And So It Begins by Rachel Abbott – Review.

 

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About The Book

Cleo knows she should be happy for her brother Mark. He’s managed to find someone new after the sudden death of his first wife – but something about Evie just doesn’t feel right…

When Evie starts having accidents at home, her friends grow concerned. Could Mark be causing her injuries? Called out to their cliff-top house one night, Sergeant Stephanie King finds two bodies entangled on blood-drenched sheets.

Where does murder begin? When the knife is raised to strike, or before, at the first thought of violence? As the accused stands trial, the jury is forced to consider – is there ever a proper defence for murder?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. This is the first book that I have read by Rachel Abbott and I’m in for a treat catching up if they are as good as this.
The scene that faces police officers Stephanie and Jason is a grim one. Af first it appears that both of the people covered in blood are dead but Evie is still alive. And she has a tale to tell.
The novel is mainly about women. Evie, the accused but also victim, Cleo, Evie’s sister-in-law, Stephanie, the police officer who has attended two deaths at the Cliff top house, Harriet a woman’s rights lawyer and Aminah, who I had a lot of sympathy for, she was a friend to both Evie and Cleo and had the misfortune to be caught up in the middle of Evie’s and Cleo’s relationship.
I read this novel via the Pigeonhole app and it was serialised over ten days. Each ‘stave’ ended on a cliffhanger and had me wishing my life away, anxious to find out what would be revealed next.
Very few of the characters were shown favourably. Aminah was the only one that I liked. The others all had too many hidden agendas or secrets. Cleo was probably my least favourite. Too possessive and controlling of her brother and I didn’t like the way she was with her niece.
I changed my mind constantly about what was happening. Why did Evie do what she did? Was Cleo involved in Mia’s death? Or was it all connected by events from years earlier?
Very little went the way I thought it would. I was duped through most of the novel and I wonder if I would have thought differently if I had it read it the normal way. At first I thought the ending a little abrupt, it was definitely unexpected. But on reflection it worked very well.
A fantastic novel, and I loved the way I read it. Having the control taken out of my hands with how much I could read added to the intrigue and Rachel Abbott is an author I am looking forward to reading again.

The Corset by Laura Purcell – Review.

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About the Book

Is prisoner Ruth Butterham mad or a murderer? Victim or villain?

Dorothea and Ruth.

Prison visitor and prisoner. Powerful and powerless.

Dorothea Truelove is young, wealthy and beautiful. Ruth Butterham is young, poor and awaiting trial for murder.

When Dorothea’s charitable work leads her to Oakgate Prison, she is delighted with the chance to explore her fascination with phrenology and test her hypothesis that the shape of a person’s skull can cast a light on their darkest crimes. But when she meets teenage seamstress Ruth, she is faced with another theory: that it is possible to kill with a needle and thread. For Ruth attributes her crimes to a supernatural power inherent in her stitches.

The story Ruth has to tell of her deadly creations – of bitterness and betrayal, of death and dresses – will shake Dorothea’s belief in rationality, and the power of redemption.

Can Ruth be trusted? Is she mad, or a murderer?

My Review

The Corset is a book that contains everything I love in fiction. Historical crime with a gothic twist. It also is convincing portrayal of how difficult it was for those who lived in poverty and the attitudes towards women at the time.
The two women concerned, Dorothea who is a wealthy and single socialite is fascinated by phrenology. She engages in good deeds at the women’s prison and uses the women there to learn more about it. Ruth is one of the young women who she meets and she is the one who intrigues her the most. Because she has been accused of and admitted to murder. The method that Ruth describes is different to every type of murder and as you read her story more is revealed.
I preferred Ruth’s story by a long way. Her tragic childhood and then her experiences at the hands of her employers were eye-opening. More so, because I felt that this was an accurate account of what it would have been like for many. Some of the things that happened to her I had to research myself. I had heard of them but not by the names they were known in the book.
It took me longer to warm to Dorothea. I did have sympathy but at times I found her selfish and condescending. But with her family background and the way she was controlled by her father it got easier to understand her. At times she seemed cold and a little bitter but then I could see a softer side as well. If she was allowed to do what interested her and be with who she wanted she would probably have been completely different.
At times it was creepy but not as much as I expected. Most of the time I thought Ruth’s ‘talent’ was in her head apart from certain events that did happen. I did guess at some of the eventual outcome but there was one part I didn’t see coming and it was one of the better finales in books I have read this year. That much, I read the last chapter again.
I read this book as serialised fiction via pigeonhole so I would like to thank both them and the publisher for the copy received.