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A few weeks before Christmas I was looking for a festive book to read that would get me in the mood for the occasion, when I stumbled over 'Twelve days of Christmas', by Trisha Ashley. I had never heard of this author before but when I read the back it sounded just what I was looking for. When it arrived I was very impressed with the cover as it was all glittery - something I am a big fan of and I thought it was unusual to find glitter on a book cover. It made it more festive and if I was looking at it in a book shop then I would certainly pick it up. The book tells the story of Holly (a very apt name) who doesn't like Christmas one bit. Her husband died several years previously at Christmas due to an accident and since his death she tended to hide away in her house sitting jobs, spending time on her own and forgetting about the time of year. However this year she was just about to face her fear and spend Christmas at her best friends house, when a house sitting job comes up in a remote village. She jumps at the chance and heads on up there. This book has everything in it that you associate with a traditional family Christmas. There is a large old house with open log fires and an aga, a large family that comprises of people of all ages, lots of food and don't forget the snow. To start with it didn't feel at all festive and it did feel slightly predictable. After reading the back of the book the reader knew that Jude Martland - who was not present at the start of the story, would be coming back to the house from his trip away. I think that spoilt it slightly because I kept reading the words with this in mind. Everything I read I kept thinking 'ah but he's going to appear soon.' The only thing I didn't know was when. Just before the holiday Holly's gran passed away and the last words she uttered were those of 'Ned Martland'. It doesn't take a genius to work out that it's the same name as the family whose house Holly is looking after and she spends her time there reading her Gran's journals to try and find some clues as to who the elusive Ned is. I thought it became apparent what was going to happen with this part of the story quite early on and it isn't just a coincidence that she ends up here - the author has done it on purpose. I do like the fact that at the beginning of every chapter there is a diary entry from Holly's Gran's diary which tells a story in itself. The story is then carried on by Holly calling her best friend Laura for updates. I did find the book quite repetitive as well. It kept going on about Twelfth Night celebrations in the village and everyone Holly spoke to mentioned it. I'm not sure about other people but I am not really sure when twelfth night is and it never gave a date to help those readers who weren't sure. There was certainly a routine to the book as well as it went through each day that led up to Christmas and each day afterwards. All the meals were explained, which were a large part of the book, probably because food features very heavily in Christmas celebrations and even the things Holly did each morning were mentioned. I also got very confused about the time frame. I know it was before Christmas but it didn't say how long it was until the big day. Because of this the book felt slightly tedious as I wasn't sure how much longer I had to read until Christmas day actually arrived. Maybe I missed something but I don't think so and if I did it meant there was only one mention of the time in the several chapters before Christmas. By the time it got to the end there was a big surprise but the end felt a bit rushed. It had taken so long to get to this point and then suddenly it was over. I did enjoy it and I think I would read it again next Christmas. It's not one of those books you can read at any time of the year and I don't think I will be recommending it. It had the Christmas feel to it and it sort of got me in the mood, but it was too predictable for my liking.
Silent Scream is the latest offering from the queen of crime, Lynda la Plante. Amanda Delany is a famous actor who is found dead in her posh London home. Anna Travis, hoping for some time off after her last case had finished, is thrown back into the deep end when she is assigned this case. It seems to be leading no where and after interviewing several suspects they still have no answers. Fans of La Plantes work will be familiar with her character Anna Travis and her relations with her colleague and boss, Langton. For anyone who is not up to speed with Anna' personal life the story goes over everything again and brings the reader right up to date. Also in her personal life, Anna is hoping for a promotion after performing brilliantly in her last case. Langton has moved on from this station and Anna is glad to be rid of him, until one day when they are getting no where on the case, Langton walks back in and takes control. I really like La Plante's novels because they provide a detailed insight into the life of a police detective and what it's like to work for the police. Her novels explain the intricate workings of solving a case and go through the details bit by bit until the crime is solved. She manages to keep up the mystery very well too with the reader being hooked until almost the last page. This book started well and was written from Amanda's point of view which meant that the reader obtained her last movements before she was killed. However it gave nothing away and most of the book was taken up by tracing those last movements in order to find the killer. I did find that some parts did drag a bit and information was repeated again and again, I know that is how things work in the police crime department because they need to know how it all fits together, but for a novel this does get a bit tedious. It took me a while to get into the story as nothing much happened. Small things about Amanda's life were revealed slowly and there were no real shock revelations until the end. Also I noticed that three, and perhaps even four but they weren't a main part, of the names in the story began with an A. There is Anna the detective, Amanda who was killed and her agent, Andrea. Although this is true to life and the coincidences of all three having the same initial are quite high, it did become slightly confusing for the reader. I did find that I was skim reading a few parts of the story and often found that I had to go back and I'd not paid much attention to the name of the character and couldn't determine it because it began with an A Overall I did enjoy this and although it did get a bit boring in the middle section I was determined to read on and find out who had killed Amanda and their motive for doing it. I would certainly recommend it to any La Plante fans and also those who love a good police detective novel.
Barbara Vine is the pseudonym for Ruth Rendell, mainly because her themes are very different when she writes as Vine. A Fatal Inversion was written in 1987 and has since been adapted for TV in three short episodes. The story starts with the bones of a woman and child being dug up in the grounds of an old stately home called Wyvis Hall. The police estimate that they have been there for around 10 years, which immediately associates them with Adam and his friends who stayed at Wyvis Hall for a few months at that time. There is then great detail about that period of time that Adam, Rufus, Shiva, Vivienne and Zosie all visited the house. It is set in the present time but there are many flashbacks to the past. It starts with Adam finding out he has inherited the house and details all the events leading up to the time when he moved out and sold it. Alongside this story is the one in the present, where the police move to finding out who the killer was. Also, the occupants of the house ten years ago meet up. They had a pact when they left the house that none of them would contact each other ever again. But due to the circumstances, they have to meet up to get their story straight. I had heard great things about this book and was itching to read it. A few people had watched the TV programme when it was on and really enjoyed it. However, I was not over enthralled by the book. First of all, there are lots of characters and luckily the names of the occupants are listed on the back of the book, which I had to keep referring back to. There are also those characters from everyone's present day life. There are then all the people who visited the house during the time the occupants were there. Whenever I put the book down, I got lost as to who was who which made me lose interest. Then, towards the end, the pace picked up and the switching between past and present became so intense I didn't know if I was coming or going. It was really hard to determine if the characters were in the present, or what they were doing was in the past. Rather than the time zone changing with the chapters, it was changing with the paragraphs instead. The only thing that kept me going was trying to find out who the woman and child was. It's not your conventional murder investigation, with the challenge to find who did it. We know who did it very early on in the book. The reader also finds out how it was done and when it was done. I think Vine did this quite craftily, because the accounts the reader gets from the present are from the male occupants only. The two women who were there are not mentioned and do not come forward to give their statement to the police. This leaves the reader wondering if it was one of them who might be dead. And then there is the question of whose baby was it and where did it come from. I have to admit that I did not finish this book but I did get very close to the end. I was driven to keep reading because I wanted to find out who the woman and child were and how they fitted in with the story. But it was giving me such a headache and getting to confusing that I bought the DVD of the series and watched it instead. The story is very cleverly written but unfortunately I am not going to be recommending this book to anyone else.
The book starts with a short prologue about a boy and a girl. There are no names used so the reader is immediately guessing who they are and what they are doing. Although it is not a shock beginning, the reader certainly wants to read on in order to gain more information on these two anonymous characters. The story is split into 2 sections, with a prologue and an epilogue at the beginning and end. The first section tells the story of four friends, the main one being Kristina and there is Jim, Albert and Connie. There is great description about their pasts and their lives during this short snapshot in time. The first snow has fallen; it's Thanksgiving and also Kristina's birthday. Although the first three chapters only cover three days, there is a lot of information provided about the four of them. The second section is quite a bit longer than the first and it is all about a murder investigation. The point of view now shifts to the detective investigating and he gets a bit too emotionally involved in the case. The shift is quite significant because it indicates where one life ends and another one begins. The investigating detective finally learns to live life again and makes some very serious decisions. I had never heard of this author before and when presented with a choice of four of her books, this one sounded the most appealing. I have to say that I absolutely loved it and could not put it down. I got really drawn into the characters and their lives that spun together like a web. Because of the prologue at the beginning, I really wanted to find out who the boy and the girl were and what relevance it had to the rest of the story. The Red Leaves part of the story is revealed quite early on in the story, but the significance of it is not explained fully so again that is another thing that keeps the reader hooked. The red leaves are featured in the cover of the book (the new cover more predominantly than the old) and it sums up the time of year that the story is set in too. There is a very huge surprise in the book as well which I wasn't expecting and came as a great shock. I had predicted quite a few things that would happen but I had no idea that this was going to happen. One of the things I liked was the pace. Although the first section was shorter and only three chapters, it felt quite long because of the amount of information provided. Then, as the point of view changed, the pace picked up as the killer was being hunted. The second section was actually longer than the first but it had more chapters and shorter paragraphs so it really picked up the pace. I am so glad that I had chance to read this book, because otherwise I might have overlooked it in a book shop. It's not the usual sort of thing I read, but I really enjoyed it and perhaps read it slightly too quickly and I'm sure there are bits that I missed. It is highly recommended as it really is a heart warming tale. It will be good to read on a cold winters day, huddled in front of the fire and who knows, you may even shed a tear.
Tess Gerritsen started her writing career by writing romantic suspense novels. Then, back in 1994, she wrote a thriller entitled Peggy Sue got murdered, which started a whole new genre for her. In 2009, she updated this book and gave it a new name - Girl Missing. The story follows Kat Novak, the county's medical examiner, who comes across a body on her table with things that don't quite add up. The cause of death is unclear and when the drug report is run, an unidentified drug is found to be the reason why this Jane Doe died. She then gets caught up in trying to find out what the drug is which leads her back to the place where she grew up in a dingy suburb of the city, and is also quite close to getting killed. Being a big fan of Gerritsen, this book did not disappoint. It was really easy to read and very fast paced, which keeps this thrill of the story going. Sometimes you almost have to read her books in one go to keep the momentum, which is almost what I did with this one. Then when it's finished, I feel that I have read it too quickly and not taken it all in. What I like about Gerritsen is that she doesn't get bogged down with the details. On the front cover of Girl Missing there is a quote to say that she is better than Reichs and Cornwell, who are also big writers in the same genre. I have yet to read a book by Cornwell, but I have read several by Reichs. Although I like Reichs' books, I do feel that there are quite a few unnecessary parts which aren't needed. I do not find that with Gerritsen at all. She doesn't spend ages describing her characters eating habits and what they did after work, which Reichs is very good at. Instead, she goes straight in and within a few pages, the action has started. Gerritsen spent several years working as a doctor and knows her stuff. Reichs also spent several years as a forensic anthropologist which is what her books are based around, so also knows her stuff. Yet I find that Reichs often uses lots of technical jargon which flies over my head. Gerritsen doesn't go overboard with the jargon and uses what is needed for the story. Again, this keeps the pace really well, along with the short chapter length and the suspense that the reader is left with at the end of each chapter. Another similarity to Reichs is that the main character - Kat Novak, starts to interfere with things and take matters into her own hands. Reichs main character does this too and both get involved with things that maybe in real life would be left to the police. At times, and if you think about it too much, it does seem a little unrealistic that these characters would be doing these things. But it is done to keep the story in line and stop it from getting complicated and in Gerritsen's case it does work really well. She writes from Novak's point of view but also includes other characters point of view as well which gives the story some depth and a sense of reality. Having said that it was really easy to read and I read it quickly, the plot is anything but simple. It's a complex plot that unfolds throughout the course of the book, waiting until the last minute to reveal all. However, in Girl Missing I did get slightly worried that the killer would be revealed too early. By about a third of the way through it was getting close to finding out who did it, which is a pet hate of mine, but as I read on I found it was just a red herring of sorts. Even though this was Gerritsen's first thriller it still had aspects of the romantic suspense that her previous novels had, but it worked. I don't think I need to say it again, that I really enjoyed this book and would certainly read it again, perhaps a bit slower this time. The updated version also includes a new introduction from the author which is definitely worth a read.
Cleo Quinn has never had much luck when it comes to love, so when Will Newman (her New-Man!) comes along, this could be it. But fairly shortly afterwards things take a turn for the worse when one her old school mates Johnny LaVenture comes back to the village. They didn't get on well at school and Cleo is not happy about the idea. Although the story is mainly written from Cleo's point of view, it also tells the story of her sister Abbie and her husband Tom. They have been together forever and have been unsuccessfully trying for a baby. The one day, Abbies world comes crashing down with an unexpected twist in the story. I didn't see it coming at all, but when I thought about it, it seemed quite far fetched. Yes, it could well have happened and it was certainly possible but did seem a little out of the ordinary. This is the first book I have read by Jill Mansell and I really really enjoyed it. It was a classic chick flick novel with the inhabitants of a small village all fancying each other but not fancying the same people. Most of them have been together since school and I felt the characters were really built up through a lot of flashbacks. The story starts with a funeral, which may seem a little bit of a depressing way to start a book but actually it was really clever. It set the story up really well because it gave the characters a chance to explain themselves through flashbacks to childhood, which is what is done at funerals when the guests reminisce about the good times. I did however feel it was slightly muddled as you were just getting into the book and there were all these flashbacks to the past. One of the best things about this book are the characters. The story flits between all the characters getting all their views on the story and I felt they were built up really well. The story flowed which is good because sometimes when there is too much flitting between characters the story sometimes gets a bit lost. But this one didn't, it spent enough time on one character and one episode in their life and then moved on to the next one. But there was not too much time spent on each character that you forgot where you were. There were many unexpected things that happened throughout the book which the reader could not predict. Some of them did seem a bit far fetched and were perhaps only added to add excitement to the story. I can't imagine that that many things would happen to people in a small village, but it kept the reader hooked so it didn't matter too much. I didn't really like the ending. The thing with endings as that you know they are coming because you are getting towards the end of the book and the amount of pages left is quickly diminishing. And this one happened a bit too quickly. I felt it was too much of a happy ending, and although it tied up all the lose ends of the story as was necessary, but it was a bit predictable and a bit of an anti climax. I felt like I wanted something more to happen after I had read the last words, but I am not exactly sure what. Overall I really enjoyed this book and I couldn't put it down. It was set in Bristol and the surrounding area which I liked because I know Bristol quite well. It made it easier to picture the surroundings and there were lots of places mentioned that I had been to. But this was only an advantage to those people who know the area. Otherwise it would be meaningless. Even though there was not much of a story line, just a lot of different romances blossoming I felt that this was a really good chick flick and it would be an ideal book to take on holiday or to curl up with on a night in.
The Killing Place is Gerritsen's latest best seller featuring Maura Isles and Jane Rizzoli. It starts in Idaho telling the story of a girl who is being stalked by an older girl and then a marriage is arranged. There is nothing to tell of the time of this chapter, so the reader is unsure whether it's the past or the present until the next chapter, which skips sixteen years to the future. It skips to Maura Isles and Daniel Brophy. Fans of Gerritsen will know the history between these two, but those who are new to the series will have to guess at what happened. Because it is quite a few books into the series the relationship is not really explained, so readers will have to gauge the situation by the conversation between the two, which is slowly revealed over time. It is because of this relationship that makes Maura take probably the worst decision of her life, and go on a trip with an old school friend. They drive along a deserted road, get caught in a snow storm and end up being stranded in a village called Kingdom Come. The only thing is, this village is abandoned, and has been abandoned in quite a hurry. What I really liked about this part of the book was the description of the empty houses. There were glasses of milk and animals that had been left in the hurry to get away. Most of those animals are now dead. There are cars left in garages and meals on the table, waiting to be eaten. It is very eerie and really builds up the atmosphere of the village and the situation - not only are they stranded, they are in a strange village where they are not sure what has happened. All the small details seem to have been thought of, like why are the cars left in the garage and what is the mysterious blood left on the floor in one of the houses, and where is the body? Gerritsen writes her books as a series of events that follow a chain, whereas other books go back and forth between characters and events. A few chapters in Rizzoli is brought it and that's where it gets a bit more complicated as she searches for Maura, The story is written with an omnipresent point of view, where the reader knows things that Rizzoli doesn't. Sometimes this spoils it slightly as you know what she is searching for is not true, or has not happened and made me skip through the story to find the next exciting part. Gerritsen works as a physician and her medical knowledge comes through in all her books, this one especially. The characters have to do what they can to survive and that even includes an amputation of someone's leg. It must be quite different to do an amputation in an operating theatre than in a house with un sterilised and make shift equipment. The pace of the book was fast and kept me reading throughout. Towards the end, you thought it was all wrapped up and finished and the mystery of the empty village was solved, but it had a real twist to it, which was good. This book is published under the title of Ice Cold in America, but I am not sure either the English or the American title is very outstanding. The Killing Place - the place where people are killed? It's not very inspiring, and Ice Cold, because they were caught in a snow storm? I really like the name of the village though - Kingdom Come. Because it is quite a religious community, the title links back to the bible and I think perhaps that is a better title for the book? It is more mysterious and matches Gerritsen's writing style as being quite devious with twists and turns. I am also not sure about the timing of the release of the book. It is about a winter storm yet is has been released in the middle of summer, when the last thing I wanted to think about was snow storms. I think this book would have been even more effective if it had been read in the winter by a roaring fire. But maybe it's been timed with the release of the book in paperback, when more copies are likely to be sold. The Killing Place didn't disappoint though, as usual. It was full of suspense and was very fast paced and it certainly kept me guessing until the last page. It is highly recommended.
The Stepmothers' support group follows the life of five women who are all related in some way to being a step mum. It has a relatively simple plot and I found it very easy to read. Eve is the main character and she has just met a man called Ian who comes with three children from a previous marriage. Ian is the love of her life, but the problems come when she has to meet the children and fit in with their life. The support group was formed almost by accident by Eve and her friend Claire. Claire feels that Eve needs to meet her sister, Lily who is in almost the same situation as Eve and maybe they can take some advice from each other. The group grows, adding more members and therefore the story grows too, in explaining each member's situation. Even though I don't have any experience at all with step mothers, I found that it was a book I could relate to. It shows many different situations including being a single mother to loving the other half's child, but not loving the other half. The story really tackles issues that a step mother might face such as the older child's territory within the house and when you get asked to move in, fitting your stuff into the house without ruining the surroundings for the children. There is also one part where the mother of the child and the child move away from the father, and the step mum has to deal with split loyalties - the father wants to be near his child but that means moving away from the one he loves. The story starts off with Eve's point of view and it follows her experiences of meeting the children, meeting the parents and the troubles she faces fitting in with their lives. The other members of the group look to her for advice and the story stats comparing the other member's experiences with the ones that Eve has already had. Towards the end of the book the focus falls off Eve because her problems are pretty much sorted out. It then shifts focus onto Mel, Claire and Lily who all have problems of their own to focus on. The thing that struck me about this book was that it was all about ordinary women. There was no one who was rich and famous, and Claire is a single mum trying to bring up a teenager on one income. This made it even more believable because their problems are not out of the ordinary. Everyone who reads this will have something they can relate to. It really emphasises the fact that all women have a dream of a happy marriage with their own children and that being a step mum is for when life goes wrong. But in this book it's not necessarily the case, it's just how life works out. There is a stereo type that all step mums are normally older women and horrible witches, but again this book proves this is wrong. Lily is almost a step mum and she is only 23. There are five members of the support group, but the fifth one, Mandy, doesn't really have much of a part to play and I am not quite sure why she is there. She joins at the end and her situation is that her teenage kids have combined with her new partner's teenage kids and it's not a good situation. There doesn't seem to be much focus on her throughout the story and towards the end she decides to move away from the area and leaves the story altogether. I did feel that too many aspects of being step mother had been included in the book and this is shown towards the end when Lou meets her new family and therefore has a new step mum. Claire, Lou's mum, seems to be the odd one out as well because she is not a step mother, but she had a step mother as a child. Sam Baker, the author of the book and editor in chief of popular woman's magazine Red, states at the end of the book that she asked several people their view on being a step mother and obviously got great results from it. But it feels that she was trying to squeeze too many elements of her investigation into the story rather than just focusing on a few of the most important ones. Overall I really enjoyed this book and couldn't put it down. There were lots of twists and turns that made it very exciting, although I did find that some parts were a bit predictable. But I would certainly recommend it and it would make a perfect summer read.
It was about that time for an upgrade and as much as I wanted an iphone, it meant that I would have had to change networks and therefore my number. So when in the phone shop I browsed the various different smart phones available and eventually settled on the Nokia N97. It was available in two different colours - black and white. I wanted to be different so I chose the white one **General Appearance** The phone is quite bulky and heavy and even though it is a slimmer width that the iphone it is a lot fatter. The touch screen is fairly large and there is one button on the bottom of the phone that brings up the main menu. There are then two touch operated green and red buttons to make and end calls which are separate from the main screen. The side controls include a flick switch that locks the phone, volume controls and a camera button. **Home Screen** The screen is split into 6 different sections with various different applications that you can add to each section. The top shows the clock and the date. It also has the profile name that your phone is on at that moment in time e.g. silent. This makes it very easy to change the phone back onto loud, or vibrate if needed. The next five sections can be added or taken away as necessary. If you click on the options button on the bottom you can choose from a list of applications and web links that you can add to each section. I have messaging, email, notes, radio and don't forget facebook! But you can get news updates, the weather or information on the stock market. I really like the home screen because it is very accessible and you can personalise it all to fit your needs. It means you don't have to press lots of buttons to find what you need. If there is something you are using on a regular basis then you can add it to the front screen so you don't have to scroll through the menu each time. **Applications** There are a few basic applications that are already loaded onto the phone. These include Adobe and Quickoffice you can read email attachments. There is a skype application, an FM transmitter and an application to create your own podcasts. There is also a ready made link to youtube, facebook, twitter and even BBC iplayer. The Ovi store from Nokia allows you to create an account and download a variety of different applications for your phone. Most of them are free, or cost a few pounds depending on what you want. Once you have chosen your application, you can download it on your computer, and then log onto your account on your phone to apply it to the phone. The application that I have really liked it the maps one as it turns into a satnav system. I was considering buying a satnav before I got this phone, only to find that I had saved myself a few pounds by choosing this phone. It works the same as a normal satnav - giving you detailed instructions to your destination. The only problem is is that you will need a sort of handsfree kit which props the phone up in the car so you can see where it is taking you. I had to sit it on the dashboard and just listen rather than be able to see the map to follow. **Messaging and Email** One of the unique features of this phone is the QWERTY sliding keyboard. It slides with a slight tilt, so you can rest the phone on a desk and type at the keyboard whilst the screen is facing upright, a bit like a laptop. This feature is great for writing emails and for updating facebook. But if you didn't want to slide the phone open there is a touch screen option with a normal numerical keypad to type on. I prefer the slide keyboard option, but if I am texting whilst walking (slightly dangerous I know, but so often done) then I have to go for the touch screen option. The only problem with this is it's quite easy to miss the keys and I often miss spell words because I have missed the correct key. You can link your normal email accounts to the phone, which is prefect for people on the go and if you have multiple email accounts you can add these too. **Problems** After about a month of using my phone I did incur several problems in which I found I could no longer use my phone. It said I had used up all my memory and that I had to delete things before I could even send or receive a text message. Bearing in mind that phone boasts 32GB of memory and I had deleted everything I possibly could, there was nothing I could do. I took it to a local Nokia shop and they did an update which completely reset the phone but It has worked so much better since then. It also goes quite slow at times. When you press a button it is often quite slow to respond and when you press send on a text message it sometimes takes a while to think about sending it and closing the application. But overall I really like this phone. It is very mobile and I can access all my favourite social networking sites along with several different internet applications. I can easily check my emails when I am out and it is easy to make a call with. The only thing it that it is quite bulky, but considering the amount of things the phone can do I think it's acceptable.
Fatal Voyage is the fourth in the series about Tempe Brennan the forensic anthropologist and is quite different to the first three. It starts with a very vivid description of an aeroplane crash site. There are graphic details about people still strapped into their seats, and even a face that is on a laptop. I really liked this opening for a number of reasons. I have a slight morbid fascination with aeroplane crashes, probably because they are so devastating, so this opening was brilliant. But I also found that in order to describe something like this in such detail, the writer must have had to experience something like it for themselves. I found out at the end of the book that Reichs had attended the recovery operation of the 9/11 attacks, so most of the description must have come from that. But the crash only plays a small part in the main story and quite quickly takes a background role. While Brennan is searching the site she decides to go for a walk and finds a human leg a long way from the site and starts an investigation into something much more dangerous. I have read the first three of Reich's books and was beginning to find them quite repetitive in the format. Brennan would always get involved where she really shouldn't have done and ended up endangering a family member or good friend. But in this book, Brennan is quite within her rights to investigate the story of the limb, however powers above her put a stop to it. However, she still carries on regardless. Where no family member is involved, a friend and colleague is killed quite early on as a result of her investigation, but the loss is not felt as much as it was in the other stories. I found this book quite hard to work out as there were really no clues as to what had happened until right at the end. This was good as it made me keep reading, but as I got to the end it felt like everything happened at once and the action really started. Most of the book had given detail into her everyday life and took each day as it came. There were long sections where she would go back to the hotel and then go back to the site and then go back home to Charlotte, which at times became quite tedious. Towards the end there did also seem there were a lot of different people involved which made it quite confusing. After the mystery had been solved there was a re cap as to who everyone was, but I don't like it when there are too many characters as it does become hard to remember who is who. Overall I really enjoyed this book, the story was interesting and I was hooked on the forensic detail that is included. I think this is one of the best of Reich's work that I have read so far, but there are still lots more to come.
Losing you was the first story I have read by Nicci French and it follows the story of Nina Landry who lives on a small island just off the English coast. Although I believe the island is fictional, it is possibly based on one of the many islands that surround the UK and it makes a nice change that the story is based in this country, rather than in America which most stories are these days. The story covers one day in the life of Nina, which is possibly the worst day she has ever had. It starts with Nina at her neighbours getting her car fixed and the three of them are having a chat about island life and the people that live there. It is just normal chat, but is sets up the characters very nicely for the rest of the story. Nina then returns home and is treated to a surprise party which her daughter Charlie has organised for her. However, Charlie is not present at this party. No one seems to think this is odd apart from Nina, who then sets out on trying to find out where her daughter is. She soon calls the police, who again so not take her seriously so she decides to take matters into her own hands. I really enjoyed this book because it was different. One reading a few pages in and deciding it was time for bed, I looked for a good place to stop. I flicked forward a few pages and realised I hadn't seen any chapter markings. Because there isn't. The story is written continuously with no breaks. At first I thought this was quite odd, but then as the story progressed the action and suspense increased and if the story had chapters this would break up the suspense. Nina is rushing around the island, often retracing her steps and you really get a sense of this by having no chapters. Ideally this book should be read in one sitting, and although it's not very long, I don't think most people have the time for this anymore. There are many characters in the book who could be possible suspects which again, I liked as it keeps you guessing. It is written entirely from Nina's point of view so that the reader really gets a sense of how worried she is and how desperate she is to find her daughter. There are tales of how the police are on her trail, but by doing things the right way, they are several steps behind and timing is crucial. This book is highly recommended because it is unusual. I also read the introduction to the author at the beginning and found that Nicci French is actually a pseudonym for the writing partnership of Nicci Gerrard and Sean French. On researching them I found that they write the story together, taking it in turns to write a section. But this is not noticeable in the book so they must have very similar writing styles or a very good editor. This is a fast paced book providing lots of suspense and a must read for all.
'The cleanest cut leaves the deepest wound'. This sentence sums the story up very well. It follows the life of DI Anna Travis and her boyfriend DCI James Langton. It starts with Langton being seriously injured in an attack after arresting someone and he condition is touch and go. The beginning of the book concentrates a lot on Langton's injury and Anna's feverous attempts at keeping the relationship alive whilst trying to investigate a murder at the same time. The first few chapters really bring out both Anna and Langton's characters really well. Langton is hard work and often pushes Anna away, but she struggles on and it pays off when Langton is let out of hospital and moves in with her. It takes a while for the story to start and for the action to come into the book. I felt that there was a lot of focus on Anna and Langton's relationship and not much focus on the case they were meant to be solving. Then Anna makes a link. She realises that the case she has been working on is linked to the case where Langton made his arrest and got injured and makes the mistake of telling him. Langton is determined to get back to it and wants to catch the man who slashes him to pieces nearly jeopardising his career. He goes back to work, and although it almost kills him, he finally figures out who it was. I found that the book wasn't as good as I thought it would be. I have watched many la Plante dramas on TV and really enjoyed them, so I thought I would try out a novel. I am also quite widely read in the female crime writer genre too. It took along time to get started and to really get into the police work and detective work involved and eventually I was sick of hearing about Anna and Langton's relationship. The story started just in time as I was about to give up. There were also lots of people involved, both suspects and inspectors within the police force. Normally I find it quite hard to keep up with who is who, but I didn't have this problem in this book. That was probably because at every briefing the detectives had they would go over the details again and again. I know that is what happens with an investigation and at times it was boring to read about the facts again, but I think it was needed to keep the reader on the right track and work out what was going on. The pace wasn't as fast as I would have liked it to be and it wasn't one of those books that you couldn't put down. In fact, it took me quite a while to finish. But the story was interesting and the links between the suspects were cleverly thought out. The story actually ended about a chapter before the book did and again it wasn't the end I was hoping for. The case is wrapped up and then Anna discovers something else, which could have been made more of. But there is enough of a cliff hanger at the end for another book to follow on. I would like to read more books by la Plante and I would recommend this book to others. However, I don't think I would read it again.
This book follows the story of three separate characters - Mel, Daisy and Chloe. They all lead separate lives with very different problems, until one day their lives are thrown together with the help of Leah at Clouds Hill Spa. The story is set in Ireland, as many of Kelly's stories are, and begins with Leah finding the dream place for her spa. The details are quite sketchy, which is good for the opening of a book as it makes the reader want to carry on and find out more. Then it moves on to Mel, who has two young children and a full time job. She finds it hard to juggle everything and does not receive any support from her boss, who happens to be a woman. She has a hard decision to be made. Then Chloe, who has just finished her degree in hotel management and has come home to help run her parent's hotel, however, she finds that is has been sold without her say and her dream is shattered. Then Daisy, who is desperate to have a baby with her long time partner Alex but there is some devastating news around the corner. The book starts with all three having very separate stories with no cross over and only the spa in common. The reader knows, from having read the back cover, that all three of them come together at some point in the story and it is the spa that brings them together, but the reader is just not sure when. The structure follows the same pattern, with a chapter dedicated to each of the characters in turn and then repeats itself over and over. I found this to be quite confusing at times because each chapter has a cliff hanger, making the reader carry on. However you have to read another two chapters before you find out the conclusion to that cliff hanger and sometimes I forgot what had happened with that character last. Kelly creates great characters who the reader can sympathise with. The problems that the women face in this story are normal, everyday problems that everyone has dealt with at least once in their lives. She builds the characters up in each chapter so that when something bad happens to them you really feel sorry for them. I also found parts of the book where I wanted to scream at the characters not to do something, or to tell them that the obvious was going on. In parts, it was quite predictable and there were no surprise endings which was quite disappointing. I found at parts where I had already guessed what was going to happen I would read fast and skip parts because I wanted it to hurry up and happen. I would have liked a bit more suspense to be involved and a few shock endings would have been good. This story involves a lot of knowledge on the reader's behalf. Kelly would have had to have researched about hotels, children, broken relationships, spas and fashion, amongst others. They always say 'write what you know' and I really hope this isn't all from first hand experience. The hotel tub of truth is what brings all the characters together, but it is like a collision you can see is going to happen but you have no control over stopping. It got to a point in the story where you could just see that they were all going to end up in the spa at the same time and it did feel quite forced. Some of the characters had already been there earlier on in the book and were coming back, not necessarily on pleasure trips though. I know the writer has to manipulate the events to tell the story they want, but this just felt a bit too forced and not really a natural meeting. Although having said that I am not sure how I would have done it differently. It the hot tub of truth they all tell each other their problems and they all offer solutions to those problems. Then they go away and work those problems out. Once they have gone their separate ways the characters paths keep crossing again, which again doesn't feel very natural. I think it would have been better if they had more interaction with each other earlier on in the story, so that it didn't feel as forced towards the end. I always like reading the comments on the front of the books and match them up to my opinion of the book. On this book it describes Leah, the owner of the spa, as a fairy godmother. But I don't agree with this. She does give the characters some good advice, but actually when they are in the hot tub Leah is not in the scene. Mel, Chloe and Daisy offer up their own stories and all help each other find solutions and it's those that help them get through their hard times. Leah is a good friend to each one of them but I wouldn't consider her as a fairy godmother. I did really enjoy this book. The part that drew me to it was Chloe and the hotels as I come from a hotel background and there aren't that many books out there with hotels as a theme. But I found it to be a very accurate representation of how hotel life is like. I sympathised with most of the characters and even though it did take me slightly longer than normal to read, I would read it again and it is recommended. The ending wasn't all happy either which I like because otherwise it just seems to perfect and made up.
The story starts with a phone call to Dr Kay Scarpetta asking her to come and interview a man in New York. He has given himself to the police because his girlfriend has been murdered and he claims he has not done it. He doesn't trust any other doctor other than Scarpetta and will only talk to her. So off she goes to interview Oscar and to examine his wounds and take some forensic evidence from him to try and prove that he has not committed the murder. I have to say now that I really did not enjoy this book and even though I read it to the end (well almost), I really don't remember much of it. A lot of time was taken up by the interview with Scarpetta and Oscar and before I knew it I was about a third of the way in before she had got out of there and fed back the information to her colleagues. Oscar keeps going on about the fact that he is being followed and spied on and he reckons that it is those people who killed Terri, his girlfriend. But after Scarpetta has left the room there is not much mention of this and noting to make the reader believe that is the case. The majority of the book is description and I felt that there was really not much action which is probably why I got bored. I like chapter endings that leave the reader hanging and wanting to read on, but with this book I really had to find the energy to pick it up again. There were so many discussions about evidence they had found or what they were doing. There was a part where on character - Lucy, was going through emails and actually found some interesting ones, but the other character that was with her kept going on about headaches, which I felt was quite pointless and irrelevant. It was quite a long book and in the end the time frame only spanned a day or two before they found out who did kill Terri. But each time I picked it up it felt that far too much had happened and that it must be about 2 days more than it actually was. If some of the description about the characters and their backgrounds and their daily life was taken out, the pace of the book might be faster. I have not read any of Cornwell's other books but I understand that Dr Kay Scarpetta is the main character in most of them. I did not quite understand why this book was called just plainly 'Scarpetta' as if it might be about her. She did play a major part however it was probably the same role she played in all the other books - the crime scene investigator. The fact that Oscar and Terri both really looked up to her and admired her might have been a factor, but I don't think it warrants calling the book Scarpetta. The story covered quite a lot of history in the lives of nearly all the characters. Again, I am not sure if this had been covered before in previous novels but again some of it seemed irrelevant, but I know that Cornwell put it in to update new readers to the series. I think the story has potential and it is an interesting idea that Cornwell is trying to put across but it just wasn't done well enough. The story really lacks pace and it even lacks forensic details. Yes there are swabs and measurements taken from Oscar in his examination but this is not made reference to later on in the story. Cornwell is meant to be the leading author in her field, yet I have read several other crime writers such as Kathy Reichs and Tess Gerritsen and I have enjoyed their books much more than Cornwell's. I am not sure if all her books are like this one and I am definitely up for reading one of her earlier works to see if it is any different as this one might just be a one off, trying to bring the series into modern times. But unfortunately I will not be recommending it, or reading it again.
Harry Brown is an ex military man who is out to set the world to rights single handed. He lives on a rough council estate and in order to visit his wife who is ill in hospital he has to walk past an underpass where the local gang of kids hangs out. It would be quicker for him to walk that way but he doesn't dare. The kids throw abuse, both verbal and physical to everyone who dares to pass them. They terrorise the locals but no one is doing anything about it. Then one day, Harry's best friend decides to confront them and ends up dead and Harry decides that enough is enough. I wasn't sure that I would enjoy this film when I saw the trailer and I felt it was quite slow to start. But after the first 20 minutes in really captured me and I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. It started with quite a lot of different story lines which didn't really seem relevant, especially the part where his wife was ill. The only relevance I saw in this was that the gang being in the under pass was holding him up, and was an introduction to the kids involved. There were two parts of the film that stood out for me - one in the middle of the film where Harry goes off to buy a gun. He visits two blokes who he has been told would be able to supply him and walks into a drugs factory. There are cannabis plants growing to almost life size heights and one of the guys is a heavy drug addict with scars and bruises all over him. At first I thought this was just a film and is really exaggerated, but then I realised that actually there are people like this out there and it was quite a shock. The second part was towards the end where the police serve 15 warrants to the estate where the kids live, which ends up in hardcore rioting. I thought this scene really highlighted the fact that the police are trying to do what they can, however these gangs of kids are far too powerful and manage to overrule and drive out a whole army of armed officers. This film is very controversial and is quite shocking, but I think that was the idea. It focuses on three main groups of people - the gangs of kids who are causing the trouble, the OAP's who are bearing the brunt of the gangs violence, and the police, who are trying their best to try and control the situation and reduce the violence in areas such as this, but sometimes they are just not strong enough. When guns and knives are involved sometimes there is nothing they can do but walk away. There were some references to drugs throughout as well but apart from the scene at the heroin addicts' house, this was not a major theme. It could have been built in a bit more because it was quite a weak, sideline theme and drugs and gangs normally fall in naturally together. It had to be mentioned or it wouldn't have been true to life but on the actual estate there wasn't that much dealing going on, just the odd occasional jolt and you knew that something had exchanged hands. Michael Caine played Harry Brown really well, coming across as the weak old man who the police think is the most unlikely candidate to kill, even knowing his military background. He really shows force as well when tackling the gangs and is not frightened at all. I felt that it was quite a topical subject that needed addressing and perhaps bringing it to the big screen will help raise peoples awareness of what is really going on out there. It really portrayed the power the gangs have and how situations can quickly spiral out of control for no reason. I would recommend this film, but prepare to be shocked.