The Doll by Yrsa Sigurdardottir #bookreview

It was meant to be a quiet family fishing trip, a chance for mother and daughter to talk. But it changes the course of their lives forever.

They catch nothing except a broken doll that gets tangled in the net. After years in the ocean, the doll a terrifying sight and the mother’s first instinct is to throw it back, but she relents when her daughter pleads to keep it. This simple act of kindness proves fatal. That evening, the mother posts a picture of the doll on social media. By the morning, she is dead and the doll has disappeared.

Several years later and Detective Huldar is in his least favourite place – on a boat in rough waters, searching for possible human remains. However, identifying the skeleton they find on the seabed proves harder than initially thought, and Huldar must draw on psychologist Freyja’s experience to help him. As the mystery of the unidentified body deepens, Huldar is also drawn into an investigation of a homeless drug addict’s murder, and Freyja investigates a suspected case of child abuse at a foster care home.

What swiftly becomes clear is that the cases are linked through a single, missing, vulnerable witness: the young girl who wanted the doll all those years ago.

My thoughts on The Doll

It’s been a while since I’ve read any Scandi Noir-style books (I know that technically Iceland isn’t in Scandinavia but there are a lot of similarities) and I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it. And I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed books by Yrsa Sigurdardottir. She has a wonderful way of crafting a story that is just that little bit different from your average police procedural.

The Doll is no exception. The opening is slightly spooky, with the dredging up of a doll from the sea bed and the death of the woman who found it before moving between a number of cases, all of which slowly come together in a way that makes perfect sense – even though you kind of know they shouldn’t.

The fact that they do work well together is down to the skill of Sigurdardottir and you have to marvel at that. I was pretty impressed too by the fact that, for quite a long book, there wasn’t any ‘saggy’ bits, the parts that drag and make you wonder if you should give up.

I never wanted to do that. What I wanted was to stay up late and keep reading. I thought the plot was great (though hard to write about without spoilers), and the characters interesting – the type you want to know more about. For me, this was a real page turner. The type of book I will be thinking about for a while – and will definitely be recommending to others.

Enjoy!

Emma x

Please note: I received a copy of this book in return for a fair and honest review. All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own.

The Patient Man by Joy Ellis

The domestic bliss of Detective Inspector Rowan Jackman of Fenland Constabulary doesn’t last long. His nemesis, serial killer Alistair Ashcroft, is back in town and ready to tidy up unfinished business.

Ashcroft sends a sinister text to DS Marie Evans. His opening move in what will prove to be a lethal game of cat-and-mouse. Yet for all his taunts, where is he? In a county crawling with police on the lookout for him, Ashcroft is nowhere to be found.

EVERYONE JACKMAN CARES ABOUT IS IN DANGER

A LETHAL GAME WITH A VERY PATIENT MAN

CAN THEY FINALLY STOP ALISTAIR ASHCROFT?

My thoughts on The Patient Man…

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The Babysitter by Phoebe Morgan

On the hottest day of the year, Caroline Harvey is found dead in Suffolk. Her body is found draped over a cot – but the baby she was looking after is missing.  

Hundreds of miles away, Siobhan Dillon is on a luxurious family holiday in France when her husband, Callum, is arrested by French police on suspicion of murder.
 
As Siobhan’s perfect family is torn apart by the media in the nation’s frantic search for the missing baby, she desperately tries to piece together how Callum knew Caroline. 

What happened that night? Was Caroline as innocent as she seemed – or was she hiding a secret of her own?

My thoughts on The Babysitter…

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Hostage by Clare Mackintosh #bookreview

You can save hundreds of lives.
Or the one that matters most . . .

The atmosphere on board the first non-stop flight from London to Sydney is electric. Celebrities are rumoured to be among the passengers in business class, and the world is watching the landmark journey.

Flight attendant Mina is trying to focus on the passengers, instead of her troubled five-year-old daughter back at home – or the cataclysmic problems in her marriage.

But soon after the plane takes off, Mina receives a chilling anonymous note. Someone wants to make sure the plane never reaches its destination. They’re demanding her cooperation . . . and they know exactly how to get it.

It’s twenty hours to landing.
A lot can happen in twenty hours . . .

My thoughts on Hostage

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Fragile by Sarah Hilary #bookreview

Everything she touches breaks . . .

Nell Ballard is a runaway. A former foster child with a dark secret she is desperate to keep, all Nell wants is to find a place she can belong.

So when a job comes up at Starling Villas, home to the enigmatic Robin Wilder, she seizes the opportunity with both hands.

But her new lodgings may not be the safe haven that she was hoping for. Her employer lives by a set of rigid rules and she soon sees that he is hiding secrets of his own.

But is Nell’s arrival at the Villas really the coincidence it seems? After all, she knows more than most how fragile people can be – and how easy they can be to break . . .

My thoughts on Fragile

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Highway Blue by Ailsa McFarlane #bookreview

In front of me the long length of the road wound out, wound out and wound on under hot sky. And I drove…

Anne Marie is adrift San Padua, living a precarious life of shift-work and shared apartments. Her husband Cal left her on their first anniversary and two years later, she can’t move on.

When he shows up suddenly on her doorstep, clearly in some kind of trouble, she reluctantly agrees to a drink. But later that night a gun goes off in an alley near the shore and the young couple flee together, crammed into a beat up car with their broken past. Their ill-at-ease odyssey takes them across a shimmering American landscape and through the darker seams of the country, towards a city that may or may not represent salvation.

Highway Blue is a story of being lost and found; of love, in all its forms; and of how the pursuit of love is, in its turn, a kind of redemption.

My thoughts on Highway Blue

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First Paragraph, First Chapter: would you carry on reading?

Morning all – I hope you had a good bank holiday weekend (or at least those of us in the UK who are lucky to get Friday and Monday off).

It’s hard to believe Tuesday is here again but it is, so I thought it would be nice to join in with Socrates’ Book Reviews and her First Paragraph, First Chapter post.

This week, I’m sharing a little of a recent read – Fragile by Sarah Hilary, which is due out 10th June 20221. This is standalone novel, not one of the DI Marnie Rome series (which were very good).

Here’s what it’s about…

Everything she touches breaks . . .

Nell Ballard is a runaway. A former foster child with a dark secret she is desperate to keep, all Nell wants is to find a place she can belong.

So when a job comes up at Starling Villas, home to the enigmatic Robin Wilder, she seizes the opportunity with both hands.

But her new lodgings may not be the safe haven that she was hoping for. Her employer lives by a set of rigid rules and she soon sees that he is hiding secrets of his own.

But is Nell’s arrival at the Villas really the coincidence it seems? After all, she knows more than most how fragile people can be – and how easy they can be to break . . .

Here’s how it starts…

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My Week in Review(s)

So it looks like I spoke too soon about getting back in the swing of book blogging when I posted my first weekly update in over a year a few weeks ago.

This time, though, it wasn’t due to a lack of interest in reading. My daughter went back to school and brought back a big bag of germs that saw me laid up with a heavy cold (not Covid, thankfully) for over a week.

Which meant I was back binge watching Netflix and the books went back on the shelf (or the kindle on the bedside table) for a while.

I was much better by the middle of last week (which was a good thing as I had the week off) and managed to finish and review two books, one of which I loved, one of which I wasn’t too keen on.

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Girls of Brackenhill by Kate Moretti #bookreview

Haunted by her sister’s disappearance, a troubled woman becomes consumed by past secrets in this gripping thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of The Vanishing Year.

When Hannah Maloney’s aunt dies in a car accident, she returns to her family’s castle in the Catskills and the epicenter of a childhood trauma: her sister’s unsolved disappearance. It’s been seventeen years, and though desperate to start a new life with her fiancé, Hannah is compelled to question the events of her last summer at Brackenhill.

When a human bone is found near the estate, Hannah is convinced it belongs to her long-lost sister. She launches her own investigation into that magical summer that ended in a nightmare. As strange happenings plague the castle, Hannah uncovers disturbing details about the past and startling realizations about her own repressed childhood memories.

Fuelled by guilt over her sister’s vanishing, Hannah becomes obsessed with discovering what happened all those years ago, but by the time Hannah realizes some mysteries are best left buried, it’s too late to stop digging. Overwhelmed by what she has exposed, Hannah isn’t sure her new life can survive her old ghosts.

My thoughts on the Girls of Brackenhill

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The Haunting of Brynn Wilder by Wendy Webb #bookreview

After a devastating loss, Brynn Wilder escapes to Wharton, a tourist town on Lake Superior, to reset. Checking into a quaint boardinghouse for the summer, she hopes to put her life into perspective. In her fellow lodgers, she finds a friendly company of strangers: the frail Alice, cared for by a married couple with a heartbreaking story of their own; LuAnn, the eccentric and lovable owner of the inn; and Dominic, an unsettlingly handsome man inked from head to toe in mesmerizing tattoos.

But in this inviting refuge, where a century of souls has passed, a mystery begins to swirl. Alice knows things about Brynn, about all of them, that she shouldn’t. Bad dreams and night whispers lure Brynn to a shuttered room at the end of the hall, a room still heavy with a recent death. And now she’s become irresistibly drawn to Dominic—even in the shadow of rumors that wherever he goes, suspicious death follows.

In this chilling season of love, transformation, and fear, something is calling for Brynn. To settle her past, she may have no choice but to answer.

My thoughts on the Haunting of Brynn Wilder

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