The Drift by C. J. Tudor – Review.

About The Book

Survival can be murder . . .

Hannah awakens to carnage, all mangled metal and shattered glass. Evacuated from a secluded boarding school during a snowstorm, her coach careered off the road, trapping her with a handful of survivors.

Meg awakens to a gentle rocking. She’s in a cable car stranded high above snowy mountains, with five strangers and no memory of how they got on board.

Carter is gazing out of the window of an isolated ski chalet that he and his companions call home. As their generator begins to waver in the storm, the threat of something lurking in the chalet’s depths looms larger.

Outside, the storm rages. Inside each group, a killer lurks.

But who?

And will anyone make it out alive? . . .

My Review

C J Tudor is a favourite author of mine so I was looking forward to reading this new book. A dystopian thriller about a killer virus that had changed the world, and it showed an eerie and often unsettling view of how life could change when faced with threats from illness, severe weather and mistrust.

Three different narrators in three dangerous situations who were all linked by their connection to The Retreat but there was another link that I couldn’t initially work out. This was slowly revealed the more I read. All three were strong characters who were all hiding something and they all desperate to escape their situation. All were struggling with their current situation but they also had problems that they were trying to run from in their personal lives and the one I had more liking and sympathy for was Meg.

Everyone will be aware of how, at times, terrifying the real virus was. The one that features in this book makes that pale into insignificance. The treatment used, especially, was the one that I found difficult to handle and had me thinking about what options I would consider if I was in a similar predicament.

Strangely it wasn’t the storyline about the virus that chilled me. There was the weather, obviously, you couldn’t not be chilled reading about the icy conditions. But more than anything it was the characters, not knowing who, if any, could be trusted and what each of them were prepared to do.

There is a lot more I could say about this book but the less you know before you read the more you will be gripped.

A Baby’s Bones by Rebecca Alexander – Review.

About The Book

Archaeologist Sage Westfield has been called in to excavate a sixteenth-century well, and expects to find little more than soil and the odd piece of pottery. But the disturbing discovery of the bones of a woman and newborn baby make it clear that she has stumbled onto an historical crime scene, one that is interwoven with an unsettling local legend of witchcraft and unrequited love. Yet there is more to the case than a four-hundred-year-old mystery. The owners of a nearby cottage are convinced that it is haunted, and the local vicar is being plagued with abusive phone calls. Then a tragic death makes it all too clear that a modern murderer is at work…

About The Book

A Baby’s Bones is a combination of my two favourite genres, crime and historical, it is the first I’ve read where archaeology features. The lead character, Sage Westfield is extremely likeable and I liked the way the author showed her faults as well as her strong points. She has a difficult relationship with the father of her unborn child, a character I detested immediately. 

Whilst much of the novel takes place in modern times there are also accounts from the past which show the events that led up to the bodies being placed in the well. These show the resentment, jealousy and fear associated with religious faith and unreciprocated love. Much of these were unsettling but they felt realistic, especially when you are aware that this was an unsettling time in English history under Tudor rule. 

But my favourite part of the novel was Sage’s story. Her attempts to distance herself from her baby’s father, her budding  romance with the local vicar and especially with the way she handled the discovery of the bones, the new murder and the family who owned the land that they were working on who were already having to deal with tragedy. 

Possibly slightly overlong, this is however a very interesting well written novel.

Look For Me by Jessica Barry -Review.

About The Book

After a passenger plane crashes in the mountains, everyone believes Allison Carpenter is dead. 

Except for her estranged mother, Maggie.

As she learns more about the accident, Maggie becomes convinced that her daughter is still alive.

She will stop at nothing to save her daughter’s life – even if it means sacrificing her own.

My Review

I always enjoy reading a dual narrative novel, one of the reasons why is getting to know the characters and trying to decide which of the two I prefer. In this novel it was easy, Maggie was my favourite from the start.

Maggie and her daughter Allison are estranged at the start of the novel, they had no contact for a few years. But Maggie was convinced that Alison had survived the plane crash and starts to look at what happened to her daughter since she had last seen her. The daughter she barely recognised.

She was still grieving her husband’s death a few years earlier, the circumstances of which coincided with Allison distancing herself from Maggie. I really struggled with Alison’s attitude towards Maggie with regards to that time but my feelings changed slightly when I realised that Allison had felt guilty and made some bad decisions since.

I adored everything about Maggie, her honesty over her husband’s death, her refusal to accept Allison’s death and her attempts to try and maintain some normality in her routines. Her acceptance after an initial reluctance of the young police officer was a sign of how strong she was.

Both fighting in their own way, Allison against her injuries, the weather and the fear of still being in danger because of what she knows. Maggie, knowing that something is being kept from her, but not knowing that her refusal to stay silent was placing herself at risk.

I thought this novel would be about a fight for survival and an investigation in what happened cause the crash but found it was more about a bond between mother and daughter. 

Ghost Signs by Stu Hennigan – Review.

About The Book

GHOST SIGNS is a blistering portrait, an eyewitness account of delivering essential food and medicines to the most deprived communities during the first months of the pandemic. This visceral piece of reportage is an essential document into the effects of COVID-19 and how it ripped apart the social fabric of this country after ten years of Austerity

My Review

I rarely read non fiction but when I saw this book had been published it was one that I felt I needed to read. I started to read it when another pandemic diaries that were being published were being mentioned a lot by the UK media. That was one that I definitely won’t be reading but it did remind me that I needed to read this account. More people should do the same so they can see what damage is being caused in many areas of the UK.

One of the strangest feelings when reading was the amount of things I had forgotten about the first lockdown. The eerie quiet roads, especially the motorways, the deserted town centres, windows full of posters thanking the NHS and the often shambolic efforts by government of which there are too many to mention. Each chapter in the book started with a reminder. 

I don’t know Leeds that well but it didn’t matter. The people that needed help there are typical of anywhere. It was impossible to judge any of them, even though some appeared ungrateful. I just thought that they felt uncomfortable having to rely on food parcels.

There were many scenes that upset me ( usually on the bus) the family who needed baby products, the elderly who were terrified and countless others. And it was evident that what the author saw on a daily basis was starting to seriously affect him emotionally, leading to sleepless nights and an inability to discuss what he was experiencing. 

It wasn’t just the hardship experienced by others that were revealed, there was also the impact on his family. The upset that his children felt over missing school and friends and the knock on problems that caused, especially to his wife who was working from home and having to keep them entertained. 

One of the saddest emotions, weeks after finishing the book was that for many the situation will just be getting worse. A pandemic problem that has turned into a huge cost of living crisis. 

Every politician, and anybody who can make a difference should read this account.

The photograph shown below was taken on Easter Sunday during the first lockdown. Usually an extremely busy section of the M6 in Lancashire.

The Raven’s Mark by Christie J Newport – Review.

About The Book

Meet Beth Fellows, a Preston detective haunted by her mum’s murder when she was only four. She’s a driven woman with a heart of gold.

A stranger came into our home, strangled my mother to death and left me sitting alone with her body. What happened to my mum is the driving force behind every major decision I’ve made since . . .

Now Beth faces the hardest case of her career: Rose Danes’s throat is cut, her body discarded on a council estate. Seared into the teenage girl’s skin is the image of a raven.

Six years ago, another girl was attacked. The victim, fourteen-year-old Celine Wilson, barely survived and was left brain-damaged in a coma.

THIS GIRL ALSO HAD A RAVEN BURNED ON HER BODY.

Why wait six years to strike again?

Then Beth receives a mobile phone from the killer — with a warning that he will hurt those closest to her if she tells anyone.

She’s talking to a dangerous predator but nobody knows. Not her team. Not her partner. No one.

If I’d known the personal cost of heading this investigation I would have walked away. No, I would have run as fast as I could and never looked back. Now, it’s far too late . . .

Beth must break all the rules to stop any more girls from suffering. But will her everything be enough to stop a sick murderer?

My Review

I first became aware of this novel when I saw a link to an article in my local newspaper. It’s not often where I read a book set where I live so I immediately looked closer and placed an online preorder. And then sat and waited impatiently.

It was well worth the wait, this is a gem!

Firstly, this was a team of detectives that I liked a lot. I could see how they were all affected by the death of a teenage girl, especially when they all felt guilt that there were a lot of similarities to a previous case where the culprit had never been found. Not just the frontline officers but the team working behind the scenes as well, the forensic investigators who often go unmentioned. All were unable to relax in their free time. I also really appreciated the closeness and their loyalty. None of them wanted to outshine their colleagues, they just wanted to stop a killer. 

Secondly, the storyline. The death of a young girl is always going to be upsetting and the author showed how raw the situation was. The way that Rose’s family and friends fell apart from grief, anger and guilt. It also had a huge impact on Beth, who also has to cope with selfish behaviour from her partner Yvette and worry over the safety of those close to her. 

And obviously, with it being a local book and author I enjoyed the setting. I did spend quite a bit of it trying to place the real Preston into a fictional setting but that was part of the fun. It wasn’t just the places, it was also the people. I felt that the author captured the true personality of Prestonians. 

A fantastic debut novel and I’m hoping that there will be a follow up.