The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware – Review.



About the Book

When Harriet Westaway receives an unexpected letter telling her she’s inherited a substantial bequest from her Cornish grandmother, it seems like the answer to her prayers. She owes money to a loan shark and the threats are getting increasingly aggressive: she needs to get her hands on some cash fast.

There’s just one problem – Hal’s real grandparents died more than twenty years ago. The letter has been sent to the wrong person. But Hal knows that the cold-reading techniques she’s honed as a seaside fortune teller could help her con her way to getting the money. If anyone has the skills to turn up at a stranger’s funeral and claim a bequest they’re not entitled to, it’s her.

Hal makes a choice that will change her life for ever. But once she embarks on her deception, there is no going back. She must keep going or risk losing everything, even her life…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I always enjoy Ruth Ware’s novels so I was pleased be given the chance to read an advanced copy of her new book.
When Harriet, or as she prefers to be called Hal receives a letter that could make her life easier she jumps at the chance. Despite feeling that it wasn’t intended for her. But the risk that she was in at home in Brighton was nothing compared to what she faced in the now dilapidated home in Cornwall. The house that she goes to is nothing like the image that she had seen on a postcard.
A family, united by the death of their mother, but the undercurrent of malice gets more evident as the novel progresses. It’s difficult to tell which of them, if any, genuinely welcome Hal into their lives. Especially when the will is read.
I loved the way everything was described. The way the house had fallen into disrepair through neglect. Most of the rooms were cold, dark and unwelcoming, Hal’s bedroom especially. I had a vivid impression of a home that wasn’t full of happy childhood memories where everybody was loved and visitors made welcome. Instead this was a home where children grew up in fear of their mother and the housekeeper Mrs Warren. The mother only appears through memories and diary entries but they were a clear image of a woman who wasn’t able to show love easily. Mrs Warren does appear. It did feel a little strange that the family accepted her rudeness and lack of respect. But then I started to wonder what she knew.
I was a little dubious about the storyline involving tarot cards. I have always thought I would be too scared to attend a reading of any kind but the way it was described showed a different way of approaching it. I still wouldn’t do it, but I now think about what the cards reveal slightly differently.
I liked Hal a lot, she’d had a tough life and lost the only parent she had too young. I ached for her to be able to be close to her new family but not knowing who was a threat. For that reason I won’t reveal my thoughts about the other characters. Make up your own mind.

The Limehouse Golem by Peter Ackroyd – Review.



About the Book

Dan Leno, the great music hall comedian, was known in his lifetime as ‘the funniest man on earth’. So how could he have been involved in one of the most curious episodes in London’s history when, in a short period during the autumn of 1880, a series of murders was attributed to the mysterious ‘Limehouse Golem’?

In Peter Ackroyd’s novel the world of late-Victorian music hall and pantomime becomes implicated in a number of sinister scenes and episodes, and the connection between the light and dark sides of nineteenth-century London begins to attract contemporary figures as George Gissing and Karl Marx. But there are also less well-known characters who play a significant role in the narrative. What, for example, is the secret of Elizabeth Cree, about to hang for the murder of her husband?

My Review

I first started to read this book about twenty years ago when it was originally published as Dan Leno and The Limehouse Golem. Then I didn’t really care for it, but over the years the books I choose to read are a lot darker and when the publisher asked if I would like to review I decided to try again. I am happy to say, that this time round I liked the novel much more. So much so that after finishing it yesterday morning, I then went to the cinema to watch the film adaptation. And now I want to reread the book. It’s safe to say I’m a fan!
It is incredibly dark. London isn’t romanticised in anyway. You see the poverty, the prostitution, the death and disease. I could taste the fog, the description of ‘miner’s phlegm’ was a strong indication of how damaging it must have been to health. We’ve probably all seen photographs of Victorian London shrouded in mist but I’ve never thought what it must be like to live in.
There are plenty of violent scenes combined with the scenes from the theatre, both of which are present throughout the entire novel. You see the story from a few points of view which gets a little confusing and it was only in the last quarter that I started to see what was happening.
It’s not a book that has many likeable characters, some are factual some fictional and the only moralistic person was Karl Marx who was saddened by a friend’s death. Everybody else was unfeeling and self-obsessed.
After rereading this novel for the second time I will be interested in reading more by Peter Ackroyd.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

Here and Gone by Haylen Beck – Review.


About the Book.

Audra has finally left her abusive husband. She’s taken the family car and her young children, Sean and Louise, are buckled up in the back. This is their chance for a fresh start.
Audra keeps to the country roads to avoid attention. She’s looking for a safe place to stay for the night when she spots something in her rear-view mirror. A police car is following her and the lights are flickering. Blue and red.
As Audra pulls over she is intensely aware of how isolated they are. Her perfect escape is about to turn into a nightmare beyond her imagining. . .
Dark secrets and a heart-pounding race to reveal the truth lie at the heart of this page-turning thriller.
Full of dark secrets and heart-pounding twists, Here and Gone is the ultimate page-turner.

My Review

When Audra’s children are abducted late at night she is terrified and desperate to get them back. But when she is told that the children were never there she realizes that her dilemma is much worse than she thought. She also must prove that she never hurt them. Luckily, she gets assistance from Danny whose wife had faced the same situation five years earlier. He hopes that by helping her he can also find answers of his own.
I loved Audra, the treatment she received from her husband and her mother in law probably helped her stand up to the police in the local town. She was abused by the media, people she thought were friends and family but she did find a friend in Danny and a local who knew what happened in her town but had never made it public.
This novel is one of the few this year that I have read that I found impossible to put down. It was a novel that I found myself reading in the middle of the night because I’d glimpsed the opening line to the next chapter. A gripping read.
I must be one of few crime fiction readers who wasn’t aware of Haylen Beck’s true identity. It was only when I added to book to my goodreads library that I realized. I hope that the author continues to write under both identities.

Acts of the Assassins by Richard Beard


It was a complete coincidence that I chose to read this very strange novel over the Easter weekend. I knew from the blurb that it was about a cult leader and his followers but had no idea who they were. I thought it was extremely clever, at times humorous but not the easiest to read.
I did feel dubious with what type of novel I might be reading with the chapter headings. I expected it to be quite graphic but with the exception of a couple the details were minimal.
It stretches the imagination, has you thinking what affect religion and belief has in our world when events from the Bible are brought into modern day.
This is the second in a very loose trilogy, I haven’t read the first book, Lazarus is Dead, but didn’t feel this had any negative reading of the book.

Thanks to the publisher for the copy sent for review.