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

The Beautiful Dead – Belinda Bauer

Crime Fiction 5*s
Crime Fiction
5*s

Eve Singer is a TV crime reporter, in other words she operates in a world where she not only deals with the nasty side of humanity in her reporting but she also contends with knowing that her time on the screen is limited, it will only hold up if she continues to be successful, and keep her looks. Of course as her job means that she is the person who intrudes on the grief-stricken at their most raw, sympathy for her plight may not be overwhelming. However the public face of Eve Springer isn’t the same as behind closed doors; there she cares for her father who suffers with dementia, juggling carers and confusion.

Many crime readers have tired of the serial killer motif which you could say has been done to death (pun intended) but although The Beautiful Dead does have a serial killer, and one with a particularly warped motive, this book under the skilled pen of Belinda Bauer doesn’t actually resemble those except in the most superficial way. Admittedly this book opens with a particularly gory murder scene, although even this has a welcome edge of humour to fend off any nausea, but as the killer has fixated on Eve Springer, the focus is slightly to the side of the mounting pile of bodies and struggling police investigation and firmly directed at the reporter.

With Eve firmly on centre stage with only her photographer Joe to depend on, when the killer makes direct contact she is caught between wanting to fulfil the investigative part of her role and thereby securing her job, and maybe getting one with more long-term prospects and doing the right thing by turning any possible clues over to the police and letting them do their job. I like a book where there are moral judgements to be made, and only time will tell if Eve has made the right call…

That’s not to say the killer doesn’t have a lead part to play too; they do and right from the off we are given a sense of who they are, what their motivation might be although the author stops short of giving us an idea who is next on the ‘hit list’ it is clear that the killer wants Eve’s attention and so the crimes are designed for maximum impact. Taking that as a key motivator means that this is not a serial killer with an obvious pattern, no these kills are inventive designed to be noticed by Eve rather than the police. There was one point when I gasped out aloud, I was so shocked by what I’d just read. The writing is so vivid that you simply can’t help but conjure up the scenes, even if at times you’d rather not!

I have enjoyed each and every one of this author’s books and applaud her for coming up with a different ‘feel’ to each one. This book is laced with humour of the laugh out loud type at times; disconcerting when on the next page there is another body or another terrifying phone call to contend with, but a welcome relief nonetheless. Belinda Bauer is one of the most talented writers around and once again she proves her credentials as a ‘clever’ writer in The Beautiful Dead. I was in no doubt when reading this book that every word had been carefully placed for a reason, no room for downtime with a bit of waffle during this read, this is one of those reads that despite being desperate to find out how it would end, I didn’t want to race through the pages, I couldn’t, for fear of missing something very important.

I’d urge all lovers of crime fiction to try this with one warning for those of an aversion to graphic deaths because while it never felt gratuitous within the context of the story, I can see that this won’t be to everyone’s tastes.

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC from the publishers Grove Atlantic of The Beautiful Dead which was published on 17 November 2016. This review is my unbiased thanks to them, and of course Belinda Bauer for thoroughly entertaining me with this gripping thriller.

First Published UK: 17 November 2016
Publisher: Grove Atlantic
No of Pages: 352
Genre: Crime Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Other Books by Belinda Bauer

Blacklands
Darkside
Finders Keepers
Rubbernecker
The Facts of Life and Death
The Shut Eye

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (November 16)

This Week In Books

Hosted by Lipsyy 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

I am currently reading The Beautiful Dead by the very talented Belinda Bauer.

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To read the synopsis and an excerpt see yesterday’s post.

I have recently finished my third Beryl Bainbridge book this year, in case you can’t tell I’m pretty keen on her take on life – this latest book was Sweet William which is being re-published by Open Road Media on 29 November 2016.

sweet-william

Blurb

When dull professor Gerald leaves London for the United States, his fiancée, Ann, is a bit afraid and sad to see him go—never has he looked so handsome and masculine as when he’s about to board the plane. But a few days later at a religious service, Ann is beckoned to sit next to a stranger with yellow curls and a nose like a prizefighter’s. Her heart inexplicably begins to race; she feels like she has the flu. This stranger, William McClusky, tells Ann in his Scottish accent that he is a playwright who will be interviewed on TV the very next day. Furthermore, he promises to have a television dropped by her house so she can watch him! From this first bizarre seduction, Ann is infatuated, and in the days following, William begins to take over her life.

In the throes of the affair, Ann gives up her BBC job, helps a friend get an abortion, encourages adultery, and writes a break-up letter to her fiancé. Her engagement to Gerald had been rushed, after all, and was designed to serve her mother’s desires more than her own. With William, on the other hand, everything feels different. But is this new man really who he says he is? Is he a genius or a fraud, a compassionate soul or a cheater? Perhaps William is simply a means by which Ann can play out her dangerous fantasies and finally take part in the swinging sixties. Only one thing is certain: Now that she’s with him, there’s no turning back.

An ironic investigation into the art of self-deception and the repercussions of sexual freedom, this blend of black comedy and social satire showcases the wit of award-winning author Beryl Bainbridge, and affirms her status as a mainstay in twentieth-century British literature. NetGalley

Next up I am in for a real treat with the latest from one of the greatest of crime writers; Out of Bounds by Val McDermid

Out of Bounds

Blurb

‘There were a lot of things that ran in families, but murder wasn’t one of them . . .’
When a teenage joyrider crashes a stolen car, a routine DNA test could be the key to unlocking the mystery of a twenty-year-old murder inquiry. Detective Chief Inspector Karen Pirie is an expert at solving the unsolvable. With each cold case closed, justice is served. So, finding the answer should be straightforward, but it’s as twisted as the DNA helix itself.
Meanwhile, Karen finds herself irresistibly drawn to another case, one that she has no business investigating. And as she pieces together decades-old evidence, Karen discovers the most dangerous kind of secrets. Secrets that someone is willing to kill for . . . NetGalley

So that’s my week sorted – What are you reading this week? Do share your links and thoughts in the comments box below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph (November 15)

First Chapter
Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

This week I am featuring The Beautiful Dead by Belinda Bauer, a writer who hasn’t let me down yet, I even coped with her turn to the supernatural in The Shut Eye, something only very talented writers can persuade me to read.

 

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Blurb

TV crime reporter Eve Singer’s career is flagging, but that starts to change when she covers a spate of bizarre murders—each one committed in public and advertised like an art exhibition. When the killer contacts Eve about her coverage of his crimes, she is suddenly on the inside of the biggest murder investigation of the decade. But as the killer becomes increasingly obsessed with her, Eve realizes there’s a thin line between inside information and becoming an accomplice to murder—possibly her own.

A seamlessly-plotted thriller that will keep readers breathless until the very end, The Beautiful Dead cements Belinda Bauer’s reputation as a master of heart-stopping suspense. NetGalley

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Intro

PART ONE

1 December

Layla Martin’s shoes were killing her.
She had bought them on Thursday even though they rubbed her little toes.
A hundred and thirty pounds. A third of her weekly wage. She’d worn them on Thursday night and again on Friday night while making cheese on toast for tea. And then she had won them to work on Saturday even though she knew she’d be the only person on the eighth floor – quite possibly in the whole building. She’d wanted to break them in for Monday, when she was planning to walk past the glass-walled office of the new accountants manager at least twenty times, because he had a sports car and a great bum and the ridiculously high heels made her calves look fabulous.
But now it was those very same heels that she was running in. Running for her life, she had to assume.

I know I cheated a little to take this into the second paragraph, but what an opening! I think I’m going to enjoy this one, very much.

So… would you keep reading? Please leave your thoughts in the comments box below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (September 4)

Weekly Wrap Up

Well that’s the last of our Bank Holiday’s gone until Christmas time and with the nights beginning to draw in I’m setting myself up to an autumn full of brilliant reads after such a hectic summer. It is a double-edged sword living in a beautiful but easily accessible place in that we have lots of visitors and as our last set departed Friday I have spent my Saturday tidying up my book lists, adding my reviews to Goodreads and Amazon and planning my upcoming reads – I’m really not able to do the ‘I’ll see what takes my fancy approach’ and so I now feel much happier!

This was also the week where my book reviews for the year passed the magic 100 mark – you can see them all here

This week I was delighted to appear on  The Book Review Cafe’s #TopFiveThursday post where you can find out more about my favourite reads of the year.

TopFiveThursday

Last Week on the Blog

With the last big push before the end of the 20 Books of Summer Challenge I reviewed The Narrow Bed by Sophie Hannah. This is the latest in the Culver Valley Series and a very bookish mystery which perfectly showcased Sophie Hannah’s unique approach to murder mystery writing.

My book choice for First Chapter ~ First Paragraph this week was from The Twins by Saskia Sarginson – my review for this book is here

My post for Wednesday also included my other reads for the week namely two debut novels of the crime fiction persuasion.

This was swiftly followed by a review of Jenny Blackhurst’s psychological thriller Before I Let You In which I awarded the full five stars. This author is now firmly on my ‘must-read’ list.

Yesterday I posted my review for my 15th  and final read for the 20 Books of Summer; Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain, which in turn was wonderful and an exasperating read but one that I am pleased I persevered with.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading The Game Changer by Louise Phillips, the fourth in the Dr Kate Pearson series. If you haven’t read any of this author’s Irish crime fiction, I’d urge you to try these books featuring Criminal psychologist Dr Kate Pearson. This book looks at the way memory works, or doesn’t and had an incredible amount packed into the story to keep even the most hyperactive reader entertained. Sadly I can’t see any sign of the fifth in this series, but if you know otherwise please let me know!

The Game Changer

Blurb

A suspected suicide in Dublin. A brutal murder in New York. The abduction of a child over two decades earlier. All linked … but how?

Criminal psychologist Dr Kate Pearson has the answer. Because she was the young girl abducted all those years ago.
And, when she begins to investigate the suspicious suicide in Dublin and confirms a connection to her own disappearance, she is forced to start asking questions. Why did her parents lie to her, telling her she was missing for only a few hours? And why doesn’t she have any memory of the time she was held?
When a sinister note arrives at her home, it becomes clear that Kate is being targeted. But by whom? And why now? Kate is consumed by her efforts to uncover the truth, knowing that her life is in very real danger.
The Game Changer wants someone to pay for the past – and Kate is being held accountable. Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

Well, my low submission last week was actually down to a lack of organisation and bad memory as I’d received two books in the hectic days before the wedding and not added them to the list!

First up the lovely people at Quercus books kindly answered my request for a copy of The Apprentice of Split Crow Lane: The Story of the Carr’s Hill Murder by Jane Housham with a proof copy ahead of publication on 3 November 2016. This book fits perfectly with my renewed interest in historical true crimes, especially in the context of the life and times of the Victorian era.

The Apprentice of Split Crow Lane

A Victorian Murder. A Victorian Madman. A Modern Judgement.

Gateshead, April 1866

The Apprentice of Split Crow Lane takes the forgotten case of a child murder in 1866 as a springboard to delve deeply into the pysche of the Victorians. What Jane Housham finds, in this exploration of guilt, sexual deviance and madness, is a diagnosis that is still ripe for the challenging and a sentence that provokes even our liberal modern judgement.

Set around Gateshead, it is a revelatory social history of the North – an area growing in industry and swelling with immigration, where factory workers are tinged blue and yellow by chemicals, the first tabloids are printed, children are left alone by working parents and haystack fires sweep the county in rebellion against the introduction of the police force. Into this landscape, a five-year-old Irish girl named Sarah Melvin sets out over the fell to look for her father, and a troubled young man makes a frightening leap of logic to save his own skin.

Told here for the first time, this is an extraordinary story of sexual deviance and murder. In lively, empathic prose, Jane Housham explores psychiatry, the justice system and the media in mid-Victorian England to reveal a surprisingly modern state of affairs. Amazon

I had also received a copy of Linda Huber’s forthcoming psychological suspense novel, Ward Zero ahead of publication on 1 October 2016.

Ward Zero

Blurb

Horror swept through her. Had she been buried alive?

On Sarah’s first visit to see her foster mother, Mim, in Brockburn General Hospital, she is sucked into a world that isn’t what it should be.

Someone is lying, someone is stealing. And someone is killing – but who? With a grieving child to take care of, as well as Mim, Sarah has to put family first. She doesn’t see where danger lies – until it’s too late.

If you think you’re safe in a hospital, think again

And delightfully I won my choice of the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best First Novel on Margot Kinberg’s blog, Confessions of a Mystery Novelist. Margot donated this prize after serving on the panel for this award and using the giveaway to support a wonderful charity Storytime which provides books to New Zealand’s most deprived children.  If you haven’t discovered this blog, I urge you to do so Margot has a wealth of knowledge and is exceptionally supportive of other bloggers. After careful consideration I plumped for Inside The Black Horse by Ray Berad as my choice, having noted that this was also was a finalist for ‘Best Crime Novel’ in the Ngaio Marsh Awards.

Inside the Black Horse

Blurb

A Desperate young man commits an armed robbery of a pub that interrupts a drug deal, upending many lives and lighting the fuse on a violent chain of events that exposes a grittier side of Aotearoa. The International Judging panel for the Ngaio Marsh called it “A lucid and potent portrait of good people and gangsters that is unmistakably Kiwi in flavour and tone… a fine crime story with considerable depth” Amazon

I’ve also added books from NetGalley this week starting with a historical fiction novel The Jeweller’s Wife by Judith Lennox This promises to be an epic tale of passion and betrayal which should provide a change from crime fiction.

The Jeweller's Wife

Blurb

1938. As England awaits the outbreak of war, Juliet Winterton journeys from the Mediterranean to the Essex countryside to begin her life as the beautiful young wife of a London jeweller.
But beneath her husband’s intelligence and ambition, lies a cruel and ruthless man. And when dashing politician Gillis Sinclair comes to stay at Marsh Court, Juliet is drawn to his irresistible charm.
So begins a passionate affair that will have consequences far beyond anything Juliet imagines. For Gillis Sinclair is hiding a dark secret and, as the next generation of Wintertons grows up, Juliet fears that they, too, will be tainted by the past… NetGalley

I was taken by my next book after reading an excerpt on Heather’s blog Worth Getting Into Bed For when she featured it on the First Chapter ~ First Paragraph meme; The Woman on the Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford caught my eye and seems to promise a bit more variety to my reading this month.

The Woman on the Orient Express

Blurb

Hoping to make a clean break from a fractured marriage, Agatha Christie boards the Orient Express in disguise. But unlike her famous detective Hercule Poirot, she can’t neatly unravel the mysteries she encounters on this fateful journey.

Agatha isn’t the only passenger on board with secrets. Her cabin mate Katharine Keeling’s first marriage ended in tragedy, propelling her toward a second relationship mired in deceit. Nancy Nelson—newly married but carrying another man’s child—is desperate to conceal the pregnancy and teeters on the brink of utter despair. Each woman hides her past from the others, ferociously guarding her secrets. But as the train bound for the Middle East speeds down the track, the parallel courses of their lives shift to intersect—with lasting repercussions.

Filled with evocative imagery, suspense, and emotional complexity, The Woman on the Orient Express explores the bonds of sisterhood forged by shared pain and the power of secrets. NetGalley

And lastly one of my must-read authors Belinda Bauer has a new book which will be published on 3 January 2017 titled, The Beautiful Dead.

The Beautiful Dead

Blurb

Belinda Bauer is an award-winning British crime writer of the highest caliber, whose smart, stylish novels have captivated readers and reviewers on both sides of the Atlantic and earned her a reputation as “the true heir to the great Ruth Rendell” (Mail on Sunday (UK)). Her latest, The Beautiful Dead, is a riveting narrative centered on a down-on-her-luck journalist and a serial killer desperate for the spotlight.

TV crime reporter Eve Singer’s career is flagging, but that starts to change when she covers a spate of bizarre murders—each one committed in public and advertised like an art exhibition. When the killer contacts Eve about her coverage of his crimes, she is suddenly on the inside of the biggest murder investigation of the decade. But as the killer becomes increasingly obsessed with her, Eve realizes there’s a thin line between inside information and becoming an accomplice to murder—possibly her own. NetGalley

PicMonkey Collage TBR

TBR WATCH

Since my last post I have read 3 books, had to DNF a NetGalley read purely because the formatting rendered it unreadable, and gained 6 so the total is now on the ascent again to 174 books!

83 physical books
69 e-books
22 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?