The Heron’s Cry by Ann Cleeves – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

North Devon is enjoying a rare hot summer with tourists flocking to its coastline. Detective Matthew Venn is called out to a rural crime scene at the home of a group of artists. What he finds is an elaborately staged murder – Dr Nigel Yeo has been fatally stabbed with a shard of one of his glassblower daughter’s broken vases.

Dr Yeo seems an unlikely murder victim. He’s a good man, a public servant, beloved by his daughter. Matthew is unnerved though to find that she is a close friend of Jonathan, his husband.

Then another body is found – killed in a similar way. Matthew finds himself treading carefully through the lies that fester at the heart of his community and a case that is dangerously close to home…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have never read a novel by Ann Cleeves before but I have watched her books dramatised for TV. It didn’t take me to long to understand why both are so successful, her writing and character building are wonderful.

With all the characters being new it didn’t take me long to get to know them nor did I feel that I had missed any major developments in their personal lives by not reading the first book. Instead I felt intrigued, Matthew Venn is unlike any character I have met before. His childhood  sounded extremely interesting and is one I want to know more about. Jen, I adored. Liverpudlian, strong and coping with life as a single parent despite her job. I was less keen on Russ, he sometimes came across as bitter and I didn’t care for his attitude towards his colleagues or his wife. 

The case was an interesting one, the small group of friends whose lives were changed by the murders of people they knew. I could visualise their lives clearly. The bereaved artistic young woman, the hippy charmer  and the hardworking couple who wanted more independence but also were reliant on family. And just on the edge were the family whose lives had changed through possible health service failure. I had a lot of appreciation for the way they had to appear in their jobs, masking their real grief, and they were all expert at hiding what they were going through. Their lives and the deeply unsettling events that contributed to their son’s death was the strongest part of the story for me. Possibly because I feel what affected them does happen.

This is only the second book in the series but I can see it being as successful as Vera and Shetland. I hope there will be more.

A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

‘What is wrong with you?’

Laura has spent most of her life being judged. She’s seen as hot-tempered, troubled, a loner. Some even call her dangerous.

Miriam knows that just because Laura is witnessed leaving the scene of a horrific murder with blood on her clothes, that doesn’t mean she’s a killer. Bitter experience has taught her how easy it is to get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Carla is reeling from the brutal murder of her nephew. She trusts no one: good people are capable of terrible deeds. But how far will she go to find peace?

Innocent or guilty, everyone is damaged. Some are damaged enough to kill.

Look what you started.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Girl On The Train was a book I enjoyed reading so I felt that I would like this book. I’m happy to say that I wasn’t  disappointed and in many ways I preferred it.

Told by multiple points of view it shows how a small group of people were affected by the murder of a young man, Daniel, on a canal boat. All knew him and nearly all of them could have been responsible for his murder. And of course all would have a good reason. His character is only there as the victim but they way he is portrayed through memories didn’t show him as a very nice person.

The five people, Laura, Carla, Theo, Miriam and Irene were all completely different. Some I liked, some I didn’t but the two whose narrative I enjoyed most were Laura’s and Irene’s. I loved their connection, Laura’s stubbornness and approach to her life despite her health issues and everything about  Irene was just marvellous. I had great admiration for her determination not to be disregarded because of her age. And reading about her love for her husband and the way she coped since his death was lovely to read. She knew that Angela, Daniel’s mother and Carla’s sister had problems but never judged and always tried to be a friend. Carla and Theo’s attitude towards her was shameful, they were the characters I liked less than the others. Miriam was a character who I wanted to understand more but I often felt that she was more distant. I felt I knew more about her as a teenager when her life changed dramatically rather than in modern day. It was evident that the trauma she suffered still affected her years later. 

The reason why Daniel was killed and who murdered him was a mystery to me until it was revealed. I had no idea at all who it could be. My thoughts  regarding the guilty person and their actions were different to my usual feelings though. This is more than a novel about a murder, it is novel which shows how grief and trauma affect a person’s actions and in this novel I found it impossible to judge them. 

The Woman In The Wood by M. K. Hill – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A reality TV star becomes a suspect in an Essex murder case in the sharp, funny and moving new thriller from M.K. Hill

Three years ago, Danny ‘Abs’ Cruikshank, star of reality show Laid in Essex!, was living the dream. But on the night of the party, everything changed.

It was supposed to be an intimate weekend gathering, just a few close friends in a remote cottage in Wales. But after a night of heavy drinking in the village pub, a local girl was reported missing – and never seen again. Abs and his friends had been the last to see her alive.

No-one was ever charged, but the controversy destroyed Abs’s career. And now one of his mates has been murdered…

DI Sasha Dawson and her team must race against the clock to find the killer before they strike again – but first she must discover what happened to Rhiannon Jenkins on the night she vanished. Will the truth set Abs free? Or bury him?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I don’t watch reality TV, so have never understood the fame and adoration that seems to be handed on a plate to its stars. But I did have a soft spot for Abs, one of the main characters in this very entertaining novel. After becoming a suspect in the disappearance of a young woman he was dropped from a very successful reality TV show. He aches to be back in the limelight. Skint, no other skills apart from his charm and totally deluded about his relationship with his onscreen co-star Kelsey. But he soon discovers that his dream of success and a future with Kelsey fades into insignificance when faced with danger.

Sasha is the police officer who is investigating the death of Abs friend. Unlike her colleagues,in particular Lolly, she is unaware of who Abs is and doesn’t let his fame affect her investigation. I liked her a lot and appreciated the insight into her personal life. There are hints of a tragedy in her past that I wanted to know more about  and I liked that there was nothing revealed that made the later reading of book one in the series unnecessary.

I found this novel to be very original. There is a lot of focus on the investigation which you would expect, but I liked Abs having such a prominent role. His way of coping with what was happening around him was quite refreshing. He felt fear, guilt and disappointment but he was still capable of turning on the charm.

Another two original aspects of this novel were the impact of not knowing what happened to a family member had on a relative’s judgement forcing them do something they wouldn’t do under normal circumstances and the way that the pressure on an overworked police department meant that often other cases suffered.

I did work out who was responsible for the crimes in this novel but I didn’t see everything. I will definitely be reading more by this author. 

The Gathering Storm by Alan Jones – Blog Tour Review

About The Book

Kiel, Northern Germany, 1933. A naval city, the base for the German Baltic fleet, and the centre for German sailing, the venue for the upcoming Olympic regatta in 1936.

The Kästners, a prominent Military family, are part of the fabric of the city, and its social, naval and yachting circles. The Nussbaums are the second generation of their family to be in service with the Kästners as domestic staff, but the two households have a closer bond than most.

As Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist Party claw their way to power in 1933, life has never looked better for families like the Kästners. There is only one problem.

The Nussbaums are Jews.

The Sturmtaucher Trilogy documents the devastating effect on both families of the Nazis’ hateful ideology and the insidious erosion of the rights of Germany’s Jews.

When Germany descends ever deeper into dictatorship, General Erich Kästner tries desperately to protect his employees, and to spirit them to safety.

As the country tears itself apart, the darkness which envelops a nation threatens not only to destroy two families, but to plunge an entire continent into war.

My Review

With thanks to the author for the copy received. The Gathering Storm is the first part in a trilogy and takes place during the 1930s and the first few months of the war. I have read a few books that concern the Second World War but I have never read one quite as detailed as this before. Or one that covers the events from so many different points of view. Adult and children, officers and housewives. Some are Jewish who live in fear of losing everything. Some are lifelong friends or employers who worry about what is happening to their country. Some are social climbers who agree with everything that Hitler and his followers were doing. Their hatred and opinions made my skin crawl.

I found this book equally fascinating and horrifying. It is long, 800 pages, but it wouldn’t have worked in quite the same way if it was shorter. The reader needed to see how the different communities were affected by Hitler and his followers. I learnt so much from reading it. One example was Kristallnacht, I had heard of it but never knew why it happened. 

Even though it was the most difficult to read it was the Nussbaum’s story I wanted to read. Their life would have been typical of so many Jewish families at the time. Losing every bit of their freedom as the 1930s progressed. Their many friends, some who made it to Palestine and some who were deported, all who were losing everything they owned. The abuse their children suffered at school from former friends and teachers, it was heartbreaking to read. More so because you know it would have happened.

I don’t think I have ever felt so tense when reading a novel. I was desperate to know what would happen to the characters I met throughout. I felt relief that at least one survived the experience and was recalling events many years later. I hope there are more.

I need to know what happens next and will definitely be reading the second book in the series. Thankfully I only have a few months to wait. Well done Alan Jones, this novel is extraordinary.

Fragile by Sarah Hilary – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Everything she touches breaks . . .

Nell Ballard is a runaway. A former foster child with a dark secret she is desperately trying to keep, all Nell wants is to find a place she can belong.

So when a job comes up at Starling Villas, home to the enigmatic Robin Wilder, she seizes the opportunity with both hands.

But her new lodgings may not be the safe haven that she was hoping for. Her employer lives by a set of rigid rules and she soon sees he is hiding secrets of his own.

But is Nell’s arrival at the Villas really the coincidence it seems? After all, she knows more than most how fragile people can be – and how easily they can be to break . . .

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Sarah Hilary’s Marnie Rome series is one of the few that I am up to date with and I am a huge fan of her writing and her characters so was looking forward to reading Fragile which is a standalone novel. A few days after finishing it I am still trying to understand my feelings regarding the characters. All of them have given me something to think about. The title of the novel is the best way I have of describing all of them.

There aren’t many characters in the novel but all of them had an impact, especially the women. Nell featured more than Meaghan and Carolyn but I found that every time each of them appeared I found myself analysing them and trying to work out what damage they had caused but also how they had suffered due to others. I tried not to judge but with at least one of the characters it was difficult.

There was an often overwhelming sense of pain and loneliness evident from all of them. This doesn’t make it a depressing novel, but it did make me think about how many in our ‘care’ system are damaged by the ones who have the power to make a difference. Unfortunately much of the storyline is sadly believable and I dread to think what some children in care go through and the reasons why they are there. 

Fragile isn’t a quick read but it is a mesmerising one and the author has proven that she is just as good as writing standalone fiction as well as her series. This reader is certainly looking forward to what will be next.