Good Neighbours by Sarah Langan – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A sudden tragedy pits neighbour against neighbour and puts one family in terrible danger.

Welcome to Maple Street, a picture-perfect slice of suburban Long Island, its residents bound by their children, their work, and their illusion of safety in a rapidly changing world. But when the Wilde family moves in, they trigger their neighbours’ worst fears. Arlo and Gertie and their weird kids don’t fit with the way Maple Street sees itself. As tensions mount, a sinkhole opens in a nearby park, and neighbourhood Queen Bee Rhea’s daughter Shelly falls inside. The search for Shelly brings a shocking accusation against the Wildes. Suddenly, it is one mother’s word against the other’s in a court of public opinion that can end only in blood.

A riveting and ruthless portrayal of suburbia, Good Neighbours excavates the perils and betrayals of motherhood and friendships and the dangerous clash between social hierarchy, childhood trauma, and fear.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. When Gertie and Arlo move to Maple Street, Long Island, with their children Julia and Larry they are over the moon. A proper home with stairs and a garden. Admittedly Gertie isn’t the best at housework but Arlo is and tries to encourage the children to be like him. Gertie thinks she has found a friend in next door neighbour Rhea but she is mistaken. Rhea has many issues, and despite looking like a good mother, wife and teacher she is far from it. But she also has a lot of power in the area and many of the neighbours fall over themselves to impress her. When a sinkhole appears on Maple Street, and Shelley, Rhea’s daughter falls in Gertie and her family soon realise how unwelcome they are and that the vicious rumours that are being spread by Rhea could destroy them. 

The book takes place in 2027 with brief interviews and press reports from the 2030s and 2040s. Both worked perfectly, you could see how hysteria, paranoia and jealousy affected nearly all of the adults who feature in the novel. I found it interesting how their accounts changed, like they were trying to justify their actions. It is close to a miracle that their children, known as the ‘Rat Pack’ were on the whole decent people who could see that things weren’t quite like their parents insisted they were and were willing to risk their own lives to find  Shelley.

I loved the way the author played with the reader. I couldn’t guess at what each neighbour might say or do next. Some of them manipulated their children into tormenting Gertie and Arlo and ignored the guilt caused by their actions. I felt that it was the media reports that were published years after the event that showed what they were really capable of. There was little remorse and a lot of self pity. 

Many people have neighbours they  become best of friends with but some have ones that they go out of their way to avoid. If I lived anywhere like Maple Street,  I would have done everything I could to avoid most of the adults who were neighbours in this book. 

Substitute by Susi Holliday – Review.

About The Book

Three people live. Three people die. You make the choice.

Like any mother, Chrissie wants to protect her family. She would do anything to keep them safe. So when a mysterious stranger turns up at her door, offering to prevent the deaths of the people she loves, it sounds too good to be true. The only problem: she must choose someone to die in their place. A substitute.

When her daughter Holly has a terrible accident, Chrissie has no option but to enter the programme. In that horrifying moment, she would do anything to save her. But even after Holly makes a miraculous recovery, Chrissie is convinced it’s just a coincidence. After all, who can really control the laws of life and death?

But as the dangers to her family escalate and her chosen substitutes begin to disappear, Chrissie finds herself in an underworld of hidden laboratories and secretive doctors. And the consequences of playing by their rules are far deadlier than she ever imagined…

My Review

With thanks to the author for the copy received. I can always rely on Susi Holliday to entertain me with one of her novels. They are original with a storyline that I know will always have me reading one more chapter.

A dual time framed novel, in the 1980s we have two scientists who have differing views on how their work should be handled. Excited and fearful but maybe not fearful enough. These two are completely out of their depth despite their differing passion for wealth and knowledge. And in modern day there is Chrissie, young mother who struggles with loneliness but is devoted to her young daughter Holly and insists on family time where her and her husband Nathan take Holly to the park and just spend time together without their phones. Sounds ideal, but you just know that nothing is as it seems. It doesn’t take long for this seemingly happy family unit to be torn apart by the work of the scientists years earlier.

How do you handle knowing that you have the option of choosing who has to die to protect the ones you love? And then realising that you may have chosen incorrectly. Both to live or die! It is a feeling that made me slightly uncomfortable. And despite feeling relief at being able to take advantage of the offer Chrissie also felt a lot of guilt.

Whenever I read a novel there are always characters I dislike but it was different in this book. There were ones I wasn’t keen on initially but the more I read and realised what happened to them I was more inclined to feel sympathetic. Mistakes made mainly due to the thrill of wealth and power, but which had catastrophic results. And there was also a character whose actions I misunderstood throughout most of the novel and then saw that person completely differently towards the end. 

I found Substitute a great read, I really hope that none of the fictional discoveries become reality.

Mimic by Daniel Cole – Audiobook – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

The stand-alone thriller from best-selling author of Ragdoll – soon to be a major TV series.

In life, she was his muse…. In death she’ll be his masterpiece….

1989: DS Benjamin Chambers and DC Adam Winter are on the trail of a twisted serial killer with a passion for recreating the world’s greatest works of art through the bodies of his victims. But after Chambers almost loses his life, the case goes cold – their killer lying dormant, his collection unfinished. 

1996: Jordan Marshall has excelled within the Metropolitan Police Service, fuelled by a loss that defined her teenage years. Obsessed, she manages to obtain new evidence, convincing both Chambers and Winter to revisit the case. However, their resurrected investigation brings about a fresh reign of terror, the team treading a fine line between police officers and vigilantes in their pursuit of a monster far more dangerous and intelligent than any of them had anticipated..

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the audiobook received. Listening to audiobooks is a relatively new thing for me so I jumped at the opportunity to listen to the new novel by this author. His Ragdoll series was one that I enjoyed a lot.

A dual time framed novel, the first part concerns a series of deaths. Chambers and Winters are convinced that they are linked but with lack of help from their superior officer, a somewhat unconvincing confession and finally a tragic accident the investigation is dropped.

Jump forward seven years and a young female officer, Marshall, who had known one of the victims, wants Chambers to look at the case again and find the killer. Despite misgivings and breaking a promise to his wonderful wife Eve he agrees. 

Life hasn’t been kind to any of them. All three have suffered during the seven years and I really hope that there are no members of our police who are like this trio. Not because I didn’t like them but because they have all been damaged by what happened. To the extent that I worried for their safety and sanity. Marshall was very much an open book, you knew immediately how she coped and some of the trauma she experienced. Winters was more reticent, in some ways I felt he suffered more than Chambers. 

But despite their issues they had a friendship that went beyond the job. Chambers was very much the father figure and managed to help both of them. In particular Marshall who he quite easily could have had removed from the investigation. Instead he showed encouragement and a belief in her abilities. 

Whilst the case was an interesting one, that sent me to the internet a few times to learn more it was the relationship dynamic they grabbed me. This felt like an honest example of a team. Working on their strengths and supporting their weaknesses. And there was also some dark humour, mainly caused by frustration.

This novel is described as a standalone but I feel that there could definitely be a follow up. There is certainly potential. 

The Devil’s Advocate by Steve Cavanagh – Review.

About The Book

A DEADLY PROSECUTOR

They call him the King of Death Row. Randal Korn has sent more men to their deaths than any district attorney in the history of the United States.

A TWISTED RITUALISTIC KILLING

When a young woman, Skylar Edwards, is found murdered in Buckstown, Alabama, a corrupt sheriff arrests the last person to see her alive, Andy Dubois. It doesn’t seem to matter to anyone that Andy is innocent.

A SMALL TOWN BOILING WITH RAGE

Everyone in Buckstown believes Andy is guilty. He has no hope of a fair trial. And the local defense attorney assigned to represent him has disappeared.

A FORMER CON-ARTIST

Hot shot New York lawyer Eddie Flynn travels south to fight fire with fire. He plans to destroy the prosecutors case, find the real killer and save Andy from the electric chair.

But the murders are just beginning.

Is Eddie Flynn next?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have enjoyed the books from the Eddie Flynn series that I have read and after reading this I know that I need to read the couple that I have missed. The Devil’s Advocate could be read as a standalone but I would recommend reading the earlier books if you want to know more about the characters, in particular, Eddie. 

I knew that this book was going to be a favourite from the prologue, it isn’t often that just a few pages can leave me feeling horror and fear over the actions of one of the characters. Even more so, because they were totally unexpected. This feeling didn’t diminish throughout the entire novel. I can imagine that there are communities that exist like the one here in parts of America.

There are a few nice people in the novel but nearly all of them are forced into being little help to Eddie and his team. There are threats and also promises. Offers of help which had a high price to pay. What was evident throughout this novel is how easy it was to manipulate somebody who was grieving. There was no compassion and no remorse. There was guilt from some, but only when it was too late. I also noticed that the ones who saw through the act of kindness were on the whole female. 

It is difficult to review without revealing the plot but this novel is extremely powerful, especially with recent events around the world. I felt horror at some of it but this was offset by the way Eddie worked. All of his team made me want to smile and clap.

A brilliant addition to a well established series and I am happy that I saw a tweet that showed signed copies are available at Waterstones.

Will This House Last Forever? by Xanthi Barker – Review.

About The Book

When Xanthi Barker’s father died when she was in her mid twenties, she could make no sense of her grief for a man who had been absent for most of her life. Her father, poet Sebastian Barker, had left Xanthi, her mother and her brother to pursue writing and a new relationship, when Xanthi was a baby. Growing up she had always struggled to reconcile his extravagant affection – a rocking horse crafted from scavenged wood, the endless stream of poems and drawings and letters, conversations that spiralled from the structure of starlight to philosophy to Bruce Springsteen – with the fact that he could not be depended upon for more everyday things. Though theirs was a relationship defined by departures, he always returned, so why should this farewell be any different, or more final?

WILL THIS HOUSE LAST FOREVER? is a heartfelt and wholly original memoir about the pain of having to come to terms with a parent’s mortality, the way grief so utterly defies logic, and about learning to see the flaws in those that we love, and let them go

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I rarely read non fiction but there was something about this book that appealed to me. My first thoughts, during the prologue was that nothing I had read previously had contained as much raw emotion as Will This House Last Forever. That feeling didn’t fade as I read more.

I don’t read a lot of poetry, I occasionally look for a certain poem if it is mentioned in a film or novel. I had never heard of Sebastian Barker. But not knowing anything about him didn’t impact on my appreciation of this novel. Instead it had me looking for more information, wanting to know more about him and his work. 

This is a novel about a daughter talking to her father. She mulls over their relationship, their friendship, their disappointments and her devastation over his illness and eventual death. It all felt incredibly honest, Sebastian isn’t shown to be without faults. He had many, usually involving alcohol or his work but as Xanthi got older and started to care for him as his health deteriorated she accepted them more. But she also acknowledged that she often felt embarrassed or let down by him. She also accepted her own failings, especially with relationships, insecurities with friendship and also the problems caused by her own issues with alcohol and eating disorders.

Once I got used to all the other characters described as your wife, my brother, my mother I realised it was the only way it could be. This was just about father and daughter. Each of them could have had their own story to tell, their own memories of good times and bad. 

Sebastian’s character really showed during this novel. Talented, charismatic but sometimes flawed. And his daughter loved him.