Following his last case in Ireland, criminal profiler Alexander Gregory is called upon by the French police to investigate a spate of murders during Paris Fashion Week. One victim has survived but she’s too traumatised to talk. Without her help, the police are powerless to stop the killer before he strikes again – can Gregory unlock the secrets of her mind, before it’s too late?
L.J. Ross takes readers to Paris in this, the second in the Dr Alexander Gregory series. The descriptions of The City of Light reflect the storyline where the world’s most beautiful people have gathered for fashion week but juxtaposes the brutality of the murders Gregory is investigating. Ross’s descriptions evoked such strong imagery that I could see the action unfolding in my mind’s eye.
It’s difficult not to draw parallels with this novel and what’s going on in the entertainment industry at the moment regarding abuses of power and the #metoo movement. Featuring illegal dealings and murky underworlds, ‘Hysteria‘ pulls the reader in and uncovers the horror that lurks behind the glamour.
The characterisation of Gregory is further explored through his relationship with a mystery woman. He’s a complex character and I’m really looking forward to seeing how he develops as the series continues. The way in which Ross uses Gregory to explain psychological conditions and theories is really well done.
As always, Ross weaves a compelling narrative full of characters with substance. I particularly enjoyed that Ross uses a smattering of French in the book and doesn’t underestimate her readers by then providing translations.
‘Hysteria‘ is a well-written novel with a surprising conclusion. Whether or not you’ve read novels by L.J. Ross before, you won’t want to miss ‘Hysteria‘.
Posted in Books, reviews, Writing
Tagged book, character, characterisation, characters, descriptions, imagery, narrative, novel, psychological, reader, readers, series, storyline
Nanny Anna only takes her eyes off Laurel for a second, thinking Laurel was following her mum through the crowds. But in a heartbeat, Laurel is gone.
Laurel’s parents are frantic. As is Anna. But as the hours pass, and Laurel isn’t found, suspicion grows. Someone knows what happened to Laurel but they’re not telling.
My mum recommended ‘Have You Seen Her‘ to me and I could not put it down. The narrative is simple yet effective, sucking the reader in.
Set in a small village, ‘Have You Seen Her‘ explores the reaction of a community after a child goes missing. Sadly, it seemed an all-too-familiar scenario which added some realism to the story.
Alongside evocative descriptions of place, Hall’s exploration of her characters sets up a great mystery where anyone could be guilty. I thought her descriptions of Laurel’s parents and their relationship were particularly strong.
‘Have You Seen Her‘ is the first of Lisa Hall’s novels that I’ve read but it certainly won’t be the last.
A murderer’s confession reveals a story of class, education and the inescapable workings of destiny.
Ah Hock is an ordinary, uneducated man born in a Malaysian fishing village trying to make his way in a country that promises riches and security to everyone, but delivers them only to a chosen few. With Asian society changing around him, he remains trapped in a world of poorly paid jobs that just about allow him to keep his head above water but ultimately lead him to murder a migrant worker from Bangladesh.
Ah Hock’s description of the years building up to this appalling act of violence – told over several days to a local journalist whose life has taken a different course – is a portrait of an outsider like no other.
‘We, The Survivors‘ reminded me of ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist‘ by Mohsin Hamid, possibly because it’s the story of a life-changing event, told in second person.
‘We, The Survivors‘ is a story of class, education and what it is to be an outsider. The idea that Ah is a person who’s excluded from the rapid modernisation of Asian society, despite the dominant narrative being that of everyone can succeed marks him as different even though there are many people that have a similar experience. The struggle to survive in a constantly changing world is almost palpable.
The level of detail that Tash Aw goes into when describing locations and scenarios is astounding, building up tremendously evocative imagery.
Tash Aw’s character study of a man who loses control in the most appalling way makes ‘We, The Survivors‘ an insightful, thought-provoking read.
Posted in Books, reviews
Tagged character, describing, descriptions, idea, imagery, jobs, locations, murderer, read, society, story
If you follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Goodreads, you may have seen that I’ve been championing ‘She Lies in Wait‘ by Gytha Lodge since I got my hands on an advance copy at Harrogate last July. There was a huge buzz about this book at the festival and I was determined not to leave without a copy.
In July 1983, six school friends go camping in the forest. Aurora Jackson is allowed to tag along with her sister’s group of friends. Thirty years after her disappearance, Aurora’s body is discovered in a secret hideaway that only the six on the camping trip knew about. For three decades, the group have maintained their innocence but DCI Sheens is about to uncover the truth, and it’s been lurking closer to home than anyone realised…
Set across two timelines, ‘She Lies in Wait‘ is a twisty read which explores the impact of how one tragic night echoes throughout the years. Lodge evokes the 1980s perfectly, capturing the era with strong descriptions and cultural references. I found it really easy to get in the mindset of the characters because Lodge captures the preoccupations and concerns of teenagers with aplomb.
‘She Lies in Wait‘ isn’t your average crime novel. Gytha Lodge has managed to create a nuanced portrayal of a crime and how it impacts on those left behind. Lodge considers the impact of the murder on not only the family of the victim but the detective who is haunted by the lack of resolution. It’s also a really interesting study on what happens to those who are accused.
Fans of ‘Unforgotten‘ will love ‘She Lies in Wait‘.
Posted in Books, reviews, Writing
Tagged book, characters, copy, crime, crime novel, cultural, descriptions, Facebook, festival, Goodreads, Harrogate, read, timelines, twisty, Twitter
In ‘what are you like‘, Shelley Day studies the human condition and the uncertainties of life. Day evokes familiar yet unusual settings, a library where a mother lives on a shelf and a diner where words fall from the menu.
There is something so ordinary but so other-worldly about each of these stories, lending the narratives an ethereal quality. Day’s descriptions drip with delightful dynamism, conjuring worlds that completely envelope the reader.
What I liked about the range of stories in this collection is that they provoke the reader and encourage us to ask questions. What is not said is almost more important than what is said in this collection. By trusting the reader, Shelley Day gives her audience the chance to explore their own feelings about a range of issues.
‘what are you like‘ is full of complex, detailed stories that don’t underestimate the reader and I find that this makes it unlike any other book I have read this year.
This collection covers such a range of deep issues, dropping characters into almost-impossible situations and seeing how they fare. Shelley Day particularly manages to capture the adolescent voice well.
An intelligent, thought-provoking read which will stay with the reader long after the stories have ended.
Posted in Blog Tour, Books, Writing
Tagged book, characters, collection, descriptions, library, narratives, read, reader, readers, stories, voice
When an old man is found dead inside the ancient hermitage at Warkworth Castle, Northumbria CID are called in to investigate. With no apparent motive, it’s their job to discover why he was murdered – and this time they’re forced to do it without their star detective as DCI Ryan has tracked a killer across Europe and has sworn not to return until he has his man in custody. Nathan Armstrong is a dangerous psychopath but there’s just one problem – he’s also an international celebrity; a world-famous thriller writer with money and connections.
When I began reading ‘The Hermitage‘, I was staying in a hotel very close to the village of Warkworth, where LJ Ross’s latest book is set. I loved being even more immersed in the setting than usual. However, Ross’s descriptions are so evocative that you’ll be able to picture the locations even if you haven’t visited them before.
‘The Hermitage‘ is also unusual in the fact that DCI Ryan is actually out of the UK, we follow him and his wife Anna to Florence. Despite the beauty of their surroundings, Ryan and Anna find themselves fighting for their lives against an intelligent adversary.
I really enjoyed finding out more about Nathan Armstrong’s backstory, LJ Ross demonstrates an insightful streak by understanding the motives behind his heinous acts. Combined with a keen awareness of her main character, Ross uses ‘The Hermitage‘ to inform her readers about Ryan and his family too.
I think what continues to make the DCI Ryan series so successful is Ross’s ability to combine some awful crimes with strong relationships between the recurring characters. I particularly enjoy the banter between Ryan and Phillips.
Ross’s stories demonstrate a duality that most of us experience: that things are rarely all good or all bad.
I honestly did not want ‘The Hermitage‘ to end, it was utterly gripping. However, DCI Ryan fans don’t have long to wait for the next instalment: ‘Longstone‘ is due to be released on 10th December. Before that, though, is a new multicast drama on audiobook. ‘The Infirmary‘ will be available on Audible from 8th November. I, for one, can’t wait!
Posted in Books, reviews
Tagged audiobook, backstory, book, character, characters, descriptions, intelligent, novel, readers, reading, series, setting, thriller, writer
On Anna’s eighteenth birthday she defies her Mamma’s rules to visit Astroland, Florida’s biggest theme park, despite her mother’s ban on the place. When she arrives, though, Astroland seems familiar. On the same day, Anna receives a mysterious letter she receives and she starts to question her whole life.
In London, Rosie has grown up in the shadow of the missing sister she barely remembers. With the fifteenth anniversary of her sister’s disappearance looming, the media circus starts up again, and Rosie uncovers some information that threatens to tear her family apart. Will Rosie uncover the truth before her family implodes?
I enjoyed ‘My Name is Anna‘ from the outset, my attention was grabbed by the intriguing prologue and beautiful prose. Lizzy Barber manages to balance a compelling narrative with excellent attention to detail and exquisite descriptions.
Told from two points of view, ‘My Name is Anna‘ is an interesting study of self-discovery. By having eighteen year old Anna and Rosie, who is sixteen, Barber evokes a time every reader can understand: adolescence. Combining typical coming-of-age drama with a serious crime is an effective tactic, I thought this was particularly inventive.
The characters are well-drawn and, thanks to Barber’s descriptions, I could see them in my mind’s eye. Anna’s mamma, in particular, was brilliantly evoked.
‘My Name is Anna‘ is such an intelligently-written book. It covers all sorts of issues including religion, coercion and the repercussions of past mistakes. It’s fast-paced yet sensitive, with several layers.
If I had to compare ‘My Name is Anna‘ with other books, I’d say ‘Carrie‘ meets ‘Sharp Objects‘ with a sprinkling of ‘The Couple Next Door‘.
‘My Name is Anna‘ is Lizzy Barber’s debut novel and is available to download now. The paperback is released in January 2019.
Posted in Books, reviews
Tagged book, Books, characters, crime, debut, descriptions, drama, family, letter, Media, narrative, novel, prose, reader, written
Returning home from a holiday, Tarot reader Dolly Greene learns that much has changed on her street. Squatters have taken over at 7 Tinderbox Lane, and a mysterious Brazilian woman has moved in next door at Number 3. Dolly also finds a surly Russian girl, Marina, waiting outside the house, insisting on a reading.
Marina’s cards reveal conflict, misery and death and Dolly knows she should be concerned. But the girl is so disagreeable Dolly’s only too relieved when the reading finally ends.
She would have preferred to forget about the whole reading . . . but Marina’s cards come back to haunt Dolly and those around her, until Death once again leaves its calling card on Tinderbox Lane.
‘The Case of the Fool‘ may have a very pleasant cover but don’t be fooled by it – there’s plenty of dastardly behaviour happening in this book so don’t expect too much of a cosy crime. If you like Agatha Raisin, you’ll love Dolly Greene.
The cast of characters in this novel are funny and well-drawn. Harte’s descriptions mean that the characters and scenarios are very vivid. I would love to see this series adapted for TV.
E.V. Harte uses her Tarot Detective series to cover a vast array of social issues including squatting, human trafficking, the economy and politics. ‘The Case of the Fool‘ represents a slice of London life today.
I can’t wait to read the next Dolly Greene book.
What is it to be educated? Is it to have spent every day of your life from the age of four until the age of twenty-one in a classroom? Is it the ability to read and write? How about being able to reflect deeply on your own personal experiences?
Tara Westover was not educated in the way one might expect. She did not have school records. In fact, she didn’t have medical records. Tara Westover didn’t even have a birth certificate – officially, she didn’t exist. Tara grew up in Idaho with a father who didn’t trust in intervention.
From the moment she was born, Tara was to be taught to prepare for the End of Days. Her mother ‘home-schooled’ Tara and some of her siblings while their father proselytised about the dangers posed by doctors, teachers, government and law enforcement.
At the age of sixteen, Tara decided to educate herself. That decision took her to Harvard and then to Cambridge.
Having recently heard Tara talk at Forum Books about her experiences growing up a Mormon with an increasingly radical father and erratic brother, I was moved by the erudite way in which she spoke about her unusual childhood and her decision to make a change in her life.
‘Educated‘ is a beautifully written memoir. Westover’s prose is almost lyrical, featuring evocative descriptions of the rolling hills. Her gorgeous writing is juxtaposed with the terror I felt when reading about some of the things she had lived through. At times, the events were so out of my sphere of understanding, I had to check online that this was a memoir and not fiction!
Throughout ‘Educated‘, there is a sense of not quite knowing what will happen next. At times, the tension was almost too much to bear. Westover masterfully allows the reader to tread the fine line she walked on a daily basis. There is also a feeling of sadness and grief that pervades this memoir. Ultimately, though, ‘Educated‘ is a hopeful book about the power of taking control and never giving up.
Tara Westover is my hero.
Posted in Books, reviews, Writing
Tagged book, descriptions, educated, fiction, memoir, prose, read, reader, tension, write, writing, written