Finally. I can breathe a sigh of relief now I’ve closed the pages on Demon Copperhead, having taken forever to read it. This was not a book I could say I enjoyed. It was bleak and I had to read it in small steps initially as it was just too depressing to stomach. As I found myself caught up in Demon’s story it became easier to read – I knew this was going to feel grim, but there was a certain charm to the spirit of this character. From start to finish, this was hard work – not in terms of readability or style, but because the subject matter forces you to confront issues that it’s easier to ignore and puts a human face on the suffering so many experience.
This had sat on my shelves since it came out, and I admit that it scared me somewhat. Never having read David Copperfield and being rather taken aback by the hefty page count, I’d built this into an obstacle. A number of friends had read it, and their positive comments kept me going even though I thought about giving up in the early stages.
Our main character, Demon, is a child born to a single drug-addict mother. He’s dragged up through foster placements and finds himself on the periphery of all manner of illegal activities. As he matures, he finds himself to be a gifted footballer and this period of his life offers some stability. But after a terrible accident he finds himself addicted to more than the stereotypical teen drugs. His life is miserable in so many ways, but there are periods of intense joy and moments that show his potential. It was not difficult to feel his frustration at being judged simply because of him being born in a particular place, and I felt a growing anger at the pharmaceutical companies and those who have done their best to spread such vile poison.
As the book drew to its closing stages I felt rather amazed by the resilience Demon shows in dealing with the terrible hand he is dealt by fate. While I usually like a neat ending, I felt the way his story was resolved highlighted just how we each have to accept our role in what happens to us and I firmly came down on the idea that he had a chance of his happy ending.
For DCI Walker and his team, Christmas has come to be a much disliked time. Having solved a number of cases around this time over the past few years, they shouldn’t be surprised when yet another Christmas Eve is marred by a very odd case.
A call is received saying that four men went for a walk and haven’t returned. They can’t be contacted and it’s hours after they were expected home. The police treat this – logically – as a risk to life due to the increasingly bad weather and mountain rescue are called out to help search for the men and their dogs.
As the time passes, DCI Walker comes to realise that there is nothing ordinary about this case.
The four men who’ve gone missing were actually on a hunt. The home of one of the men is discovered vandalised and the word ‘murderers’ is found daubed on the walls. With the man’s neighbour a keen anti-hunt saboteur, this quickly becomes a more dangerous situation.
It was hard not to feel frustrated by the pace at which things happened here. This is not a criticism. We follow each moment of the case and see in detail just how difficult the job can be. The dedication the police show to their cause shines through from start to finish, and the pressure they are under by the increasingly social-media focused world it’s hard.
The topic was darker than previous books in the series.
When a picture of a body is sent to news outlets with the phrase ‘let the hunt begin’ we know there’s more to this story. It’s not long before the police recognise they’re no longer looking for survivors, but their hunt for the murderer/s is not an easy one.
Once again, Pine manages to create a scenario that draws us in. The beautiful backdrop of the series is used to great effect to emphasise the danger that is also present. A topic that generates much debate is at the heart of the story, and the thorny issue of who was behind it was a puzzle that I could not wait for them to solve.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for giving me the opportunity to read and review this prior to publication.
The Accomplice now has me determined to go back through this series and read the ones I’ve missed. Gripping from the off, with some twists that you may or may not see coming, it was hard to put down once I got started.
The Sandman has struck terror into the hearts of those living in the area. With no evident link to his victims, his unique calling card scared people. However, he has a name…Daniel Miller. Currently on the FBI’s Most Wanted list, Miller has evaded capture. His wife, however, is about to go on trial as accomplice to his crimes.
Eddie Flynn is asked to take on her case.
What follows is nothing short of audacious. As the trial draws nearer, key witnesses for the prosecution are found dead. The Sandman is back, determined to ensure that Carrie – the woman he loves – is not imprisoned. Flynn and his team – convinced of her innocence – have a short window to try and work out how to get her off. This is made harder when she skips bail, and Flynn’s friend is snatched as hostage to try and ensure Flynn will do his best to get the required result.
I can’t say anything more about the story. There’s a lot of gruesome details of crimes committed, and there’s more than one or two close calls. Some wonderfully timed twists are dropped in at just the right moment to create the bombshell effect that keeps you reading…and the ending makes me think Lake’s story is far from over.
Notes on an Execution is a novel that I feel has slipped under the radar somewhat. Told from the viewpoints of three very different women, this was the story of serial killer Ansel Packer. It offers a fascinating exploration of modern society, and our attitude to crime.
Ansel is on Death Row and has twelve hours to live. He doesn’t want to die, but he recognises that he has taken the lives of a number of young women and needs to pay for what he has done.
While it was interesting to learn about the background of this character, it was good that we were not forced into a particular way of viewing him. Certainly not the product of a loving family background, Ansel was a character you felt some sympathy for but – ultimately – what he did was hard not to judge. Seeing him through the eyes of those who interacted with him also offered a different viewpoint.
Ansel’s mother, Lavender, tried to give him the best start she could, but her lack of support made it hard. I’m glad we got the opportunity to catch up with her later on and see how she tried to atone for the choices she had made. Saffy, the detective who knew Ansel as a child, was an intriguing character and there was a small part of me that wanted to applaud her dogged determination to do the right thing by characters that so many were able to forget.
The closing stages of the book took things in quite a different direction to that signalled at the start. It’s certainly a book to get you thinking.
I don’t mind admitting that it took me over a year to get round to this. It looked daunting, and I really wanted to make sure I was in the right frame of mind to settle into it. Having just finished, I’m kicking myself for waiting so long to read it.
Babel focuses on young Robin Swift, an orphan from Canton, who is taken to England as a child under the guardianship of Professor Richard Lovell. He is educated in Latin and Greek, given a home and looked after…but be under no illusion – he is a commodity. Robin, who believes himself to be Lovell’s son, is effectively being trained to master languages so that he can take his place at Oxford and go to work in Babel, the library that effectively runs the country with the scholars’ ability to translate texts and work with silver.
From the moment he enters its hallowed halls, Robin loves Oxford. However, over the course of his studies – and witness to the way he and the other students in his year are treated – Robin comes to detest what Babel represents and is determined to find a way to challenge the colonial attitudes taken for granted by those around him.
For such a hefty book, I was surprised by how absorbing I found this. I don’t want to give any more details about the story, but it was the kind of book that will stick with me long after reading.
Talk about being put through the wringer! In her latest thriller, McAllister offers an explosive read…and one which keeps the twists coming until the bitter end. If you’re new to this author, you’re in for a treat, and if she’s already a favourite then you’re in safe hands.
In this time where CCTV footage is everywhere and people meticulously document their lives via social media, it shouldn’t be hard to find traces of a person. When 22 year old Olivia Johnson is reported missing by her flatmates nobody really thinks she won’t be found. However, though she is seen walking into an alleyway there is no other trace of her.
DCI Julia Kane is called to investigate and she quickly finds herself perplexed by the case. Unfortunately, and for reasons you will find out during the book, this case is closely linked to DCI Kane and she is under pressure to try and ensure nobody finds out what really happened.
With growing concern about the case Kane finds herself turning to increasingly unorthodox measures. At every stage we can understand her course of action and the ethical dilemmas presented during the course of the narrative force us to examine just how far we’d go to protect those we love.
Huge thanks to NetGalley for giving me the opportunity to read and review this before publication.
From her childhood in Sparta, Clytemnestra has known the need to follow her duty. In this richly imagined tale we follow Clytemnestra through her growing up, marriage and enforced life as queen to Agamemnon.
A young woman who knows her mind, and a queen who is happy to take her time in order to get vengeance. It’s hard not to admire the strength of this woman, and I was struck by the brutality of the life recounted.
It’s hard to believe this is a debut novel. From start to finish we are shown a complex character who is presented with unflinching honesty. We’re shown the various experiences she has, and while we might not always admire her decisions they show the development of the woman. She knows she will be infamous for the choices she makes, but we can at least understand her decisions.
A compelling read, and one which doesn’t shy away from asking some awkward questions.
Crosby’s latest is a tightly-plotted, gripping thriller which forces us to consider the deeply rooted prejudices expressed within and how these might be dealt with moving forward. There’s no easy answers here, but this was a compelling read.
Titus is the first black sheriff of Charon. The book opens in dramatic fashion with him being called to the local high school where there’s rumours of a shooting. The shooter is black, and the only victim is a beloved teacher (who’s white).
With residents feeling from the incident, tensions are high. Some within Charon immediately start the process of using this event to manipulate and stoke anti-black sentiment in the area. Titus is determined to be beyond reproach, calling for an internal investigation.
What he uncovers sets up a truly chilling scenario.
The much-loved teacher was a monster hiding in plain sight. The killer, one of his victims. As tension runs high, Titus uncovers damning evidence of decades of abuse and shocking murders…all perpetrated by someone close.
As we follow Titus through the case we see the depths to which people are prepared to stoop. While the details are visceral, they do not feel unnecessary. If I were being picky I’d complain about the fact that Titus is the only really fleshed-out character within the book, but this works and keeps our attention on the case at hand.
A Riley Sager novel appearing on NetGalley always puts me in a flap…just in case I don’t get access to it and have to wait publication. Thankfully, that didn’t happen and this is definitely a thriller you will not want to put down.
Kit is in a difficult position. Since being accused of killing her most recent patient she’s been suspended from work and her father can’t look her in the eye. The people around her think she’s a killer. So when she’s given the chance to work again, she’s desperate to take the job…even after she learns who she’ll be looking after.
Kit’s new patient lives at Hope’s End, a rambling mansion perched on the cliff tops. Her name is Lenora Hope, and when she was seventeen she was accused of murdering the three other members of her family.
The story follows Kit as she spends her days caring for someone she isn’t entirely sure she trusts. Strange noises can regularly be heard from her room, but Lenora can’t walk or talk. When Lenora lets on that she can type, Kit starts to learn more of what happened that night.
Sometimes the truth is stranger than anything you can come up with.
Sager does a good job of drawing us in to this very mixed-up family. The atmosphere of the house is suitably oppressive and the development of the story is well paced. I can’t say more as I’d hate to ruin the surprises for someone.
Mad Honey is a real thing. It’s caused by bees using pollen from specific plants and the honey they make can cause nausea and hallucinations. It has seemingly nothing to do with the story, but bees are a recurring theme – primarily because the mother of one of the characters is a beekeeper, but also because of the things we have learned from bees about gender and how the bee communities work (hard not to see the links when they seem to be mentioned all the time).
This was a book that I meant to read on its release in 2022, and didn’t get round to. I was intrigued by the details we’re given in the synopsis about a mother whose son is accused of the murder of his girlfriend and the introduction to the story certainly got the book off to a good start. I found myself, certainly to start off with, confused by the different timelines to the narratives of Lily and Asher. It does come to make sense – and was an interesting approach – but it did come to feel that this had been done deliberately to make the details that are shared about Lily seem unnecessarily shocking rather than an integral element of the character’s life.
While I understand why some of the seemingly crucial details about the characters are not revealed immediately, it did lead to me feeling rather ambushed. Perhaps this is deliberate, and certainly some of the details we are given should not matter. The fact that they have come to seem so important in the eyes of some reviewers only highlights to me what a long way there is to go in respect to the social issues explored in the book.
The focus on Asher’s mum, how her past has influenced her perception of events/people and the shifting dynamic between her and her son was at the heart of the book. Not an easy read for so many reasons, and much of this made me so so sad.