his charm or has been rescued by a hefty dose of luck. Life is good until he is attacked by burglars in his flat and is hospitalised. The result is that Toby is broken, both mentally and physically. With his elderly uncle Hugo being in failing health the family decide that as a temporary measure Toby should move in to keep him company. This works well returning Toby to his seemingly idyllic childhood in the Irish ancestral home and his very fond memories of time spent with his two cousins under the less than watchful eye of their batchelor uncle while their parents went off and made merry over the summers of their youth.

Anyway there is Toby coming to terms with a brutal attack, the loss of ‘himself’ and at the same time staring death in the face as the cancer that has taken up residence in his uncle’s body makes the loss of this important man inevitable. Then a skull is found by his young niece and nephew in the hollow of the wych elm in the garden bringing a whole different kind of horror to their door.

This is a long book and one that has an entirely different feel to many that the term psychological sums up. It is slow moving, our chief protagonist Toby is presented as something quite easy to grasp but equal to any mystery concerning bodies stashed in a tree Toby is left to unravel the mysteries of his own past. He is forced to examine his blindness to the injustice that seemingly ravaged around him without his registering it on any level. This is a modern tale in the sense that it concentrates on the social concerns that perhaps only the privileged in life can afford to focus on. I have to admit I did struggle a little because in many ways this book is an attack on the main protagonist with his easy privileged life, son to two professionals, never a worry in his life being knocked because his life wasn’t awful. It isn’t just that he is privileged in the way that he had enough food or warmth or clothes, but his privilege is further emphasised because he wasn’t a minority in terms of his gender or his sexuality. His crime it seems is that he didn’t recognise, as a child, that others got bullied for such things. I have to admit the strident tone adopted around this strand of the story did at times cause me to question the reasoning behind it, thereby pulling me out of what is a complex and interesting story.

This is a book that truly stands outside the norms of crime fiction because it is a book about people and society and the beliefs we tell ourselves and each other. The visible and the invisible both are uncovered by Toby our narrator through his own particular journey in search of the truth.

I’d like to say a belated thank you to the publishers Penguin Books UK who allowed me to read a copy of The Wych Elm ahead of publication of this edition of 21 February 2019, although it is possible to get a copy of the same book named The Witch Elm in the UK already. Confused? Yes, me too!

First Published UK: 21 February 2019
Publisher: Penguin Books UK
No of Pages: 528
Genre: Crime Fiction
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

Are You Watching Me? – Sinéad Crowley

Crime Fiction
4*s

Tír na nÓg a drop in centre for men is right at the heart of this, the second book in the Sergeant Claire Boyle series. With the realistic Dublin setting as a backdrop the lonely men who visit the centre make for a refreshing change which more than justly follows up on the author’s debut novel Can Anybody Help Me?

The drop in centre is run by Tom who gave Liz Cafferky a job when she was down on her luck and so she is unable to refuse when he wants her to do a TV interview to raise the profile of the drop-in centre with the aim to garner donations. There’s a downside for Liz though, she has become a bit of a media star and now she’s getting unwanted attention.

Meanwhile Claire Boyle is back at work following her maternity leave and feeling that all too familiar feeling of guilt despite her husband Matt staying at home to mind the baby. That’s until one of the drop-in centre’s regulars is murdered then her mind is focussed on the investigation.

I love this author’s work, it should be classed as a police procedural, after all there is an investigation with a solid mystery with the obligatory red-herrings and devilish plotting but we are also treated to a far more in-depth view of those civilians caught up in the investigation. By that I don’t mean a cursory this is how a major crime investigation impacts my life but we are given full insight into Liz Cafferky’s life beforehand too. This gives the book a totally different feel to the more traditional police procedural, a welcome one that gives this book a feeling of weight. Of course this approach wouldn’t work if the other secondary characters weren’t also fully fleshed out and there is something appealing about the care and compassion shown towards the visitors to Tír na nÓg that had me feeling quite sentimental at times. These are real people, not cardboard cut-outs and the interactions between themselves is as equally heart-warming, on the whole, after all this isn’t a book populated by saints!

You could be forgiven for expecting that with so many character-led scenes that the tension dips as we join the men in a game of cards or a chat but it really doesn’t, the feeling of foreboding is lurking at the edges whilst Liz tries to put her dodgy letters to the back of her mind and wonder instead at her new media personality the reader is still pondering a murder and a stalker so there really is a lot going on! I am thoroughly impressed by the author’s skill at keeping the tension high whilst at times, particularly at the end allowing me the release of the odd tear as that is how much I cared about some of the people I met through this book.

If I had one minor criticism it’s that Claire seems a little bit harder and so a little less approachable than when she appeared in Can Anybody Help Me? but then she’s had a baby, and so her slightly more brusque style is understandable.

This was a brilliantly entertaining crime fiction read that I pulled off my bookshelf as I wanted to read something I fancied for a change, not a review copy and not a book to fit into a certain challenge and it proved to be the perfect ‘because I want to read it’ book.

First Published UK: 2 July 2015
Publisher: Quercus
No of Pages:  352
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Books I have read

Angels in the Moonlight – Caimh McDonnell #authorpost #review

I’ve got a real treat for you today because Caimh McDonnell is visiting to entertain us all with his guest post. I first hosted Caimh when he published his first novel, A Man With One of Those Faces and his very funny post won him many fans. Since then I’ve also read The Day That Never Comes, the second in the Dublin Trilogy and I was delighted to hear we were turning back the clock to 1999 in Angels in the Moonlight (the prequel) to meet Bunny as a younger man. Without any more ado, I well let Caimh entertain you…

The slacker’s guide to not looking like an idiot

 I’ve a terrible confession to make; I am an absolute sucker for a blooper. It is to my eternal shame that I will sit through one of those awful shows entirely dedicated to pointing out things that are wrong in famous films. You know the ones, they spend an hour picking out continuity errors and historical inaccuracies that nobody in their right mind actually notices while watching in the cinema. Still, there’s something satisfying abo

ut seeing other people’s mistakes, whether it be Star Wars (stormtrooper walloping his head on a doorway), Braveheart (Scots wearing tartan 300 years before its conception) or Transformers (somebody actually making that god-awful cacophony of pointless metal punching mayhem).

 

Thing is though, when you become an author, you quickly realise that you’re the poor fool who has to make sure you’re not dropping clangers left, right and center. With that in mind, I humbly present to you my slacker’s guide to not making yourself look like an idiot:

 

1/ Avoid reality entirely           

It’s not an option open to all of us, but where possible, try and find your version of ‘A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away’ – that way, nobody can come back at you with unhelpful facts like how their Auntie Marge lives on the forest moon of Endor and according to her Ewoks are in fact tall, hairless creatures and not cute and cuddly teddy-bears that will sell really well as merchandise.

 

2/ Where possible, make your characters idiots          

They always say to write what you know, so if you don’t know anything – write that. Where authors get into big trouble is giving their characters a level of expertise that they themselves do not possess. Don’t make your central character a forensic scientist just because you’ve watched two and a half episodes of CSI. Side note: I have actually met a bona fide forensic scientist and apparently, they do not solve all their cases through the use of musical montages. Turns out, you can’t believe everything you see on TV.

 

3/ Take the path less travelled:

The thing about setting your novel in 19th Century London is that absolutely loads of really clever people have done a ton of research into the minutiae of the life of an every day Londoner at that time. On one hand, that means that gives you a near limitless supply of source material to use for research. On the other hand, I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to read a near limitless supply of source material, but it takes absolutely ages.  My advice is to seek out the unpopular and undocumented; the dark ages are a cracking time, Belgium is an excellent place. Nobody knows or cares about either so you can get away with pretty much anything.

 

4/ The Future:

The great thing about the future, is that it hasn’t happened yet, which makes it very hard to get wrong. It should go without saying though, avoid that tricky beast known as ‘the near future’. The problem with that is, before you know it, it’s ‘now’ and then not long after, it’s ‘back then’. People get really angry when they don’t get the future that you promised them – I speak as a member of the ‘where the hell is my jetpack?!’ generation.

 

5/ Use your own past:

If you absolutely have to use the past, use a bit you lived through. I set my latest book in Dublin with the action taking place in 1999. The clever trick there is that I left Dublin in 2000. That way, all I have to do is remember what life was like before I moved abroad and I’ve got a reasonable chance of not screwing up. For example – mobile phones. I know back in 1999 we had them but they were fairly rare. That fact is burned into my memory as my boss gave me his so that I could be on-call while he and the wife went away for a ‘dirty weekend’(people still had dirty weekends in 1999 – even with people they were married to). I still vividly remember how I dropped his prized Nokia while running for a bus and then stood there helplessly as it spun on the ground, the bus hurtling towards it. Miraculously, both the phone and I survived this. Side note: his wife is a bona fide forensic scientist, small world.

 

So, while you can’t avoid being wrong entirely, you can at least try and make your mistakes look like deliberate artistic flourishes. Failing that, just have really big robots endlessly punch each other and readers will be far to engrossed in waiting for the sweet kiss of death, to notice how you’ve put airbags in a car that doesn’t have them. I hope this helped, although if it did, I think you might be in big trouble.

My Review

Crime Fiction
4*s

Caimh’s books are marketed as crime fiction combined with humour and this prequel to the first two books in the Dublin Trilogy is no different although I’d say that the humour element is targeted which suited the sadder elements of this book far better. Fear not though, I still laughed plenty of times at the brilliant scenarios and one-liners, even if a tear also managed to escape my beady eye once or twice.

Back in 1999 that comparatively near past, life was different. There were mobile phones but there were bigger worries about planes falling from the skies when the date clicked over into the millennium and Bunny is squeezing his too large body into his too small Porshe.  In 1999 Bunny was working with his partner Gringo when they were tasked by DI Fintan O’ Rourke to stake out the local Mr Big who was in charge of the local estate. Bunny and Mr Big had history, in a good way, because Mr Big was rescued from a burning building as a child by Bunny, but times are a changing and with a number of raids on security vans and intelligence indicating a big diamond robbery is in the offing something has to be done.

The crime fiction element of this book felt tighter than in the other two books, perhaps because despite the fact that we have plenty of laughs from Bunny’s one-liners, there seemed to be less reliance on the humour with both elements truly complementing each other and Caimh’s skill as a writer becoming ever more apparent. The background of Dublin is ever-present with the scenes moving from the housing estate to rural outskirts of Dublin with just enough details to paint a picture.

In particular I loved the scenes with Bunny on the pitch with his hurling team who are based at St Judes – little Deccie stealing my heart with his adoration of his coach, if a little off-beam in his efforts to help

“You heard me, Deccie, didn’t I say to him before the match, just stay in the goal? How hard is that?”
“He has no understanding of the nuances of the game boss.”
“You’re not wrong, Deccie, you’re not wrong”
“D’ye want me to tie his leg to one of the posts again, boss?”
Bunny gave the child a look. “No, Deccie, remember we talked about this. Ye can’t do that.”
“Yes, boss. Sorry, boss.”

With Gringo not only being Bunny’s working partner but also his best friend, we have the sad situation of his marriage falling apart and Gringo himself letting things slip just at the time when Bunny is making headway in his own personal life with a lovely girl called Simone. But this is crime fiction and it may be a while before we can skip to the happy ever after part.

So with a tight plot, a wide range of human emotions and some brilliant secondary characters which include nuns who you really want to meet – this book is, if anything even better than the previous two. By the end you’ll understand a little more about who Bunny really is and if you had doubted it before, that he’s a top bloke!

I’d like to say a big thank you to McFori Ink and Caimh McDonnell for allowing me to take part in this blog tour and for allowing me to read Angels in the Moonlight which made me both laugh and cry, this review is my unbiased thanks to them.

First Published UK: 26 August 2017
Publisher: McFori Ink
No. of Pages: 320
Genre: Crime Fiction Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US


About the Author

Caimh McDonnell is an award-winning stand-up comedian, author and writer of televisual treats. Born in Limerick and raised in Dublin, he has taken the hop across the water and now calls Manchester his home.

He is a man who wears many hats. As well as being an author, he is an award-winning writer for TV, a stand-up comedian and ‘the voice’ of London Irish rugby club. His debut novel, A Man with One of Those Faces was released in 2016 and it is the first book of the Dublin Trilogy series. The follow-up, The Day That Never Come was published in 2017. Both books are fast-paced crime thrillers set in Caimh’s home town of Dublin and they are laced with distinctly Irish acerbic wit.
Caimh’s TV writing credits include The Sarah Millican Television Programme, A League of Their Own, Mock the Week and Have I Got News for You. He also works as a children’s TV writer and was BAFTA nominated for the animated series ‘Pet Squad’ which he created.

During his time on the British stand-up circuit, Caimh has firmly established himself as the white-haired Irishman whose name nobody can pronounce. He has brought the funny worldwide, doing stand-up tours of the Far East, the Middle East and Near East (Norwich).

Follow Caimh’s witterings on @Caimh
Facebook: @CaimhMcD

Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2017, Book Review, Books I have read

The Judge’s Wife – Ann O’Loughlin #20booksofsummer

Contemporary Fiction
4*s

The heart of this book is set in 1950s Dublin when Grace is married to the much older Martin Moran who will go on to become a prominent judge. Grace isn’t given much choice in the matter, young women at that time weren’t, particularly if they were dependent on their spinster aunt for support.

Grace’s story is pieced together by her daughter Emma, some thirty years later, following the death of the Judge, who was by this time estranged from Emma who viewed her childhood as a cold comfortless challenge in a household bereft of maternal love since her mother had died at the time of her birth.

The first clues are a packed case with beautiful clothes and a letter that was never posted. What Emma finds will take her back in time to the asylum where her mother was incarcerated following the birth of her child, a child she only saw for a short time before being bundled into a ward with the other inconvenient women.

‘Scuffles of clouds framed by rectangular, dirt-encrusted windows danced overhead. The sound of laughter drifted up from downstairs, where the two attendants puffed on cigarettes and relayed to the staff canteen every detail of the committal of the judge’s wife to the asylum’

In a world far removed from Emma’s discoveries in Ireland, a young woman in Bangalore India is struggling with an errant husband. Devoted to her Uncle Vikram who wants to take a trip back to Ireland, the land that nearly destroyed him thirty years ago. His sister Rhya, Rosa’s mother, is dead set against the trip but the two are making plans and Rosa hears Vikram’s tales of his lost love in Ireland and the awful events that meant he had to leave without saying goodbye to her.

The Judge’s Wife is an inviting tale, full of emotion of a time where appearances were everything and true emotions were buried out of sight. I loved the little historical details especially those around clothes – Emma wears Grace’s old clothes delighting in their beauty while in Bangalore Rhya sighs over her beloved saris which hold memories, both happy and sad. The author’s chosen settings are evocatively recreated for the reader’s pleasure. The brightness of the colours in Bangalore contrasting with the absence of colour in Grace’s life in the asylum.

There is a lot of drama in this book from the horrors of a healthy young woman being incarcerated in an asylum to Vikram’s broken heart as he retreats to the coffee plantation a life far removed from his training as a doctor. The judge also turns out to have been misread during his life-time and Emma comes to understand his remoteness to her as a child, was not because he didn’t love her. As is necessary in these types of book, there are a fair few coincidences to keep the story moving along, but that doesn’t detract from a story that is about people, injustice and above all betrayal can inflict terrible wounds causing damage far wider than could ever have been anticipated. On the flip-side the characters all reveal how much the hardest challenge is if you have someone backing your corner and so countering the destructive relationships we have episodes where a friendship, romantic relationship or that of a devoted sibling can ease the hardships of life.

An enchanting read that had the power to transport me to a time and place quite unlike home.

The Judge’s Wife was my seventeenth read in my 20 Books of Summer Challenge.

First Published UK: 1 July 2016
Publisher: Black and White Publishing 
No of Pages: 312
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

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

The Trespasser – Tana French

Crime Fiction 5*s
Crime Fiction
5*s

Oh my!! I really don’t know how this author does it but once again Tana French has come up with yet another book with an authentic feel, that bears no resemblance to those that came before it. The Dublin Murder Squad, of which this is the sixth, is not a traditional series rather one or more characters from a previous book appears in a later one, and the crimes they tackle are as varied as the characters that populate the pages.

In The Trespasser Antoinette Conway, one of the detectives who appeared in the previous novel, The Secret Place, is the lead detective on a slam-dunk domestic killing of a young woman. Antoinette’s partner on the force is another detective we met in the previous book, Steve Moran, who has now found his way onto the Murder Squad. The partnership isn’t the easiest, Antoinette still being brusque and feisty and by now thoroughly fed-up with not being accepted by the rest of the team. Both are pleased to have a case of their own to run and will even put up with the arrogant Detective Bresslin overseeing their work to get away from the relentless night-shift and the unrelenting stupid crimes that occur on it.

Having never been in a Murder Squad any more than I’ve attended a girl’s boarding school, the author has created what feels like an authentic recreation of the world that Conway and Moran inhabit. The atmosphere, the décor and the smells are all served up along with the language, by which I refer to the dialogue and the jargon that surely really exist? The book is set fairly and squarely in Dublin and as in the previous novels modern Ireland is gently explored without overpowering the main plot.

The centre of the plot is all about the murder of Aislinn Murray a young woman, identikit to the numerous other women with straight blonde hair and a pout to match, who has had her head bashed in. There is no forced entry to the house and the table is set for two so all the junior detectives need to do is find the dinner date – it’s so easy that Antoinette is frustrated, she really wants a big case, one where she can do some real detective work. When they meet Aislinn’s friend Lucy the pair get a hint that there could be more to the tale, but with Bresslin looking for a quick win with such an obvious suspect, is Antoinette’s reputation for being feisty going to work irreparably against her?

This is a long book, one packed full of details which you really don’t want to miss. As good as the plot is, and it’s fantastic, the most spellbinding part is the unveiling of the characters. The victim is not quite the thick, look-obsessed and no taste girl that the detectives had her pegged at. Nor is the boyfriend quite as boring as he first seemed and with Antoinette herself the biggest mystery of the entire plot there is plenty to absorb and wonder at as the layers of their characters are peeled back to show the reality behind the façade. But be warned this isn’t a straightforward ride with Tana French not adverse to some manipulation of her reader’s feelings; I found my sympathy and concern for a number of characters waxed and waned as different interpretations to the facts seemed certain, and then slid away to the ‘I’m just not sure pile’ all of which meant that I suspected everyone and trusted no-one until pretty much the very last page.

I really can’t express quite how amazing this series is; I’ve loved all the books and each time a new one comes out it becomes my latest ‘favourite’ I’m not going there this time, but if you want a different kind of crime fiction, this series is a definite place to visit.

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this book for review purposes from the publishers Hodder & Stoughton ahead of UK publication on 22 September 2016. This is my unbiased opinion of the book.

The Dublin Murder Squad books:

In The Woods

The Likeness

Faithful Place

Broken Harbour

The Secret Place

First Published UK: 22 September 2016
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
No of Pages: 480
Genre: Crime Fiction Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

 

 

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

A Man With One of Those Faces – Caimh McDonnell

Crime Fiction 4*s
Crime Fiction
4*s

Paul Muchrone is a ‘granny whisperer’ – a what? I hear you say? What he does is visit the elderly in hospital and sits with them as if he is a relative. This all came about when he was visiting an old lady on the ward and he discovered his talent.

“While I was there, another lady on the ward – late stages of Alzheimer’s amongst other things – mistook me for her brother. They knew he wasn’t coming back from America and she had some things she needed to say, so – ”
“You did your trick,” she finished.

Paul goes onto explain that he helps out where needed, aided by just having one of those faces:

He had nothing that came close to qualifying as a distinguishing anything. His every facial attribute was a masterpiece of bloody-minded unoriginality, an aesthetic tribute to the forgettably average. Collectively they formed an orchestra designed to produce the facial muzak of the gods.

which is what brings him to St Kilda’s hospice where nurse Brigit Conroy asking him to visit one last patient – this time for some grandpa whispering for a change, but things don’t turn out quite as expected and Paul ends up in hospital. From here on in, things just get worse as the pair realise that they have somehow blundered into something neither had bargained for, and it soon looks like Paul’s life might be at stake.

I get that this all sounds rather farcical but the crime element of the story soon develops complete with a true-crime writer, the police and some terrifying gangsters making up the fantastic assortment of characters.

Much of the humour originates from Paul with his observational humour adding a cutting edge rather than detracting from the crime spree spreading across the pages of this surprisingly action packed thriller. Not only that we are treated to Paul’s backstory from a life in care to his stint on the hurling squad under the watchful eye of Detective Sergeant Bunny McGarry to his Great-Aunt Fidelma who was now controlling his life from beyond the grave. All of that sounds quite sedate compared to the situation he finds himself in where the only person he can trust is Brigit, and she’s a bit of a character too!

Her mam had often said that Brigit’s problem was she thought she was too good for an ordinary life, but she didn’t think that was fair. Brigit just felt that an ordinary life wasn’t good enough for anybody. It felt like she had been born in the safest and most boring time in human history. Everywhere the world had been discovered. Even outer space, it seemed, was full of, well just boring old space. There had to be more. There had to be some adventure, some magic, left in the world.

And then we have Detective Inspector Jimmy Stewart is just about to retire and he’s showing the ropes to and simultaneously trying to increase Detective Wilson’s film knowledge, to no avail. While on duty charged with Paul’s protection they come across something dodgy…

It surely wasn’t some kind of coincidence What were the odds that he and Wilson had stumbled upon an unrelated ambush? This was Dublin: assassination wasn’t that common a pastime.

With such a bunch of enterprising and entertaining characters this book was an exceptionally good read. The plot was well-thought out with the links to a past crime woven seamlessly into the present while the novel moves at a real pace, flipping easily between humour and terror so that I spent most of the book sat on the edge of my seat while chuckling. All the while there was an authentic (in my head anyway) Irish accent narrating the book to me. I really appreciated this lighter style of crime fiction which made a refreshing change. For those of you who read Caimh’s entertaining post  on my blog yesterday, only you can decide if this is too Irish and too funny – I say when is the next book going to be published?

I’d like to thank McFori Ink who gave me the opportunity to read this book. This unbiased review is my thanks to them for a riotous read.

Published UK: 30 August 2016
Publisher: McFori Ink
No of Pages 328
Genre: Humorous Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Accidental Life of Greg Millar – Aimee Alexander

Contemporary Fiction 4*s
Contemporary Fiction
4*s

This was a different kind of read for me, a book about families overcoming adversity with more than a few secrets to muddy the waters.

The Accidental Life of Greg Millar is told in the first person present tense by Lucy Arigho, a graphic designer. A young woman mourning the death of her fiancé and struggling to come to terms with the fact that the life she imagined has gone. Then she meets Greg Millar through the course of her work. He is a crime fiction writer who is full of zest for life. Greg and Lucy bond over their respective losses, Greg’s wife died in childbirth five years previously and since then Greg has raised their two children, Toby and Rachel with the help of his live-in nanny Hilary.

The first part of the book was a fairly light look at an emerging love affair with Lucy infected by Greg’s outlook on life. When a rapid engagement followed I was beginning to think that it may well be overly saccharine for my tastes but when the family and Lucy decamped to France for the summer their lives took a much darker turn. Not least because Rachel at ten had taken firmly against Lucy and certainly wasn’t amenable to the thought of her becoming a firm fixture – Lucy meanwhile has taken her older sister Gayle’s advice and is frantically reading books on becoming a step-parent.

Once the book moved on from the somewhat superficial beginning there was lots to become interested in although the focus remained on relationships of all shapes and sizes, there were other big issues to be explored although at times I felt that Lucy was impossibly naïve at times and other characters had clearly been living in a bubble, this was a minor point which didn’t detract from the overall plot.

I don’t often get overly-emotional by the books I read but this one did see a sneaky tear or two roll down my cheeks as the story moved towards its grand finale indicating that the author had done her job well. She made me care about this family from Dublin with the scenes concerning the children very well executed. Toby being younger was a typical little boy although I didn’t feel the author was quite as diligent at charting his growth as she was with Rachel who right from the start came across as a genuine girl growing up without her mother, a young girl who looked out for her much younger brother and who enjoyed the adoration shown by Gayle’s younger sons. We see Rachel mature and become part of the solution in the trials that the family faces but Toby remained the cosseted baby, an image that any self-respecting young boy would object to!

This book, despite not depicting any murders or crimes held my attention with its somewhat darker take on the boy meets girl storyline, a book that had enough issues so that I genuinely wanted to know how the story would pan out and I’m glad to say it definitely ended on a high-note.

I’d like to thank the author, Aimee Alexander for giving me a copy of The Accidental Life of Greg Millar for review purposes. This unbiased review is my thank you to her.