Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Are You Watching Me? – Sinéad Crowley

Crime Fiction
4*s

Tír na nÓg a drop in centre for men is right at the heart of this, the second book in the Sergeant Claire Boyle series. With the realistic Dublin setting as a backdrop the lonely men who visit the centre make for a refreshing change which more than justly follows up on the author’s debut novel Can Anybody Help Me?

The drop in centre is run by Tom who gave Liz Cafferky a job when she was down on her luck and so she is unable to refuse when he wants her to do a TV interview to raise the profile of the drop-in centre with the aim to garner donations. There’s a downside for Liz though, she has become a bit of a media star and now she’s getting unwanted attention.

Meanwhile Claire Boyle is back at work following her maternity leave and feeling that all too familiar feeling of guilt despite her husband Matt staying at home to mind the baby. That’s until one of the drop-in centre’s regulars is murdered then her mind is focussed on the investigation.

I love this author’s work, it should be classed as a police procedural, after all there is an investigation with a solid mystery with the obligatory red-herrings and devilish plotting but we are also treated to a far more in-depth view of those civilians caught up in the investigation. By that I don’t mean a cursory this is how a major crime investigation impacts my life but we are given full insight into Liz Cafferky’s life beforehand too. This gives the book a totally different feel to the more traditional police procedural, a welcome one that gives this book a feeling of weight. Of course this approach wouldn’t work if the other secondary characters weren’t also fully fleshed out and there is something appealing about the care and compassion shown towards the visitors to Tír na nÓg that had me feeling quite sentimental at times. These are real people, not cardboard cut-outs and the interactions between themselves is as equally heart-warming, on the whole, after all this isn’t a book populated by saints!

You could be forgiven for expecting that with so many character-led scenes that the tension dips as we join the men in a game of cards or a chat but it really doesn’t, the feeling of foreboding is lurking at the edges whilst Liz tries to put her dodgy letters to the back of her mind and wonder instead at her new media personality the reader is still pondering a murder and a stalker so there really is a lot going on! I am thoroughly impressed by the author’s skill at keeping the tension high whilst at times, particularly at the end allowing me the release of the odd tear as that is how much I cared about some of the people I met through this book.

If I had one minor criticism it’s that Claire seems a little bit harder and so a little less approachable than when she appeared in Can Anybody Help Me? but then she’s had a baby, and so her slightly more brusque style is understandable.

This was a brilliantly entertaining crime fiction read that I pulled off my bookshelf as I wanted to read something I fancied for a change, not a review copy and not a book to fit into a certain challenge and it proved to be the perfect ‘because I want to read it’ book.

First Published UK: 2 July 2015
Publisher: Quercus
No of Pages:  352
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

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

I See You – Clare Mackintosh

Psychological Thriller 5*s
Psychological Thriller
5*s

I loved Clare Mackintosh’s debut novel I Let You Go I really did wonder whether her second book would reach anywhere near the same standard, I’m delighted and relieved to say there is no doubt that it does – if anything I was even more glued to I See You.

Not being a Londoner but having visited my Grandmother there many times over my formative years I am someone who has a great deal of affection for the underground, albeit from afar. When I take a trip these days I admit I’m less enamoured by the endless stairs, rushing on the escalators and sweaty bodies but I have never tired of working out the length of time my journey will take using her prescribed average of three minutes per stop, a ruse I think she employed to make doubly sure that every journey was packed full of maximum learning opportunity, and this was the mental maths section! Childhood memories of feeling the warm rush of air telling me the next tube was on its way and to ‘stand well away from the line or you’ll get sucked in’ will now be replaced with a whole different perspective because of I See You.

The premise of the book centres on Zoe Walker, a woman in her early forties who sees an advert in the London Gazette in amongst the escort services and chat lines which seems to be her picture. Slightly flustered she takes the paper home to her family who are less convinced than she is that it is her picture, but the seed has been sown and Zoe is unable to dismiss it. She tries the phone number which only returns a single tone indicating it is not in use and the website link only has a white square in the centre of a black page. Zoe turns herself into a bit of a Nancy Drew character when she realises that there is a series of similar adverts.

More than that I can’t tell you about the plot because this is one of those books where you rush along a straight road of a plot-line only to have to swerve an obstacle at high-speed before doubling back on yourself and ending back at the beginning. There is misdirection aplenty so that if even like me you manage to work out the smallest of mysteries you feel like whooping as if you’ve passed an extremely difficult exam under pressure.

The tension created in this book is enormous so prepare to do some extreme mystery solving and the author raises it almost subtlety with the scenes switching between Zoe and a British Transport Police officer who is following up on some missing property from the tube. With Zoe unravelling under her suspicions and Kelly Swift trying to convince her superiors that an unfortunate event in the past should not be holding her career back any more than it already has, both women are motivated by their investigations. With the stakes being raised almost imperceptibly this is proper on the edge of your seat reading.

Clare Mackintosh doesn’t just manage an imaginative plot she also manages to portray her characters with real insight making their foibles and motivation absolutely believable in a way that goes far beyond the identikit police officer or victim. We have a wide range of characters from a journalist, local businesswoman, aspiring actress and estate agent all of whom are fleshed out, almost while the reader isn’t watching, and yet without seeming to depend on the preconceptions we may have about their profession, ages or gender. This is an exceptional skill which I think marks this author out from many others who are battling this increasingly popular genre and one which makes her books a joy to read beyond the thrill of the ride.

My advice, don’t miss out go get your own copy of I See You and read it for yourself, although perhaps not on the tube!

I want to say a huge thank you to The Little Brown Book Group who allowed me to read an advance copy of this book, in return I offer this unbiased review.

 

Published UK: 28 July 2016
Publisher: Little Brown Book Group
No of Pages 384
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Killing Cupid – Louise Voss & Mark Edwards

Psychological Thriller 3*'s
Psychological Thriller
3*’s

Having thoroughly enjoyed The Magpies by Mark Edwards I decided to try one of the books he had written with his writing partner Louise Voss. This isn’t a bad book and the three stars awarded are partly due to my high expectations following Mark’s excellent debut.

Killing Cupid begins with Siobhan preparing for her first writing class, having one published book she is excited yet nervous about the prospect. The class of six includes Alex who becomes infatuated with Sinead, unsure how to proceed he crosses the line between showing his affection to stalking her. The story however doesn’t follow the conventional path as new characters and circumstances are bought into play when Alex meets someone else.

Both Alex and Siobhan write a journal giving the reader the insight into their thoughts and of course giving others evidence of the truth….

This is an enjoyable light read, often funny but you really do have to suspend belief for this story to work. I often found myself cringing on behalf of many of the characters but it is not deep enough for it to be scary.