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

The Field of Blood – Denise Mina

Crime Fiction 5*s
Crime Fiction
5*s

Look at me starting a series right at the beginning! This is the first in Denise Mina’s Paddy Mehan series set in early 80s Glasgow. Young Paddy Mehan is a copyboy, with ambitions to become a journalist on a Glasgow paper, full of youthful anxiety about her well-covered figure, equally in awe of, and disturbed by the older male journalists and their antics in the bar, a place they seem to spend most of their time.

There were so many fascinating layers to this story and not just connected to the horrific crime, the kidnap and murder of four-year-old Brian Wilcox and the swift arrest of two ten-year-old boys as a result. There is discourse on the divide between the Catholics and Protestants in the city, the unemployment rife at this time, the expectations of a family on the youngest daughter in terms of her behaviour and the disapproval of the wider community that Paddy Mehan managed to bring down on her young head at one point in this tale. And key to the tale is that of Police corruption.

The time is eloquently set, this is the era just before my teenage years and subsequently the one which shines brightest in my mind. I can’t remember the last time I bought a packet of refreshers, but when Paddy did so, I could feel and taste them popping on my tongue – Paddy’s clothes, her view of the world around her felt authentic to both her age and the time period. The sense of place also felt real, I could easily visualise the places described, despite never having visited Glasgow in my life, a testament to the skill of this author.

Alongside the main crime and Paddy’s investigative and journalistic skills, we also hear about an older Paddy Mehan, this man was a career criminal who was kept in solitary confinement for seven years for the murder of a young woman, a crime he insisted he had never committed. Our Paddy, the wannabe journalist had become fascinated with this man, her namesake and her ambition was to write, as journalists had in the 1960s, true investigative journalism probing and finding evidence that had never before seen the light of day. These excerpts from the 60s are fascinating and even more so when you reach the afterword and realise why the author chose to insert these into what on the face of it appears to be a completely unrelated crime to the central mystery of this book.

I’ve talked about everything but the crime to be solved, and that’s because this book made me think of all the periphery subjects whilst the mystery of what happened to the victim Brian Wilcox on the day he disappeared from his garden. This is a horrendous crime and although it is quite graphically described at the outset the author didn’t revisit the horrors of that day, rather the emphasis was on his family and the community following the arrest of the two young boys. During the course of this book our young Paddy finds evidence, she makes bold moves, but this is crime fiction and so she learns that what she is looking at may not be the real answer, perhaps it is a red-herring?

The number of themes, the protagonist who is unlike any other I have come across, the whole press room alongside the time period meant that I found this to be a truly exceptional read. I was devastated to find that I had mistakenly believed I had another book by this author within my TBR stack, sadly I don’t and I’m trying hard to resist buying every single one of her other books! I’m fairly sure that the first on the list will be the next two books in this trilogy as I want to see how Paddy grows and develops because this was a truly stunning opening shot.

Posted in Books I want to Read, Weekly Posts

Musing Mondays (April 7)

musingmondays51

Hosted by Should Be Reading
Musing Mondays asks you to muse about one of the following each week…

• Describe one of your reading habits.

• Tell us what book(s) you recently bought for yourself or someone else, and why you chose that/those book(s).

• What book are you currently desperate to get your hands on? Tell us about it!

• Tell us what you’re reading right now — what you think of it, so far; why you chose it; what you are (or, aren’t) enjoying it.

• Do you have a bookish rant? Something about books or reading (or the industry) that gets your ire up? Share it with us!

• Instead of the above questions, maybe you just want to ramble on about something else pertaining to books — let’s hear it, then!

My musing this week is about the dreaded TBR list.  Mainly as I have found myself commenting on other bloggers lists while being unsure how many books I have on mine.

This weekend has been spent collating kindle books, wishlists, To Be Read on Goodreads and my bookshelves to try to quantify more than anything, how many books I actually own and still want to read.

So the sums, books given for review purposes total 21, physical books yet to be read equals 22, and books on kindle (my downfall) amount to 40.  This makes a grand total of 83 books (plus the one I’m currently reading)! But readers this doesn’t tell the full story as I do have 141 books I want to read on my Goodreads and this isn’t quite cross-checked against the 80 books on my Amazon Wish List so I estimate the total amount comes close to 170 books.

As interesting as all that is, I decided today’s post would take a look at some of the books I own that I have rediscovered during this exercise.  This is an antidote to my Friday Finds as these are all books I have owned for some time and remembered (or found) during my cataloguing.

The Collaborators by the wonderful Reginald Hill, I’m not sure how I overlooked this one except it is a hardback book and tucked into a corner but I love Reginald Hill’s writing and this has to be read!

The Collaborators

Blurb

When Janine Simonian was dragged roughly from her cell to face trial as a collaborator in the days of reckoning that followed the liberation of France, she refused to conceal her shaven skull from the jeering crowds that greeted her.
Before the jury of former Resistance members pledged to extract vengeance on all who had connived in Nazi rule, Janine stood proudly in court – and pleaded guilty to the charges.
Why did so many French men and women collaborate with the Nazi occupation forces whilst others gave their lives in resistance? Were the motives of those who betrayed their country always selfish – and those of the Resistance always noble?
The Collaborators is a superb novel of conscience and betrayal that portrays the human dilemmas brought about by the Nazi occupation of France, and asks uncomfortable questions about the priorities of personal and national loyalty in time of war. Goodreads

Never Coming Back by Tim Weaver which is the fourth in the David Raker series. I gave the third in this series, Vanished, 5 stars so this is one that I must find time to read.

Never Coming Back
Blurb

It was supposed to be the start of a big night out. But when Emily Kane arrives at her sister Carrie’s house, she finds the front door unlocked and no one inside. Dinner’s cooking, the TV’s on. Carrie, her husband and their two daughters are gone.
When the police draw a blank, Emily asks missing persons investigator David Raker to find them. It’s clear someone doesn’t want the family found.
But as he gets closer to the truth, Raker begins to uncover evidence of a sinister cover-up, spanning decades and costing countless lives. And worse, in trying to find Emily’s missing family, he might just have made himself the next target … Goodreads

The Field of Blood is the first in the in the Paddy Mehan Series by Denise Mina. I watched an episode of this drama on TV and I really enjoyed one of her stand-alone books, The End of The Wasp Season, so this is another one I’m glad I found which has been languishing on my kindle since 2011.

The Field of Blood
Blurb

In Glasgow, a child goes missing, taken from the front garden of his home – and the investigation leads the police to the doors of two young boys. Paddy Meehan has just started her new job working for a local newspaper, where she dreams of becoming an investigative journalist. She starts looking into the case of the missing child but, unlike everyone else, does not believe the boys acted on their own. Convinced there is more to it than this, she begins to ask some very awkward questions. But Paddy’s investigation has repercussions she never anticipated. Shunned by those closest to her, she finds herself dangerously alone… Amazon

As a child my favourite story of all time was Thursday’s Child by Noel Streatfeild which featured on one of my first Musing Monday’s back on 26 August 2013.  She was one of my favourite authors and I have a copy of The Whicharts by Noel Streatfeild that although not forgotten is still unread although this may be because I don’t want to taint my memories of Ballet Shoes.

The Whicharts
Blurb

She never doubted for one moment that once she had the necessary training she would find the work. She knew with her whole being that she was a born mechanic. In what way she would have a chance to prove this she didn’t know, but her prayers always finished: “And oh God, if possible, let me fly”.
1920s London: three adopted sisters train for the stage and support the household.
Maimie, Tania and Daisy Whichart have self-reliance thrust upon them. The Whicharts is the story of their dreams, friendships and loves. The drudgery of stage-work is set against their passion for family ties and realising their dreams.
Out of print since the 1930s, Noel Streatfeild’s rare first novel is an exuberant portrayal of London cultural life in the inter-war years.
Streatfeild used parts of this first novel to develop the classic ‘Ballet Shoes’ Goodreads

Last up is a book that sounds as if it is right up my street, Not Guilty by Christine Gardner

Not Guilty

Blurb

In 1910 in Bendigo, three children were found dead in their home, brutally murdered with an axe and a knife.
Their mother, Camellia McCluskey, was a de facto wife at a time when such a position was not socially acceptable. Her partner, George, was considerably older than her. The two lived together happily for a few years before the relationship deteriorated, putting in place a chain of events that finally resulted in the slaying of Dorothy, Eric and Ida.
‘Not Guilty’ tells the story of those events, and the court proceedings that followed them. A storm of newspaper coverage surrounded Camellia as the Australian media struggled to understand the motivations that led her down the path she took.
This story is based on Camellia’s letters, court records, newspaper coverage, and other historical documents. Goodreads

Have you read any of these?
Do you have a strategy for managing your TBR? I can’t commit to not adding new books because that just won’t happen but I do want to enjoy those books I already own too.