A Deathly Affair by Leigh Russell

5 Stars from me

Although there is clearly a hell of a back story here that I am missing (I only say that as it is book 13 in a series), I truly feel that A Deathly Affair worked well as a standalone book. Actually, I’m pretty stunned that it is book 13 as it really is gripping and doesn’t smack at all of ‘just the next one in the series as I’ve got deadlines to meet’.

I greatly enjoyed the relationships within this book. The husband/wife, the affair that isn’t quite what it seemed and also the dynamics within the police force were all very engaging.

I liked the police procedural elements and the methodology behind the investigative routes.

I also really like how the story highlights the plight of the homeless – something which I feel is all too easily ignored, yet most of us are only a few steps away from it at any time. A wrong decision, a loss of income, a relationship breakdown, an addiction, a twist of fate or circumstance can all very quickly lead to homelessness.

Synopsis: Four dead bodies. But who is guilty in this deadly web of secrecy and lies?

When two homeless men are strangled to death, Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel is caught off guard by the cold-blooded nature of the crimes. However, her suspicions are raised as two more bodies are found, forcing her to question the motivation behind the murders.

Plagued by countless red-herrings, the investigation drags Geraldine into the lives of three people caught in a toxic triangle of love and dishonesty. Is this a crime of passion, or is there more to this case than meets the eye? 

Advertisements

The Long Call by Ann Cleeves

4 Stars from me

Being a long term lover of shows like Vera and Midsummer Murders, I was delighted to have the opportunity to read The Long Call by Ann Cleeves as it is the first in a new series; featuring Detective Matthew Venn and set in North Devon.

Matthew Venn is a very likeable character who lives in an idyllic cottage by the sea with his (too perfect?) partner. The Long Call features a search for a missing girl and a murder enquiry both of which seem destined to draw Matthew back into a community – and a myriad of painful memories – that he sought to leave behind.

There is a nice mix of complexity and simplicity throughout the book and Ann Cleeves doesn’t shy away from a fair few contentious subjects as the story unfolds.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Long Call and can’t wait to see it on the TV when it is inevitably made into a tv series.

Synopsis:

The Long Call is the captivating first novel in a brand new series from Sunday Times bestseller and creator of Vera and Shetland, Ann Cleeves.

In North Devon, where the rivers Taw and Torridge converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his father’s funeral takes place. The day Matthew turned his back on the strict evangelical community in which he grew up, he lost his family too. Now he’s back, not just to mourn his father at a distance, but to take charge of his first major case in the Two Rivers region; a complex place not quite as idyllic as tourists suppose. A body has been found on the beach near to Matthew’s new home: a man with the tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.

Finding the killer is Venn’s only focus, and his team’s investigation will take him straight back into the community he left behind, and the deadly secrets that lurk there.

The Lying Room by Nicci French

5 Stars from me!

I found The Lying Room to be a highly engaging, fast paced read that I absolutely raced through as I just kept on wanting to know what happened next!

Central character, Neve, is one of those perfect people who everyone adores yet is utterly unassuming and apparently unaware of her magnetism. Friends, colleagues, even strangers are seemingly drawn to this calm, warm, efficient woman who busily spends her life making things right for others.

She treads carefully around the feelings of her husband and her daughter, she keeps a watchful eye on her sons and is the only person who ever notices that the guinea pig hasn’t been fed. She buoys up her colleagues at work and his the central pin of a decades long friendship group. She also does all the shopping, endless loads of laundry and cycles everywhere. She and her husband share most other domestic chores and their days and nights revolve around keeping all these plates spinning. So much so that she is susceptible to the attentions of a man who notices her – in a way that she hasn’t felt noticed by anyone for a very long time and they begin an affair.

As mentioned in the synopsis (full synopsis at the bottom of this page) one day she discovers that her lover has been murdered and rather than calling 999 she makes the snap decision to try and cover up any evidence that she was ever in his life.

I really liked the police character, DI Hutchings and felt thoroughly immersed in Neve’s world as I read this book. If you ignore the affairs, murders and deceit… it is a pretty enviable life.

Great book, great characters, fast paced and compelling – highly recommended.

Also, about the authors… I had no idea that Nicci French was actually two authors! Here are the details: Nicci Gerrard was born in June 1958 in Worcestershire. After graduating with a first class honours degree in English Literature from Oxford University, she began her first job, working with emotionally disturbed children in Sheffield. In that same year she married journalist Colin Hughes.

In the early eighties she taught English Literature in Sheffield, London and Los Angeles, but moved into publishing in 1985 with the launch of Women’s Review, a magazine for women on art, literature and female issues.

In 1987 Nicci had a son, Edgar, followed by a daughter, Anna, in 1988, but a year later her marriage to Colin Hughes broke down.

In 1989 she became acting literary editor at the New Statesman, before moving to the Observer, where she was deputy literary editor for five years, and then a feature writer and executive editor.

It was while she was at the New Statesman that she met Sean French.

Sean French was born in May 1959 in Bristol, to a British father and Swedish mother. He too studied English Literature at Oxford University at the same time as Nicci, also graduating with a first class degree, but their paths didn’t cross until 1990. In 1981 he won Vogue magazine’s Writing Talent Contest, and from 1981 to 1986 he was their theatre critic. During that time he also worked at the Sunday Times as deputy literary editor and television critic, and was the film critic for Marie Claire and deputy editor of New Society.

Sean and Nicci were married in Hackney in October 1990. Their daughters, Hadley and Molly, were born in 1991 and 1993.

By the mid-nineties Sean had had two novels published, The Imaginary Monkey and The Dreamer of Dreams, as well as numerous non-fiction books, including biographies of Jane Fonda and Brigitte Bardot.

In 1995 Nicci and Sean began work on their first joint novel and adopted the pseudonym of Nicci French. The Memory Game was published to great acclaim in 1997 followed by The Safe House (1998), Killing Me Softly (1999), Beneath the Skin (2000), The Red Room (2001), Land of the Living (2002), Secret Smile (2003), Catch Me When I Fall (2005), Losing You (2006) and Until It’s Over (2008). Their latest novel together is What To Do When Someone Dies (2009).

Nicci and Sean also continue to write separately. Nicci still works as a journalist for the Observer, covering high-profile trials including those of Fred and Rose West, and Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr. Novels include Things We Knew Were True (2003), Solace (2005) and The Moment You Were Gone (2007). Sean’s last novel is Start From Here (2004).

Synopsis: In this thrilling standalone from the internationally bestselling author of the Frieda Klein series, a married woman’s affair with her boss spirals into a dangerous game of chess with the police when she discovers he’s been murdered and she clears the crime scene of all evidence.

One little secret between a married woman, her lover, and a killer.

It should have been just a mid-life fling. A guilty indiscretion that Neve Connolly could have weathered. An escape from twenty years of routine marriage to her overworked husband, and from her increasingly distant children. But when Neve pays a morning-after visit to her lover, Saul, and finds him brutally murdered, their pied-à-terre still heady with her perfume, all the lies she has so painstakingly stitched together threaten to unravel.

After scrubbing clean every trace of her existence from Saul’s life—and death—Neve believes she can return to normal, shaken but intact. But she can’t get out of her head the one tormenting question: what was she forgetting?

An investigation into the slaying could provide the answer. It’s brought Detective Chief Inspector Alastair Hitching, and Neve’s worst fears, to her door. But with every new lie, every new misdirection to save herself, Neve descends further into the darkness of her betrayal—and into more danger than she ever imagined. Because Hitching isn’t the only one watching Neve. So is a determined killer who’s about to make the next terrifying move in a deadly affair…. 

Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard

4 Stars from me

This is one of those ‘clear a day as you ain’t putting this book down‘ type of books!

I was utterly hooked from the beginning and loved the roller coaster of pause / play / rewind as the story jumped around.

The insta famous aspect was really good too, probably a pretty accurate glimpse into the lifestyle of the accidentally famous.

Shanamore Holiday Cottages… what can I say except that I will now probably never stay in a holiday cottage on my own! Much like the ever present acute awareness I have in public toilets after watching the film Copy Cat!

Rewind contained some really interesting characters – from Andrew the pathetic and creepy weird, to Sean the good guy, slightly spoilt Natalie and slightly desperate reporter Audrey – Catherine Ryan Howard did a fantastic job of making them all seem real and plausible.

Very clever, addictive book which will keep you on your toes!

Synopsis: From the bestselling, multiple prize-shortlisted novelist Catherine Ryan Howard comes an explosive story about a twisted voyeur and a terrible crime…

PLAY
Andrew, the manager of Shanamore Holiday Cottages, watches his only guest via a hidden camera in her room. One night the unthinkable happens: a shadowy figure emerges onscreen, kills her and destroys the camera. But who is the murderer? How did they know about the camera? And how will Andrew live with himself?

PAUSE
Natalie wishes she’d stayed at home as soon as she arrives in the wintry isolation of Shanamore. There’s something creepy about the manager. She wants to leave, but she can’t – not until she’s found what she’s looking for…

REWIND
This is an explosive story about a murder caught on camera. You’ve already missed the start. To get the full picture you must rewind the tape and play it through to the end, no matter how shocking…

‘Catherine Ryan Howard is a gift to crime writing. Her characters are credible, her stories are original and her plotting is ingenious. Every book is a treat to look forward to.’ Liz Nugent

Date Night by Samantha Hayes

5 Stars from me!

This is one head f*** of a book! If you like to not have a clue what is going on then this is the book for you!

Date Night is so clever, the story reveals itself in layers and with each new layer you realise that the the version of events you’ve just read about may not have exactly have been wrong but it might not have contained ALL of the truth.

I was genuinely delighted the first time I realised it and then again and again as the little layers of new information started coming through.

Bloody genius.

 

Synopsis: Returning early from a disastrous date night with my husband, I know something is wrong the moment the wheels crunch the gravel drive of our home. Inside, the TV is on and a half-eaten meal waits on the table. My heart stops when I find our little girl is alone in the house and our babysitter, Sasha, is missing…

Days later, when I’m arrested for Sasha’s murder and torn away from my perfect little family, I’ll wish I had told someone about the threatening note I received that morning.

I’ll hate myself for not finding out who the gift hidden inside my husband’s wardrobe was for.

I’ll scream from the rooftops that I’m innocent – but no one will listen.

I will realise I was completely wrong about everything that happened that night…

But will you believe me? 

Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay

4 Stars from me!

Another belter from one of my all time favourite authors, Linwood Barclay!

Elevator Pitch is clever and incredibly fast paced – you will race through this book whether you plan to or not as you will be swept up and along in the mayhem as the story unfolds.

As ever with Barclay’s books, the characterisation is sublime – whether someone features for half a chapter or whether they are in it for the whole book – you literally feel as though you know the person, you can see them, smell them, imagine their apartment or their features and practically hear their voice. Linwood Barclay is a genius in this respect.

I love all the clever little touches – like the #poorGlover hashtag and all the fake Mayor twitter accounts, I love all the petty squabbles between couples and the minute details about a persons day.

My overall favourite Linwood Barclay book remains Never Saw It Coming but I highly recommend this author and any of his work – if you want a consistently clever, entertaining and intelligent read you won’t go far wrong.

Synopsis: The New York Times bestselling author of A Noise Downstairs and No Time for Goodbye returns with an edge-of-your-seat thriller that does for elevators what Psycho did for showers and Jaws did for the beach—a heart-pounding tale in which a series of disasters paralyzes New York City with fear.

It all begins on a Monday, when four people board an elevator in a Manhattan office tower. Each presses a button for their floor, but the elevator proceeds, non-stop, to the top. Once there, it stops for a few seconds, and then plummets. Right to the bottom of the shaft.

It appears to be a horrific, random tragedy. But then, on Tuesday, it happens again, in a different Manhattan skyscraper. And when Wednesday brings yet another high-rise catastrophe, one of the most vertical cities in the world—and the nation’s capital of media, finance, and entertainment—is plunged into chaos.

Clearly, this is anything but random. This is a cold, calculated bid to terrorize the city. And it’s working. Fearing for their lives, thousands of men in women working in offices across the city refuse leave their homes. Commerce has slowed to a trickle. Emergency calls to the top floors of apartment buildings go unanswered.

Who is behind this? Why are they doing it? What do these deadly acts of sabotage have to do with the fingerless body found on the High Line? Two seasoned New York detectives and a straight-shooting journalist must race against time to find the answers before the city’s newest, and tallest, residential tower has its Friday night ribbon-cutting.

With each diabolical twist, Linwood Barclay ratchets up the suspense, building to a shattering finale. Pulsating with tension, Elevator Pitch is a riveting tale of psychological suspense that is all too plausible . . . and will chill readers to the bone.

“This novel moves as fast as a falling elevator and hits with just as much force. Linwood Barclay is a stone cold pro and Elevator Pitch is a shameless good time.”
—Joe Hill, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Fireman and Strange Weather

Take It Back by Kia Abdullah

5 Stars from me!

Wow. Just wow. This is one of those books which sticks with you after you’ve finished it – and not necessarily in a comfortable way!

There is an awful lot going on within these pages, the depth of the story and the message is huge even though it is dealt with in a sensitive manner. There are so many issues, all given the lightest touch, and all jostling for their time to be considered.

Just the single thread regarding Jodie is a whole massive story on its own – how anyone copes as a teenager these days let alone with a neglectful, alcoholic mother, let alone with facial disfigurement.

Our former barrister, Zara, who now works to support victims of sex crimes, is also worthy of a story of her own as she turns her back on a glittering careers, tries to fight against decades of history and family ‘rules’ in order to tread her own path, all while battling her own demons as she risks everything to support Jodie.

The accused – their story is another one worthy to stand on its own. The complexities of friendships, the weight of responsibility upon their young shoulders.

Then there is the alleged assault. The main crux of the book, it demonstrates beautifully and painfully how incredibly difficult it is to ever prove a rape/sexual assault. I deeply admire those brave souls who endeavour to do so when they are up against the men who lie, the women who lie, the jurors who have their own preconceptions and judicial system which isn’t always stacked fairly.

I am so glad I read this book.

 

Synopsis: Take It Back is a gripping courtroom drama, perfect for fans of Apple Tree YardHe Said/She Said and Anatomy of a Scandal.

The Victim: A sixteen-year-old girl with facial deformities, neglected by an alcoholic mother. Who accuses four boys of something unthinkable.

The Defendants: Four handsome teenage boys from hardworking immigrant families. All with corroborating stories.

Someone is lying.

Former barrister Zara Kaleel, one of London’s brightest young legal minds, takes up Jodie Wolfe’s case; she believes her, even if those closest to Jodie do not.

Jodie and Zara become the centre of the most explosive criminal trial of the year, in which ugly divisions within British society are exposed. As everything around Zara begins to unravel she becomes even more determined to get Jodie the justice she’s looking for. But at what price?