Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Blood Orange – Harriet Tyce

Psychological Thriller
3*s

We have a lawyer and an affair both of which led me to believe that perhaps we would also have a story in the vein of Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty but apart from both featuring a piece of fruit in the title there wasn’t an awful lot that the two had in common.

Anyway in Blood Orange we have Alison a woman who has the high-powered job, a husband, Carl, a young daughter, Mathilde, and a lover, Patrick … and to top it all off she has finally got her very first murder case to take to trial.

And I suppose this is the crux of the problem I had with the book. Harriet Tyce practiced as a criminal barrister for over a decade, she therefore has the knowledge to bring realism into the fictional scenes surrounding her defence of a Madeline Smith who is accused of killing her husband. Sadly most of this aspect of the book is overtaken by Alison’s car-crash of a personal life.

Alison is what is termed a ‘flawed’ character and I partly blame myself for ignoring this flag when choosing a new book to buy because while I can enjoy a novel even if I don’t like a character, I’m not nearly as keen on those who act against their own perceived best interests. I am fairly confident that in real life you have to be smart and strong to become a barrister, Alison appeared to be neither – the fact that the scenes with her lover took submission to a whole new level could be potentially be excused as part of a type of relationship but she was a pathetic mother, a whiny wife and yet did nothing to improve any facet of her home life. Instead the only thing Alison seemed good at was drinking and sadly I don’t find that fun to witness, or even read about.

So that’s what I found less than convincing but I did read the entire book in part to find how the trial went for Madeline, and to see whether Alison could stop her self-destructive behaviour long enough to see how toxic most of the people in her life were. So while the psychological angle wasn’t quite what I expected this was a study of deeply troubled people and could be a text book study of all the varied abusive relationships to be encountered.

This is one dark book and perhaps if I’d been fully prepared for just how dark it was going to be, I would have approached it with a different mind-set and possibly enjoyed it more as a result.

 

First Published UK: 21 February 2019
Publisher: Wildfire
No of Pages: 336
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

An Act of Silence – Colette McBeth

Psychological Thriller
4*s

Colette McBeth provides us with a nuanced and multi-layered tale in this story which could be plucked from the tabloids.

Linda Moscow is a former Home Secretary who resigned under a black cloud and of course had her disgrace splashed all over the red-tops. Imagine her horror when her son, Gabriel, a stand-up comedian, turns up in her kitchen informing her he is supposed to be presenting himself to the police in a few hours in connection with the death of a woman. Yes, Linda loves her son, can she trust in her son’s innocence? This strand of the novel is one that begs the reader to ask ‘What would I do?’ After all from what she is told Mariela who Gabriel shared the night with has been found dead on the allotment behind his house, for him it appears she was simply another notch on his crowded bedpost, tales of which have kept his face in the public eye ever since he became a famous comic. And then there is the secret that Linda has been nursing over the years.

I loved the way we learn more about each of the characters through their own narration and through other people’s eyes. When wisely used, this is one of my favourite ways for a story to unfold as I firmly believe it is how we learn about each other in ‘real’ life. The time jumps backwards and forwards as different details are revealed stretching way back into the past.

In the background there is the all too familiar story of sexual abuse by those in authority. Relieved of her ministerial duties Linda has joined with a journalist to investigate such abuse of young girls by those in positions of authority and is busy tracking the women down through social media to expose the truth.

Colette McBeth uses the various characters to examine relationships, most prominently in this case one between mother and son and what should be seemingly rock solid bonds can be stretched to the limits. How past experiences of guilt and betrayal colour apparently unrelated conflicts in the future and how interference from others can cast an insidious shadow on the way we view those that we are closest to.

Because of the nature of Linda’s quest to reveal the truth about historic sexual abuse, this is quite a sad book which made it a harder read than many in the psychological thriller genre however the plentiful twists and turns and action scenes meant that the book falls short of being a depressing tale about abuse. In fact by choosing two diametrically opposite characters, the child victim and the politician the author was able to make much wider statements about neither label coming close to summing up an entire person, each having far more layers and depth to them.

An Act of Silence lives up to its title, sometimes it is the unsaid that can cause far more strife than any words spoken aloud.

I’d like to thank Colette McBeth for giving me a copy of An Act of Silence when we met at a Headline blogger event earlier this year, this review is my unbiased thanks for a stunning, involved and intelligent novel that despite somewhat unlikeable characters really got under my skin.

First Published UK: 29 June 2017
Publisher: Wildfire
No of Pages: 352
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Previous Books by Colette McBeth

Precious Thing
The Life I Left Behind