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This was one of the books I selected to read on my holiday. I wanted an author whose work I would enjoy and something I could dip into as and when the opportunity arose. So when I saw this one in the library a few days before leaving, I knew I must take it with me and looked forward to reading it when the opportunity presented itself.
==About the author:==
Anthea Fraser was born in England in 1930. So far she has written 42 novels and shows no sign of stopping or reducing her creative talents. Her work specialises in the suspense mysteries, the paranormal and crime fiction. She also writes under a pseudonym Vanessa Graham. She also writes series of books of which the 16 have been in the Detective Chief Inspector David Webb series. She served as the secretary to the Crime Writers Association from 1986 to 1996.
==Synopsis of the book:==
Rona Parish is a journalist and biographer who works for a local Newspaper. She is currently involved in writing a series of six articles on local adopted children and tracing their parents and the circumstances about their adoptions. Once this series has run she has persuaded the papers editor that she will write about the more established older business of the town.
However a chance meeting with an old friend Kate brings a new challenge her way. As Kate is now married into one of the old established families the Tarlton who run the successful Jewellery business in the town. She tells Rona about her sister in laws Freya's terrifying nightmares that have been upsetting her and leaving her unable to sleep at night.
Rona's interest intensifies when Freya passes out when demonstrating a music box to her with an unusual tune. She vows to find out what in her past is causing these reactions. She is drawn into the case and discovers that Freya's mother Velma left the family when she was only three never to be heard of again by the family. Now Rona must find the truth while trying to keep her own family together, during a changing and uncertain time for them all.
==My thoughts on the novel:==
My overall opinion on this book was it was a poor example of this author work. I found this story to be slow and hard work, I felt the story took far too long to get going. Before that the book seemed to concentrate far too much on Rona's family life, which I found dull and without much substance.
I have read several books written by Anthea Fraser in the Rona Parish series. So far she has written six of which this is the fourth of them. From that perspective I knew roughly what to expect, but despite this I was generally disappointed with this one. It was written only in 2006 but I felt by the author's style of writing it could have been written a long time ago. I thought the style was quite simplistic and all the problems addressed within it were without bite and old fashioned.
It was almost like a quaint old town in bygone times. I found the pace of this novel slow and there were too many unrelated conversations and scenes involving all of Rona Parish's family. This I found boring and certainly added nothing to the real story. It was just her family coming to terms with the break up of her parent's marriage and how they were all dealing with it.
When I noticed this book in the library, I immediately liked the title of the book. I thought it opened up many possibilities. However I did not expect a lot of the story to be dealing with Rona's own family concerns, as these were neither interesting or written in such a way that that appealed to me.
I read the reasonable length summary on the inside cover of the book. It made the novel sound very interesting. It dealt primarily with Freya and her nightmares, it really sounded good and did not mention the problems within Rona's family. It was focused on the real story, which sounded intriguing.
That said the story started well for me with a very relevant and fascinating prologue. This was directly related to the story and provided a very good insight into Rhona's problems. It in truth was relatively short but within the three pages it provided a good insight into them and I thought set the book up for a fascinating crime thriller.
However as soon as the story began it started to get involved in Rhona's family problems. With her Mum and Dad separating it dealt with all the family's feelings, concerns and worries as these became known to the public of her hometown of Marsborough. This may have been ok if it had been short and sweet but we kept coming back and involving each member of the family. It was far too much and it for me detracted from the real story as I kept anticipating that would really take over.
But then when I thought the proper story was going to take over, the author brought in another idea, which had nothing to do with the main story, it was irrelevant, unnecessary and just dealt with the complexities within Rhona's marriage and a women who mistook kindness for something else.
I think at this stage if I had not read a Rhona Parish novel before I would have given up. As I have enjoyed previous ones I knew this author could write a good yarn, it was just very frustrating waiting so long for it to take over from all the family concerns. Yes you got little snippets and the odd scene related to Freya's nightmares, but the majority was more about family affairs than the mystery as such.
Indeed it was only for the last quarter of the book this mystery took over. This was great and I enjoyed both the concept and how Rhona get about trying to find the missing links in the chain. It was just such a shame this could not have started much earlier and also maybe be expanded. By doing this I think the author could have increased the mystery and suspense, plus my enjoyment of the story.
This built into an exciting story and a fascinating fast moving conclusion. I enjoyed the way it all panned out and found the answers to the mystery both understandable and acceptable. It did make up a little for what had preceded it but just left me wondering why this enjoyable story could not have been the main focus of the book.
However again at the end of the mystery I was disappointed. It left once the solution was reached the story immediately ended and that was it. I would liked to have had an epilogue so that the author could have shared with the reader what happened next to all the main characters in the story.
Rhona Parish is the books main character and one it is easy to like as you get to know all about her. I like the way she works in a methodical way and some of the ideas she has. And because of what was going on around her you got to learn a lot about not only her personal life but also her values within it.
There are many other main characters within this particular story. Probably for me too many as it was very confusing remembering who was who and who was related to whom. This was because each new scene was very short and did not focus on any of them anywhere near long enough for me.
As a result of this I got quite confused about who was part of which family. I found the main characters not described either enough or made distinctive enough for me to remember them. This reduced my enjoyment and I kept hoping something would click and I would be able to place all the different family members, sadly it never happened for me.
There was always suspense in the story but I really expected a quite long and changing solution to Freya's nightmares. However in reality it was solved quite simply and I would have liked a more complicated, better thought out and longer path to this solution. As I didn't feel this stretched the reader enough.
The book length may well have been about right, if it had concentrated solely on the mystery itself. As it was the mystery was far too short and focused far too much on what was happening around Rhona's family. This for me was totally irrelevant, dull and not worth reading.
This was not a good example of this author's work and as such I do not recommend it. It was far too focused on Rhona's family problems and not enough on the mystery itself. As a result it took an age to get into it, it was slow going and only the last quarter of the novel is in the least exciting or even interesting.
Price: £9.99 (New at Amazon)
Publisher: Severn House
About the author: www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/f/anthea-fraser/
Thank you for reading my review.
This review is published on both Ciao and Dooyoo under my user name.
@CPTDANIELS December 2009.