Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley

33210463On the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, historian Lucy Worsley leads us into the rooms from which our best-loved novelist quietly changed the world.

This new telling of the story of Jane’s life shows us how and why she lived as she did, examining the places and spaces that mattered to her. It wasn’t all country houses and ballrooms, but a life that was often a painful struggle. Jane famously lived a ‘life without incident’, but with new research and insights Lucy Worsley reveals a passionate woman who fought for her freedom. A woman who far from being a lonely spinster in fact had at least five marriage prospects, but who in the end refused to settle for anything less than Mr Darcy.

So before I start this review I should probably admit I am a little bit of a fangirl when it comes to Lucy Worsley.  I love her TV shows and her enthusiasm for her subjects.  She is a must-watch for me and now a must-read with Jane Austen at Home, which I loved.

One of the reasons I loved it was that it made Austen accessible.  I know very little about her life and have tried to read a few biographies in the past but I found them dry.  Here, Austen came alive to me, with her life told through the places she lived and the people she lived with.

Of the places, there were quite a few and not all as I might have imagined in my mind.  After the retirement and then death of her father, for many years Jane and her sister Cassandra (as spinsters) and their mother were basically homeless, moving from house to house and relying on family members to put them up or pay their rent.

Some of these places were grand indeed, others not so much with some being described as cold, dark and damp – not necessarily conducive to writing some of the greatest novels I’ve ever read. But then life for Georgian women wasn’t conducive in general to writing other than letters.

There were domestic chores, a lot, and household management to deal with as well as the perception that their job was to grow up and get married.  Women who wrote weren’t looked up to but often looked down upon and Jane lived most of her life as a writer anonymously, only coming out of the shadows later on when her books had become popular.

One of the things Jane did have on her side though was her family, who not only provided her with a place to live but supported her in her writing.  It was her father who bought her her writing desk and initially acted as her agent (before this role was taken up by her brother) and her sister Cassandra was her life-long best friend who took up more than her fair share of chores to allow Jane time to write.

There were still family politics (when are they not?) but for the most part Jane seems to have had a loving, caring, family and this was nice to read about, making her seem human and not just a slightly mythical figure, sat alone at her desk.  Worsley manages to make Jane a real person, someone with a great sense of humour (often quite wicked) who likes to enjoy herself (money permitting).

What she also shows is a woman who knows her own mind and stands by her decisions, including not to marry (unfortunately, it isn’t completely clear if her writing drove this decision, though it seems likely to have, as so much of her life is known through letters and her sister destroyed a lot of these).

At the end of this book, I found that, for me, Austen is a woman to be admired and one who is not now as cold and mysterious as she first appeared.  Perhaps this will not be such a surprise to Janeites and the like, but I think it will be too many, all of whom I hope read, learn from, and enjoy this book.

Emma x

loved-it

Source: Netgally
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton Ltd
Publication Date: 18th May, 2017
Format: ebook
Pages: 352
Genre: non-fiction
Find on: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

 

 

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.

Driven by James Sallis

14623750Seven years have passed since Driver ended his campaign against those who double-crossed him. He has left the old life, become Paul West and founded a successful business back in Phoenix. But walking down the street one day, he and his fiancee are attacked by two men and, while Driver dispatches both, his fiancee is killed. Sinking back into anonymity, aided by his friend Felix, an ex-gangbanger and Desert Storm vet, Driver realises that his past stalks him – and will not stop. He has to turn and face it

One of the many things I love about James Sallis is that he writes his characters as he finds them.  They are dysfunctional, not always likeable, definitely broken but also incredibly compelling.  So it is with Driver, who you meet as he watches his fiancé get gunned down in the street, seemingly for no reason.

In Driver’s world though, there is always a reason, and so there is here if he can just figure it out in between fighting for his life and constantly trying to stay one step ahead of a seemingly endless supply of hired guns determined to earn their money.   It involves talking to shady people, hitting shadier people and never giving up.  I like that about Driver – he doesn’t stop.

Like him, this book is relentless, never letting up for a second.  It’s dialogue heavy with not much in the way of descriptive scenes bar the odd flashback to his childhood or earlier life, before he tried to start again.  And it’s short (only 155 pages), meaning there isn’t much time to breath.

The language seems simple on first reading but then you realise that a picture is being painted, of men (mainly) who believe in action versus trying to talk things out.  It’s not a world I understand but it’s lived by a code and it’s best not to break it.  It’s a world where you don’t go to the police, you sort out your own problems. And it’s a world where people live with the idea of an eye for an eye.

It’s a world I was drawn into quickly and was quite sad to see the end of, especially as it was left open so you don’t know what is going to happen to Driver next and whether it will be good or bad.  Perhaps it’s good for me as I will get to meet him again…I just hope it’s not another seven years before I get the chance.  Loved this one and a recommended read!

Enjoy!

Emma

loved-it

Source: Library
Publisher: No Exit
Publication Date: 1st January, 2012
Pages: 155
Format: ebook
Genre: crime, mystery
Buy now: Amazon UK / Amazon US

Human Acts by Han Kang

30091914In the midst of a violent student uprising in South Korea, a young boy named Dong-ho is shockingly killed.

The story of this tragic episode unfolds in a sequence of interconnected chapters as the victims and the bereaved encounter suppression, denial, and the echoing agony of the massacre. From Dong-ho’s best friend who meets his own fateful end; to an editor struggling against censorship; to a prisoner and a factory worker, each suffering from traumatic memories; and to Dong-ho’s own grief-stricken mother; and through their collective heartbreak and acts of hope is the tale of a brutalized people in search of a voice.

Human Acts starts with the story of one boy, of what happened to him over a few short days in May 1980. It starts with him looking amongst the dead for his best friend, who he had seen shot in the street by soldiers. It ends with him dead, gun in hand, as he tries to make a stand.  There are lots of dead in Human Acts, and lots of friends and family looking amongst them for their loved ones. Loved ones who had taken to the streets just like the boy and his friend had, protesting against military rule in South Korea.

The boy is Dung-ho. He is fifteen. And this is the Gwangju uprising, where – depending on reports – hundreds of people were killed over a period of nine days and others as the result of torture and retribution for having stood up to a brutal regime. Brutal is the only word I can think of to describe what I read. Han Kang pulls no punches in her description of what happened to those that died and those that survived. 

What happened to some of the survivors is told through long chapters that are more like short stories. Each survivor is visited at a different times in their lives and at different times in South Korea’s history and each is connected to the first chapter and Dung-ho. None have ever fully recovered from what happened to them as a result of their involvement in the uprising. Most of them were young. There were students, factory workers, parents. One was the author herself, who was a child at the time. None were ever the same as a result of what they went through.

It wasn’t a pleasant or easy read at times and I struggled in places to not skim through graphic details. I felt I needed to read every line though because this isn’t just about what happened nearly 40 years ago, this is still happening – if not in South Korea then in other parts of the world. People are still being tortured and abused and it does make you wonder just what we are as humans if we keep doing this to each other. Han Kang says “the question which remains to us is this: what is humanity? What do we have to do to keep humanity as one thing and not another?”.

I don’t know the answer and wish I did. As strange as it may sound, I feel grateful to Han Kang for asking and opening my eyes in such an eloquent way. Because, after finishing this over two weeks ago, it’s still a question that is rattling round my brain and I don’t feel it is going to go away. I am also grateful to have been given the opportunity to read this book. It is beautifully written, despite the subject matter, and translated. The characters are so real, I felt completely connected to them and their fate. For as dark and as hard to read as it was, I loved this book and can’t recommend it enough.

Emma x

loved-it

Source: Blogging for Books
Publisher: Hogarth
Publication Date: 17th January, 2017
Pages: 218
Format: ebook
Genre: literary fiction
Buy now: Amazon UK / Amazon US

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.

You might also like…

The Vegetarian by Han Kang

 

 

Let The Dead Speak by Jane Casey

51F315SsdqL.jpgA murder without a body
Eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns to her West London home one day to find the house covered in blood and Kate, her mother, gone. There may not be a body, but everything else points to murder.

A girl too scared to talk
Maeve Kerrigan is young, ambitious and determined to prove she’s up to her new role as detective sergeant. She suspects Chloe is holding something back, but best friend Bethany Norris won’t let Maeve get close. What exactly is Bethany protecting Chloe from?

A detective with everything to prove
As the team dig deeper into the residents of Valerian Road, no one is above suspicion. All Maeve needs is one person to talk, but that’s not going to happen. Because even in a case of murder, some secrets are too terrible to share…

I am used to reading books with dead bodies, there is probably at least one in most books I read, but I have to say I’m not so used to reading books where there isn’t one, just an assumption of murder.  The idea of this is one of the things that makes Let The Dead Speak stand out.  As far as openings and plots go, it’s different – in a good way.

What it does is throw up lots of questions that DS Maeve Kerrigan has to find the answer too, not least of which is where the missing body is – and whether it’s murder at all.  Because, without a body, how can you be sure?  With that much blood, though, that’s the theory the police follow and, with no clear suspects, they start by looking close to home…because you never know what is going on behind closed doors and twitching curtains

Casey has created a brilliant cast of potential suspects including: Kate’s daughter Chloe, who may be brighter than she first appears; her boyfriend and neighbourhood thug, who seems to be honest but you never know; her best friend Bethany, who doesn’t want Maeve to get close to Chloe; Bethany’s father, who found the house full of blood and doesn’t like being asked questions; and her uncle, who is – quite simply – a nasty piece of work.

I was convinced each of them was guilty at one point – a good thing because it means nothing was obvious here and, as a reader, I had to work at figuring things out.  These are my favourite type of books, ones that leave me guessing till the last minute, staying up late and turning the pages because I have to know!

Maeve helped with the page turning because I really liked her, and her colleague Derwent, who she has a love / hate relationship with (more on the love side it seems, though not in a romantic way).  They are both dogged and determined and not afraid to push things to get to the truth – though, unfortunately, that doesn’t always work out well for them.  They played off well against each other and, though their conversations, I was able to get an insight into both their home lives and understand them more.  It’s important to me to like the central characters in the books I read and I definitely did here.

I thought I would as I have read other Jane Casey books and met Maeve before but it’s been a while (I think it was the fourth in the series and this is book seven so I’ve missed a few…this definitely can be a standalone though for people like me who haven’t read any/all of the series).  I am really glad I found her again because this was a great read – well written, well plotted, well paced and with interesting and complex characters – and I loved it.

Enjoy!

Emma loved-it

Source: Net Galley
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: 9th Mach, 2017
Pages: 352
Format: ebook
Genre: crime fiction
Buy now: Amazon UK / Amazon US / Goodreads

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

Perfect Remains by Helen Fields

 

32580398On a remote Highland mountain, the body of Elaine Buxton is burning. All that will be left to identify the respected lawyer are her teeth and a fragment of clothing.

In the concealed back room of a house in Edinburgh, the real Elaine Buxton screams into the darkness.

Detective Inspector Luc Callanach has barely set foot in his new office when Elaine’s missing persons case is escalated to a murder investigation. Having left behind a promising career at Interpol, he’s eager to prove himself to his new team. But Edinburgh, he discovers, is a long way from Lyon, and Elaine’s killer has covered his tracks with meticulous care.

It’s not long before another successful woman is abducted from her doorstep, and Callanach finds himself in a race against the clock. Or so he believes … The real fate of the women will prove more twisted than he could have ever imagined.

In a remote part of the Cairngorm mountains, a man carefully buries the body of the young woman he has recently killed.  He takes his time, is almost ritualistic about it, leaving clues as he goes.  He doesn’t want to get caught but he does want the police to know who his victim is.  It’s all part of his plan.

In this pretty much perfect opening to Perfect Remains, we meet Dr. King – serial kidnapper and killer and man on a mission, though what that mission is isn’t yet clear.  As King is introduced in chapter five, I don’t feel I’m giving away too much naming him but am going to stop there to avoid spoilers – this book is such a good one I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who wants to read it.

What I will say is that, whilst I don’t normally like books that tell me who did it so early on (I like to do the guessing), here it worked and didn’t bother me at all.  King is such a big character and his actions so off that I still felt there was plenty to discover.  I really wanted to know what had led him to this point and what he would do next, especially as the police net closed around him and his best laid plans didn’t go quite the way he thought they would.  It makes the book a bit more of a “why-dunnit” versus “who-dunnit” then for the reader.  Not so much for the police though, who are at a loss as to who the killer is, who his next victim will be and why they are his victims.

Leading the case is DI Luc Callanach, a man with a past. Formerly of Interpol, he has left his native France under a cloud, hoping to settle in the chillier climates of Edinburgh (one of my favourite settings for books).  His new life is not without problems, not just because there is a killer on the loose – his new team are wary of him, bordering on resentful, he has anger issues and his past seems to be catching up with him.

Callanach is an interesting and powerful character, one I started off not liking but who grew on me – what is it they say about a bark being worse than a bite?  His attitude could easily have overpowered the story but thankfully it was tempered by another DI, Ava Turner who is equally as powerful but more grounded, able to pull Luc back when he goes too far.  Ava isn’t his partner – she has her own case which runs parallel to Luc’s – but they make a good team, bouncing off each other to solve problems.

As characters, they are well written and well developed, just what you want in a book and impressive not only because this is the first in a series but also because it is a debut (well, kind off, Fields has self-published two fantasy novels before this was picked up).  This is a great read – the book is well written and well plotted with good pace – it kept me turning pages well into the night and, like my first read this week (Evil Games by Angela Marsons) there really isn’t anything I could say I would change.  I loved this one and can’t wait for the next in the series.

Enjoy!

Emma

loved-it

Source: Library
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: 26th January, 2017
Pages: 369
Format: ebook
Genre: Crime, Mystery

Find it on Amazon UK / Amazon US

Evil Games by Angela Marsons

25067570The greater the Evil, the more deadly the game…
When a rapist is found mutilated in a brutal attack, Detective Kim Stone and her team are called in to bring a swift resolution. But, as more vengeful killings come to light, it soon becomes clear that there is someone far more sinister at work.

With the investigation quickly gathering momentum, Kim finds herself exposed to great danger and in the sights of a lethal individual undertaking their own twisted experiment.

Up against a sociopath who seems to know her every weakness, for Detective Stone, each move she makes could be deadly. As the body count starts to mount, Kim will have to dig deeper than ever before to stop the killing. And this time – it’s personal.

Finally – over a year and a half after reading Silent Scream, the first D.I. Kim Stone novel – I have gotten round to doing what I always planned to do, reading Evil Games (the second in the series).  Why has it taken so long? I have no idea, and it wasn’t because I hadn’t enjoyed the first book.  More, it was a case of too many books and too little time.  Still, I made it eventually…and I’m very glad that I did because it was really, really, really good.

The book opens with Kim and her team raiding the house of a suspected child abuser, a nasty subject matter any time you have to read about it and Marsons gets that across from the first page. The people involved are not nice and Kim is determined to bring them down.  At the same time, a young woman, traumatised by a horrific rape sits with her psychiatrist trying to come to terms with what has happened to her and the fact her rapist has recently been released from prison.  Later, she takes a knife and attacks the man who attacked her.

Investigating the attack, Kim contacts the psychiatrist (Alex) to try and understand what would make the young woman do what she did.  Instead of a concerned doctor, she finds someone who seems more interested in how the young woman reacted after the fact; it’s something Kim can’t get her head around and makes her want to know more about Alex and just what she is up to.

All of a sudden, the story, which you thought was going to focus on the child abuse case, changes and becomes something much more complex and complicated – in a good way.  The initial case doesn’t go away but Kim can’t stop her mind going back to Alex, especially as she becomes involved in more cases that seem to involve the doctor as well.  Adding to her suspicions is the fact that, each time they meet, the doctor seems to know more about Kim and her past.

It’s a past Kim would rather not return to – she had a troubled childhood and has grown up to be a troubled woman as a result.  She’s also a good detective, one who will stop at nothing to find the truth and making sure that the guilty pay.   She doesn’t do much to make friends as a result of her past yet there is something likeable about her all the same – possibly because she has the loyalty of the team and possibly because you know she will always try and find the truth.

In Alex, she has found a perfect adversary in many ways, one who pushes her buttons and leads her into danger (which she can see but can’t avoid).  The way they played off each other was very clever and made Alex a very chilling character.  I was worried at first she might become a caricature but thankfully that wasn’t the case and I believed in her throughout the book, making it easy to become absorbed in the plot and keep turning the pages.

Adding to my enjoyment was the setting, the Black Country, where I lived for over ten years.  It was fun to read about my old stomping ground, even if it was the seedier side of it.  For those who don’t know it, Marsons does a great job of describing the places and the people who live there.  In fact, she does a great job all round here.  Evil Games is well written, with a clever story, interesting characters and plenty of tension.  I really can’t find anything that I would have liked done differently or that didn’t sit right with me, leaving me loving this book and determined not to wait so long till I read the next one!

Enjoy!

Emma

loved-it

Source: Library
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: 29th May, 2015
Pages: 384
Format: ebook
Genre: Crime, Mystery
Buy Now: Amazon UK / Amazon US

You might also like…

Silent Scream by Angela Marsons

Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner

Is he a hero?

Eight years ago, Sharlah May Nash’s older brother beat their drunken father to death with a baseball bat in order to save both of their lives. Now thirteen years old, Sharlah has finally moved on. About to be adopted by retired FBI profiler Pierce Quincy and his partner, Rainie Conner, Sharlah loves one thing best about her new family: They are all experts on monsters.

Is he a killer?

Then the call comes in. A double murder at a local gas station, followed by reports of an armed suspect shooting his way through the wilds of Oregon. As Quincy and Rainie race to assist, they are forced to confront mounting evidence: The shooter may very well be Sharlah’s older brother, Telly Ray Nash, and it appears his killing spree has only just begun.

All she knows for sure: He’s back.

As the clock winds down on a massive hunt for Telly, Quincy and Rainie must answer two critical questions: Why after eight years has this young man started killing again? And what does this mean for Sharlah? Once upon a time, Sharlah’s big brother saved her life. Now, she has two questions of her own: Is her brother a hero or a killer? And how much will it cost her new family before they learn the final, shattering truth? Because as Sharlah knows all too well, the biggest danger is the one standing right behind you.

It’s been a while since I have spend any time with Rainie and Quincy, the two Lisa Gardner characters I feel the most connected too as they were in the first of her books I read. Starting Right Behind You felt like meeting up with old friends. I had missed them and needed to know what they had been up to, which includes making a family with their soon to be adopted foster daughter, Sharlah.

Sharlah is a teenager and a difficult one at times. Not just because of her age but because of her past. Raised by parents who were alcoholics and drug addicts until she was four, she has been in the foster system ever since, moving from home to home. The same is true of her brother Telly, who she hasn’t seen since they were taken into care. For him, life was probably more difficult still. He was five years older. And he had killed his dad after his dad had stabbed his mom. Or at least that is his and Sharlah’s story and it’s one they have both stuck to.

Things seemed to have been turning round for seventeen year old Telly though. He was living with a caring foster family who were determined to give him the skills to enter adulthood. So it seemed to make no sense when his foster parents turned up dead, as well as two other seemingly innocent people, all shot by Telly before he went on the run. What also didn’t make sense was why he had photos of Sharlah and whether she was in danger.

It is left for Rainie, Quincy and the local sheriff to figure out because they may not know where Telly is or where he’ll be ongoing next but they do know things don’t seem to make sense. This becomes more obvious to the reader as Telly tells his story, staring with his early life and how he tried to keep his sister safe through to how he began to care for his foster parents. These chapters are interspersed with ones focusing on the search for him, including ones told by Sharlah.

Hearing from Telly and Sharlah is one of the things that sets this book apart. It humanises a potential killer and shines a light on just how hard life can be for kids that grow up in care, especially when their early life makes it hard for them to trust. It also show how love can make a real difference in the lives of such kids.  This might seem an odd thing to be saying in a review of a piece of crime fiction but it is an important part of the story and gives it a depth you don’t find in a lot of books in this genre. It means you care for the characters, and want things to work out for them.

The other thing that makes this book great is the story itself. It’s a complicated plot with lots of twists and turns. Yet it doesn’t feel far fetched or unbelievable. Each secret revealed or mystery uncovered seems right, makes perfect sense, and helps develop your understanding of the characters and their behaviours or provides you with a vital piece of the puzzle  to just what is going on. It also builds the tension right through to the final scenes, meaning I couldn’t stop turning the pages and I can’t say more about this book other than I loved it – a highly recommended read.

Enjoy!

Emma

loved-it

 

Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Headline
Publication Date: 31st January, 2017
Pages: 368
Format: ebook (Kindle)
Genre: crime fiction

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.

The Trapped Girl by Robert Dugoni

30226698When a woman’s body is discovered submerged in a crab pot in the chilly waters of Puget Sound, Detective Tracy Crosswhite finds herself with a tough case to untangle. Before they can identify the killer, Tracy and her colleagues on the Seattle PD’s Violent Crimes Section must figure out who the victim is. Her autopsy, however, reveals she may have gone to great lengths to conceal her identity. So who was she running from?

After evidence surfaces that their Jane Doe may be a woman who suspiciously disappeared months earlier, Tracy is once again haunted by the memory of her sister’s unsolved murder. Dredging up details from the woman’s past leads to conflicting clues that only seem to muddy the investigation. As Tracy begins to uncover a twisted tale of brutal betrayal and desperate greed, she’ll find herself risking everything to confront a killer who won’t go down without a deadly fight.

In the early hours of a summer day in Seattle, a teenager out to make a little extra money by illegally crabbing manages to net more than he bargained for – much more. Instead of crabs in his cages, he pulls up the body of a young woman.  How she got there isn’t clear but what is is that it wasn’t an accident, she was murdered.  Enter Tracy Crosswhite , who is fast becoming one of my favourite female detectives.

Tracy is a great character.  She’s tough but not hard, loved by her team and by her boyfriend Dan (who unfortunately I didn’t get as much of as I would have liked in this outing).  She’s also got history that means she starts to feel connected for the woman she thinks has been found and the life she lived.  Like Tracy (who lost her sister 20 years previously) the dead woman’s life has been touched by tragedy, nothing it seems has gone right for her.

I said “thinks” and “seems” because, determined to find out what happened to the young woman, the more Tracy digs the more confused she (and you as a reader becomes).  Nothing is as it seems.  For Tracy, it’s frustrating, especially when her path is blocked by a neighbouring police force who believe they have jurisdiction and a boss who can’t be bothered to fight for her.  For me, as a reader, I loved the confusion.  I really didn’t know where the story would take me next as it took one twist after another.

And, unlike other books I have read, where the twists sometimes just seem to be there for the sake of it, here every one made me go “of course” and nod my head knowingly as if it had been obvious from the beginning (when, of course, it hadn’t been at all).  The whole story was really cleverly plotted, with nothing rushed, and right until the end I was convinced it would end one way, only to find out I had been completely wrong all along…brilliant!

Liking and rooting for Tracy is an obvious plus and selling point for me in this series but, in this book, it was also nice was getting to know her team more than I have in any other story – her partner, Kins, already felt pretty solid and well rounded to me but, here, I also got to properly meet the two other members of her team (or family as they call themselves), Del and Faz.  They are great characters, full of life and personality and good cops in their own right. I want more in the next book as they make a great team.

And I do hope there is a next book as, for me, this series is just getting better and better with each book.  It says something that, after only discovering it last year thanks to a review on bibliophile book club, I have read every book in the series.  Not only do they have the great characters I have mentioned but they are great stories, well written with twists and turns a plenty and a real sense of place – I want to visit Seattle now despite the death count.  I can’t recommend them highly enough (and for those who don’t want to go back to the beginning, don’t worry they can be read as standalone I think) – loved this book!

Emma

loved-it

Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Publication Date: 24th January, 2017
Pages: 378
Format: ebook (Kindle)
Genre: crime fiction

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

For my other reviews of Robert Dugoni books:

My Sister’s Grave (book 1)

Her Final Breath (book 2)

Have realised I never wrote a review for book three but, trust me, it’s good (I’ll now have to see if I can get one written up!)