The Ties That Bind by Erin Kelly

Title: The Ties that Bind
Author: Erin Kelly
Genre: Crime, Suspense
Rating 5 out of 5

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What is it about?

When Luke, a struggling crime writer making ends meet by tending bar, meets Jem, a handsome, successful, lawyer, he thinks his prayers have been answered – especially when Jem offers to support Luke whilst he works on his novel. Unfortunately, the offer comes with more strings that Luke likes; Jem wants to control every aspect of Luke’s life. When it all gets too much, Luke heads to Brighton, hiding out from Jem in a property owned by Joss Grand.

For a crime writer, it couldn’t be a luckier break, Grand used to be a gangster in the ’60s and was prime suspect in the murder of his childhood friend and business partner Jackie Nye, although nothing was ever proved. Now an old man better known for his property business and charity work, Luke convinces Grand to tell his story, selling it as one of rehabilitation and good deeds but all the while wanting it to be one of murder and betrayal (not realising what he wants could put his own life on the line).

What did I think?

I picked this book up at the library without too much thought because I had really enjoyed reading Erin Kelly’s The Poison Tree. I have to say, I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest.

Because the novel started with Jem’s obsession with Luke, the turn it took when Luke met Grand wasn’t what I had started to expect and I liked that. I also hadn’t expected the ending – the twist in the tale is something I always look forward to in this type of book but, quite often, it doesn’t hit the mark and I’m left feeling let down by the story as a whole. This definitely wasn’t the case here.

The story was interesting and enjoyable, making me want to keep turning the page. The main characters were interesting, well rounded and well drawn. I was left with a really clear picture of Sandy especially and liked that Kelly didn’t romanticise Grand, presenting him as an old man who used to control people with fear but now controls them with money – he didn’t come across as particularly nice or noble, just sad.

Kelly also gets across Luke’s focus and desire to get to the truth about Nye, regardless of whether he hurt anyone else, including himself, along the way. His single-mindedness pulled me along and gave the book a good pace. Growing up, I had a romantic teenage notion of gangsters (though in my case it was Jimmy Cagney style) and I could relate to Luke’s fascination with men like Grand, especially as he seems to belong to a bygone era with his suits, his car and his bodyguard. I couldn’t relate to all of his decisions – including his choice to lie to his friends – but where would crime writing be without a bit of deceit?

Definitely recommended and worth a read!

Emma x

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