Call Me Mummy by Tina Baker – Review – First Monday Crime.

About The Book

CALL ME MUMMY. IT’LL BE BETTER IF YOU DO.

Glamorous, beautiful Mummy has everything a woman could want. Except for a daughter of her very own. So when she sees Kim – heavily pregnant, glued to her phone and ignoring her eldest child in a busy shop – she does what anyone would do. She takes her. But foul-mouthed little Tonya is not the daughter that Mummy was hoping for.

As Tonya fiercely resists Mummy’s attempts to make her into the perfect child, Kim is demonised by the media as a ‘scummy mummy’, who deserves to have her other children taken too. Haunted by memories of her own childhood and refusing to play by the media’s rules, Kim begins to spiral, turning on those who love her.

Though they are worlds apart, Mummy and Kim have more in common than they could possibly imagine. But it is five-year-old Tonya who is caught in the middle…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like this book before. Call Me Mummy concerns the abduction of a young girl whilst her mother was distracted whilst shopping. The reader knows instantly who has taken her but only by the name mummy. Nothing about her real identity is ever revealed and I got more wrong than right trying to decide who she was and why she had done it.

Most of the novel is dual narrative from mummy and Kim, Tonya’s real mother, Kim is portrayed honestly and at first it was difficult to like her. Obviously troubled, lacking in social skills and at times her own worst enemy. But it was evident what pain and guilt she was experiencing and with only her husband Steve and best friend Ayesha to rely on. The level of hatred shown towards her by the press and social media was dreadful. There was no support for the family at all, their judges all liked to think that they were better than this devastated family. 

Whilst it was difficult to warm to Kim it was even harder to have any liking at all for mummy. Even though I had a lot of sympathy for her as the details of her childhood were revealed I still found it hard not to judge her.

There were brief paragraphs that were narrated by Tonya. Despite what she was going though these often made me smile. Her attitude and way of talking were proof that children hear everything and reading her thoughts on her captor were very honest and a little sweary. 

Even though I read a lot of crime fiction this is probably one of the most real in the way it describes a family going through the worst type of hell. Facing hatred and suspicion, being watched and hot knowing what has happened  to their child.

Tina Baker will be appearing at First Monday Crime on Monday 10th May at 7.30pm alongside Phoebe Morgan, Marion Todd and James Delargy. The moderator will be William Shaw. You can follow via their Facebook page. 

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse – Review – First Monday.

About The Book

EVERYONE’S IN DANGER. ANYONE COULD BE NEXT.

An imposing, isolated hotel, high up in the Swiss Alps, is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But she’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when she receives an invitation out of the blue to celebrate her estranged brother’s recent engagement, she has no choice but to accept.

Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge. Though it’s beautiful, something about the hotel, recently converted from an abandoned sanatorium, makes her nervous – as does her brother, Isaac.

And when they wake the following morning to discover his fiancée Laure has vanished without a trace, Elin’s unease grows. With the storm cutting off access to and from the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.

But no-one has realized yet that another woman has gone missing. And she’s the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they’re all in . . .

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Sanatorium was a novel that made me feel extremely claustrophobic as I read it. I can only say it was due to the amount of snow that caused a different type of isolation to what most of world has become accustomed to and a brilliant storyline that was full of threat and red herrings . All held together by a slightly unreliable narrator.

The location was fascinating, I have visited Switzerland but never experienced the weather in the book, thankfully. I can’t imagine how terrifying it must feel stranded due to weather and also be at risk where you are forced to stay. I felt that the design of the hotel would have just added to the fear. It definitely wouldn’t be somewhere I would choose to stay, even though it did also sound stunning. 

Elin was a character that took me a while to like and understand. She had PTSD caused by a case that had possibly ended her career and was still suffering years after the death of her younger brother. I did feel initially that her backstory took precedence over her life in modern day but when she started to investigate I felt I got to like and know her more. She was much more complex than many other police officers I have read about though and I still feel there is a lot to learn. 

She wasn’t the only character who had issues, her brother and the people she met whilst during their enforced stay all seemed to have a past that they kept  hidden. Her partner appeared to be the only one who seemed balanced and his character was one I did have misgivings about and I don’t really understand why. There just seemed to be something that wasn’t quite right. 

The epilogue suggests that there will be a follow up to this excellent debut novel, I’m looking forward to reading it. 

Sarah Pearse will be appearing at Second Monday Crime alongside David Fennell, Matt Wesolowski and David Baldacci. You can follow it all on their Facebook page at 7.30pm on Monday 12th April.

The Art Of Death by David Fennell – Review – First Monday.

About The Book

Death is an art, and he is the master . . .

Three glass cabinets appear in London’s Trafalgar Square containing a gruesome art installation: the floating corpses of three homeless men. Shock turns to horror when it becomes clear that the bodies are real.

The cabinets are traced to @nonymous – an underground artist shrouded in mystery who makes a chilling promise: MORE WILL FOLLOW.

Eighteen years ago, Detective Inspector Grace Archer escaped a notorious serial killer. Now, she and her caustic DS, Harry Quinn, must hunt down another.

As more bodies appear at London landmarks and murders are livestreamed on social media, their search for @nonymous becomes a desperate race against time. But what Archer doesn’t know is that the killer is watching their every move – and he has his sights firmly set on her . . .

He is creating a masterpiece. And she will be the star of his show.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Art Of Death is an extremely sinister crime thriller where the victims are displayed as works of art around London. Grace Archer is heading the police team who are trying to find the perpetrator but she has more to deal with than just the crime. She is in a new position, in a station where she doesn’t expect to be made welcome after she had to arrest her predecessor. She also has to care for her ailing grandfather, her only family.

She does have her friends in the team though, Quinn who wasn’t one of her predecessor’s biggest fans and Klara, who is more than capable of ignoring snide comments and smirks. 

It was a novel where you got to meet some of the victims rather than their killer. You could see how they were coerced to their deaths and with some of them the horror they experienced when they realised they had been duped.  And with the others, I  felt sadness at knowing that they wouldn’t have their happy evening.

There were a few times early in the book that I felt I had missed an earlier novel, but it was just a different style of writing. Both Grace’s and Quinn’s past are revealed much later in the novel. Most of the novel does focus on Grace but there poignant scenes that featured another victim. I felt quite tense reading these, hoping for a happy ending.

Not as believable as many crime thrillers but very entertaining and I read it very quickly. I hope that this book will become a series, I see huge potential for Grace, Quinn and a hopefully united team.

The Killer In The Choir by Simon Brett – First Monday Crime.

About The Book

When Jude joins the Fethering community choir, she discovers that at least one of her fellow choristers is hiding a deadly secret.

Although she hadn’t known Leonard Mallett very well, nor liked him particularly, Carole Seddon feels duty bound to attend her fellow committee member’s funeral. As she suspected, the hymns, readings and sermon are all very predictable – not unlike Leonard himself. What she couldn’t have predicted was that the deceased’s daughter would use the occasion to publicly accuse her stepmother of murder. 

Did Heather Mallett really kill her husband, as many Fethering residents believe? Deciding to get to the heart of the matter, Carole’s neighbour Jude joins the new community choir – and discovers that amidst the clashing egos and petty resentments lurk some decidedly false notes. At least one chorister would appear to be hiding a deadly secret – and it’s up to Carole and Jude to unearth the truth.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. This was the first book I have read in this series but I had no problems getting to know the characters. Cosy crime and village life, its just like Midsomer Murders and Miss Marple. Where life is ruled by gossip and not always revealing the truth. If your neighbour didn’t know everything about you they were invent something and convince everybody that it was the truth.

Carole and Jude, the two amateur sleuths were like chalk and cheese. Carole was reclusive, tetchy and judgemental. Jude was more tolerant, likeable and approachable. How their friendship worked was slightly baffling but they did seem fairly close. Especially over a glass or two of Sauvignon Blanc.

Like many cosy crime novels you couldn’t take it seriously, but its part of the attraction. Total escapism. I had a lot of fun trying to work out who the murderer was. I will dip into this series again.

Simon Brett is one of the authors who will be appearing at First Monday Crome on Monday 2nd December. Details can be found at https://www.firstmondaycrime.com/

Many Rivers To Cross by Peter Robinson – Review – First Monday Crime.

About The Book

A skinny young boy is found dead – his body carelessly stuffed into wheelie bin.

Detective Superintendent Alan Banks and his team are called to investigate. Who is the boy, and where did he come from? Was he discarded as rubbish, or left as a warning to someone? He looks Middle Eastern, but no one on the East Side Estate has seen him before.

As the local press seize upon an illegal immigrant angle, and the national media the story of another stabbing, the police are called to investigate a less newsworthy death: a middle-aged heroin addict found dead of an overdose in another estate, scheduled for redevelopment.

Banks finds the threads of each case seem to be connected to the other, and to the dark side of organised crime in Eastvale. Does another thread link to his friend Zelda, who is facing her own dark side? 

The truth may be more complex – or much simpler – than it seems . . .

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received via Pigeonhole. Many Rivers To Cross is the latest novel in the Inspector Banks series. I found it slightly different to the previous books. Banks seemed to feature less with more focus on Gerry and Annie. When he does appear though, you still see his love of music and fine wine. My thoughts about his character though are changing with each novel. Maybe because of the TV series but also because his increasing loneliness makes him more vulnerable and a little needy with the women he knows.

There is also more focus on modern day news than in previous books. Politics, particularly Brexit, human trafficking, drugs and racism. All of which is seen daily in the news. One of these topics in particular, is covered more than the others and its heartbreaking and unfortunately very real.

One of the more interesting parts of the novel was Zelda’s story. She was a character I really liked. What she went through before her arrival in the UK was horrific and I can see her appearing in a few novels in the future.

This series has the potential to be successful for years to come. I can see it changing, some characters appearing more as Banks gets closer to retirement age but there are still plenty of stories there.

Peter Robinson will be appearing at First Monday Crime on Monday 7th October .