Tag Archive | Book review

Review: ‘Let The Dead Speak’, by Jane Casey

Published by: Harper Collins UK

Publication Date: 9th March 2017

Format: Ebook

I.S.B.N.: 9780008149000

Price: £9.99

Available here

When an 18-year-old girl returns home to find her house covered in blood and her mother missing, Detective Maeve Kerrigan and the murder squad must navigate a web of lies to discover the truth… When eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns to her West London home she finds Kate, her mother, missing and the house covered in blood. There may not be a body, but everything else points to murder. Maeve Kerrigan is young, ambitious and determined to prove she’s up to her new role as detective sergeant. In the absence of a body, she and maverick detective Josh Derwent turn their attention to the neighbours. The ultra-religious Norrises are acting suspiciously; their teenage
daughter definitely has something to hide. Then there’s William Turner, once accused of stabbing a schoolmate and the neighbourhood’s favourite criminal. Is he merely a scapegoat or is there more behind the charismatic façade? As the accusations fly, Maeve must piece together a patchwork of conflicting testimonies, none of which quite add up. Who is lying, who is not? The answer could lead them to the truth about Kate Emery, and save the life of someone else.

My Review

I read this novel in one seven-hour sitting. Despite being exhausted I couldn’t put it down, because I had to find out what happened next. This is a tightly written crime thriller, packed with suspense and an unexpected twist. The characters are rounded and well written, although I found the evangelicals a little stereotypical. The relationship between Maeve Kerrigan and Josh Derwent, at once confrontational and affectionate really draws the reader in as they discover the secrets of Kate Emery and her neighbours.

4/5

Review: ‘Written in Bones’ by James Oswald

Publication Date: 23rd February 2017

Published by: Penguin UK

I.S.B.N.: 9780718183677

Price: £12.99

Format: Hardback

 

Blurb

The roots of murder run deep . . .

When a body is found in a tree in The Meadows, Edinburgh’s scenic parkland, the forensics suggest the corpse has fallen from a great height.

Detective Inspector Tony McLean wonders whether it was an accident, or a murder designed to send a chilling message?

The dead man had led quite a life: a disgraced ex-cop turned criminal kingpin who reinvented himself as a celebrated philanthropist.

As McLean traces the victim’s journey, it takes him back to Edinburgh’s past, and through its underworld – crossing paths with some of its most dangerous and most vulnerable people.And waiting at the end of it all, is the truth behind a crime that cuts to the very heart of the city . . .

Inspector McLean is back in the next gripping instalment in James Oswald’s bestselling crime series.

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Review: ‘Thin Ice’, by Quentin Bates

 

If you read my blog post from last week, you’ll know we had the pleasure of a visit from journalist, translator and crime writer Quentin Bates. Quentin has written four novels (in paperback and ebook format) and three novellas (available as ebooks only) featuring the character Officer Gunnhildur. Details are available on his website: http://graskeggur.com/

I have, and recommend the novella Winterlude. Last week Quentin kindly gave out copies of his books, and of books by Ragnar Jonasson that he had translated; I got my hands on a copy of his most recent book, Thin Ice, published by Constable (an imprit of Little, Brown Book Group) in March 2016.

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Review: ‘Victoria’, by Daisy Goodwin

Published By: St. Martins Press

Publication Date: 22nd November 2016

I.S.B.N.: 9781250045461

Blurb

“They think I am still a little girl who is not capable of being a Queen.”

Lord Melbourne turned to look at Victoria. “They are mistaken. I have not known you long, but I observe in you a natural dignity that cannot be learnt. To me, ma’am, you are every inch a Queen.”

 

In 1837, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria – sheltered, small in stature, and female – became Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. Many thought it was preposterous: Alexandrina — Drina to her family — had always been tightly controlled by her mother and her household, and was surely too unprepossessing to hold the throne. Yet from the moment William IV died, the young Queen startled everyone: abandoning her hated first name in favor of Victoria; insisting, for the first time in her life, on sleeping in a room apart from her mother; resolute about meeting with her ministers alone.

One of those ministers, Lord Melbourne, became Victoria’s private secretary. Perhaps he might have become more than that, except everyone argued she was destined to marry her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. But Victoria had met Albert as a child and found him stiff and critical: surely the last man she would want for a husband….

Drawing on Victoria’s diaries as well as her own brilliant gifts for history and drama, Daisy Goodwin, author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter as well as creator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria, brings the young queen even more richly to life in this magnificent novel.

My Review

Biography in novel form. Not half bad either. The development of Victoria during her first few years as queen is developed and explored in a sympathetic manner and with skillful storytelling. Occasionally the biography breaks through the novelisation and it becomes very obvious that the author is dumping information rather than telling the story, but it only happens three or four times and barely detracts from the flow at all.

Definitely one for fans of Victorian history and Queen Vicky herself.

3/5

Review: ‘A Life Discarded’ by Alexander Masters

Published by: Fourth Estate

Publication Date: 5th May 2016

I.S.B.N.: 9780008130770

Format: Hardback

Price: £16.99

Blurb

Unique, transgressive and as funny as its subject, A Life Discarded has all the suspense of a murder mystery. Written with his characteristic warmth, respect and humour, Masters asks you to join him in celebrating an unknown and important life left on the scrap heap.

A Life Discarded is a biographical detective story. In 2001, 148 tattered and mould-covered notebooks were discovered lying among broken bricks in a skip on a building site in Cambridge. Tens of thousands of pages were filled to the edges with urgent handwriting. They were a small part of an intimate, anonymous diary, starting in 1952 and ending half a century later, a few weeks before the books were thrown out. Over five years, the award-winning biographer Alexander Masters uncovers the identity and real history of their author, with an astounding final revelation.

A Life Discarded is a true, shocking, poignant, often hilarious story of an ordinary life. The author of the diaries, known only as ‘I’, is the tragicomic patron saint of everyone who feels their life should have been more successful. Part thrilling detective story, part love story, part social history, A Life Discarded is also an account of two writers’ obsessions: of ‘I’s need to record every second of life and of Masters’ pursuit of this mysterious yet universal diarist.

My Review

I really enjoyed this book, as much a biography of the mysterious diarist as an autobiography of Masters and his friends during the five years he worked on the diaries and writing this book. I sped through it in a matter of hours, the writing kept me transfixed.

Masters is a sensitive biographer, disclosing new information as he learns it, and dealing honestly with his qualms when he learns that the diarist, Laura Francis is still alive. The writing is fluid and engaging, humorous at times and honest.

5/5

I’ve just started studying the life-writing component of my MA Creative Writing. My tutor suggested we should start reading biographies if we didn’t already to get an idea of the diversity of the form. I’ve read biographies in the past, but this was a refreshing change. It only took me four hours to read this book, so I started another one, before I decided to write this review. The book I’m reading at the moment is a biography of Queen Victoria, in the form of fiction. They’re different ways of writing biography but they both work well.

 

Review: ‘Body in The Box’, by E.R. Fallon

Published By: Joffe Books

Publication Date: 19th December 2017

I.S.B.N.: 9781912106004

BLURB

The frail body of a young boy is found discarded in an old cardboard box. Even in a hard-edged town used to deadly crimes, this touches a nerve.

BODY IN THE BOX is the first book in the Stygian Town mystery series featuring three very different homicide detectives.

Detectives Dino Copper and Terry Jackson have been partners and friends for years. Now a new detective is drafted in to join them: Rebecca Everhart. They must quickly learn to work together on the biggest case of their careers, the disturbing discovery of the ‘Body in the Box’, as it’s known by the captivated media and the city’s worried citizens.

The case takes the three detectives deep inside the lives of the insular Eastern European immigrant community and the world of unlawful medical practices. The case also evokes an eerie childhood memory of Dino’s, where a boy from his neighborhood vanished and was never seen again.

What appears to be a straightforward, modern-day murder case has more to do with the past than the present, and the detectives come to a genuinely unnerving — and life-threatening — conclusion.

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