Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Shut Eye – Belinda Bauer

Crime Fiction 4*'s
Crime Fiction

Five footprints made before the concrete had set in the garage forecourt are all that is left of Daniel Buck. Daniel’s mother Anna has made it her mission to keep the footprints clean while simultaneously blaming her husband, Daniel’s father, James for leaving the door open on the morning of his disappearance.
The Shut Eye in the title refers to the psychic, Richard Latham that Anna visits hoping for a lead to find Daniel who holds his meetings in a church hall where is throws out random names to his audience sat on the edge of their plastic chairs.

As always Belinda Bauer’s writing is an absolute delight, even in such a tragic tale involving two missing children she manages to inject some wry humour, much needed when Anna’s grief is so raw and so perfectly depicted. With the shut eye busy trying to track down a missing dog he is unwilling to help Anna, something happened on a previous case which he is unwilling to revisit. Jack Marvel is the detective in charge in another missing child young Edie Evans. He is a recovering alcoholic who doesn’t believe in psychics and the detective who we first met in Dark Side, haunted by Edie Evans, a twelve-year-old girl who he has been trying to find for a year, the only clue being her bicycle. With Jack’s superior officer stalling the investigation into Richard Latham more difficult than need be, having engaged the psychic to find his wife’s lost dog it is only a matter of time before relations between the two come to a head.

The story is well-constructed with plenty of great observations but I found the psychic element off-putting because I simply didn’t believe the visions that drove much of the plot forward. Where Belinda Bauer’s excels is in depicting people and there were many varied characters populating this book, from the hysterical garage owner who ‘fired’ his hapless mechanic over and over again to appease his clients to the brilliantly self-effacing Emily Aguda the black policewoman who keeps her sexuality hidden to avoid any further reasons for her bosses to keep her on the desk rather than out catching criminals as she wants to.

If unlike me you aren’t put off by the psychic element you will find this to be another excellent novel by a talented writer whose plots are ingenious, the everyday details meticulously yet not clumsily inserted into the prose and a pace that kept even this disbeliever turning the pages at a rate to find out what really happened the day Daniel left his footprints in the cement. This isn’t an easy book to read, grief-stricken Anna is only too realistic which are cleverly depicted by her actions rather than her words and all the more distressing because of that.

I’d like to say a big thank you to the publishers Random House UK who allowed me to read a copy of this book ahead of its publication on 12 March 2015.

Previous Books by Belinda Bauer

Finders Keepers
The Facts of Life and Death

Posted in Books I have read

The Whispers – Lisa Unger

Novella  4*'s

I normally shy away from books which have a supernatural theme but when I saw the first part of a novella trilogy, written by the author of In The Blood, a psychological thriller which I really enjoyed, as much for the fact that this was a book that gave me many different issues to think about whilst being a cracking good read. So I decided to unstick my feet from the mud and give this a go!

Lisa Unger wastes no time in revealing her chief protagonist, Eloise to her readers, a likeable character who has a husband who cherishes his family, an awkward elder daughter, Emily, as well as Amanda the youngest daughter who shares her mother’s outlook on life. All too soon this picture is smashed to pieces as Alfie and Emily die in a car crash. This awful event causes Eloise to have psychic visions that she doesn’t want, like or know how to react to but the visions she has can’t be ignored and Eloise needs to act, fast.

I loved the writing and I was so totally engaged in this short story that I was completely ok with the psychic parts, helped in no small part that these were linked to a mystery and the fact that Eloise was more sceptical of them herself. Lisa Unger is careful to keep the threads running through the book so Eloise is supporting Amanda while she comes to terms with the awful tragedy as well as suffering from grief herself. I found all the interactions from the beginning where a typical family was getting ready for work and school to those after the car crash perfectly pitched. The pace of this novella was good although the end came far too soon for my liking and I will need to pick up the next in the series, The Burning Girl, to find out what happens to Eloise next.
So, not only did I read a novella, the first one this year, but it also had spooky stuff in it and I liked it confirming that Lisa Unger is a truly talented writer indeed.

I’d like to thank the publishers Gallery for my copy of this novella that is due out on 27 October 2014, although in the UK Simon & Schuster have a publication date of 4 December 2014, in return for my honest review.

My review of In The Blood