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Book reviews ... Author interviews ... and anything else I think might be of interest to writers and readers.

Friday 24 August 2018

The Mystery Of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah

The Mystery Of Three Quarters

I am really enjoying Sophie Hannah's foray into the world of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot. One thing that strikes me about the latest instalment, 'The Mystery Of Three Quarters', in particular is the way that Sophie Hannah has carried over her masterly handling of human emotion and moral dilemmas that characterise her psychological thrillers into this very different setting.

The story starts with Poirot being perplexed. When four people all come to see him to complain that he has sent them a letter accusing them of the murder of Barnabas Pandy, he is both baffled and somewhat indignant. Why would Poirot do such a thing? And, since Poirot knows he did not send the letters, then who did? And how dare they sign them with his name.

Things take an even more peculiar turn when one of the letter recipients explains that Barnabas Pandy was her grandfather and that far from being murdered he died as a result of drowning in his bath. Poirot and his engaging sidekick Edward Catchpool set out to find some answers.

This story really does have a close examination of human nature at the heart of it as well as a mystery. The motivations of some of the characters for doing what they did are absolutely fascinating, and something you'll keep thinking about once the book is finished.

Oh, and cake. Did I mention cake? Some light relief is provided when Poirot finds himself assisting his favourite waitress, Fee Spring, in the matter of a stolen cake recipe. The 'Church Window' cake in question becomes a tool for Poirot's own contemplation of what is behind 'The Mystery Of Three Quarters'.

All in all, a great read. If you love Agatha Christie, give it a go, and if you love Sophie Hannah's other work you'll certainly find much to enjoy here.

I received a review copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley.

You can read my reviews of more of Sophie Hannah's books here.
You can find out more here.

Monday 30 July 2018

Death Rope by Leigh Russell

Death Rope


Mark Abbott is dead. His sister refuses to believe it was suicide, but only Detective Sergeant Geraldine Steel will listen.
When other members of Mark’s family disappear, Geraldine’s suspicions are confirmed.
Taking a risk, Geraldine finds herself confronted by an adversary deadlier than any she has faced before… Her boss Ian is close, but will he arrive in time to save her, or is this the end for Geraldine Steel?
Death Rope is a real treat for fans of Geraldine Steel and Ian Peterson, back together and working as a team again. Geraldine isn't entirely happy that these days Ian is the boss, but for readers the changed dynamic is really interesting.
This is an unusual murder enquiry that starts off looking like a suicide. But one person, the victim's sister, refuses to believe her brother would do such a thing. As Geraldine makes enquiries, at first tentatively, she starts to find that other people agree with that view. Could the victim's sister be right when she starts throwing accusations around about who might really be responsible for her brother's death?
If the victim didn't take his own life, then what did happen? Geraldine has to piece together the fragments including a shoe left outside a house, the mysterious involvement of a dog, a sinister black van, and the fact that people connected to the victim are also starting to go missing.
This is a complex plot with some very subtle touches, which leads to an unexpected conclusion. I don't want to say too much more than that for fear of giving something away, but it is very inventive.
As always we get glimpses into the detectives' private lives as well, adding another layer of interest to the proceedings. Geraldine's adoptive sister Celia has just had another baby and so she feels the pull to spend more time with family. But her loyalties are split between Celia and her birth sister. And what of Ian's estranged wife? Or does he have romantic intentions closer to home?
This series just gets better and better. You can read my reviews of Leigh Russell's earlier books here.

Thanks very much to the publishers for a review copy of this book.

You can find out more here.
And buy a copy here

Sunday 8 July 2018

Gone To Ground by Rachel Amphlett

Gone To Ground

I have been following Rachel Amphlett's Kay Hunter series from the beginning and have really enjoyed all of them. You can read my reviews of two of the earlier books here

In this latest book, Rachel Amphlett is on fine form. 

When a series of body parts start to turn up in various locations around the Kent countryside, Kay and her colleagues are at a loss. There's a real sense of mystery here and a great plot set up. Despite the unpromising circumstances, they identify the first body, and then a second. But what links the two? And why on earth would their killer be cutting them up and leaving bits of their bodies by the roadside.

One thing that does become clear is that the killer is very dangerous and will almost certainly strike again. Kay and her team need to stop them before they kill any more people. As the investigation progresses, Kay and her team find themselves investigating an interesting set of possible suspects. In parallel to this they also start to unravel the backgrounds of the victims.

As always the characterisation is deftly done and Kay's relationship with her colleagues, and also her husband is vividly drawn. A little light relief is offered by husband, Adam, bringing his work as a vet home again. This time in the shape of a miniature goat that seems intent on destroying the garden.

Overall a great read with tension, pace and a gripping and unusual plot. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Thanks very much to the author for a review copy of this book.

You can find out more and buy a copy here.

Wednesday 23 August 2017

Did You See Melody? by Sophie Hannah

Did You See Melody?

I loved this book. It has everything. A brilliant setting. An inexplicable mystery. And great characters.

When Cara Burrows decides she needs to escape from her family she ends up at the very swish Swallowtail resort in Arizona. She arrives in a state of exhaustion just wanting to collapse into her hotel room bed and sleep. But there's a problem. When she gets to her allocated room and opens the door, two people are already in there.

Cara becomes certain that one of the occupants of the room is Melody Chapa, who was supposedly murdered several years earlier and whose parents are in jail for the crime.

The story explores Cara's experiences from that moment on as her discovery leads her into danger. This part of the narrative is intercut with accounts from the past that deal with Melody's early life and her abduction and murder. There's some interesting stuff here about how the aftermath of her disappearance is dealt with by the authorities and the US tendency towards trial by television.

As we move towards finding out the truth about Melody, Cara must ensure her own safety and become reunited with the family she so recently wanted to get away from.

The plot is complex, original and entertaining and the ending was so unexpected that I had to go back and read the last few pages again.

Highly recommended.

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.

You can find out more here.

Sunday 20 August 2017

The Vanishing Of Audrey Wilde by Eve Chase

The Vanishing Of Audrey Wilde

By Eve Chase 

When Jessie and her family move into Applecote Manor she thinks it will be a new start for all of them, and that her stepdaughter, Bella, might finally settle down and begin to come to terms with the loss of her own mother. Little does she know that her family’s life is about to be impacted on by events that happened to another family many decades ago.

One thread of the story deals with the present day story of Jessie while another recounts the events of a summer in the 1950s when the narrator, Margot, and her three sisters visit their aunt and uncle at Applecote. This triggers memories of a previous summer, five years earlier, when their cousin, Audrey Wilde, disappeared never to be seen again.

Margot’s similarity to her missing cousin results in her being drawn into some uncomfortable, and ultimately dangerous situations. Following her through this experience is gripping and intriguing.

The dual narrative works well with both threads being equally compelling and the added interest of being able to pick up the subtle links between the two. Ultimately the two threads entwine at the end providing a very satisfying conclusion.

The mystery of what happened to Audrey is central to the story, but there is so much more to the plot than that. In both the past and present narratives we explore some really complex relationships between the different characters and how they trigger and influence events.

Some poignant themes are explored in this novel. Mothers bereft of their children, and children bereft of their mothers, is a strong link between the two threads of the story. Another is what it means to be sisters and the importance of that relationship. And love and longing, when you feel like you are always second best, also makes an appearance.

The characters and the relationships between them are beautifully drawn, and this results in a satisfying and emotional read.

I received a review copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley.

You can find out more here.