Book Review: Twisted by Steve Cavanagh

Name:  Twisted
Author:  
Steve Cavanagh
Number of Pages:
352 (Paperback)
Published:
May 21st 2019 by Orion
Genre:  Thriller, Mystery

Goodreads

BEFORE YOU READ THIS BOOK
I WANT YOU TO KNOW THREE THINGS:
1. The police are looking to charge me with murder.
2. No one knows who I am. Or how I did it.
3. If you think you’ve found me. I’m coming for you next.
After you’ve read this book, you’ll know: the truth is far more twisted…


My Rating:

My Thoughts:

I picked up Twisted, glanced at the brief synopsis and ventured online to try and find out more before I started reading. As it happened, quite a few reviews said this thriller worked best the less you knew, and I decided to stop looking before I ended up tripping over inevitable spoilers. Guess what? They were right! The less you know, the less you see coming and that makes for an enjoyable read.

It makes Twisted a great book to recommend, but a little tough to review, so I have a feeling this will be fairly short, but that by no means reflects on the book at all. I just don’t want to risk giving anything away…

Twisted is about books, writing, hidden identities, betrayals and deceptions, and that’s about all I’ll say in terms of plot. It’s cleverly plotted and perfectly titled, for just when you think you’re getting a grip on the ‘who’, the ‘how’ or the ‘why’, there’s the next twist, delivered at the perfect time to leave you reeling and rethinking your ideas as you read on.

Twisted certainly delivers a fast-paced thriller. It is a page-turning read that builds the suspense and raises the stakes right through to the very end. It draws you in and keeps you guessing. This is the first Steven Cavanagh book I’ve read, but I already have a copy of Thirteen and after enjoying this one so much I can’t wait to discover more of this author’s work.

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Book Review: A Book of Bones (Charlie Parker #17) by John Connolly

Name:  A Book of Bones (Charlie Parker #17)
Author:  
John Connolly
Number of Pages:
720 (Hardback)
Published:
April 18th 2019 by Hodder & Stoughton
Genre:  Thriller, Mystery, Supernatural

Goodreads

The new thrilling installment of John Connolly’s popular Charlie Parker series.
He is our best hope.
He is our last hope.
On lonely moor in the northeast of England, the body of a young woman is discovered near the site of a vanished church. In the south, a girl lies buried beneath a Saxon mound. To the southeast, the ruins of a priory hide a human skull.
Each is a sacrifice, a summons.
And something in the darkness has heard the call.
But another is coming: Parker the hunter, the avenger. From the forests of Maine to the deserts of the Mexican border, from the canals of Amsterdam to the streets of London, he will track those who would cast this world into darkness.
Parker fears no evil.
But evil fears him . . .


My Rating:

My Thoughts:

A Book of Bones is the 17th in the Charlie Parker series, but only the second book I’ve read after picking up The Woman in the Woods earlier this year. What a find this series is! I don’t know how I missed it for so long. The stories offer a wonderful mix of crime and supernatural and some memorable characters. This story begins shortly after events of The Woman in the Woods, and I am glad I read that book first.

A Book of Bones follows Charlie Parker and his allies Louis and Angel, along with rare book expert Bob Johnston who is knowledgeable in the ongoing search for the Fractured Atlas, an old book said to have enough power to alter the world forever.
Parker is in pursuit of the lawyer, Quayle, and his sidekick, a woman known as Pallida Mors. When last we saw this pair Quayle believed his search for the scattered pages of the Atlas was almost complete and that everything was about to change.

The search for this dangerous duo takes our heroes across Europe and to Britain, where a series of murders is keeping the police occupied. We follow D.I Nicola Priestman and her team as the body count rises, each being discovered at a site of historical significance.

There are stories within the main story, historical events of a strange nature, from a disappearance from an archaeological expedition to a murder in Whitechapel, and these tales added atmosphere and creepiness to the modern-day search for Quayle and Mors. I loved these interludes almost as much as the main narrative.

A Book of Bones is a vast and epic tale, and one that draws you in right from the start. Towards the end I couldn’t stop reading ‘just one more chapter’, but I didn’t want it to end either! At least I have the rest of the series to discover whilst eagerly awaiting the next chapter of Charlie Parker’s story.

Book Review: The Woman in the Woods (Charlie Parker #16) by John Connolly

Name:  The Woman in the Woods (Charlie Parker #16)
Author:  
John Connolly
Number of Pages:
496 (Paperback)
Published:
February 21st 2019 by Hodder & Stoughton (First published April 5th 2018)
Genre:  Thriller, Mystery, Supernatural

Goodreads

The new thrilling instalment of John Connolly’s popular Charlie Parker series.
Charlie Parker aids the police when a buried, semi-mummified body of a woman is discovered. She apparently died of childbirth. Parker has to find out who she was and what happened to the child.


My Rating:

 

My Thoughts:

Better late than never, as they say. This is the first John Connolly/Charlie Parker novel I’ve ever read, and I’m so glad I did. It’s not all bad, coming late to a series, because this being book 16, I have a whole back catalogue to discover at my leisure.
I actually started with The Woman in the Woods because the latest instalment, A Book of Bones caught my eye thanks to the striking cover, but I went on to read reviews saying it wasn’t really a book to begin with as it featured themes covered in previous stories, so The Woman in the Woods became my starting point.
Obviously I don’t have the familiar feeling of returning to well-known characters that comes with being a long-term reader, but I don’t feel anything was lacking, or that I struggled to keep up by delving into the series so late, and there’s a summary at the back of the book (I read the paperback) of Parker’s previous adventures for those who don’t want to go in totally blind.

The Woman in the Woods offers a wonderful mix of thriller, mystery, murder and something a little spooky and supernatural, a great mix that kept me turning the pages long after I should have put the book down. The plot is complex and engaging, featuring multiple storylines and many colourful characters. The supernatural element was wonderfully written, just the right amount of eerie without being too scary.
Parker becomes involved in the case of a corpse found in the woods. A huge tree has fallen, apparently without reason, and unearthed human remains. When it becomes apparent that the woman had recently given birth, the fate of the child, whether alive or dead becomes of interest to several parties, not all of them good.

There are adversaries in the form of the creepy lawyer Quayle and his associate Pallida Mors, the strange woman with her grey appearance and unpleasant smell who kills without qualms or mercy. What a duo. They’ll stop at nothing in their aim to find out what happened to a woman called Karis and her child, and when Quayle and Parker become aware of each other, you can imagine there’s going to be a scene at some point.

As for Parker’s allies, I loved Louis with his recently discovered joy of reading and list of top 100 books to read. His partner Angel is recovering in hospital after surgery, and as Louis thinks anxiously of the future he still throws himself into helping Parker with his latest case.
I also liked Moxie Castin, the man driven to discover what happened to the woman found in the woods, and Parker’s daughter Jennifer, a ghostly presence with whom Parker speaks and who plays her own role in the case of the Woman in the Woods.

As the story progressed the search for missing book pages was mentioned, which was fascinating. I believe this may carry on in the following book, so I’m glad that I read The Woman in the Woods first, to have a little background information. I won’t say more as I’m close to spoiler territory possibly here.
The whole idea of this book and what it may potentially do, and the way another book is incorporated is creepy and a little magical.

The Charlie Parker series is definitely one I’m glad to have finally discovered. I don’t know why these books have never caught my attention before, but I recommend this one for anyone looking for an exciting story, great writing, characters to love and hate, and a great deal of suspense. I cannot wait to start A Book of Bones and see what’s next for Charlie Parker and his allies and enemies.

 

Book Review: A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C. A. Fletcher

Name:  A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World
Author:  
C. A. Fletcher
Number of Pages:
365 (Hardback)
Published:
April 23rd 2019 by Orbit
Genre:  Post Apocalyptic

Goodreads

When a beloved family dog is stolen, her owner sets out on a life-changing journey through the ruins of our world to bring her back in this fiercely compelling tale of survival, courage, and hope. Perfect for readers of Station Eleven and The Girl With All the Gifts.
My name’s Griz. My childhood wasn’t like yours. I’ve never had friends, and in my whole life I’ve not met enough people to play a game of football.
My parents told me how crowded the world used to be, but we were never lonely on our remote island. We had each other, and our dogs.
Then the thief came.
There may be no law left except what you make of it. But if you steal my dog, you can at least expect me to come after you.
Because if we aren’t loyal to the things we love, what’s the point?


My Rating:

My Thoughts:

At the beginning of A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World is a note asking readers not to reveal any of the secrets found within the story. Call me instantly intrigued. I couldn’t help but wonder what I was about to read, and more to the point, how I would be able to write about the book and stay true to this request? Well, here goes my attempt…

The world as we know it has gradually petered out as people stopped being able to reproduce. Everything seems to have ended quietly as the last generation aged, with no new generation to take their place. Griz has always lived on an island with his family – parents, siblings and dogs. They’re surviving, having endured various tragedies and joys along the way.
Then someone new arrives, and suddenly Griz is thrown into chaos when the stranger steals Griz’s beloved dog Jess.
With little thought for anything else, Griz goes in pursuit, determined to take back his dog and return home to his family. But the adventure will take him a long way from home.

For a world left desolate and mostly empty there is still a great deal of wonder to discover, and when Griz reaches the mainland a whole world beyond anything he’s read about in books opens up. There’s such atmosphere in the locations, they’re so vivid in their solitude and ruination as nature takes over where humans have long since departed. So many images stuck in my mind, abandoned places and remnants of the way life used to be.

Griz has a wonderful imagination and loves books and stories, and there’s a great sense that the stories of bygone times survived even where the people could not, and that stories still have power, even in a world that has fallen apart.
His own story is written in a notebook to an unknown boy in a photograph that Griz found whilst scavenging. It gives him some focus as to who he’s telling his tale to, even though the two have never met and never will.

There’s a bleakness to much that Griz finds, but also something very hopeful about the journey, and the world that remains. In a dangerous situation, there’s appreciation of the small things – a temporary safe haven, the chance to listen to music, or to find something new to read, and meeting new people, although they are few and far between and don’t always have the best of intentions.

A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World is a book to lose yourself in. Melancholy, dangerous, a difficult venture with the odds stacked against Griz, it still offers hope, courage, friendship and plenty of surprises and revelations along the way. It’s a book you really should experience for yourself, and one you’re not likely to forget quickly.

 

Book Review: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Poirot #4) by Agatha Christie

Name:  The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Poirot #4)
Author:  
Agatha Christie
Number of Pages:
286 (Kindle)
Published:
March 17th 2009 by William Morrow Paperbacks (Oiriginally published June 1926)
Genre:  Mystery, Crime

Goodreads

In the village of King’s Abbot, a widow’s sudden suicide sparks rumors that she murdered her first husband, was being blackmailed, and was carrying on a secret affair with the wealthy Roger Ackroyd. The following evening, Ackroyd is murdered in his locked study–but not before receiving a letter identifying the widow’s blackmailer. King’s Abbot is crawling with suspects, including a nervous butler, Ackroyd’s wayward stepson, and his sister-in-law, Mrs. Cecil Ackroyd, who has taken up residence in the victim’s home. It’s now up to the famous detective Hercule Poirot, who has retired to King’s Abbot to garden, to solve the case of who killed Roger Ackroyd–a task in which he is aided by the village doctor and narrator, James Sheppard, and by Sheppard’s ingenious sister, Caroline.
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is the book that made Agatha Christie a household name and launched her career as a perennial bestseller. Originally published in 1926, it is a landmark in the mystery genre. It was in the vanguard of a new class of popular detective fiction that ushered in the modern era of mystery novels.


My Rating:

My Thoughts:

My love for Agatha Christie and Hercule Poirot is still fairly new. I’m working my way very slowly through the Poirot novels and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, well, it’s left me a little lost for words actually.
I did not see that coming! You know the sort of twist that makes you see the whole thing in a totally different light, and almost sends you zipping back to the beginning to read the whole book again? This book has that twist.
It’s certainly put me on my guard for future Christie reads, but I doubt that will do me any good – I don’t think I’ve actually worked out the identity of the killer in any that I’ve read so far, and I wouldn’t have it any other way, because that’s Poirot’s job..

Poirot. I still like him. He’s self-assured, pompously certain of his own miraculous crime-solving skills, and it may become insufferable if he wasn’t always so very right. Nothing gets past the great detective, nothing! He has a certain charm about him, a way with words and manners that is a joy to read and watch as people talk to him and end up revealing more than they maybe intended to.
There’s a comic air about him that makes him endearing, such as his entrance in this novel – lobbing a vegetable marrow over the fence into his neighbour’s garden, where it almost hits Dr. Sheppard who is outside in his own garden at the time. And so these two new neighbours and eventual crime-solving team meet for the first time, after some speculation that Poirot is actually a retired hairdresser.

Sheppard himself narrates this tale, which obviously centres around the murder of title character Roger Ackroyd. He serves almost as the replacement Hastings, going along with Poirot to investigate, trying to work out what the great man is thinking, and failing at every turn.
He has a sister, Caroline, local gossip and general nosy neighbour, who has her domestic network of investigators, from maids to friends to bar staff to cleaners. It’s amazing that this small community can’t actually solve the murder without Poirot’s help!

I don’t want to say too much more because the last thing I want to do is spoil this book for anyone who hasn’t had the pleasure of reading it yet. A crime is committed, there are many suspects, and many colourful characters with many hidden secrets, and all you need do is sit back and watch Poirot at work. Twists, red herrings, suspicions, all add to the narrative, but the ending is what makes the book. It’s a solution that I doubt I’m ever likely to forget…

Book Review: Sleep by C. L. Taylor

Name:  Sleep
Author:  
C. L. Taylor
Number of Pages:
368 (Hardback)
Published:
April 4th 2019 by Avon HarperCollins
Genre:  Thriller, Mystery

Goodreads

All Anna wants is to be able to sleep. But crushing insomnia, terrifying night terrors and memories of that terrible night are making it impossible. If only she didn’t feel so guilty…
To escape her past, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare.
Each of the guests have a secret but one of them is lying – about who they are and why they’re on the island. There’s a murderer staying in the Bay View hotel. And they’ve set their sights on Anna.
Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One deadly lie.
Someone’s going to sleep and never wake up…


My Rating:

My Thoughts:

If you’re reading this then I am no longer alive. Someone has been stalking me for the last three months and, if I am dead, it wasn’t an accident.

Intriguing opening, isn’t it? It certainly grabbed my attention, and from then on I was hooked to the pages of this psychological thriller. Sleep was one of those books that I found myself making time for ‘just one more chapter’.

It kept me guessing throughout, as the story was gradually pieced together and several subplots led me to believe that this or that person was behind the attempt to drive lead character Anna to death.

Anna was involved in a tragic accident in which two of her colleagues were killed and one ended up with life-changing injuries. The guilt leaves her unable to sleep, even though what happened was not her fault. In search of a new start she splits up with her boyfriend and takes a job in a hotel on the Isle of Rum.

Seven strangers arrive for a walking tour and all have some secret or other. I could never have guessed which one had the motive to seek revenge on Anna, who is convinced that she is being stalked and that her stalker has followed her to Rum with the intent that Anna will not leave alive.

I love the setting of the remote island, cut off from the rest of humanity – it provides great atmosphere, especially as the weather turns stormy and the possibility to call for help becomes restricted. The river floods, cutting off access to the rest of the island, so this small group with a potential killer in their midst really are up against a lot. It raises the stakes in the fight for survival and provides a really claustrophobic atmosphere.

Sleep played into what I love about this kind of tale, that I didn’t see the final reveal coming. I like to try to pick up the clues, but I prefer it when I’m totally wrong. At some point there’s reason to suspect almost any of the guests, and there were twists and revelations aplenty until the truth finally came out, and it wasn’t what I was expecting at all. This is my first C. L. Taylor book, and I’m certainly tempted to read others after really enjoying this one.

Book Review: Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

Name:  Once Upon a River
Author:  
Diane Setterfield
Number of Pages:
380 (Hardback)
Published:
January 1st 2019 by Doubleday
Genre:  Fiction, Historical

Goodreads

A dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the Thames. The regulars are entertaining themselves by telling stories when the door bursts open on an injured stranger. In his arms is the drowned corpse of a little child.
Hours later the dead girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life.
Is it a miracle?
Is it magic?
Or can it be explained by science?
Replete with folklore, suspense and romance, as well as with the urgent scientific curiosity of the Darwinian age, Once Upon a River is as richly atmospheric as Setterfield’s bestseller The Thirteenth Tale.


My Rating:

My Thoughts:

Once Upon a River blends historical, mystery, hints of folklore and magic into an engrossing, meandering tale of life along a stretch of the river.

Many lives are played out alongside the riverbank, and we see them all, tied together on the night of the Winter Solstice, when a young girl is rescued and bought into the Swan at Radcot. The girl has drowned, and is dead, but in a turn of events she revives. Is it magic? Is it science? And who is the young girl at the heart of this tale?

Several people believe she belongs to them, that there is a place for her in their family, or that she is their daughter/sister/etc, lost some time ago. So, is this mute young girl a missing daughter of one family, the granddaughter of another, or the sister of someone else? Or is she someone else entirely?
W delve into these various lives, witnessing all manner of things – love, family, friendship, but also darker things – fear, loss, scheming.

The power of stories and storytelling,  love of a good narrative, and the tendency for stories to be adapted with each telling is plain in Once Upon A River, as locals gather in the pub to recall the initial finding of the girl, and develop their own storytelling skills with other tales.
There is a magical quality to some of these tales, such as that of Quietly, the ferryman who dwells upon the river, somewhere between life and death; he is there to meet those who fall in. If it’s their time, then over to the other side of the river they go, if not, Quietly will help them back to safety.

Once Upon a River is a real slow burner and remains so throughout, it meanders like the very river it centres around, travelling here and there, touching various places and lives before reaching its conclusion. It’s a tale to become fully immersed in, savouring the language and the imagery, and is very much centred around the everyday whilst being touched by an air of the magic and mysterious.