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

The Doctor’s Wife is Dead – Andrew Tierney #20booksofsummer

Historical True Crime
4*s

On 1 May 1849 Ellen Langley dies in Nengh, County Tipperary the local women gather and stone the house she was living in. Meanwhile Doctor Langley tried to go about the business of removing Ellen’s body from the house; he did, she spent two days in the garden.

This is the account of one woman’s life, a fairly indistinct figure and her sad demise and one that serves as a commentary on how women were both viewed and treated at this time, with a focus on the laws in Ireland at the time. It is clear, for whatever reason, Ellen Langley had been cast aside by her husband and in 1849 that put her in a very precarious position indeed.

This was an interesting read although the explanation of the convoluted family relations slowed pace of the book with mini-biographies of countless kith and kin, fortunately there are some family trees at the start of the book to assist the reader.

Following these early explanations we then move onto the part of the book which was far more interesting, the inquest where Doctor Langley seems at pains to exonerate himself from the faintest whiff of suspicion of wrongdoing. As a Protestant man of social standing, a man who had attended inquests as an expert witness at previous murder trials (there was far more serious crime in County Tipperary at this time than I’d imagined) it is possible that the Doctor was just pre-empting any rumours, after all the fact that his marriage to Ellen had not been happy in the last few months was no secret. Or his efforts to appear innocent were those of a man who was trying to disguise his guilt?

One of the things that always strikes me about historical true crime is how much faster the wheels of justice tended to move in those days. Archaeologist Andrew Tierney has certainly dug deep to find the documents that detail the court proceedings and has resisted what surely must have been a big temptation to flesh Ellen out with more details than are actually available. As a result she remains a shadowy being which made me feel all the more compassionate for this woman who represents so many of her time.

You can’t have a historical account in Ireland without links the conflict between the Catholics and the Protestants and while this doesn’t overshadow the court case it is useful to have the context, if only to gain an understanding of social standing. Alongside that, Ellen died during the potato famine and the author paints a desperate picture of the effect this had on the local population, the contrast between the rich and the poor being readily apparent.

This is a worthy addition to my historical true crime collection and the arrogance and lack of compassion from some players in the court room, all men of course, women were not allowed at this time, was so blatant it defied belief at times, but there is a lot to keep the reader’s attention. And then we get to the ending, court case over, The Doctor’s Wife is Dead leaves us with a surprise discovery which left me shocked.

The Doctor’s Wife is Dead was my fourth read of my 20 Books of Summer  Challenge 2017

First Published UK: 23 February 2017
Publisher: Penguin
No of Pages: 282
Genre: True Crime – Historical
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

In Deep Water – Sam Blake

Crime Fiction
4*s

I do like it when despite being part of a series, the author takes an entirely different scenario for their subsequent book. Yes we have Cat Connolly, a boxer, feisty and willing to do what she thinks is right in her role in Garda Síochána, but rather than a crime that spanned generations which we had in Little Bones, In Deep Water focus is on a crime which is very much of the present when journalist, Cat’s best friend and training partner Sarah Jane Hansen goes missing.

The first inkling that all is not well is when Sarah Jane fails to make a training session with Cat and her coach and doesn’t answer her phone. When Cat takes a call from Sarah Jane’s mother saying that she’s worried and her husband Ted Hansen, a reporter for CNN currently on location had warned her off a story, it isn’t long before Cat formally reports her friend as a missing person.

One of the pleasures of reading series is that the successful ones develop the key characters by adding layers to what has already been gleaned; Sam Blake has fully achieved this brief as by the very nature of having Cat investigate the disappearance of her friend, we get to see more of her vulnerabilities. After the investigation in the first book we have more of an insight into her relationship with her boss, DI Dawson O’ Rourke, a man who has become more protective of her following the mental and physical scars that resulted from their previous investigation. This interplay is entirely convincing, a bonus as I do like to feel that what I read in crime fiction is realistic. Fortunately despite the horrifying end to the last book, it soon becomes clear that Cat, despite her struggle to regain her previous fitness levels, was her desire to be a profiler within Garda Síochána and so she is studying as well as training and working. I have to be honest Cat’s schedule exhausted me just reading about it.

Sam Blake doesn’t neglect the secondary characters either, each one was well-drawn and yet distinct and pleasingly quite diverse while avoiding the easy short-hand clichés. We meet the highly successful business men and women, the coach with his own battle scars, a young boy with autism and some young women who are living a life I simply didn’t want to imagine.

There is no doubt that this was a superbly well-researched novel, a proper police procedural with the aspects of the investigation qualified with plenty of explanations which only rarely impinged on the flow of the storyline.
In Deep Water steps into the darker areas of crime, giving the book a real edgy feel helped along by plenty of action. This is one scary ride as the team retrace Sarah Jane’s last known movements, a journey that takes in the seedier aspects of life, one that if dwelt upon could be very depressing. Fortunately with many strands of storyline to juggle there is no time to dwell as this accomplished author pulls the strands skilfully together.

I’d like to thank the publishers Bonnier Zaffre for allowing me to read a review copy of In Deep Water and for Sam Blake for writing such an enjoyable read. This review is my unbiased thanks to them.

First Published UK: 6 April 2017
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
No of Pages: 416
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
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Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Escape – C.L. Taylor

Psychological Thriller
4*s

Jo Blackmore has suffered from agoraphobia since the death of her unborn child but she’s got strategies for coping and manages to hold down a job by sticking to rigid rules. Those rules are breached when she is asked to give a lift to a woman on her way to picking up her young daughter Elise from nursery. Paula doesn’t give Jo much of an option to refuse, and once in the car she returns one of Elise’s mittens with the warning:

“Look after your daughter’s things. And your daughter…”

Well can you just imagine the panic especially when it becomes clear that she knows all about Jo, her husband Max, a crime reporter and of course Elise. Jo’s fight or flight mechanism goes into overdrive!

The Escape is full of tension from that bizarre car journey onwards we see Jo juggling her anxiety, her step-father’s illness and her husband’s increasing lack of patience with her. Jo suspects that Max, a crime reporter has led her into danger. Paula, the woman who accosted her, has made it clear he has something that belongs to her, and she wants it back! Max denies all knowledge and Jo is left with few places to turn for help.

The cliché rollercoaster is absolutely the right one to use for this book, but the plot itself has a number of pleasing variations on the theme. In one of the best we discover that Jo is also seeking answers to her early years. She remembers little of her life in Ireland before she moved to the UK with her mother, and her mother has remained tight-lipped about it becoming quite upset when Jo wanted to know more. So naturally when she needs somewhere to lay low, she takes a trip to get some answers. The scenes set in Ireland were fantastic, but the change in scenery isn’t used as an excuse to drop any of that tension, no it is transported across the water with Jo. Now we have the pounding February waves and the bitter winds to accompany the swirling secrets and lies… and danger!

Cally Taylor is the mistress of lifting the stones in a domestic situation and allowing all the creepy crawlies out to unsettle her readers by bringing to the fore the most instinctive of reactions. In The Escape the nightmares of parents the world over are given clarity and it is impossible to resist the ‘What would I do?’ questions run through your mind. It is interesting how the author has chosen not to provide us with an easy to like character and then made me root for her nonetheless and made me admire the writing all the more for the fact. It wasn’t that I disliked the character more that I wished she would have a little more spunk – but then, just maybe, she wouldn’t have needed to escape!

I’ve enjoyed all the authors previous books, she provides us with true-to-life characters thereby instantly stamping realism into the storyline and not just with the main protagonists. I was particularly fond of the B&B owner who having been shouted at by Jo then huffily sets her breakfast down without a word – this is how real people behave, it is rare to have rolling confrontations, and the reader is left in no doubt what her real opinion of Jo was.

The Escape was a thrilling read; it is definitely one of those books to open and then hold on tight and enjoy each and every page.

I’d like to thank the publishers Avon Books for my copy of The Escape which was published on 23 March 2017. This unbiased review is my thanks to them.

First Published UK: 23 March 2017
Publisher: Avon Books
No of Pages:  433
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Books by C.L. Taylor

The Accident
The Lie
The Missing

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Blood Tide – Claire McGowan

Crime Fiction
4*s

I have followed this series set in Ballyterrin with Paula McGuire our brave yet personally conflicted protagonist and enjoyed each and every new outing but the change in setting to Bone Island complete with lighthouse definitely added something quite special to the already enjoyable mix.

Paula McGuire is living with her daughter Maggie in her parent’s old house in Ballyterrin while the man who so nearly became her husband in A Savage Hunger is in jail accused of murder, refusing to see her. Paula is still searching for the truth about what happened to her mother many years ago during ‘The Troubles.’ What makes this series quite so believable is this backdrop of times both past and present to the forensic psychologist’s life.

A call comes through to Paula as her role as a missing person specialist; a couple have gone missing from Bone Island. The lighthouse where they live is locked from the inside but there is no sign of Matt Andrew, a keen ecologist or his partner, the local doctor Fiona Watts. With a violent storm raging and some seriously closed lipped locals the sense of danger is never far away in this atmospheric and creepy novel. The weather almost acts as a character in its own right, hindering the search for the missing, adding danger to the trip to the island and of course preventing anyone who might want or need to, from leaving for safety.

Paula is conflicted, she wants to see the island to remind herself of the last holiday she spent with her mother Margaret and father P.J. now retired but formerly a Roman Catholic RUC Officer. On the other hand she has left her daughter in the capable hands of her best friend with her father and his second wife Kathleen.

Paula is a professional and she does her best to get beyond the silence and the half-truths that she is being fed. What she needs to discover is whether this treatment is the same for all outsiders or is it reserved for their visit?

There are a number of strands to the storyline in this the most tense and action packed of the entire series. As well as the obvious link of missing people, both past and present, we have a strand to do with the environment as well as the hostility of the small community to outsiders, but throughout it all Paula’s complicated personal life is given equal dominance. A troubled sleuth is hardly a rarity in crime fiction but Paula has no obvious vices although perhaps the complications could have been kept at arm’s length if she hadn’t decided to return to Ballyterrin and even the most generous reader has to admit that she could do with being a little bit sensible over her choice of relationships.

We might be spending our time on a windswept island full of strangeness, secrets and suspicion but back home the private investigator is continue his enquiries into Margaret’s disappearance along with looking for evidence to free Aiden. Will there be success on either front? Well… you’ll need to read Blood Tide for yourself to find out!

I’d like to thank the publishers Headline for providing me with a copy of Blood Tide, this unbiased review is my thanks to them.

First Published UK: 23 March 2017
Publisher: Headline
No of Pages:  352
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

The Paula McGuire Series

The Lost
The Dead Ground
The Silent Dead
Savage Hunger

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Good People – Hannah Kent

Historical Fiction 4*s
Historical Fiction
4*s

This is a book steeped in the folklore and superstition that I’m sure reigned worldwide at the beginning of the nineteenth century but possibly had its most ardent followers in the Irish countryside with its stories of fairies, changelings and many rituals to ward off evil.

Set in County Kerry in 1825 in a remote valley lying between the mountains of south-west Ireland,near the Flesk river we meet Nóra Lehay when she learns of the death of her husband Martin. Only earlier that year the pair had suffered the loss of their only daughter Johanna and as a result their four year-old grandson Micheál. Poor Micheál is unable to walk and Nora has kept him hidden from her neighbours but now with the house about to fill up with mourners, she decides to give him to her neighbour, Peg O’Shea to mind.

The women gather at the well and swap gossip and Nóra’s bad luck is part of the daily currency. Peg is more understanding, with Nóra struggling to cope as she refuses to take Micheál out of their home, she suggests she goes to the hiring fair to get herself a young girl to lend a pair of hands.

This book is beautifully written and I became immersed in the small house, the winter pressing down on an already bleak home. The simple lifestyle with the local handy woman dispensing herbs and cures for all manner of ills was easy to imagine with the lyrical writing and the occasional Gallic phrase served to add a layer of authenticity to what felt like a meticulously researched book. The superstitions that seemed so quaint at the opening of the book soon take a darker turn with many of the villagers reporting bad luck in the form of the drying up of milk from the cows and the lack of eggs from the hens. These basic needs are so important when the inhabitants are living from hand to mouth, and soon the murmurs of something causing the bad luck begin to turn into positive finger-pointing and some of those fingers point at Micheál.

There is no doubt at all that Hannah Kent knows how to tell a story, she is a master of the show and not tell with the various superstitions on which the villagers rely on are seamlessly interspersed throughout the tale. The atmosphere she creates as the backdrop oppressive with little relief and I felt that I was immersed in a world far away from my home comforts. The characters were well-drawn and although I wouldn’t have wanted to share the bleak winter with some of them, had enough of a back-story for me to understand them. This wasn’t after all a world where a battered wife could up sticks and leave. There is one woman, the handy woman, Nance Roche, who lives close to the part of the forest where the fairies are thought to dwell, whose life seemed to be a litany of hardship, and was one of many who illustrated quite how strong the survival instinct is. Her story combined with that of Mary the maid, just a young teen, confronted with caring for a young boy who couldn’t walk or talk and screamed through the night was almost too awful to imagine. The hardship was sadly all too easy to imagine.

The Good People is a heart-breaking novel which provoked a feeling similar to that I had when reading the author’s debut book Burial Rites, a feeling that the outcome was inevitable, yet I read it desperately hoping for something to happen that would change its course. The story is all the more devastating because like Burial Rites it is inspired by a real event.

I’d like to thank the publishers Pan Macmillan for allowing me to read a copy of The Good People ahead of the publication of the hardback on 9 February 2017.

First Published UK:  9 February 2017
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
No of Pages:  400
Genre: Historical Fiction
Amazon UK
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Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Day That Never Comes – Caimh McDonnell

Crime Fiction 3*s
Crime Fiction
3*s

This is the second in the Dublin Trilogy written by stand-up comedian Caimh McDonnell and carries on his unique brand of crime fiction and humour from A Man With One of Those Faces onto the next part of Paul, Brigit and Bunny’s journey to see what happens after they form a private detective agency together.

The story doesn’t begin well though as Bunny is missing, Brigit and Paul have had a massive falling out and aren’t speaking and it looks as if their new venture is going to fail before it has even started. Due to the split with Brigit, Paul is holed up in their new office with Maggie, a German Shepherd dog for company. Despite appearances though there is plenty to laugh about from the start, in that ‘if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry’ kind of way. And then a woman in a red dress makes an appointment requesting information on one of the men who has made money in a building venture, to the detriment of taxpayers and investors alike. What she wants to know is who he is seeing behind her back and has chosen the MCM Agency to help her. Paul has to rely on his friend Phil to act as driver as he trails the man while Brigit is busy looking for Bunny who has gone completely to ground.

Once again we have multiple story-lines to follow and plenty of intrigue with absolutely brilliant characters this book has a far more political feel to it. Even those of us who don’t live in Ireland know about the Celtic Tiger and the rapid downturn during the crash in 2007 where the money that had been pumped into Ireland, most specifically Dublin, which left the country with debts and empty offices. In The Day That Never Comes, one such fancy building has become home to political campaigners and the homeless making a stand against those few who made millions through dodgy dealings leaving their investors with nothing, but it all turns particularly nasty when the fraud trial of Hartigan, Blake and Maloney, the three big names in this venture, collapses.

Despite the introduction of some new characters, especially those in the Gardaí I missed the rapport created when the three characters worked together. In this book although they all appear and so  we see their individual investigations moving at a pace, the humour has a slightly different feel to it, so while it’s still very much in evidence, it has a slightly more sardonic comedy – not so much slapstick and far more blackness.

As for the plot well that’s fast and furious and very well executed with the different strands of story winding closer together. If you haven’t read A Man With One of Those Faces you might equate the mentions of humour within this story with a cosy mystery; please don’t. There are some brutal killings in this book which have no place in that genre. This is not a book for those with delicate sensibilities at all.

In many ways this book could serve as a warning to politicians and police forces alike as to what happens when the community you serve gets really fed-up with the decisions made on their behalf.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to the publishers McFori Ink for allowing me to enjoy another outing with these brilliant, and funny characters. The Day That Never Comes was published on 23 January 2017

First Published UK: 23 January 2017
Publisher: McFori Ink
No of Pages:  344
Genre: Crime Fiction – Humour
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, Five Star Reads

Lying In Wait – Liz Nugent

Psychological Thriller 5*s
Psychological Thriller
5*s

Unravelling Oliver is a book that completely wowed me back in 2014; starting from the killer first line of this assured debut:

‘I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.’

Needless to say I was stupidly excited when news tweeted out that Liz Nugent had a second novel on the way, but excitement tempered by slight apprehension; would the second book ever live up to that eye-opener of a debut?

I finally settled down, opened the book and read the first line of Lying In Wait:

‘My husband did not mean to kill Annie Doyle, but the lying tramp deserved it.’

Now we all know that one line doesn’t make a novel, but you can’t deny that this is an author who has nailed that module about capturing the reader’s attention from the start!

So we know that Lydia, wife to Andrew Fitzsimons, resident of the large house that is Avalon and mother to Laurence knows that her husband has killed a woman. What is to be revealed is how, why and whether the crime is going to be discovered.

The first line refers to an event in 1980 but arguably has its roots far back in history and unusually for books that feature the big reveal in the first line, the author hasn’t structured the book in reverse; rather we look backwards and forwards in time through three narrators; Lydia, Laurence and Karen.

From the off it is clear that Lydia is a snob, no other word for it and to say she seems a little bit on the controlling side is to put it mildly. Laurence however is just a teenaged boy when the book opens, an obese bullied boy who is hampered by his mother’s phobias. Karen is a working class girl, she works in a dry-cleaners and misses her younger sister Annie. What is great about the writing is that these characters are bought to life piece by piece so that the different facets of what really make them tick, how they think and how they act are all gradually revealed. And our three narrators don’t only tell us about themselves. Through them we get to know Andrew, his mother, Annie’s parents and a host of other secondary characters including a hapless girlfriend along the way. This book certainly won’t leave you bored for a single sentence, with every word seemingly vitally important.

I could liberally gush on for hours about the perfect time setting, with the smallest of touches to keep it real without ever causing me to move out of the story to remember that brand or that song, so enthralling is the writing. The book is set in Ireland, with enough idioms, especially when Karen is speaking to keep that to the forefront of the mind, and I could perfectly visualise Avalon, the Fitzsimons house, in my mind’s eye.

Liz Nugent is a master of the cliff-hanger and many of the short chapters have a final sentence that simply begs the reader to keep going, especially as there are three separate strands of the story to keep abreast of with each one giving just enough information to flesh out the storyline a little bit more. Beware this is a book that will steal your time away, please clear your diary in advance.

Now I know I haven’t told you anything about the plot during this review, suffice to say it is engaging, well-paced and realistic when put into context of the characters involved. I’m not willing to say anything further because you really do need to read this one for yourself with as few preconceptions as possible.

In short reading this book felt like watching a car crash in slow motion; you simply know that bad things are just around the corner but how big the bang and how far the debris will spread is unknown and I will be recommending this just as widely as I did Unravelling Oliver. I sincerely hope that Liz Nugent is working hard on a third book for me to gorge myself on.

I’d like to say a big thank you to the publishers Penguin who kindly sent me a copy of this book. This review is my unbiased thank you to them.

Publication Date UK: 14 July 2016
Publisher: Penguin
No of Pages 316
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Silent Dead – Claire McGowan

Crime Fiction 4*s
Crime Fiction
4*s

I can’t begin to imagine what it must have been like to grow up in Ireland during the Troubles and so it is just as difficult to understand how life is different, and the same, since the Good Friday Agreement which led to the demilitarisation of Northern Ireland. Claire McGowan describes both in what appears to this outsider, in an incredibly thoughtful and realistic way.

As the book opens the Missing Persons Unit set-up to find people on both sides of the border between Northern and Southern Ireland are asked to assist with the discovery of a body, this is unusual, normally their subjects are presumed to be alive. Mickey Doyle has been found hanged, presumed murder and was one member of the Mayday Five, a terrorist group who are strongly suspected of planting a bomb that killed sixteen people, including babies and children. The group have been called in because the remaining four members are also missing but tensions in the town are running high, not least because the Mayday Five have recently been found not guilty and until their disappearance were free to live their lives.

This is a tough book to read because of the raw grief of the survivors of the bomb illustrated in the meetings they hold to discuss those who went about their business on the day the bomb exploded changing the lives of those around them forever. Paula McGowan does a fantastic job of creating the tension between the survivors and the police who are committed to tracking down the Mayday Five, and finding whoever was responsible for Mickey Doyle’s murder. This is definitely a story that captures the conflict caused by doing the right thing for those who carried out a horrendous atrocity.

Part of the tale, that of what really happened on the day of the bombing is relayed in the form of a book by an investigative journalist that Paula uses as a guide to what is known locally to have happened, a source that is useful to her having been in England at the time. This also helps the reader to understand why each question posed to those in the town has to be so mindful of past grudges and the subtleties of the importance of religion seventeen years on from the Good Friday Agreement.

This is the third in the series that features Paula McGuire, a forensic psychologist who works for a missing persons unit based on the border between Paula is a likeable and realistic character. She returned to her childhood home to look after her father but has remained despite his recent marriage to her childhood sweetheart’s mother. There is still a feeling that Paula hasn’t made this her home, and the house has its own ghosts as her mother disappeared one day when Paula was a teenager and to this day no-one, despite Paula using all her investigative skills, knows what happened to her. This book continues that search and brings Paula into contact with more people who might be able to tell her the truth. However with her pregnancy nearing the end, Paula has more pressing matters to resolve, such as who is the father of her child, and building the right kind of relationship with both potential fathers. Oh yes, this book is full of tension, both professional and personal aided by seemingly impossible problems to solve and one where doing the right thing could cause harm to those who arguably hold the moral high ground.

I’ve read and enjoyed both the The Lost and The Dead Ground but really felt that the writing had moved up a notch which was incredibly readable despite the complicated storyline coupled with what is a highly complex background. I’m sure this would work well as a standalone novel but I do think there is lots to be gained from the previous two books in terms of the relationships that have formed and developed along the way.

I’d like to extend a huge thank you to the publishers Headline for letting me read this book in return for my honest opinion. The Silent Dead will be published on 19 November 2015.

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

Can Anybody Help Me? – Sinéad Crowley

Psychological Thriller  5*s
Psychological Thriller
5*s

For a tale of our times you can’t do much better than this one. Yvonne, lonely and unsure after giving birth. Having recently moved to Ireland from London she is being urged by her husband and midwife to get out and meet more people, not really ready for that she does the next best thing and goes on-line and joins ‘NetMammy’ somewhere she can get advice and support. All too soon the on-line community has become something of a crutch as she logs on to check up on her new friend’s lives. One woman is of particular support so when her on-line presence disappears around the same time as a young single mother is reported missing, Yvonne rings the police to voice her concerns that the on-line moniker is in fact the single woman that is missing.

Some of the story contains the actual forum conversation most of these accurately reflect the types of exchange that are found on these sites but some contain clues – don’t be fooled, as well as a reflecting the modern world, this book is a thriller at heart! I enjoyed the exchanges, interaction between people that don’t really know each other is fascinating as you never quite know who is behaving just as they would anywhere, and who is hiding behind the anonymity of the screen. And Yvonne, how much of her life has she shared inadvertently while discussing her husband’s long working hours, nappies and formula milk? This is the part that made me pause for thought, after all I do have an on-line presence, it isn’t hard, should you be so minded, to find out my name, where I live etc and you would easily be able to find out where I work, who my friends are and what I do for relaxation – hopefully none of you want to hunt me down except in a friendly way!!

Along with Yvonne’s story we also see the story unfold from Sergeant Claire Boyle’s point of view. Claire is trying to carry on as normal but being pregnant and chasing criminals is taking its toll and her work colleagues as well as her friends and family telling her to take it easy is not helping her mood. She is investigating the death of the young woman found dead in a flat in Dublin leaving a young daughter, a woman who seemingly had few friends so the investigation hasn’t exactly got off to a flying start, the police aren’t even entirely sure who she had arranged to meet the night she died.

This is a fast-paced read and as the plot starts to unfold the tension mounted and had me turning the pages faster to find out exactly what had happened, and why. The subject matter is fascinating, after all social media is used by so many of us and it is part of everyday life, I am also fond of reading comments on news sites, predicting how many will come up with the more extreme views in any story is a hobby – and the NetMammy site is no different, some of the women’s comments were so predictable! I really liked Claire, her realistic persona made the book for me, a well-rounded and normal person who does her job with a healthy dose of instinct and to make the story work, a little disregarding of the rules when needed.

A book that firmly fits into the category of thriller but one with a fresh and modern feel to it this is one I will be recommending, but probably not to anyone who is a new mum!

I am enormously grateful to Quercus for my copy of Can Anybody Help Me? which was published on 29 January 2015, in return for my honest opinion.