Did You See Melody? by Sophie Hannah – Review.

51ezO7Tmy+L

About the Book

Pushed to breaking point, Cara Burrows abandons her home and family and escapes to a five-star spa resort she can’t afford. Late at night, exhausted and desperate, she lets herself into her hotel room and is shocked to find it already occupied – by a man and a teenage girl.
A simple mistake on the part of the hotel receptionist – but Cara’s fear intensifies when she works out that the girl she saw alive and well in the hotel room is someone she can’t possibly have seen: the most famous murder victim in the country, Melody Chapa, whose parents are serving life sentences for her murder.
Cara doesn’t know what to trust: everything she’s read and heard about the case, or the evidence of her own eyes. Did she really see Melody? And is she prepared to ask herself that question and answer it honestly if it means risking her own life?

My Review

Did You See Melody? has a convincing start with Cara arriving at a luxury resort in Arizona exhausted and emotional. After she is allocated a room that is already occupied she is upgraded to a fantastic suite that she feels will go along way to helping her relax and make decisions about her future. But when she starts to listen to other guests she starts to question what she did see in the room.
Cara starts to look at the internet to find out about what happened to Melody, her parents trial and the media frenzy that surrounded the investigation. Along with another guest in the hotel, Tarin, she is convinced that Melody is still alive and somewhere on the complex.
I loved the cynical approach that Sophie Hannah showed with regards to the hotel, where guests could not be relied on to have a good holiday without their intrusion and towards the chat show ‘trial’. I am so thankful that our chat shows are not as bad as the one shown in this novel.
I was slightly unconvinced by some of the characters, but my favourite was Tarin who refused to be bullied by the police or the team who worked on the chat show. I would have liked to have more information at times, a few threads felt unfinished but I still enjoyed the novel.
I had to read the ending twice. I’m still not sure that I’ve understood it correctly but I liked it more on the second read. For this reason, Did You See Melody? would make a great book club read, there would be a lot to discuss.

Did You See Melody? completes my #20booksofsummerchallenge.

 

The Child by Fiona Barton – Review.

51BM-4SK0wL

About the Book

When a paragraph in an evening newspaper reveals a decades-old tragedy, most readers barely give it a glance. But for three strangers it’s impossible to ignore.

For one woman, it’s a reminder of the worst thing that ever happened to her.

For another, it reveals the dangerous possibility that her darkest secret is about to be discovered.

And for the third, a journalist, it’s the first clue in a hunt to uncover the truth.

The Child’s story will be told.

My Review

Sometimes it pays to persevere with a novel. At first, I struggled with The Child, I couldn’t form an attachment to any of the narrators, even though the tale did intrigue me. But suddenly it grabbed me and I was hooked.
Kate, who is the journalist who featured in the authors previous book The Widow, is back and keen to get a story to attach to the child’s bones that were found on a building site. Along with a photographer and a trainee she starts to delve. The changing methods of journalism were demonstrated well, how online 24-hour news has had a significant impact on printed news and the affect that it has had on jobs.
The narrative switches between four narrators. One of them was Kate who I liked a lot more in this novel, she came across as much more compassionate and less of a newshound. Out of the other three, one was utterly repulsive. Cruel, selfish and bitter just about begins to cover it. I won’t reveal their name but will leave you to make your own mind up.
My favourite character was Joe, the trainee. I hadn’t expected him to be so trustworthy and keen to help and he was quite refreshing with his ability to charm those around him. I hope that both Kate and Joe will appear in future novels together.
It’s a different type of crime novel, it focuses more on how the media approach an investigation rather than the police and once I put aside my feelings towards journalism I enjoyed it.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received

I Know A Secret by Tess Gerritsen – Blog Tour Review.

 

51+xK0jL6NL

About the Book

I have a secret.
And someone wants to make sure I never tell . . .

In a house decorated with horror movie posters, a young woman’s body is found. She lies on her bed, two bloodied objects clutched in her palm. Detective Jane Rizzoli and Forensic Pathologist Maura Isles are called to the murder scene, but even faced with this gruesome sight they are unable to identify the immediate cause of death.

Their investigation leads them to a high-profile murder case that was seemingly solved years before. But when another body is found in horrific circumstances, the link between the two victims is clear. Was the wrong person sent to prison? Is the real killer out there right now, picking off new targets?

One woman knows the killer is coming for her next. She’s the only one who can help Rizzoli and Isles catch him.

But she has a secret that she has to keep . . .

My Review

I haven’t read all the Rizzoli and Isles series and every time I do, I tell myself that I need to catch up. The books that I have read I’ve enjoyed a lot and I Know A Secret is a welcome return to a fascinating series. The novel starts with an unnamed female narrator at the funeral of a young woman who has been killed in a house fire. She doesn’t seem to be there to mourn, more to observe.
When Maura receives a telephone call from Jane whilst she is visiting her mother in hospital she is relieved to have an excuse to leave. But the relief is short lived when she is faced with the grim sight that has sickened many of the team. It is the first in a series of murders that frustrates them all, horrifically staged but with no obvious cause of death.
All the victims appear to be unlinked but Rizzoli and Isles gradually uncover secrets from the past. There are some very unpleasant characters in the novel who try to stop them and with one of the characters I feel that there could be more to come in the future. The murders are fascinating, creepy and had me looking at more deeply on the internet. They are nothing like I have read before.
The scene setting and characterisation in the book is brilliant. I could see the squalor in the film studio and the passion that the team had to get their film into production. I could see the family life and the unhappiness in Jane’s family and I could feel the tension and distrust between Maura and her mother.
Whilst I have enjoyed watching the TV series based on Rizzoli and Isles the books are much more entertaining and informative. Rizzoli is a much deeper character with stronger ties to her mother and is less tolerant of her father and brother. Isles is more of a loner, has a strange relationship with her deeply unsettling natural mother and an on/off relationship with a man who she shouldn’t have a relationship with. If you have watched the series but never read any of the books, they could be read as standalone novels but I would recommend that you start at the beginning. There are many differences between the books and the TV series.

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received via Netgalley.

I Know a Secret - BT Banner Websites

Here and Gone by Haylen Beck – Review.

51-ql6jQ-rL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_

About the Book.

Audra has finally left her abusive husband. She’s taken the family car and her young children, Sean and Louise, are buckled up in the back. This is their chance for a fresh start.
Audra keeps to the country roads to avoid attention. She’s looking for a safe place to stay for the night when she spots something in her rear-view mirror. A police car is following her and the lights are flickering. Blue and red.
As Audra pulls over she is intensely aware of how isolated they are. Her perfect escape is about to turn into a nightmare beyond her imagining. . .
Dark secrets and a heart-pounding race to reveal the truth lie at the heart of this page-turning thriller.
Full of dark secrets and heart-pounding twists, Here and Gone is the ultimate page-turner.

My Review

When Audra’s children are abducted late at night she is terrified and desperate to get them back. But when she is told that the children were never there she realizes that her dilemma is much worse than she thought. She also must prove that she never hurt them. Luckily, she gets assistance from Danny whose wife had faced the same situation five years earlier. He hopes that by helping her he can also find answers of his own.
I loved Audra, the treatment she received from her husband and her mother in law probably helped her stand up to the police in the local town. She was abused by the media, people she thought were friends and family but she did find a friend in Danny and a local who knew what happened in her town but had never made it public.
This novel is one of the few this year that I have read that I found impossible to put down. It was a novel that I found myself reading in the middle of the night because I’d glimpsed the opening line to the next chapter. A gripping read.
I must be one of few crime fiction readers who wasn’t aware of Haylen Beck’s true identity. It was only when I added to book to my goodreads library that I realized. I hope that the author continues to write under both identities.

City of Saviours by Rachel Howzell Hall – Guest Post and Review.

51MmZO1y5VL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_

On my blog today, I have a guest post from author Rachel Howzell Hall and a review of her new book City of Saviours.

Character as a Cure by Rachel Howzell Hall

I read a lot.
As a kid, no one knew how I looked because a book always covered my face. From Jackie Collins to Stephen King, from D.H. Lawrence to Alice Walker, I read everything.
Problem was I identified with every character except for characters that represented me, my part of Los Angeles, my experience as an African-American woman.
Sure, Michael Connelly and Walter Mosley, Raymond Chandler and Daschell Hammett put Los Angeles mystery on the map. But in them, I did not see me. And I wondered, what would it look like to have a native Angeleno, a black Angeleno, who grew up working class but went to college and came back home to solve mysteries… What would that look like and who’s gonna write that?
Paula L. Wood wrote that story first in her Charlotte Justice series. These post-Los Angeles riot stories helped meet my need. But I needed more. I deserved more. Hell, I’d purchased my share, and yours, and yours over there of books. Why wouldn’t someone write about my friends, me, my Los Angeles?
In 2002, I’d already published my first novel A Quiet Storm. It’s an L.A. story, with mystery elements but it wasn’t a procedural. I wanted to write that mystery but I was scared—fear of failing, fear of not knowing enough. But then, in 2003, while pregnant with my daughter, I was diagnosed with cancer. That’s when I met true fear.
After successful surgeries and a healthy baby girl, I had another cancer scare. Life had never been a smooth journey for me, but now? So, I asked myself: What do I want to do before I’m taken from this place?
Buy a Benz. Write a crime novel.
Getting the car was easy – my credit was spotless.
Writing that novel, though? I wasn’t a cop. I didn’t know cops. But I knew Los Angeles. And I knew that mystery writers threw some of the best writing conventions ever. And what’s the worst that could happen? I’d beat cancer—nothing could scare me more than that.
Elouise Norton, LAPD Homicide Detective, came out of my frustration as a reader, came out of a desire to see my experience on a page, came out of my embrace of life. She has been my therapy—being a survivor still means living with that threat each day—and she has been my ambassador—I’ve met incredible readers and writers and traveled to so many places because of her.
Lou has changed over the course of four books and in this last, I had to break her. A woman can only be so strong for so long and I wanted to reflect that in her. In City of Saviors, all the stress of the prior three books culminates in this story. She’s weaker, she’s stronger—but she holds fast to hope. Just as I do. She ugly-cries, she laughs, she’s pissed off, she eats bags of Doritos and sometimes, refuses to acknowledge how much she hurts—just like you, just like me.
Necessity is the mother of invention. Lou Norton came out of a selfish need of mine but I’m incredibly proud to share her with you now. Hope she helps—she has certainly helped me.

About the book

Seventy-three-year-old Eugene Washington appears to have died in an unremarkable way, but LAPD homicide detective Elouise “”Lou”” Norton is positive that something isn’t right. Especially when she learns that the only family Washington had was his fellow church-goers. Could the murderer be sitting in one of those red velvet pews? And is someone protecting the wolf in the flock? Lou must force the truth into the light before it’s too late

My Review

City of Saviours is the fourth book in the series to feature Lou Norton but the first that I have read. Obviously, there is a lot of back story but it didn’t stop me enjoying the book and it was easy to read as a standalone. If anything, the back story has made me intrigued about what I have missed.
Lou is my new favourite heroine. A female, black police officer, she has to prove herself more than necessary that she can do her job. She does get respect from her immediate team, although she isn’t entirely trusting of them. There are a few in the force who would be happy to see her fail.
The murder is a strange one. Lou insists that it isn’t natural causes immediately and demands that the property and Eugene’s life is thoroughly investigated. It is when I read books like this that I am reminded that I would be useless working in forensics. With the vivid description of what they had to work through in the property, I could practically see, smell and taste everything. My skin was crawling at times even though living in the North West of England the weather was slightly different to a Los Angeles heatwave.
It wasn’t all about the crime, there was also focus on her private life, the relationship with her ex-husband, best friends and a tentative relationship with Sam. It was this part of the novel where I noticed the back story more.
It is a brilliant introduction to an established series that I plan on catching up with.
With thanks to the author for the fantastic guest post and the publisher for the copy received.