Before The Fall by Noah Hawley

26245850On a foggy summer night, eleven people–ten privileged, one down-on-his-luck painter–depart Martha’s Vineyard headed for New York. Sixteen minutes later, the unthinkable happens: the passengers disappear into the ocean. The only survivors are Scott Burroughs–the painter–and a four-year-old boy, who is now the last remaining member of a wealthy and powerful media mogul’s family.

With chapters weaving between the aftermath of the tragedy and the backstories of the passengers and crew members–including a Wall Street titan and his wife, a Texan-born party boy just in from London, a young woman questioning her path in life, and a career pilot–the mystery surrounding the crash heightens. As the passengers’ intrigues unravel, odd coincidences point to a conspiracy: Was it merely dumb chance that so many influential people perished? Or was something far more sinister at work? Events soon threaten to spiral out of control in an escalating storm of media outrage and accusations–all while the reader draws closer and closer to uncovering the truth.

A chance meeting in a farmers market leads to Scott Burroughs being invited to fly to New York on the private jet of a woman he barely knows. Along with her family, and two of their friends, they take off on a foggy night…only for Scott to come to in the ocean 15 minutes later. Initially, he thinks he’s the lone survivor. Then he hears the cries of four year old JJ. The two are alone. It is cold, it is dark. Scott is injured. But he starts to swim.

The next morning, they are found – alive – on the beach, Scott having swum 15 miles. He is hailed a hero. At first. Then the questions start. The media aren’t convinced. Neither are the FBI. His story seems to good to be true. After being hailed, Scott starts to be hounded, hunted down as he tries to lay low and come to terms with what happens.

It’s uncomfortable reading, but very believable. I find it amazing that in this day and age, we find it so hard to believe people don’t have an ulterior motive or something to hide. But I think that that’s true. We are always waiting for the other shoe to drop…and the media, the 24 hour, instant access nature of it, plays a large part in this…as it does here.

In the meantime, Scott is trying to pick up the pieces. Suddenly things he thought were important aren’t and he isn’t sure of anything, including what happened. The accident is a blank for him. As investigators try to figure it out, searching for remains and the black box, you – as the reader – get to hear the stories of everyone else on the plane.

Chapters, which alternate with what is happening in the present to Scott and JJ, present snapshots of their lives, who they were (the good, bad, and ugly) and how they ended up on their plane. You see their hopes and dreams. And you slowly start to paint a picture of what happened.

It’s an interesting way to tell a story, and it meant this wasn’t a fast paced read. It was enthralling though and kept me engaged all the way through. I started to create scenarios in my head (none of which came to pass) and found myself really coming to like Scott and feel for JJ. The writing here is excellent, and the reflection of modern life and our obsession with social media and 24-hour news rang true. I really enjoyed this, from start to finish, and would definitely recommend it to any and everyone.

Enjoy!

Emma

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Source: Publisher
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: 6th April, 2017 (paperback – first published 31st May, 2016)
Pages: 391
Format: paperback
Genre: suspense, mystery
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US

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

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Tuesday intro: Mercy Killing by Lisa Cutts

Once again I’m linking up again with Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea who hosts a post every Tuesday for people to share the first chapter / paragraph of the book they are reading, or thinking of reading soon. In really enjoy these tasters when I read them on other blogs so wanted to join in.

This week, after a few weeks of review copies, I’m back at the library with Mercy Killing by Lisa Cutts, which I know nothing about but which caught my eye because of the title. Here’s what it’s about…

31129137The death of a local sex offender places the police officers at East Rise incident room under immense pressure – they must treat this case like any other murder, but they know what Albie Woodville did and can feel little sympathy. Except, as the investigation progresses, it becomes clear this isn’t just a one-off killing – someone is out for revenge …

Not much to go on is there?  Here’s how it starts…

Few things made Dean Stillbrook happy any more but the one part of the day he really enjoyed, relished, adored, was his early morning walk through the woods from his flat to work.

The hideous experience of the last six months was only now starting to blur into the past where it belonged.  He hadn’t for one moment believed that he would ever look forward to the rest of his life. One stupid mistake had cost him so much but he was learning to adapt and be glad for the small things in his day to day existence.

As he made his way deeper into the trees, he paused for a second to tilt his face up towards the sky, the May sunshine breaking through the branches and warming his face. He stood still, eyes shut, and listened to the birds, a slight breeze rustling the leaves, and then he heard the sound of movement behind him.

A bit of a longer intro to make up for the blurb. What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Emma

 

The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger

31443401Claudia Bishop’s perfect life fell apart when the aftermath of a brutal assault left her with a crumbling marriage, a newborn daughter, and a constant sense of anxiety about the world around her. Now, looking for a fresh start with a home restoration project and growing blog, Claudia takes on a crumbling old house—one that unbeknownst to her has an ugly history and may hide long buried secrets.

For Zoey Drake the defining moment of her childhood was the horrific home invasion murder of her parents. Years later, she has embraced the rage that fuels her. Training in the martial arts has made her strong and ready to face the demons from the past—and within.

Strangers to each other, and walking very different paths in the wake of trauma, these two women are on a collision course—because Zoey’s past nightmare and Claudia’s dreams for her future take place in the very same house. As Zoey seeks justice, and Claudia seeks peace, both will confront the monsters at the door that are the most frightening of all.

Red, the colour of anger and revenge, and the colour Zoey imagines inside herself as she prowls the streets of New York looking for people who need saving. It’s not all altruistic though, it’s her way of taking control of her life, something she doesn’t feel and hasn’t had since her parents were killed and she was left for dead 10 years previously. No one was ever arrested for the murders but Zoey knows who is guilty and, now, she feels strong enough to start making them pay.

On the outskirts of New York, Claudia is looking to start afresh, having left the city and moved into a run down farmhouse left to her by her father. Her plan is to rebuild and refinish the farm, creating a life away from the grind of the city for her and her daughter. Like Zoey, Claudia has a past touched by violence – her daughter, Raven, is possibly the result of rape. She has never wanted to know but it has coloured her and Raven’s lives.

As Zoey and Claudia’s stories unfold over alternating chapters it starts to become clear that violence isn’t the only thing that links them and that their lives are on a collision course, destined to intersect and putting them all in danger again. Just how this happens I won’t say (spoilers) but I will say Lisa Unger brings it all together very well, building the tension slowly and steadily until the final scenes.Read More »

Weekly update: 23rd April, 2017

Morning all and welcome to another Sunday. I hope you are all having a good weekend. We’re just finishing up a long weekend away, which has been lovely. We rented a cottage right by the sea and have actually had good weather, despite it still being April…I even caught the sun a little!

It comes after a great Easter, where I took a short blogging break to reduce stresses from thinking about posting when I knew we’d be out, about and with family a lot. Now, unfortunately, it’s back to reality and school/work tomorrow. I’m trying not to think about it too much.

In the meantime, here’s what I wrote last week on my blog…

On Tuesday I introduced my latest read, The Dinosaur Feather by Sissel-Jo Gazan, which has sat on my kindle longer than any other book I own (for more on that see here). It’s taken me a while to get into but I think I’m there. Now I need to decide if I’m enjoying it.

On Wednesday I reviewed He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly, a dark, twisted thriller where I wasn’t sure where the truth lay. Very clever.

On Thursday I reviewed The Killer on the Wall by Emma Kavanagh, another clever story with lots of twists, turns and great characters…if you can’t tell from the title it’s crime fiction.

On Friday I wrote about whether I stop reading books I disagree with as part of the book blogger hop.

So, all in all, not  bad week. I didn’t buy any books but did read a few including…

Her Every Fear Before the Fall The Red Hunter

Clicking on the covers will take you to Goodreads and reviews should be up this week.

And that’s it for me…how was your week, reading and otherwise?

Emma x

This week, I’m linking in with Kimba at the Caffeinated Book Reviewer and her Sunday Post and with (a little early) Katherine at Book Date for It’s Monday, What Are you Reading? Head over by clicking on their badges below to see what other bloggers have read, written about or just added to their shelves.

The Sunday Post

Book blogger hop: plot disagreements

book-blogger-hop-finalThis week, I’m once again joining in with Billy at Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer‘s book blogger hop, where they post a question which you and other bloggers answer, hopping from blog to blog to see people’s answers. This week, the question is…
Would you stop reading a book if an element of the plot strongly clashed with your personal beliefs, or would you continue reading until you finished the book?

My answer is most of the books I read don’t have a “position” or make statements so there isn’t much of a chance that I would disagree with them. I tend to read crime fiction more than anything so there is more chance I would stop because it was too graphic in it’s description of murders. And I have done that, more than once. I have gotten squeamish in my old age.

Occassionally, a character may express opinions I find offensive or uncomfortable and whether I would carry on reading would depend wheather I felt the author was doing it because it was their personal view or if it was their characters and they were doing it to present that chatpracter in a certain light.  I can’t think of a case where I have stopped reading as a result but I can think of a few male authors I have felt were sexist in their writing and the way they presented female characters and so haven’t read any more of their books.

I do like to read books (sometimes) that challenge my thinking or are likely to remind me that complacency isn’t really an option but I would say I know I’m picking these books up and so would likely carry on reading them. A lot of these tend to be non-fiction and political so I don’t expect to agree with everything and sometimes I have read a book to try and understand a point of view that I just don’t understand.

Have I ever put any of these down? Yes. But normally because they were dull, not because I felt I disagreed with their viewpoint. Disagreement I can cope with but boredom, well that’s another thing entirely…

What about you, have you put down a book you’ve disagreed with?

Emma

The Killer on the Wall by Emma Kavanagh

31180439The first body comes as a shock

The second brings horror

The third signals the beginning of a nightmare

When fifteen-year-old Isla Bell finds three bodies propped against Hadrian’s Wall, her whole world falls apart. In such a close-knit community, everyone knows the victims, and the man who did it.

Twenty years on and Isla has dedicated her life to forensic psychology; studying the brains of serial killers, and even coming face to face with the convicted murderer who turned her world upside down. She is safe after all, with him behind bars.

Then another body appears against the Wall.

And another.

As the nightmare returns and the body count rises, everyone in town is a suspect.

Who is the Killer on the Wall?

Twenty years ago, a small village on the edge of Hadrian’s Wall was left shocked and scarred by a series of murders.  Eventually, the killer was caught, but people were never the same again.  Each did what they could to cope, some better than others, and to forget – though it seems that wasn’t really possible.

For Isla – who found three of the victims – coping has meant looking the evil she came across that day in the eye.  She is a forensic psychologist, studying the brains of serial killers to try and understand why they kill and if she can stop it.  It’s something her husband (and the only survivor of the Killer on the Wall), Ramsey, doesn’t understand…he is looking for a “normal” life, one free from stress, danger and – maybe – with a few kids running around. Isla, though, can’t help herself, meeting with the very person who nearly ended Ramsay’s life – Heath McGowan (aka The Killer on the Wall).

It might be a coincidence, it might not, but whilst Isla is meeting with Heath, a body is being found – propped against Hadrian’s Wall, just like the bodies twenty years previously – and the hunt is on for a new killer.   Leading the case, Isla’s father (the local policeman who caught Heath and is now police superintendent) and her best friend Mina.

It’s the way of small towns / villages, everyone is connected and as the case progresses, things get messy.  No one is sure if the killings are being directed by Heath somehow, if it’s a copycat killing, or (even worse) was the wrong man put away first time.  I have to say, I wasn’t sure myself – right through to the end when the killer was revealed (bit of a shock I didn’t see coming at all!).  I loved all the guessing and how I started to distrust pretty much everyone at some point.

I loved the way the story was told too, “travelling” from person to person and telling a bit of their story and what they were up to…dropping clues for me to pick up.  I know it’s something that a lot of authors do, alternating chapters, but this felt more like snapshots in time and I thought it was well done.  I got to hear the voices of each person involved and make my own decisions on whether I liked them…and, more importantly, trusted them.

There is lots of love going on here I realise and that’s how I felt about The Killer on the Wall – I loved it.  It was a great story, simple and effective, with great characters, great pace and a killer ending (pun intended).  Highly recommended!

Enjoy!

Emma

loved-it

 

Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Arrow
Publication Date: 20th April, 2017
Pages: 384
Format: ebooks
Genre: crime, mystery
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US

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

 

 

He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly

31393997Who do you believe?

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack.

She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, it is not only the victim’s life that is changed forever.

Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear.

And while Laura knows she was right to speak out, the events that follow have taught her that you can never see the whole picture: something – and someone – is always in the dark…

1999.  In a field at an eclipse festival, 21 year old Lara comes across what she instinctively believes is a rape. Something about the look in the man’s eyes, the blankness in the woman’s, the harness of the scene. Despite the man (Jamie) saying it was consensual, not what it looks like, and the woman (Ruth) saying nothing at all, Laura calls the police – setting in motion a chain of events that will change her life and that of her boyfriend (Kit) in ways neither could have predicted.

2015, Laura is six months pregnant and suffering from anxiety.  She and Kit are married and he is about to leave her for a trip to another eclipse festival, bringing back memories of that fateful summer and what happened next.  Told in chapters that move between 1999 and 2015 and Laura and Kit’s stories, He Said/She Said slowly unfolds into something more than I originally expected (though given Erin Kelly’s other work shouldn’t have been surprised about).

Slowly, a tale unfolds not just of rape but of it’s impact, on the victim, the perpetrator, families, friends and witnesses.  He Said/She Said looks at consent and sexuality, why we view women’s in one way and men’s in another.  Somehow it does all this not only well but in the context of a thriller that had me turning the pages, desperate to know what would happen next.  It is a real testament to Erin Kelly that she can weave such a tale sensitively but also with such darkness and edge.

And it is a dark book, one that makes you question yourself and your assumptions and doesn’t shine any of the characters in that good a light.  As Kit and Laura’s stories unfold you realise that nothing is quite as it seems, that truth – odd as it sounds – can be subjective and is often also about perception, what we perceive to have happened.

Given the subject matter, this isn’t always an easy read, but is a good one.  Laura and Kit are so well drawn I felt I knew them.  I was happy when they did the right thing, disappointed when they didn’t. Ruth and Jamie meanwhile became larger than life, seen as they were only through Kit and Laura’s eyes.  Did I believe them, like them, loathe them?  Hard to say at points.  I definitely didn’t trust them or their truths.

And, by the end, wanting to the know the truth was consuming me as much as it was Laura.  I didn’t just want to know, I needed to know.  And what I found out left me shocked.  It wasn’t the ending I expected.  It was, though, probably the right ending for this twisted tale, one I highly recommend and liked a lot.

Enjoy!

Emma

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Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Publication Date: 20th April, 2017
Pages: 416
Format: ebooks
Genre: crime, mystery
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US

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

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday intro: The Dinosaur Feather by Sissel-Jo Gazan

Once again I’m linking up again with Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea who hosts a post every Tuesday for people to share the first chapter / paragraph of the book they are reading, or thinking of reading soon. In really enjoy these tasters when I read them on other blogs so wanted to join in.

This week, I’m reading the oldest book on my Kindle (part of a personal challenge I wrote about here). I’m a little way in and not sure how I feel. I normally love Nordic Noir, which this is, but it’s also very long and very wordy…we’ll see I guess. Here’s what it’s about…

10240235

How could one man inspire such hatred?

Professor Lars Helland is found at his desk with his tongue lying in his lap. A violent fit has caused him to bite through it in his death throes. A sad but simple end. Until the autopsy results come through.

The true cause of his death – the slow, systematic and terrible destruction of a man – leaves the police at a loss. And when a second member of Helland’s department disappears, their attention turns to a postgraduate student named Anna. She’s a single mother, angry with the world, desperate to finish her degree. Would she really jeopardise everything by killing her supervisor?

As the police investigate the most brutal and calculated case they’ve ever known, Anna must fight her own demons, prove her innocence and avoid becoming the killer’s next victim.

And here’s how it starts…

Solnhofen, Southern Germany, 5 April 1877

Anna Bella Nor was dreaming she had unearthed Archaeopteryx, the earliest and most primitive bird known. The excavation was in its sixth week, a fine layer of soil had long since embedded itself into everyone’s faces and the mood had hit rock bottom. Friedemann von Molsen, the leader of the excavation, was the only one still in high spirits. Every morning when Anna staggered out of her tent, sleepy and shivering in the cold, von Molsen would be sitting by the fire, drinking coffee; the congealed porridge in the pot proving he had cooked and eaten his breakfast long ago. Anna was fed up with porridge, fed up with dirt, fed up with kneeling on the ground that only revealed bones that were, of course, interesting in their own right, but were too young to be the reason she studied biology, and most definitely not the reason she was spending six weeks of her precious summer holiday living in such miserable conditions. The year was 1877 and, at this point in her dream, Anna got the distinct feeling that something didn’t add up. She was wearing her quilted army jacket and thick furry boots with rubber soles, but Friedemann von Molsen didn’t seem the least surprised, even though he was wearing a three-piece corduroy suit with a pocket watch, a woolly cap, which rested on his ears, and had a pipe in his mouth.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Emma

 

Last Breath by Robert Bryndza 

34368544He’s your perfect date. You’re his next victim.

When the tortured body of a young woman is found in a dumpster, her eyes swollen shut and her clothes soaked with blood, Detective Erika Foster is one of the first at the crime scene. The trouble is, this time, it’s not her case.

While she fights to secure her place on the investigation team, Erika can’t help but get involved and quickly finds a link to the unsolved murder of a woman four months earlier. Dumped in a similar location, both women have identical wounds – a fatal incision to their femoral artery.

Stalking his victims online, the killer is preying on young pretty women using a fake identity. How will Erika catch a murderer who doesn’t seem to exist?

Then another girl is abducted while waiting for a date. Erika and her team must get to her before she becomes another dead victim, and, come face to face with a terrifyingly sadistic individual.

I think it’s fair to say that Robert Bryndza has done it again with this, the latest, in the Erika Foster series. Still stuck behind a desk in Bromley, Erika is missing her former role in the murder investigation team. Her application to go back, though, has been turned down – and she’s angry about it, no more so than when she’s summarily dismissed from a crime scene.

The scene – the body of a young woman has been found in a dumpster, badly beaten and tortured.  She has been missing for only a few days and Erika’s gut is telling her that the killer is likely to strike again.  The problem is no one wants to hear, not least the head of the murder investigation team (and her former adversary), even when she gets as close to begging as she can get and uncovers evidence his team haven’t.

Then, in twist I won’t share for spoilers, she gets given the opportunity to become senior investigating officer and the chase is on for a killer who is becoming more prolific and more violent.  As a reader, you know who he is, what he plans to do next and you see him spiralling.  It all adds to the tension as you also watch Erika and her team struggle to follow the clues, hoping for a lucky break and praying that they get to the latest missing girl in time.

And it is tense, from page one, and not letting up right until the very end.  The killer is suitably evil and just to say smart enough to keep ahead of the police (for a while at least), making my skin crawl more than a little.  And Erika is her usual brilliant self, trying hard not to be self-destructive for once but not doing too well at it.

The mix of tough and vulnerable in her is something I like in my characters.  She isn’t a complete hard-ass, is liked and admired by her team, but her past has left her damaged and with a hard outer shell.  She wants to break out but it’s hard.  Still, we get to see a little of that in this story, making her and her team more real than ever.

As for the story itself, you couldn’t ask for more really.  It’s a cracking read from start to finish.  These are all things I’ve said about other books in the series but here it is again – it was well written, had great pace (I read it in a day which is rare for me), great characters – event the bad guy was well rounded (see creepy killer above), and kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.  Can I say any more? I don’t think so – I loved this and really recommend it.

Enjoy!

Emma

loved-it

Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: 12th April, 2017 (yes today! cutting this review fine)
Pages: 281
Format: ebooks
Genre: crime, mystery
Buy now: Amazon UK / Amazon US

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