Monday, 3 October 2016

After the man is hanged ...

Morlock is coming.  Death will follow.

DCI Jericho may have evaded the Hanged Man, but he knew there was something missing.  He knew there was still someone out there  He knew there would be more death...

A man is murdered on the Somerset Levels, a bullet in the head from three feet.  Jericho soon learns there was a connected killing the previous day in the Swiss Alps.

Death comes in the post, quickly strands from the past become entangled: the hunted mountaineers, a long lost secret, the mystery of Jericho's wife and the covert organisation, working in the shadows, always in control.

Joined by DI Badstuber of the Swiss police, Jericho travels across Europe to North Africa, chasing an invisible killer.  But Death is always one step ahead, while his past, sinister and terrifying, is closing in.

I was not really sure what to expect from this book as I found the previous book rather difficult to get into as I am not really in to satire in any way shape or form.  As it turned out this one was easier to get into not least that we knew the characters and it was a straight police procedural that continues on from the first.

The unseen hand that guided the events in the first book is back manipulating the characters once again and leads them on a manhunt across Europe.

This author writes real characters and this novel only builds on this all the while having a dark humour running through the entire novel.  I love the interaction between Jericho and Hayes.  I also enjoyed the Hayes’s romance which in no way detracted from the novel itself.

The plot was reasonably well plotted and the author’s research was good; the descriptions of the other countries were consistent with those of other novels this reader has read.

Unfortunately, there were a few unresolved issues from the first novel, together with unresolved questions from this novel, which I hope will be dealt with in the next novel in the series, of which  am sure there will be one.  One thing that did stick in this reader’s craw was what Jericho did with his inheritance – I mean would a real person really do that?

If you love police procedurals, especially British police procedurals, with a bit of bite and a lot of 
creep.  Or if you love the works of Douglas Lindsay then this novel is definitely one for you.

Thank you Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange of an honest review.

I reviewd this as 'It was OK' on Goodreads and Amazon.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

It is all about

Naomi Carson is a survivor.  As a child, her family was torn apart by a shocking crime.  It could have destroyed her, but Naomi has grown up strong, with a passion for photography that has taken her all around the world.

Now, at last, she has decided to put down roots.  The beautiful old house on Point Bluff needs work, but Naomi had new friends in town who are willing to help, including Xander Keaton - gorgeous, infuriating and determined to win her heart. 

But as Naomi plans for the future, her past is catching up with her.  Someone in town knows her terrifying secret - and won't let her forget it.  As her new home is rocked by violence, Naomi must discover her persecutor's identity, before it's too late.

Book Club Review:
Reading a Nora Roberts novel is like speaking to a friend you have not seen for years and it being like you saw them yesterday.  Such is with this novel.  I went through a spate of reading Nora Roberts books and then took a break.  I picked this one up as it my book club’s choice for the month and it was just like that; meeting an old friend or snuggling up with a cup of tea in front of a fire on a winter’s day.

As one would expect from one of Nora’s books the plot was engaging, well-paced and beautifully executed.  The characters were well-rounded, beautifully written, and complex with their lives entwined as is the case for those who grew up and live in a small town.  Nora pays as much attention to her secondary characters as she does to her primary characters making her readers all in love with everyone; and the town within which they reside.

This book was listed as romance/suspense, yet the first few chapters are hard hitting and unsettling to say the least.  The tone is hopeful although the happenings are scary and sinister.  The novel does not concentrate on the doer but rather the aftermath and how it affects the family.  And instantly one wants the best for Naomi and her brother, Mason.

The book then jumps forward to a teenager Naomi and then again to an adult Naomi.  Which suits the story really well and through it all you get to know these complex intriguing characters at different points in their life (some more so than others – I personally would have loved to have more of Mason (perhaps he will get his own book?)).

The romance part is well done and features reader’s eye candy.  Someone figures out Naomi’s past but waits until she is ready to reveal it to him.  He (the eye candy) even gets her to adopt a dog!  How great is he?!  All in all the romance and the thriller parts were well balanced.

I did figure out who the antagonist was but this was towards the end of the book as her brother was tracing Naomi’s moments.  And as it turned out I was correct.  I don’t usually guess ‘Who did it’, but the excellent writing and clues did help this time.

Sometimes authors who have written as many books as Nora Roberts get to write to a formula and their books start to feel the same.  This is not the case with Nora.  She usually writes trilogies but this is a one off – well I do hope Mason gets his own book (but that is my psychological mystery bent coming out!).

My only complaint was that the book finished too quickly.  I would have loved to have seen more interaction with Mason and the killer and (as I have said before) it is my fervent hope that a further book (or two) will be written about Mason.

If you love Nora Roberts and some suspense with your romance you will love this book.

We read this for my Book club and I rate it 4 stars.

Not all is well in the garden, even

Near an isolated mansion lies a beautiful garden.

In this garden grow luscious flowers, shady trees ... and a collection of precious 'butterflies' - young women who have been kidnapped and intricately tattooed to resemble their namesakes.  Overseeing it all is the Gardener, a brutal, twisted man obsessed with capturing and preserving his lovely specimens.

When the garden is discovered, a survivor is brought in for questioning.  FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison are tasked with piecing together one of the most stomach-churning cases of their careers.  But the girl, known only as Maya, proves to be a puzzle herself.

As her story twits and turns, slowly shedding light on life in the Butterfly Garden, Maya reveals old grudges, new saviors, and horrific tales of a man who'd go to any length to hold beauty captive.  But the more she shares, the more the agents have to wonder what she's still hiding ...

Having read this novel a while ago I am still not sure whether what it said on the cover was what I actually read.

The main story is told in flash-back – interview style, as the FBI are interviewing Maya, an escapee, after the fact.  However, when you are in the story Maya is telling it is as if you are actually there shadowing her.  

The sadistic nature of the book is revealed slowly and with some forethought so as not to trouble the reader too much but leaving enough to the reader’s imagination to fill in the terrible gaps in the narrative.  The pace is relentless and totally fascinating (especially if you love psychological thrillers).  What could be a totally macabre situation is handled exceptionally well such that is seems that such a novel has never been written before; and although the reader may loath the gardener they are equally rooting for the release of the flowers or rather butterflies.

Given the nature of the books one would think that the characters in the story are somewhat 2 dimension yet these women are fearless and strong.  There are so many characters yet each one is unique and they do not get lost in the collective.  Each character has clarity and leaves a distinct impression on the reader.

Yet there is just something that does not ring true with Maya, which is revealed at the end of the book.  And to be honest when the big reveal was made (and oh my goodness it is a whopper) would any sane person have put themselves in that situation?  Thus an incredibly detailed plot was left to fizzle out like a wet firework.

Thank you etgalley for allowing me to provide an honest review of this book, which in this case is 4 stars.

All that we see is not all that is there

Brighton, 1938:  Grace Kemp is pushed away by the family she has shamed.  Rejected and afraid, she begins a new life as a nurse.  But danger stalks the hospital too, and she'll need to be on her guard to avoid falling into familiar traps.  And then there aer the things she sees ... Strange portents that have a way of becoming real.

Eighty years later, Mina Morgan is brought to the same hospital after a near-fatal car crash.  She is in terrible pain but recalls nothing,  She's not even sure whom to trust.  Mina too sees things that others cannot, but now, in hospital her visions are clearer than ever...

Two women, separated by decades, are drawn together by a shared space and a common need to salvage their lives.

Having recently finished this book I really don’t know what I feel or even how these two stories were related to each other.  I thought the end was rather rushed and did not tie the two stories together as far as I was concerned.  This is really a book of two halves; one a psychological thriller and the other a historical novel (to a point).  The element that ties the two stories together is the supernatural element that is spooky and certainly well done being an integral part of the story as it is shared by both the women in the book.

That said I will deal with each part separately.  In the psychological part the tension was built gradually.  As the reader is aware of the larger picture we see the larger picture and often want to yell at the Mina just to warn her of the impending danger. 

The historical part of the novel could be said to be a friendship saga.  We are also told about the daily grind of a student nurse (Grace), the lowest rung on the medical hierarchy.

Mina is a surprisingly strong character but still vulnerable and from part of her back story she is not the most likeable person, yet after the accident see sees people, things and herself in a different light.  In contrast, Grace is naïve and also vulnerable but she grows the most throughout the book and gains both strength and determination.

But detailed characterisation is not just reserved for the main character but is also given to the supporting cast such as Grace's best friend and roomie Evie and to Mina's Aunt Pat thereby enriching the main characters and giving the story more depth.

The one element that joins these two women together is they are able to see things that others cannot – a sort of second sight.  This is also where the two stories sort of come together.  Mina is hospitalised and starts to see Grace.  It just so happens that the hospital that Mina is in was where Grace worked many years ago.  Never once did Mina cross into Grace’s timeline.

As far as this reader was concerned there were quite a few unresolved issues.  Why did Grace go into nursing? Why did Grace reach out to Mina? Why was there no other obvious connection between the two women?

Perhaps the two stories should have been dealt with as two separate novels and thereby each story could have received better treatment, the back story (of which I am sure there is a great deal in each case) could have been told, and some of the unresolved issues could have been cleared up.

Take all this together and add an element of romance and you have a novel that is difficult to pigeon-hole with is clearly written, well plotted yet entertaining and annoying in equal measure.  But the ending did leave this reader rather flat but that is just my opinion.  Form you own by reading this strangely haunting book.

Thank you Netgalley for allowing me to provide an honest review in exchange for receiving this book which I rated as 'It was OK' on Goodreads and Amazon.

A great new British author to keep an eye on

Introducing DCI Sophie Allen in an exciting new detective series that will have you gripped from start to heart-stopping finish.

A young woman's body is discovered on a seserted footpath in a Dorset seaside town late on a cold November night.  She has been stabbed through the heart.

It seems like a simple crime for DCI Sophie Allen and her team to solve.  But not when the victim's mother is found strangled the next morning.  The case grows more complex as DCI Sophie Allen discovers that the victims had secret histories, involving violence and intimidation.  There's an obvious suspect but Detective Allen isn't convinced.  Could someone else be lurking in the shadows. someone savagely violent, looking for a warped revenge?

Michael Hambling is a new author to me as this is a new series.  A UK author, a likeable detective, and a South West Coast of England setting.  There is just something about UK authors that strikes a chord with me and it is so good that they are coming more to the fore.  My only question is ‘Why has it taken so long for these UK authors to make a dent in a previously US dominated field?

The beginning of this novel is rather brutal (which I love) and does not let-up until the last page.

The plot is well written – and although the reader does not know who did what until the end, seemingly unlinked murders have a sole protagonist.

It is lovely to see a strong driven lady lead, who is not too damaged and un-intimidating – unless the occasions required it.  She stands up for her team who she can manage with an iron hand should the occasion arise.  Yet her main mission is seeking the truth and blast the politics.  The secondary members of the team all have their own foibles and enhance the main character adding contrast not just to her but also to the story as a whole; making rounded secondary characters. In sort all the characters are believable with their own traits that that make them personable and relateable. 

The police procedures seem to be well researched and there is painstaking detail so much so that although there is some repetition it all seems natural in the grand scheme of things.  No matter what the story shows the links seem to be tentative at best yet the detective shows her worth, and indeed why she is a DCI.

The storyline is well paced and well plotted and quite complex with many a twist and turn to keep the reader guessing until the end.

One pet peeve of mine is that UK authors have to revert to Americanisms to sell their books.  Be strong and stick to what you know.

So if you love a complex, character driven police procedural novel you can’t go far wrong with this one.  I will definitely be on the look-out for more books by this author. 

Thank you Netgalley for allowing me to provide an honest review of this novel which in this case is 4 stars.

Little fun projects which are just right for ...

If you want to learn to knit, you only need a ball of yarn, knitting needles, some patience - and this book!  It's the ideal introduction to knitting, with easy-to-follow, full-color instructions for more than fifteen projects.  Clear, step-by-step explanations of basic techniques make this guide great for beginners of all ages, especially those wishing to create handmade gifts.  An introduction explains the how-to of knitting, from holding the needles ad yarn to casting on, basic stitches, and finishing touches.  Patterns start out a simple as can be and gradually become more challenging, although by no means difficult.  Readers can advance from bracelets, hair ornaments and pocketbooks to scarves and hats, in addition to a charming variety of household decorations.

This was a well informed and written, in simple, age appropriate language.  The stitches are on the simple, well explained, and accompanied with clear diagrams and pictures.  As an experienced knitter there are a few patterns that I want to try especially the Owls.

Although there are the traditional egg cosies they are given a twist and everything is done in bright modern colours.  I particularly love the idea of cup wraps and knitted coasters.

I though the hearts project was more complex however this allows the beginner to stretch their wings and try more advanced techniques. 

There are also some scarves to make and the one I like, the purple, one is not just a plain stocking stitch pattern but has a bit of design flair too to make it attractive to the more discerning youthful knitter.

There is even a section on how to deal with dropped stitches which is great and saves the knitter from unravelling their work and getting disappointed.

However, there are two errors in my copy.  For example on the ‘Mixing Stitches’ page there I a chard under Number 4 that related to Number 4 (for which there is already a chart).

The second error is for the Egg Cozies project.  I says for the carves “Size B (2.25 mm crochet hook) But the pattern states “Cast on 5 sts.” Then “work in garter stitch”!

In short would I give this, a ball of wall and pair of knitting needles to an absolute beginner; I don’t think I would.  But I would use is as an aide memoir and a project book to accompany classes.

Thank you Netgalley for allowing me to review this book, which I give 4 stars.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Surely the US title 'The Chosen' is a far better title for this novel as she was not ...

He watches.  He waits. He kills ...

When Jessie Conway survives an horrific mass high school shooting, in the aftermath she finds herself trust into the media spotlight, drawing all kinds of attention.  But some of it is the wrong kind.

A sadistic serial killer, had been watching her every move.  A skilled hunter, he likes his victims to be a challenge.  Jessie is strong, fearless, a survivor, and now ... she is his ultimate prey.

As the killer picks off his current victims one by one, chasing, killing and butchering them with his crossbow, he's closing in in Jessie ... But will Jessie defy the odds and escape with her life?  Or will she be the killer's final sacrifice ...

A clever, dangerously twisted thriller that will have fans of Tess Gerritsen and Karin Slaughter gripped until the very last page.

Self-proclaimed as 'A gripping psychological thriller' but as far as this reader was concerned there was next to nothing psychological about it (not like Jonathan Kellerman or Jeffrey Deaver) nor was it all that thrilling.  But I only discovered this after the fact!

The first few chapters were gripping and held a lot of promise for the book as a whole but continuing reading that potential was not exploited.

The last section of this book was fairly gripping but there was so much backstory and scene setting that nothing really started happening until chapter 38.

One thing that did annoy me was that the author could not decide the name of one of her characters. In a few pages at the beginning of the novel there was a particular person who was referred to as Adam Edwards.  However after these few references the name was changed and thenceforth he was referred to as Alan Edwards, a little thing I know but if the author  cannot decide his name why should we be invested in their characters?

This story is told from multiple Points of View ('POV') which also meant that there was a certain amount of overlap in the stories.  Also this constant change interrupted the story so that the new character spent quite a while talking about their feelings and there was extraneous dialogue.  The killer was neither compelling nor scary ... all the killings were intimated at but never once was one described in detail.

The female lead was neither completely likeable nor completely hateful as were the remaining characters.  As with such books of this ilk they all do things that are rather silly but for the female lead when she was in peril she did use her head more than most and happened upon an unlikely weapon.  For this reader the chase was the bet part of this novel.

Unfortunately there were not many twists ad turns or red herrings in this novel apart from its title (perhaps the more appropriate American title of  'The Chosen' should have been used in the UK).

For this reader this particular novel was really disappointing.  It seemed that there too much story overlap, too many unnecessary details, and too many typos.  All things that lead to a rather disappointing read.

Thank you Netgalley for a chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

The novel was rated 2 stars overall.

I think I should have started this series from the beginning ...

Criminal defence lawyer Helena Flemming has fallen out of love with John Eisenmenger.

Devastated, Eisemenger finds solace and distraction by reluctantly return to his life a a forensic pathologist.

His first case reunited him with DI Beverley Wharton; a woman who is notoriously cunning and who refuses to take no for an answer.  Beverly is jealous of Helena and has history with Eisenmenger, but when she receives some devastating personal news she delves deeper into her cases and realises she needs help ...

A young petty criminal is found stabbed leaving an elderly mother devastated, and the obvious suspect is a man who had threatened to kill him just hours before.

There is pressure on Beverley to close the case, but she is not so keen to follow orders, especially when Eisenmenger discovers that the weapon is a surgical scalpel.

For once she decides to follow her instincts rather than politics at the station.

There is enough circumstantial evidence to charge a local thug with murder but something does't add up and Beverly risks everything to find the truth.

With all this going on, the accidental death of a motorcyclist seems trivial, except that the body seems to have too many organs ...

Eisenmenger is immediately consumed by this disturbing discovery and when he realises Helena is missing, he and Beverly stumble upon an evil enterprise that puts both their lives in grave danger ...

I do hate it when Netgalley ‘blurbs’ do not indicate that the book is a number in a series, in this case number 7.  So the main characters have a load of history and are well defined.

I must admit that I was rather confused by the number of characters initially introduced in this novel who appeared to fall by the way side and yet they reappeared in the latter stage of the book.  I was also slightly confused by the use of Christian and surnames and who was siding with whom.

There is obviously a great backstory to these characters which has been dealt with in previous novels yet it is quite easy to join the party in book 7 and not really feel as though one is missing anything.

The plot in intriguing but the better informed reader (and I would not class myself as one of those readers) could work out the plot twist way before the DI.

I personally loved the English setting but disliked the use of some American prose which, for me, did not sit right with the characters and the book as a whole.

I did not like the dynamic between the two main characters or the pull of the higher ups on DI Wharton.

This is the seventh book in the series (and the first one I have read).  It does nothing to entice the reader to go back to the beginning or even to read further into the series; and this reader does love murder/mystery/thriller novels.

Thank you Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. Which, in this case, was just 2 stars.

Friday, 8 July 2016

So much can happen in six months ...

Tom Hope is broken.  Ever since his wife Laura dies he hasn't been the same man, and definitely not the same father.  Luckily however, his moth-in-law Linda is there to pick up the pieces and look after his struggling daughters, Evie and Lola.

But Tom getting arrested on the first anniversary of his wife's death is the last straw for Linda.

She decides on drastic action, and in a final attempt to make Tom reconnect with his daughters, Linda leaves for Australia.  Now, with two fast-maturing girls on his hands. Tom has to learn how to accept his responsibilities and navigate the newly discovered world of single fatherhood - starting immediately.

While Linda finds her journey brings more than she bargained for, Tom suddenly has only himself to rely on.

Will he fall back int grief or finally step yo and be the father his girls need?

Bittersweet, funny and sad, THE HOPE FAMILY CALENDAR is a novel about grief, love and family.

This author (a new one for me) lives in Birmingham which makes me wonder why he set this book in Reigate, the town next to my home town.  Not that I mind, I loved that I could really identify with location of this novel even though they were subject to ‘poetic’ license.  I can honestly say that I have had a cuppa in the local Morrisons’ (previously Safeway); and I know where the Red Lion is.

The story is told through two points of view and deals with loss and I suppose rebirth of each character.  Although the overall tone of this tome is that of loss, this novel is not really depressing.  It shows how a family can deal with loss through the inevitable sadness, and later with irony and humour.

I have not read a Mike Gaye book before but he does give life (for all its foibles) to his characters and you can really relate to them, warts and all.  Each character’s feelings are honest, genuine and therefore easily relatable.  As with life, the story is not totally black and white, there are quite a number of grey areas, not least the unexpected relevel near the end.

What I loved most where the characters, not just the ones whose points of view were represented in the book but also Lola, Evie, Charles and Fran.  These characters are so real and believable, so much so that you could quite easily meet them on a Reigate street.  However, they are not stagnant … the author allows them to grow and mature throughout the novel, so the Hope Family that you meet at the beginning of the book is not the same as that at the end and likewise for the lesser characters.  Don’t get me wrong, they are not flawless which makes them all the more irrelevant.

The family presented in this book is whole and well developed and then the bombshell drops and this novel shows what happens in the fall out.  Each person reacts differently as would be expected and the storytelling in this novel is above par.  This novel deals with a serious subject with great aplomb.  Everyone, at a stage in their life has to deal with grief so why is it such a taboo subject?  This novel hopes to make it more accepted.

All that said, though, the ending did feel unfinished, but then again isn’t that what a lived life is… The main element of the story is hope through adversity and this reader will be looking for more novels by this writer I the future.

Thank you Netglley for allowing me to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

I rated this I liked it on Netgalley, Goodreads and Amazon

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

All love is Improbable - let's be honest

When lovelorn Annie McDee stumbles across a dirty painting in a junk shop while looking for a present for an unstable man, she had no idea what she has discovered.  Soon she finds herself drawn unwillingly into the tumultuous London art world, populated by exiles Russian oligarchs, avaricious Sheikas, desperate auctioneers and unscrupulous dealers, all scheming to get their hands on her painting - a lost eighteenth-century masterpiece called 'The Improbability of Love'.  Delving into the painting's past, Annie will uncover not just an illustrious list of former owners, but some of the darkest secrets of European history - a in doing so she might just learn to open up to the possibility of falling in love again.

Apart from reading ‘The Girl with the Pearl Ear-ring’ many years ago I have not read many novels about art.  Where this one differs from the aforementioned, this novel is about the mad, mad world of art acquisitions and auctions.

The improbability of love does not merely refer to artwork itself but how we find love in the most improbable of places, how it or the lack of it influences our actions and affects our lives for good or ill.

Throughout the novel we meet many interesting characters who although well written and researched but due to the sheer number of them many felt rather two dimensional.  The novel had quite a few points of view which could be rather confusion but each POV was written in a different way.  Interestingly enough we also get the POV of the artwork itself which was original and fascinating.

The POVs include those of wealthy society types, gallery owners, Russian oligarchs, politicians, scholar, restorers, and ‘ordinary everyday’ people.  Their lives are both fascinating and on occasion heart-breaking … the lengths people will go to, to acquire an important piece of art.  However, instead of being a major part of the plot; many could have merely been supporting characters as is befitting their station.

The plot was reasonably paced and suspenseful.  Without giving too much away there was a mention of Holocaust/Nazi history. Although a literary work of fiction the descriptions of the art and the food draw you in and make you want to be a part of the action.

One of the main characters and the unwitting owner of the artwork was Annie who had a very dysfunctional relationship with life, love and her alcoholic mother.  Yet through the novel Annie grows and develops her love of life, work and another.

This book is good albeit there were, in places large gaps in the story; and the ending felt rather rushed.  There seemed to be huge gaps between some significant events near the end, as if the author had been given a page count and had to cut a lot of the novel out to achieve it.

Sometimes the novel cannot decide whether it wants to be a modern or even archaic romance, a satire of the London art scene, a cooking book, a mystery, a history of the lives who owned the painting or of art theft in Nazi Germany.  Perhaps the author was trying to cover too much ground in her debut novel.  All that taken together with the rather archaic/literary and foreign words used could put quite a few readers off.  Thank goodness for the build in dictionary feature of my Kindle.

I think the most interesting part of the novel was the restoration and researching the history of the artwork (proving is provenance); and what this painting meant to its creator and each of its owners.

As a first novel this work is reasonably well polished although some more editing would have given it more of a gleam.  I will definitely be looking for more works by this author.

Thank you Netgalley for allowing me to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Netgalley review 4 stars, Goodreads and Amazon review 4 stars

I still don't know why 'We are the Hanged Man'

The Hanged Man is coming, and there's nothing you can do to stop him ...

Durrant was the most brutal, psychotic killer the Met had ever come across. Captured in the early '80s, he should have been in prison for the rest of his life. Someone had other ideas.

Thirty years later, DCI Jericho, the man who put Durrant away, is working in quiet anonymity in the West Country, living with the guilt of the one case he never solved:  the disappearance of his own wife.

The Hanged Man tarot card that arrives in the mail seems like a trivial joke, but it's only the beginning.  Soon people are disappearing, and Durrarnt is back to his old ways.

Suddenly Jericho is being thrown to the wolves.  The noose tightens, the body count rises, and events spin helplessly towards a shocking and bloody climax.

This is a police procedural novel set in the West Country of the UK.  Although it is well plotted and makes you want to continue reading it is written in a gloomy ploddy fashion, much like the protagonist of the novel. 

DCI Jericho is rather an unlikeable gloomy, damaged (aren’t they all?) do with only one real companion in the Somerset and Wells Police force.  He is even disliked by his Chief Superintendent (the reason for which is divulged later in the novel).  He does not suffer fools gladly and despises a lot of things especially cheap ‘popular’ television and yet he is assigned to be the Police representative for a reality TV show. 

So whilst he is not participating in the reality show is also has to try and sole a crime or two.  This character did not really come off the page for me.  I think he was too much inside his own head.

I did not really get into this novel despite it being well written and with an intriguing plot.  Don’t get me wrong I love mystery thriller novels and the creepier and gorier the better but this one was so bland.  There were humorous light touches thanks to the DCI’s only ‘friend’ and partner DS Haynes; but other than that there was very little to bring this novel out of the doldrums.

Like the rest of the novel the ending felt flat too.  Too little action rather too late with very little explanation and too many things were left open ended – a perfect set up for book 2 (which I was going to read next but needed something lighter before getting to it).

I am not really into satirical books and perhaps for this reason this novel didn’t grab me.  If this genre of book is your bag then this is probably the book for you.

Thank you Netgalley for allowing me to read this book for an honest review.  

Netgalley 3 stars; Goodreads 2 stars; Amazon 3 stars.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Who is the Honeysuckle Girl and why does she need burying?

Althea Bell is still heartbroken by her mother's tragic, premature death - and tormented by the last, frantic words she whispered into young Althea's ear: Wait for her.  For the honeysuckle girl.  She'll find you, I think, but if she doesn't, you find her.

Adrift ever since, Althea is nor fresh out of rehab and returning to her family home in Mobile, Alabama, determined to reconnect with her estranged, ailing father,  While Althea doesn't expect him, or her politically ambitious brother, to welcome her with open arms, she's not prepared for the chilling revelation of a grim, long-buried family secret.  Fragile and desperate, Althea escapes with an old flame to uncover the truth about her lineage.  Drawn deeper into her ancestors' lives, Althea begins to unearth their disturbing history ... and the part she's meant to play in it.

Griping and visceral, this unforgettable debut delves straight into the heart of dark family secrets and into one woman's emotional journey to save herself from a sinister inheritance.

A well-crafted novel written from two points of view; one from the 1930s and one from the 2010s.  What starts as a simple time-sensitive search by one woman for the truth about her mother becomes somewhat of a quest that entails generations of the family and others.  It will keep you guessing right to the end.

I cannot say I was gripped from the beginning but I was certainly intrigued but once the story got involved and the first intimation of the mystery was mentioned I was hooked.  Towards the end it was a case of oh how much further ‘til the end; Ok I’ll read just one more chapter and the next I know some 2 hours later at 4.30 am I had finished and what an ending it was.

I liked the way the author wrote to book from two points of view and more intrigued as to how these women, some 75 years apart were essentially being treated the same by the men of the family.  In the 1930s women were essentially the property of their father until they were given to their husband on their wedding day and felt no remorse in butting in throughout their married life.  It would also seem that in modern Alabama, in ‘upper class’ families this is also an unspoken rule.

Although written from two points of view, there is no confusion as to which story you are reading, even though there are many similarities between the two stories which make the story more suspenseful.  It also keeps the reader reading so that we can learn the conclusion of both these inter- connected stories.

The characters are beautifully written, they have real depth of character and many redeeming features.  They are written in such a way that you want them to secure their own happiness and have a good resolution of their story; and find out what really happened on these women’s thirtieth birthday.

You empathise with Jinn and her plight; the way she is treated by her family and the distain she experiences from her young son.  One of her only bright spots is her relationship with a neighbour.  Throughout the novel you want Jinn to have her ‘HEA’.

In the case of Althea you feel all of her despair as she re-enters the world only to find that it is different to the one she left.  Again this woman is written such that you want to see her success in her quest, and to overcome her demons (both real and imagined) and history.  Althea’s exploits are both hilarious and yet in places rather disturbing.

The author also paints a very real world within which her characters live.  I have never been to Alabama but the description of the area is really vivid and comes alive on the pages.  That together with the old gothic charm added to this psychological mystery.

I was surprised to learn that this was a debut novel as the writing was so polished; and the plot well throughout and beautifully executed.  The ending was satisfying and a fitting conclusion for this novel.  You will be touched, disturbed, and appalled at Althea’s plight and treatment; so much so that you will be affected by this novel for quite a while.

I will definitely be looking for more novels by this author.  Thank you, Netgalley, for allowing me to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Netgalley Review 4 stars; Goodreads review 4 stars; Amazon review 4 stars