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

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Journey To Death by Leigh Russell

Journey To Death

'Journey To Death' is the first in a new series by the prolific crime writer Leigh Russell. Unlike previous series leads Geraldine Steel and Ian Peterson, Lucy Hall is not a police officer, she is just an ordinary young woman going on holiday with her parents in an attempt to get over a broken heart. At least she is until a series of extraordinary events start to happen.

One of things I liked best about this book was the setting. Leigh Russell whisks us off to the Seychelles with Lucy and right from the start we get a really good feel for what it would be like to be there. I found the descriptions of the island and the glimpses into its history really interesting and a great background to the crime story as it unfolds.

In a short prologue we learn that Lucy’s father has lived on the island of Mahe before. But how do the links to his past life fit in with the dramatic events that happen to his family on what should have been an innocent holiday?

Because of the exotic setting, and the ‘amateur’ rather than professional detective, this story is very different from Leigh Russell’s earlier output. I found it an interesting and absorbing read and enjoyed the character of Lucy Hall as well as the others who accompany her in this story.

I’m now really looking forward to finding out where Lucy Hall ends up going on her travels next, and what trouble she can get herself into, and hopefully out of!

A great and unusual crime read.

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

You can find out more here.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Used To Be by Elizabeth Baines

Used To Be

It’s not often that I get asked to review a volume of short stories, so I was really pleased when Elizabeth Baines offered to send me a copy of this one.

One of the most appealing things about this collection is that, although all the individual stories are very different and cover different subjects, there is a real unity of theme to the book.

All the stories look at alternative explanations and viewpoints on things that have happened or are happening. They examine the nature of memory, the complexities of interpretation and the possibilities of alternate reality. The y also put the microscope on the art of storytelling itself.

A thread that appears and reappears is the notion that someone dying actually changes everything. In the author’s words, it is like ‘a hole punched in the universe’. The collection as a whole has a lot to say about the nature of life and death and everything in between.

For me there were several highlights. I loved ‘That Turbulent Stillness’ in which a woman sees herself as a Bronte heroine, only to discover it’s not all it was cracked up to be. In ‘Clarrie And You’ two sisters spend their entire lives misunderstanding each other. The reason for this, when it’s revealed, is both small and immeasurably huge. A very clever story. Another story that particularly resonated was ‘The Choice Chamber’ which shows a woman contemplating the choices she’s made in her life, and those she hasn’t made.

All in all, an enjoyable collection of well-chosen stories with a fascinating linking theme. Recommended.

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

You can find out more here.