Tuesday intro: The Binding Song by Elodie Harper

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. Diane is currently on a summer break but I have decided to carry on regardless because these are some of my favourite posts. I see others are doing the same – if you are, please leave a link to your post in the comments so that I don’t miss checking out your reads.

tuesday I also thought I would join in with Teaser Tuesday, hosted by The Purple Booker, where you share two teasers from your current read. I read a lot of these posts over the course of an average Tuesday so thought it would be fun to join in here too.

So, after a very long intro, this is what I’m reading this week…


Dr Janet Palmer is the new lead psychologist at HMP Halvergate in a remote, bleak area of Norfolk. At first, she was excited by the promotion. Then she starts to see how many secrets are hiding behind the high walls.

A string of inmates have committed suicide, leaving no reasons why, and her predecessor has disappeared – along with his notes. The staff are hostile, the threat of violence is ever-present, and there are rumours of an eyeless woman stalking the corridors, punishing the inmates for their sins.

Janet is determined to find out what is really going on. But the longer she stays and the deeper she digs, the more uncertain she feels.

Halvergate is haunted by something. But it may be a terror worse than ghosts…

I have to admit that the cover is what has gotten me on this.  It is so creepy.  I hope the story itself lives up to my very shallow expectations.  Here’s how it starts…

The break in the trees told him nothing.  Ryan had no idea how far he had travelled or in what direction.  He longed to sink down into the mud, rest just for a moment, but instead he scuttled across the open patch of long grass, bent double like a crab.  He tried not to think about the lorry he’d left behind, the warm seat, the friendly driver. Perhaps if he’d styed, he could have hitched  lift out of Norfolk. But it had made him nervous when his companion turned up the radio. At every ad break he started to sweat, wondering when his description was going to blare out over the news.

And here are a few teasers…

“The return to Cherry Tree Drive was almost a relief.  Janet headed straight to the shower, standing under the water at its hottest temperature, washing away as much of Harrogate as she could.  After her scare last week, she had been feeling uncharacteristically on edge, not just around me but also with her colleagues. “


“From the street below came a woman’s steady wailing. Steven crossed to the window again. Fiery shadows played over the group’s movements, the orange street lights illuminating their faces.”

What do you think – would you keep reading?

Emma x














My Sister by Michelle Adams

51W0o7zGjYLTwo Sisters:

You don’t get to choose your family.

She thought she’d never go back home.

But there’s something in her sister’s voice she just can’t refuse.

And hasn’t it always been that way?

What her sister asks, she does . . .

When Irini gets a call from her sister Elle in the early hours of the morning to tell her their mother is dead, Irini isn’t sure what to do or how to respond.  It’s not like she knows her mother…she hasn’t seen or spent time with her since she was three year old and she’s now in her mid-30s.

She hasn’t spent much time with her sister either.  When they were little, they were separated.  Irini went to live with an aunt.  Elle stayed with their parents.  Why was never clear and, now, for Irini, it seems it might be getting too late to ask.  Spurred on by her boyfriend, she decides to attend the funeral, visiting her childhood home in Scotland at the same time to try and uncover the truth.

So far, so good in the interesting plot stakes.  This was a book I liked the sound of for just that and which hooked me in pretty quickly.  Unfortunately, it didn’t hold my attention as the story continued.  In part, it was the characters.  I really didn’t like Irini or Elle.  I found Irini confusing.  She said one thing, did another.  I get that this was supposed to be because she was under Elle’s thrall but I couldn’t see what that was myself.

Irini talks about how charming her sister is but I never saw it.  I saw a woman with issues, who was demanding and controlling and who gets her way because people are scared of her.  I also saw a damaged woman that nobody had ever seemingly taken the time to help.  This is a hard one for me because a bit part of the plot twists here were based on Elle being mentally ill.

I know I read a lot of novels where there is a character that could be described as a psychopath or a sociopath but when a characters behaviour is down to what is basically stated is a mental health condition I start to feel uncomfortable.  I work in the mental health field and this just has stigma written all over it.  I have to say, I don’t think this is Michelle Adam’s intention I think it was just poorly thought out from that perspective.

Perhaps if it had been handled in a different way I would have felt more comfortable reading as the book went on but I just didn’t.  I also didn’t quite get some of the plot twists.  Was Elle evil with a master plot or a disturbed young woman?  And was their a plot at all against Irini?  At times it felt there was, at others not, and in the end I was left confused and slightly disappointed in the outcome.

For me, the book needed to go all out and didn’t.  That said, this is a debut so maybe I shouldn’t be as harsh.  It wasn’t all bad, with a good first third before I started to flag and at times I could see a flash of what could be something great.  I don’t know enough about editing to say whether that was at play here but in my head this could have been tightened up and potentially shone.

All in all, then, I liked it, just not a lot – though from the reviews on goodreads I am in the minority here so don’t let me put you off (you can read the first chapter free on Amazon here if you wanted to see what you think).

Emma x


Source: Publisher
Publisher: Headline
Publication Date: 20th April, 2017
Format: ebook
Pages: 384
Genre: mystery / crime
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads





















The Dinosaur Feather by Sissel-Jo Gazan

10240235How 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.

So The Dinosaur Feather is the oldest book I own and haven’t read.  I bought it in October 2012 and it has languished on my Kindle ever since. Inspired by reading the book that was previously the oldest unread book I owned (The Dead Room by Chris Mooney) and how I wish I hadn’t waited as long, I set myself a personal challenge this year of reading the books at the bottom of the reading pile.  This one was next on my list and, unfortunately, the results weren’t as good as I might have hoped.

The Dinosaur Feather sounds like it should be right up my street but I just couldn’t get into it.  There is a slow start, where Anna (the main character) is caught up in a dream before it moves onto pages and pages of explanation of who she is and why she was having the dream – she is due to finish her doctorate on whether birds are descendent from dinosaurs.   The pace never picks up.  I didn’t check the page count but it has to be 100 or so pages before we get to the murder Anna has to solve to prove her innocence.

Which brings me to my next problem with the book – the blurb saying Anna must “prove her innocence and avoid becoming the killer’s next victim”.  Neither of these things are true, unless I missed a bit of the book (it’s possible it was on a page I skimmed in order to keep going).  The detective (Soren) in charge of the investigation doesn’t think she did it and Anna’s life is never under threat.  I felt slightly cheated as a result, and even less inclined to try to like the book.

The third thing that caused me issues was Anna herself…she is really unlikeable, even her friends as good as say it.  It’s passed off as a fiery personality but it wasn’t.  She was selfish to the core, leaving her daughter at the drop of a hat and treating her friends and family like they were there to serve.  I have to say I kind of hoped she was guilty so they would arrest her – serving her right for being a pain.

Add to this a series of sub-plots around Anna’s childhood and Soren’s past and it was all very confusing and very long.  The book is over 500 pages and I felt every one.  I hate being scathing about books because I know the authors have put a lot of work into them, but here I am really struggling to find something positive to say.

The writing was o.k., though it was too wordy for me (I don’t know how much of that was down to the translation?), and I think in there was a good story if the “extras” could have been cut out – the sub-plots but also the pages and pages of the science behind bird feathers.  It didn’t add to the book and it made me want to skip ahead, never a good sign.

So, all in all, I am sorry to say, this wasn’t a book for me and not one I can recommend.


Emma x


Source: Purchased
Publisher: Quercus Books
Publication Date: 2008
Format: ebook
Pages: 536
Genre: mystery / crime
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

Mercy Killing by Lisa Cutts

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 …

So, despite the fact I promised myself I would stop picking up books that show a woman walking away from me (there are soooo many of them!), I did it with Mercy Killing by Lisa Cutts when I came across it at my local library.  I really can’t help myself!

Mercy Killing is a police procedural that feels real – no doubt because Lisa Cutts is a detective constable when she isn’t writing pretty good pieces of crime fiction (and has been for 20 years).   It also feels different, at least for me when I compare it to the books I’ve been reading lately.  First, the lead detective wasn’t a woman but rather a grumpy old man (Harry), one who had been a police officer for a long time and who is feeling world weary.

Second, investigating this crime seemed like a real team effort.  Harry wasn’t a man out to prove himself or with demons to fight (though he is fighting with his wife a fair deal – no police officers life can be perfect it seems).  He didn’t rush into situations without thinking, putting himself in danger as a consequence.  And he wasn’t a one man band.  He had his team do the work they were being paid to do and he did what he was being paid to do – lead them.

At first, this idea of a team all working together threw me a little but I pretty soon feel into the flow of moving between characters and started to enjoy getting to know them.  They were all interesting and all pretty strong, which they needed to be given not so much the crime they were investigating but the victim, a paedophile. Albie Woodville is a nasty piece of work and it’s probably not a surprise some officers wondered if they shouldn’t be shaking the hand of the man – or woman – who had killed him.

I’m not sure enjoyed is the right word here but for want of a better one, I enjoyed seeing how each officer responded to the victim and his crimes, how it affected them on a professional and personal level.  I also enjoyed getting to see the inner workings of the force and the way the investigation played out.  It did make for a slower pace than some other police procedurals I’ve read but I can’t say I minded it.  I didn’t get bored and my mind didn’t wander so there are no complaints here.

I have read this is the start of a new series for Lisa Cutts – who I haven’t read before – and I have to say I think she’s set a great scene.  An area (East Rise) that seems just dark enough to have some interesting criminals living in it and a cast of characters that feel like they all have more to live.  I’ll be looking out for the second book (due August I think) and would definitely recommend this book. Liked it a lot.


Emma x

liked-it-a-lotSource: Library
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Publication Date: 1st September, 2016
Format: ebook
Genre: crime, mystery
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

What Goes Around by Julie Corbin

29286951What Goes Around is the story of two women – Ellen and Leila. Ellen is the ex-wife and Leila is the new woman, living in Ellen’s house, sleeping with Ellen’s husband. Each woman has her own secrets to keep. Leila’s brother is back in her life and is determined to rake up their past while Ellen is out for revenge. She wants her home back and she wants Leila to pay for breaking up her marriage. Her plan will make her do things she never thought herself capable of – but it will also put her in danger. Because Ellen has no idea what sort of a woman Leila is and when she finally finds out, it could already be too late…

One of the women will end up dead. But which one?

I have never read any Julie Corbin before but have heard great things about her books and I have to say they were no exaggeration.  She is a great writer, creating in What Goes Around a tense story with interesting characters and plenty of twists and turns.

It starts pretty simply.  Ellen’s husband has left her and, as a result, she is a mess.  Living in rented accommodation and suffering from OCD, she spends most of her time afraid.  The rest she seems to spend thinking about the b***h Leila, the woman who stole her husband.  And the woman who is living in the house she pretty much built from the ground up and raised her wo children in.  The woman who is destroying that house, making changes and making it her own.

Then when Ellen is looking for a therapist to help her with her anxiety, Leila is recommended to her and she can’t resist.  She wants revenge and figures getting her foot in the door is the first step. The rest she’ll play by ear…but, bottom line, she wants Leila to pay.

Leila, meanwhile has problems of her own.  She has a dark past, a son who is addicted to drugs and, if she’s completely honest, life with Tom (the husband/lover) isn’t quite what she thought.  In theory, it should be.  After fighting for everything in her life, she finally has everything she wants – a nice house, a rich, handsome husband, and a chance to work for herself.  But being with Tom means being someone she isn’t.  And this is harder to do when her estranged brother reappears demanding she revisits their childhood traumas.

For the reader, who slowly gets to know both characters and see just what is going through their minds in alternating chapters, it’s fascinating (or at least I thought so).  Both women are so much more complex than they first appear, especially Leila, and I found my sympathies shifing back and forth as the book progressed.  In the end, I’m not sure there is a “bad guy” (or woman) here.  It’s just two women who don’t understand each other and are too wrapped up in their own lives to maybe care that much anyway about what the other is feeling.

Then you throw the brother in the mix and things really heat up.  The tension rises when it becomes clear that he is dangerous.  What isn’t clear is just how much so and what he will do to get his way and reconnect with Leila.  Hints are dropped and as I reader I had to pick them up and put htem together.  I managed to (yay me!) but it wasn’t easy.  It was, though, a lot of fun.

My only niggle with this book is the epilogue.  I have said it before I know but I am just not sure they are needed nine times out of ten.  That was definitely the case here.  I was completely satisfied with the ending and left with a few “what ifs” I could mull over in my own time.  Then these were answered and I felt, if anything, a bit cheated and – because of that – it moved this book from a loved to a liked a lot, though still a recommended read.




Source: Publisher
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date: 6th April, 2017 (paperback)
Pages: 323
Format: paperback
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.








The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle

608474As a dense yellow fog swirls through the streets of London, a deep melancholy has descended on Sherlock Holmes, who sits in a cocaine-induced haze at 221B Baker Street. His mood is only lifted by a visit from a beautiful but distressed young woman – Mary Morstan, whose father vanished ten years before. Four years later she began to receive an exquisite gift every year: a large, lustrous pearl. Now she has had an intriguing invitation to meet her unknown benefactor and urges Holmes and Watson to accompany her. And in the ensuing investigation – which involves a wronged woman, a stolen hoard of Indian treasure, a wooden-legged ruffian, a helpful dog and a love affair – even the jaded Holmes is moved to exclaim, ‘Isn’t it gorgeous!’

Inspired by the recent return of Sherlock on TV (and then left bereft by his all too quick departure from our screens – why are the series so short?), I decided to pick up a copy of Conan Doyle’s The Sign of Four.

This is the second Sherlock Holmes novel and the second I’ve read and it’s a hard one to review because the story and the character are so entwined with the versions I have seen in films and on TV – not just Benedict Cumberbatch (who is brilliant) but also Basil Rathbone and Jeremy Brett (both of whom I remember from my childhood).  It’s hard not to compare what I’ve seen with what I’ve read, when really I should be seeing the book as a standalone.

So, when the book opens and Holme’s is abusing cocaine because he is bored, my minds eye see Benjamin Cumberbatch spiralling in the latest season of Sherlock.  When Holmes leaps from a window to chase a suspect, I see Jeremy Brett full of energy doing the same thing.  And when Holmes is lecturing Watson – well, I could see any of the actors doing that because that is a common trend in every version I’ve seen.  What has changed over the years is how energetically Holmes is played, manically even at times, with pace and vigour and enthusiasm for the chase.

What it is good to see is that these characteristics are not merely a reflection of the times or the actor so much as how Holmes is in the books.  He takes cocaine when he is bored, stops when a case presents itself and then throws himself into this case fully, never sleeping (saying he does not need it) and barely pausing for breath..  It’s an energy that makes the character almost leap out of the page and, as a reader, carried me along through a plot which – if I’m honest – had more than a few holes and required more than a few leaps of logic.  Because it was Sherlock making those leaps, though, all was forgiven.

The story itself follows a formula that seems pure Conan Doyle – a seemingly unsolvable mystery that has police and Doctor Watson baffled but that Holmes solves through a keen eye for observation and a way of seeing the world differently.  Here it starts with a young woman – Mary Morstan – asking Holmes and Watson for help.  Ten years previously her father disappeared; since then she has been receiving a pearl annually with no note or idea who it has come from.  Until the most recent gift asked her to meet her “benefactor” with the promise that the truth will be revealed.

It is too good a case for Holmes to turn down and he launches himself into the investigation.  Despite his announcement it will be easily solved, this isn’t the case as the initial meeting with the benefactor leads them to finding a dead body.  A man has been murdered in a locked room – there are no means of entry to the room and no sign of a murder weapon.  Police (as always) are clueless but Holmes is not, as he is only to keen to tell Watson.

What follows is a high-speed chase through London before the villains escape with Holmes fully in charge and leading the way (and, whilst he says he is beaten more than once, you never get the feeling he really is).  There are plenty of twists and turns along the way to keep you interested and I enjoyed reading about a London I will never know with the smog, the river rats, the social mores.  Reading a book written during the time period in which it is set can never be beaten for truly getting a feel for how things really were.

Watson, meanwhile, is a faithful recorder of events – both of Holmes’ actions but also his thoughts and feelings in relation to the case and Miss Morstan.  Although usually portrayed as bumbling, Watson isn’t as dumb as he first appears – it’s just that nobody is as quick or as smart as Holmes.  He is never going to be the one that solves the case – but he is the one that brings a balance to the story, the human element against an almost superhuman Holmes.  Of the two, Watson I can relate to; Holmes I cannot.

That doesn’t mean I don’t like Holmes but he is in many ways a mix of characteristics vs. a personality if that makes sense.  Watson is rounded and feels real.  I could imagine sitting and having a conversation with him whereas with Holmes I would get a lecture and end up feeling pretty stupid I fear.  It didn’t put me off the book (it’s not like I didn’t know what to expect) but I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first and only other Sherlock book I’ve read, a Study in Scarlet.  Holmes was too hyper for me here, the plot required me to suspend belief too many times and, in the end, whilst I liked it, I probably wouldn’t go any further than that.



Source: Library
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Publication Date: Various (first published 1890)
Pages: 130
Format: paperback
Genre: crime, mystery, thriller

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A Study in Scarlet

Himself by Jess Kidd

img_0485-1When Mahony returns to Mulderrig, a speck of a place on Ireland’s west coast, he brings only a photograph of his long-lost mother and a determination to do battle with the village’s lies.

His arrival causes cheeks to flush and arms to fold in disapproval. No one in the village – living or dead – will tell what happened to the teenage mother who abandoned him as a baby, despite Mahony’s certainty that more than one of them has answers.

Between Mulderrig’s sly priest, its pitiless nurse and the caustic elderly actress throwing herself into her final village play, this beautiful and darkly comic debut novel creates an unforgettable world of my

Mystical, murderous, and magical, all words that describe Jess Kidd’s debut novel set in a small Irish village where nothing is as it seems, including the dead with their tales to tell.

The murderous starts early, with the murder of a young woman whilst her baby lays beside her on a woodland floor before jumping forward 26 years to when the baby is a young man himself, Mahony. Growing up an orphan in Dublin, he knows nothing of his mother or the small village of Mulderrig in which he was born. Once he arrives, it seems most of the villagers want to make sure it stays that way.

As is the way with small villages there are secrets behind every person he encounters, some small and not really worth keeping, others much bigger. Big enough to kill for, including knowing what happened to Mahony’s mom. Trying to help him find out the truth is Mrs. Caulty, a former actress who settled in the village as a young woman herself. She is now old, bossy and determined. She understands Mahony the moment she meets him and won’t let him give up, dragging friends and her landlady into the investigation as well. 

All the characters are quirky, some in a not so nice way like the priest, and all are richly drawn in a lyrical style which I can’t always get away with but suits this book and the supernatural element, because Mahony can see ghosts. Again, this isn’t something I normally go for in a book but here it fit. The village, the landscape, the people, they seemed perfect for a haunting, which is what happens to the village once Mahony arrives. The dead, it seems, want to be heard as much as he wants to find his mom.

Given the opening, the secrets and the ghosts it could all be very dark but Jess Kidd has added humour with the characters and depth with her descriptions of the people and place. She has also managed to stray away from it becoming silly, which I think is a danger when you try mixing quirky characters, murder and supernatural elements. It’s a fine line and she walks it well. That there are ghosts seems perfectly natural. She also has enough plot twists to keep you guessing.  I thought I knew who did it but I wasn’t 100% till near the end.

For a debut, there is a confidence in all this that is really impressive. I found the book well written, with good pace and great characterisation. I’m not sure it’s my normal type of read but I am glad I got a copy and would definitely recommend it. Liked this one a lot.


Note: I received this book from net galley in return for a fair no honest review. All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own.

A26 by Pascal Garnier

imageThe future is on its way to Picardy with the construction of a huge motorway. But nearby is a house where nothing has changed since 1945.

Traumatised by events in 1945, Yolande hasn’t left her home since.

And life has not been kinder to Bernard, her brother, who is now in the final months of a terminal illness.

Realizing that he has so little time left, Bernard’s gloom suddenly lifts. With no longer anything to lose, he becomes reckless – and murderous …

I had not heard of Pascal Garnier until I came across a review of A26 on Cleopatra Loves Books. It was a while ago now but I immediately went and got myself a copy; unfortunately it has been sat on my kindle ever since as other books overtook it. I think I kept putting it off because I knew it was a dark story and I thought I needed to be in the mood. As my Tuesday Intro shows, that mood is definitely upon me now.

It isn’t just that the A26 is about murder, I read plenty of those, but it is oppressive. Bernard and Yolande’s house (though it’s more Yolande’s as she never leaves it) is stuck in the past and is full of memories. It is – quite literally – drowning in them because Yolande is a hoarder. She is also stuck in the past, reading the same magazines from before the war again and again so she can return to a time when she was happier, before she was assaulted or attacked in some way which is never made completely clear.

Bernard, because of his love of his sister spends his life in limbo. He is her lifeline, going out to work and buying food before returning home to Yolande’s strange moods and rituals. The many things he wanted for himself, including love, have passed him by. And now he has found out he is terminally ill. Life is unfair. It doesn’t seem right that his is being taken away when it has amounted to so little and others should live. Which is why he decides to kill the young girl he picks up hitch hiking. She is only the first.

The lack of emotion he shows when killing, and in the rest of his life, is chilling. Pascal Garnier’s style (and the translation of it) perfectly reflects this. It is cold itself, sparse, with not a word spared. His portrayals of Yolande and Bernard are unforgiving, though it seems there may have once been much to forgive for Yolande, as they are laid bare with all their negative characteristics and behaviours. There is nothing to love in them. Yet they are compelling, a portrait of mental illness and despair. Like I said, very dark.

For all that, it is also a readable book. I found the pages turning quickly and myself completely absorbed. I liked it a lot and would definitely recommend it.


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

Don't You Cry by Mary Kubica

There are very few authors in recent years whose books I have looked forward to reading as much as Mary Kubica’s. I really liked her debut, Good Girl, and loved her follow up, Pretty Baby…meaning I had high hopes for Don’t You Cry. Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed.

The story opens with Quinn being woken by her flat mate Esther’s alarm clock. Slightly worse for wear after a boozy night out, she turns off the alarm and goes back to bed, barely registering that Esther isn’t in bed and her bedroom window – which is next to a fire escape – is wide open, not something you would expect for winter in Chicago. When she wakes for the second time later in the day, Esther still isn’t home and Quinn still isn’t concerned; her roommate must be at church, she thinks, or shopping or with other friends.

Gradually, though, it dawns on her that this doesn’t make sense. It just isn’t like Esther, or at least the Esther she knows, to go off without letting her know and so – at last – she begins to get worried.  Unfortunately the police aren’t as concerned so Quinn starts to try and figure out what has happened to Esther on her own. The more she searches for answers, though, the more she starts to have questions about just who Esther is…and the more her concern turns into fear for her own life.

Eighty-odd miles away, Alex wonders if he has met the girl of his dreams in Pearl who has appeared seemingly out of nowhere and spends her days sitting in the diner he works in staring out of the window. He is fascinated by her and, as they spend time together, the snippets of her life she shares with him seem to mirror his own.  At 18, Alex is lost, taking care of his drunken father and yearning for the love of a mother who left him when he was a young boy. In Pearl, he sees an answer to his loneliness but also behaviours that scare him. The reader sees someone who looks exactly like Esther.

Told through the eyes of Alex and Quinn in alternating sections and across a series of days, all I could do was wonder what was going on. What was Esther – if it was Esther – up to? I really had no idea till the final chapters when it all came together and started to make sense – at which point most of what I thought I knew had been turned on its head. Kubica is brilliant at doing this and it’s one of the things I’ve liked best about her books.

I also like how she creates characters that are flawed but likeable. The trick is, I think that the flaws aren’t big and scary but make the people who inhabit her pages human. Here, I especially liked Alex. He hit a note with me and I hoped everything would work out for him in the end. He was a decent person and deserved a happy ending. With Quinn, I just hoped would come to her senses and stop thinking the worse; she is quite a selfish character in places. Yet, I didn’t dislike her, just found her frustrating at times and I wanted her to maybe grow up just a little bit.

Other than that, though, I really can’t fault this book. It was well written, a real page turner, and I loved reading it. Highly recommended!


Note: Don’t You Cry will be published 17th May, 2016. I received a copy of this book via Net Galley / Harlequin in return for a fair and honest review. All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own. 

The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan


Richard Hannay has just returned to England after years in South Africa and is thoroughly bored with his life in London. But then a murder is committed in his flat, just days after a chance encounter with an American who had told him about an assassination plot that could have dire international consequences. An obvious suspect for the police and an easy target for the killers, Hannay goes on the run in his native Scotland where he will need all his courage and ingenuity to stay one step ahead of his pursuers.

In the early summer of 1914, former soldier and adventure Richard Hannay finds himself in London, without friends and bored. That is until one evening when a neighbour knocks on his door, telling him a tale of spies and espionage. The neighbour is afraid, hiding out in Hannay’s flat…until he ends up dead and Hannay finds himself on the run, accused of the murder.

Fleeing not the just the murderers but the police, Hannay heads to Scotland, convinced he just needs to stay safe for a few weeks before the secrets shared with him can be shared with the rest of the world – secrets which will either bring about a world war or end one.

It’s a story I know well because I have seen the movie The Thirty Nine Steps (both the Alfred Hitchcock version and subsequent 1958 version) many times. At the same time, it felt very different because, it turns out, the movies have taken liberties with the plot.  The core is the same though, lots of running away from the bad guys, lots of close shaves for Hannay, and way too much luck.

Coming across an acquaintance in his car in the highlands of Scotland whilst in desperate need of escape is just one such piece of luck but there are many and by the third or fourth I was getting bored. Yes, they proposed the plot forward but they also made it silly. At the same time, I know this was a magazine serial so I wonder if these were the weekly cliffhangers?

Still, knowing this didn’t help and I struggled with reading the book as a result. The writing style didon’t help either. Written in 1915, it felt like it – the language was stilted and didn’t have the flow I like. The story also didn’t hold the tension I expected – in part because he keeps escaping. It all left me disappointed I’m afraid…not one for me.


p.s. On a plus note, this is my first Classic Club read for a while!