Monday, May 29, 2017

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman



What they said:-
A stunning debut. Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live
Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.
Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.
One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.
Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

What I thought:-

Gail Honeyman has created in Eleanor Oliphant a remarkably engaging and endearing character,  for all her lack of social graces.  She is a unique and fascinating personality whose carefully learned life skills are increasingly not a good fit with her life.  I was reminded at times of Don Tillman in The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.  My heart went out to her very quickly and I loved this story, which is beautifully written.  It's an unusual, delightful tale which deserves to be widely read.




The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurdardottir



What they said:-

The first in an exciting new series from the author of THE SILENCE OF THE SEA, winner of the 2015 Petrona Award for best Scandinavian Crime Novel.
The murder was meant as a punishment - but what sin could justify the method?
The only person who might have answers is the victim's seven-year-old daughter, found hiding in the room where her mother died. And she's not talking.
Newly promoted, out of his depth, detective Huldar turns to Freyja and the Children's House for their expertise with traumatised young people. Freyja, who distrusts the police in general and Huldar in particular, isn't best pleased. But she's determined to keep little Margret safe.
It may prove tricky. The killer is leaving them strange clues: warnings in text messages, sums scribbled on bits of paper, numbers broadcast on the radio. He's telling a dark and secret story - but how can they crack the code? And if they do, will they be next?

What I thought:-

A jolly good detective and psychological thriller set in Iceland, where the police and specialist psychological trauma service work together to try to elicit facts to help solve a gruesome and difficult murder case.  I found this an interesting story, counterpointing the developing relationship between detective Huldar and psychologist Freyja with the unfolding discovery of victims of a very twisted murderer.  Lots of twists and turns will keep the reader guessing his or her identity, and there is an interesting ending.  Yrsa Sigurdardottir writes really well and is brilliantly translated by Victoria Cribb.  Hopefully the next books in this series will also be made available to us in due course, because I would like to see how Huldar and Freyja's relationship will develop as well as reading more of this author's writing.




Secrets of the Dead by Carol Wyer


What they said:-
Three murders. Three innocent victims. What secrets did they share with their killer?
A bottle of bubble bath and colourful, plastic boats were scattered in small puddles on the floor. In the bathtub lay Linda Upton, fully-clothed, her lips a shade of blue, and her bloodshot eyes wide open.
When a young mother is found drowned in the bath, clutching a receipt saying ‘all debts paid’, Detective Robyn Carter knows it’s just the beginning of a harrowing case. She recognises the signs of a serial killer, and when a second victim with a receipt is found, her worst fears are confirmed.
With the local press whipping the public into a frenzy, Robyn is under pressure to solve the crime yesterday. But her team can’t find a link between the two bodies, and the cracks are starting to show.
Just when her leads have dried up, Robyn discovers an unsettling clue she thinks could unlock the case. But as she chases across the plush carpets and manicured lawns of the wealthy elite, honing in on the killer’s shocking motive, one of her own is put in terrible danger.
The press call him The Leopard for his stealth, speed and brutality. Can Robyn stop the most twisted killer of her career before it’s too late?
A heart-pounding, toe-curling, one-sitting serial killer thriller that will hook you from the first page till the last. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott and Karin Slaughter.

What I thought:-

An ingenious plot which kept me guessing and reading compulsively to discover the outcome.  There were plenty of twists and it was very enjoyable reading.  Carol Wyer's DI Robyn Carter is an interesting heroine with a tragic past, maverick tendencies and a strong sense of intuition.  I look forward to reading the next instalment of her crime-solving adventures.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

The Nothing by Hanif Kureshi



An intriguing tale in which Waldo finds himself towards the end of his time, but is not ready to give up on life as he has made it.  His younger wife, Zee, seems to be looking to her own future without him: is it possessiveness or protectiveness that motivates him in intervening in her plans?  I'm not sure why - it's a long time since I read it - but I felt there was something of Lolita in this book, although without its age issues.  It makes the reader think about issues around identity and what matters in life.  Is Waldo reduced to being just a dirty old man, returned to a second childhood?  What of his legacy to the world of film?  Has he been a voyeur in every aspect of his life? He is not very likeable, but it is easy to feel some sympathy towards him.  Plenty to think about.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Lost Children by Helen Phifer


An exciting thriller featuring an interesting pairing of detectives in Lucy Harwin and Mattie Jackson, set in the fictional coastal town of Brooklyn Bay, and dealing with the consequences of historic treatment of  child patients in the local psychiatric asylum.  It's an interesting angle and well handled.  There are twists, surprises, threats and dire danger, making for compulsive, gripping reading.

He said/She said by Erin Kelly



A riveting story, a psychological thriller with an unusual element: solar eclipses.  When Laura and Kit cross paths with Beth at an eclipse festival in Cornwall, nothing will ever be the same again. Who can we trust, is honesty always the best policy or should we protect those we love by keeping them in ignorance?  Integrity and reputation are central to the plot, and each individual's perception of an event will be different.  I've just finished reading this compelling story, and found the twists and turns in the characters' fortunes, their challenges and tragedies believable and the writing excellent.  It's hard to review without giving away too much, but this is an accomplished, enjoyable, intelligent and original novel which is well worth immersing oneself in.  It's a jolly good read.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Sleep Tight by Caroline Mitchell



DS Ruby Preston has another murderer to find: this one is extremely creepy and the case is turning out to have leads that come very close to home.  Ruby grew up in the East End and went to school in the area.  She is pursuing a career with the Shoreditch police, while some of her class mates are from the families of local crime lords (including her estranged sweetheart, Nathan Crosby and his brother Lenny).  A girl is found, murdered, in a local park, but then another body, this time staged in an adjacent cemetery to look like Snow White, and crucial evidence is found in the home of someone she cares about.   Ruby continues to go her own way rather than follow procedure. and puts herself at risk rather than let more victims fall to this sinister killer.  There's plenty of suspense and surprises in this compulsive read of a book, and it leaves me wondering where Ruby's cases will next take her.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan


This book is an absolute delight to read: an unusual story (with stories within), mystery, love, friendship, kindnesses and ghosts.  Superbly crafted and beautifully written, it transports the reader into its world and is one of those you can't wait to finish but don't want to end.  A total pleasure, deserves to be widely read and would be an interesting book club choice.

If Ever I Fall by S.D. Robertson


Such a good story, a sort of psychological thriller but with a difference.  It is very much about love and loss, there is suspense and I found it immensely moving.  Well worth reading.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

How to be Human by Paula Cocozza



Spellbinding and unusual, Mary's story is one of loneliness, isolation and possible madness.  Living alone in the house she once shared with her ex-partner, financially tied to her unfulfilling administrative job, she values the urban woodland wilderness caught between roads that her garden backs onto.  The part its wildlife plays in her life is something she values, but her neighbours don't seem to feel the same way.  It seems that there is more than one way to be human, in the end - and no (wo)man is an island.  Beautifully written, this is a lovely book.

Born Bad by Marnie Riches


Not a Georgina McKenzie-series book, but a gritty and compelling stand-alone about gangsters in Manchester and how a butterfly-effect type event can unleash an out-and-out war between rival groups.  Both amusing and horrific, it kept me happily entertained and was well worth reading.

Last Breath by Robert Bryndza



Another excellent crime thriller by Robert Bryndza, centred around DCI Erika Foster and her colleagues.  Despite having been assigned away from the Murder Investigation Team, Erika finds a way to attend the crime scene when a body is found in a dumpster in a car park.  Very much led by instinct and intuition, she cannot let it go and begins to look deeper, managing to get herself, eventually, reassigned to the investigation.  This is a compelling and thrilling read, cleverly crafted and plotted, with intriguing and believable characters who are beginning to feel like old friends. Good one, Robert!

Dead in the Water by Matthew Costello and Neil Richards



A detective thriller with an undercurrent of romance and set in the Cotwolds, Dead in the Water makes for pleasurable reading.  Suspend disbelief at the way the local bobby co-operates with private detective and web designer Sarah Edwards when a teacher at her children's school is found dead in the river after the school prom, and that the head teacher calls her in to investigate with no financial discussion - and we know how tight public service budgets are these days.  But, putting these niggles aside, it's a good yarn.  Was the death the result of foul play or a symptom of how far drugs have become a part of school life?  And why has Jack Brennan, with whom Sarah has investigated a case in the past, returned from the States without letting her know?  There is suspense, there is danger and there is a satisfying solution.  Worth spending time with.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Everything but the Truth by Gillian McAllister



A compelling psychological thriller about love, trust and guilty secrets.  Rachel used to be a doctor but gave up medicine and has been working in an office.  She meets journalist Jack and they fall head over heels in love.  However, Rachel has experienced a series of traumatic losses which left her with trust issues: these begin to impinge on their relationship, and Jack seems evasive.  The complication is that Rachel and Jack have made a baby.

Just how well can we ever know another person?  Are any of us truly innocent?  And should the quest for truth take precedence over trust?    These are some of the themes explored in this very enjoyable story which begs to be a book club choice because there are so many issues raised and points to ponder and discuss.