Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Never List – Koethi Zan

Psychological Thriller 4*'s
Psychological Thriller

Sarah lives in her pristine apartment rarely venturing beyond the safety of the front door.  Why?  Well ten years before the story begins she was one of four girls who were kept and tortured by Jack Derber in the cellar of his house. Having escaped from three years of hell Sarah now has a problem, Jack Derber is up for parole and together with the two other survivors from the time in the cellar, Sarah needs to engage with the board to keep him in prison where he belongs.  Do the letters that Jack has been sending from prison hold clues as to what his motive for keeping them really were?

This book has a fantastic opening, Sarah and her best friend Jennifer devise The Never List as children, a way to keep them safe from the vagaries of the world but by the time the two go to college it has become something of an obsession.  What is shocking after all the edicts on how to keep them safe is that they are captured by the Psychology Professor at their college.

This is a book full of suspense but what I enjoyed most was the psychological effects, not only after the girls are released, but how they behaved towards each other in captivity.  This is one dark book that illustrates the survivor mechanism in action.  As Sarah investigates she seeks out those who knew Jack and her trail leads her into a wide variety of characters, none of whom seem to be particularly pleasant. Some of these secondary characters seemed a little clichéd and two-dimensional but all had something to add to Sarah’s determined investigation.

I found the story slowed somewhat in the middle section, but the ending gets top marks from me as Sarah is determined to find out what happened to her friend Jennifer who has not been since she was captured….

A thrilling book with loads of action which has had the honour of being on Richard & Judy Book Club spring list.  I received this book from the publisher Random House UK in return for this honest review.

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Stone Bruises – Simon Beckett

Crime Fiction  4*'s
Crime Fiction

This is a crime thriller with a big difference, the reader doesn’t know what crime has been committed. All the reader knows is that when we meet Sean he is hiding his battered and blood-stained car in France one hot summer day. He leaves the car picks up his rucksack and walks into the unknown. Here is a man without a plan but it is apparent he is hiding and determined to stay hidden.

Told expertly and consistently in the first person this is a subtle story of a mystery man on the run. Sean ends up at a farm-house where things only take a turn for the worse. The claustrophobic feel intensifies as he appears to have been trapped on a farm inhabited by a Monsieur Arnaud, his two daughters, Mathilde and Gretchen and his grandson, little Michele. The only contact Sean has with the outside world is Georges the old man who looks after the sanglochons, a pig which has been bred with a boar.

The reader is treated to snapshots of Sean’s background from the interjections of life in London. A life that included Chloe an artist and joy. The contrast of these short excerpts to the claustrophobic atmosphere in the baking heat in France couldn’t be more dramatic. Be warned though, Beckett makes the reader wait a long time to connect the links between the past and the present.

Despite not knowing what Sean was running from I instantly felt sympathy for him, I wanted for the unpredictable Monsieur Arnaud to ignore him at the same time as trying to work out the cause of the complex tensions in the household one that was closed to everyone outside the family. It was clear that the Arnaud’s were hiding from something or someone too.

This understated book has an underlying thread of violence running through it which serves to build the tension before the inevitable catastrophe which changes everything, forever.

I received a free copy of this book from the publishers Random House UK in return for this honest review. This book will be published on 30 January 2014.

I hadn’t read any of Simon Beckett’s previous books but I am going to be seeking them out now. This book shows that this is a man who knows how to wield his pen to maximum advantage. He gets my vote as I’d never heard of sanglochons before which is a French contraction of pig and boar, and the sanglochons have a part to play in the story so it wasn’t just a writer being clever! But better than that this book used one of my favourite words, doppelganger, in a sentence that sang to me “The Skylight is fogged with condensation. Rain sweeps against it with a noise like a drum roll. Our smudged reflections hang above us as we lay on the bed, misted doppelgangers trapped in glass.” Enough of a reason I think to read this book!

Posted in Weekly Posts

Teaser Tuesday (January 21)

Teasing Tuesday CB
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teaser this week is from Stone Bruises by Simon Beckett which is due to be published on 30 January 2014 by Random House UK

Stone Bruises

“The Skylight is fogged with condensation. Rain sweeps against it with a noise like a drum roll. Our smudged reflections hang above us as we lay on the bed, misted doppelgangers trapped in glass.”


Sean is on the run. We don’t know why and we don’t know from whom, but we do know he’s abandoned his battered, blood-stained car in the middle of an isolated, lonely part of rural France at the height of a sweltering summer. Desperate to avoid the police, he takes to the parched fields and country lanes only to be caught in the vicious jaws of a trap. Near unconscious from pain and loss of blood, he is freed and taken in by two women – daughters of the owner of a rundown local farm with its ramshackle barn, blighted vineyard and the brooding lake. And it’s then that Sean’s problems really start…