The Second Woman by Louise Mey – Review.

About The Book

Missing persons don’t always stay that way

Sandrine is unhappy in her body, her house and her life.

But none of that matters when she meets her man. He makes room for her, a place in his home, with his son.

He cares about where she is, who she is speaking to. He loves her, intensely. Everything would be perfect, if only the first woman, the one from before, would just stay away…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Second Woman is one of the most intense books I have read for a long time and it also has one of the most unreliable narrators. The narrator, Sandrine, has problems with confidence and her body image. Her childhood sounded difficult and obviously had an impact on her ability to interact with colleagues and potential friends. But when she meets a man and his son, Mathias, after an appeal to find his missing wife her life changes. And in many ways not in a good way. 

Throughout this novel her man remains nameless. He isn’t the only one, there are a handful of others and I feel this was because the author ( and character) felt that giving them a name gave them an identity they didn’t deserve. Her man was the main one, I think the others weren’t named because of their refusal or ignorance of her predicament. 

At first things appeared fairly calm in their relationship. Sandrine knows that his wife’s disappearance and presumed death has had an impact on his and Mathias’s life and she is slowly getting closer to the young boy and has an amicable relationship with his maternal grandparents. But her relationship with the man has started to get volatile. He resents the constant presence of the police, especially the female officer, and when the first wife reappears you started to see his true personality. 

Initially there were times I struggled to believe Sandrine. I wondered if she really was in a relationship with the man, whether the first wife had reappeared and it even crossed my mind that she was the first wife. But the more I read I started to see what was really happening. I started to see her as others saw her, not her own thoughts regarding her image and her popularity. I saw that there were some people who cared about her safety and wanted to help her. I was also relieved to see that once she realised this it gave her more confidence in her own strengths.

 As the danger levels increased I felt more horrified. Not just at the abuse she and others around her received but also at the lack of understanding over her situation. I hate to think that this is a true reflection of attitude but sadly I expect it is. 

I read this book as part of a read along within a group and really enjoyed seeing other readers thoughts. 

Seconds To Die by Rebecca Bradley – Review.

About The Book

A killer who sends drawings of the murders he will commit.
A detective who will do anything to stop him.

Detective Claudia Nunn has never seen anything so beautiful — or so horrifying.

The intricate drawing is sent to her at work. It shows a man, naked on a bed. His arms are bound, his face contorted in agony, a huge blade stuck deep in his back.

Gory? Certainly. Something to worry about? Not likely. Police get sent weird stuff all the time.

Until Claudia is called to a crime scene that exactly recreates the drawing.

When another sketch arrives, Claudia thinks she might have a serial killer on her hands, who thinks he’s an artist.

Claudia’s in a race against time to stop anyone else dying — and the next victim could be her.

My Review

With thanks to the author for the copy received. Seconds to Die is the second book in the series to feature Claudia, Dom and the rest of the team who are tasked with solving more complex cases. They have a lot to prove and this case, featuring the murderer that the press have named The Artist is a difficult one. 

This is a investigation that affects Claudia deeply. She is desperate to get a result but also grieving the murder of her friend and stepmother Ruth. That investigation is the topic of the previous book and I do recommend that you read that first. The investigation and certain aspects of it feature heavily in this novel. 

The murders committed are vividly described, I didn’t need to see the drawings to get an image in my head of how the victims looked. The way they differed made this case difficult to solve, not helped by the very short time frame they were given with little idea of where the crime took place. And with pressure from above and an increasingly fractious relationship with Dom it was no surprise that Claudia was struggling. 

One of the reasons I like Rebecca’s books so much is that they show the police as not always coping well with their situation. You see the exhaustion, forgetting to eat and frustration of having to deal with the media. I had never thought that giving a murderer a title would cause anger before.  

I have to admit that I wondered if this book would be similar to others that have been published recently concerning art and murder but it isn’t. This is a completely original novel and one which I enjoyed a lot. 

The Heron’s Cry by Ann Cleeves – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

North Devon is enjoying a rare hot summer with tourists flocking to its coastline. Detective Matthew Venn is called out to a rural crime scene at the home of a group of artists. What he finds is an elaborately staged murder – Dr Nigel Yeo has been fatally stabbed with a shard of one of his glassblower daughter’s broken vases.

Dr Yeo seems an unlikely murder victim. He’s a good man, a public servant, beloved by his daughter. Matthew is unnerved though to find that she is a close friend of Jonathan, his husband.

Then another body is found – killed in a similar way. Matthew finds himself treading carefully through the lies that fester at the heart of his community and a case that is dangerously close to home…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have never read a novel by Ann Cleeves before but I have watched her books dramatised for TV. It didn’t take me to long to understand why both are so successful, her writing and character building are wonderful.

With all the characters being new it didn’t take me long to get to know them nor did I feel that I had missed any major developments in their personal lives by not reading the first book. Instead I felt intrigued, Matthew Venn is unlike any character I have met before. His childhood  sounded extremely interesting and is one I want to know more about. Jen, I adored. Liverpudlian, strong and coping with life as a single parent despite her job. I was less keen on Russ, he sometimes came across as bitter and I didn’t care for his attitude towards his colleagues or his wife. 

The case was an interesting one, the small group of friends whose lives were changed by the murders of people they knew. I could visualise their lives clearly. The bereaved artistic young woman, the hippy charmer  and the hardworking couple who wanted more independence but also were reliant on family. And just on the edge were the family whose lives had changed through possible health service failure. I had a lot of appreciation for the way they had to appear in their jobs, masking their real grief, and they were all expert at hiding what they were going through. Their lives and the deeply unsettling events that contributed to their son’s death was the strongest part of the story for me. Possibly because I feel what affected them does happen.

This is only the second book in the series but I can see it being as successful as Vera and Shetland. I hope there will be more.

A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

‘What is wrong with you?’

Laura has spent most of her life being judged. She’s seen as hot-tempered, troubled, a loner. Some even call her dangerous.

Miriam knows that just because Laura is witnessed leaving the scene of a horrific murder with blood on her clothes, that doesn’t mean she’s a killer. Bitter experience has taught her how easy it is to get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Carla is reeling from the brutal murder of her nephew. She trusts no one: good people are capable of terrible deeds. But how far will she go to find peace?

Innocent or guilty, everyone is damaged. Some are damaged enough to kill.

Look what you started.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Girl On The Train was a book I enjoyed reading so I felt that I would like this book. I’m happy to say that I wasn’t  disappointed and in many ways I preferred it.

Told by multiple points of view it shows how a small group of people were affected by the murder of a young man, Daniel, on a canal boat. All knew him and nearly all of them could have been responsible for his murder. And of course all would have a good reason. His character is only there as the victim but they way he is portrayed through memories didn’t show him as a very nice person.

The five people, Laura, Carla, Theo, Miriam and Irene were all completely different. Some I liked, some I didn’t but the two whose narrative I enjoyed most were Laura’s and Irene’s. I loved their connection, Laura’s stubbornness and approach to her life despite her health issues and everything about  Irene was just marvellous. I had great admiration for her determination not to be disregarded because of her age. And reading about her love for her husband and the way she coped since his death was lovely to read. She knew that Angela, Daniel’s mother and Carla’s sister had problems but never judged and always tried to be a friend. Carla and Theo’s attitude towards her was shameful, they were the characters I liked less than the others. Miriam was a character who I wanted to understand more but I often felt that she was more distant. I felt I knew more about her as a teenager when her life changed dramatically rather than in modern day. It was evident that the trauma she suffered still affected her years later. 

The reason why Daniel was killed and who murdered him was a mystery to me until it was revealed. I had no idea at all who it could be. My thoughts  regarding the guilty person and their actions were different to my usual feelings though. This is more than a novel about a murder, it is novel which shows how grief and trauma affect a person’s actions and in this novel I found it impossible to judge them. 

The Woman In The Wood by M. K. Hill – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A reality TV star becomes a suspect in an Essex murder case in the sharp, funny and moving new thriller from M.K. Hill

Three years ago, Danny ‘Abs’ Cruikshank, star of reality show Laid in Essex!, was living the dream. But on the night of the party, everything changed.

It was supposed to be an intimate weekend gathering, just a few close friends in a remote cottage in Wales. But after a night of heavy drinking in the village pub, a local girl was reported missing – and never seen again. Abs and his friends had been the last to see her alive.

No-one was ever charged, but the controversy destroyed Abs’s career. And now one of his mates has been murdered…

DI Sasha Dawson and her team must race against the clock to find the killer before they strike again – but first she must discover what happened to Rhiannon Jenkins on the night she vanished. Will the truth set Abs free? Or bury him?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I don’t watch reality TV, so have never understood the fame and adoration that seems to be handed on a plate to its stars. But I did have a soft spot for Abs, one of the main characters in this very entertaining novel. After becoming a suspect in the disappearance of a young woman he was dropped from a very successful reality TV show. He aches to be back in the limelight. Skint, no other skills apart from his charm and totally deluded about his relationship with his onscreen co-star Kelsey. But he soon discovers that his dream of success and a future with Kelsey fades into insignificance when faced with danger.

Sasha is the police officer who is investigating the death of Abs friend. Unlike her colleagues,in particular Lolly, she is unaware of who Abs is and doesn’t let his fame affect her investigation. I liked her a lot and appreciated the insight into her personal life. There are hints of a tragedy in her past that I wanted to know more about  and I liked that there was nothing revealed that made the later reading of book one in the series unnecessary.

I found this novel to be very original. There is a lot of focus on the investigation which you would expect, but I liked Abs having such a prominent role. His way of coping with what was happening around him was quite refreshing. He felt fear, guilt and disappointment but he was still capable of turning on the charm.

Another two original aspects of this novel were the impact of not knowing what happened to a family member had on a relative’s judgement forcing them do something they wouldn’t do under normal circumstances and the way that the pressure on an overworked police department meant that often other cases suffered.

I did work out who was responsible for the crimes in this novel but I didn’t see everything. I will definitely be reading more by this author.