Cruel Summer – James Dawson

Published May 27, 2014 by bibliobeth

16275049

What’s it all about?:

A year after Janey’s suicide, her friends reunite at a remote Spanish villa, desperate to put the past behind them. However, an unwelcome guest arrives claiming to have evidence that Jane was murdered. When she is found floating in the pool, it becomes clear one of them is a killer. Only one thing is for certain, surviving this holiday is going to be murder…

A compelling and psychological thriller – with a dash of romance.

What did I think?:

I have only read one of James Dawson’s novels before which I enjoyed but I had high expectations for this one after a rave review from my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads, whose opinion I definitely trust if she thinks I will enjoy something. Luckily, I wasn’t disappointed! The story revolves around a group of friends who meet for a relaxing break in sunny Spain but have barely seen each other since the previous summer when tragedy struck and one of their friends Janey lost her life. From the very beginning however it becomes clear that what was thought of as a suicide attempt on the part of Janey may have actually been a murder which had to have been carried out by one of the members of the group. This is corroborated when an extra (unwanted?) guest turns up at their villa and confirms that she has the evidence that Janey’s death was neither an accident or suicide and if they want her to keep schtum, they had better pay up.

Then, just like in a horror movie, the hand of Death strikes again, and the group of friends now have to deal with the fact that there may be a murderer amongst them, and we have a pretty mixed bag of characters/potential villains. Furthermore, the group find themselves in a situation way over their heads and contacting the police for assistance is no longer an option. I have to admit I did end up guessing the identity of the killer in the end but not their reasons behind it which was fantastically drawn by our author. One of the things I loved most about this novel is the way it was written, in other words imagined as a film script by one of our lead characters Ryan (superstar wannabe and theatre darling) who I completely fell in love with. In this way we also heard the voices of several other characters as well as Ryan, which was a very effective way of getting into their mindset and motive for murder as they grieve (or cry crocodile tears) over the friend they lost a year ago.

There are so many delicious twists and turns to this novel, and it really reminded me of some of the Point Horror books I devoured as a teenager. As with those, the author kept me turning the pages while I tried to figure out exactly what was happening and who was responsible. And the ending? The pacing just builds and builds right to the nail-biting finale and the dramatic revelations. I found this novel a perfect and exciting young adult read from a very talented author who I hope keeps churning books like these out for a long time to come.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Look out for my review of James Dawson’s new novel Say Her Name, due to be published on June 5th 2014 – coming soon!

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5 comments on “Cruel Summer – James Dawson

  • Fab review, I loved this one too!

    Just as a heads up you might want to check the British Books Challenge June link up post which goes up on my blog tomorrow morning :o)

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