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Monday, 23 November 2015

‘The Hidden Legacy’ by G J Minett

Published by Twenty7,
5 November 2015.
ISBN: 978-1-78577-0142
This was an amazing read. Narrated by multiple characters between 1966 and 2008, it had me totally riveted. Anyone who reads my  reviews will know that I read for the mystery, and this was a mystery. 

In 1966 John Michael Adams aged just twelve sets fire to two of his class mates, killing one and scarring the other for life.

In 2008 Ellen Sutherland receives a letter from a firm of solicitors informing her that she should contact them regarding the will of the late Eudora Nash. Ellen has never heard of Eudora Nash. At first she thinks to ignore it, but a telephone conversation with someone she has always trusted telling her to do just that changes her mind.

As the book progresses we are party to the thoughts of the principle characters, John Michael Adams, his father, and Ellen Sutherland.

Much of the power of this book lies in the characters. A horrendous crime has been committed, but where does the responsibility lie?  And what happens to the people whose lives are affected, not just when the atrocity takes place, but for the generations that follow?  Eventually the threads are skilfully drawn together.

This is a book that will prove marvellous for discussion, but to say why may give away too much.  My advice is to simply read this insightful book which may make you pause before you condemn, when you read the next sensational story in a newspaper.

Gripping, disturbing and heartbreaking, this thought-provoking book is a must read. Highly recommended,
Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes
This is a debut book.

G.J. Minett studied at Cambridge and then spent many years as a teacher of foreign languages. He studied for an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester, and won the 2010 Chapter One Prize for unpublished novels with the opening chapter of The Hidden Legacy.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

‘The Life I Left Behind’ by Colette McBeth

Published by Headline,
18 August 2015.
ISBN: 978-1-4722-0599-5 (PB)

Looking into the life of the victim is often a key element in a murder investigation, especially in fiction – but the victim is the one witness who is unavailable for questioning. Usually.

In this twisty thriller, Colette McBeth has gone to some trouble to give the victim a voice. In the manner of The Lovely Bones, TV researcher Eve Elliott looks down on the life that was summarily ripped away from her and tells her own version of the story.

And if that sounds just a tad off the wall, well, occasionally it is; but McBeth gets away with it simply because Eve is such a strongly drawn character. More than that: she has left compelling evidence behind to help police and reader alike, and not in a way that feels at all contrived.

Eve’s body has been found in the same place as the victim of a previous attack, exhibiting the same modus operandi and bearing convincing clues that the two are connected. Enter DI Victoria Rutter, who begins to suspect that the earlier culprit, who has served a sentence for GBH, may have been innocent.

The previous victim, Melody, has recovered physically, but the attack damaged her psychologically. She has become reclusive to the point of agoraphobia, submissive and introvert where once she was assertive and outgoing, and obsessed by domestic minutiae as a way of avoiding the outside world. Then, when she is faced with Eve’s body of evidence, she begins to engage with reality again...

McBeth gives each of these three well-realized women a distinctive voice, and weaves their stories into a complex, gripping narrative which throws suspicion first in one direction then another, until finally it all comes together in one of those denouements that leaves you wondering why you didn’t see it in the first place. The trail of clues is there, but the path the reader is led along has so many twists and turns that the obvious is constantly obscured.

It’s intriguing, well-written and littered with characters who spring to life. It’s easy to imagine even the minor players having a life off the page; and by the end I wanted to cheer as Melody finally got her life back and chose to get on with living it.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Colette McBeth studied French and Spanish at the University of Liverpool. She started her career as a trainee reporter on The Journal in Newcastle before moving to Sky News in London where she worked as a deputy news editor. Deciding she missed being on the road she landed a job at the BBC as a news reporter and for the next ten years spent endless hours shivering outside courts, standing in muddy fields and filming on windswept beaches. By consequence she is an expert at applying make- up in the dark on next to no sleep. She has reported on many big stories and crime cases but her friends remember her for the coverage of the invasion of killer crabs in the sea around Norfolk. Colette started her first novel, Precious Thing, while she was still working at the BBC and finished it on maternity leave with her third child. She now writes full time and lives in London in with her husband and 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.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

‘Cut Out’ by Fergus McNeill.

Published by Hodder Paperbacks,
23 April 2015.
ISBN: 978-1-444-73974

Having Read Fergus McNeill’s Eye Contact, I was looking forward to reading this and it did not disappoint.

The scary aspect of this story is how easily it could happen in real life. Do we truly know our neighbours the people we work with … the answer is, No!

Detective Inspector Graham Harland is called to a horrifying night club crime scene.  The state of the person killed expels any realms of humanity. Shortly after starting on the case he’s pulled of it to look for a missing woman called Laura. He’s teamed up with DS Imogen Gower a smart younger Detective.

When Laura Hirsch first goes missing, all the evidence and witness statements point the finger at one person, the boyfriend. Or rather ex-boyfriend Matt Garrick.  The story unfolds, the reality of someone wishing their life was more like yours, and the immeasurable lengths they will go too, so they can be you! But what happens when you disappoint that person? What lengths will they go too to take your place?

The twist in the tale, will have you questioning all relationships you’ve ever had … even scarier, the people around you right now! Who are they? A fantastic read.
Reviewer: Nicky Cooper Brown

As well as writing crime novels, Fergus McNeill has been creating computer games since the early eighties, writing his first interactive fiction titles while still at school. Over the years he has designed, directed and illustrated games for all sorts of systems, including the BBC Micro, the Apple iPad, and almost everything in between. Now running an app development studio, Fergus lives in Hampshire with his wife and teenage son. He is the author of Eye Contact, Knife Edge and Cut Out.

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.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

‘Recalled to Death’ by Priscilla Masters

Published by Severn House,
26 June 2015.
ISBN: 978-0-7278-8527-2

John Hyde is paid by English Heritage to open the gates of Moreton Corbet Castle at 10.30am each weekday morning. On Friday the 12 September he fulfilled his duty as usual, but there usual ended because lying in the stone cellar was the dead body of a man with his throat slashed.

Detective Inspector Alex Randall is soon at the scene, with his team.  Their first question is, was this the random killing of a homeless man, or something more personal.  Finding out about the victim, his life, his friends, his haunts, should give them some leads.  But the identity of the victim proves elusive. Although he was recognised by several of the helpers in the surrounding shelters for the homeless and had on occasion attended the Holy Cross Catholic Church, no one seemed to know anything about him.

As has recently become a habit, Alex Randell calls on Coroner Martha Gunn to talk over the case, but establishing the victim’s identity continues to elude them.

This is a tantalising and intriguing mystery, as with Martha’s input Alex Randall and his team uncover the story about and behind the murder of the unknown man.  Eventually past secrets are uncovered and the killer is unmasked. The title is brilliant.

On the personal front Alex and Martha’s friendship continues to grow. Having long wondered about Alex’s personal life, Martha now becomes aware of the obstacles against anything more than friendship between them, but never say never!  Oh! and PC Gethin Roberts is in a turmoil as his wedding day approaches. Marvellous characterisation. Great plotting. A terrific read. Priscilla Masters is for me the Mistress of the mystery, and in this she excels.   I could not put this fascinating and compelling book down. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes

Priscilla Masters was born in Halifax,brought up in South Wales, one of seven multi racial children adopted by an orthopaedic surgeon and his Classics graduate wife.
Trained as a registered nurse in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham. She moved to Staffordshire in the 1970s, had an antiques business for a while and two sons. (Now have two grandsons!) I started writing in the 1980s in response to an aunt asking me what I was going to do with my life! Winding up the Serpent was her first Joanna Piercy story, a series which she is continuing with as well as her medical standalones and the Martha Gunn, Shrewsbury coroner, series. Currently she work as a respiratory nurse in the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. The new Martha Gunn, title The Devil's Chair is set in and around Church Stretton and is due to be published in April 2014.