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Lizzy11268

Liz Loves Books.Com.

Book lover. Stephen King Fanatic. Will try anything once. General Lover of Fiction. Reviewer Everywhere.  All views my own. Mostly.

The Murder Game

The Murder Game - Catherine McKenzie writing as Julie Apple

So here is the thing. Catherine McKenzie wrote a book called Fractured. In Fractured the main protagonist Julie is in trouble because of a book she has written. That book is The Murder Game. So this book is a book from another book.

You've got to love that.

And also its a great story. Take a group of law students, friends, randomly tangled in relationships, learning criminal law and eventually moving on to various careers within that. Fast forward to a few years later, the friendships now somewhat fractured (yes yes I did that) and one of the group, Meredith, is assigned to a particularly sticky case. Not only sticky because of the defence being used but because this particular murder scene is all too familiar to Meredith...

I am a fan of the past/present vibe especially when it harks back to student days then catches up with those same characters years later, still being defined by what happened back then. And Julie Apple (AKA Catherine McKenzie) uses this with hugely satisfying results. Both timelines are intriguing, both are addictive, there is a great depth to the characters and an unpredictable quality about the whole thing that just makes you rocket through the read to find out what happens.

There are plenty of little twisty delights to be had here, also some great relationship entanglements that will have you shaking your head and the mystery element is beautifully drawn to make it more about the people than the actions. I really really enjoyed it. If you like a good psychological mystery you'll enjoy this for sure.

Now of course I want to read Fractured. It kind of has to be done. I shall track down a copy forthwith and see what happens to the author of The Murder Game. I'm hoping she survives. She needs to write more books.

Great stuff. Recommended.

Dear Charlie...

Dear Charlie - Huw Parmenter, N. D. Gomes, HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Blimey Dear Charlie was a heck of an emotional read. Seriously. Chocolate required – I give you fair warning.

 

The utter horror that encompasses a school shooting has been fictionalised a fair bit, Dear Charlie though I found gave it a particular resonance.  Focusing as it did not on the shooters, or the mother of, or the victims families but on the sibling left behind who is supposed to what? Hate his brother now? Call him a monster? Sam is facing that having lost so much and through his writings to Charlie we feel every moment.

 

Sam faces himself as much as he does Charlie within the narrative, a new school, a new attempt to make friends in an atmosphere that finds him vilified and lashed out at for the most part. A bunch of misfit students might be his starting point but the press hover, his parents are falling apart and there is no easy road back from this tragedy.

 

It is utterly gripping considering this is not a thriller, I was completely involved immediately with Sams struggle to understand, to come to some acceptance. The writing is beautifully done and the layers of grief that you find are heartbreaking. A media storm is one thing but an internal storm is quite another, Sam has both and then some.

 

Completely believable, occasionally beautiful, always compelling, Dear Charlie will stay with you for a long time after reading it. Batten down the hatches and read this – it will touch your soul.

 

Highly Recommended.

The Bone Collection.

The Bone Collection: Four Novellas - Kathy Reichs

Now I’m a huge fan of Kathy Reichs, not just of her writing either, so a collection of novella’s featuring the ever durable Tempe Brennan was a dream read for me.

 

And they were GREAT too especially First Bones which takes us back to the start of it all – these were all new to me although I believe they are not all newly published here. Each one was a mini thriller, with the usual forensic fascination (I love how compelling all the detail is in the cases Tempe takes on I always go google mad after reading anything from this author) and twisty turns in the plot that keep you on your toes.

 

I never like to put this series down so it was great to be able to start and finish a story in one sitting, although to be fair I did  want to read the next immediately but then you know. Thats how it goes. The writing is immersive as ever, the authenticity shines for obvious reasons and each one was as gripping as any of the full length novels.

 

Talking of which I can’t wait for more. This series for me has only grown stronger, I can’t imagine that I will ever get bored of it. Hope we get a good few more yet.

 

Highly Recommended.

The Marriage Lie

The Marriage Lie - Kimberly Belle

Another day another psychological thriller (there is a reason we love them) and The Marriage Lie was a good one. Exploring as often these things do the secrets that we keep and how we can never truly know the person next to us, The Marriage Lie follows Iris as she discovers that perhaps her husband was not so perfect after all..

 

Starting with a plane crash in which it is claimed Will died, Iris in her grief just cannot accept that – especially as he was not supposed to be on that flight but a completely different one. Turns out though that Will was keeping secrets from Iris…and off we go on a journey of twisty turny discovery.

 

I liked this one for several reasons – it was fast and believable, our main protagonist determines to find out the truth and actually takes steps to do that, the plot rocks along and is utterly gripping. I read it in two immersive sittings and although I did have a clue about the outcome I was never entirely sure, Kimberley Belle keeps things randomly unpredictable and holds the attention.

 

I liked Iris as a character, she was easy to get behind and The Marriage Lie as a whole was a highly satisfying read. With what I thought was a great finale.

 

Definitely recommended for fans of this genre.

How Will I Know YOu.

How Will I Know You?: A Novel - Jessica Treadway

Really enjoyed this tense and cleverly twisted psychological thriller - the multiple viewpoint works extraordinarily well in this story, with a range of people affected by the death of Joy Enright giving us the hints and clues that will ultimately reveal the truth about what happened.

 

Small town secrets abound- Jessica Treadway makes the connections and shows the things that bubble under the surface of seemingly normal lives. It is strangely emotional, utterly compelling and often surprising, a quiet slow burner of a tale that grips utterly.

 

It is true that this type of novel is popular still and will likely continue to be popular - with How Will I Know You the author shows why that is. Other peoples lives, the darkness within, all that human nature stuff is entirely fascinating and as readers we can't get enough.

 

Excellent stuff. Recommended.

At Ropes End

At Rope's End: A Dr. James Verraday Mystery - Edward Kay

Enjoyed this read very much – it has all the elements that appeal to me, serial killer, psychologist and profiler (think Tony Hill but in Seattle and obviously a very different character) a decent police presence and a bang on story.

 

James Verraday is an intriguing guy to follow along with here, after a childhood tragedy that saw his distrust of law enforcement begin, he wouldn’t be your first choice to help out the police. But Maclean (also intriguing) thinks he can be useful and so it begins..

 

Mostly I loved that this fairly rocked along – I read it fast, the author has a great way of getting across details without fuss, the characters developed nicely along the way, the mystery element was clever and the psychological detail was fascinating. It is a simple page turner of the type that crime fans will love – it does exactly what it says on the tin with added extras.

 

A series I shall follow along with – recommended.

Everything Belongs to the Future.

Everything Belongs to the Future - Laurie Penny

A short sharp read from Laurie Penny here in a novella length story which I banged through during a working break - intriguing premise, nicely done, but I wanted more to be honest.

One thing that worked for me particularly was the Oxford setting which I know well, living as I do just outside of it, so the sense of place was strong and the Oxford Laurie Penny creates is a compelling one. In a world where you can have longevity of life if you have enough money to pay for it whilst everyone else lives in a rather ravaged world (global warming very current social comment there) a group of activists set out to change things.

Of course things don't go entirely to plan.

I loved what I read but it felt slightly unfocused because it was so short. The concept here could easily be a full length novel which would have allowed for more character development (although in fairness the author gets the sense of them across very quickly) and for more of the scientific speculative element which was so fascinating.

All in all though I enjoyed it very much. Quite thought provoking and a good way to kill some time when you only have a short reading while.

Recommended for the idea if not the execution.

The Roanoke Girls.

The Roanoke Girls: A Novel - Amy Engel

I don't even know where to start with this book so I'll give it some thought and come back to a full review another time.

This book broke me. Not entirely sure what I'm feeling right now.

Practically speaking, although I'm highly recommending it,  if you can't deal with the darkest of subjects, in the sense that you might genuinely not cope well, then I would not read this. Also this is not a thriller, although there is a mystery element.

It is beautifully written and will break your heart.

As I said. Highly Recommended.

Chaos is right.

Chaos: A Scarpetta Novel (Kay Scarpetta Mysteries) - Patricia Cornwell

Ok I've marked it as read but I've only read about 15% not even quite that. I don't know what this is but its nothing like a story. Garbled nonsense. It took me ages to work out what was actually HAPPENING in the first bit. Scarpetta walking to a thing, Marino yelling at her on the phone about a thing, or something. I'm still not clear on where she was walking TOO even though there was some rubbish about a lecture. I just don't get it. Then frankly I skipped forward a bit and still garbled there is no flow to it. I can't cope. Especially since there isnt even a case yet as far as I can see. Unless you count the lecture subject (Challenger) which seems to just be an excuse for people to be "after" Scarpetta again.

I keep getting dragged back in hopeful of some clarity from this once terrific author. I maybe should have stuck with it a bit more but frankly life is too short.

Someone Is Watching.

Someone Is Watching: A Novel - Joy Fielding

I havent read a Joy Fielding book before. Not sure why seeing as how she's bang in my comfort zone and is an established and well respected author but I guess thats the way it is sometimes. You really CAN'T read everything (although hey, I'm giving it my best shot) I'll read more though.

Someone is Watching was novel of 2 halves for me. Going in expecting a psychological thriller of the usual variety I found that it was both that and a story about the aftermath of Rape.

Bailey is a strong, independent woman who falls apart after being brutally attacked. Confined for a lot of the time to her apartment as she struggles to come to terms with her trauma, a lot of the novel focuses on her confusion, her post traumatic stress and her attempts to come back from that. This then leads into not only the mystery of who in fact attacked her but goes off on another tangent also - into dysfuntional family threads and personal relationships.

The strength of the book for me was that level. It was frustrating and emotional as Bailey second guesses everything, believes she is going crazy, cannot hang onto reality. Her family are at odds and have been for a long time, her brother Heath, her half brothers and sisters, all have no idea and in some cases no real interest in how to help her.

The mystery element for me was almost secondary. The resolution was fairly predictable to be honest but I'm not sure that matters realistically when you look at the novel as a whole.

It was certainly compelling - Joy Fielding has that brilliantly flowing, engaging style of writing that always appeals to me, it is certainly a page turner - but in my case not because I was wondering who did what to who but because I wanted to see Bailey recover, take back control of her life, not let the bad guy win.

Definitely recommended. Probably for the reason that actually for the most part this does NOT do what it says on the tin.

Little Deaths.

Little Deaths: A Novel - Emma Flint

For me, Little Deaths was a marvel of a novel. Poignant, thought provoking, beautifully written and engaging, also randomly rage inducing – I went through a spectrum of emotions reading Ruth’s story and at the end I was wrung out.

 

Also, warning: Will cause google mania as you look up the case that Emma Flint took her inspiration from. That is also extraordinarily fascinating. I have today purchased her recommended book on the subject.

 

Little Deaths starts with a tragedy – two missing children. I don’t think its really a spoiler to say there is not a happy ending for the tiny ones – what follows is a multi layered, insightful and scarily authentic dig around the court of public opinion, the influence of the press and the dogged determination of a police investigation headed up by an obsessed detective.

 

Set in Queens, New York  in the Summer of 1965 Emma Flint brings that time, that place, to beautiful, occasionally awful, always vivid life. You will see and hear it, find focus in the community surrounding Ruth as she faces every mothers worst nightmare. Ripples going outwards, infecting and affecting so many lives, this novel shows you all the nuances, those places inbetween, it was gripping, utterly gripping from the very first page. That did not go away.

 

I think it should be noted that in this reviewers opinion  if you are expecting a psychological thriller, a “whodunnit” then you won’t get that. Whilst there is resolution in a sense, whilst there is an element of “Did she Didn’t she” that is the peripheral of Little Deaths. Whilst still intriguing on that level the heart of it is in the characters, their influences, a snapshot of a time, a place, a judgement that one would hope we as a society would have left behind us now. We have not though as the cases glaring at us from todays headlines prove all the time.

 

I’m back to Little Deaths is a marvel of a novel. Literary crime with a dash of eloquence and a story rooted in the truths we don’t like to think about.

 

Highly Recommended

The End of the World Running Club...

The End of the World Running Club - Adrian J Walker

Before reading "The End of the World Running Club" I'd heard a few things about it, both good and bad, turns out that it gets points from me mostly for addictive quality and for its main character, Edgar, who seems to have divided opinion - but who I loved because he was so utterly whiny yet absolutely determined.

Poor Edgar. Really. He drinks a fair bit and is not that fit, he's not particularly happy with his lot in life, finding family life somewhat mundane. Cue fiery asteroids from outer space decimating the UK and elsewhere, enforcing upon him some kind of actual responsibility.

The beginning of this novel was superbly engrossing, as things go pear shaped in spectacular fashion, descriptively you are right in there with the desperate survivors, I read the first 25% of this novel in record time. Then things settle down somewhat with more introspection from Edgar when his family are swooped away and he has little time to do anything except, well, run after them.

Teaming up with a hotch potch of other survivors a kind of twisted type of road trip begins as Edgar attempts to catch up to his family before they are beyond his reach. Literally by running after them. Across destroyed landscape, facing down danger and erm ok he's still a bit whiny really. But it is SO ENGAGING. The rest of the story also encompasses a sort of coming of age for Edgar as he realises what is actually important, hey it doesnt matter how old you are you can still suddenly come into your own. I liked this aspect of the story very much.

As for Bryce well. I'm not even going to go into that, he was our light relief and our conscience in a lot of ways - definitely a character I'd like to know more about away from the rest. Little small request to the author there perhaps?

Overall I really enjoyed this one, I read it over 2 sittings whilst gulping down lots of cups of tea, it is one of those books that you just bang through because you have to know where the journey ends. I was rooting for Edgar and wanting to slap him for the majority of the time, equalling a recommended tag from me.

Tell me no Lies

Tell Me No Lies - Lisa Hall

Tell Me No Lies is a psychological mystery with bite that kept me turning turning those pages, to see whether it was madness or messing that was the cause of all Steph’s problems – loved how Lisa Hall wrote it so it really could have been either.

 

Making a new life start, Steph hopes to leave her rather emotional past behind her, but odd things keep happening and she can’t really trust anyone – least of all herself. As a reader I didn’t trust anyone either and whilst I was ultimately right about who was doing what to who and why I always felt there was a slight chance I was wrong, a lot of this story is highly unsettling which is what you want from a psychological thriller.

 

It is one of those books that flies by you in no time, getting engrossed into this tale of woe was no problem at all. Add a bit of a killer ending (if I had one bugbear it was that it was very sudden and possibly unlikely due to some other events) that makes you go OH NO and you’ve got a banging read.

 

Really enjoyed it. One for a rainy sunday afternoon (of which we will have plenty living here in the UK) when you want to curl up with a good book and lose the world for a while.

Rather Be The Devil.

Rather be the Devil - Ian Rankin

I was a late arrival to the novels of Ian Rankin, it is probably only the last few years I've been reading them avidly, despite the longevity of the series, but hey I'm all caught up now and being late to the party is better than never arriving at all.

The thing with the Rebus series and the writing of Ian Rankin is that it is totally insidious in its creativity - you kind of get hooked without realising you ARE hooked until the next book comes along and you devour it with all the ferocity of a true believer. Well ok maybe thats just me...

Anyway astonishingly this is Rebus 21 and whilst he's not as young as he used to be he is just as tenacious and entirely adorable (ok maybe adorable is not QUITE the right word but its what I've got at the moment) I'm also rather fond and growing fonder of Malcolm Fox - so realistically this novel was always going to be one I was likely to enjoy.

And enjoy it I did - I see no need to go into huge depth on the story, thats what the reading of it is for, but suffice to say the authors trademark dark and devious plotting is out in full force, the characters live and breathe (I'm not sure how bad it is that I often end up feeling rather sympathetic towards the "bad" guys ) and Rebus despite having some fairly troubling personal distractions and not being officially anything, still goes after his man. Or woman. Or any poor soul doing their due diligence when trying to get away with murder.

Entirely brilliant writing, these will endure because they are kind of timeless even as they keep up with the times. Each one is a fully immersive experience and rather than lessening in impact or quality they just grow in both those things.

I'll be sorry when Rebus inevitably has to head for the hills, but the world Ian Rankin has created here, in setting, authenticity and background won't be going anywhere anytime soon, there are I'm sure a lot more stories to tell. And Rebus, the old dog, has quite a lot of life in him yet I'd say...

Highly Recommended.

From first book to last.

Too Close For Comfort...

Too Close for Comfort - Eleanor Moran

Too Close For Comfort was an intriguing and genuinely absorbing psychological drama (I don't want the say thriller because this is more considered than that) about a group of friends who are caught up in a whole lot of secrets and lies.

A possible suicide takes Mia Cosgrove to the small close knit community in which her best friend from childhood lives - Lysette is grieving and needs support - but Mia finds herself caught up in a group dynamic that is baffling and even possibly dangerous.


I like how Eleanor Moran twists and turns her characters, giving them depth and an enigmatic quality that slowly unravels as you read. Mia attempts to get to the truth but the truth is buried beneath many layers of both grief and perception. Mia herself is an intriguing character, not always entirely likeable but determined to help Lysette no matter the cost.

This makes for some fascinating plot development and my engagement with all the characters varied between intense dislike, sympathy and occasionally wanting to throw shoes. To me that shows great writing and a great story, you get enveloped into it and feel every moment.

If I had one nitpick it would be that the ending was not entirely convincing in its eventual reveal but that really is nitpicking because this one wasnt about the reveal moments. It was about the interpersonal relationships and the ever changing ebb and flow of female friendship.

Recommended. Proper storytelling.

Present Tense

Present Tense (A 'Best Defence' Novel) - William H.S. McIntyre

Present Tense was glorious. Loved it. I'm a fan of legal drama/thrillers and there has been a distinct lack of good ones around lately. Then here is Present Tense..

So Robbie Munro then. Going to be firmly on my list of favourite fictional characters for sure. He's funny, a little bit dark, a gorgeous amount of realistic and so readable I barely put this down. Add in some great plotting, a perfect mix of legal, mystery and family shenanigans and really whats not to love?

The setting is great, the background obviously authentic (unsurprising considering the authors background) I loved the vagaries of law and the ironic dual sense William McIntyre brings to proceedings. He also throws a terrifically intriguing mystery into the mix and manages to make the whole thing a whole load of fun. Which is not to say it doesnt have its serious side - it does. This is dark humour, ironic humour, the kind you need when dealing with the things lawyers deal with.

The crime elements aside I also got totally caught up in Robbie's life and interpersonal relationships. Grace his secretary (brilliant) his Dad (double brilliant) his brother (made me smile every time he appeared) and the rest (we'll talk about Joanna when I've stopped laughing at the last few paragraphs you might have to wait for that) it was all so so enticing. Fatherhood is also a narrative strand here and all parents everywhere will completely empathise with the whole Christmas present drama.

Overall utterly enthralling. Banging as I like to say. More soon please.

Highly Recommended.