The Shadows of Men by Abir Mukherjee – Review.

About The Book

Calcutta, 1923. When a Hindu theologian is found murdered in his home, the city is on the brink of all-out religious war. Can officers of the Imperial Police Force, Captain Sam Wyndham and Sergeant Surendranath Banerjee track down those responsible in time to stop a bloodbath? 

Set at a time of heightened political tension, beginning in atmospheric Calcutta and taking the detectives all the way to bustling Bombay, the latest instalment in this ‘unmissable’ (The Times) series presents Wyndham and Banerjee with an unprecedented challenge. Will this be the case that finally drives them apart?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to read all of the books in this series, I have only read the first, but this book was easily read as a standalone novel, and made me more determined to read the books that I haven’t had the time to read.

The novel is dual narrative with both Sam and Suren revealing the predicament they face. It is evident immediately to the reader the danger that Suren faces,in many ways before he does. His accusers are British, he is Indian and despite him being a police officer he is in danger of going to the gallows. Regardless of the fact that he is innocent. The more you read Suren’s account, you see how betrayed he feels by the system and by his colleagues who just assume he is guilty because of his religion.

With Sam, you see the determination to prove that Suren is innocent, the frustration at some of the decisions made and his increasing reliance on some brilliant female characters. 

Because I haven’t read all of this series it was a joy to see Sam without his opium addiction. I could see him as an officer who was coping without the need for the drug and the guilt at needing it. Part of his story is upsetting, his memories of his war experience, but I also got a lot of enjoyment out of his cynicism and frustration when things didn’t entirely go got plan. 

This novel shows how powerful a tool manipulation is. And how even though it takes place a 100 years ago it could just as easily happen today. There were times I felt chilled at the danger innocent people faced for being duped by those who had power and the means. 

But it also showed a fascinating country with some wonderful characters. There were so many who made an impression on me, many of whom were probably invisible to the ones who had authority or a better life. 

The Family Friend by C. C. MacDonald – Review.

About The Book

KEEP YOUR FRIENDS CLOSE. BUT YOUR ENEMIES CLOSER…

Erin lives an idyllic life by the seaside with her baby boy and Australian fiancée. She’s upbeat and happy – a natural mum. At least that’s what her thousands of followers on Instagram think.

In the real world, Erin is struggling with anxiety and finding it difficult to connect with her screaming son. So when a famous agent offers to make her the biggest Instamum out there, she’s over the moon. And when Amanda, a family friend who’s visiting from Australia, says she’ll move in and babysit to help make it happen, it seems like the stars have finally aligned for Erin’s exciting new career. 

But when a devastatingly revealing video is posted online by an anonymous troll, Erin’s brought crashing back to earth. As everything she’s worked for starts to slip away, Erin must find out how far she can trust those closest to her…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Family Friend was a book that appealed to me straight away. A face from the past where you couldn’t decide if they were friend or foe, a family with a young baby learning to adapt and the increasingly popularity of social media influencers. It was the latter of these that interested me most, like many I am dubious about the reliability of influencers and how genuine those who get paid a fortune to promote a product are. 

Erin was somebody I would definitely describe as an unreliable narrator and at first I didn’t like her at all. She seemed more obsessed with her on screen image and number of followers than she did with her baby. But as the novel progressed and she started to spend less time on screen and more time bonding with Bobby I liked her more. And I felt that she liked herself more too, she was definitely a character who was too hard on herself.

This novel is all about manipulation. The way the public are made to believe what they see on social media and the effect that the desire to be seen had on Erin’s life. And there are also glimpses of a diary from the past where a different side of control was shown. 

It isn’t an easy novel to read but it is one I would recommend. 

Don’t Turn Around by Jessica Barry – Blog Tour Review

About The Book

Two strangers, Cait and Rebecca, are driving across America. 

Cait’s job is to transport women to safety. Out of respect, she never asks any questions. Like most of the women, Rebecca is trying to escape something. 

But what if Rebecca’s secrets put them both in danger? There’s a reason Cait chooses to keep on the road, helping strangers. She has a past of her own, and knows what it’s like to be followed.

And there is someone right behind them, watching their every move…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Don’t Turn Around is an extremely fast paced novel that was also very quick to read. Many people could easily read it in one sitting.

It has two main narrators, Cait and Rebecca but there are also occasional chapters from others who feature, none of whom were particularly likeable. It wasn’t easy to work out who was responsible for the danger that faced the two women on their journey across the border. I liked both of them and appreciated the way they gained each other’s trust.

There were many reasons why this novel worked for me. The uncertainty who was responsible, the reasons why they might be and what their true feelings were. How these men were known to the women but neither of them had any idea what they really thought. The storyline itself. Original and heartbreaking and impossible to judge. And also, the start of a friendship and feeling of being able to trust for both women. Something lacking in both of their lives.

Jessica Barry is the pseudonym for a well known American author, I have never read any other books under either name. I will definitely be so soon.

Keep Him Close by Emily Koch – Review

About The Book

ONE SON LIED. ONE SON DIED.

Alice’s son is dead. Indigo’s son is accused of murder.

Indigo is determined to prove her beloved Kane is innocent. Searching for evidence, she is helped by a kind stranger who takes an interest in her situation. Little does she know that her new friend has her own agenda.

Alice can’t tell Indigo who she really is. She wants to understand why her son was killed – and she needs to make sure that Indigo’s efforts to free Kane don’t put her remaining family at risk. But how long will it take for Indigo to discover her identity? And what other secrets will come out as she digs deeper?

No one knows a son like his mother. But neither Alice nor Indigo know the whole truth about their boys, and what happened between them on that fateful night.

Keep Him Close is a dark domestic drama from an award-winning writer.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The first thing that struck me whilst reading this fascinating novel is that you shouldn’t be too quick to judge people. For example, my first opinion of Alice was that she was cold and unapproachable. My first opinion of Lou was that he was a thug who had no respect. I was wrong about both, but it took a while, especially with Lou to see, what they were really like. My thoughts regarding Alice changed gradually as I saw her way of coping in secret and started to understand why she came across as so unfriendly.

 Most of the narrative switches between Alice and Indigo, you see how they both cope, or otherwise, with the way their lives have been destroyed by Lou’s death. But there are occasional chapters that concern the other characters and you start to see what happened on the night out. 

This is a crime novel but for me it was more a character study. How different people react to an impossible situation and how they try and improve it. It shows the strengths and the flaws in all of the characters and how important family and friends are. 

The Snakes by Sadie Jones – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Bea and Dan, recently married, rent out their tiny flat to escape London for a few precious months. Driving through France they visit Bea’s dropout brother Alex at the hotel he runs in Burgundy. Disturbingly, they find him all alone and the ramshackle hotel deserted, apart from the nest of snakes in the attic.

When Alex and Bea’s parents make a surprise visit, Dan can’t understand why Bea is so appalled, or why she’s never wanted him to know them; Liv and Griff Adamson are charming, and rich. They are the richest people he has ever met. Maybe Bea’s ashamed of him, or maybe she regrets the secrets she’s been keeping. 

Tragedy strikes suddenly, brutally, and in its aftermath the family is stripped back to its rotten core, and now neither Bea nor Alex can escape…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Snakes was one of those books where I was mesmerised but also horrified by the characters. There wasn’t that many, the five members of the family, the police and the lawyers were the main ones but there was only one who I had any empathy for. That character was Alex, broken and struggling with events from his childhood and addiction. Bea was one I had mixed feelings about. I had sympathy for her but I think she could have done a lot more. She let Alex down and she wasn’t honest about her family life with Dan, her husband. Most of the others made me cringe.

I found this novel difficult to put down but strangely a long time to read. I think it was because the characters were so horrible and I felt I had to absorb every description of them. I struggle to pick out one phrase but every time Griff ‘spoke’ I felt sickened. Rude, a critic and a bully doesn’t even begin to describe him.

I loved the descriptions of the setting, the dilapidated hotel in a remote French village. The peace and quiet that was tarred by the arrival of a family that could only be described as venomous as the snakes in the title. I could understand why Alex would choose to live there rather in the huge mansion with his parents. 

The ending wasn’t what I expected and I have read differing opinions on it. It is one that I will be thinking about for a few days.