Tuesday, 16 August 2016

The Crossing Places

The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths
Published by Quercus
2nd June 2016
Paperback Edition

Dr Ruth Galloway is called in when a child's bones are discovered near the site of a pre-historic henge on the north Norfolk salt marshes. Are they the remains of a local girl who disappeared ten years earlier - or are the bones much older?

DCI Harry Nelson refuses to give up the hunt for the missing girl. Since she vanished, someone has been sending him bizarre anonymous notes about ritual sacrifice, quoting Shakespeare and the Bible. He knows that Ruth's expertise and experience could help him finally to put this case to rest.

But when a second child goes missing, Ruth finds herself in danger from a killer who knows she's getting ever closer to the truth...

This is my second Elly Griffiths read but my first of the Ruth Galloway books.  I will admit now, that on the reading of just this first novel, I have subsequently purchased the next 7 books in the series to pour through so that should instantly say how much I enjoyed this book, be prepared for a mass update of reviews on here!

I love a good crime novel and a good ending too and this had everything for me.  I loved the setting of Norfolk and maybe this worked well for me as I have never been there but the images of the fens and the desolate landscape was really detailed for me and I liked that.  Ruth is my age, of not tiny proportions and single - again I felt as a character this was wholly realistic and I liked that in her; she is an independent woman that is constantly being questioned as to whom she is dating, or why she doesn't yet have children and are her cats her substitute babies?!

Ruth is an archaeologist and upon the discovery of a body in the Fens, is called by DCI Harry Nelson to identify the bones.  DCI Nelson has his own cross to bear, he was in charge of a missing child case a decade ago and the body has never been recovered.  Could these bones be hers by any chance? 

Unfortunately for Nelson the answer is no, and he has to put his past case behind him when another child disappears.  He maintains links to Ruth though as her bone expertise and local area knowledge are of benefit to him, plus there is also an air of 'je ne sais quoi' about Ruth which intrigues him.

Each character is well constructed and believable and whilst there aren't many in the story itself, I didn't guess 'whodunnit' until I was almost at the end of the book.  There is also a continuity in the book, which I won't give away here, to make the reader want to pick up the next book to follow.

If you are a lover of crime fiction and haven't discovered the Ruth Galloway series, go do so.  I don't think you will be disappointed.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

The Murder Bag

The Murder Bag by Tony Parsons
Published by Arrow
1st June 2015
Paperback Edition


Twenty years ago seven rich, privileged students became friends at their exclusive private school, Potter’s Field. Now they have started dying in the most violent way imaginable.

Detective Max Wolfe has recently arrived in the Homicide division of London’s West End Central, 27 Savile Row.

Soon he is following the bloody trail from the backstreets and bright lights of the city, to the darkest corners of the internet and all the way to the corridors of power.

As the bodies pile up, Max finds the killer’s reach getting closer to everything - and everyone - he loves.

Soon he is fighting not only for justice, but for his own life ...

This is the first instalment in Tony Parson's crime series featuring DC Max Wolfe.  As we are used to in many a crime novel, our detective is a broken man but in a change from the norm, he is not an alcoholic but a man who has lost his wife and has a young daughter to care for and protect.  I actually liked this addition to Wolfe's character, as a single parent you get to know him more personally than some other central characters in crime novels.  His daughter Scout and Mrs Murphy who looks after her make a nice addition to the story.

There are a lot of deaths in The Murder Bag and whilst initially there isn't anything apparent to link the murders of an investment banker and a homeless man, Wolfe is initially stumped.  Then more deaths occur.  A link is made between a group of men who were former students at a private school called Potter's Field, but the big question is, who is trying to kill these men, and for what reason?

The detail of the deaths are quite gory and the book does twist and turn but as a crime fan, I did enjoy it and am looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the series.  My only quibble is that Parson's feels the need to use every acronym used in the police force within his book, and to then explain what they mean as well. Maybe if it was so important we could have had a glossary at then end?

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

Monday, 1 August 2016

Circling the Sun

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
Published by Virago
27th August 2015
Hardback Edition

As a young girl, Beryl Markham was brought to Kenya from Britain by parents dreaming of a new life. For her mother, the dream quickly turned sour, and she returned home; Beryl was brought up by her father, who switched between indulgence and heavy-handed authority, allowing her first to run wild on their farm, then incarcerating her in the classroom. The scourge of governesses and serial absconder from boarding school, by the age of sixteen Beryl had been catapulted into a disastrous marriage - but it was in facing up to this reality that she took charge of her own destiny.

Scandalizing high society with her errant behaviour, she left her husband and became the first woman ever to hold a professional racehorse trainer's licence. After falling in with the notoriously hedonistic and gin-soaked Happy Valley set, Beryl soon became embroiled in a complex love triangle with the writer Karen Blixen and big game-hunter Denys Finch Hatton (immortalized in Blixen's memoir Out of Africa). It was this unhappy affair which set tragedy in motion, while awakening Beryl to her truest self, and to her fate: to fly.

I loved Paula McLain's novel The Paris Wife when it first hit the shelves back in 2011 and I have had a copy of this to read and review for about a year now but have to admit that I was waiting for what felt like the right time to sit and devour it.  That occurred last week whilst on holiday and I instantly knew that this was the book for me to read, and I am so glad I did.  Based on the life of Beryl Markham and set principally in Africa in the 1920s, this follows her childhood, marriage and career as well as her love affairs, and of those around her too.

Beryl moved from the UK to Kenya as a toddler and it wasn't long before her mother yearned to return back to her native soil.  Beryl, already in love with her new surroundings, decided to stay with her father and remained in Africa for most of her life.  Growing up with the natives she certainly didn't have the conventional upbringing of a white English child at that time.  At the age of 16 she married but this was not to be the love affair she had possible dreamt of.  In order to escape her husband Beryl begins training horses and becomes very successful at it. 

The lives of some of the expats in Africa at this time are certainly well publicised and intricately linked and two of the principal characters in this story Denys and Karen are most widely known from the movie Out of Africa starring Robert Redford and Meryl Streep.  Beryl is no stranger to gossip by this time and her antics cause her marriage and career to be jepordised more than once.

This book focuses much less on her flying career, which didn't take off (pardon the pun) until the mid 1930s when she became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic from the East to West coast and more of what led up to this occurring.  I have to admit, I was hooked from page one and have now ordered Out of Africa in both book and dvd format, as well as Beryl's autobiography West with the Night as this book left me crying out for more.

I really do recommend this.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

The Couple Next Door

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
Published by Bantam Press
14th July 2016
Hardback Edition

You never know what's happening on the other side of the wall.

Your neighbour told you that she didn't want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn't stand her crying.

Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You'll have the baby monitor and you'll take it in turns to go back every half hour.

Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She's gone.

You've never had to call the police before. But now they're in your home, and who knows what they'll find there.

What would you be capable of, when pushed past your limit?

Situated in New York City, Anne and Marco have been invited for dinner next door by their neighbours Cynthia and Graham. There is however one catch - no children allowed.  That being the case, Anne and Marco employ a babysitter to watch Cora whilst they go out.  During the night however, baby Cora disappears and no one knows where she has gone, or more to the point, who has taken her.  What the reader does need to be aware of is that Cora's babysitter called in sick, and the seemingly devoted parents decide to go to the party equipped with a baby monitor and a 30 minute rota of popping back to their house to check on their daughter.

Whilst there may be a smidgen of the Madeleine Mccann to this synopsis, I do think that is possibly the only parallel here.  Anne certainly doesn't seem to be having as much fun as Marco is at the dinner party and her shock on discovering Cora has vanished seems to be genuine.  However once the police are involved their stories become less believable and reliable as the evening turns into day and we get other narratives entwined. 

Anne's parents are incredibly rich so could Cora's disappearance be a kidnapping but then who would have known that she was in the house alone that evening?  Why was the security light by their house off and just what was Cora wearing when she disappeared?  Suddenly things aren't quite as clear-cut as they initially seemed, and it's not just Anne and Marco who are under suspicion but their neighbours motives are questionable too.  Just how well do we know those around us?

Suspend disbelief at times, and The Couple Next Door is a good thriller to lose yourself in for a few hours.  As for me, I'd never to go a party and leave my baby home alone.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

The Night Circus

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Published by Vintage

24th May 2012

Paperback Edition

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. The black sign, painted in white letters that hangs upon the gates, reads:
Opens at Nightfall
Closes at Dawn

As the sun disappears beyond the horizon, all over the tents small lights begin to flicker, as though the entirety of the circus is covered in particularly bright fireflies. When the tents are all aglow, sparkling against the night sky, the sign appears.
Le Cirque des Rêves
The Circus of Dreams.

Now the circus is open.
Now you may enter.

I am not kidding you, this book has been sat, unread, on my bookshelf since I brought it when it was first published! Yep, years of a great story being unread for no real reason at all.  I recently decided it was about time that alongside buying and reading new books, that I ought to actually read some of the unread books that adorn my many bookshelves, so I chose myself this.

The Night Circus is a magical tale that is set in the 1800s and tells of a dual; a competition between two unknown contestants with rules that neither are aware of.  It is a tale of magic and emotion and illusion that is unlike anything I have read before.  The book reminded me of the The Lost Carnival that we visited a few weeks ago and it made the story even more real for me.

There are so many characters in this story that it would be unfair to pick out any particular ones to focus on.  Each plays their own role within the web that is woven and I have to be honest, I would love to see this book on the big screen as the imagery created by Erin Morgenstern is so vivid and detailed.

If circuses and magical realism are what floats your boat, then if you haven’t already, go grab a copy of this book and immerse yourself into this wondrous world immediately.  I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair

The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker

Published by Quercus

Paperback Edition

7th May 2015


August 30, 1975. The day of the disappearance. The day Somerset, New Hampshire, lost its innocence.

That summer, struggling author Harry Quebert fell in love with fifteen-year-old Nola Kellergan. Thirty-three years later, her body is dug up from his yard, along with a manuscript copy of the novel that made him a household name. Quebert is the only suspect.

Marcus Goldman - Quebert's most gifted protégé - throws off his writer's block to clear his mentor's name. Solving the case and penning a new bestseller soon merge into one. As his book begins to take on a life of its own, the nation is gripped by the mystery of 'The Girl Who Touched the Heart of America'.

But with Nola, in death as in life, nothing is ever as it seems.

What can I say, it’s another Richard & Judy book that had me gripped from the very start.  I loved this story and I actually couldn’t tell that it was a translation which sometimes you can.  Joel Dicker has written a good and clever novel. The chapters descend rather than ascend so you kind-of get the end of the story before you get the beginning of it but it is a great thriller; not the dark, spooky sort that makes you afraid, but more of a grown-up ‘whodunnit’ and we all know I love those.

Marcus Goldman was the man who everyone wanted to be when his first novel was published. However soon the public are baying for his eagerly awaited second book and he is having a hard time finding any inspiration to get started.  He decides, as the pressure is mounting in New York, for a bit of r&r at his old lecturer’s house and that is where our story takes hold.  Harry Quebert was once an author who wrote a fantastic novel and was then never heard of again in the literary world.  What happened to the man who wrote the bestseller The Origin of Evil? 

You see, Harry was once in love, with a young girl called Nola, only their love was forbidden and Harry harbours a dark secret that he has never revealed, until now.  Marcus finds himself on a journey to find out more about the man he has admired for years, and the man who he now sits opposite in a prison.  Can they really be one and the same?  Delving deep into the lives of the people of Somerset, Marcus wants to discover the truth, no matter what the odds may be.  Only someone seems to want to stop him from doing so.

This is a great page-turner and I think a fab holiday book too.  Take it to the airport, begin it on the plane and keep going until you discover the truth – who did kill Nola Kellergan.  I know.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x

Thursday, 14 July 2016

The Woman who Upped and Left

The Woman who Upped and Left by Fiona Gibson

Published by Avon

25th February 2016

Paperback Edition

Forget about having it all. Sometimes you just want to leave it all behind.

Audrey is often seized by the urge to walk out of her house without looking back – but she can’t possibly do that.

She is a single parent. She is needed. She has a job, a home, responsibilities…and a slothful teenage son’s pants to pick up.

But no one likes being taken for granted – Audrey least of all – so the time has come for drastic action. And no one’s going to stand in her way…

Sometimes you just need some light-hearted relief and that was what was necessary in my life when I was perusing the bookshelves in my local supermarket the other week. I spied Fiona Gibson's latest novel and immediately decided that it was the tonic I was after.  I started it the very next day, and finished it the same evening.

Audrey is a dinner lady and single parent to the rather lazy Morgan.  She is having a relationship with Stevie, a man whom she only ever meets at service stations up and down the country as he passes through with his work dealings - cue: highly suspicious thoughts towards Stevie from the outset.  When she wins Dinner Lady of the Year she has the option of a £5000 cash prize or a week at a luxury hotel learning how to cook alongside celebrity chef Brad Miller.  Initially she decides to take the cash, who wouldn't? but when her son presents her with a list of 'wants' to be purchased from her winnings, Audrey starts to question whether she has made the right decision.  Without telling anyone, she changes her mind, and heads off to a week at a luxury hotel for a course in French cookery.  After all, what could possibly go wrong?

From the moment she arrives in the hotel, you can tell that Audrey feels out of her depth.  Her son can't use the washing machine, and Stevie fancies rocking up and emptying the mini bar.  However what Audrey does learn is that she can, in fact, cook and she's pretty good at it too.  Meeting new friends and enjoying herself, Audrey begins to let her hair down but then when disaster overtakes, she finds herself cutting her trip short and heading back up the motorway in the middle of the night.

Did Audrey make the right choice in accepting the cookery course, or should she have stayed at home and taken the money?  Could it have solved all of the problems she now faces with Stevie and Morgan?  Can Audrey get her life back on track?

Happy Reading

Miss Chapter x