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Monday, 29 February 2016

‘The Red House’ by Emily Winslow

Published by Allison & Busby,
19 February 2015.
ISBN:978-0-7490-1895-5 (HB)

Maxwell Gant and Imogen Wright-Llewellyn are engaged and planning a wedding in the chapel of the Cambridge college where Maxwell has been offered a job as music tutor. But there is one difficulty: Imogen’s parents were killed in a car crash when she was eight and she and her two elder brothers and her younger brother were all adopted by different families. She has traced and made contact with her older brothers but has not managed to find the younger brother Sebastian despite her strenuous efforts. Throughout her life she has been fearful that she might encounter Sebastian and, not knowing who he was, fall in love with him, even marry him. Since Maxwell is younger than Imogen, could he be Sebastian? He assures her that he knows all about his family: his father deserted his mother leaving her with the baby and she and her own mother brought Maxwell up. So Imogen insists on DNA tests for them both and when the results are negative there is nothing to stop the wedding

Imogen, however, is still obsessed with her search for Sebastian and is overjoyed when there is a response from someone calling himself Patrick Bell who claims to be Sebastian. She arranges to meet Patrick Bell at a place where their birth family had lived - the Red House in a Cambridge suburb - and asks Maxwell to go with her. He refuses on the grounds that he has an appointment with his future colleagues at the college where he is to teach. Then, concerned that Imogen may be putting herself in danger, he decides to go the Red House. He hears gunshots and a woman screaming. Alarmed, he bursts into the Red House, in fact not much more than a barn, and finds someone there – not Imogen, a much younger girl. That girl is Dora Keene, daughter of Detective Chief Inspector Morris Keene, who has gone to the Red House to search for her friend Fiona. Fiona isn’t there but Dora finds the body of Fiona’s grandmother Rowena. And when Maxwell bursts into the barn there is not just Rowena’s body but also that of a man unknown to either of them. Keene’s junior, Detective Inspector Chloe Frohmann, arrives at the Red House. Then Keene himself, although currently on leave with physical and psychological injuries from a previous investigation, is called in and a complicated and ultimately tragic web of family relationships and obsessions comes to light.
This is an interesting literary novel which will appeal to those who appreciate the darker side of human relations.
Reviewer: Radmila May
Emily Winslow is an American writer who in 2006 moved to Cambridge, England, with her British husband and two little boys. Falling in love with Cambridge, its gorgeousness and quirkiness and way the University orgeousness and quirkiness and way the University permeates the city, Emily’s first book began as her attempt to describe it The Whole World was published in 2010.

Radmila May was born in the US but has lived in the UK ever since apart from seven years in The Hague. She read law at university but did not go into practice. Instead she worked for many years for a firm of law publishers and has been working for them off and on ever since. For the last few years she has been one of three editors working on a new edition of a practitioners' text book on Criminal Evidence by her late husband, publication of which has been held up for a variety of reasons but hopefully will be published by the end of 2015. She also has an interest in archaeology in which subject she has a Diploma.

‘Crazy Love You’ by Lisa Unger

Published by Simon & Schuster,
30 July 2015.
ISBN: 978-1-47111-149-5 (PB)
ISBN: 978-1-47111-150-1 (EBook)

This book had me enthralled. When I did have to put it down, the plot played on my mind. Questions, ideas at what was happening to Ian, the main character. Why Priss wouldn’t leave him alone so he could move in a more positive direction with his new love Megan. Don’t get me wrong, this is no love story.

It is so brilliantly written; you may get whiplash as your perspective changes. You physically fear for Ian and what Priss puts him and Megan through.

A dark past, hidden family secrets, all bring this book to a fantastic conclusion that leaves you still fearful for what is going to happen to them in the future.

A recommended read.
Reviewer: Nicky Cooper Brown

Lisa Unger was born 26 April 1970 in New Haven Connecticut, USA. She is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of fourteen novels. Her books are published in twenty-six languages worldwide. Her essays have appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR and Travel+Leisure Magazine. Lisa Unger currently lives in Tampa Bay, Florida with her husband, daughter and labradoodle.

Nicky Cooper Brown came late to this game we call writing. Growing up, up North, she was always praised for her talents with her hands, rather than her mind, she harboured an artistic flair often drawing and painting into the night. It wasn't until she moved south to the Beautiful picturesque New Forest that she took pen to paper so to speak. Now Nicky enjoys writing short stories and articles and has a funny and light hearted style, but when it comes to her novels she displays a darker side and a taste for psychological thrillers.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

‘The Quality of Silence’ by Rosamund Lupton

Published by Piatkus,
7 January 2016.
ISBN: 978-0-349-40815-6 (PB)

If you think minus four or five degrees has meant a cold few days this winter, imagine minus thirty-four or five, and add the windchill factor of a howling hurricane.

That’s what Rosamund Lupton did, in order to create the marrow-freezing atmosphere of her third novel. The cold is the most present enemy in this gripping psychological thriller, but not the only one. As Yasmin Alfredson sets out to cross the northernmost reaches of Alaska in search of her missing husband, someone is following the forty-ton truck she is driving, and no one believes her.

Matt, her husband, was visiting an Inuit village which has been destroyed by fire, along with its two dozen inhabitants, but despite compelling evidence presented to her, Yasmin’s instincts refuse to accept that he is among the dead. She takes her daughter Ruby, hijacks the truck and drives north through a blizzard and a storm which sends dozens of far more experienced professional drivers in search of cover. But someone is trying to prevent her reaching her goal.

The identity and agenda of that somebody form the main narrative tension and ultimate climax of the story, so you’ll have to read it to find out. Suffice to say there’s far more going on than meets the eye, and the crime at the heart of the book is bigger and potentially more catastrophic than most people, real or fictitious, can imagine.

But the first and best reason to read this book – and you should – isn’t the chase through the Arctic tundra, or the chilling (in more ways than one) denouement. It’s Ruby. Ten years old and profoundly deaf, but more observant, perceptive and articulate than any of the adults around her, she is a constant joy. Lupton uses several narrative voices, but Ruby’s is far and away the most powerful, even though she can’t speak in the conventional sense. As she signs, and types on to a laptop, it becomes plain that her command of language is rich and compelling, but always the voice of a ten-year-old girl.

Lupton evokes the desolation, cruelty and desperate beauty of the Arctic with the power to make you shiver in a heatwave. And set against that background are feisty Yasmin, perfectly pitched Ruby and a collection of minor characters whom they encounter on their journey. It’s not an ordinary thriller, but it has all the teeth-clenching tension the genre requires, and a message the whole world should listen to.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Rosamund Lupton was a screenwriter for many years before writing her first novel - 'Sister' . It was the winner of Richard & Judy's bookclub 2010 and broadcast on Radio 4's Book at Bedtime. It was one of Amazon's fiction top ten picks for 2010 and the fastest selling debut in the history of WH Smith. It was published in the USA on 7th June and was picked by the New York Times review of books as well as receiving critical acclaim in a wide variety of other national media. Her second novel 'Afterwards' was published on 9th June in the UK and in its first week of sales went into the Sunday Times best seller list and has had widespread critical acclaim.
She lives in London with her husband and two children.

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

Friday, 26 February 2016

‘Dead on Course’ by Glenis Wilson

Published by Severn House,
28 August 2015. 
ISBN 978 0 7278 8544 9

Harry Radcliffe is a very likable chap.  He is also a champion jump jockey who seems to have a penchant for stumbling across dead bodies.  Following a previous adventure in which Harry discovered who had murdered Jake Smith’s brother Carl, Jake now wants Harry to find out who killed Jo-Jo who just happens to be Jake’s sister!  Jake is not a nice character.  He tells the unfortunate Harry that he will kill him, and maim or kill Chloe, the daughter of one of Harry’s best friends, and a racehorse owner, if he does not succeed.  Harry has little choice but to comply with Jake’s dictate.

So, whilst Harry is trying to get his career back on track following a particularly severe fall that had put him out of action for months, he is compelled to enter the dangerous and murky world of convicts, ex-convicts and crooked business men. His only company is his cat, Leo, a right Romeo if ever there was one!  There are a couple of ladies who adore Harry but, though tempted, he is held back from becoming involved because he still loves his estranged wife, Annabel, who lives nearby and is now pregnant by another man.

The story moves along at a brisk pace. As Harry starts winning races again and sustains more injuries both on and off the course, more bodies appear at his feet. His friend and boss, racehorse trainer Mike, is the only person whom Harry feels able to confide in completely.  Mike provides some backup for Harry, but mostly Harry faces the villains on his own.

The story has a very authentic feel for the horse racing fraternity.  The dedication of those involved in the industry comes across well, as do the dangers, hardships, and injuries routinely faced and suffered by the jockeys and stable boys.  I learnt a lot about a sport that is obviously addictive to those embroiled in it.  Dead on Course is an entertaining read, and if you do not have an interest in horse racing when you start the book, you may well have developed one by the time you finish. I thoroughly recommend it.  Although you do not need to have read the first two books in this series, it might be helpful to read them before you start this one, or indeed -if the ending is anything to go by - the next one.
Reviewer  Angela Crowther

Glenis Wilson was born in Radcliffe-on-Trent, Nottinghamhire. She was always a scribbler from childhood. She has been a member of Nottingham Writers' Club for 35 years, and is also a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association, the Crime Writers' Association and Mystery People group.  Glenis has eight published novels.

Angela Crowther is a retired scientist.  She has published many scientific papers but, as yet, no crime fiction.  In her spare time Angela belongs to a Handbell Ringing group, goes country dancing and enjoys listening to music, particularly the operas of Verdi and Wagner.