Did You See Melody? by Sophie Hannah – Review.

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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.

 

Dark Hollow by John Connolly – Review.

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About the Book

Still raw from the brutal slayings of his wife and daughter, and the events surrounding the capture of their killer, The Travelling Man, Charlie Parker retreats to the wintry Maine landscape of his childhood. By following in the steps of his beloved grandfather, Parker hopes to heal his spirit and get through the bitter anniversary of Jennifer and Susan’s murder. But the echoes of the past that await him are not all benign. In a gruesome re-enactment of Parker’s own nightmares, another young woman is killed with her child and his brief involvement in their lives impels Parker to hunt their vicious murderer. As the death toll mounts, Parker comes to realise that the true answer to the puzzle lies thirty years in the past, in a tree with strange fruit, in his own grandfather’s history, and in the perverted desires of a monster incarnate – Caleb Kyle.

My Review

Dark Hollow is the second book in the series that features Charlie Parker. It is quite a while since I read the first one but it didn’t take me long to pick up on the ongoing personal story and the relationship between Charlie, and his wonderful friends Angel and Louis.
The book is quite dark, Charlie is obviously still mourning the death of his wife and daughter and is putting all his energy into making his Grandfather’s old home habitable. When he is asked to try and get child support from an old acquaintance he is placed yet again in danger.
I enjoy the supernatural elements in these novels. I just wish there more of them. They add a different slant to a storyline that some of which if fairly common. That of various gangs causing havoc for anybody who is unlucky enough to get too close. But there is also a less common storyline of a killer who has been in operation across generations. This was the story I was much more interested in and it was very sinister.
I love the relationship that Charlie has with Angel and Louis. The banter adds light heartedness to the creepy and often violent storylines. I hope that they continue to appear in subsequent novels.
This is a series that I need to catch up on. I’ve only read two of them, I think there are fifteen so I have a few to go. Many of them I don’t know the synopsis but the last two I have seen sound amazing. I have been reliably informed that they need to be read in order so I better get on with it.

He Said, She Said by Erin Kelly – Review

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About the Book

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack.
She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, four lives change forever.
Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear.
And while Laura knows she was right to speak out, she also knows that you can never see the whole picture: something is always hidden… something she never could have guessed.

My Review

He Said, She Said is one of the best books that I have read this year.
Told by two different people over a period of fifteen years it focuses on Laura and Kit who are witnesses to an attack at a festival to celebrate the eclipse. When Laura makes an error of judgement at the trial she is afraid of the consequences. But she doesn’t expect to be still living in fear years later. Beth, the young woman who was attacked is very much a part of their lives but they are not comfortable with her being so close to them. Laura’s story covers the way she has suffered since the trial and how she has kept it secret but Kit’s shows a more selfish side and how he has done things that places them in more danger.
I love a book with more than one narrator that also covers more than one period in time and I should imagine that it is difficult to do. Erin Kelly though has done it very well. There is a lot of drama and tension all the way through the book and both Laura and Kit have really suffered since the eclipse. At times, I felt very tense while reading and when it switched narrator I couldn’t wait to return to see what happened next.
The court scenes were the most convincing that I have read. A very convincing villain who maintained his innocence, a ruthless lawyer who had no sympathy at all for a victim. It was also, just as terrifying as I imagine it to be on a witness stand.
This is only the second book I have read by this author and I’m looking forward to reading more by her.
Erin Kelly will be appearing at First Monday Crime on the 6th March. This looks like a very interesting evening and details can be found here

With thanks to the publisher for the copy via NetGalley.

Finders Keepers by Stephen King.

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About the Book

1978:
Morris Bellamy is a reader so obsessed by America’s iconic author John Rothstein that he is prepared to kill for a trove of notebooks containing at least one more unpublished novel.
2009:
Pete Saubers, a boy whose father was brutally injured by a stolen Mercedes, discovers a buried trunk containing cash and Rothstein’s notebooks.
2014:
After thirty-five years in prison, Morris is up for parole. And he’s hell-bent on recovering his treasure.
Now it’s up to retired detective Bill Hodges – running an investigative company called ‘Finders Keepers’ – to rescue Pete from an ever-more deranged and vengeful Morris…

My Review

When I read Mr Mercedes earlier this year I found it very difficult to put down. Finders Keepers was a little different. I did enjoy it, but the story leading up to ‘modern day’ was a little slow. Bellamy isn’t a nice person, a passionate reader who takes offence when an author doesn’t treat the character he created with the respect that he felt he deserved. He does a long sentence in prison, for unrelated crimes but the account of his time there didn’t really appeal to me.
However, when Hodges and his friends Jerome and Holly appeared I enjoyed it more. After all, who couldn’t like Holly, she is a fantastic character. I felt very sorry for Pete. His family was torn apart by Brady who appears in some very creepy scenes in this novel even though they are only brief. He decides to help them with the cash he finds but in doing so he places them all in danger. Not only from Bellamy but also the book dealer who is another nasty individual.
It could be read as a stand-alone but to get the best out of it you really need to have read Mr Mercedes. Only a few characters are in both but parts of the storyline are linked. I already have End of Watch, the final part of the trilogy on my bookshelf and I plan on reading very soon.

The Trespasser by Tana French.

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About the Book

Antoinette Conway, the tough, abrasive detective from The Secret Place, is still on the Murder squad, but only just. She’s partnered up with Stephen Moran now, and that’s going well – but the rest of her working life isn’t. Antoinette doesn’t play well with others, and there’s a vicious running campaign in the squad to get rid of her. She and Stephen pull a case that at first looks like a slam-dunk lovers’ tiff. All she and her partner have to do is track down Lover Boy and bring him in. Then it’ll be back to business as usual, watching from a distance as the real detectives go up against the psychopaths. Except when Antoinette takes a good look at the victim’s face, she realises she’s seen her somewhere before. And suddenly the conviction that there’s a different answer takes her breath away.

My Review

The first book that I have read by Tana French it is one of a series of books about the Murder Squad in Dublin. Apparently each novel concerns a different member of the squad so it didn’t matter that I hadn’t read the previous books.
Antoinette Conway is the lead detective here, she has a hard time settling into her job. Some of the other detectives give her a hard time but she also doesn’t do anything to help herself. I had quite a lot of sympathy for her partner Steve Moran.
The case they are investigating appears to be a domestic but neither of them are convinced. Some of the scenarios they come up with appear to be farfetched but as you read further and begin to work out what could have happened it becomes more believable.
The best parts of the novel for me was when the police were questioning suspects and witnesses. I found each occasion mesmerizing especially the ones that included Breslin. I loved the way that whoever they were questioning was manipulated into revealing their feelings or suspicions.
Definitely a series that I will look at more closely in the future, its great for anybody who likes police procedural fiction.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy via NetGalley.