The Widow by Fiona Barton

imageThe Widow by Fiona Barton is being published as the book to watch in 2016. I received my copy as a limited edition proof (number 22/100) at this years crime festival in Harrogate. Even though it won’t be published for a few months yet I decided to read it early, before any opinion I had was influenced by hype.
It is a good book but one that I did struggle with at times. The narrative switches between different people. That of the widow I did like reading although at times I felt she was older than the age she was said to be. There was also the police officer who failed in the investigation and refused to let go. And then there was the journalist. It was this part of the novel that I struggled with. I found it draining to read and unfortunately it was a fairly large part of the novel. The husband and Bella’s mother also have their turn but not to any huge degree.
It is clever and I’ve not really read anything like it before. Most crime books I have read focus on the police rather than that of a relative of a suspect. Sadly it is the image of the press that I am left with.

The Lost by Claire McGowan

imageNot everyone who’s missing is lost..

The Lost had been sat in the kindle pile for a while and after seeing a flurry of tweets about the new book in the series I decided to see what I was missing.
I found it to be a fantastic novel. The first in a new series Paula Maguire has been employed by the police force in her home town. She is working with a team who are assigned to cold cases but who are also investigating a current case, the disappearances of two missing teenage girls. She doesn’t really want to be back there. Looking after her father, seeing old friends she hasn’t been in touch with for years and unanswered questions about her Mother’s disappearance years earlier.
The team were brilliant. Consisting of both Catholic and Protestant, Northern and Southern Irish, the way they interacted with each other was a joy to read. I could hear the dialect as I read, something that I have felt in other novels seemed false.
The investigation has its problems and initially Paula isn’t accepted by the others but she is determined to solve the case with or without their help.
It was a great book to read, I know that there are at least another two I can read and I’m looking forward to doing so. I see great potential for the team of detectives in Ballyterrin.

The Life I Left Behind

imageThe Life I Left Behind had me hooked right from the beginning. It starts with one of my biggest fears, that of finding somebody dead whilst out walking. The whole of the novel is told from three women’s point of view. The police officer Victoria, who is investigating the murder of Eve and consequently looking into the assault on Melody. Then there is Melody whose life has never been the same since the attack on her, and finally Eve. Eve is the women whose body was found, and her story about how she got there is fascinating. She was a journalist who started investigating the sentence against the man who attacked Melody and whether he was wrongly accused.
I found Melody hard to engage with at first. I think this was mainly due to her relationship with very controlling Sam who seemed to manipulate the way she was left after the attack. But as I got more into her story I liked her very much. And hated him more by the page.
Victoria was determined to get to the truth regarding the two cases. Even if it means upsetting her superior who investigated the original case. Very much a minor character compared to the other two who dominated the story.
I loved Eve, her humour, compassion and her determination to get the true story from Melody’s ordeal was fantastic to read. She was a delight and I loved getting to ‘know’ her.
This novel is easily one of my top ten books of the year. Highly recommended, especially if you like something that little bit different.
Thanks to the publisher and the author for the copy via netgalley.

Untouchable

imageInitially I struggled with Untouchable. Reading about the more graphic aspects of a prostitutes activities are not my usual read. However after the murder it changes direction.
Stella/Grace is complicated. She is an escort but also works in a rape crisis centre.. You know that there has been trauma in her past but not really given any clues to what it was. All you know is that the name Michael causes a lot of distress. She is determined to find the answers to her friend’s murder, getting little help from the police. Very much alone in her investigation she is out of her depth and putting herself in danger.
Some of the people who feature in the novel are not very pleasant. Not just the men who are entertained by Stella but also some of the girls who are in the same profession. But reading Stella’s story makes you wonder why they chose the career that they did.
I’m glad I persevered with this novel, the last third of it was definitely the best part for me. I got to the stage where I was ‘just reading one more chapter’.

Thanks to the publisher for the copy received via netgalley.

The Betrayal

imageThe Betrayal by Laura Elliot features a normal family in Ireland. Nadine and Jake were forced into a teenage marriage by pregnancy, had four children and run their own business. The children are now all adults and are following their individual dreams. The business has been badly hit by the recession and Nadine is getting cold feet about its future and their marriage.
When she drops Jake off at the airport she sees a face from the past, one that she wishes she would never see again. Karin used to be her best friend when they were at school but something happened on a holiday that destroyed their friendship and Nadine’s life was left in tatters.
Karin is a dangerous person and not at all likeable. Nadine wasn’t the only one who suffered through her actions, both in the flashbacks and in life now. She was very manipulative and would stop at nothing to get what she wanted. There were quite a few times throughout the tale that I felt on edge, not knowing what she would do next. The tension that all the characters, especially Jake felt was very convincing. I did guess at how it would end but didn’t see the full reasons why and one part I got completely wrong.
This is the third novel I have read by this author and my favourite one so far. I found it to be a novel that was very easy to read, very addictive and I loved the way that Ireland and Alaska were described. A great read, especially for a holiday. It is one that you could quite easily read in one sitting.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received for review.