‘I have heard, but not believed, the spirits of the dead may walk again.’
A hidden room
When architect Johnny Carter is asked to redesign a long-abandoned Victorian shoe factory, he discovers a hidden room deep in the basement. A dark, sinister room, which contains a sixteenth-century Venetian mirror.
A love in danger
Johnny has a new love, Ophelia, in his life. But as the pair’s relationship develops and they begin to explore the mystery surrounding the mirror, its malign influence threatens to envelop and destroy them.
A secret history
The mirror’s heritage dates back to the sixteenth century, and the figure of Catherine de Medici – betrayed wife, practitioner of the occult, and known as the Black Queen.
If you are looking for a dark story, a side helping of jealousy, the obligatory love story that stands the test of time and a good twist then The Medici Mirror is the book for you. As many of you know I’m not one for love stories in literature – give me an old fashioned rom com movie any day – but this story intrigued me and I wanted to give it a go after seeing the book jacket. It kept me interested throughout and when the reveal came at the end I was suitably impressed, I hadn’t seen it coming!
The one thing that stood out for me was the writing. Melissa Bailey is a wonderful talent, the words flow and the story is beautifully crafted, it’s hard to comprehend that this is the work of a debut author. The narrative allowed me to feel part of the story and to lose myself in the sinister and beguiling powers of the mirror and those it ultimately affects.
The author effortlessly takes us back to the reign of Henri II but it’s his wife Catherine de Medici that really stands out, for me she steals the show and is without question the main character in the book – I cared more for her than Johnny or Ophelia who represent the modern era. A woman fighting for her position and her life, her insecurities literally jump off the pages and her desire to bring down her husband’s mistress – one of many – palpable.
Having said that, I would have liked a tighter relationship between Catherine and the mirror. I wanted to know why and how the mirror had developed such a sinister and dangerous aura. We never find out and this was a disappointment for me.
The author cranks up the tension gradually and you never quite know what to expect from one chapter to the next. Johnny Carter’s personality evolves throughout as he succumbs to the hidden and seductive powers of the mirror. This is a dark and atmospheric book, the scenes in the abandoned shoe factory are evocative and completely draw you in to an era gone by. Talking of which, I really enjoyed the time spent trying to discover how the previous owner of the factory had died. Was it natural causes or cold blooded murder?
For a magnificent and atmospheric blend of old and new, past and present along with the odd death thrown in for good measure The Medici Mirror will not disappoint.
- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Arrow (24 Oct 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0099580721
- ISBN-13: 978-0099580720
Detective Inspector January David doesn’t love me.
He loves his missing sister. He loves his job.
But he doesn’t love me. Not in the way he should.
I am his wife. I am still his wife.
And I will do anything for him.
No matter what I have to sacrifice.
A couple of years ago I had the privilege to read Will Carver’s debut novel Girl 4, a book I found hard to forget, a book that was very well written and one which included an amazing plot along with a spattering of evil and ingenious murders. When I read the follow up last year – The Two – I have to admit I didn’t enjoy it as much and given the chance to read a new novel by the author, the third instalment in the Detective January David series, I jumped at the chance, a chance and opportunity to see how this reader felt about the latest offering from Will Carver.
I can categorically say, as far as this humble reader is concerned, Will Carver is back with a veritable bang, Dead Set has an incredible and everlasting punch. Simply put, this is as good if not better than Girl 4. The book will keep you guessing from the outset until the final revelatory and gripping chapter. The book, although complex, is skilfully woven together with numerous angles and sub plots to keep everyone happy. Working your way through the book it’s almost impossible to know what is going to happen, who’s responsible – for crimes past and present – and who will end up paying with their very life.
Getting the balance right between making the book overly complex and too simple is a delicate craft but I think the author has successfully managed to hit the nail on the head with this one. It made me think. I continued to question things throughout and I was never 100% certain I knew what was going on! That said, and this is where the balance comes in, I always felt as if I was a hair’s breadth away from cracking the case wide open.
The characters feed off one another, no more so than the three pivotal ones in the book – Eames, Detective January David and David’s missing wife. They all play a part to help the book flow and along with a gripping narrative and eclectic supporting cast, this book is over before you know it.
Predominately set in and around New York – which I absolutely loved – I felt like a tourist moving from one location to the other. I got a real sense of New York and one which makes me even keener to visit the Big Apple. New York comes alive for sure.
The ending is to die for! The way Carver closes the book is sensational. A little bit here, a little bit there, it all comes together yet at the same time leaves the door ajar and you wanting more. I want to know what happens next. One thing is certain; things will never be the same again.
- Paperback: 464 pages
- Publisher: Arrow (21 Nov 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0099551055
- ISBN-13: 978-0099551058
In the crisp, early morning hours, the police are called to a suspected murder at a farm outside a small English village. A beautiful young woman has been found dead, blood all over the cottage she lived in. At the same time, police respond to a reported female suicide after a car is found at the bottom of a local quarry. As DCI Louisa Smith and her team gather the evidence over their six day investigation, they discover a link between these two women, a link which sealed their dreadful fate one cold night, under a silent moon.
Under a Silent Moon sees Elizabeth Haynes moving in a slightly different direction from her norm – that of the psychological thriller and she has produced an interesting police procedural full of evidence, analysis, clues and twists.
The book is a very quick read and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this new approach to crime writing. It’s not often you get chance to read a witness statement – fictional or not – it’s not often you see the charts showing how the crime analysts map their evidence and tie mobile phone numbers to suspects or locations. In Under a Silent Moon you get that chance. It’s an original and intriguing way to read a crime novel and I for one really enjoyed this aspect and look forward to the next instalment.
Under a Silent Moon will keep you guessing right until the end and there are certainly a few surprises in store. I did manage to work out a couple aspects of the story so it wasn’t all a revelation to me but for the most part I did enjoy how the clues led me one way and then another. This is after all the first in a brand new series with Detective Chief Inspector Louisa Smith and she’s certainly a colourful character and one to watch.
There were a couple of elements I wasn’t too keen on but this is purely a personal thing for me. I’m not one for all the lovey dovey stolen glances, holding hands and illicit affairs and there was a little too much for my liking. I guess I’m just a prude!! I don’t mind when it’s part of the storyline but I just didn’t think some of it was necessary here. I’m sure most people will disagree with me and as I said, this is a purely personal opinion and what I do and don’t like in crime books.
The story is well thought out. A multi-layered offering, Under a Silent Moon will keep you guessing as I’ve mentioned but there’s enough going on in this book to keep you thoroughly entertained from beginning to end. It includes a well developed police procedural and the squad briefings and investigative side of things was intelligent and well crafted. It really puts you deep in the heart of the investigation and I guess that’s all you can ask for from a book of this kind.
An authentic and imaginative thriller, Under a Silent Moon entertains and does what it says on the tin. I for one am looking forward to discovering where Louisa Smith goes from here; she shows a great deal of promise. More charts and witness statements please!!
- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Sphere (10 April 2014)
- ISBN-10: 0751549592
- ISBN-13: 978-0751549591
During a research trip to Loch Ness, Scotland, a young Charles Darwin encounters a mysterious and terrifying creature that provides the spark for his evolutionary theory.
Almost two hundred years later, and hundreds of miles away in Paris, the Eiffel Tower is under attack. Army engineer Tyler Locke is called in to help, and his expertise saves the day.
But Tyler doesn’t know he’s about to get pulled into a conspiracy so dark that it not only threatens those he loves, but could also ignite World War III.
Racing against time to discover the truth behind Darwin’s discovery, Tyler must solve a series of cryptic clues to find a single manuscript that has been so well hidden it hasn’t been seen since the Victorian age.
Anyone who can blend Charles Darwin, the threat of World War Three and proof that The Loch Ness Monster really does exist – and pull it off- is nothing short of a magician! You’d never in your right mind put all these scenarios together in one book but this is exactly what Boyd Morrison does, crazy times ahead!
I’ve only read two Boyd Morrison books, The Loch Ness Legacy being the second, and although I still prefer The Tsunami Countdown (I absolutely loved that standalone book) I did enjoy this romp blending historical fact and fiction. It’s a very quick read and a book where for some part you have to suspend reality and just enjoy the book for what it is – an imaginative thriller where we find our protagonist attempting to save the day and his friend. We’ve read and heard it all before but with the promise of good old Nessie in the Scottish Highlands there’s just that little bit extra in this book.
Full of entertaining dialogue, clever and tight plotting, bullets and harpoons flying in all directions and a cast of colourful characters – a great blend between good and evil – The Loch Ness Legacy simply entertains and as you close the book for the final time you’ll walk away completely satisfied awaiting the next Tyler Locke adventure. This is without question an ideal holiday book and although it’s hard to take too much too seriously, there were a number of scenes based on solid history which is always good to know.
With a little action, puzzle solving and a hint of romance thrown in for good measure, if you’ve never discovered Boyd Morrison before, this is an ideal title to while away the winter hours – but please don’t forget The Tsunami Countdown set in Hawaii, you won’t be sorry.
Characterisation is well thought out and delivered. I’ve not had the opportunity to read any of Tyler Locke’s adventures but I’m certainly going to try now! If this doesn’t make you want to visit Loch Ness and take in the sights and sounds of Urquhart Castle and all that the wonderful highlands have to offer then nothing will!
Enjoyable, entertaining and it has Nessie in it – you’d be mad not to give this a go!
- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: Sphere (21 Nov 2013)
- Language: Unknown
- ISBN-10: 0751548057
- ISBN-13: 978-0751548051
Mickey Haller gets the text, ‘Call me ASAP – 187′, and the California penal code for murder immediately gets his attention. Murder cases have the highest stakes and the biggest paydays, and they always mean Haller has to be at the top of his game.
When Mickey learns that the victim was his own former client, a prostitute he thought he had rescued and put on the straight and narrow path, he knows he is on the hook for this one. He soon finds out that she was back in LA and back in the life. Far from saving her, Mickey may have been the one who put her in danger.
Haunted by the ghosts of his past, Mickey must work tirelessly and bring all his skill to bear on a case that could mean his ultimate redemption or proof of his ultimate guilt.
There’s very little to say in this review, other than to applaud an author’s sharp writing, his wonderful courtroom dialogue and his insanely well crafted storytelling – it’s what you expect from Michael Connelly and he doesn’t disappoint. Mickey Haller 5 – The Gods of Guilt – is a wonderful exploration of life in and out of the courtroom. He brings the courtroom alive, the sights and smells, the subtle nuances, all the while guiding the reader through the ups and downs of a defence attorney and his eclectic team.
On more than one occasion I found myself sitting back awestruck at how he manipulates a scene. It’s as if you – the reader – are transported into that very room courtroom, watching every movement, every tick and every drop of the gavel. You feel part of the book; this is what made it so entertaining for me. I felt part of the defence team.
Mickey Haller is a strange character, for the most part I really liked him, loved his personality and the scrapes he found himself in but there were a couple of scenes when I found him overbearing and annoying. I loved that the author could get this reaction from me. I wanted to shout at the book, tell Haller to stop acting up and deal with whatever was annoying him. Infuriating at times, it all added to the protagonist’s personality and whether he was kind, gentle, spirited or annoying, it’s this combination that makes him such an endearing and colourful character – it also adds depth to his character.
The book isn’t about just one man; defence is a team sport, each player playing a part in defending, in this case, an innocent man. There was one moment in the book I couldn’t believe happened, I was distraught! I won’t say too much but if you read the book you’ll know what I’m talking about. Although I can see why Connolly wrote the scene I’m not convinced it was necessary – but then I’m looking at it purely from a selfish reader’s perspective!
The bad guys are bad and the good guys are good – it’s what you expect from a book of its type. Mostly written for the defence, there’s more than enough for the discerning reader who just happens to bat for the prosecution! It’s not all about saving the day!
The story itself is brilliant. The Gods of Guilt – referring to the 12 men and women of the jury – is the third Connelly book that I’ve had the pleasure of reading and I can definitely say it won’t be my last, Connelly is a marvel. Highly recommended.
- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Orion (21 Nov 2013)
- Language: Unknown
- ISBN-10: 1409134342
- ISBN-13: 978-1409134343
When I set out to write The City of Shadows, the first of a series of historical crime novels set in Ireland before and during the Second World War, the aim was first to tell a good tale, hopefully, but also to explore that time, to look at Ireland’s often compromised ‘neutrality’ and to ‘visit’ some other cities that played a role in the war. In The City of Shadows that city was German Danzig in 1935 (now Polish Gdańsk, a change that tells its own tale!) and now in the latest Stefan Gillespie story, The City of Strangers, it is New York, where Stefan finds the looming war in Europe already being fought in the streets.
Telling a good story and exploring ‘the times’ in ways that take you off the beaten track is what historical crime fiction is all about. And they were strange times, as British and German spies sat at adjacent table in Dublin bars, and Ireland’s odd neutrality was best summed up by the fact that German aircrew landing in Ireland were interned for the duration of the war, while Allied aircrew were given a pint and put on the train to Belfast! But creating the sense of those times is a bit like writing about a foreign country. It’s not big things that really tell you what it feels like to be there, it’s the small things. To find a sense of history, you need a real sense of place, whether that place is Dublin and the mountains of West Wicklow, the dark alleyways of Danzig, or the towers of New York.
And although Stefan Gillespie’s investigations take him far from home, it is always in the grey streets of Dublin and the green lanes of West Wicklow that the stories have their heart. A sense of place and a real sense of the past went hand in hand when I was writing, partly because the stories often involve, behind the bodies and the action that is the stuff of crime fiction, a search for memory and belonging, in an Ireland still struggling to find out, as a newly independent nation, exactly what kind of country it really wanted to be.
In both The City of Strangers and The City of Shadows, I wanted Dublin in the 1930s to be real, a place you could see and feel. A place you could even find your way around. The first book starts with a man walking along the Liffey at night. Close to the end, on another night, Stefan Gillespie walks down O’Connell Street and over the Liffey too. The city is everywhere in between. In The City of Strangers Stefan finds himself looking at the bloody evidence of a murder in Herbert Place. Later he walks through the city from Bewley’s in Grafton Street to the Four Courts Hotel that once stood by the river. Dublin and its surroundings play a major part in the books that is almost that of a character. Kingsbridge Station (now Heuston), Clanbrassil Street, Garda HQ in the Phoenix Park, the Shelbourne, Harold’s Cross, Corbawn Lane in suburban Shankill, the Gate Theatre, Neary’s in Chatham Street, Merrion Square, the CID offices at Dublin Castle, Dorset Street, the Four Courts, Henrietta Street. Already a long list, but it’s really much longer.
In the process of writing about these places I have taken pleasure in making sure that much of the time shops and pubs that are mentioned are the ones that were really there, using the extraordinary door-stop-size book that is Thom’s Directory of Ireland. It doesn’t matter to the story, but it matters to the spirit of the story. One of the things I quickly found about writing historical fiction is that you can’t play with the past the way you can with the present. Readers expect historical fiction to be, well, historical! If you’re going to ‘stretch’ that history you need to be sure the facts behind it all will stand up.
Part of what I have written about Dublin, as about West Wicklow and the hills above Baltinglass, is unashamedly a celebration of places that matter to me, places I love. But it was only really when I started writing my second book, The City of Strangers, that I realised that the strange familiarity I felt with the streets of Dublin in the first half of the twentieth century, went deeper than I had remembered. I realised that my own sense of ‘knowing’ those dark, often rainy, foggy streets, had been left in my head, generally forgotten for most of my life, by my grandmother. She was born in Moville at the very end of the nineteenth century and lived through both the War of Independence and the Civil War in Ireland, before emigrating to England in search of work in the late 1920s.
When I was very young she told me stories about Ireland, about Donegal and Armagh and about the years she worked in Dublin. They were stories that often involved ‘the echo of the Thompson gun’ and assassinations, Black and Tans and Volunteers, gruesome deaths and miraculous escapes, black streets it was dangerous to walk at night. There were few of my childhood friends in England whose grandparents’ stories could compete with the murder and mayhem of mine! But it was a long time ago, and they had slipped to the back of my mind, even when I found myself living in Ireland and raising my children there. But they hadn’t gone away. And when I walked the dark streets of old Dublin with Stefan Gillespie… well, I think my grandmother was probably there to show us the way.
I hope The City of Strangers is, above all, a tale to give readers who like ‘mystery’ and ‘history’ enjoyment. A body on an Irish beach; a brutal murder in middle-class Dublin; a man falling from thirty storeys from a Manhattan penthouse overlooking Central Park; a woman running for her life. But it is also a celebration of two great cities at a fascinating time in their history, Dublin and New York in 1939. New York was, of course, the third largest ‘Irish’ city in the world at that time, but then New York is another story…
THE VICTIM: On the steps of Santa Maria della Salute lies the body of a woman, wearing the robes of a Catholic priest. In the eyes of the Church, she is an abomination.
THE INVESTIGATOR: Captain Kat Tapo has matched the victim’s tattoo to graffiti in an abandoned asylum. Now she’s been ordered to close the case.
THE HACKER: Carnivia.com is a virtual Venice that holds the city’s secrets. Only its reclusive creator can help Kat unearth the shocking truth…
THE ABOMINATION has arrived.
Every once in a while you get the opportunity to read a book that completely takes you to another world. If you’re lucky you’ll be swept away by an atmospheric storyline, characters ever so vibrant and real they will make you forget about your own troubles, the rotten weather outside and the fact that Christmas is approaching faster than Santa on an Italian moped. The Abomination by Jonathan Holt is one such book.
Predominately set in Venice this is without question a magical book. I absolutely adored it. There’s very little I’d change, if indeed anything. It transports you effortlessly to Venice and although I’ve never been to the fair city I am determined, more than ever, to go – the only thing stopping me is the Mafioso!
I’m not going to waste time talking about characters, religion, murders, rape, sex trafficking it’s all in the book and more. Wonderful, explosive and scintillating if there’s one book you read this year then please make it be The Abomination, I’ll let the book do the talking because I sure won’t do it justice! One of the best openings to a trilogy I’ve read for some time.
Also reviewed by Parmenion Books Here
- Hardcover: 400 pages
- Publisher: Head of Zeus (1 May 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1781853665
- ISBN-13: 978-1781853665
Justin and Libby Denbe have it all: a beautiful daughter; a gorgeous house; a great marriage, admired by all.
Arriving at the crime scene of their home, investigator Tessa Leoni finds no witnesses, no ransom demands or motive – just a perfect little family, gone.
But Tessa knows that flawless fronts can hide the darkest secrets. Now, she must race against the clock to uncover the truth. Who would want to kidnap such a family? And how far would they be willing to go?
I thoroughly enjoyed Touch & Go, the latest adventure in the D.D. Warren and Tessa Leoni series. I last met Tessa when she was up to her neck in trouble after allegedly shooting and killing her husband. That was two years ago and although she is often reminded of that fateful evening, both in memories and law enforcement official quips, she has moved on along with her daughter Sophie.
The book is incredibly well written and the structure and plot is truly fascinating. This is an edge of your seat thriller right from the very first chapter and although I guessed the ending a little over halfway through I was never confident enough to shout it from the rooftops and put any money on it – I liked that. Gardner keeps you on your toes and keeps playing with your mind.
Characterisation is key to any book and in Tessa Leoni, more so than D.D. Warren, Gardner has a terrific protagonist. I love her sassy nature, her get up and go, her drive, determination and her overall personality. Her past has made her stronger and more determined, she is the complete package. Not too soft, not too hard – a little bit like the three bears – just right.
Along with Leoni’s perspective we discover a number of key events through the eyes of Libby Denbe, in the first person narrative, and I found her storytelling pleasurable and informative. It was a very strong addition to the main storyline and gives the reader a first hand account of the harrowing captivity the family suffered.
This incarceration is very well told and the imagery of their prison wonderfully taut. I felt as if I was discovering the compound with every sentence, it was like being on a guided tour like no other. It’s not somewhere I’d like to visit but it was captivating stuff.
The storyline unfolds quickly and before you know it a number of suspects show their hand, talk about red herrings and misdirection, the book has it all! Another superb book from Lisa Gardner, and although only my second, I’m hooked! I can’t wait to find out where the author takes Tessa Leoni. I know where I want her to take the protagonist but only time will tell! That’s the beauty about books! Excellent.
- Paperback: 480 pages
- Publisher: Headline (24 Oct 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0755388291
- ISBN-13: 978-0755388295
You wait, desperately, for news of your daughter.
At last, the door opens.
But it is not the negotiators, or the FBI.
It is her kidnapper.
And he has a gun . . .
Two days ago, life was normal.
How did it end like this?
I’m not quite sure where to start with this review, do I begin at the beginning or do I jump straight to the end and work my way back, just like Jeffery Deaver? I’m still confused!
Reading a book that defies all logic, beginning with a final scene that makes absolutely no sense at all, is without doubt a huge challenge for both reader and writer. It goes against the grain and everything you learn as a reader. Everyone starts at the start, chapter one. These are the rules; there have been – up until now – no deviation from these rules – simple as that. Although an unwritten one it’s what everyone expects, save for those readers who are impatient and read the final chapter first to see what happens. The October List, for the first third of the book, makes absolutely no sense at all!
It does take some getting used to, I found myself trying to figure out the ending of a chapter so that the previous one made sense, that’s not something you’d encounter normally. That’s where the book is so confusing, a character is mentioned in a scene, sometimes pivotal, yet we have no idea how Gabriel knew him and how he came to be in that situation. Two chapters later we find out how that character is connected to the story and it begins to make sense, until another similar situation occurs in the following chapter!
There’s a lot of re reading previous chapters – for me at least – and this did hinder the flow a little but given the style of this book I can’t at this moment think of a better way of approaching it.
When you read a book with regular chronology – i.e. forwards – then you have time to grow with the characters, you learn about their background, personality and what makes them tick. You don’t have that luxury here. Having said that, that’s what makes the reveal work at the end. The format will definitely be akin to vegemite, some will love it, some will hate it.
The clever thing with The October List is that you’d think knowing the outcome that the book would be bereft of shocks and surprises. I can safely say there’s plenty here to keep you going and like a lot of books there’s a sweet spot when things unravel and start to make sense – for me it was five chapters from the end.
I really did enjoy how it all unravelled, why it was done and the engineering of the plot. If this book had been written as a regular book then the storyline wouldn’t have been overly complex and the plot would have been fairly formulaic. However because of the nature of this book the ending is brilliant and very well thought out. I can guarantee that once you’ve finished the book you’ll re read the first chapter (the true ending of the book) to see what happened.
The writing itself is typical Deaver, accomplished and tight. You don’t appreciate the style when you are reading because you are concentrating so hard but once it’s all over you can sit back and say “that was clever” or “aha, now I understand”. I’d highly recommend reading the book for a number of reasons but by far my number one reason – it’s different.
This format undoubtedly makes you work harder. As I’ve mentioned it’s not a fluid or easy read. It’s very technical and not at all what you would expect. Mr Deaver should be applauded for coming up with something fresh and new. Will it catch on? I’m not so sure. Is it entertaining? It most certainly is. Stick with it, you will be rewarded at the end.
- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (26 Sep 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1444780433
- ISBN-13: 978-1444780437
For almost a quarter of a century, John Grisham’s A Time to Kill has captivated readers with its raw exploration of race, retribution, and justice. Now, its hero, Jake Brigance, returns to the courtroom in a dramatic showdown as Ford County again confronts its tortured history. Filled with the intrigue, suspense and plot twists that are the hallmarks of the world’s favourite storyteller, SYCAMORE ROW is the thrilling story of the elusive search for justice in a small American town.
Reading the first fifty pages of Sycamore Row I experienced two very different emotions. Firstly, and I can’t remember this happening before, I couldn’t help but grin as I lost myself in every page, in fact I wasn’t aware I was grinning until I heard my mobile ringing and looked away from the book – smiling! The second emotion was anger. Not of Grisham’s writing, his narrative or style, but Seth’s distant family. Racist, obnoxious, opinionated and just plain vile – you can’t help but feel for Lettie the black housekeeper, a housekeeper tasked with looking after the house and an ailing Seth Hubbard for the last three years. Upon his death and his family’s arrival Lettie is cast aside like a mess on a shoe, left to fend for her family and unemployed.
Now that I’ve finished Sycamore Row I can categorically say that those emotions never went away. They would bubble and fester, they weren’t always present but it was as if they were stuck in limbo, waiting to emerge just like a pocket of air escaping water throughout the entire story. You never quite knew where the bubble would burst but you knew it would at some point.
This is without doubt the best legal thriller I’ve read this year, hands down the best. Set at a terrific pace this multi layered story evolves and evolves and just when you think it can’t go anywhere, that the end is in nigh, the book suddenly branches off in a fresh direction, a new perspective, and Grisham introduces a new witness or a different focus to the investigation. This really is clever and sharp witted stuff!
Characterisation is key to any book and it was so satisfying for me to find out what happens to Jake Brigance and his family following the trial of Carl Lee Hailey. Three years down the line he’s still dining out on the plaudits and fame from the case – even if the money and rewards aren’t as forthcoming – and finds himself stuck in a rut doing the same old cases day in day out. Our protagonist had hoped to have moved on to bigger and better things but alas his loss is our literary gain.
John Grisham has brought together an eclectic mix of old and new characters. They all play their part in a legal thriller that is both entertaining and evocative. Even the nasty characters are enjoyable; they all help to add depth and colour to the book but Jake, Ozzie and Lucien carry the book as far as I’m concerned.
I enjoyed where the book takes the reader and where it ends and hopefully in a few years’ time we’ll be allowed to revisit Ford County and experience life in Reuben Atlee’s courtroom once again through the eyes of Jake Brigance. With sharp dialogue, atmospheric narrative and a sagacious storyline, Sycamore Row is one not to be missed. Highly recommended.
- Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (22 Oct 2013)
- ISBN-10: 1444765566
- ISBN-13: 978-1444765564
Joe Parker is Manchester’s most ingenious criminal defence lawyer. Sam Parker is Manchester’s most tenacious homicide detective. Both bear the burden of the unsolved murder of their sister fifteen years earlier. And both have a stake in a new series of murders that has shaken their city to its core. Ronnie Bagley is awaiting trial for the murder of his girlfriend and baby. Two weeks before he’s due in court he suddenly fires his defence team, claiming that there’s only one lawyer he wants to defend him: Joe Parker. Despite his misgivings about taking on the case in such strange circumstances, Joe decides to represent Bagley. Little does he know that Bagley is smarter than anyone has given him credit for, and soon Joe will find himself pitched against his own brother, Sam, in a race to outwit the most terrifying serial killer the city has ever seen. It isn’t long before Joe and Sam’s shared past comes crashing into the present in a pulse-pounding race to find out who is NEXT TO DIE…
I thoroughly enjoyed Next To Die, a well-paced out thriller that speeds up, cranking up the tension and atmosphere as the book nears its natural conclusion. Characterisation is well thought out and delivered, especially that of the serial killer. A nasty bit of work, he’s confident and completely unhinged yet appears to be in complete control of what happens – to a point!
Told through the eyes of two brothers, Joe Parker and Sam Parker, one a defence lawyer and the other a Detective Constable in the Finance unit, a policeman keen to move to the more glamorous Murder Squad. The enjoyable thing for me was the different approach both brothers brought to the case. Both are driven, Joe, intent of making sure his client escapes jail and Sam, with the aid of his police colleagues hell-bent on making sure the evidence is there to convict. Things never run smoothly – for either brother.
When Joe and Sam lost their young sister Ellie to an unknown assailant – while walking home alone one day – the family were devastated. Running alongside the main plot this arc is a terrific accompaniment and for me isn’t used as a filler, the death shaped the brothers, their career paths, and made them who and what they are today. I thought it was well thought out and adds so much back story and atmosphere to the book.
There were a couple of points in the book that had me riled up. I was so taken with certain scenarios I even wanted to punch one character – nothing like getting involved in a book and believing you are actually part of the story. You do experience a number of emotions as you work your way through the book and I liked that.
It’s pretty clear to me that Neil White writes from experience and he certainly brings that knowledge to his legal writing. A lawyer by day you do feel as if you are reading a “behind the scenes “of UK law. You gain a great insight into the courts and how the legal profession ticks. It’s an eye-opener!
Great pace, a tense and a thrilling storyline Next To Die is my first Neil White book but it certainly won’t be my last. The book moves through the gears like a highly tuned F1 car around Silverstone and the final third of the book simply flies by. It just begs to be read and I found it hard to put down.
- Hardcover: 416 pages
- Publisher: Sphere (26 Sep 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0751549444
When Cal Weaver stops at red light on a rainy night while driving home, he ignores the bedraggled-looking teenaged girl trying to hitch a lift. Even when she starts tapping on his window. But when she says, ‘Hey, aren’t you Scott’s dad?’ and he realizes she’s one of his son’s classmates, he can’t really ignore her. OK, so giving a ride to a teenage girl might not be the smartest move, but how much harm could it do?
Over the next 24 hours Cal is about to find out. When the girl, Claire, asks to stop at a restroom on the way home, he’s happy to oblige. But the girl who gets back in the car seems strangely nervous, and it’s only when they get nearer their destination that Cal realizes she no longer has the nasty cut that he noticed on Claire’s hand. After he’s finally let her out of the car he remains puzzled and intrigued. But it’s only the next morning that he starts to really worry. That’s when the police cruiser turns up at his door and asks him if he gave a lift to a girl the previous night. A girl who has now been found brutally murdered.
If Cal is going to clear his name he’s going to have to figure out what Claire was really up to and what part he played in her curious deception. But doing so will involve him in some of the small town of Griffon’s most carefully kept secrets – and a conspiracy as bizarre as it is deadly.
If someone were to ask me who I look forward to reading more than anyone else I couldn’t exactly limit it to just one author it would be unfair, I’d have to name a handful of people, but just like a football manager contemplating his big game team, Linwood Barclay would be one of the first on the list!
I thoroughly enjoyed A Tap on the Window even though the beginning made me squirm just a little. In this day and age you have to second guess everything. A man can no longer innocently sit in a park without raising suspicions from protective parents and neither can or should a man pick up a young girl in the dead of night, pouring rain, in the middle of nowhere. The world has changed and lost its innocence forever, Linwood Barclay taps in to this dilemma from the very beginning when Cal stops and gives Claire an ill-advised lift.
Cal Weaver is an interesting character; it took me a long time to warm to him. I can’t quite put my finger on it but there was something about him in the early stages I didn’t like. Suffering from the loss of his teenage son, he and his wife were struggling to cope – as any parent would. He’s in a dark place as is his relationship with Donna. Slowly but surely my opinions of him changed and as I got to know him I found his harsh exterior eroding only to be replaced by a concerned father who just wants to do the right thing.
There are two plots working simultaneously throughout and I love reading a book when – at the beginning at least – you have absolutely no idea what the author is trying to say or where the secondary storyline fits within the main plot. The pace is exceptional and before you know it you’ve reached the end of the story and everything is put to bed. The second half of the book comes into its own and the story takes on a life of its own with numerous twists and turns and red herrings to satisfy the most ardent of critic.
One scene melted my heart and I defy anyone to feel any different! Called in to pick up his eight year old from school after fighting with a schoolmate, Cal quietly sits down with his son to find out what happened. It’s not a long scene, there are no police chases or bullets fired, it’s a simple yet effective scene that took my breath away. It was also the scene that began to change my perception of Cal Weaver.
A terrific book, I thoroughly enjoyed A Tap on the Window and I can’t wait for his next one! Oh and before I forget the emotional ending – without giving too much away I had a lump in my throat reading the final line. You can’t ask for much more than that. Highly recommended brought to you by the master of suspense.
Hardcover: 512 pages
Publisher: Orion (10 Oct 2013)