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

The Disappearance of Emily Marr – Louise Candlish

20 books of summer logo

Contemporary Fiction 5*s
Contemporary Fiction
5*s

Having thoroughly enjoyed The Sudden Departure of the Frasers which was published by this author earlier this year, I was thrilled to find that there was a back-catalogue to explore with high-praise being bestowed on this book. Like Lisa Jewell’s books, it is easy to be thrown by the pretty, girly cover and assume this is a light and fluffy story, it isn’t, there are disturbing and dark issues but it does share that readable quality which easily has you rooting for a character.

In a small French town Tabby has become desperate, she has a broken heart and is pondering on some home truths and now she’s travelled from Paris to this unknown, quiet town with no money on a whim. She needs to go home, but is reluctant, she needs to earn money but her French is weak at best, but most of all she needs somewhere to sleep.

Emmie is virtually a hermit venturing out only to work so was it fate that bought Tabby to her door. Although Emmie is reluctant to speak of her own troubles, she is inquisitive about Tabby’s life. She listens to her woes and even fixes her up with a temporary job. Emmie’s spare time is spent working on her story, and what a story it is.

So far so chick-lit? We need the inclusion of a hunky man and we’re set to go. Well there are some men, one falls into the hunky category and is unavailable but that isn’t the point of the story. The story is about Emily Marr a woman who was in every paper, on every internet site, a woman hounded for her actions! Her picture was on the top-ten lists of worst women and the news articles always garnered plenty of spiteful comments. This is the age we live in, no longer do we put people in the stocks to humiliate them, instead campaigns are run to pressurise their employers to sack them for their perceived or real transgressions. If the object of our fury is a woman it is likely that their bodies are discussed in horrifying detail while we call up the sound-bites, attention-seeking, narcissistic, bullying, selfish…. And once it has started there doesn’t seem much that the object of our disgust can do except lay low and wait for the public to move onto a new target. I am as guilty as the next person as I read (although never add my voice to the throng) the latest ‘news’ which is often pulled from social networking sites as a warning that should you warrant it, the past will come back to haunt you!! Anyway I digress… I do like books that reflect the changes in our lives and technology is a big part of those changes, whereas in years gone past only those closest to someone vilified in the press were likely to add their voices to the tidal wave of condemnation, now people can comment from the other side of the word all day long. How does Emily Marr cope? What should she do?

With Emmie’s narration being told in her own words in the past and Tabby’s the story is also one of a different kind of friendship than normally portrayed in women’s fiction, here Emmie is far more secretive about her past, only giving Tabby the barest of details about her life before France despite Tabby wanting to support her friend but Tabby has a secret too and it may just cause both their lives to unravel.

An entertaining book with some really well-drawn characters from the major to the minor, recognisable, three-dimensional personalities are a must in a book where the root of the book is in their actions and Louise Candlish has proved herself extremely accomplished in creating them for our enjoyment.

I chose this out of all Louise Candlish’s previous books on the authors own kind advice following my review of The Sudden Departure of the Frasers. She was right, I loved it so I’m delighted that I chose it as one of my 20 Books of Summer 2015! Challenge.

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Killer Next Door – Alex Marwood

Crime Fiction 3*'s
Crime Fiction
3*’s

After reading and loving The Wicked Girls I pre-ordered my copy of The Killer Next Door some time ago…

The residents in No. 23 Northbourne, South London, are a mixed bunch of the forgotten and ignored before Collette turns up, she is the one resident that someone is looking for. Unfortunately for Collette her past keeps catching up with her, someone wants her silenced and has been relentlessly tracking her for three years.

The cloying atmosphere of London in a heatwave is the scene brilliantly captured as the repulsive, obese Landlord Roy Preece is persuaded to let out a room still partially full of the previous owner’s possessions to Collette. Meanwhile the others in the house each have their own secrets, the underage runaway, Cher, the kind elderly spinster Vesta, a political asylum seeker Houssein, the bore Thomas and the broken music teacher. The characters are wonderfully drawn, particularly Vesta and Cher as they battle to keep the events in No. 23 away from the prying eyes of the neighbourhood.

This book has the requisite serial killer, with an original aim but it also has multiple murderers and for me this was where I found I lost belief in the story. The dead bodies are mounting, the stench is thickening and the secrets are spewing out, but it stretched credibility to breaking point. For me there is a limit to how much horror one set of people can be reasonably expected to encounter. No car chases in this book but escapes on foot, on buses and trains and all manner of bloody encounters serve to keep the residents on their toes!

Apart from the plot and the characters there is some brilliant observations in this book from an author who clearly has an eye for detail ‘The social worker sits, sensible hair and sensible shoes and an air of New Labour sanctimony pouring off her, in the chair next to the girl.’ We never meet the family who live next door but their uniform of cardigans slung around their shoulders and their voices during a party tell us all we need to know. As the residents of No. 23 pull together they seem further than ever away from the aspirations of the neighbours.

So this book is a sum of its parts, many of them superb but for me it is ultimately the story that matters to me and this for me tried to cram to many unlikely events for me to continue believing in it.

The Killer Next Door Amazon UK

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Doll’s House – Tania Carver

Crime  4*'s
Crime
4*’s

Well finally it is time to post my last review from my holiday reads.

The Doll’s House is the fifth in the Brennan and Esposito series. After the shock ending of the last book Marina Esposito is now working at the university in Birmingham and DI Phil Brennan has joined the police there. A new start with baby Josephine… what could go wrong?

Well… Phil quickly gets involved in the most strange of murder investigations after a woman is found dead, strangely she is dressed as a doll and sat as if she was drinking a cup of tea at a doll’s tea party.

Tania Carver raises the tension swiftly and it never lets up throughout the book. With a dual narrative giving the reader insight into the killer’s mind this book is nothing short of shocking. Although this isn’t the first time dual narrative has been used in a crime novel in this book it soon becomes apparent that everything may not be quite as it first seems. The reader can work alongside the police trying to guess the motive of this most gruesome of murders.

Living in a new location both Brennan and Esposito have new colleagues to meet and new bonds to make, for Phil this isn’t going to be straightforward with a certain level of resentment surrounding his new role. Marina is also finding her feet with her university colleagues when strange things begin to happen.

As with the previous books in this series the author doesn’t hold back on gore, this is not reading for the faint-hearted, however if you are feeling brave this is a really good read and I for one am looking forward to the next in the series.

Link to Amazon UK

Previous books in the series

The Surrogate

The Creeper

Cage of Bones

The Creeper