Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Review: No One Home by Tim Weaver (David Raker Missing Persons #10)

Where has Tim Weaver been all my life? Not sure how (because I love the kind of mystery/thriller that he writes), but I'd never heard of him until now. I requested this book because the premise appealed to me: an entire village goes missing? How does that work? Well, the village in question is more of a hamlet but the story is a clever one and I really enjoyed it.

David Raker specialises in finding missing persons. He has been contacted by the relatives of nine missing villagers, who gathered together for a Halloween dinner party and then vanished. Their houses are immaculate, there is no evidence that anything happened and no clues to solve the mystery. Running alongside this is a story set in Los Angeles in 1985, about an American detective trying to solve a suicide that might be a murder. Are the two events connected?

No One Home is a completely gripping read, full of twists and genuine surprises. I particularly loved the character of Joline 'Jo' Kader, who has to battle against 1980s sexism and misogyny to solve her case. It did take me a few chapters to get into this story, because I hadn't appreciated that this is #10 in a series and I hadn't read any of the others! The only thing I didn't like was the long explanation at the end of the book as it seemed repetitive, but don't be tempted to skip it because there is a rather excellent twist following it!

I really enjoyed No One Home and plan to go back and read some of the earlier stories in this series. It's fast-paced, with lots of nail-biting moments, and I can see it appealing to fans of authors such as Harlan Coben and Lee Child.

No One Home is due to be published in the UK on the 16th May 2019

Thank you to Tim Weaver and Michael Joseph for my copy of this book, which I requested from NetGalley and reviewed voluntarily.

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Review: The Boy Who Lived with the Dead (Albert Lincoln #2) by Kate Ellis

I love Kate Ellis! She's one of my all-time favourite authors, mainly because her plots are so fiendishly clever I can never work out 'whodunit'. Or if I do, my guess will be only a small part of the story. I don't know how she does it!

Kate Ellis is mainly known for her 'Wesley Peterson' archaeological mystery series - set in the present day but with a historical mystery threading through the stories. The Boy Who Lived with the Dead is the second in her 'Albert Lincoln' series and is set during the years following the First World War. This is not a time period I'm familiar with, and I found it fascinating to read how such a a horrific war continued to affect people, not only the soldiers.

If you've not read the first book in this series, A High Mortality of Doves, you do need to do so. The plot of that book is mentioned throughout this one, with huge spoilers. Having said that, you can read this one as a stand alone - just be aware of those spoilers!

The Boy Who Lived with the Dead starts in 1920. The title refers to a young boy called Peter, who lives in the lodge bordering the cemetery because his father is the gravedigger. A few years earlier, Peter's twin brother was murdered and left for dead in the local stone circle. Inspector Albert Lincoln was unable to solve this murder and it has haunted him ever since. Now he's back to investigate the murder of a woman and the disappearance of her baby. Are the two cases connected? Did Peter witness the murder from his bedroom window? Or is he lying about that, the way the entire village believes he lies about everything else?

The Boy Who Lived with the Dead is basically the perfect murder mystery! It's brilliantly plotted and I love the characters! Albert is traumatised from the events of the first book, not to mention the war and his unhappy marriage. Peter is suffering from the loss of his twin. He has no friends and most adults dismiss him as being a fantasist. I loved Peter's teacher, Gwen Davies, who tries to solve the murders herself, and I also enjoyed the way practically the entire village had a secret to hide!

If you love traditional/classic murder mysteries, you will adore this book. It's one of my favourite reads this year - I can't wait for the next one!

Thank you to Kate Ellis and Piatkus for my copy of this book, which I requested from NetGalley and reviewed voluntarily.

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Sunday, 7 April 2019

Review: Final Girls by Riley Sager

This book caught my eye because of the cover and I'd heard lots of good things about it.

Quincy, Sam and Lisa are the sole survivors of three separate killing sprees, leading the press to nickname them 'the Final Girls'. Each one is beginning to rebuild their lives, when Lisa is unexpectedly found dead in mysterious circumstances. Should Quincy and Sam be worried? Has someone started targeting the Final Girls?  

I'm not reading as much crime as I used to because if you've read as many as I have, the plots begin to feel a little familiar! However, Final Girls is extremely well written, with very engaging characters, and I particularly enjoyed the modern writing style. I have to admit this kept me reading when I was convinced I'd worked out exactly what was going on. But it turned out Riley Sager had some excellent twists up his sleeve and the ending completely threw me. I do love books like that!

I think my favourite character was Sam, because of the way she kept pushing at Quincy to remember the night her friends were killed. And I loved the way Quincy's life began to unravel as her memory came back! I can't say much more because of spoilers, but I really enjoyed Final Girls and would recommend it to anyone who loves twisty thrillers, and references to those old-style horror movies where a bunch of teenagers head off to a cabin in the woods and get killed off one by one!

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Review: Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver

I was attracted to this book because of the cover - I love magpies! I'm also a huge fan of Michelle Paver and her chilling ghost stories (Dark Matter and Thin Air). Wakenhyrst is written in a different genre: a gothic historical mystery set in a spooky old manor house - my favourite kind of book!

Wakenhyrst starts in 1966. A journalist has written about a notorious murder that occurred in 1913, implying that darker forces might have been involved: witchcraft, in other words. The man accused of this murder spent the rest of his life in a lunatic asylum creating sinister paintings, often featuring a woman surrounded by demonic imps. Back in 1913, Maud lives alone with her father at Wake's End. Haunted by a mysterious event in his past, he becomes obsessed with the idea that demons are all around us and records these increasing rambling thoughts in his diary. Maud is equally obsessed - with escaping the claustrophobic confines of the manor house to run wild in her beloved fens.

Wakenhyrst is at heart a gothic mystery. Who was murdered in 1913? Who murdered them - and why? Are the fens really haunted by ghosts and demons, or do they exist only in the mind of Maud's father? And were the rumours true? Was Maud really guilty of witchcraft?

I loved the practical, no-nonsense character of Maud, her instinct for survival, and her sweet romance with Clem. And I adored the tame magpie, Chatterpie! Michelle Paver is a brilliant writer, excelling at creating an atmosphere of subtle menace that builds towards a shocking finale and a supernatural twist. The story is subtle; it's a slow burn of a tale, that won't suit the reader who loves jump-shocks and big dramatic twists, but this was a five-star read for me. So I have no hesitation in recommending it, particularly to anyone loves a spooky, gothic mystery; a kind of Shirley Jackson crossed with Daphne du Maurier.

Thank you to Michelle Paver and Head of Zeus for my copy of this book, which I requested from NetGalley and reviewed voluntarily.

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