Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Brighton Mermaid – Dorothy Koomson

Contemporary Fiction
4*s

Dorothy Koomson treats us to her darkest book yet in this haunting tale of two teenagers who find the body of a young woman washed up on the shore in 1993. Twenty-five years later, Nell is still obsessed by the woman who was never identified.

The scene is set beautifully when a night seemingly full of promise of a party held by sixth-formers which Jude had lied to her parents to attend. The horror of the discovery combined with the fear of her parent’s wrath when she had to be picked up from the police station was palpable. And then there was their treatment at the hands of the police who didn’t know at first whether to treat the girls as eye-witnesses or suspects. The two may have been able to put this behind them if Jude hadn’t subsequently disappeared without a trace.

Dorothy Koomson doesn’t just set the scene but the time so well. Of course in 1993 the girls didn’t have mobile phones so one stayed with the body while the other went to the phone box to report the crime. Then we switch to the present where the internet where Nell investigates the missing links between people using genealogy sites to help others find missing family. It is against this background that she takes a year off work to devote herself to finding out who the young woman was, and what happened to her best friend.

As always Dorothy Koomson uses a number of hard-hitting issues in The Brighton Mermaid but all are deeply woven into the story-line, not one appearing placed for effect alone and the author crucially gives the reader time to absorb and reflect on these rather than telling us what to think, the best kind of writing.

The first half of the book sets the scene and so unsurprisingly moves at a slightly slower paced but nonetheless I found it absorbing, but… you will need to hang onto your seats for the rattling pace of the second half as Nell gets closer to understanding what happened twenty-five years ago and the events that changed, her and her family’s life forever.

I loved the characters in this book, the relationship between Nell and her sister so realistically portrayed with all the shades of love and hate that often are present, brilliantly displayed and woven through the main mystery which delves so deeply into the past. This is a story of actions having far-reaching consequences and the ripples that spread throughout a family forcing them to reconsider their ‘family story.’

I’ve long considered this author one of my favourites and her books cover a whole range of different types of stories within the range that is labelled ‘woman’s fiction’ from the sentimental to this one which edges into the crime fiction genre but what all the books have in common is the way that they immerse you into the story, not letting you go even after the last page has been turned.

I’d like to say a big thank you to the publishers Century who allowed me to read a copy of The Brighton Mermaid prior to publication on 17 May 2018. This unbiased review is my thanks to them and the author Dorothy Koomson.

First Published UK: 17 May 2018
Publisher: Century
No of Pages: 496
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Dorothy Koomson’s previous books:

The Cupid Effect (2003)
The Chocolate Run (2004)
My Best Friend’s Girl (2006)
Marshmallow’s for Breakfast (2007)
Goodnight Beautiful (2008)
The Ice Cream Girls (2010)
The Woman He Loved Before (2011)
The Rose Petal Beach (2012)
The Flavours of Love (2013)
That Girl From Nowhere (2015)
When I Was Invisible (2015)
The Friend (2017)

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (March 11)

Well the daffodils are out here in Jersey just in time for Mothering Sunday and in celebration I have been planting my sunflower seeds in the hope of getting more than the one plant I managed last year.

This Week on the Blog

My week started with my review of Bring Me Back the latest psychological thriller by B.A. Paris which was published on 8 March 2018.

My excerpt post this week came from one of my Classic Club reads, The Moving Toyshop by Edmund Crispin.

This Week in Books featured the authors Kit de Waal, Sarah Hilary and Rachel Hore.

My second review of the week was also for a psychological thriller; Let Me Lie by Clare Mackintosh, a superbly plotted tale that had plenty of surprises along the way.

Friday’s review took me back to the 1970s with the very first book in the Dalziel and Pascoe series, A Clubbable Woman written by the hugely talented Reginald Hill. Whilst the attitudes of the day didn’t really work for me, I am very glad I met this pair who are in my favourite of all crime fiction series.

My week was rounded off with the results of The Classic Club Spin sending me back to 1862 with Lady Audley’s Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir which was the first in a new series by this Icelandic writer. I have to say a year on, I haven’t got the murder scenes out of my mind, so unusual and vivid was the description this isn’t a book to read if you prefer your fiction towards the cosy end of crime fiction. The Legacy is in part the story about three young siblings that are to be adopted following the murder of their mother. Despite the initial scenes this isn’t a book where there is blood and gore on each page, instead I discovered a well-written book with a rich and complex plot with plenty of strands that kept me in its thrall.

The Reckoning, the second in the series, will be published on 3 May 2018.

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

Blurb

Detective Huldar is out of his depth. His first murder case is like nothing he’s seen before – a bizarre attack on a seemingly blameless woman.

The only evidence is a list of numbers found at the scene, and the testimony of the victim’s eleven-year-old daughter, who isn’t talking.

While his team attempt to crack the code, Huldar turns to child psychologist Freyja for her expertise with traumatised young people.

Because time is running out…and the one thing they know for certain is that the murderer will strike again. Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

I have just one NetGalley find this week, from one of those authors that have added to my shelves over a number of years, Dorothy Koomson whose latest novel The Brighton Mermaid will be published on 17 May 2018.

 

Blurb

Brighton Beach, 1993: Teenagers Nell and Jude find the body of a young woman and when no one comes to claim her, she becomes known as the Brighton Mermaid. Nell is still struggling to move on when, three weeks later, Jude disappears.

Twenty-five years on, Nell quits her job to find out who the Brighton Mermaid really was – and what happened to her best friend that summer.

But as Nell edges closer to the truth, dangerous things start to happen. Someone seems to be watching her every move, and soon she starts to wonder who in her life she can actually trust…

Fast-paced and thrilling, The Brighton Mermaid explores the deadly secrets of those closest to you NetGalley

I also visited my library and picked up a couple of books – in all honesty, I’m not quite sure why as I have eight review books to read before the 5 April and probably won’t have time to get to either of them but I may find the secret to expand time before they are due back.

Tennison by Lynda La Plante which is the start of the series that goes back to the 1970s when Tennison was setting out as a new constable. I actually watched the TV adaption and read the third in the series, Good Friday last year and I was so impressed I wanted to read them all.

Blurb

From the creator of the award-winning ITV series Prime Suspect, starring Helen Mirren, comes the fascinating back story of the iconic DCI Jane Tennison.

In 1973 Jane Tennison, aged 22, leaves the Metropolitan Police Training Academy to be placed on probationary exercise in Hackney where criminality thrives. We witness her struggle to cope in a male-dominated, chauvinistic environment, learning fast to deal with shocking situations with no help or sympathy from her superiors. Then comes her involvement in her first murder case. Amazon

I was also delighted to find A Spot of Folly by Ruth Rendell a selection of ten and a quarter stories of murder and mayhem which was published in October 2017. I was a big Ruth Rendell fan so I’m looking forward to reading these previously unpublished short stories.

Blurb

New and uncollected tales of murder, mischief, magic and madness.

Ruth Rendell was an acknowledged master of psychological suspense: these are ten (and a quarter) of her most chillingly compelling short stories, collected here together for the first time.

In these tales, a businessman boasts about cheating on his wife, only to find the tables turned. A beautiful country rectory reverberates to the echo of a historical murder. A compulsive liar acts on impulse, only to be lead inexorably to disaster. And a wealthy man finds there is more to his wife’s kidnapping than meets the eye.
Atmospheric, gripping and never predictable, this is Ruth Rendell at her inimitable best.

The stories are: Never Sleep in a Bed Facing a Mirror; A Spot of Folly; The Price of Joy; The Irony of Hate; Digby’s Wives; The Haunting of Shawley Rectory; A Drop Too Much; The Thief; The Long Corridor of Time; In the Time of his Prosperity; and Trebuchet. Amazon

Do any of these take your fancy? What have you added to your bookshelf?

tbr-watch

Since my last post I have read 4 books and since I have gained only 1 my TBR has fallen, not as much as it might seem if you read last week’s post, where the maths was out, but hey, the total is now 187
Physical Books – 112
Kindle Books – 54
NetGalley Books –21

I have banked another third of a book token this week but nor have I bought any books, so I’m still 2 2/3 books in credit!