Fell by Jenn Ashworth

imageWhen Annette Clifford returns to her childhood home on the edge of Morecambe Bay, she despairs: the long empty house is crumbling, undermined by two voracious sycamores. What she doesn’t realise is that she’s not alone: her arrival has woken the spirits of her parents, who anxiously watch over her, longing to make amends. Because as the past comes back to Jack and Netty, they begin to see the summer of 1963 clearly, when Netty was desperately ill and a stranger moved in. Charismatic, mercurial Timothy Richardson, with his seemingly miraculous powers of healing, who drew all their attention away from Annette… Now, they must try to draw another stranger towards her, one who can rescue her.

I think the first thing I want to say about Fell is that it is beautifully written.  A week after finishing the book, I am still haunted by some of the language and the images it created.  It is an otherworldly book and the words perfectly match the subject matter.  I felt carried along by them from the first page through to the last.

The story was a bit harder for me to fall into if I’m honest, though by a third of the way through I was there and living it along with the characters.  The beginning, though, just jumped too much for me.  The past, the present, and the who was telling the story.  This was Jack and Netty, or the spirits of Jack and Netty and they spoke as a we.  Sometimes the time would change mid-chapter and it took me a while to get used to this and understand what was happening.

I have to say too that, by the end, I’m still not quite sure what had happened.  I don’t want to give anything away because of spoilers but , whilst I got where everyone ended up, I still don’t quite know how they got there and how much Jack and Netty had to do with it and how much their telling the story was just a good way to, well, tell the story.

I feel like there are things I should have picked up on, especially around the lodger Tim, that I just didn’t – which was a bit frustrating – and I am not quite sure why Annette was where she was in her life.  Yes, her mother had been ill when she was a child but were the repercussions such that she was so lost?

I think in part, this is down to the fact it’s Jack and Netty telling the story.  You get to know them, really well, with all there good and bad points.  You see all their mistakes and shake your head as they continue to make more.  But Netty is ill.  I get it.  But because of that you only really see Tim and Annette on the surface.

Jenn Ashworth tries to resolve this by having Jack and Netty able to see Tim and Annette’s thoughts but I never felt like I really got to know them.  And I wanted to because I cared about what was happening.  The fact that I didn’t has left me in two minds about the book.

I loved the writing, as I said, and the concept.  I loved Netty and Jack.  But Tim and Annette didn’t work for me as characters because I couldn’t get to know them and so, as a result, I feel like I’ve missed out on something in the story.  So, where does this leave me? Liking, but not loving the book I think.  If I still did star ratings I’d go for 3.75, almost but not quite a 4.

Have you read this? What did you think – or am I alone in being conflicted?

Emma

Source: Publisher
Publisher: Sceptre
Publication Date: 6th April, 2017 (paperback)
Pages: 292
Format: paperback
Genre: fiction, 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.

 

 

 

 

Tell Me No Lies by Lisa Hall

29603168

Don’t. Trust. Anyone.

It was supposed to be a fresh start.

A chance to forget the past and embrace the future.

But can you ever really start again?

Or does the past follow you wherever you go…

When Steph and her husband Mark move to their new house it’s also for a new start.  Pregnant with their second child they are trying to rebuild their marriage after a number of rocky years.  Steph had post-natal depression after the birth of her son, Henry, and Mark responded by having an affair.  Now he promises it is over and things will change.  Only Steph isn’t so sure, especially when Mark up and leaves her for months to work abroad.

Once he is gone, she is left alone with her increasingly negative thoughts and with only her two neighbours, Lila (who reminds her of her best friend living in New York) and Laurence (who she is more than a bit attracted to).  Both seem perfect, friendly, and want to be helpful.  And both seem to be around just when she needs them.

And she needs them a lot because not long after Mark leaves, bouquets of dead flowers start to arrive on her front step, leaving Steph in no doubt her past has caught up with her. The problem is no one else seems to believe her, especially as her behaviour becomes more erratic and she becomes more paranoid.  And that’s because it’s happened before, after Henry was born.

The problem for me was that no one believed her.  Not one person tried to help till the very last pages and when they did she turned them away. And when they didn’t believe her, she didn’t do anything about it but write in her diary.  She didn’t go to the police with her evidence.  Didn’t try to investigate.  Didn’t wonder why her neighbours were there just when she needed them.  And didn’t try to get away.  Half way through this book I wanted to shake Steph and tell her to wake up and see what was happening because to me, as a reader, it was obvious.  By the end I had given up.

I really wanted to like this book.  I’d read some great reviews.  They nearly all included comments about a surprise ending and, I suppose, for this style of book, it was different.  It did leave things open and left you wondering what would happen next.  I can actually see it making a great TV show with a cliff hanger to lead you into season two.  For me, though, it just didn’t do it for me.  I do think it was well written and the characters well drawn but I couldn’t suspend disbelief in the story long enough to really enjoy it.  A shame really but, in the end, whilst I liked this book I can’t say I loved it – sorry!

Emma

 

The Food of Love by Amanda Prowse

30333119A loving mother. A perfect family. A shock wave that could shatter everything.

Freya Braithwaite knows she is lucky. Nineteen years of marriage to a man who still warms her soul and two beautiful teenage daughters to show for it: confident Charlotte and thoughtful Lexi. Her home is filled with love and laughter.

But when Lexi’s struggles with weight take control of her life, everything Freya once took for granted falls apart, leaving the whole family with a sense of helplessness that can only be confronted with understanding, unity and, above all, love.

The Food of Love has been a hard book for me to review.  On the one hand, I found it very powerful, dealing as it does with the subjects of anorexia, bulimia, and mental illness in young women.  On the other, I didn’t like Freya, the central character and – as I’ve said before – I find it hard to like a book where I don’t like the people I am reading about.

Because of this, then, I have waited almost a week since finishing it to put fingers to keyboard and try and put down my feelings on this book.  With time to reflect, to step away from Freya a little, I have to say my thoughts are generally positive.  It is a good book, one that deals with a difficult subject and one that – having also done some reading up on the subject in the past week – shines a light on what I think is a not-so-hidden epidemic amongst young women (and increasingly young men) in our society.

Given the subject, it probably isn’t a surprise if I say this is also a book that is not filled with a lot of uplifting moments.  It is hard to read because of this.  Lexi is really struggling with her illness and, as a result, so are her family – all of whom have a different take on just how bit the problem is and how they should resolve it.  For Freya, who as I said is front and centre in this book, it is with love.  She believes that with kindness and patience and understanding she can help Lexi.  She is after all her mother. So she cooks, cajoles, cuddles and, sometimes, suffocates her daughter with affection.

Unfortunately, she is also Charlotte’s mother and her elder daughter ends up neglected because all Freya’s time and attention are on Lexi.  Seeing how it impacts Charlotte as a family member was almost as hard as seeing what Lexi was doing to herself.  Over the course of the year the story takes place, Charlotte is ignored – a lot – and misses out – a lot – during a pivotal part of her teenage life.  It shows the wider impact of Lexi’s illness, as does the way Freya and her husband Lockie’s relationship falters too.

Part of the reason is the stress of having to be constantly vigilant – imagine having to watch everything someone puts into their mouth and then having to watch to make sure they don’t immediately go throw it up or do a million sit-ups to burn off the calories they’ve consumed.  But there is also their disagreement on how to handle the situation.  Lockie believes in medical intervention.  He wants to let the professionals deal with things.  Freya doesn’t.

Given this, they try both approaches and, eventually, one works but watching them try to find a solution, knowing that if they chose the wrong one their daughter might die, is hard.   And in this I think the book did a really good job, highlighting how difficult a place families find themselves.  No one wants their child institutionalised – but what if that is the only way to save them.  And what if they are begging you, and hating you, for making that choice?  It makes the story and emotional rollercoaster I did wish I could get off at times.

The book also raised some questions for me as I raise my own daughter, about the emphasis we put on food – about clearing plates (or not), about focusing on healthy foods, and seemingly throw away comments on how we and/or others look.  It also revisits the ongoing debate about the images our children see of perfectly air brushed models and ideals they cannot live up to because they aren’t real.  I have to say I did stop and think more than once.

It is important to remember, I think, that – as Freya says to Lexi “beauty…is nothing to do with a number or a dress size or shape” and I don’t think I, or probably most of us do that enough.  It is this that I took from the book more than anything and why, on reflection, I have to say that – even though I didn’t always enjoy reading it because of the subject matter – it is a good book because it has left a mark on me.  It is well written and seems to be well researched.  I think it would have potentially been more powerful – and Freya possibly less frustrating – if it had been written in the first person but that is a personal preference.  Will it be everyone’s cup of tea – no (and I can see that by some of the reviews on Goodreads) but is it worth reading?  For me, it was and I would recommend it.

Emma

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

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Pages:
350 (kindle)
Published on:
1st December, 2016 (yes today!)
Source: Netgalley

Other reviews of books by Amanda Prowse:

A Mother’s Story

 

 

 

Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris

29437949Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace: he has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realize Jack and Grace are never apart. Some might call this true love.

Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace’s friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn’t Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?

And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?

The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?

Despite the fact that, no, I don’t know a couple like Jack and Grace (I obviously don’t mix in the right circles), I was still drawn to this book because of excellent reviews when it first came out.  It’s been on hold at the library for a while and so I was excited when it was finally available.  Overall, I have to say the wait was definitely worth it.

This is a fairly quick read – I managed it in just over a day – and a good one.  Tightly plotted, it moves at quite a pace, and builds the tension right through to the end.  All very good for a debut novel.  It also presents a pretty disturbed world and does make you wonder what is happening behind the curtains of the people you know, your neighbours on the street.  I spent a lot of time thinking Jack couldn’t get any worse or be any crueller.

All that said, and possibly because it’s a debut, I don’t think that the characters are as well developed as I would have liked.  Jack is the stereotypical good looking, wealthy, man you find in these domestic thrillers – perfect to the point of being annoying and just a little sickly – and Grace is the woman who falls under his thrall way too quickly because of her own personal baggage. I would have liked to see a little more here that made me feel I could relate to them (I couldn’t).  By the end, I was seeing it with Grace but it would have been nice so see it sooner as she was the main (only) narrator.

Still, it didn’t stop me reading or enjoying the book and I will definitely pick up B. A. Paris’ next offering as I have a feeling she is one to watch because, at it’s heart, this was a good story and a good book, one I liked and would recommend.

Enjoy!

Emma

About the book…

Publisher: St. Martins Press
Pages:
336 (kindle)
Published on:
11th February, 2016

The Girls Next Door by Mel Sherratt

img_0489One warm spring evening, five teenagers meet in a local park. Only four will come out alive.

Six months after the stabbing of sixteen-year-old Deanna Barker, someone is coming after the teenagers of Stockleigh, as a spate of vicious assaults rocks this small community. Revenge for Deanna? Or something more?

Detective Eden Berrisford is locked into a race against time to catch the twisted individual behind the attacks – but when her own niece, Jess Mountford, goes missing, the case gets personal.

With the kidnapper threatening Jess’s life, can Eden bring back her niece to safety? Or will the people of Stockleigh be forced to mourn another daughter…?

The Girl’s Next Door has a shocking opening – a young girl is brutally murdered by a gang of teens.  Six months later, the teens are in prison, awaiting trial and another group of young women are being targeted, attacked on their way to meet friends in pretty viscous ways.  It’s an uncomfortable reading start that I have to say, one that drew me straight into the story and promised great things.

Adding to the tension is that one of the girls isn’t just attacked but kidnapped. And the question is why?  What did she do that meant she is now locked up in a room, bound and gagged?  It’s a question that Eden needs to answer – because the girl is her niece, Jess, and she is desperate to find her.  To do that, though, she needs to find the link – between the first murder, the attacks, and Jess’ kidnapping – and she needs to do it fast.

Or at least that is what you are led to believe, that everything that is happening is connected, until a twist in the tale blows that theory apart and you and Eden are left back at the beginning trying to figure out just why Jess was taken and if she will make it out alive.  It was a pretty clever twist I have to say and, whilst I had an feeling all was not as it seemed, I didn’t see it coming in the way it did.

By this point, I felt I had gotten to know Eden, her sister Laura and Jess and was engaged and involved in their story.  I liked Eden, and think she’ll be a great character going forward (especially if her ex-husband reappears, which suggests fireworks), and Laura, well written as a more than slightly hysterical mom who now regrets giving her daughter the freedom she did.

I didn’t like Jess though.  Yes, she’s 16 and a teenager so designed to be selfish but she has lessons to learned (her behaviour in a roundabout way led to her kidnapping) and I’m not sure at the end if she learnt them.   I also understand she was in danger and that the adults in her life wanted to get her back.  What I didn’t quite understand was how she came away pretty scott free in the end.  I didn’t like that either and, at the end, it did spoil the book a little for me.

Now, this is one of those things that is likely to not bother most people, and it’s a small thing for a book that was well written, with good pace and good characterisation (I’m not sure I was meant to like Jess for example), but it did bother me and I can’t help that.  I also have to admit that I did find myself comparing Eden to DS Allie Shenton from Mel Sherratt’s other books and I think I like Allie just a little bit more.  But then I’m three books in with Allie so more attached.

Will any of this stop me recommending the book? No, but with the caveat that the ending might leave you as frustrated as me.  Will it stop me buying the next in the series? No, I will definitely buy it because I want to see what comes next with Eden.  But did I love the book in the end as much as I have other’s of Mel Sherratt’s?  No.  I liked it but I disliked Jess too much to be pushed over the edge into really rating this one.  Sorry!

Emma

p.s. you can find my reviews of other Mel Sherratt books here:

Only The Brave

Follow The Leader

Taunting The Dead

 

The Exit by Helen Fitzgerald

22614273Some people love goodbyes…
23-year-old Catherine is mainly interested in Facebook and flirting, but she reluctantly takes a job at a local care home after her mother puts her foot down – and soon discovers that her new workplace contains many secrets. One of the residents at the home, 82-year-old Rose, is convinced that something sinister is going on in Room 7 and that her own life is under threat. But Rose has dementia – so what does she actually know, and who would believe her anyway? As Catherine starts investigating Rose’s allegations, terrible revelations surface about everyone involved. Can Catherine find out what’s really going on?

Reading more Helen Fitzgerald has been on my to do list ever since I read The Cry many moons ago – it was a book I really enjoyed.  Then I saw The Exit on the shelf on my local library and saw my chance to check off that to do list.  Cracking the spine, it all started really well and I found myself turning the pages, completely drawn in.

Catherine is a totally self-involved, self-centred twenty something.  I don’t remember much about being twenty (it was a long time ago!)  but I do remember that my thoughts, feelings, wants and desires were the centre of the universe and so it is here.  She tends to do what she wants, regardless of the consequences or the hurt she might cause and lives her life out on Facebook.

Saying that, she has a controlling mother who she is basically rebelling against in so many ways (mainly by being disorganised and disinterested in a career and life in general) and this goes a long way to explaining her behaviour so I found myself easily forgiving her as the story progressed.

Then I started to warm to her as she came to get to know Rose in the care home where she finds herself working and her initial instinct to do as little as possible, including helping the people she is being paid to help, is overtaken by her actually like them.  It happens slowly but it happens.

I also warmed to Rose, a clever, independent woman fighting against the effects of Dementia and trying to get heard – something she is finding impossible given her condition.  In fact, she’s not just trying, she’s desperate.  Something is wrong in the care home but no one will listen to her.  Catherine might be her last chance and the only way she seems able to tell what she knows is through drawing pictures no one else understands.

Which is when it all started to go a bit wrong for me.  Because as much as I liked both women, and thought they were very well drawn, I really struggled with just how slow on the uptake Catherine was, even when her own mother is affected.  Surely, I thought, you’ll figure out that Rose isn’t completely crazy now?  But she didn’t, believing everyone else instead.  There was one particular incident for me that I just couldn’t get my head round her ignoring.  And, whilst Catherine, seemed able to suspend belief that something bad was definitely happening I just couldn’t.

Unfortunately, it was that that put me off the book.  Which was a shame because until then I was really enjoying it.  I thought it was well written and a clever idea for a story.  It was also pretty dark, which I like in this type of book (which I think classes as a domestic noir / thriller), with some pretty twisted supporting characters.  There were some good twists and turns and plenty of red herrings.  If only I had skipped the offending chapter then this would have been a very different review.

As it was I was left disappointed. All wasn’t lost because of all the positives I’ve mentioned but it means I liked vs. loved this book.  Not sure it’s one I’ll be recommending – sorry!

Emma

 

 

 

Call for the Dead by John le Carré

25345317George Smiley had liked Samuel Fennan, and now Fennan was dead from an apparent suicide. But why?

Fennan, a Foreign Office man, had been under investigation for alleged Communist Party activities, but Smiley had made it clear that the investigation — little more than a routine security check — was over and that the file on Fennan could be closed.

The very next day, Fennan was found dead with a note by his body saying his career was finished and he couldn’t go on. Smiley was puzzled…

This is the first John le Carré novel I have read, inspired by seeing his name seemingly everywhere I looked in early September thanks to the publication of his memoirs.  He isn’t an author I had given much thought to before then, though his name recognition is huge and I know I have seen more than one film and TV show based on his books.  Spies, though, don’t normally do it for me reading wise so there was always limited appeal.  Still, I was intrigued and the library had a copy of Call for the Dead, the first book featuring possibly his most famous character George Smiley…I decided to give it a go.

Now that I’m done, I can’t say I am any more enamoured of the spy novel but I did enjoy the book and wouldn’t shy away from reading more Le Carré in the future.  Despite being published into 1961 it didn’t feel dated.  Le Carré has a pretty clean, simple, writing style (though I understand it gets more wordy as his books go on) and there were references to modern life which could just have easily been made nowadays…

“The Weybridge road was packed with traffic as usual.  Mendal hated motorists. Give a man a car of his own and he leaves humanity and common sense behind him in the garage. He didn’t care who it was – he’d seen bishops in purple doing seventy in a built-up area, frightening pedestrians out of their wits”

George Smiley also wasn’t what I expected (though I did struggle to not picture him as Alec Guinness).  He was more flawed and much less suave than a spy should be.  His flaws were work related – he doesn’t always get it right – and personal – he has no friends and his wife has left him by the end of the first page of the book.  That, though, makes him more real.  And it makes the life of a spy seem much less glamorous.

The story itself seemed simple enough on the surface – Smiley hadn’t caught a spy and his bosses wanted to know why – but it’s gets pretty complicated pretty quickly.  There are twists and turns, bluffs and double-bluffs all the way through, meaning I was wrong-footed a few times before I finally figured out just what was going on.  Other than Smiley most characters aren’t too well developed and did feel a little stereotypical – there to move the plot along – though detective Mendal is pretty solid; he’s also a decent man, which I liked.

This didn’t bother me too much though as I thought it was a clever plot that kept me turning pages.  As I said, not my normal reading material, but still I liked this one and would recommend it to others.

Emma

 

Girl Number One by Jane Holland

30824457As a young child, Eleanor Blackwood witnessed her mother’s murder in woods near their farm. The killer was never found.

Now an adult, Eleanor discovers a woman’s body in the same spot in the Cornish woods where her mother was strangled eighteen years before. But when the police get there, the body has disappeared.

Is Eleanor’s disturbed mind playing tricks on her again, or has her mother’s killer resurfaced? And what does the number on the dead woman’s forehead signify?

On the surface Girl Number One has everything I look for in a book.   It starts with a murder and the body count stacks up from there – though not too much and not in a gory way, which I find hard to handle nowadays.  In the middle of it all, and seemingly the target of the yet to be caught serial killer, is Ellie – a newly qualified teacher who has moved back to the Cornish village she grew up in.  In part, she has moved back to be near her dad but also so she can face her demons – when she was six she saw her mother murdered in the same woods she now goes running every day.

It is whilst she’s out running that she comes across girl number three, a young woman lying dead in the exact spot her mother was murdered.  Unfortunately, by the time the police arrive the body is gone and, because of events in Ellie’s past that are never clear, the police don’t believe her.  It’s only when the second body turns up that they start to realise she isn’t making things up and she might just be in danger.

All in all, then, the book starts really well.  The tension mounts as Ellie tries to get the police to believe her – at the same time as trying to figure out the answers herself.  There are friends who might not be as friendly as she thinks, nosey neighbours, and village locals who seem like they have something to hide.  It’s no wonder Ellie starts to doubt everyone around her – and I did too.

Unfortunately, after building up the tension, the book didn’t seem to know where to go.  Ellie’s behaviour stops seeming to fit with a damaged and frightened young woman and she makes some very bad choices in who to spend time with.  It stopped making sense for me at this point and I started to get annoyed, especially in a couple of places where she literally thinks someone is the killer and then gets pretty personal with them seconds later.

I always struggle to enjoy a book if I don’t like the central characters and this started to happen here.  I just didn’t warm to Ellie, didn’t feel the risk surrounding her, and – as she is pretty much the only main character in the book – I have to admit that I did start to switch off a little.   And, unfortunately, none of the other characters were strong enough to take my eye off being irritated with Ellie.  The other thing that distracted me was the police – I really didn’t understand why they didn’t want to give her the time of day at the beginning.  Maybe understanding that would have helped me.

That doesn’t mean it was bad book.  It wasn’t.  The story was a good idea and there were some good twists – I still wasn’t sure which of two main characters were the killer till close to the end (though my suspicions were right).  It just needed a little more finessing and tightening in the middle and I think then – for me – it would good from a good book to a great one…meaning I liked but didn’t love this one.

Emma

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

 

The Bones of You by Debbie Howells

26029974When Kate receives a phone call with news that Rosie Anderson is missing, she’s stunned and disturbed. Rosie is eighteen, the same age as Kate’s daughter, and a beautiful, quiet, and kind young woman. Though the locals are optimistic—girls like Rosie don’t get into real trouble—Kate’s sense of foreboding is confirmed when Rosie is found fatally beaten and stabbed.

Who would kill the perfect daughter, from the perfect family? Yet the more Kate entwines herself with the Andersons—graceful mother Jo, renowned journalist father Neal, watchful younger sister Delphine—the more she is convinced that not everything is as it seems. Anonymous notes arrive, urging Kate to unravel the tangled threads of Rosie’s life and death, though she has no idea where they will lead.

The Bones of You has left me perplexed.  I read it in only a couple of sittings and found it very compelling, I really couldn’t stop turning the pages.  Yet, I’m not sure how I feel about it having taken a few days between finishing it and writing the review.  I enjoyed it – I’m just not sure how much.

There is a lot to recommend it.  The plot is interesting and has plenty of twists and turns (leading to the page turning) and it is well written, with some great descriptive passages.  There is also a slightly supernatural element in that the story is not only told by Kate, the central character, but also by Rosie who hasn’t been able to move on after her death.  This isn’t something that would always appeal to me but I thought it was well done.

I found myself looking forward to the Rosie chapters, which I thought were really clever and felt haunting (which is basically what Rosie was doing).  Then I’d get back to Kate and feel a slight sinking.  And I think this is where my problem lies because although it’s a good story, I didn’t like Kate – at all.  I thought her reaction to Rosie’s disappearance was over the top and her response to Jo and Neal’s actions too slow.  It didn’t seem right and it didn’t seem believable.

I wanted more action from Kate and I think I expected that from the book blurb – her “unravelling tangled threads” – but it seemed she didn’t do much unravelling.  For me, she was more a bystander, albeit a close one – someone who happened to be at the right (or wrong) place at the right (or wrong) time.  I wanted more oomph and I wanted her to question more.  That she wasn’t / didn’t frustrated me and has left me with these mixed feelings about the book, which is a shame because it isn’t all bad.  It does mean though that whilst I liked this one but can’t go further than that – sorry!

Emma

liked-it-a-little

Source: Library
Publisher: Pan
Publication Date: 31st December, 2015
Format: paperback
Pages: 380
Genre: mystery, crime
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

 

 

Here We Lie by Sophie McKenzie

24956951When a family holiday turns tragic and a member of their party is found dead it seems an adverse reaction to over the counter medicines is the culprit, that or a faulty batch having being bought.

That’s what everyone thinks, including the police. Everyone that is but Emily. She thinks it’s murder and is convinced she knows who is responsible and why. Unfortunately, no one but her ex-boyfriend wants to believe her, not even her fiancé Jed.

If anything, it’s Jed’s reaction that pushes her to try and find out the truth. He is steadfast in his disbelief, though as the prime suspect is a member of his family it’s maybe no wonder. The more Emily digs, though, the more it looks like she is right and the more she finds herself in danger.

I’m being a little vague here because the death at the beginning was a nice twist and I don’t want to give it away. It’s one of the first of many, some more believable than others, that kept me on my toes and turning pages. It wasn’t what I expected and I liked that. I also liked the story itself, though there were a few places where I think it dragged a bit, getting bogged down in details of Emily’s life I didn’t need.

Emily is the main character and tells the story of what is happening in the present in her own voice. She’s likeable if a little woolly on her decision making at times – I can’t see why she would be with Jed in a month of Sundays for example, and well written. We get alternate glimpses of the past through chapters on her and her siblings’ childhood and also through a potentially unreliable narrator – thirteen year old Dee Dee’s video diary. They show not everything is as rosy in her life as Emily thought it was.

Dee Dee comes across as a “typical” confused teen, Jed a stereotypical older man with control issues. Unlike Emily, they weren’t as fleshed out and neither were the other main characters (Emily’s brother and sister who are actually pretty important to the story). I would have liked to care for them more but I didn’t get the chance and that did leave me a little frustrated as I got to the end.

Saying that, I still enjoyed the book. It wasn’t the best written I’ve ever read and, like I mentioned, it did get lost in details sometimes, but it was a good story and kept me interested. The ending wasn’t one I saw coming and was actually a little sad. Everything was tied up nicely but not everyone got the answers they wanted. Because of this, I would say I liked but didn’t love the book – there is something here though that I think readers of crime fiction will enjoy.

Emma