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

Take Me In – Sabine Durrant

Psychological Thriller

Oh my this is a great summer read which starts with a holiday in Greece!

Marcus and Tess are on holiday, their marriage is a little bit rocky and the place they are staying in isn’t quite what they’d imagined but they do the British thing and dig deep and put on the best face for the sake of their three-year old son, Toby.

Picture the scene, they are on the beach, anyone who’s holidayed with a young child knows that sentence covers lots of preparation with lots to carry before you can even begin to relax. Tess pops off the beach to get changed and by the time she returns back Toby is in the water, face down. Sabine Durrant captures the scene all too well. The panic, horror and worst case scenarios were racing through my mind just as they did his parents from the stuttering view we get as the scene is viewed through their eyes. Sabine Durrant does so much by allowing the reader to fill in the gaps and by giving us the prompts and the space to absorb them this really was one of those scenes that became uncomfortably vivid.

With each chapter told from alternate points of view between Marcus and Tess we learn a lot about them both in the best way because we can’t help but see how they view themselves and what they really think of their other halves.

But back to Toby and the scary moment. Fortunately for them all there is a rescuer in the shape of Dave Jepson. A man holidaying with his own family he swam out to Toby and brought him back to shore. What this story does is eloquently expresses how a traumatic event can have lasting repercussions. In the normal narrative, the scary moment is over, everyone is relieved and life carries on but really it doesn’t. Even more so in this book because after the rescue, and a thank you meal, Marcus and Tessa can’t dislodge Dave from their lives. He keeps popping up and if that wasn’t bad enough for the remainder of the holiday, it becomes a whole lot worse on their return to the UK.

Of course even with the trauma Dave would not have made so many ripples if Marcus wasn’t taking risks in his business life and Tessa didn’t have secrets she most certainly didn’t want to be exposed. All of which makes for a reading experience that is very much like watching a slow motion car crash and then just as you think things can’t get any worse, or our couple can’t make a more stupid decision, it does and they do. When I say the tension rises, it does so almost imperceptibly at first until you turn the page and realise that your heart is pounding!

The characterisation is great, particularly Marcus and Tessa and the book wouldn’t have been so enjoyable if the author hadn’t pitched them as she has. Neither are outright unpleasant but they both do have traits of selfishness, smugness and a sense of entitlement but that’s not so unusual so in short, they are normal people living lives much like you or I or those you know and yet everything changed for them with one visit to the beach.

I love it when a book starts with a killer sentence to pull you in but what will stay with me with this book is the statement at the end… which is actually the underlying story condensed into something I haven’t been able to stop pondering since I finished reading Take Me In.

I’d like to thank the publisher Mulholland Books for allowing me to read a copy of Take Me In, something I was keen to do after having thoroughly enjoyed Sabine Durrant’s previous books. If by some chance you haven’t discovered her yet, you’re missing out.

First Published UK: 28 June 2018
Publisher: Mulholland Books
No of Pages: 352
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Psychological thrillers by Sabine Durrant
Under Your Skin
Remember Me This Way
Lie With Me

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

Lie With Me – Sabine Durrant

Psychological Thriller 5*s
Psychological Thriller

Having just returned from Crete when I picked up this book I was absolutely delighted to be transported to the Greek setting of Sabine Durrant’s latest psychological thriller.

Although domestic thrillers have burst onto the scene in a big way in the last couple of years, this one definitely rang some changes for me, not least because our narrator is a man. Paul Morris by his own admission, although quite how much self-awareness accompanies this is doubtful, is a man who lives his life off the back of other’s fortune. Having had literary success in his early twenties, he has devoted the next twenty odd years to repeating this early acclaim. While living in a friend’s apartment he meets a woman called Alice who he has distant connections with through a friend from university. Alice has been widowed and is mother to two teenage children. She has a lease on a house in Greece and her and friends decamp for a trip to Pyros.

Alongside our narration in the present with the chauvinistic Paul, he really has a vile way of viewing females, we learn about a young girl named Jasmine who disappeared in Pyros some ten years before. Alice has assiduously been carrying out an awareness campaign for the whole time, having been there at the time Jasmine was first reported missing. But as the land that the house Alice leases is being developed, the ten-year anniversary is to be the last big push. Jasmine’s parents are on the island, an interesting couple who don’t quite fit with the rich and privileged group. Will this be the year that they find Jasmine?

So to the title, the whole story hinges on lies. Paul Morris tells plenty; Alice is unaware that he doesn’t own the smart London apartment, that he was in Pyros at the time of Jasmine’s disappearance or that his arrival this year, isn’t quite how it’s been presented. But is it possible that other members of the group have presented falsehoods as truths?

An interesting premise which delivers a cracking good read. Yes, there are a few coincidences to drive the storyline forward but I was, by the time these emerged, so intent on finding out what happened to Paul, there are some early excerpts from a time after the holiday, which are intriguing to say the least! I also was keen to understand what everyone knew about Jasmine. For instance the police are still advising that the case is being investigated, we even meet the local policeman who liaise with the family, and Alice and co. but there have been no firm sightings in the intervening ten years.

So the characters are for the most part either suffocatingly good which covers Alice and her friend Tina or arrogant and boorish which covers Andrew and Paul, or brattish which covers the four children who make up the party, so this probably isn’t the book to read if you want to feel affinity for the characters. If however you enjoy a good mystery and are prone to wondering about just how tangled a web you can weave with lies, this will absolutely be the book you want to take on your holiday, especially if you’re off to Greece.

Lie With Me was published by Mulholland Books on 5 July 2016 and they were kind enough to send me a copy which I accepted in return for this honest review.

Other Fabulous Books by Sabine Durrant

Under Your Skin
Remember Me This Way

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Enlightenment of Nina Findlay – Andrea Gillies

Contemporary Fiction 3*'s
Contemporary Fiction

This is a somewhat melancholy book that tracks the marriage of Nina and her boy next door.

Nina is hit by a bus in Greece and after surgery is taken to a small island hospital where she begins telling the story of her life to her under-worked doctor, Christos. She talks at length about her marriage to Paulo, her neighbour and friend since early childhood. Paulo has a younger brother Luca and all of their lives have been entangled throughout adulthood. Now twenty-five years after their honeymoon, on the same Greek island, Nina’s support structure has crumbled and she needs to learn the lessons from the past to start afresh.

Although the roots were in childhood Nina only married Paulo when Luca marries Francesca and the two couples spend time together although in the telling it appears that poor Francesca’s position is slightly outside the early shared experience of the other three.

The characters are well described and although I felt some sympathy with the young Nina her actions later on had me shaking my head at the fool-hardy way she behaved and made me feel that the endless adoration she had received from both brothers meant that only now, all these years later does she reflect and begin to learn from her actions. Does she succeed? Well you’ll have to read the book to find out.

This book is rich with fluctuating feelings as the book travels backwards and forwards through time, detailing in particular the shared bond between Nina and Luca and by default the impact that this has on Nina’s marriage to his brother Paulo.
For anyone who read Andrea Gillie’s superb debut The White Lie, this is a very different type of book so comparisons are hard to make. What I can say is the writing is just as evocative, although the description of the Greek Island more muted due to the fact that Nina spent most of her time in the hospital, but the range of feelings, often contradictory were exceptionally well described.

Underlying themes of loss, guilt and the transient nature of even the most powerful feelings means this book would lend itself well to a book club read but the intensity of the subject matter and the style of writing means that this could not be categorised as ‘chick-lit’