My top eleven books of the year are listed below. It should have been ten but the last book I read had to be added and I didn’t want to remove one. They are in no particular order.
Lost Girls by Angela Marsons
The Hummingbird by Kati Hiekkapelto
How To Be Brave by Louise Beech
The Lost by Claire Mcgowan
In A Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
Normal by Graeme Cameron
Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans
Devastation Road by Jason Hewitt
Shtum by Jem Lester
Snow Blind by Ragnar Jónasson
Ari Thór Arason is a new police recruit who has just got his first position within the police in a village called Siglufjördur in Northern Iceland. He moves there, leaving behind his girlfriend Kristín. He feels lonely, both parents are dead and he misses his girlfriend. He isn’t sure if their relationship will survive him being away from Reykjavik.
He accepts the nickname of the Reverend in good faith when he realises it is public knowledge that he studied theology before going into the police force. But despite the affectionate term he feels very much an outsider especially when the two cases that they have to investigate have taken place in a village where everybody knows each other and everybody insists that there are no secrets. But Ari refuses to accept what he is told and continues to dig into the past.
It’s very claustrophobic. I can’t really imagine how I would feel to be trapped in a town by bad weather. Where the only way in and out is through a tunnel and an avalanche has made inaccessible. A feeling that must be so much worse when you don’t know anybody and don’t know who to trust.
I loved the way Ari would think of something or ask a question and you didn’t find out straight away what he discovered. Just a little enticement to read a little bit more. And I loved to read about the Icelandic tradition regarding books at Christmas. It sounds wonderful. It is beautifully written (and translated by Quentin Bates) and I’m looking forward to reading the second book Night Blind very soon.
My copy is a limited edition signed hardback (no 134). It will be treasured.
Follow Me is a crime novel that focuses on social media and how influential it has become but also a reminder of how dangerous it can be if you interact with the wrong person.
At times I found it bizarre, I do use social media but not to the extent that Freddie did. I wasn’t that sure what some of it was, there is a lot more about than just Facebook and Twitter. But I did know a lot more about it than the police that had to find the murderer. I found it a bit unbelievable that the police were so inept, the only one who showed any capabilities was Nas and she was guided a lot by Freddie.
I have seen a few reviews where the reader had failed to connect with Freddie but I quite liked her. She had a tough childhood and something happened with her and Nas when they were teenagers that she still felt bad about years later. You do find out what this was towards the end of the book. She was trying to get a paid job in journalism with little success and was working in a coffee shop doing a job that she hated.
If you like your crime fiction to be the usual police procedural then this novel probably wouldn’t be for you. But if you fancy something a little different, amusing but still gritty then give it a try.
Half a World Away was a great reintroduction to Cath Staincliffe’s novels. The book is about new graduate Lorelei who goes on holiday to China. She sets up a blog and posts regular diary posts with photographs and emails her family regularly. And then it all stops. The blog isn’t updated, phone calls go to voicemail and emails remain unanswered. When her parents feel they are not getting enough answers they fly over to try and find her.
The biggest thing for me with this novel was how different life was in China to how it is here. No freedom of speech, people afraid to get involved in case the police or people with power became aware of it. Jo and Tom are being controlled by the Chinese police, they are held back repeatedly as they try and search for their daughter. Jo also has problems at home to deal with as well. Her husband has been made redundant, and her youngest child has mood swings.
I found this a quick fascinating read, I wanted to know what had happened to her and also because I was learning about a country that I knew nothing about. Despite the police, the food and the climate its appeal was still there. I didn’t really think of it as a crime novel. It is a crime investigation but mostly it is about the desperation felt by a parent in finding their daughter.
Thanks to the publisher and the author for the copy via netgalley.
I was dead for 13 minutes.
I don’t remember how I ended up in the icy water but I do know this – it wasn’t an accident and I wasn’t suicidal.
They say you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer, but when you’re a teenage girl, it’s hard to tell them apart. My friends love me, I’m sure of it. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t try to kill me. Does it?
My first reaction to this brilliant novel was that I was so glad that I was no longer a teenager, even though when I was, I thankfully didn’t know anybody like any of Sarah Pinborough’s characters. Becca was the most likeable of them, she had her faults but she wanted to put things right with the people who mattered to her. I detested Natasha. Even though she had been dead for 13 minutes it was hard to feel any sympathy and liking for somebody who was so self obsessed. There were a lot of twists, I was only really convinced of one persons innocence. The level of cunning displayed by the culprit was chilling.
It’s very clever YA fiction/ psychological crime that anybody who likes either genre should try.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy via netgalley.