murder mystery novel

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Blog Tour – Red Snow (Tuva Moodyson Mystery #2) – Will Dean

Published January 14, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Red Snow is the eagerly awaited follow-up to Dark Pines, selected for ITV’s Zoe Ball Book Club

TWO BODIES

One suicide. One cold-blooded murder. Are they connected? And who’s really pulling the strings in the small Swedish town of Gavrik?

TWO COINS

Black Grimberg liquorice coins cover the murdered man’s eyes. The hashtag #Ferryman starts to trend as local people stock up on ammunition.

TWO WEEKS

Tuva Moodyson, deaf reporter at the local paper, has a fortnight to investigate the deaths before she starts her new job in the south. A blizzard moves in. Residents, already terrified, feel increasingly cut-off. Tuva must go deep inside the Grimberg factory to stop the killer before she leaves town for good. But who’s to say the Ferryman will let her go?

What did I think?:

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the blog tour today for the second book in Will Dean’s fabulous Scandinavian crime series featuring Tuva Moodyson who has now been officially confirmed as one of my new favourite characters in fiction. I was incredibly silly and delayed reading the first in the series, Dark Pines until recently but now I’ve read both, I’m delighted to count myself as an eager fan. Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this blog tour and to Point Blank, One World Publications for sending me a complimentary copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review.

As I mentioned yesterday in my Dark Pines review, there are some series where you feel the benefit from reading them in order and I’m so glad I took the opportunity to do this with the Moodyson Mysteries. Don’t get me wrong, this book can absolutely be read as a stand-alone, no big secrets from the first novel are given away but I definitely felt the advantage of having read Dark Pines first. You get to understand not only our female protagonist much more intimately but in addition, the town and the other inhabitants so in my opinion, this proved to be fantastic preparation for entering the town of Gavrik once more in Red Snow.

Will Dean, author of Red Snow, the second novel in the Tuva Moodyson Mysteries.

Plucky journalist Tuva Moodyson is just about to leave town for a brand new job in journalism in a different town when she becomes embroiled in another story. As the synopsis suggests, it encompasses a suicide, a murder, family secrets and drama that surround the Grimberg dynasty, owners of the large liquorice factory in the town. Once more, Will Dean has used the minutiae of everyday life in a small town in Sweden, the bitter, unforgiving weather and a fascinating mystery to produce a compelling narrative which had me hooked from the very first pages. As I’ve alluded to, I was already pretty enamoured with our female lead so to be perfectly honest, I think I would have enjoyed this novel no matter how fast or slow the pacing of the story was but it was terrific to be presented with a story where the timing of events was as close to perfection as I think it’s possible to be!

There are slower, almost gentile moments where the reader gets to crack the hard, outer shell of Tuva’s character and discover she is a lot more vulnerable than she makes herself out to be. I’m always a huge fan of character development in novels and with Red Snow, it ticks all the necessary boxes in this respect. From what we know already about Tuva, she is a fighter. She doesn’t let the fact she is deaf become an obstacle in her life, she has dealt with hardship, heart-break and grief and come out stronger on the other side and in this novel, we get to see her open up and begin to let people in. Then there is the other side of her personality – the ruthless, determined search for the truth even if she puts herself at risk in the process. I just love her.

Salta katten (salty cat) cat-shaped salty liquorice pastilles. Apparently Scandinavians have loved these sweets since they first came out in 1952! The publishers were kind enough to send me a packet with the book so thank you very much once again to them.

As with all other thrillers I review here, you might know I don’t like to go into too much depth about the actual story but I can tell you a few things. It’s complex and intricate, involving a range of individuals from the Grimberg family themselves to the people who work with them and as Tuva edges closer and closer towards unravelling both the suicide and the murder, it becomes so gripping, I found it impossible to put down until I had discovered what exactly had happened. I was slightly concerned that I might have figured out the villain of the piece after I worked out the ending of Dark Pines but this time, I was over the moon to realise that this time, I was wrong!

I do hope that even though Tuva Moodyson is leaving Gavrik behind, the author will continue to write books in the series. I feel like as a character, Tuva has hidden depths and dark secrets that we haven’t even realised yet and I’d be overjoyed to see her involved in another case, doing what she does best. Will Dean has set a whole new bar for Scandinavian crime fiction that values equality, diversity and celebrating the differences between various communities/individuals and I thoroughly enjoy everything his writing stands for. In the words of Oliver Twist: “Please Sir, can I have some more?!”

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

AUTHOR INFORMATION

WILL DEAN grew up in the East Midlands, living in nine different villages before
the age of eighteen. After studying at the LSE and working in London, he
settled in rural Sweden with his wife. He built a wooden house in a boggy
forest clearing at the centre of a vast elk forest, and it’s from this base that he
compulsively reads and writes.

Find Will on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4448825.Will_Dean

or on Twitter at: @willrdean

Thank you so much once again to Anne Cater and Point Blank, Oneworld Publications for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Red Snow was published on 10th January 2019 and will be available as a hardback and a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to Red Snow on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40675503-red-snow

Link to Red Snow on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Red-Snow-Tuva-Moodyson-Mystery/dp/1786074796/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1547295714&sr=8-1

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Dark Pines (Tuva Moodyson Mystery #1) – Will Dean

Published January 13, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

An isolated Swedish town. A deaf reporter terrified of nature. A dense spruce forest overdue for harvest. A pair of eyeless hunters found murdered in the woods.

It’s week one of the Swedish elk hunt and the sound of gunfire is everywhere. When Tuva Moodyson investigates the story that could make her career she stumbles on a web of secrets that knit Gavrik town together. Are the latest murders connected to the Medusa killings twenty years ago? Is someone following her? Why take the eyes? Tuva must face her demons and venture deep into the woods to stop the killer and write the story. And then get the hell out of Gavrik.

What did I think?:

Dark Pines was originally published about this time last year and just prior to publication, I remember the huge buzz about it from some of my fellow bloggers. Rave reviews began pouring out of the blogosphere and I completely bought into the hype, desperate to figure out why they were all shouting from the rooftops about it. Then I did what I so often do – purchased the book and let it sit on my shelves for months, gathering dust. Well, thank goodness for the second book in the series, Red Snow, which has just been released from Point Blank, Oneworld Publications because I was invited to be on the blog tour for it (check out my post tomorrow!) and it gave me the kick up the butt that I sorely needed to read the first in the series. I’m a bit of a stickler for reading things in order, which you might know if you’re a regular reader but I’m really glad I did with this series. I’ll talk about that a bit more in my review for Red Snow but for now, if I could choose three words to describe Dark Pines? Atmospheric, intricate and chilling – and that’s the story I’m talking about, not just our freezing, Swedish wintry setting!

Will Dean, author of the Tuva Moodyson Mystery series which begins with Dark Pines.

The author, Will Dean, is actually British by birth but now lives in rural Sweden in the midst of a huge forest within a house that he built himself. This gives him the perfect licence to become a giant within the field of Scandinavian crime fiction and he does an excellent job, fitting admirably within that tight little niche. As a Swedish resident, he has obviously put the work in when creating a cast of Swedish characters in a small town with all the tiny quirks and oddities that come with living in such a remote location. It feels like he has drawn heavily and been inspired by his own experience and expertly describes the isolating quality of such a difficult place to live in, especially when you throw in the inclement weather, dangerous animals and indeed for the world of Dark Pines…..dangerous people.

A Swedish forest in winter – perhaps similar to Utgard forest in Dark Pines?

Dark Pines boasts some absolutely terrific characterisation – authentic characters that jump off the page and stay with you long after you finish the novel. I was particularly impressed with our lead female protagonist, journalist Tuva Moodyson who has been deaf since a young age and requires hearing aids but her slight disability does not affect in any way her ability to do her job or impacts the way she interacts with other characters in the story. She encounters prejudice, misunderstanding and plain ignorance along the way but I adored the way she didn’t let it defeat her and counteracted the minority of doubters with intelligent and inoffensive remarks of her own. It was wonderful to see Will Dean bringing the outsiders like Tuva and her friend Tammy, who runs a Thai food van and giving them the starring roles and kick-ass personalities that they deserve in an otherwise homogeneously white Swedish town.

As I may have already alluded to, the setting of this novel was superb. I read it recently on a short break away in a cottage and it was the ideal time to enjoy it as the temperature was freezing outside and Mr B and I had a roaring fire to curl up by. On every page I read of Dark Pines, I could feel the snow, the ice, the wind and more specifically, the quiet, secluded tension of it all. In fact, the solitary nature of our setting combined with a dark and eerie forest, the potential that you could always get lost just added to the thrill of the narrative without even mentioning that there’s a killer out there with a shotgun that may be replicating heinous murders of the past and removing the eyeballs of the dead!

As the first novel in a series with such a fantastic and inspirational female lead, there wasn’t much not to like about Dark Pines. My only slight disappointment was that I had figured out who the murderer was fairly early on. I do like to be surprised in novels like this so I was hoping that I was wrong but unfortunately, I was right. However, it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story in general, particularly with such a strong cast and setting and it did make me eagerly anticipate the next outing for Tuva Moodyson.

Visit my blog tomorrow for my review of Red Snow (Tuva Moodyson Mystery #2) as part of the blog tour!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Rivals Of The Republic (Blood Of Rome #1) – Annelise Freisenbruch

Published November 26, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

IN THE ABSENCE OF HONOURABLE MEN, WHO WILL DEFEND ROME?

The body of a Vestal Virgin is dragged out of the River Tiber…

A senator bleeds to death in his bath…

And as the authorities turn a blind eye, Hortensia, daughter of the capital’s most celebrated orator, feels compelled to investigate a trail of murders that lead to the dark heart of Rome.

Flying in the face of her husband’s and father’s attempts to protect her, rebelling against the constraints imposed upon her sex, she is drawn ever deeper into the corrupt underworld that lurks in the shadows cast by the city’s all-powerful elite.

When fires begin to rage in the slums and more key witnesses are silenced, only one man can save Hortensia from becoming the next victim of a conspiracy to destroy the Republic: Lucrio, the damaged ex-gladiator to whom she already owes her life. Then the secrets of his own tragic past threaten to subsume them both…

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to Duckworth Overlook Publishers for sending me a copy of the first novel in the Blood Of Rome series in exchange for an honest review. Ancient Roman history has always been one of my favourite things to read about and when I heard that this novel focused on actual figureheads of Rome in 70 BC combined with some crime fiction elements, I jumped at the chance to read a review copy. Overall, I thought this was a fascinating insight into Rome in the days when gladiators were still thrown to the lions, conspiracy was rife, the fight for ultimate power over the city was a constant seesaw of favour, women did not have a strong voice and, for many citizens in the country, standards of living were brutal.

Annelise Freisenbruch sets us up with the most wonderful female protagonist – determined and independent Hortensia, daughter of a famed public speaker in Rome and not adverse to a bit of public speaking herself, despite the controversy it causes in the novel. The story is set with two deaths, a senator who appears to have committed suicide in his bathtub and a Vestal Virgin who appears to have drowned. The difference between this and many other tales in the crime fiction genre is that we immediately know who the villains of the piece are, but what the author does very skillfully is ever so slowly revealing to us the reasons behind why their dastardly plans.

Hortensia becomes quickly embroiled in an intricate plot focused on corruption, greed, desire and above all, power and with the help of a gladiator called Lucrio and the Chief Vestal Virgin Cornelia, begins to unravel the more sinister side of Rome, exposing the lengths some men will go to to get exactly what they want. However, Lucrio too has some huge secrets in his past and this all ties in very neatly so that he can help his mistress, prevent the murderer from striking again and wreak his much longed for revenge.

It is obvious from the very start of this novel that the author has carried out meticulous research on these characters of Rome and she certainly knows her stuff. The characters, especially Hortensia and our villains (which I won’t spoil!) practically leap off the page with their vibrancy and I was certainly entranced by the complex plot but above all, the beautiful description of daily life in Ancient Rome. I think it’s fair to say that there were some points of the narrative that were slower than others but generally this was a highly enjoyable read. I adored the scenes in the court where Hortensia finally gets to show what she is made of and yes, I even did a little “silent cheer,” at her triumphs. If you’re at all interested in Rome or enjoy historical fiction with a slight gritty edge I would say definitely give this book a shot.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

The House – Simon Lelic

Published November 4, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

What if your perfect home turned out to be the scene of the perfect crime?

Londoners Jack and Syd moved into the house a year ago. It seemed like their dream home: tons of space, the perfect location, and a friendly owner who wanted a young couple to have it.

So when they made a grisly discovery in the attic, Jack and Syd chose to ignore it. That was a mistake.

Because someone has just been murdered. Right outside their back door.

And now the police are watching them…

What did I think?:

I remember reading one other novel from Simon Lelic in my pre-blogging days which was called Rupture or alternatively A Thousand Cuts and really enjoyed it, giving it four stars on GoodReads so goodness knows why it’s taken me so long to get round to another one of his books! I borrowed The House from my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads after a bookish trip to Bath when she was reading it and she had so many different facial expressions and reactions whilst she was reading that I was instantly intrigued and begged to borrow it from her. The House has everything you would want from a gritty thriller – unreliable narrators, suspense, mystery, twists and turns and a gripping plot that makes it pretty much impossible to put the book down.

One of my favourite things about this novel is the way in which it is initially written. We hear in alternate chapters from a couple, Jack and Sydney as they recount recent events in their lives that began with them buying a house in London and ended with a murder and the suspicion of the police landing firmly on their doorstep. We learn a little bit about their past lives, in particular Sydney’s traumatic childhood which led to her abusing drugs and unable to trust anyone until she meets the love of her life, Jack. We also learn how they came to buy the house in London, their concerns and misgivings about the process and, crucially, the gruesome discovery that they find when they begin living there which precipitates a host of other events leading to the turbulent situation that the couple find themselves in at the present moment.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot as the beauty of this novel is to go in knowing as little as possible to make the surprises the author springs upon the reader as deliciously astonishing as possible. Luckily, Chrissi didn’t tell me anything (she’s good like that!) but as soon as I saw some of her facial expressions, as I mentioned, I knew I was in for quite the ride and I was right. Simon Lelic writes a fascinating tale where you have no idea what on earth is happening, who to trust/believe and what the possible outcome of such a situation could be and he had me on tenterhooks from the very beginning to the very satisfying conclusion. For me, Sydney felt slightly more fleshed out as a character and I found her back story to be incredibly powerful and moving, especially one scene in particular involving a male character in her life and a gun which sent shivers down my spine. Reading The House has made me definitely want to seek out the author’s other two novels and additionally, makes me hugely excited for anything else he publishes in the future.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

The Wages Of Sin – Kaite Welsh

Published August 14, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Sarah Gilchrist has fled London and a troubled past to join the University of Edinburgh’s medical school in 1882, the first year it admits women. She is determined to become a doctor despite the misgivings of her family and society, but Sarah quickly finds plenty of barriers at school itself: professors who refuse to teach their new pupils, male students determined to force out their female counterparts, and—perhaps worst of all—her female peers who will do anything to avoid being associated with a fallen woman.

Desperate for a proper education, Sarah turns to one of the city’s ramshackle charitable hospitals for additional training. The St Giles’ Infirmary for Women ministers to the downtrodden and drunk, the thieves and whores with nowhere else to go. In this environment, alongside a group of smart and tough teachers, Sarah gets quite an education. But when Lucy, one of Sarah’s patients, turns up in the university dissecting room as a battered corpse, Sarah finds herself drawn into a murky underworld of bribery, brothels, and body snatchers.

Painfully aware of just how little separates her own life from that of her former patient’s, Sarah is determined to find out what happened to Lucy and bring those responsible for her death to justice. But as she searches for answers in Edinburgh’s dank alleyways, bawdy houses and fight clubs, Sarah comes closer and closer to uncovering one of Edinburgh’s most lucrative trades, and, in doing so, puts her own life at risk…

An irresistible read with a fantastic heroine, beautifully drawn setting, fascinating insights into what it was like to study medicine as a woman at that time, The Wages of Sin is a stunning debut that heralds a striking new voice in historical fiction.

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to Tinder Press for approving my request on NetGalley to read this extraordinary novel in exchange for an honest review. I saw Wages of Sin initially on Twitter and it ticked all the boxes for me as a reader. It’s a work of historical fiction (tick), set in Edinburgh (tick) in the Victorian era (tick) that involves a strong female lead character (tick) dealing with a mysterious murder (tick). With so much going for it, there is always the anticipation that it might not be as great as it sounds but luckily I had no worries at all on that account. This book was a fantastic and thrilling debut novel and a truly fascinating look into women in science at a time when it was slightly frowned upon in an arrogantly patriarchal society.

Our main character is Sarah Gilchrist, a highly intelligent woman who dreams of being a doctor but has to leave London after a scandal threatens her standing in the world. She becomes a medical student in Edinburgh and has to struggle on a daily basis with not only the derision of the male students but also the attitudes of her fellow women scholars who become suspicious of her past. Sarah works her fingers to the bone – studying, completing practical and written assessments for her training and then (if that wasn’t hard work enough) assisting a friend at her medical clinic, helping the poor, needy and often “women of ill repute.”

This is where she comes across Lucy, a prostitute who comes in begging for help with an unwanted pregnancy, of course completely illegal in these times. She is turned away only to turn up dead on the anatomy table the next time Sarah sees her. Sarah feels devastated at what has happened but also determined to unearth the secrets of her death, especially when she suspects foul play and discovers tenuous links between Lucy and a professor at the medical school. However, she is treading on very dangerous grounds as some people may desire the secrets that died with Lucy to remain buried and may not necessarily welcome Sarah’s interference.

The Wages Of Sin was an exciting, roller-coaster ride of a novel that had me hooked from page one. Kaite Welsh writes with such a canny eye for detail that you can sense everything in the narrative – the smells, the sounds, the sights and it is brilliantly gritty and difficult to put down once started. Sarah was a fantastic character who was flawed but inherently such a good person and I loved her dogged determination in getting at the truth behind an obviously grisly murder. One of my favourite things about this novel though had to be learning about what female medical students had to suffer when studying to become doctors. They went through abominable treatment being mocked on a daily basis for their choice of career and the lack of confidence in what they could achieve was quite honestly, disgusting. Thank goodness times have changed! For a debut novel, this is an amazing piece of work and so beautifully written. I thoroughly enjoyed every page and cannot wait to see what Kaite Welsh does next.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

The Trespasser (Dublin Murder Squad #6) – Tana French

Published August 9, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A new novel from the New York Times bestselling author.

Being on the Murder squad is nothing like Detective Antoinette Conway dreamed it would be. Her partner, Stephen Moran, is the only person who seems glad she’s there. The rest of her working life is a stream of thankless cases, vicious pranks, and harassment. Antoinette is savagely tough, but she’s getting close to the breaking point.

Their new case looks like yet another by-the-numbers lovers’ quarrel gone bad. Aislinn Murray is blond, pretty, groomed to a shine, and dead in her catalogue-perfect living room, next to a table set for a romantic dinner. There’s nothing unusual about her—except that Antoinette’s seen her somewhere before.

And that her death won’t stay in its neat by-numbers box. Other detectives are trying to push Antoinette and Steve into arresting Aislinn’s boyfriend, fast. There’s a shadowy figure at the end of Antoinette’s road. Aislinn’s friend is hinting that she knew Aislinn was in danger. And everything they find out about Aislinn takes her further from the glossy, passive doll she seemed to be.

Antoinette knows the harassment has turned her paranoid, but she can’t tell just how far gone she is. Is this case another step in the campaign to force her off the squad, or are there darker currents flowing beneath its polished surface?

What did I think?:

I didn’t start off reading Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series, of which there are now six books but I read the fifth book, The Secret Place quite recently and enjoyed it so when Richard and Judy picked the sixth book, The Trespasser for their Summer Book Club here in the UK I was pleased to carry on where I had left off. I am now planning to re-visit the series from the beginning at some point when that pesky TBR pile is under better control! The Trespasser is Irish crime fiction at its absolute finest and I really enjoy the rather different writing that characterises this authors style. I have to say, I don’t think some people will get on with it, it’s quite a slow burner of a narrative, like The Secret Place but I think if you can push past the slower parts of the narrative you might be pleasantly surprised.

Our protagonist and returning Detective Antoinette Conway is in her dream job, the Murder Squad with partner in crime, Detective Stephen Moran who assisted Antoinette and helped her crack a tricky case in the previous novel, The Secret Place. They make an excellent team but are faced with further intrigue and puzzlement when the latest case lands on their desks. At first, it looks like a standard domestic violence/possible manslaughter incident however things aren’t quite adding up for Antoinette and Stephen. It seems all a bit too easy to blame Aislinn Murray’s lover, Rory for her untimely demise but there are many things going on behind the scenes that make the detectives questions whether there isn’t something a lot deeper and darker going on. Antoinette is already on shaky ground with the majority of officers in the Murder Squad but the question is, can she risk everything she has worked for in pursuit of justice?

As I mentioned before, unlike a lot of crime fiction you see nowadays, I found The Trespasser rather different in that the plot wasn’t necessarily action-packed. It seemed to have a much deeper and intricate focus on the characters, their back stories, their lives and aspirations and the darker, more gritty side of the police force. I wouldn’t call it a page turner to be perfectly honest, in the normal sense of the word but it did keep me turning the pages for different reasons. I became more invested in the characters and what they had done, felt, were going to do in the future and, as a result I felt better connected with the story as a whole. I really love reading about Antoinette as a character, she isn’t afraid to say what she thinks,  is independent, takes no nonsense and in The Trespasser we get to see a potentially much softer, troubled and more vulnerable side of her character which only made me more intrigued to carry on with the series if she appears in the next novel from Tana French. So to sum up, if you’re in the mood for a slower, more considered crime fiction style, this definitely gets my seal of approval!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

See What I Have Done – Sarah Schmidt

Published May 5, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Haunting, gripping and gorgeously written, SEE WHAT I HAVE DONE by Sarah Schmidt is a re-imagining of the unsolved American true crime case of the Lizzie Borden murders, for fans of BURIAL RITES and MAKING A MURDERER.

‘Eerie and compelling, Sarah Schmidt breathes such life into the terrible, twisted tale of Lizzie Borden and her family, she makes it impossible to look away’ Paula Hawkins

When her father and step-mother are found brutally murdered on a summer morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden – thirty two years old and still living at home – immediately becomes a suspect. But after a notorious trial, she is found innocent, and no one is ever convicted of the crime.

Meanwhile, others in the claustrophobic Borden household have their own motives and their own stories to tell: Lizzie’s unmarried older sister, a put-upon Irish housemaid, and a boy hired by Lizzie’s uncle to take care of a problem.

This unforgettable debut makes you question the truth behind one of the great unsolved mysteries, as well as exploring power, violence and the harsh realities of being a woman in late nineteenth century America.

What did I think?:

First of all, the biggest thank you to the lovely Georgina Moore from Headline and Tinder Press who were kind enough to send me a copy of this astounding debut novel in return for an honest review. To be honest, I’m not sure where to start with this book – I have so much to say and it invoked so many different feelings in me that I’m wary of this review turning into an incoherent gush fest! See What I Have Done is unlike any novel I’ve read before and will probably ever read. The characters, the structure of the plot and especially the stunning writing style all completely blew me away and I still find myself thinking about it days after finishing.

Sarah Schmidt has chosen to focus on a real and rather shocking event that played out in the late nineteenth century involving a young girl called Lizzie Borden who was the main suspect in a double murder of her father and his wife, her stepmother Abby Borden. You may be familiar with the old schoolyard rhyme:

“Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.”

Now in reality, Lizzie was actually acquitted of their murders. Apparently it was thought that the killings were so brutal that no well brought up, middle-class young lady would have been capable of such an act. Sarah Schmidt has chosen to fictionalise Lizzie’s story from a number of perspectives that is, from the point of view of her sister Emma who was not present in the house at the time of the killings, the Irish maid Bridget who at the time had an uneasy relationship with Mrs Borden, a mysterious young man called Benjamin and from Lizzie herself. Each perspective is startlingly honest and intimate and we get a fantastic insight into the strained relationships between different family members, the sadness and frustration of living in a house with difficult and occasionally spiteful parents and the innermost thoughts of a troubled mind.

See What I Have Done is a raw and disturbing read that instantly draws you in with its delicious (yet at the same time disgusting) imagery forged by beautifully descriptive writing and fascinating character studies that have you questioning everybody and everything. It seems like everyone has motive for killing the Borden’s but which one of these individuals had the strength and audacity to wield the axe at the end? As a reader, we’ve got an idea of whom as we draw towards the conclusion but the author will still have you thinking of alternative things that could have happened if others were in the vicinity at the right time. What did I love most about this novel? Apart from the writing style which I could wax on about for days, I enjoyed how she explored the relationship between Lizzie and her older sister Emma which was terribly co-dependent on Lizzie’s part, despite the fact she was supposed to be in her thirties. Her child-like voice, the decisions she made, and the actions she chose added the creep factor to the proceedings and made her an utterly mind-blowing character to read about.

Even the simple act of several characters eating a pear sent shivers down my spine, it was written in such a crystal clear way that played on each one of your senses to the extreme where you could smell the sickness in the house, taste the mutton soup and swallow the pear. If I could sum up my feelings on See What I Have Done (which would be tricky!) I would say: I was nauseated and amazed, disgusted but filled with awe, taken aback but hugely delighted and urge everyone with every fibre of my being to READ THIS BOOK. Sarah Schmidt has a new, ardent fan right here that has “seen what she has done,” loved every minute of it and simply cannot wait to see what she does next.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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