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

In Too Deep – Bea Davenport

Psychological Thriller 5*s
Psychological Thriller

This is one of those compulsive reads that draws you in from the start. In a small market town there is a man, his wife and their young daughter. The man is keen to make his mark and how do you do that in a small town? You join the annual fair committee of course and make it the most successful one to date. How do you do that? Well you invite the journalists into your town, hype the obvious big pull, the dunking stall, no matter if it’s sexist in that only the women of the town are dunked, and you dress up in costume get the townsfolk to man their stalls and this being England, pray for fine weather.

Maura Wood is happy tending to her daughter Rosie’s needs and keeping house for Nick, well mostly happy, perhaps happier when he is out organising for the fair, but happy enough, that is until Kim a sassy journalist comes to town and opens Maura’s eyes to the possibility of life as a more independent woman, one who has more to think about than what to cook for dinner. The question everyone is asking, including Maura, is why is Kim so attentive to dowdy Maura? All of this was five years ago so what on earth happened in the meantime so that when we meet Maura she is living a life in London, not Dowerby, without her daughter and in the shadows working two jobs that pay cash in hand to avoid being found.

Well the root has to be in Dowerby, where the status quo rules, not just on the committee but in the minds of its traditional-minded inhabitants. When Nick and Maura move, far from being taken into the bosom of the community as Nick has been, but then this is where he came from, Maura isn’t quite ostracized but neither is she invited to join the other women so when Kim turns up and is interested in her life, Maura is predisposed to welcome a friend into her life, even if that friend is going to cause waves in Dowerby!

This is a clever story which unveils a chain of events, seemingly started so innocently, with a coffee and a chat, but ends up changing the course of Maura’s life forever so much so that she is extremely scared when she realises someone is onto her. On the anonymous streets of North London she hears someone mention her name, notes are posted through her door; who is this man and what does he want from her?

I thoroughly enjoyed this, the characters were well-drawn with the back-stories just enough developed to ensure that their actions were suitably aligned while the sense of small-town life was perfectly portrayed. This is a book that covers big issues but I’m relieved to say in an entertaining fashion which meant that rather than being dwelt upon or glossed over the effects remain long after the last page has been turned.

Having read this author’s second book This Little Piggy, Bea Davenport is certainly an author I will be looking out for in the future.

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Cold Cold Sea – Linda Huber

Psychological Thriller 4*'s
Psychological Thriller

This book was compelling reading although at times I wanted to do so from behind a cushion as every parent’s nightmare unfolds over 256 pages. This book is almost understated in tone but beware it is full of raw emotions and drills into your mind making it a book that you won’t easily forget.

I was instantly dragged into memories of summer days sat on the beach entertaining children with rock pools and sandcastles. For Olivia’s mother Maggie she felt hurt when her daughter spurned her attention and wanted to look in the rock pools with her father Colin and big brother Joe, with the Cornish beach empty she makes her way across to them and Maggie pours herself a cup of coffee and waits for them to return for biscuits. When the Colin and Joe make their way back there is the awful realisation that Olivia is missing. Colin’s reaction isn’t sugar-coated, he is furious with his wife and when the search finds no trace of the little girl he goes with his son to his parent’s house leaving Maggie to wait for the return of her daughter.

A few weeks later teacher Katie who is preparing her classroom for the infants starting at the private school where she works, she’s a little nervous and easily intimidated by the mothers who look like they’ve stepped out of glamorous magazines but soon she has sufficiently worried about Hailey Marshall to visit her mother. Disturbed by the lack of feeling Jennifer Marshall shows her young daughter she talks to her colleagues who soon reassure her that with Jenifer Marshall pregnant with twins and her husband Peter away caring for his sick grandmother that hormones and tiredness are the most likely cause.

In this clever story it is easy to work out exactly what Jennifer’s problem is and as the story drags you along through difficult scene after scene it felt like watching a slow-motion car crash. I knew the fall-out would be enormous but kept reading to find out who for. The plot is audacious but keeps to just the right side of believable when you take everything the author tells us into account. The story is told from the three women’s points of view; Maggie, Jennifer and Katie all mull over their feelings as they try to make sense of what is happening. I did find the narrative a little lacking in interaction and conversation due to this introspection but given the nature of the storyline it served well in adding to the tension which mounts until the superb ending.

I’d like to thank Legend Press for giving me a copy of this novel in return for this honest review and since I haven’t read Linda Huber’s debut novel, The Paradise Trees, it has gone onto my list of books I must have.

Warning – Parents don’t read this book at the beach particularly if you need to keep an eye on the children!