Crime

All posts in the Crime category

Blog Tour – Come A Little Closer by Rachel Abbott

Published February 18, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

They will be coming soon. They come every night.

Snow is falling softly as a young woman takes her last breath.

Fifteen miles away, two women sit silently in a dark kitchen. They don’t speak, because there is nothing left to be said.

Another woman boards a plane to escape the man who is trying to steal her life. But she will have to return, sooner or later.

These strangers have one thing in common. They each made one bad choice – and now they have no choices left. Soon they won’t be strangers, they’ll be family…

When DCI Tom Douglas is called to the cold, lonely scene of a suspicious death, he is baffled. Who is she? Where did she come from? How did she get there?

How many more must die? Who is controlling them, and how can they be stopped?

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to Maura Wilding and all at Black Dot Publishers for getting in touch and asking me if I’d like to read a copy of the latest Rachel Abbott thriller in exchange for an honest review. Now I have to be honest, I hesitated a little bit initially. I’m a bit of a stickler for reading things in order and (confession time), I haven’t read a single one of Rachel Abbott’s novels before. However, I have read many, many good things from my fellow bloggers about the other books in the series so I threw my normal caution to the wind and thought I’d give it a go. I’m so glad I did as Come A Little Closer is a gripping, thought-provoking read that can easily be read as a stand-alone and at no time at all did I feel I had missed out too many crucial parts of the back stories of our returning characters.

I mean, who could resist wanting to try this book after reading that thrilling synopsis? It begins, as the synopsis suggest with two women sitting in a kitchen in complete silence and another woman who has made a very bad decision on a night out just before she is due to get married. Who are these women and how do they connect to the narrative? All will become clear, but the suspense was already needle sharp and I loved the whole mystery behind these intriguing women. Then we meet our main character, Callie who is attempting to escape a miserable relationship by going on a cruise. She meets an elderly lady whilst on holiday (and a rather intense young man) the former of whom provides an emotional crutch on which she can lean on and spout all her worries about the relationship she has with her horribly leech-like, very persistent and stubborn boyfriend.

Sooner or later however, Callie is forced to return to reality and face her demons, including her boyfriend. What she isn’t expecting is for her life to take such an unexpected and dangerous turn that has her questioning everything, including her own sanity. Combined with all of this, as if this wasn’t enough drama, we have DCI Tom Douglas who is investigating a strange murder of a woman found in the snow and they are unsure whether she took her own life or there are suspicious circumstances involved. When tenuous connections are found to another historical death, Tom must discover what on earth is happening to these women and all these other links in the narrative start to make a horrific kind of sense.

I didn’t mean to make my explanation of the novel so long but honestly, there is so much that could be said about it! From the very first page, you start to understand that you are dealing with a very convoluted story, involving multiple characters with potentially, numerous twists and turns to be had. Essentially, this is exactly what I got from Come A Little Closer. It’s thrilling, occasionally shocking and definitely difficult to stop reading once you get started. I became quite invested in the characters, particularly Callie who I found myself hugely frustrated with at points and terribly sorry for at other times. Sometimes she can be very naive and there were times when I just wanted to shake her and open her eyes as to what was going on or push that little bit of courage into her so that she could finally break away from her situation. As the reader, you kind of know what’s going on pretty early in the novel, but that’s no bad thing – what we really want to know as we absorb the tale is WHY? Of course, Rachel Abbott writes a fascinating enough plot to keep you guessing and surprise you in equal terms by the time you get to the grand finale.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Rachel Abbott, born and raised in Manchester, founded her own interactive media company in the 1980s, before selling it and retiring in 2005. She then moved to Italy where she worked on the renovation of a 15th century Italian monastery, and it was here that, one day, she found herself snowed in and decided to begin writing for pleasure.

This became her debut novel Only The Innocent, which she went on to publish via Kindle Direct Publishing, topping their chart for 4 weeks.

A true self-publishing pioneer, Come a Little Closer is Abbott’s seventh novel. All of her previous thrillers have hit no.1 in the Kindle charts. She splits her time between Alderney in the Channel Islands and Italy.

Find Rachel on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5349971.Rachel_Abbott

on Twitter at: @RachelAbbott

on her website at: http://www.rachel-abbott.com

Thank you once again to Maura Wilding and Black Dot Publishers  for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Come A Little Closer was published on the 15th February 2018 and is available from all good bookshops now. If you want some more fantastic reviews don’t forget to check out my fellow bloggers stops for some more fantastic reviews!

Link to book on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/37969850-come-a-little-closer?ac=1&from_search=true

Amazon UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Come-Little-Closer-Rachel-Abbott-ebook/dp/B079GYCX7R/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1518971261&sr=8-1&keywords=come+a+little+closer+rachel+abbott

Advertisements

Broken River – J. Robert Lennon

Published February 6, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A modest house in upstate New York. One in the morning. Three people—a couple and their child—hurry out the door, but it’s too late for them. As the virtuosic and terrifying opening scene of Broken River unfolds, a spectral presence seems to be watching with cold and mysterious interest. Soon the house lies abandoned, and years later a new family moves in.

Karl, Eleanor, and their daughter, Irina, arrive from New York City in the wake of Karl’s infidelity to start anew. Karl tries to stabilize his flailing art career. Eleanor, a successful commercial novelist, eagerly pivots in a new creative direction. Meanwhile, twelve-year-old Irina becomes obsessed with the brutal murders that occurred in the house years earlier. And, secretly, so does her mother. As the ensemble cast grows to include Louis, a hapless salesman in a carpet warehouse who is haunted by his past, and Sam, a young woman newly reunited with her jailbird brother, the seemingly unrelated crime that opened the story becomes ominously relevant.

Hovering over all this activity looms a gradually awakening narrative consciousness that watches these characters lie to themselves and each other, unleashing forces that none of them could have anticipated and that put them in mortal danger. Broken River is a cinematic, darkly comic, and sui generis psychological thriller that could only have been written by J. Robert Lennon.

What did I think?:

I have to admit, I’ve never heard of Broken River or the author, J. Robert Lennon before so I was delighted when it was the first book from my Daunt Books Annual Subscription that my lovely boyfriend gifted me for Christmas last year. I have made it my mission to read and review each book I receive as part of my Bookish Goals/Resolutions which I posted about in January. I’m always slightly concerned about a book subscription as I have a LOT of unread books on my shelves and I always worry that a book is going to be picked for me that I already own. Well, not only did I not already own Broken River but as I mentioned, I hadn’t even picked up on it being published so I was very excited to check out what it was all about.

It’s clearly a crying shame that I didn’t know about this book as it is a wonderful novel that is written in quite a literary style (i.e. gorgeous!) but has that edge of thriller that keeps you gripped, turning the pages quicker than you might do a “normal” literary novel. In fact, when I first started reading it, I was pretty determined that it was going to be a five star read for me. Unfortunately, I had a minor issue that stopped me from giving it the big five but I still insist that this is a fantastic book that needs to be read by more people.

Broken River is initially the story of a family – Mum, Dad and a young daughter who get into a horrific situation where the parents are killed, inches away from their surviving daughter. The perps responsible for the brutal murders are never found and brought to justice. After the daughter is taken into care, the house becomes abandoned, gathering dust, rodents and other house guests, including your typical teenagers who use it as “party central” and the homeless and drug addicts where it becomes a convenient place to sleep/get high.

This is until a new family moves into the house: Karl, Eleanor and teenage daughter Irina, all of whom have their own issues and deep, dark secrets. As we follow their story, we also learn how they all deceive each other, for one reason or another and witness the struggles of their relationships, particularly when an obsession develops with the murky history of the family that came before them and Irina’s insistence that she has found the previous daughter who saw her parents being murdered in such a terrible way. Of course, this news doesn’t stay quiet for long and the family find themselves embroiled in a now very deadly situation when some people think the secrets and crimes of the past should remain buried.

There’s so many things to love about this book, particularly the writing style and most definitely, the variety of intriguing characters that the author develops beautifully. They’re all flawed in some way, particularly the villains of the piece (of course!) and especially the father, Karl whose little ways and the mistakes he makes, potentially hurting his family forever, really got under my skin and made me cross but I literally loved to hate him. Yes I might have made a little huff of anger at him during several parts of the narrative but who hasn’t groaned at a nasty character that you can’t stand in a novel? For me, that just means that J. Robert Lennon has done his job properly and written people that I can either really connect with i.e. Eleanor, Irina or others that I just want to throw in a river.

Additionally, I thought it was fantastic that he gives some of his more villainous characters quite a human edge and you can really see their regrets about what they might have done in their past and the sticky situation that they feel they can’t run away from in the present time. Personally, there were only a tiny, minuscule part of this novel that I didn’t quite connect with and stopped me from giving it five stars. There were a few chapters interspersed between the main narrative from the point of view of The Observer. He/she watches certain events as if he is with the character at the time and gives a whole new perspective of their actions. Now I really enjoyed this at the beginning and thought it was quite frankly, a genius move by the author. However, the chapters nearer the end starting getting a bit too philosophical for my liking and sadly, it didn’t evoke the same emotions in me as it did at the beginning. Apart from this, I would urge anyone with an interest in literary fiction and crime to try this book, it might just surprise you. It definitely surprised me.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

 

18 Books I’d Like To Read In 2018

Published February 2, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hi everyone and welcome to a bit of a different post on my blog. I’ve already made some Bookish Goals/Resolutions for the year but I also made a little promise to myself that I would do a random post every month that I have been inspired to participate in from seeing it either on booktube or from a fellow blogger. A lot of the booktubers that I follow have been posting videos about 18 books they would like to read in 2018 and I thought I’d join in with the fun. So, without any further ado, here are the 18 books I’d like to get to this year!

1.) Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

Why do I want to read it this year?:

Jane Eyre is tied for one of my all time favourite classics (with Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen). My mum got me a beautiful clothbound classic for my birthday a couple of years ago and I’m definitely due a re-read so I’m excited to read it in this beautiful edition.

2.) The Heart’s Invisible Furies – John Boyne

Why do I want to read it this year?:

I’ve read a few John Boyne books now and loved every one of them. I’m really trying hard not to buy hardbacks at the moment but when I read Renee’s @ It’s Book Talk review of it HERE, I bought it immediately. I’m actually reading this very soon as it’s part of the Richard and Judy Spring Book Club 2018 and I’m beyond excited.

3.) The Wisdom Of Psychopaths – Kevin Dutton

Why do I want to read it this year?:

This is a non-fiction book that I think does pretty much what it says on the tin. The reason I want to read it this year is that it’s been on my “to read soon,” shelf for too blinking long now. This needs to happen.

4.) Stasi Wolf – David Young

Why do I want to read it this year?:

I went to see David Young talk about this first novel in this series, Stasi Child at Guildford Library last year and was determined to read the second book in the series. Of course, life and other books got in the way but I’m going to make it one of my priorities this year.

5.) Midwinter – Fiona Melrose

Why do I want to read it this year?:

Midwinter was long-listed for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction last year and I always love to read some of the nominees for this fantastic prize, I find such interesting books are picked. This book got a lot higher on my list after I watched a video from one of my favourite book tubers Simon from Savidge Reads who loved this book and sold it to me incredibly well!

6.) The Rest Of Us Just Live Here – Patrick Ness

Why do I want to read it this year?:

Patrick Ness is one of my favourite authors and I am shamefully behind with his books. That’s a good enough reason for me! I hope to get to his most recent book, Release as well but we’ll see how I get on.

7.) Everything But The Truth – Gillian McAllister

Why do I want to read it this year?:

This is another one of those books that I heard rave reviews about last year and just didn’t get round to reading. I will this year!

8.) End Of Watch – Stephen King

Why do I want to read it this year?:

This is a no brainer for regular visitors to my blog. End Of Watch is the third novel in the Bill Hodges/Mr Mercedes trilogy and I’m really excited to see how the story ends. It left on quite the cliffhanger in the second book, Finders Keepers.

9.) Sleeping Beauties – Stephen King and Owen King

Why do I want to read it this year?:

Oh look another Stephen King book! This is Stephen King’s latest release that he wrote with his son, Owen and this cover does not do justice to how beautiful the book is in real life. My boyfriend bought me a copy to cheer me up after a rough year as I was trying to wait for it to come out in paperback. It’s a chunky beast but I’m so glad and grateful he got it for me, now I can read it even sooner!

10.) Charlotte Bronte – Claire Harman

Why do I want to read it this year?:

This is a non-fiction account of the life of Charlotte Bronte (as I mentioned before, Jane Eyre is one of my all time favourite classics/books). I have been neglecting my non fiction recently and this is another present from my wonderful boyfriend albeit a couple of years ago – oops. This is why I need to get to it this year!

11.) English Animals – Laura Kaye

Why do I want to read it this year?:

I had been aware of English Animals last year and the cover is obviously stunning but it was only after watching book tubers Mercedes from Mercy’s Bookish Musings and Lauren from Lauren And The Books give glowing reviews for this novel that I knew I had to make time for it this year.

12.) Her Husband’s Lover – Julia Crouch

Why do I want to read it this year?:

I met Julia Crouch at a bookish event a little while ago and she kindly signed my copy of this book and was lovely to talk to. I gave this book originally to my sister to read as she’s a big Julia Crouch fan but now I’m determined to read it for myself, especially after seeing Chrissi’s wonderful review.

13.) The House In Smyrna – Tatiana Salem Levy

Why do I want to read it this year?:

Confession time. This is a review copy that the lovely people at Scribe were kind enough to send me that I thought I had lost and have found recently. I remember why I was so excited to read it when it arrived and I’m definitely going to be checking it out soon.

14.) Eating Animals – Jonathan Safran Foer

Why do I want to read it this year?:

This is another non-fiction book that I’ve had on my shelf for a long, long time and I keep meaning to read it but keep getting distracted by other books. It promises to change the way you look at eating meat so I’m intrigued. My boyfriend and sister are vegetarians but I still love the taste of meat…even if I feel very guilty about doing so!

15.) The Man Who Died – Antti Tuomainen

Why do I want to read it this year?:

My lovely blogger friend Stuart from Always Trust In Books sent me some wonderful books and I loved the sound of all of them but I’m especially intrigued by this one, just read his review to see why.

16.) We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler

Why do I want to read it this year?:

Yes, it’s been on my shelves for ages. Sigh! It won a host of awards and was nominated for the Man Booker Prize in 2014. Plus, I think my sister is quite keen to read it so I need to get started so I can pass it on to her!

17.) The Death House – Sarah Pinborough

Why do I want to read it this year?:

I can’t even remember buying this book (hangs head in shame) but re-reading the synopsis right now and hearing great things about this author from other bloggers I know that I need to start reading some Sarah Pinborough. As I already have this book this seems the perfect place to start.

18.) Miss Jane – Brad Watson

Why do I want to read it this year?:

I bought this book on the London Bookshop Crawl in Oxford last year which I went to with my sister and fellow blogger, Chrissi Reads. Of course I’m a sucker for a beautiful cover so it was that I have to admit that initially attracted me. However, the synopsis cemented the deal and I couldn’t resist buying it.

So that’s the 18 books I’d like to read in 2018! I’d love to hear from you guys, have you read any of these books? If you have, what did you think? What books would you recommend I get to sooner rather than later this year? If any other bloggers fancy doing (or have done) their 18 books to read in 2018 please leave your link down below, I’d love to check out what you really want to read this year.

Blog Tour – Hydra (Six Stories #2) – Matt Wesolowski

Published January 30, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the north west of England, 26-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, father and younger sister to death with a hammer, in an unprovoked attack known as the “Macleod Massacre.” Now incarcerated at a medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will speak to no one but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose Six Stories podcasts have become an internet sensation. King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case, interviewing five witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was a diminished as her legal team made out. As he unpicks the stories, he finds himself thrust into a world of deadly forbidden “games,” online trolls, and the mysterious Black-eyed Children, whose presence extends far beyond the delusions of a murderess.

What did I think?:

How can I even start writing about a book that knocked me for six? I’m not even sure if any of these ramblings (ok, gushings) about the second book in Matt Wesolowski’s Six Stories series will make any sense but I’ll try my very best to be somewhat coherent and make you all want to read the book if you haven’t done so already. Hydra is the second book in the author’s series and if you haven’t read my Six Stories review yet, it’s structured like a true crime podcast where the host, Scott King, takes a troubling criminal case from the past and interviews six people involved with the victim/perpetrator to get a better idea of what happened. To be perfectly honest, I began Hydra doubting the author could pull off another novel that lived up to the dizzying heights of the first but he completely proved me wrong. This story was even more thrilling, delightfully eerie and as beautifully accomplished as Six Stories. I now consider myself a confirmed fan for sure.

In this new case, Scott is investigating the strange case of the “Macleod Massacre” and at the start of the novel, we are fully aware of our perpetrator, Arla Macleod who beat her younger sister, mother and stepfather to death with a hammer. She was convicted of murder under diminished responsibility due to a fragile mental state and is ensconced in a maximum security institution for other criminals with mental health issues. Scott is the only person who manages to get an interview with her to explain her side of the story and he also talks to other people close to Arla, either friends she went to school with or people that became close to her and could shed some light on the daily mental torments she began to suffer.

As the reader, we already know what happened in this case, unlike Six Stories but the fascinating thing about Hydra is that the author meticulously unpicks the reasons why the murders may have been committed. I’m not going to give any clues or spoilers myself except to say that there’s a lot more to this case than meets the eye and a multitude of surprises lurking beneath the surface. It really gives a wonderful insight into the delicate nature of the human mind, how impressionable teenagers can be, the importance of a solid family life and good friendships and the potential dangers of the Internet. Like Six Stories, this book also has an otherworldly, slightly paranormal feel based on urban legends and supernatural games that really reminded me of when I was a teenager myself at boarding school in Scotland. My friends and I used to terrify each other with the Bloody Mary game in our bathroom and more frighteningly, the ouija board and sometimes, I think it’s sort of a rite of passage children have to go through i.e. pushing the boundaries of what frightens them.

The scariest part for me about this novel was the inclusion of some very disturbing “black-eyed children,” that are written so hauntingly, you really want to look over your shoulder just to make sure they aren’t standing behind you or, more aptly, knocking on your door, begging to be let in. I totally believe after reading these uneasy and occasionally startling passages, if Scott Wesolowski wants to forge a career in the horror genre, he’s more than qualified. The best bit about this blog tour has to have been the amazing reviews that I’ve seen from my fellow bloggers. Their feelings and interpretations of Hydra were nothing short of stellar and only served to make me more excited before I read this extraordinary book. So yes, Scott Wesolowski, you have a new super fan and I will be reading everything you write!

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK.
He is an English tutor and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative
writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing
North. Matt started his writing career in horror and his short horror
fiction has been published in Ethereal Tales magazine, Midnight
Movie Creature Feature anthology, 22 More Quick Shivers
anthology and many more. His debut novella The Black Land, a
horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in. Matt was
a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime
Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller Six Stories was an Amazon
bestseller in the USA, Canada, UK and Australia.

Find Matt on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5303620.Matt_Wesolowski

on Twitter at: @ConcreteKraken

Thank you once again to Anne Cater, Karen Sullivan and Orenda Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Hydra by Matt Wesolowski was published on the 15th January 2018 and is available from all good bookshops now.The blog tour is running from 2nd January until the 7th February so don’t forget to check out my fellow bloggers stops for some more fantastic reviews!

Hydra by Matt Wesolowski is the ninth book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!

Six Stories (Six Stories #1) – Matt Wesolowski

Published January 28, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an Outward Bound center. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby. 2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivaled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth.

What did I think?:

I have a confession to make. This book has been sitting on my shelves for quite a long time after I read rave reviews about it from my fellow bloggers and bought it in a charity shop near to where I work last year. Then it sat on my shelves looking quite lonely until the lovely Anne Cater and Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books invited me to be part of the blog tour for Matt’s second book in the Six Stories series, Hydra (coming your way on Tuesday!) I knew that I simply had to read this novel as soon as possible. Well, oh my goodness why on earth did I wait so long? When I first heard about this book, structured like a true crime podcast, I have to admit I was slightly cynical, I didn’t quite understand how it was all going to work. Well, it was quite simple really. We have the rambling thoughts of our interviewee combined with interjections from the podcast host to confirm certain points that are said, explaining things further or giving us extra, juicy tid-bits of information about the case in question.

Throughout the process of reading Six Stories, I felt like I was reading the transcript of a real-life and very thrilling crime podcast. The name of the novel comes from the fact that our host, Scott King hears the stories of six different people connected with the crime he is discussing. Our case follows the mysterious death of a young boy, Tom Jeffries at Scarclaw Fell, an area of natural beauty, a decade earlier in 1997. Tom was with a group of teenage friends at the time yet died all on his own in the early hours of the morning with his friends allegedly not seeing or hearing a thing. In fact, his body was not even discovered until much later by a separate group of friends out in the woods one night as they are brought gruesome discoveries by way of their dogs’ mouths.

Scott King makes no bones about the fact that he is not a police officer, he is merely an anonymous interloper attempting to have a discussion about a mystery that has more than a few holes in it. By speaking to the people involved with Tom Jeffries, including the teenagers who were with him on that fateful night, he hopes to get some answers behind his death. Well, he certainly does. Six Stories took me a while to get used to the narrative style but by about forty pages in I was fully invested and completely enamoured with the author’s voice. I didn’t mind at all that we were led quite slowly and methodically towards the perpetrator and by the fifth chapter, you could kind of guess who it was, but the beauty of this story is that there are so many more surprises and pieces of the puzzle to put into place than I ever would have expected and I was completely taken aback by what was revealed.

I also adored the eerie nature of the urban legends, for example the Beast of Belkeld and Nanna Wrack added an extra, delicious frisson to the proceedings and definitely made me re-analyse every little creak and bang within my own house whilst I was reading. This is such a unique and fascinating novel that I’m absolutely delighted I’ve finally read, I just want to urge everyone else to give it a try. Weighing in at just over 200 pages, it’s a short novel that packs an almighty punch and the author’s talent and style is simply undeniable and one of a kind.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

 

 

 

Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski is the eighth book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!

Holding – Graham Norton

Published January 17, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Graham Norton’s masterful debut is an intelligently crafted story of love, secrets and loss.

The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama; and yet its inhabitants are troubled. Sergeant PJ Collins hasn’t always been this overweight; mother of­ two Brid Riordan hasn’t always been an alcoholic; and elegant Evelyn Ross hasn’t always felt that her life was a total waste.

So when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be that of Tommy Burke – a former­ love of both Brid and Evelyn – the village’s dark past begins to unravel. As the frustrated PJ struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community’s worth of anger and resentments, secrets and regret.

Darkly comic, touching and at times profoundly sad. Graham Norton employs his acerbic wit to breathe life into a host of loveable characters, and explore – with searing honesty – the complexities and contradictions that make us human.

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to Hodder and Stoughton for approving me on NetGalley to read a copy of Graham Norton’s debut novel, Holding in exchange for an honest review. In the UK, Graham is a well respected television  and radio presenter, comedian, actor and now writer and he’s probably one of my favourite people in the public eye at the moment. That means when I heard he was writing a novel of course I was desperate to read it and at the same time a bit worried because I love him as a personality so much. In the end, I have to be honest and say I was a little disappointed with this novel unfortunately. (*hides from barrage of stones from angry Graham Norton fans*). It’s quite a cosy little mystery, yet surprisingly serious at times and I do think that a lot of people would enjoy it which is quite evident from the number of positive ratings on GoodReads. However, it just fell short for me plot-wise and wasn’t thrilling enough to make me want to keep turning the pages.

The novel is set in a small village of Ireland which rarely has anything exciting or dramatic to recommend it. Even our main character, Sergeant PJ Collins has seldom participated in any police business we might normally associate with fighting crime, chasing perpetrators down streets, apprehending burglars, solving murders etc. Duneen is a sleepy, quiet village with a very low crime rate so PJ spends his days quite sedentary, watching over the community and comfort eating in his car. It is only when some skeletal remains are unearthed by some builders on a property and are thought to belong to the previous occupant, Tommy Burke who hasn’t been seen in quite a few years that PJ finally has a case he can really sink his teeth into. Old secrets are finally dug up, in particular regarding Tommy and two women who were in love with him, and PJ begins to realise that his little village, which he thought was so calm and unassuming has a lot more to hide than he originally believed.

There were a lot of positives to be taken from this debut offering from Graham Norton and certainly a lot of things that perhaps a different demographic of reader might enjoy. For instance, I did enjoy the character of PJ, a previously quite hapless, slightly inept and “stuck in his ways” police officer who was actually a really lovely man that just hasn’t had a decent break in life. The finding of old bones and a potential murder case on his patch is really the making of him as a character and I enjoyed his determined attempts to solve the mystery and interactions with other characters in the narrative. However, I did find his character to be probably the better developed ones in the story out of a myriad of other individuals that I didn’t feel were as fleshed out as they could have been. This was unfortunate as there were a number of characters, like Evelyn and Brid that had the possibility of being very intriguing and they just felt a bit flimsy in comparison.

I’m a bit wary of saying anything too negative about this novel as for me it wasn’t a bad story by any means. It’s pleasant, chugs along at quite a nice pace and has quite an interesting mystery at its centre. As I mentioned before, its got quite a lot of positive ratings on Goodreads so perhaps I just fall into that category of reader where it just didn’t touch me as much as it obviously touched other people. Perhaps I was expecting too much, knowing and loving the wonderful personality of the man that is Graham Norton but his writing just fell flat for me which was bitterly disappointing. Maybe the plot wasn’t intricate enough, I didn’t resonate with any of the characters and the “big reveal” wasn’t as spectacular as I had imagined it in my own mind BUT it has got some amazing reviews from other readers so I’m thinking it might be wrong reader in this particular case? Let me know if you’ve read it and what you think, I’d be interested to know.

Would I recommend it?:

Not sure.

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

The Thirst – Jo Nesbo

Published January 13, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

The murder victim, a self-declared Tinder addict. The one solid clue—fragments of rust and paint in her wounds—leaves the investigating team baffled.
Two days later, there’s a second murder: a woman of the same age, a Tinder user, an eerily similar scene.
The chief of police knows there’s only one man for this case. But Harry Hole is no longer with the force. He promised the woman he loves, and he promised himself, that he’d never go back: not after his last case, which put the people closest to him in grave danger.
But there’s something about these murders that catches his attention, something in the details that the investigators have missed. For Harry, it’s like hearing “the voice of a man he was trying not to remember.” Now, despite his promises, despite everything he risks, Harry throws himself back into the hunt for a figure who haunts him, the monster who got away.

What did I think?:

The Thirst is the second book in the Richard and Judy Spring Reads 2018 book club and how happy am I that they’ve picked this book?! Well, very happy I’ll tell you. I do love a bit of Jo Nesbo and have previously enjoyed a number of books in the Harry Hole series in my pre blogging days including The Redbreast, The Snowman and The Leopard. However, I’ve kind of got out of sync with the series and haven’t read any for the longest time. I’m a bit of a stickler for wanting to read things like this in order, as you might know but when Richard and Judy chose Jo Nesbo’s latest book featuring the stalwart and determined detective Harry Hole, I thought I would loosen my rules and regulations slightly and give it a go. I have to admit, I was a bit dubious at the start, especially as it has a certain “vampirish” element which isn’t really my bag (I was expecting some Twilight-esque horrors!) but after a mere fifty pages – WOW. I slipped right back into the author’s characteristic and entertaining writing style, was bowled over by the characters and plot and am determined to go back and re-visit the series, including any books I’ve missed along the way.

As with most thrillers, it would be giving too much away to tell you everything but if you’ve never come across Harry Hole before, you’re in for a treat. At the time of the story, he is working as a lecturer to young, keen, up and coming police officers and is called back into the force when a case arises that he may have a personal invested interest in. The one that got away. The murderer that continues to haunt his dreams is back and has a score to settle. The perp has a very peculiar M.O. that involves Tinder users and a pair of specially made, deadly iron teeth. The investigating detectives must use all the skills and prior knowledge from Harry Hole if they are to catch a vicious predator that puts a whole new spin on the word “psychopath.”

Jo Nesbo is one of the very few authors for me who writes characters that really get under your skin. Of course, I have an especially soft spot for our main man, Harry but he seems to have also developed his female characters wonderfully, including the lead detective on the case, Katrine Bratt and can I just take a moment to applaud the construction of his villain? Sadistic, twisted, terrifying – this is one man it would be quite easy to have a nightmare about when you finish reading this novel! Even the background characters that have less of a prominent role are drawn to perfection, all have distinct personalities and all of them feel incredibly authentic.

Now I want to talk about the plot (and also tell myself off a little bit for being so SMUG). I thought I knew where this book was going. In fact, I was so sure that I knew who the villain was and their motive that I was actually going to reduce my rating of this book by half a star as I thought I had it all worked out! Shame on me because I actually didn’t and I was completely taken back and delighted to be proved wrong. I was also left reeling by all the twists and turns, which were numerous and completely unexpected but so intricate and obviously beautifully planned by the author. The sign of a good book in my mind is when you keep thinking about it when you’re not reading it and can’t wait to return to it. This is how I felt whilst reading The Thirst. It’s a bit of a beast at just over 600 pages but every single page is worth your effort, I promise. I couldn’t get the story or the characters out of my head and I cannot give it any less than the full five stars. If you’ve never read any Jo Nesbo before, this can definitely be read as a stand alone although I would always suggest starting from the beginning of the series (in this case, The Bat) to get the full flavour of Harry’s back story. However, if you’ve read and loved Jo Nesbo before, what are you waiting for?!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

The Thirst by Jo Nesbo is the second book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in The Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2018!