Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Boundary – Andrée A. Michaud

Crime Fiction
3*s

Set on the border between the US and Canada there is no doubt at all that this literary crime fiction is incredibly atmospheric. Not only is it evocative of the time it was set, 1967 Boundary combines this with a real sense of place, a holiday town populated mainly by women and children during the summer months with the men returning from work at the weekend.
So an idyllic setting with a lake and woods and sounds of the sixties running through two friend’s lives as Zaza and Sissy wield there charms on all around them. Andrée watches from the side-lines knowing that she is far too young for the ‘almost’ young women who laugh and swear and flirt their way through life.

But behind the summery scenes are the undying stories of a man, damaged by life as a solitary Canadian trapper. Pierre Landry had lived in a cabin in the woods. His tragic end and the crimes attributed to him, including the infatuation with a local woman, clinging to the town, unwanted and yet all-pervasive and the children tell stories about the ghost of Pierre Landry.

Barbeques are lit and children called in for food, dolls played with, dens made and the fairground welcomes its guests as every other summer’s day and then, Zaza goes missing. The nearby police are called, the older more experienced officer, Michaud, is haunted by a young girl’s murder, while the younger, Cusack gets worn down by the ensuing investigation into Zaza’s disappearance.

We are told the story from a number of the characters viewpoints including Andrée’s, the police and members of Boundary’s town. These different viewpoints paint a vivid picture of a town marred by events and the change of atmosphere is all-encompassing.

The story starts very slowly and although it isn’t a particularly long book, it took me a long time to finish. In part this was down to the small font which I’m sad to say I struggled to read after a full day working looking at a computer screen and I really needed daylight to see well. This in turn didn’t help the lack of forward momentum early on in the book as I was able to read so little. This may sound odd, and perhaps not entirely fair, particularly to those of you who have younger eyes than mine, but it did seriously hamper my enjoyment of what was clearly a book with lots to offer. I was reading a proof copy though so I’m not sure if the finished article will make for easier reading, but this was a book where I would have preferred an eBook. After the investigation starts the pace picks up and the various strands of the plot begin to draw together to create a convincing, if sad, story. I felt the characters acted in a consistent manner and I felt an affinity for Andrée, and not in the usual way that I feel for child narrators, she wasn’t like me as a child but her feelings felt particularly authentic.

This felt like a grown-up version of crime fiction with plenty of layers and issues to ponder which in many ways lends itself to a more contemplative reading experience than most crime fiction.

I’d like to thank the publishers No Exit Press who allowed me to read a copy of Boundary ahead of publication on 23 March 2017. This unbiased review is my thanks to them.

First Published UK: 23 March 2017
Publisher: No Exit Press
No of Pages:  320
Genre: Crime Fiction – Literary
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

No One Knows – J.T. Ellison

Psychological Thriller 4*s
Psychological Thriller
4*s

Regular readers may have noticed that I have cut right back on my consumption of those books that are touted as the next Gone Girl, Girl on the Train etc. despite the fact I was a fan of both, the problem being like death by chocolate, you can overdose on them! That said the memory of how good they can be is still alluring and so in 2016 I have limited my selection, but this is one that got past my well-known restraint! And I’m glad that it did, as here is one twisty domestic based psychological thriller that has all of the best ingredients, and even the title doesn’t have that overused word in it!

So what is it about? Well we first meet Aubrey Hamilton her husband, her childhood sweetheart, has been missing for five years and has just been declared dead. Aubrey however just can’t shake the feeling that he may still be alive, after all who goes missing at a stag do for their best friend the night before the groom’s wedding? It appears that Josh simply vanished from the hotel that the couple were staying at with no sight nor sound of him since. And now a new man has walked into her life and he reminds her so much of Josh. In short Aubrey examines her life before Josh disappeared looking for clues in their happy marriage to see if she can discover what really happened to her beloved husband that night.

The success of these books is to have one foot rooted far enough in reality to keep the reader hooked while allowing the other to roam freely so that coincidences and random occurrences can flow freely unimpeded by reason. J.T. Ellison has the balance absolutely right! I’ve also found it best if you read these types of novels in longish stretches which helps to keep you in the moment, following the twists and turns wherever they may take you.

The part where domestic noir often fails is with the characters; I think the success of the two currently touted books proves that the protagonist doesn’t have to be likeable and flaws are actually welcome but their characters do have to have an element of a real person. Aubrey is actually quite a nice character, her only flaw being that she wasn’t good enough for her future mother-in-law, having been in care following the death of her parents. In this book the award for the nastiest character goes to Josh’s mother, a woman who is going to sue Aubrey for Josh’s life insurance money which can now be paid out on his death.

Lastly a domestic noir books must have the unexpected which is now compulsory, the more outrageous the better – I think J.T. Ellison has earned her stripes here too with more than one bombshell to blow what you think you know to smithereens.

So did I enjoy it? Yes, I did, as pure entertainment and wonder at how an author can come up with such a plot, it had me gripped and intrigued as to how the author was going to resolve it all, the answer was satisfying. Better still I didn’t feel like I couldn’t face another in this genre for a few weeks!!

I’d like to say a huge thank you to the publishers Gallery Books for allowing me to read a copy of No One Knows before publication on 22 March 2016. This review, my honest opinion, is my thanks to them.