Tuesday intro: Mercy Killing by Lisa Cutts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!





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

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



He Said/She Said by Erin Kelly

31393997Who do you believe?

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

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

Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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






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 Lauras by Sara Taylor

32969152I didn’t realise my mother was a person until I was thirteen years old and she pulled me out of bed, put me in the back of her car, and we left home and my dad with no explanations. I thought that Ma was all that she was and all that she had ever wanted to be. I was wrong. As we made our way from Virginia to California, returning to the places where she’d lived as a child in foster care and as a teenager on the run, repaying debts and keeping promises, I learned who she was in her life-before-me and the secrets she had kept even from herself. But when life on the road began to feel normal I couldn’t forget the home we’d left behind, couldn’t deny that, just like my mother, I too had unfinished business.

When Alex is bundled into the car in the middle of the night, it’s without warning – or so she feels.  Maybe, though, it had been coming a while.  Her parent argued – loud and often – and her mother had a tendency to disappear for days on end, only to the return without explanation.  So, when they set off together this time, Alex is confused but also a little excited, figuring out that – at last – she will get to understand where her mother goes and what she does when she’s gone.

I’m not sure I ever go the answer to that but, if what the two did over the course of two-ish years on the road, hiding from their father, it was basically live out of a car or cheap motels and look up people they once new.  If I sound a bit dismissive, I’m sorry but – after 300 or so pages it is how I felt.

I know in between there were some pretty interesting episodes (bit of a spoiler here but helping a young girl escape her religious family, staring an abusive ex-boyfriend down in the street and fulfilling long-ago made promises to now dead friends).  I really enjoyed these, found the people I met here interesting and different and myself fully involved.  But in between there was a lot of time on the road, a lot of eating gas station snacks and a lot of Ma smoking and not telling Alex much.

Somewhere in here was a story about Alex’s sexuality – or lack of it – and they didn’t want to be known by a gender and I wish this has been more front and centre and really explored.  This book is about journey’s – Ma’s journey to fulfil promises and Alex’s to understand Ma but it’s also his/her journey to understand themselves…I just didn’t think this was done as well as it could have been.  At the risk of sounding cynical it felt like a plotting device rather than a real part of the character and ths story.

All put together, for me, it felt messy.  I wanted so much more and I feel like Sara Taylor can write well enough to deliver that, she was maybe just trying to cover too much ground and say too many things.

It wasn’t all bad (though I realise reading back that my frustration is coming through) – like I said the things that happened when they arrived at each destination were absorbing and Taylor’s writing and characterisation at these points drew me in.  And the idea was one I loved, one I wanted to like more than I eventually did.  It’s a shame as I started with such high hopes but in the end, this was a book I liked a little not a lot.




Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Publication Date: 6th April, 2017 (paperback)
Pages: 292
Format: ebook
Genre: contemporary fictionAmazon US
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.









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?


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.





The Murder Game by Julie Apple

29619695Ten years working as a prosecutor have left Meredith Delay jaded and unsure of what she wants out of life. She’s good at her job, but it haunts her. Her boyfriend wants her to commit, but she keeps him at arm’s length. Then Meredith is assigned to a high-profile prosecution involving the violent murder of a fallen hockey star. At first, it appears to be just another case to work. But when her old friend Julian is accused of the murder, it takes on a whole new dimension.

Meredith, Julian, Jonathan, and Lily were a tight-knit group in law school. But now, Jonathan’s defending Julian, and Lily’s loyalties aren’t clear. And when Julian invokes a rare—and risky—defence, Meredith is forced to confront their past.

Has something they played at as students finally been brought to death?

So, for those who aren’t already aware, Julie Apple is the pseudonym of Catherine McKenzie, who happens to be one of my favourite authors, and The Murder Game is a book written by one of her characters (the same Julie Apple) in the book Fractured.

In Fractured, The Murder Game is a huge hit.  It is about a group of law students who play at planning murder.  Then a fellow student is murdered. The question is just how much did the students know – did they manage to plan a perfect murder after all?  Although a work of fiction, there was a death at Julie’s college and so fans and critics alike want to know just how much of her book was real, just how involved she was in the murder of a fellow student.  And by the end of Fractured, you, the reader, are also wondering just where the truth lies.

At no point, though, do you get to read the book or find out a huge amount about it (Fractured is more about Julie fitting into a new neighbourhood and running from her past).  And you don’t here, at least not quite – because the murder victim isn’t a college student but a former hockey star, one convicted of molesting a child.  The killer, though, is one of a group of law students, a group of four who sat around planning just how they would kill someone and get away with it.

The students are Meredith, the central character and whose voice you hear throughout as she is also the story teller; Julian, the killer who owns up to the murder and finds himself on trial; Lily, his sometimes girlfriend who has an IQ of 164 and strives for perfection in all things; and Jonathan, Meredith’s on again / off again boyfriend and Julian’s defence attorney.  As characters, all four are fascinating to read about and get to know.

They are so well drawn that I felt I knew them….and disliked them, even Meredith who felt like the underdog, the odd one out and the one I should be rooting for (especially as she was looking to put her friend away for murder).  Whilst I did at first, slowly, through flashbacks to their college years, I started to realise maybe she wasn’t as innocent as she first appeared. She has a darker side, one that makes her more interesting but definitely less likeable.  Or maybe that darker side was more about her not being confident in herself, which meant she was easily led and I should feel more sympathy for her.  Throughout the book, right till the end, I went back and forth and am still not sure how I feel about her.

It’s one of the things I love about Catherine McKenzie – she creates complicated people that seem to leap out of the page.  And it wasn’t just Meredith, it was all four characters,  Each had so many quirks and character flaws, so many things that might make you love or hate them – that made you wonder if their behaviour was because they were young or spoilt or just too bright for their own good or if they were fundamentally flawed as human beings.  Again, I went back and forth throughout the book about how I felt.

For me, the flashback scenes were the best as I felt I was getting to know each of them more and I had the chance to put the pieces together, figure out if it was a game or just a coincidence that they had all ended up where they had, in a courtroom facing off against each other.  The whether Julian was guilty of not, which took place mainly in the courtroom, was almost secondary (though probably shouldn’t have been).  I wanted to know how they had gotten there and why.  Plus, if I’m honest, I am not the biggest fan of courtroom dramas and so these bits, which lots of questioning of witnesses and the stand aren’t something I normally enjoy reading.  Not enough action.

Thankfully I got the action in the college scenes and the chapters on Meredith’s life, which kept me more than satisfied.  And I learnt something about the Canadian legal system, and a little learning is never a bad thing.  I also got a great story with plenty of twists, turns and red herrings  – things that kept me guessing.  It wasn’t my favourite Catherine McKenzie book but it was still a really good one.  I liked this a lot – a recommended read!


Emma x



Source: Purchased
Publication Date: November 1st, 2016
Pages: 300
Format: ebook
Genre: crime fiction / mystery
Buy now: Amazon UK / Amazon US

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Tuesday intro: The Lauras by Sara Taylor

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

This week I’m reading The Lauras by Sara Taylor, which I’ve heard great things about and have had on my kindle for weeks so am excited to read.  Here’s what it’s about…

32969152I didn’t realise my mother was a person until I was thirteen years old and she pulled me out of bed, put me in the back of her car, and we left home and my dad with no explanations. I thought that Ma was all that she was and all that she had ever wanted to be. I was wrong.As we made our way from Virginia to California, returning to the places where she d lived as a child in foster care and as a teenager on the run, repaying debts and keeping promises, I learned who she was in her life-before-me and the secrets she had kept even from herself. But when life on the road began to feel normal I couldn’t forget the home we d left behind, couldn’t deny that, just like my mother, I too had unfinished business.

This enigmatic pilgrimage takes them back to various stages of Alex s mother s life, each new state prompting stories and secrets. Together they trace back through a life of struggle and adventure to put to rest unfinished business, to heal old wounds and to search out lost friends. This is an extraordinary story of a life; a stunning exploration of identity and an authentic study of the relationship between a mother and her child.

And here’s how it starts…

I could here them arguing, the way they argued nearly every night now, their voices pitched low and rasping in that way that meant they thought they were being too quiet to wake me up.  They were right in that their fights never did wake me up – but that was because I always stayed awake until they started.  I could feel one coming like the promise of a storm thickening the air.  When the rain’s on the way I can’t sleep either. Even though I always heard them, when morning rolled around I pretended that I’d slept through it all, because I didn’t know what else to do.

What do you think…would you keep reading?


The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

28187230Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

I have waited quite a while to read The Woman in Cabin 10. Despite having loved Ruth Ware’s debut (In A Dark Dark Wood), I was anxious.  Anxious that this wouldn’t live up to the expectations I already had of her as an author able to craft a story that kept me on the edge of my seat from the opening paragraph to the final sentence.

Thankfully, my fears were unfounded (though I am refusing to kick myself for waiting so long to pick this book up, regret never getting me anywhere).  The Woman in Cabin 10 is a cracking read.  It opens strongly, with a break in at Lo’s flat that sounds more than a bit terrifying and means by the time she gets to the ship, she is tired, strung out and just a little (o.k. a lot) on edge.

Her behaviour is unpredictable, fuelled as it is by lack of sleep, too much alcohol and anxiety (something she is already on medication for).  It doesn’t make her the most likeable character, even if you understand her behaviours, and it definitely makes her an unreliable one.  It is no wonder people don’t believe her, or take her seriously, when she says someone has been murdered on the first night of the cruise or that that same murderer is now after her.

As a reader, I have to say I wasn’t too sure myself.  Had I been on board I may have taken the same tack as the head of security or other passengers and asked her how much was down to drink and drugs.  I doubt I would have scoured the ship or locked people in their cabins until land was reached.  Ware does a great job in Lo of building a character that you just don’t quite believe, even if you want to.  And then the question is why would the other passengers want to when she hasn’t done a lot to win them over.

At first, I found Lo quite irritating.  Then, I started to realise that was possibly the point.  She isn’t that likeable and she isn’t that believable.  Which means she is on her own.  She has to overcome her demons, her insecurities in order to prove that she is right and, in the end, survive.  So, it’s not just about saving the mystery woman in cabin 10.  It’s about saving herself too and moving on with a life that is, quite frankly, stuck and going nowhere because of her fears and insecurities.

With that lightbulb moment (I do occasionally have them) it felt like all was forgiven with Lo and I started to enjoy her character and root for her.  It’s a good thing too as she is not only the main character, it’s her voice you hear throughout – not liking it would have mean not liking the book.  Other passengers are slightly stereotypical – handsome photographer, wealthy man of industry, bitchy journalist, plus an ex-boyfriend (which I did find a bit odd given where they were) – and not as well rounded as I might have liked.

They are, really, a means to an end.  Characters that Lo can play off and which provide an ideal cast of potential suspects in a very Miss Marple kind of way – was it the beautiful model with the broken champagne flute in the spa or the Bear Grylls wanna be with the carving knife in the library?

Because of this guess who game I started playing, the stereotypes didn’t bother me. In fact, I enjoyed them and I enjoyed the book.  It was well written, with great pace and it was fun.  For all those reasons I liked it a lot – a recommended read!




Source: Library
Publisher: Vintage Digital
Publication Date: 30th June, 2016
Pages: 352
Format: ebook
Genre: crime fiction
Buy now: Amazon UK / Amazon US