Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Crime on the Fens, by Joy Ellis

Crime on the Fens is an atmospheric book: fenland is described to great effect in this suspense-filled, enjoyable story.   If fiction is to be believed, to be maverick is a person specification for the post of Detective Inspector in the UK., and Nikki Galena certainly fits the (B)ill.   Life and work may have left her a damaged, brittle person, and her approach to work means she is on her last chance with the powers that be in Lincolnshire Police Force., but she has to investigate the case of a missing person with the help of her "dysfunctional" team and a new Detective Sergeant from another station.  Nikki has a personal history with the local underworld, and this may prove a help or a hindrance.  And, like us all, she has secrets.

Events unfold into a complex situation as it seems that someone may be fomenting war between local gangs, while someone else disappears...

 The main characters are developed into well-rounded, likeable people and I sincerely hope that this is just the beginning of our acquaintance with the CID at Woodborough Police Station.  A satisfying page-turner.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Blog Tour - The Killing Files by Nikki Owen

Displaying The Killing Files - cover.jpg
Displaying The Killing Files - cover.jpg

Displaying The Killing Files - cover.jpg

The Killing Files is an incredibly tense yet engaging thriller.  Maria Martinez is no ordinary protagonist: she is a highly trained plastic surgeon who has been convicted of and imprisoned for the murder of a priest, who has been described as paranoid and also has Aspergers Syndrome which  causes difficulties in dealing with emotions, anxiety and social situations.  She does not sound very likeable when described in this way,  and yet Nikki Owen has succeeded in writing her as a vulnerable and engaging character - I really felt for her throughout this book.

Having successfully appealed her murder conviction, she takes refuge in her native Spain until evidence strongly suggests that she is in danger.  She is concerned for the safety of her beloved family and the few friends she has found it so difficult to make.  Is she paranoid?  Is she being stalked?  And just what is The Project?  The construction of the plot is so clever, because the tension and suspense are maintained to the point that it is hard to stop reading and put the book down, and I found myself holding my breath and fearing for my blood pressure.  Maria's resourcefulness and longing for friendship are strong themes in this story and I am missing her now the story has concluded - but at least I can read the first volume of the trilogy, Subject 375, while waiting for the third part to become available.

As they say, "Just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean they're not out to get you."  The Killing Files makes for great reading, especially for those who enjoy psychological thrillers.  I really enjoyed it.

For more information, the Amazon link is here.

Nikki Owen is an award-winning freelance writer and columnist currently based in Gloucestershire.
Previously, Nikki was a marketing consultant and University teaching fellow before turning to writing full time. As part of her degree, she studied at the acclaimed University of Salamanca – the same city where her protagonist of the Project trilogy, Dr Maria Martinez, hails from.

Find more reactions to The Killing Files by following its Blog Tour at the above stops, until 11th June 2016.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Burnt Paper Sky by Gilly MacMillan, Piatkus, 2015.

I've just reviewed Burnt Paper Sky over here.  It's a really good read, which was published last year and I borrowed from the library.

I'm enjoying the warmer weather and the sunshine, although the accompanying tree-pollen related hay fever is tedious.  The washing is blowing on the line and I will have to get it in shortly because it is, I suspect, barbecue time.

It is hard to believe that a week ago we were just back from a very chilly, snowy Lake District, where I had spent a few lovely days in Grasmere with some very special creative friends.  We are all determined to keep the creative vibe going on, but returning to the world of daily life and domestic routine makes that challenging.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

New Blog for Books

I've got a new blog - Reading in the Magic Armchair - in which to write about my book adventures and travels.

 Hopefully I'll be returning to blogging on life in general here from time to time - books haven't altogether taken over my life (though some might argue with that!)  I hope to see you there as well as here.

The Bones of Grace by Tahmina Anam

An unusual, glorious tale of love, tragedy and adventure: a search for identity and meaning, and a rite of passage.  I loved the lyrical writing and the complex plot, set in the contrasting worlds of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Bangladesh.  Zubaida is an engaging heroine, seeking fulfilment through career (as a paleontologist) and relationships, and also seeking her roots, her place in the world, peace and grace,  This story also had me searching on the internet for the Glass Flowers of Harvard museum - well worth investigating and I would now love to see them.  This book, as exquisitely crafted as the flowers,  swept me up and delighted me.  Where we come from may shape us, but in the end we must take responsibility for our own destiny.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Course of Love by Alain de Botton

Such an unusual novel: it reads rather like a single case study in social psychology or a fly on the wall television documentary, which sees a couple through stages in their relationship with a running commentary to consider what is going on at deeper levels.  It is wry, wise, funny and tender but also oddly objective and interpretative.  It is easy to forget that it is a novel.  It makes for interesting and entertaining reading.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Missing Hours by Emma Kavanagh

The Missing Hours by Emma Kavanagh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is just brilliant, beautifully written with intricate plot and very real characters. I am in awe of Emma Kavanagh's skill. The detectives are fully fleshed human beings, the conflicts between the job and their home lives being understandably and sympathetically described. The investigation of a missing mother turns into a complex case which turns as often as a mountain road and defies all guessing. A deliciously compelling read.

Hitman Anders and the meaning of it all by Jonas Jonasson

iHitman Anders and the Meaning of It All

A thoroughly charming, engaging, and genre-bending novel which mixes crime thriller with romance, comedy and a bit of light-hearted philosophy to result in a jolly good read.  The main characters are the recidivist Hitman Anders, a priest and a receptionist, and a cast of hoodlums and ne'er do wells.  Serving the masses and survival are the aims, as well as seeking the meaning of it all.  A mirthful Scandi noir and a truly enjoyable book.

If you liked Jonas Jonasson's previous books (The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden) you will be reassured to know that this story is as bonkers as those - all part of the charm. It made me think about morality, and it made me laugh out loud. 

Thursday, April 07, 2016

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

A truly charming tale of Arthur Pepper, who is numbed and shocked after the death of Miriam, his wife and the love of his life. A strict routine gives him the structure to go on, but it is a joyless existence.  A surprising find sets him on a journey which will allow him to make further discoveries and discover that his life is not over, that there is life after loss.  The plot is clever and this story is well told: a delight to read.