“ Author: Nicci French / Genre: Crime / Thriller „
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This is the story of confident and succesful business woman Holly, who, under her professional exterior has a much darker side.
It is also the only book in the last ten years that i just haven't been able to force myself to finish.
I was looking forward to reading a Nicci French since their reputation is good and the blurb made the book sound interesting.
The story is told from inside the head of the main character and the story is disjointed, agitated and incoherant. I do not believe that a book should necessarily be relaxing but it should also not leave you tearing your hair out with irritation at the moronic main character and her simpering sidekicks.
Of course, the fact that the authors did generate this level of emotion probably means it is well written.
I felt no sympathy or connection to the main character at all. I did not care what happened to her and was just fed up with her self pitying whine.
The good elements of the book would be, i think, that it is fast paced, action packed and different to anything else i've read.
I have read a few Nicci French books now and have enjoyed most.
For those who don't know; Nicci French is actually a pseudonym for the writing of couple Nicci Gerard and Sean French, appearing to do far better when writing as a combined team than singley.
The book "Catch me when I fall" is a crime/thriller, which retails around £7 in bookshops. However, with the internet and supermarket deals they are frequently picked up for less.
The story is about a popular, successful, hard working character called Holly. There is another side to Holly though, which is more daring and makes reckless mistakes.
As time goes the mistakes become larger involving loved ones and work and life becomes something completley different for Holly. Under threat Holly can no longer keep head above water. Struggling with life itself, she quickley realises that it is unclear as to who she can trust at all.
WHAT I THINK
At first I found the book a bit slow to get into, but after a couple of chapters I was hooked. I found myself wondering who Holly could trust and was surprised with the twists and turns in the story which kept me entertained. It is a story which you could probably sadly see happening to someone in many respects.
Definatley recommend it and will read more of there books.
I am currently looking for new and different authors, who produce good quality suspense or mystery novels. I have become bored with the usual material I read and I am on the look out for something fresh to me. However, when I went to the library this week nothing took my fancy so I went back to an old favourite instead.
==About the author:==
The combined writing skills of husband and wife writing duo Nicci Gerrard and Sean French are the pseudonym Nicci French. They are international acclaimed writers mainly within the psychological thrillers arena. So far they have written 11 novels together but they also write separately but not so far with the same success. The book I am reviewing was written in 2005.
==Synopsis of the book:==
Holly Krauss is an extremely energetic lady in her mid twenties. She runs with her best friend Meg a small company that organise team-building events for local companies. She is a whirlwind, who is admired and respected by all those she comes into contact with for her passion for getting the maximum out of every situation and achieving all her aims and goals.
This is just one side of her life as she can also be wild and reckless and as the story begins she is making more and more mistakes and taking greater risks. This wild side involves using people and hurting them in front of their friends with words or actions. It is often left to Meg and her husband Charlie to try and repair the damage she has caused.
Holly's life now starts to get more out of control as she stops sleeping. While at the same time she is being stalked by a man she had a one night stand with, threatened by lady she recently fired and being pursued by an evil man she owes a lot of money to from a poker game that went badly wrong for her. All this she tries to keep from her husband and Meg and try and it sort out herself. What will happen next? Who will help her from falling? Who can she trust to save here?
==My thoughts on the book:==
I thought this was an excellent suspense novel. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone. It seemed like all great books to have a bit of everything and was superbly writer all the way through. It was a treat to read and one I was sad when it was over but at the same time completely satisfied with it.
When I know two different authors write something as this was, I am always looking for where the story does not join together perfectly and different people write a slightly different style, just so I can prove to myself it. However in this story there was no evidence of the join not being perfect throughout. It was just a highly polished and intriguing book and one I was totally involved in.
I have read several books written by Nicci French and have always enjoyed them. I find their writing deep and thoughtful, with great descriptions of both the characters and the scenes they find themselves in. For me they really get inside their main characters heads and write from there and that for me makes this book such a success, the depth and insight they have into these characters.
Recently I told my boss at work that I enjoyed reading Nicci French novels. She told me this surprised her as she considers them to be 'girly books'. To my mind they are not and even if they are can't anyone enjoy them? I just consider them to be well structured and full of both suspense and mystery.
When I picked up this book I was almost immediately impressed. I opened the front cover to read the summary of the story. It was a reasonable length but it was the concept that grabbed my attention behind the story. I very sadly and it is a failing in my character like to see successful people brought down to earth, back down to my level. I like to see how they deal with it and usually respect them if they bounce back. So this story seemed ideal for this perspective.
The storyline was excellent and was always leading something both interesting but not necessarily in the direction you thought it would. I enjoyed the writer's imagination and the way they linked Holly's actions with the consequences for these. As initially it was written from her view so you saw what she saw, all the distress and misery brought about by her actions were excellently hidden until later from you, as your saw the positive fun side of what she did.
In many respects Holly's own story would have been enough, as it was so different, exciting, manic, sad and dangerous all in one, with many up and downs for her to deal with. But the author made it even better by always putting doubts in the readers mind about exactly what was happening. These doubts were expertly reconciled and all made perfect sense when added up and explained much later on in the novel.
At first I was disappointed when two thirds of the way through the novel the authors changed from writing from Holly's perspective to Meg's. I understand why they did this and for the story to unfold properly it had to be done as it was a vital component in the conclusion to the story. It just disappointed me as it made Holly a more distant figure, not quite so fascinating, I didn't know what she was thinking now and she was in some ways a bit more removed from the firing line in the story, which I missed.
From this time onwards Meg became the main feature of the novel but her close friendship with Holly was always evident and important to her day-to-day life. In some respects it was nice to learn about her very loyal, supportive and caring best friend, how she saw what Holly had done and how she would help deal with some of the fall out from it.
The pace of the novel throughout was fast, this was initially because of the speed that Holly worked at and never sat still, living in the fast lane. It was because of this and the trouble she got herself into that made the novel so dramatic, fascinating and created both suspense and mystery as you never knew what would happen next, but you always knew it would be exciting.
The book was a very complete and polished story. I suppose the only thing it lacked was humour, I found little here, the odd funny line or misunderstanding was amusing but it really was not necessary and could well have taken away from the importance in the story itself as you end up enjoying the humour and not concentrating on the plot.
The build up to and the actual conclusion were great. I always expected a good one, but it exceeded my expectations and was different certainly to what I expected. When it did it was unexpected but made a lot of sense in the context of what had preceded it. It was exciting, fast paced and sadly logical.
The books main character is Holly and she was such an entertaining lady. You could not fail to be drawn to her exuberant personality. When she was bad and wild you were never sure how far she would push the boundaries but she certainly could. Yet she had a deep and sensitive side to her nature that the authors would demonstrate effectively from time to time, which made you warm to her.
I think the authors had it spot on when writing from her view point as otherwise it would have been harder to understand and relate to why she was doing the things she did and how she felt about it. I found despite her being very different from me I could relate, understand and sympathise with her. Especially when her doubts and insecurities started to manifest themselves.
Meg was the other central character in the story. For the first two thirds of it she was the slightly dull, straight laced but very caring best friend to Holly but then you get to see everything from her viewpoint. This allowed you to understand what it was like for her when Holly lost control and I found her deep sensitive side easy to relate too and a true honest friend.
Most of the books other characters were support ones who flicked in and out of the story when required. I would have liked to have Holly's husband's perspective on what was happening to his wife and their relationship. But by not doing this it created a sense of mystery about him that remained and changed as the novel developed. You weren't really sure if he was on the level the man Holly thought he was or had he somehow changed because of her?
The length of the novel was absolutely right to do justice to an exciting, tense story that had everything you could hope to find in a good diverse novel. There were regular and well signposted chapters, I did initially get confused when the author changed from writing from Holly's viewpoint to Meg's but this was quickly sorted out for me. I just had to concentrate from then onwards that it did not revert back at any time.
There was no prologue or epilogue for the novel but to be frank this was not needed as everything was both explained and closed off certainly to my satisfaction.
This was an excellent piece of fiction; I enjoyed it throughout due to the wonderful writing and a superbly told story with fascinating characters. Definitely well worth a read in my opinion and probably the best novel I have read by Nicci French. With a superb lead character both in terms of personality and character, who really makes the story so enthralling. I found this book impossible to put down and really looked forward to each instalment of it.
Price: Paperback £6.39
Publisher: Penguin Books
About the author: www.niccifrench.co.uk
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is published on both Ciao and Dooyoo under my user name.
@CPTDANIELS July 2009.
Holly Krauss lives life in the fast lane. She runs a young company with her best friend Meg, organising bonding weekends for worn out businessmen and women. Her marriage to Charlie is in its first year and she hangs onto the guilt she felt that it was Meg who fancied him first.
If there is a party, Holly is there. If there is alcohol, Holly is there. If there is a punch up, Holly is there. In fact anything dosed with adrenalin or risk and Holly seems to be there. She constantly puts herself in jeopardy and stupidly never sees it until it is too late.
This time however, she may have gone too far. Having a cocaine fuelled one night stand with a stalking maniac, getting involved in a high stakes poker game whilst totally off her head on Peach Schnapps and firing an employee for misconduct rather spontaneously all seem to be catching up to her.
Who will catch her first though?
This book grabbed me right from the first page and Hollys character is so huge that it is hard not to be drawn into the story immediately. The adrenaline and lust for action in her life comes across superbly and the reader cant help but like this larger than life person. The author, Nicci French, has a brilliant knack to describing the crazy way Holly acts and everything she gets into is written in full, glorious detail, allowing anyone who has no experience of this type of life to understand and follow how she is feeling.
I have had hangovers in my time but Holly experiences the worst they have to offer. French describes effectively how she is feeling the next day or even immediately after and this is a very important part of the novel. The reader could find it hard to imagine why she keeps going back for more and how she manages on 1 hours sleep before work the next day and it is only about half way through the book that you realise why.
Meg is a little disappointing as the calm and rational friend to begin with and I think they could have embellished more on her feelings and experiences with Holly. Meg holds things together, she is safe and secure and Holly relies on her to clean up the messes to a certain extent, although she would never admit her depth of reliance.
Reading this book is a bit like running a race, you feel you have to keep going as Holly bounds from one chapter the next. As it is written in the first person for three quarters of the book (Holly being the narrator) you really do feel as though you are being dragged along with her. First person books do not very often captivate me but this did seem to be different. Perhaps it was the fast paced way the story is told, or maybe simply the antics but it was an enjoyable experience.
About half way through Holly finds something out about herself that devotes about two or three chapters to her experiences and this was the only part of the book that felt a little boring to me. Luckily the chapters arent too long and it was read and digested pretty quickly but I couldnt help feeling it could have been separated between chapters, with something a little livelier.
The last quarter of the book is told in the first person again but from Megs point of view and it had a totally different quality to it. The writing style seemed different and that may have been for a number of different reasons. I would hope it was due to the fact that Holly and Meg are so totally unlike each other that the author wrote superbly and managed to convey that difference to us. Alternatively it may have been due to the fact that Nicci French, the author, is actually a husband and wife duo Nicci Gerrard and Sean French and possibly one wrote as Holly and the other as Meg. Either way, it worked after a while and was a nice change from the totally manic world that was Holly, to the calm and worried life of Meg. It did take a while to get out of Hollys mind though and remember you are reading as Meg, but once the transition is made it becomes great again.
I was left feeling disappointed at the ending as I expected a much larger bang for the closure of such a roller coaster novel but was left feeling it was a little mushy, however it was acceptable but I felt it wasnt really in keeping with the style of the story. Things were left untied, that had been a major part of Hollys life and things were tied up that I felt hadnt been as important but none-the-less it was an pleasurable read and yet again I have found a new author I will be visiting again.
Holly Krauss lives life on the edge. She's an adrenalin junkie who gets by on nervous energy and lots and lots of coffee and very little sleep. So when she goes out to a bar after work one day with her colleagues, they aren't really surprised to see her stepping into an argument between a drunk businessman and the female bartender. Initially the bully man tells her where to go, but having charmed him with her audacity, she is soon drinking with him and his friends. Her colleagues, having seen it all before, leave her alone to fend for herself.
Events after that are shady - Holly remembers going to a nightclub with the man, of drinking more and more and then drugs becoming involved. Memories fade but somewhere she remembers a shop window breaking and then a bed, and a man and another woman on it, and fingers fumbling with buttons, and blood in her mouth. '"This is so strange' she said. I said. "Don't stop"'.
The next morning, realising what she has done, she creeps home from an unknown flat. She finds her way back to her house and gets into her own bed - the bed she shares with her husband, Charlie.
But, as in all Nicci French's books - this isn't the end to her sordid, secret night. She's left her mobile phone behind and soon, 'Rees', the man involved, is ringing her, threatening her and even turning up at her office with her knickers (well, obviously!). Sometimes, a one night stand can be the death of you
* What I thought *
Wow! What a great start to a book. I loved this right from the beginning. Holly, for me, wasn't a particularly likeable gal which gave her a certain edginess that made her stand out from other characters in these type of books. She is a successful businesswoman and isn't afraid to step on other people's toes to get what she wants, even sacking one of her colleagues just because she could. But she does seem to love her husband, which makes her behaviour seem all the more odd.
We get to see the nasty side of her sporadically as she experiences road rage and ends up punching a man who'd tried to out-race her. She then steals a lady's leather gloves and shawl from the restroom in a nightclub, seemingly just for the hell of it. She enjoys confrontation , indeed she seems to thrive on it. This is someone who doesn't think of the consequences that lie ahead and leaves a trail of furious people behind her.
Immediately the reader is drawn into Holly's bizarre world - the rock hard bitch on the outside but slowly unravelling inside. Crying in the bath, mixing her words up, buying expensive works of art on a whim that she can't afford. What was going on inside her head?
As always there is a heavy sense of unease throughout the book. Rees doesn't appear too often but one does sense his presence throughout. Although he's only spent one night with Holly, he knows all her friends courtesy of her mobile phone, and even where she lives and works. There is no escape from him. Holly is finding it more and more difficult to explain the bizarre happenings to her friends and family - her only close confidante being Meg, her trusty business partner. She begs Holly to go to the police but Holly has to do things her own way
I must admit I found this particular story quite unnerving. Something similar happened to one of my friends - her handbag was stolen while she was asleep on the train home. The man then started to ring her and even turned up at her house in the middle of the night. This went on for months. So this story was quite 'close to home' for me and I think this probably affected me more than some of the other books by Nicci French have. This 'stalking' is frighteningly realistic.
One can't help but think that Holly brings half the problems on herself. She goes off with strangers without a second thought, getting herself into all types of dangerous situations. It's only a matter of time before the 'big boys' get involved. Her recklessness will be her downfall one feels throughout, but at the same time she shows vulnerability and expects her husband Charlie and Meg to sympathise when things go wrong. She pushes everyone and everything to the limit and there's only one way to go for her - and that's down.
* Verdict *
I really enjoyed this book. Although I had planned on taking it on holiday as soon as it arrived by post I read a few pages and from thereonin was hooked. I finished it within a couple of days. It's not a long read and is very easy to pick up and put down with frequent breaks in the chapters. This is cleverly done sometimes as it helps us understand Holly's disjointed nights when her husband is away and she goes out to play.
The reader is mostly taken through Holly's suffering, which isn't always easy to read and a lot of us will have little sympathy for a wild and reckless character who leaves her lacy knickers at complete stranger's houses and antagonises so many around her. There's a lesson to be learned here so you have been warned!
The full five stars and a recommendation from La Mack.
My copy was £2.99 in hardback version from Bol.com (who now call themselves Bookgiant) but it recently came out in paperback so it's worth shopping around on Ebay and Amazon.
* Other info *
RRP £6.99 (£4.99 delivered on play.com)
400 pages (paperback)
Published by Penguin Books Ltd (UK)
* About the author*
Nicci French is husband and wife duo Nicci Gerrard and Sean French. They have written a number of books together such as The Memory Game, The Safe House, Killing Me Softly, Beneath the Skin, The Red Room, Land of the Living and Secret Smile.
For more info: www.niccifrench.co.uk
Thanks for reading!
Holly Kraus who would have thought it. Thats what her colleges and her works mates might say as Holly a successful young businesswoman and a partner in a firm puts work before all else even her own safety and fragility. The book keeps you in suspense so that you can't put it down waiting for the next disaster or triumph to happen. Holly certainly lives her life on the edge but who will catch her when she falls. Will it be her business partner or her life partner or will she destroy both relationships along the way.
Holly Krauss has everything going for her. A loving husband, a successful business which she co-owns with her best friend Meg and boundless energy to attack anything life throws at her. Admired by all and loved by many she has tremendous zest and works herself into the ground with no ill effects. She seems to thrive on a very little sleep, which would seriously harm a lesser mortal, until one night when it all comes unraveled.
The book begins with her in a bar with Meg discussing work problems when she witnesses a man being exceptionally rude to the foreign barmaid who doesn't speak English very well and is very intimidated. The man is large and domineering and in a way that only Holly can, she feels she cannot tolerate the situation and has to do something about it.
Afraid of nothing and no one she soon risks her own safety by challenging the man when none of the male customers will do so. The man is so surprised by her interference that he strikes up a conversation with her, secretly admiring her and admits he got what he deserved and shouldn't have spoken in the way he did, even if she was a lousy barmaid.
From that confrontation the drinking escalates and she soon finds herself losing her colleagues and joining up with the bully and his friends.
Gradually the night spirals out of control and from enjoying herself immensely, living dangerously, she finally finds herself in bed with a stranger with no recollection of who he is or why she came to be with him.
By this point in the book I had taken a dislike to Holly and felt no sympathy for her at all as she tried to straighten herself up and go home to her waiting husband.
She managed to leave her knickers and mobile phone behind which gave the stranger she slept with quite a lot of ammunition with which to persecute her when he realises she wants no more to do with him.
Things continue to get worse for Holly and as she's self destructive and unlikeable I felt very little sympathy with her as her life descends into a living hell due mainly to the unfortunate one night stand. I found myself thinking, well you've only got yourself to blame.
As I disliked her so much I was surprised to find that I couldn't read the book quickly enough. Was it some sort of sadism afflicting me where I enjoyed her suffering I wondered? and suffer she certainly did as she slowly descends into madness and her life falls apart.
Gradually as things worsened for her my feelings changed and I started to feel a little sympathy for her. Quite clever of the writers to suck you in and involve you so totally in her life but involved I was and the pages turned ever quicker.
About three quarters of the way through the book, it seems to change course and suddenly the account of Holly's life turns into a tense thriller. I don't suppose there was really any other way for it to go without turning into a wallow of a life in ruins but it did seem to be a big jump in direction as though the writers thought we weren't getting enough thrills for our money and decided to try and involve us in solving the latest plot twist.
I must admit that I enjoyed the misery of the first part of the book much more than the latter part when the writers just seemed to be trying too hard but as they are apparently renown for being thriller writers I suppose it was only to be expected.
I keep referring to Nicci French as they because the books are written by a husband and wife team of journalists Nicci Gerrard and Sean French.
Perhaps this is why there is a change of direction as each contributes their own sections but possibly it only seems that way to me.
Despite this I must say that I did enjoy the book and found it very hard to put down. It's an easy read in terms of the speed with which you can get through it but I can't say that the storyline is particularly easy going, unless you like reading about the suffering of others.
So it would probably appeal to those who like to read about tortured souls and those who enjoy a good thriller.
My book was loaned from the library but it is only available in hardback at the moment at a cost of £12.99 and published by Michael Joseph, the Penguin group.
Further information about the writers can be found at www.niccifrench.co.uk.
You're a whirlwind. A success. You live life on the edge. But who'll catch you when you fall? Holly Krauss lives life in a whirlwind with her husband Charlie, her business partner Meg and her colleagues at KS Associates are left breathless by her energy. But sometimes her wild behaviour leads to reckless mistakes. Mistakes which soon leave her life spiralling out of control. And once her descent begins, Holly can do little to stop it. This is most definitely a woman on the edge of a nervous breakdown. But is Holly solely responsible for what is happening to her? Are her fears for her own safety caused by the paranoia of her illness - or very real danger...?