Month: December 2017

The Confession – John Grisham

Title – The Confession

Author – John Grisham

Published – 2010

Genre – Legal thriller

I’ve read a little less in 2017 than in recent years and there haven’t been any particular books that stood out as a ‘five star’ read but by the skin of its teeth this book gets that accolade. Apart from anything else it’s a book that’s haunting me – it’s a number of days since I finished it but I can’t shake off some of the aspects and issues that the book brought up.

Although written some years ago it feels like a particularly timely read and in fact the situation in the US may be worse now than it was when the book was published.

Donté Drumm is four days from execution in Texas for a murder he was found guilty of committing nine years earlier. On the Monday morning Travis Boyette, a serial rapist who is on parole, approaches a priest in a small town in Kansas confessing to the crime for which Donté is due to be executed. Reverend Keith Schroeder knows nothing of the case but when he researches it as quickly as he can he can see the obvious short-comings of the case against the young black boy accused of killing a white woman. Keith must decide what he will do and what he will risk – will he believe the man in front of him and attempt to stop the execution.

In Texas Donté’s passionate lawyer, Robbie Flak, is trying every last option that his team can put together to get a stay on the execution, no matter how unlikely the chances of success.

As the time scheduled for the execution approaches tension on the streets of Donté’s hometown increases as this becomes a clearly divided race issue.

The book offers tension at every turn – will the priest risk committing a crime and aide Boyette to cross the state line, will anyone be able to save Donté, will the tension in the town boil over. And as the present-day story unfolds the reader also finds out more about Donté and his arrest and subsequent confession as well as the damage to his sanity as he spends years on death row.

The book deals with two social issues – the first is the railroading of an innocent black man into confessing to a crime he didn’t commit and then the acceptance of this by those in authority over evidence that contradicts it. The other is the use of the death penalty and the possibility of making the most unthinkable error.

It also touches on grief, I’ve been careful to avoid spoilers and this isn’t one, the family of the murdered young woman see the execution as their right and may not be willing to find that the years they’ve spent hating one person were mis-placed.

The characters are brilliantly well executed (if you’ll excuse the pun). The cautious priest, the zealous lawyer, the damaged young black man, the loathsome felon, the corrupt politicians – they call came to life on the page.

Grisham is known for his activism in trying to exonerate wrongly convicted prisoners and this isn’t appealing to everyone. I’m not sure if there have been any changes in the application of the death penalty since the book was published but it’s a relief that it’s an issue we don’t have to contend with in the UK. Not a cheerful read but one that will make you think and a pacey, twisting thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat.

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Crime fiction events in 2018

It’s time to put my 2018 events listing together. Remember this isn’t all literary events (there are plenty of lists of those and there must be hundreds of events) but it is a list of the main dedicated crime fiction events taking place in the UK.

I aim to maintain the list and update it as dates are confirmed so do let me know if there’s anything I should add.

As a few new events are already being announced for 2019 I’ve added a brief update at the bottom of this post. A whole 2019 listing to follow.

January

Nothing uncovered so far – perhaps we’re all busy reading!

February

23 – 25 February – Granite Noir – Aberdeen
This is the second year for this crime writing festival featuring some of the most celebrated talent from the Nordic Noir scene alongside Scotland’s own Tartan Noir authors.

24 February – Crime at the Castle, Glamis Castle, Angus, Scotland
This looks like a fascinating one-day event.

March

1 March – Noir at the Bar, Edinburgh
An evening event, number 7 in the series. Check the FB page for info on this and more events – https://www.facebook.com/NoirattheBarEd/ 

March – Deal Noir – Deal
TBC

April

6 – 8 April – Quais du Polar – Lyon
I can’t see yet that a programme has been published for 2018 – the festival is free, a short flight from the UK and much of the content accessible for English-speakers.

11- 15 April – Books by the Beach, Scarborough
Not a dedicated crime fiction event but this does get a good contribution from crime writers.

May

17 -20 May – Crimefest – Bristol
A four-day convention drawing top crime novelists, readers, editors, publishers and reviewers from around the world, with headline appearances from Lee Child and Jeffrey Deaver.

June

1 – 2 June – Crime and Coffee Festival – Cardiff
A new event being organised by Cardiff libraries promoting Wales-based crime writers and stories set in Wales.

8 – 10 June – Alibis in the Archives, Gladstone Library, Hawarden, Flintshire
An event run in association with the Crime Writers’ Association and The Detection Club.

16 June – Bodies from the Library – British Library, London
A one day conference with an exciting programme of discussions, presentations and panels on the Golden Age of Detective Fiction Writers.

28 – 30 June – Captivating Criminality, Bath
The fifth UK conference from the Captivating Criminality Network, ‘Crime Fiction: Insiders and Outsiders’, will examine the ways in which Crime Fiction as a genre is able to incorporate both traditional ideas and themes, as well as those from outside mainstream and/or dominant ways of thinking.

July

19 – 22 July – Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival – Harrogate, Yorkshire
Four days of Europe’s biggest come writing event, this year Lee Child is the chair of the Programming Committee.

August

3 – 5 August – Bute Noir, Bute
The third year of this small but growing festival on the Isle of Bute.

17 – 19 August – St Hilda’s Mystery and Crime Weekend – Oxford
The 25th year of this unique conference – https://www.sthildas.ox.ac.uk/content/2017-st-hildas-mystery-and-crime-conference 

September

15 September – International Agatha Christie Festival – Torquay, Devon
The festival is now a biennial event however there will be a one-day celebration of Agatha Christie’s birthday in Torbay on Saturday 15th September 2018. The next 5-day festival is scheduled for 11th-15th September 2019.

13 – 16 September – Noirwich Crime Writing Festival, Norwich, Norfolk
The Noirwich Crime Writing Festival is an annual celebration bringing together superstar crime authors, exciting new talent and fans of all things crime fiction.

21 – 23 September – Bloody Scotland – Stirling, Scotland
Scotland’s festival celebrating crime writing – bringing together leading Scottish and international writers, showcasing debut voices and encouraging new writers.

28 – 30th September – Margate Bookie, Margate
Moving to September this seaside literary festival usually features a session on crime fiction and this year it’s “Murder in the Dark”  on the evening of 29th.

29 – 30 September – Morecambe & Vice, Morecambe
The second year for this event, “there will be panels and talks & trials and debates as authors and guests from around the globe gather to converse, consider and confabulate over crime in all its many facets”.

October

October – NOIRELAND, Belfast
No confirmed date for 2018 yet

5 – 14 October – Cheltenham Literary Festival, Cheltenham
I wouldn’t normally include this festival as it’s so diverse and doesn’t have the same focus as most of the other events listed here but it’s worth a check of the programme. Specific crime fiction highlights include:

  • The Sunday Times Must Reads: Charles Cumming And Mick Herron
  • a creative writing workshop with Mark Billingham
  • Brookmyre And Billingham After-Hours
  • Agatha Christie: Queen Of Crime – featuring Sophie Hannah
  • Ambrose Parry
  • In Cold Blood: Scandi And Nordic Noir

21 October – Killer Weekend 2018, London
Full details anticipated mid-July

24 October – Crime Writing: Truth, Myth, Death and Mayhem at Darkfest, Portsmouth
Part of Darkfest – full details to be announced shortly.

November

16 – 18 November – Iceland Noir, Reykjavik
Two days of panels and readings, there will also be the Icelandic Crime Disco Night at IDNO on Saturday evening.

December

All busy shopping for books …

Crime fiction I’m looking forward to reading in 2018

This is a personal look at the books I’m looking forward to reading next year. There are a few debuts, a few series that I really should catch up on and the climax to one specific series that I just can’t wait for!

First on the list must be Turn a Blind Eye by Vicky Newham which is due to be published on 5 April 2018. I first met Vicky not long after I started blogging and we have been friends since. When I first met people as a blogger I seemed unusual in being someone who was only interested in reading books with no desire to become a writer myself. Over the intervening years I’ve seen many of these bloggers become published authors (people like Sarah Ward, James Law, Steph Broadribb) and it’s been a long wait for Vicky! The good news is that she will be published by HQ books (part of Harper Collins) so she should get lots of publicity and support. They’ve already done a great job on the cover! 

The book does sound intriguing too “When the head teacher of Mile End High School is found brutally murdered, DI Maya Rahman is called in to the East End community – an area buzzing with energy, yet divided by its own multiculturalism. Maya must battle ghosts from her past and navigate East London’s cultural tensions to find the perpetrator before they kill again.”. As a fan of police procedurals this is right up my street and Vicky is bringing in an extra dimension with a Bangladeshi female detective and a Tower Hamlets setting.

Not only did HQ by the rights to two books but TV rights sold to Playground Entertainment so fingers crossed that this develops into something we get to see on screen too.

Next on the list is another debut – this is Strangers on a Bridge by Louise Mangos and is due to be published in August 2018 by HQ Digital, again part of Harper Collins. Louise is another debut author that I’ve met at a number of crime fiction events. Despite having an agent she made her ‘pitch’ to HQ via a tweet when they were asking for authors to do just that and following the tweet they made contact with Louise and she subsequently signed to them. Who says social media is all bad?

A psychological thriller the blurb is ‘While running near her home in Switzerland, English-born Alice stops a man jumping from a notorious suicide bridge. He mistakes Alice’s euphoric relief as budding affection, and he begins to stalk her.’ While the premise sounds intriguing I definitely don’t read enough books set in Switzerland so I’m looking forward to a bit of armchair-tourism too.

I didn’t post a roundup of my reading highlights  for 2017 – there were a couple of reasons for this. First my blog was pretty neglected in the first half of the year with a house move coinciding with a period at work that was both busy and stressful. I’ve done about the same amount of reading as I normally would but it’s been too time-consuming to get all the reviews posted on my blog. But I also felt that there weren’t any absolutely ‘five-star’ standout books in what I’d read. I did ask around on Facebook for some suggestions of what I might have missed and I’ve also had a look at many of the other ‘best of 2017’ lists. Taking all of this into account and scouring the lists on Crime Time I made sure to ask for Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke for Christmas and I’m pleased to say that Santa did his stuff. The only hold up may be the fact that as a hardback I shan’t want to take it to work on the train as I like to keep my books in pristine condition!

I’ve always tried to read books in the correct series order and if I have started a series from the beginning I don’t want to skip a book and miss something important. There are a couple of series that I’ve got behind on and I really need to catch up. I feel a particular affinity to these as I read and reviewed the debuts on my blog. Firstly there’s Sarah Hilary’s Marnie Rome series. I’ve read the first three books in the series but missed out on the fourth and can see some reviewers have already received copies of the fifth book, so I need to get myself the two missing titles and squeeze them in to my reading next year.

1. Someone Else’s Skin (2014)
2. No Other Darkness (2015)
3. Tastes Like Fear (2016)
4. Quieter Than Killing (2017)
5. Come and Find Me (2018)

Another series that I have followed from the beginning is David Mark and his Aector McAvoy series. I miss reading about Aector and I must catch up. More for the shopping list…

1. The Dark Winter (2012)
2. Original Skin (2013)
3. Sorrow Bound (2014)
4. Taking Pity (2015)
4.5. A Bad Death (2015)
5. Dead Pretty (2016)
5.5. Fire of Lies (2016)
6. Cruel Mercy (2017)
7. Scorched Earth (2018)

There is a third set of books to add to this and I did make an exception and read some of this series out of order. It’s the Nic Costa series by David Hewson. When David stopped writing this series set in Italy I didn’t feel any pressure to fill in any gaps but with a new book due out in 2018 I shall have to get my skates on to catch up. I have posted reviews on my blog for The Fallen Angel which was the last Nic Costa novel and Carnival for the Dead which was a spin off from the series. You can read more about David’s announcement on his blog.

There is also a series coming to an end which although I shall be sad to see it finish I am REALLY looking forward to reading the final instalment. This is the Frieda Klein series from Nicci French. I wasn’t sure how a move from standalones to a series of eight books would work but I shouldn’t have worried. The series has been excellent – one you really should read from the start to get the most out of the books. But July will see the final book published and I shall be rushing to read it because I would hate to see a spoiler!

 1. Blue Monday (2011)
2. Tuesday’sGone (2012)
3. Waiting for Wednesday (2013)
4. Thursday’s Children (2014)
5. Friday on My Mind (2015)
6. Saturday Requiem (2016)
aka Dark Saturday
7. Sunday Morning Coming Down (2017)
aka Sunday Silence
8. Day of the Dead (2018)

So what have ai missed? What books are your must haves or must reads for the next year?

Murder on Christmas Eve

Title – Murder on Christmas Eve

Author – Compilation of short stories edited by Cecily Gayford

Published – 2017

Genre – Crime fiction

I’m not someone who tends to read ‘seasonal’ fiction, if anything I prefer to read books set in a different season to the one I’m in. Who doesn’t want to escape into the hot sun when they’re stuck in a dreary British winter? But in this case I couldn’t resist the cover!

The stories are from a mix of writers, both contemporary (Ian Rankin, for example) to more classic crime (John Dickson Carr, Margery Allingham). The setting for all is around Christmas but some are more ‘festive’ than others. I’ve read some good crime fiction short stories but the quality of these was a bit hit and miss. With the stories being written decades apart it’s difficult to know if they had all been specifically written as a Christmas short story or if they were just what the editor managed to find.

The GK Chesterton story was the longest and was a very complete puzzle and it’s always good to see Father Brown. Although I did feel that the story could have finished a few pages before it did and it wasn’t really connected to Christmas. I also enjoyed the first story ‘The Trinity Cat’, by Margery Allingham, this is probably the closest to my expectations of what the stories would be like. Many of the other stories were about a sleight of hand or a misunderstanding – perhaps the limitations of the short story format meant that this was the easiest was to present a puzzle and solve it. And some of them managed to miss the mark completely.

The collection is short and perhaps would make a good present for someone who isn’t normally a crime fiction fan.

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In Her Wake – Amanda Jennings

Title – In Her Wake

Author – Amanda Jennings

Published – 2016

Genre – Fiction

I first came across Amanda Jennings at Crimefest a few years ago just before she announced a new deal with (then fledgling) publisher Orenda books. I duly received a review copy of In Her Wake and it has sat on my TBR for well over a year. It was one of those books that I was put off for two reasons – one was that it wasn’t an obviously ‘crime fiction’ book and the second was the overwhelming amount of positive reviews I saw the book receiving. It might seem odd to delay reading a book because of the second point but if a book is getting such a lot of coverage then my blog post won’t add anything to what’s already been said and the other reason is that often books with such overwhelming praise can be disappointing when your expectations have been raised.

We all imagined when were young that we were adopted or somehow came to be living with wrong family, what we picture as our ‘real’ family is a sort of idyll of family life.  When both Bella’s parents die in quick succession she discovers that there is some truth to this feeling – her parents have deceived her for years and her seemingly perfect life is torn apart. Bella embarks on a journey (to Cornwall) to find out more about her real identity in what becomes a journey of self-discovery. What Bella finds isn’t what any young girl would dream up as their ‘real’ family. The aspects of a more female-centric book are balanced by the events that lead to Bella’s new life and the truth behind the events adds a more thrilling aspect as they are uncovered during the course of the book.

The author definitely  has an eye for character, it was easy to empathise with Bella and the writing made the behaviour of other characters credible. Interestingly the one person whose point of view the reader never gets to understand is the person Bella thought of as her mother, the driving force behind the events in the book. As Bella learns more about her childhood she can see how it’s shaped her life and the decisions she’s made, whether for better or worse.

For me, and it’s not the first time I’ve criticised this aspect of a book, I wasn’t too keen on the more supernatural elements. Just me, just not a fan. But that aside this was a compelling book that mixed a character-driven story with a mystery. It was beautifully written and captured the emotional rollercoaster of Bella’s grief and discovery as she reevaluates everything she thought she knew.

Many thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

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Behind the Scenes – the Awards Judge

This is the another in my ‘behind the scenes‘ look at some of the often unsung heroes who help to bring great crime fiction to bookshops and ultimately our shelves. This time my Q and A is looking at the role of the judge in some of the best known crime fiction awards.

IMG_4808Ayo Onatade commentates on all things crime fiction. She writes articles and gives papers on all aspects of the crime and mystery genre. She blogs at Shotsmag Confidential, writes articles for Shotsmag and Crimespree Magazine. She is the Chair for the CWA Short Story Dagger, a judge for the Ngaio Marsh Award (New Zealand crime writers award), the HWA (Historical Writers Association) debut novel and CrimeFest’s Flashbang short stories. She is co-editor of the anthology Bodies in the Bookshop.  She is also a dissertation tutor for the MA in Publishing at Kingston University.  When not doing all of the above she works at the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom where she is the Head of Judicial Support and PA to two of the Justices, one of them being the President of the Supreme Court.

As an introduction, which awards have you been involved in judging? 

I have been involved in judging the Crime Writers Association Short Story Dagger, the Ngaio Marsh Awards, Flashbang Contest and the Historical Writers Association Debut Novel.

Can you describe the practical process for judging and does it vary greatly between awards?

It varies, for the CWA Short Story Dagger (which I still Judge and actually Chair) anthologies are submitted and received.  The judges read all the eligible stories and a long list is drawn up followed by a shortlist. The winner is then decided from the shortlist.  With regard to the Ngaio Marsh Awards books are submitted and the judges submit their views on the books in order of preference. The convener then does his magic and calculates the marks from those received and works out who the winner is. The Flashbang Contest we have to read all the submission and submit our list of all the stories marking them from our favourite to our least favourite.  This is done across a number of rounds as the stories are whittled down. For the Historical Writers Debut Novel we actually used a spreadsheet to record our views. The administrator then whittled the stories down and then a meeting is held to decide the winner.

How do you go about ‘rating’ one book or story against another, or is this not the way it’s done?

With difficulty. For me it is all about a matter of taste and which stories you are drawn to and stand out.  Good writing, good storyline and in addition for me how long does the book/ story resonate with me.

Does the judging (and reading) process take place over a limited time and does that pose any particular problems? 

Normally a year. But for a number of the contests it has been shorter.  It can pose particular problems when the judging for the different stories overlap with one another.  In addition I juggle my judging with a full time busy day job and running a blog.

What happens if the process reaches a stalemate, how is that resolved? 

Err, I have only been in that position once and we ended up sharing the award.

Have you been involved in ‘blind’ judging and how do you feel that works? 

The Flashbang contest is done by blind judging and it works incredibly well. I like not knowing the author as it does not give you any pre-conceived ideas about the author’s writing especially if you are used to reading the author’s work.

Do you notice similar themes or trends in submissions each year?

No, but then again I think it is because of the type of books that I judge.

What really makes a submission stand out for you? 

Good writing especially economical writing, (I hate long winded writing) good characters and a plot that makes you think and a

What do you enjoy about being a judge?

The variety of the stories that one gets to read.

What have you learnt from the process?

It is hard work being a judge. It requires dedication, an open mind and a willingness to read  a wide variety of stories.  I have also learnt that my reading has changed depending on whether I am reading a book because I am judging it or reading for pleasure. I am much more critical when judging than when reading for pleasure.

And now the’s time for your pitch – is there any award that you would like to be asked to judge? 

I would love to judge the CWA Historical Dagger or the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger. The Historical Dagger having the edge.

What are you reading at the moment?

Grandville – Force Majeure by Bryan Talbot.  This is a cross-genre steampunk/ detective graphic novel where all the characters are animals.

You can find Ayo on twitter under the name @Shotsblog.


I’d like to thank Ayo for taking the time to answer my questions.

The Killer on the Wall – Emma Kavanagh

Title – The Killer on the Wall

Author – Emma Kavanagh

Published – April 2017

Genre – Crime fiction

It seems like only yesterday that I reviewed Emma Kavanagh’s debut Falling but it was actually over three years ago and this is her fourth novel.

The setting is the small town of Briganton which butts up against Hadrian’s Wall. Twenty years ago teenager Isla Bell discovered three bodies propped up against the wall – the start of a killing spree by a local man who was captured by her police officer father. Move to the present day and Isla is a forensic psychologist, still looking for answers as to what makes a serial killer and she’s finally getting the chance to examine the ‘Killer on the Wall’. DC Mina Arian is a newcomer to the area and trying to find her feet with her new colleagues, a gutsy character she isn’t afraid to question her elders and betters.

When another body is discovered against the wall it has implications for the two women. The story moves between the perspectives of the two women as well other characters from the town as the investigation into the murder unfolds.

The book has the claustrophobic atmosphere of a small town and the author makes the most of the inclement weather to add to the dark mood. There are a few set action sequences balanced by some slower sections. What this does have lots of is red herrings – if you like a crime fiction book that keeps you guessing (unless you do mange to spot the perpetrator) this is for you.

I have my star ratings as a way of categorising what I’ve read and I have to say that this book was somewhere between a three and a four. Probably a few too many red herrings for me!

Many thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

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Dead in the Dark – Stephen Booth

51-AWfPgd4L-2Title – Dead in the Dark

Author – Stephen Booth

Published – July 2017

Genre – Crime fiction

If I were to pick one sub-genre of crime fiction as being my favourite it would have to be the British police procedural. Although I’ve only read one of Stephen Booth’s previous titles in the Cooper and Fry series (this book is number 17) this seemed like a series that I would really enjoy.

In Dead in the Dark there are two main police investigations – Fry is involved in investigating the murder of a Polish immigrant while Copper is on the hunt for a man who was accused of killing his wife ten years ago, but who has now disappeared himself.  The story of the immigrant does allow Booth the opportunity to include some aspects of social commentary, proving that even the Peak District isn’t immune. Fry and Cooper are working independently now and although their paths do cross occasionally this book certainly didn’t lead me to understand any more about their relationship.

The problem is, I’m afraid, that I didn’t really enjoy this book. The single reason for this is that it felt like a much shorter, pithier one that had been padded out. It’s almost 400 pages long and I suspect that there’s a really good 300-page book trapped inside. There was a lot of background in the book that I didn’t need to know to understand the plot, not only did it slow the pace of the storylines but it was distracting too and I found myself skipping sections which was a real shame.

Many thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

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The New Mrs Clifton – Elizabeth Buchan

Title – The New Mrs Clifton

Author – Elizabeth Buchan

Published – June 2017 (paperback)

Genre – Historical fiction

As we get closer to the end of the year I thought I would try to tackle some of the books I’ve started but struggled to finish. At the beginning of the week, according to Goodreads, I was ‘currently reading’ 10 books and I’m now down to 8 – woohoo!

This book I started in October of last year but put it down when I was about 100 pages in and it just wasn’t holding my attention. I  picked it up where I’d left off and remembered enough to press on without needing to go back.

The setting is London in post-war 1945 and the main characters are a trio of women – which reminded me a little of Wake by Anna Hope. Gus, who works for the British Government, returns from Berlin after the end of the war and surprises the two sisters with whom he lives by bringing with him his new German bride, Krista. The early part of the book (and where it lost me) was setting the scene of the initial reactions of the three women living under the same roof as well as providing some backstory. The point at which I picked it back up saw Gus and Krista sent back to Berlin in order to work together on an interrogation. This introduced a different dynamic that helped lift the characters for me, I would have enjoyed more of this aspect.

As the relationships develop over the first few months in Clapham, dull and dreary in the post-war period, the author also provided glimpses of the harrowing situations that Krista suffered with fragments of her backstory, beginning to explain her relationship with Gus. There are lots of other threads in the story including how the two sisters find their own ways of dealing with the losses that they both suffered in the war. It is also beautifully written and very evocative of the period.

As it happens, when I finished I looked back and re-read the first chapter which felt a bit like a prologue. It was set in 1974 and set the reader up to look for a specific situation arising. Having read the bulk of the book without this in mind I’m pleased that I had forgotten it, I would have enjoyed the whole of the book a lot less if I had been looking for the inevitable conclusion.

In the end this was an enjoyable read despite the dark setting and it took some twists and turns that I wasn’t anticipating.

Thank you to the publisher for the review copy.

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The Breakdown – B A Paris

Title – The Breakdown

Author – B A Paris

Published – Feb 2017

Genre – Psychological thriller

With a set of bookshelves that are just my ‘to read’ books it can be difficult choosing the next book to read, in this case I went for a book that Goodreads told me was in the running for their annual Goodreads Choice Awards in the ‘Mystery and Thrillers’ category.

On a stormy night Cass takes a shortcut home through the woods and drives past a woman parked in her car. When the news the next day is that the woman has been found dead and she also realises that she knew the woman, Cass becomes consumed by guilt.

I wasn’t hugely keen on Cass as a character. She’s suffering from memory lapses and is worried that she, like her mother before her, is suffering from early onset dementia, but her initial decision not to tell her husband what happened felt like a frustrating mistake when you’re looking in from the outside. I know authors play with ‘what if’ scenarios but as a reader I’m not keen on the plots that rely on the main character making the wrong choice at the beginning (usually keeping a secret) on which the rest of the plot depends. Despite my misgivings I couldn’t fault the writer in creating a character who felt fragile, fractured and brought to close to breaking point.

As with The Roanoke Girls it would be very easy to compare this to (in this case) a single film/play which would give away the main premise (I won’t). As it was I felt the author was trying to keep the suspense going until close to the end of the book when I had realised some (admittedly not all) of the key elements much earlier on.

Many thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

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