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

The Missing Girl – Jenny Quintana

Contemporary Fiction
5*s

Wow! I’m not sure what I expected from this debut author but it wasn’t this evocative tale of a girl whose sister goes missing one autumnal day in 1982.

Anna Flores’ sister, Gabriella went missing, in fact we only see her reflected through her younger sister’s adoring eyes but it’s now thirty years later and Anna’s mother has died and it is time to clear the house and sort through the family possessions. Anna sadly returns from Athens to attend the funeral but finds herself needing to confront what happened all those years ago.

Split between the present day and 1982 this is every family and uniquely the Flores family. Somehow this author has summoned up the 1980s without resorting to constantly naming the brands of the day or key events of the time but rather more exceptionally, by evoking the attitudes of those times.

We have Esther Flores, mother to two daughters, Gabriella and Anna and wife to Albert Flores who owns a second-hand shop which offers house clearance services. Now I don’t know about you but in another life I can think of no better way than to go poking around through the books, photos and sentimental items collected by a homeowner – I have to admit, I’m not up for the heavy lifting of furniture or cleaning up but the building a picture of a life lived, sorting the valuable from the rubbish, would be perfect for the nosiness I have about other people’s lives. Esther doesn’t like it when Albert does a house clearance as he is away from home far too much as but she has her friend Rita who brings her crime thrillers to read and offal from her husband’s butcher shop to feed her family.

At first any conflict in the family is seemingly benign with Gabriella pushing against her mother’s rules by dying her hair black and wearing unsuitable clothes at which point Albert steps in as the peacemaker without overly upsetting either party. Meanwhile Anna is young enough to observe all that is happening but when the whispering starts between her mother and father her attempts to eavesdrop fall far short of informing her of what has happened. Gabriella now has secrets from her and she feels she’s been pushed to the edge of the family.

And then Gabriella disappears on her way home from school one night, she’s agreed to meet Anna at the shop, House of Flores but she never turns up and in the intervening years there have been few clues to follow.

Told in alternating time periods between the events of 1982 and Anna’s present life carrying out the one last house clearance her mother had agreed to, Anna starts to put some of the pieces of the puzzle together. Reconnecting with those residents who are still alive, including of course Rita who had remained a steadfast friend Anna is able to reconcile the events of the past to some degree.

This book, despite not being the psychological thriller I had expected from its title was definitely a page-turner but of the less manic variety than the genre normally provides; indeed I would say this is on the edge of what is traditionally called women’s fiction exploring as it does families, secrets, friendship, community and love in a vivid and evocative way. I adored it all, the descriptions of Anna’s grandparents coming to visit, the two girls exchanging looks as the same old stories are told, visit after visit, the gentle love and respect her parents demonstrate for each other and their children gave me a feeling of nostalgia for what were arguably simpler times for children.

An assured debut that has me eager to see what Jenny Quintana will offer next.

I’d like to thank the publishers Pan Macmillan who sent me a copy of The Missing Girl, this review is my unbiased thanks to them.

First Published UK: 18 December 2017
Publisher: Mantle
No of Pages: 336
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (December 6)

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

I am currently reading Anything For Her by G.J. Minett an author who has had me mightily impressed with his first two novels and this one looks to be heading in the same direction.

Blurb

You’d do anything for the one that got away . . . wouldn’t you?

When Billy Orr returns home to spend time with his dying sister, he bumps into his ex-girlfriend Aimi, the love of his life. He might not have seen her in eleven years, but Billy’s never forgotten her. He’d do anything for her then, and he’d do anything for her now.

When Aimi tells him that she wants to escape her abusive husband, Billy agrees to help her fake her own death. But is she still the Aimi that Billy remembers from all those years ago?

Once Aimi disappears, Billy has to face the possibility that perhaps she had different reasons for disappearing – reasons that might be more dangerous than she’s led him to believe . . .

Sometimes trusting the one you love is the wrong thing to do. Amazon

Now I’m supposed to tell you the book I last finished, let’s just say that being a bit behind with my reading, this is strictly aspirational, although I have read quite a few of the ‘stories’ in this wonderful non-fiction book. True Stories by Helen Garner, author of This House of Grief, is a collection to be savoured, currently available on kindle in the UK the hardback will be published on 25 January 2017.

Blurb

Helen Garner visits the morgue, and goes cruising on a Russian ship. She sees women giving birth, and gets the sack for teaching her students about sex. She attends a school dance and a gun show. She writes about dreaming, about turning fifty, and the storm caused by The First Stone. Her story on the murder of the two-year-old Daniel Valerio wins her a Walkley Award.

Garner looks at the world with a shrewd and sympathetic eye. Her non-fiction is always passionate and compelling. True Stories is an extraordinary book, spanning fifty years of work, by one of Australia’s great writers. Amazon

Next up I plan to read The Missing Girl the debut novel by Jenny Quintana which will be published on 18 December 2017.

Blurb

When Anna Flores’ adored older sister goes missing as a teenager, Anna copes by disappearing too, just as soon as she can: running as far away from her family as possible, and eventually building a life for herself abroad.

Thirty years later, the death of her mother finally forces Anna to return home. Tasked with sorting through her mother’s possessions, she begins to confront not just her mother’s death, but also the huge hole Gabriella’s disappearance left in her life – and finds herself asking a question she’s not allowed herself to ask for years: what really happened to her sister?

With that question comes the revelation that her biggest fear isn’t discovering the worst; it’s never knowing the answer. But is it too late for Anna to uncover the truth about Gabriella’s disappearance? Amazon

What do you think? Any of these take your fancy? Please do leave your thoughts in the comments box below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (October 22)

Well another week has whizzed past and here I am again with my whistle-stop tour of my week. In short it consisted of work & more work and a celebratory meal with friends. Oh and the glasses arrived so fingers crossed I will now be blogging without squinting.

This Week on the Blog

The week started with my review of Michael Robotham’s foray into psychological thriller land with his novel The Secrets She Keeps. 

My excerpt post came from Nina Bawden’s The Solitary Child which as well as being on my list for reading soon sparked a bit of nostalgia for her children’s books.

This Week in Books saw me feature the authors Caz FrearCamilla Läckberg and G.J. Minett.

I also posted my review of Are You Watching Me? by Sinéad Crowley, a police procedural set in Dublin complemented by an unlikely media star and a stalker.

I finished off the week with my review of the ninth in the Patrik  Hedstrom and Erica Falck series set in Sweden, The Ice Child by Camilla Läckberg

 

This Time Last Year…

I was reading Blood Lines by Angela Marsons, an author who I love yet shockingly still haven’t got around to reading Dead Souls which is the next in the series and published earlier this year… worse still book 7 is due out on 3 November 2017. Note to self ‘get a move on!’

Anyway back to Blood Lines where the author takes us back to one of the nastiest female characters I’ve ever had the absolute delight to meet in crime fiction, looping back to the second book in the series and allowing this grim woman to wreak havoc again but the author’s real pull of Angela Marsons’ writing is her characterisation. No one is too insignificant for her treatment with each crime scene is a chance not only to learn about the victim and ultimately those who were close to them, but the officers attending.

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

 



Blurb

How do you catch a killer who leaves no trace?

A victim killed with a single, precise stab to the heart appears at first glance to be a robbery gone wrong. A caring, upstanding social worker lost to a senseless act of violence. But for Detective Kim Stone, something doesn’t add up.

When a local drug addict is found murdered with an identical wound, Kim knows instinctively that she is dealing with the same killer. But with nothing to link the two victims except the cold, calculated nature of their death, this could be her most difficult case yet.

Desperate to catch the twisted individual, Kim’s focus on the case is threatened when she receives a chilling letter from Dr Alex Thorne, the sociopath who Kim put behind bars. And this time, Alex is determined to hit where it hurts most, bringing Kim face-to-face with the woman responsible for the death of Kim’s little brother – her own mother.

As the body count increases, Kim and her team unravel a web of dark secrets, bringing them closer to the killer. But one of their own could be in mortal danger. Only this time, Kim might not be strong enough to save them… Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

Once again a busy week has kept the TBR happy on the incoming book front although I haven’t done as well with the reading so I guess it’s horses for courses.

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of The Missing Girl by Jenny Quintana which will be published on 28 December 2018.

Blurb

When Anna Flores’ adored older sister goes missing as a teenager, Anna copes by disappearing too, just as soon as she can: running as far away from her family as possible, and eventually building a life for herself abroad.

Thirty years later, the death of her mother finally forces Anna to return home. Tasked with sorting through her mother’s possessions, she begins to confront not just her mother’s death, but also the huge hole Gabriella’s disappearance left in her life – and finds herself asking a question she’s not allowed herself to ask for years: what really happened to her sister?

With that question comes the revelation that her biggest fear isn’t discovering the worst; it’s never knowing the answer. But is it too late for Anna to uncover the truth about Gabriella’s disappearance? Amazon

I also received a copy of Time to Win by Harry Brett which was sent to me by the publishers Corsair. This book was published in hardback and eCopy back in April but the paperback is out in April 2018.

Blurb

When local crime boss Richard Goodwin is pulled from the river by his office it looks like suicide. But as his widow Tatiana feared, Rich collected enemies like poker chips, and half of Great Yarmouth’s criminal fraternity would have had reason to kill him.

Realising how little she knows about the man she married, Tatty seeks to uncover the truth about Rich’s death and take over the reins of the family business, overseeing a waterfront casino deal Rich hoped would put Yarmouth on the map.

Out of the shadows at last, it is Tatty’s time now, and she isn’t going to let Rich’s brother, or anyone else, stand in her way. But an American has been in town asking the right people the wrong questions, more bodies turn up, along with a brutal new gang. The stakes have never been higher.
With her family to protect, and a business to run, Tatty soon learns that power comes with a price . . . Amazon

Lastly I have received a copy of The CWA Short Story Anthology: Mystery Tour edited by the trusty Martin Edwards which will be published on 15 November 2017. As you can see this is book has contributions from many authors who have featured on my blog.

Blurb

Crime spreads across the globe in this new collection of short stories from the Crime Writer’s Association, as a conspiracy of prominent crime authors take you on a world mystery tour. Highlights of the trip include a treacherous cruise to French Polynesia, a horrifying trek in South Africa, a murderous train-ride across Ukraine and a vengeful killing in Mumbai. But back home in the UK, life isn’t so easy either. Dead bodies turn up on the backstreets of Glasgow, crime writers turn words into deeds at literary events, and Lady Luck seems to guide the fate of a Twickenham hood. Showcasing the range, breadth and vitality of the contemporary crime-fiction genre, these twenty-eight chilling and unputdownable stories will take you on a trip you’ll never forget.

Contributions from:
Ann Cleeves, C.L. Taylor, Susi Holliday, Martin Edwards, Anna Mazzola, Carol Anne Davis, Cath Staincliffe, Chris Simms, Christine Poulson, Ed James, Gordon Brown, J.M. Hewitt, Judith Cutler, Julia Crouch, Kate Ellis, Kate Rhodes, Martine Bailey, Michael Stanley, Maxim Jakubowski, Paul Charles, Paul Gitsham, Peter Lovesey, Ragnar Jónasson, Sarah Rayne, Shawn Reilly Simmons, Vaseem Khan, William Ryan and William Burton McCormick

What have you found to read this week? Any of these take your fancy?

tbr-watch

Since my last post I’ve read just 2 books but on rationalising my bookshelf 2 have been passed onto a more appreciative audience
My TBR now has a total of 174
Physical Books – 95
Kindle Books – 58
NetGalley Books – 21