Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

For All Our Sins – T.M.E. Walsh

Crime Fiction 3*s
Crime Fiction

This book opens with the horrific murder of a priest who is then left discarded in the church. Enter DCI Claire Winters who is juggling a somewhat unruly team, not helped by the fact she has mixed business with pleasure with her junior Sergeant Michael Diego.

I’ll be honest, it took me a little while to get into the swing of this book. I’m not a fan of explicit violence and Father Wainwright’s murder which occurred early on, didn’t help. As is the norm with police procedurals there was a whole cast of characters with the police eagerly questioning those who were known to see the priest on his last day. The man identified as being the last to meet the priest was one of his close friends, Mark Jenkins who was also involved in Shrovesbury Manor, a retreat for spiritual enlightenment, where Father Wainwright worked as well as being a regular at his church.

Alongside the police procedural we had flashbacks from the murderer as well as the mysterious Guardian whose identity is shrouded in mystery. The change in viewpoints can be quite brief which can be a little disconcerting, especially early on in the novel. With the team of detectives on the case being well-represented, with banter and egos cropping up in equal measure adding another layer of credibility to the novel. I liked Claire Winters who was strong without ever becoming overbearing and I felt a far more realistic portrayal of a woman in her role than other books in this genre. With the glimpses of her personal life leaking into her time at work was a great, and realistic way of giving the detective character without making the book more about her than the murders.

Despite putting the hours into the investigation it isn’t too long before another murder is committed! This time the victim is as far removed from a priest as is possible and the police struggle to find any commonality, except method, to link the two. As the police pick away at the few clues they have, they are left probing at half-truths and outright lies, with a few manipulative tears thrown in for good measure. With some of those they want to question are not willing to oblige, I felt we got a realistic view of a typical murder enquiry and the author handled this aspect really well, I felt involved rather than bored by the investigation because I was busy putting the same clues together, albeit with a bit of extra information.

Often when the identity of the murderer is half-revealed at the start, as in this novel, it is hard to keep the mystery element alive and kicking. After all we know the motive for the murders early on and we also know who is next on the hit-list but despite the author making life unnecessarily hard for herself, there was plenty still to discover and by the time I was a third of the way through I was busily turning the pages at a rate of knots to find out the missing parts of the puzzle. And I can reveal the ending… was terrific!

I’d like to thank Carina who sent me a copy of For All Our Sins which was published in paperback format on 6 October 2016.

First Published UK: February 2011
Publisher: Carina
No of Pages: 512
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Book of Lost and Found – Lucy Foley

Historical Fiction 4*'s
Historical Fiction

The year is 1986 and Kate Darling has recently lost her mother June, a world-class ballerina, in a tragic accident. Kate is struggling with her grief for the woman who she considered her best friend as well as her mother in an effort to keep her memory alive seeks solace in her mother’s saviour, Evie. Following one of their frequent meetings it becomes clear that Evie has been keeping a secret for many years and gives Kate a painting of a woman at a picnic on a summer’s day that had been sent to June many years before. Kate senses a mystery and as a means of distraction from her unfulfilling life follows its lead.

The picture was painted in 1928 by an up-and-coming artist named Tom, now an elderly man, living on the island of Corsica and Kate goes to visit him to find out more about the woman he painted. Tom reveals his side of a bitter-sweet love story that started in Hertfordshire and ended in Paris during the Second World War.

Lucy Foley has bravely included three time-periods as well as three different locations in her tale which is executed with aplomb. The characters are all distinct, all feel authentic and true to the times they are depicted, especially Tom who struggles to balance his parent’s hopes and dreams for him with his love of art. Alice was a victim of the time and family she was born into and had the added encumbrance of her sex, destined to live her life without any purpose except to become a replica of her distant mother. Having just read two books that cover the occupation of France during the Second World War there were clear signs that the author had researched the historical element to use as detail for this part of the book, effortlessly transporting the reader to the exact time and place. By using different places for each of the time periods definitely made the transition of reading easier during the switches backwards and forwards in time.

I do love a dual time frame book but only when they are done well, this device, in the wrong hands is a disaster for a number of reasons; to execute a story of this type well the characters, time and place all need to be distinct and authentic. The historical detail has to be spot-on and any of the characters that age during the transition need to be recognisable but not ‘frozen in time.’ Lucy Foley didn’t fall into any of the many pitfalls, instead managing to weave a great saga that had me engaged in the grand love story from the first page.

As with all books in this genre the continuing story through the decades depends on a number of coincidences and tortured decisions to keep both the mystery element alive so although there were times that I desperately wished that the protagonists would say, or do, something different, perhaps for once take the sensible option, it wasn’t to be! And nor could it be! Again with books of this type I often prefer either the past or the present and as is often the case, the past was more engaging but I did enjoy the way that Kate was far from irrelevant to the story, she did have a stronger part to play than simply being the narrator of the events of previous years.

If like me you are still waiting for Kate Morton to write her fifth book, you could do an awful lot worse (I should know, I’ve tried some of them) than pick up this book in the meantime.  I received my copy via Amazon Vine in return for this honest review.  The Book of Lost and Found was published by HaperCollins on 15 January 2015.