Sunday, 21 May 2017

The Baltimore Boys

The Baltimore Boys by Joel Dicker
Published by MacLehose Press
May 2017




NOVEMBER 24, 2004

The day of the tragedy. The end of a brotherhood.

The Baltimore Boys. The Goldman Gang. That was what they called Marcus Goldman and his cousins Woody and Hillel. Three brilliant young men with dazzling futures ahead of them, before their kingdom crumbled beneath the weight of lies, jealousy and betrayal. For years, Marcus has struggled with the burdens of his past, but now he must attempt to banish his demons and tell the true and astonishing story of the Baltimore Boys.

This is the follow-up to the fantastic debut The Truth about the Harry Qubert Affair which I absolutely loved.  I guess that it is sometimes true that an amazing debut is usually followed up by a not-so-great second novel and whilst I wish it wasn't, I do feel that this is the case with The Baltimore Boys.

Marcus Goldman features in here as the main character but there are no links to the first novel so if you haven't already read it, don't feel that you need to in order to enjoy this book.  Marcus and his two cousins Woody and Hillel are inseparable whilst growing up, but a tragedy tears them apart.  We are left wondering if it has anything to do with singer Alexandra, a former love of Marcus' and friend to the three boys whilst growing up, who makes an unexpected reappearance in Marcus' life when her dog is found wandering on his property. 

The story weaves back and forth between the boys' youth and the present day as Marcus tries to come to find sense in his childhood, of his relationship with Alexandra and why his family, the poor relations, were treated so badly by the richer side of his father's family.  As you may expect, there are twists and turns as the story unfolds and it's certainly a worth-while read.  I'll certainly look out for the next book by Joel Dicker, of which I am sure there will be many more.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x



Sunday, 14 May 2017

The Shadow Year

The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell
Published by Orion
June 2013


1980. On a hot summer's day five friends stumble upon an abandoned cottage hidden deep in the English countryside. Isolated and run-down, it offers a retreat, somewhere they can escape from the world. But as the seasons change, tensions begin to rise...

Three decades later, Lila arrives at the remote cottage. Bruised from a tragic accident and with her marriage in crisis, she finds renovating the tumbledown house gives her a renewed sense of purpose. But why did the cottage's previous inhabitants leave their belongings behind? And why can't she shake the feeling that someone is watching her?

Okay I admit it, this book has sat on my bookshelf for nearly four years without being read and I cannot think of a single reason why that is.  Hannah Richell's second novel tells of five uni friends who are so despondent at being separated after living together that when they discover what appears to be an unowned run-down house hidden in the middle of a wood, they decide to stay there and become self-sufficient for at least a year.  Simon, who makes himself the unelected leader of the group, think this will be a utopian moment, a step into Henry Thoreau's Walden.  Couple Ben and Carla throw themselves into the mix as best as they can, and Kat, well she will do anything that Simon suggests.  Mac is the outsider of the group, the hanger-on that gets invited along for the ride.

The year passes and it's not without it's ups and downs. The winter is harsh and soon the group discover that this journey isn't going to be as easy as they first imagined.  Simon is reluctant for them to tell anyone where they are and they are totally reliant on the land for survival.  After writing a letter to her younger sister, Kat soon finds Freya on their doorstep begging to be allowed to stay with them.  Her arrival will throw the group into a turmoil that they cannot escape from.

Present day sees couple Tom and Lila struggling to reconnect after the loss of their baby daughter as a result of Lila falling down the stairs at their London house.  She cannot remember the accident and she remains depressed.  A letter from an unknown source arrives out of the blue, informing her that she is now the owner of a cottage (the cottage above) and in order to find herself again, Lila journeys north to see what she has been bequeathed. It is love at fist sight for her and she throws herself in to renovating the cottage, but this too comes at a price, as Tom feels more and more alienated by her behaviour.

Clearly our two stories are entwined within each other but the reader has to go a long way into the book to find out how and why these stories overlap.  Hannah Richell keeps the suspense going until the very last page.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters