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

Skin Deep – Liz Nugent

Psychological Thriller
5*s

I wondered when rigor mortis would set in, or if it already had.

Liz Nugent the author with the killer first lines does it again with her third novel Skin Deep! Not only is the first line a shocker she has confirmed to me that perhaps my preference in psychological novels is for the slow build rather than the flashy twists and turns. Slow burn should never be confused with boring, rather in the context of this book it means that every word matters, it has been considered and it means something.

Once I had cleared the bottles away and washed the blood off the floor, I needed to get out of the flat.

Cordelia Russell is living on the Côte d’Azur using her looks and her charm to get by. But her age is catching up with her, no longer do the gentlemen wish to buy her food and drink for the pleasure of her company. But what journey had Cordelia been on before she arrived and realised that beauty is only skin deep.

I could probably have been an actress. It is not difficult to pretend to be somebody else. Isn’t that what I’ve been doing for most of my life?

This is a novel that explores the very worst of human nature, it pulls the reader to places that they would rather not know, insistently, gradually but before you know it you are face to face with it. This is an author who makes you need to know more on one level although you are repelled on another. This is a book where whether it is descriptions of flies buzzing round a corpse, or descriptions of settings, whether that be the blue sea of the Mediterranean or the bleakness of the tiny Island of Inishcrann , which translated from the Irish language means The Island of the Tree, the words used easily conjure up everything.

At the start of Part One, we meet a young girl whose doting father calls her the ‘Queen of Inishcrann’ and she believes that is her destiny. She is the eldest of four children born to the islander and his American wife. The other three children are boys and not favoured by the father. And we all know what is likely to happen to spoilt little madams, don’t we? Well you might think you do…

In between the bleak life in the cold and the strange characters on the island we are treated to some folklore tales, those that root the island in the past. Horrid stories far from the fairy tales that we mock shudder at now. This just underpins the darkness, the bleakness and even if you can’t conceive of the ending, you know it will be bad. These are sinister tales that will play on your mind as much as the story unfolding before you.

The more books I read, the more I appreciate this kind of superb plotting. The kind that makes you want to read the first page, and go back to the beginning with your newly found knowledge as you know some fantastic magic has been woven but you want to see how the stiches were made.

If you want to feel empathy with the characters you read about, you will struggle with this book. This book isn’t populated with lovely people, although you might catch a glimpse of one or two trying to step out of the shadows. But in the main, those living on Inishcrann are superstitious and somewhat out of touch with the norms of life. Too few people trying to stop the authorities from declaring the island inhabitable, means that arguments are quick to flare, to fester and to poison. And as the little girl grows and moves away, to Ireland, perhaps the time for goodness has passed. But, you will be compelled by the characterisation, and it will be up to you to decide whether the character is born, or made.

This is the third book that I have read by Liz Nugent, each one easily gaining five star status and each one leaving me amazed at the blackness of her imagination and gratitude that she sets it out with such graceful and engaging writing.

I would like to say a huge thank you to Penguin UK for allowing me to read a copy of Skin Deep prior to publication, today, 5 April 2018. This unbiased review is my thanks to them and the author, Liz Nugent for a dark compelling read.

First Published UK: 5 April 2018
Publisher: Penguin
No of Pages: 368
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US audible only


Previous Books by Liz Nugent

Unravelling Oliver WINNER of IBA Crime Fiction Book of the Year 2014
Lying in Wait Featured in the Richard and Judy Spring 2017 Book Club

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (March 28)

This Week In Books
Hosted by Lipsy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

All my books this week have one thing in common – they are all being published on 5 April 2018!

I’ve just started reading Skin Deep by Liz Nugent, author of Unravelling Oliver and Lying in Wait both of which I loved.

Blurb

‘I could probably have been an actress.
It is not difficult to pretend to be somebody else.
Isn’t that what I’ve been doing for most of my life?’

Cordelia Russell has been living on the French Riviera for twenty-five years, passing herself off as an English socialite. But her luck, and the kindness of strangers, have run out.

The arrival of a visitor from her distant past shocks Cordelia. She reacts violently to the intrusion and flees her flat to spend a drunken night at a glittering party. As dawn breaks she stumbles home through the back streets. Even before she opens her door she can hear the flies buzzing. She did not expect the corpse inside to start decomposing quite so quickly . . . Amazon

The last book I finished was The Killing House by Claire McGowan, the sixth book in this fantastic series featuring forensic psychologist Paula Maguire.

Blurb

When a puzzling missing persons’ case opens up in her hometown, forensic psychologist Paula Maguire can’t help but return once more.

Renovations at an abandoned farm have uncovered two bodies: a man known to be an IRA member missing since the nineties, and a young girl whose identity remains a mystery.

As Paula attempts to discover who the girl is and why no one is looking for her, an anonymous tip-off claims that her own long-lost mother is also buried on the farm.

When another girl is kidnapped, Paula must find the person responsible before more lives are destroyed. But there are explosive secrets still to surface. And even Paula can’t predict that the investigation will strike at the heart of all she holds dear. Amazon

Next up I am going to be reading the debut novel by Vicky Newham called Turn a Blind Eye. I ‘met’ Vicky on social media and so have seen from afar her journey from writing to the book being accepted by HQ, and now I get to read the finished article.

Blurb

A dead girl.
A wall of silence.
DI Maya Rahman is running out of time.

A headmistress is found strangled in her East London school, her death the result of a brutal and ritualistic act of violence. Found at the scene is a single piece of card, written upon which is an ancient Buddhist precept:

I shall abstain from taking the ungiven.

At first, DI Maya Rahman can’t help but hope this is a tragic but isolated murder. Then, the second body is found.
Faced with a community steeped in secrets and prejudice, Maya must untangle the cryptic messages left at the crime scenes to solve the deadly riddle behind the murders – before the killer takes another victim. Amazon

Any of these beauties take your fancy? What are you reading this week?

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (January 7)

Well welcome to 2018, I hope the start has been a good one for you all. Sadly I had to leave the New Year celebrations due to feeling ill and have been cycling through all the lovely symptoms ever since, including intense dizziness which curtailed my reading for a couple of days – I mean what’s the point of being ill if you can’t even read?

This Week on the Blog

Fortunately in light of my New Year resolution to write my reviews as I read the books rather than doing one marathon write-up each weekend I had most of this week’s posts prepared and ready to go.

On Monday I participated in the New Year Book Tag where I pledged to read some more classics and have therefore spent many hours perusing lists of classics trying to decide which ones to read or reread – needless to say in my apathetic state I haven’t made even one choice yet.

My excerpt post came from Hell Bay by Kate Rhodes,  a crime fiction novel set on one of the Scilly isles which promises dark secrets.

This Week in Books featured the authors Peter May, Agatha Christie and Barney Norris giving quite a range of reading matter to start off 2018.

My first review of 2018 was for Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan. I awarded this psychological thriller that centres around a Junior Minster on trial for rape the full five stars.

On Friday I reviewed Joanna Cannon’s upcoming novel Three Things About Elsie whose chief protagonist is the resident of a care home trying to discover why a man she thought had died years ago has suddenly turned up as a resident.

My last review of the week was for my first read of 2018; The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie where the clues are provided to my dear friend Hercule Poirot by means of anonymous letters and a railway timetable book, called the A.B.C. As always a fantastic mystery with a twist I failed to foresee.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading The Sixth Window by Rachel Abbott, the sixth in the DCI Tom Douglas series set in Manchester. Having fled her home after reading something on her partner’s laptop widow Natalie rents a flat in a refurbished warehouse for her, and her daughter Scarlett. Then, strange things begin happening and our favourite DCI is perturbed about some of the things he learns following the death of Natalie’s husband, a former Policeman. This was a fast-paced story with superb plotting and plenty of intrigue.

You can read my full review here or click on the book cover.

Blurb

Every instinct told her to run…

Natalie Grey is living a nightmare. She has discovered a disturbing website link on her new partner’s computer and fears he has a dark side, and even darker intentions. When her husband died in a hit and run accident, Ed had seemed like a safe harbour. Now where can she turn?

Concerned for the safety of her fifteen-year-old daughter Scarlett, she moves them both to a new home beyond his reach, unaware that the apartment holds secrets of its own. Left alone during the long days of the school holiday, Scarlett investigates strange sounds coming from the other side of the wall, never anticipating the danger that awaits her there.

DCI Tom Douglas’s investigation into the apparent suicide of a teenage girl draws him ever closer to Natalie and Scarlett. But will he be too late to protect them from the danger they face, or from the truths that will tear their lives apart?

Will they ever feel safe again?

Stacking the Shelves

I have a few new finds to share with you a selection of which are below as luckily despite my New Year’s Resolution which means I have vowed to read three of my own books before buying any new ones, NetGalley has had an influx of great looking books.

First to the Christmas books!

I have a copy of: American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst by Jeffrey Toobin which has been on my wishlist since it was first published in August 2016.

Blurb

On February 4, 1974, Patty Hearst, a sophomore in college and heiress to the Hearst family fortune, was kidnapped by a ragtag group of self-styled revolutionaries calling itself the Symbionese Liberation Army. The already sensational story took the first of many incredible twists on April 3, when the group released a tape of Patty saying she had joined the SLA and had adopted the nom de guerre “Tania.”

The weird turns of the tale are truly astonishing–the Hearst family trying to secure Patty’s release by feeding all the people of Oakland and San Francisco for free; the bank security cameras capturing “Tania” wielding a machine gun during a robbery; a cast of characters including everyone from Bill Walton to the Black Panthers to Ronald Reagan to F. Lee Bailey; the largest police shoot-out in American history; the first breaking news event to be broadcast live on television stations across the country; Patty’s year on the lam, running from authorities; and her circuslike trial, filled with theatrical courtroom confrontations and a dramatic last-minute reversal, after which the term “Stockholm syndrome” entered the lexicon.

The saga of Patty Hearst highlighted a decade in which America seemed to be suffering a collective nervous breakdown. Based on more than a hundred interviews and thousands of previously secret documents, American Heiress thrillingly recounts the craziness of the times (there were an average of 1,500 terrorist bombings a year in the early 1970s).

Toobin portrays the lunacy of the half-baked radicals of the SLA and the toxic mix of sex, politics, and violence that swept up Patty Hearst and re-creates her melodramatic trial. American Heiress examines the life of a young woman who suffered an unimaginable trauma and then made the stunning decision to join her captors’ crusade. Amazon

I also have a copy of My Sister and Other Liars by Ruth Dugdall an author whose work I’ve followed since discovering her back in 2011.



Blurb

Sam is seventeen, starving herself and longing for oblivion. Her sister, Jena, is mentally scarred and desperate to remember. Between them, they share secrets too terrible to recall.

Eighteen months earlier, Sam was still full of hope: hope that she could piece together Jena’s fragmented memory after the vicious attack that changed their family forever. But digging into the past unearthed long-hidden lies and betrayals, and left Sam feeling helpless and alone in a world designed to deceive her.

Now, in a last bid to save her from self-imposed shutdown, Sam’s therapist is helping her confront her memories. But the road to recovery is a dangerous one. Because Sam has not only been lying to her doctors: she’s been hiding dark secrets from herself. Amazon

Whilst buying books for other people’s Christmas presents I came across a copy of Common People: The History of an English Family by Alison Light which somehow found its way into the purchases.

Blurb

Family history is a massive phenomenon of our times but what are we after when we go in search of our ancestors? Beginning with her grandparents, Alison Light moves between the present and the past, in an extraordinary series of journeys over two centuries, across Britain and beyond.

Epic in scope and deep in feeling, Common People is a family history but also a new kind of public history, following the lives of the migrants who travelled the country looking for work. Original and eloquent, it is a timely rethinking of who the English were – but ultimately it reflects on history itself, and on our constant need to know who went before us and what we owe them. Amazon

And from NetGalley I have a copy of Skin Deep by Liz Nugent which will be published on 5 April 2018, another author who is on my ‘must-read’ list.

Blurb

‘Once I had cleared the bottles away and washed the blood off the floor, I needed to get out of the flat.’

Cordelia Russell has been living on the Côte d’Azur for ten years, posing a posh English woman fallen on hard times. But her luck is running out. Desperate to escape her grotty flat and grim reality, Cordelia spends a night at a glittering party. Surrounded by the young, beautiful and privileged she feels her age and her poverty. As dawn breaks she stumbles home through the back streets. Even before she opens her door she can hear the flies buzzing. It hasn’t taken long for the corpse in her bedroom to commence decomposing …

Liz Nugent’s novel is the dark, twisted and shocking story of what takes Cordelia from an island childhood in Ireland to ruin in Nice. NetGalley

All in all some exciting books for 2018 – what do you think? Any of these take your fancy?

tbr-watch

Since my last post I have read 9 books and appear to have gained 8 so my TBR is plummeting downwards to 185

Physical Books – 109
Kindle Books – 56
NetGalley Books –20

I have banked one-third of a book token and therefore purchased a big fat zero number of books in 2018.