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I don't get a lot of time to peruse the library at leisure, so this is one of my usual choices - my attention grabbed by the title, and then the blurb, persuading me in seconds this book is worth my attention, before continuing to chase the kids around the library stacks. Sometimes it does lead to some weird and wonderful choices.
The pull of the moon is a book that i at first thought might be a vampire type story, but from the blurb i classified it as murder mystery. I think what grabbed me the most is the line i used as the title of this review, one way or another, the secret is going to come out. I always have been a bit inquisitive, so it made me want to start reading.
The book is based around a character of Kate Mayfield, who we are introduced to in Chapter one as a teacher who has taken early retirement after he mother died. She has no family, and has never been married. On the very first page, we are given the idea that Kate has very firm ideas about murder, which makes you wonder from the start what exactly the secret in her past is.
Kate receives a letter from a mysterious Mrs Ivanisovic, requesting that they meet up as she needs to know what happened to her son. Kate is reluctant to go back in her past, and it sets off her memories of the events of a summer from 30 years before which she would rather not think about.
The book follows the format of one chapter set in the present, looking at how Kate is feeling about the strange letter and what she needs to do about it, and then a chapter set in a long hot sticky summer thirty years previously, with a carefree Katy, her boyfriend Danny and his best friend Simon. They are staying in an isolated house by a mysterious woods doing rennovations to the garden in Simon's Uncle's house. Katy has lied to her parents about her whereabouts to have an illicit summer of love. Their number is completed by a runaway girl, Trudie, who latches onto their group and changes the relationships between the other 3.
After a couple of chapters of this book, i became completely hooked as i knew the secret must be a pretty big one. I had no idea what it was going to be, other than at some point a murder was going to happen, but other than Katy, i was unsure which character it would be, or even if it might be someone else. I was hooked enough to read it all in one go. I started it in bed as a quick half hour before an early night, and my mind was working hard to try and piece together the story before it was told to me. I knew if i put the book down without finishing it i would not have been able to sleep for hours. I found that i could not predict the plot at all, and i was left with a feeling of unease as the events of that summer unravelled, and as the present day Kate was being affected by it.
I have not read anything else before by Diane James, but i would be convinced on the strength of this novel to actively seek out her work. It might not be the sort of book that appeals to everyone. I felt the characters were a little too stereotypical in places, but they were very well formed characters who i could believe in and relate too, so for me it worked well. It requires a decent amount of brain power so don't read it if you are looking for a light read to pass time, and don't start it if you are getting into bed thinking you will be having an early night.
It takes quite a while to get where it is going taking a long and winding route through the two time periods, but i think it was definitely worth my time reading it.
A letter forces Kate to confront her memories of the past. Mrs Ivanisovic wants to know what happened to her son before it is too late.
The main story, the events in Kate's memory, is set in summer 1972. Simon's uncle has gone away for a few months and Simon and his friend Danny are meant to be doing some work on the garden over the holiday. Danny brings his girlfriend Kate along, and Trudie invites herself to join them a couple of weeks later. How did a summer of lounging around and drinking with a little work on the garden end in murder? And what can Kate tell Danny's mother Mrs Ivanisovic?
I was interested in the setting of this story in the recent past, and the group of young people as characters. The novel kept me turning the pages very quickly to find out what had happened and why Kate is so disturbed by her memories.
However, I found this book a little bit disappointing. I didn't like most of the characters much. Trudie was the most attractive, wanting to talk and do things, and she seems to enjoy the adventure of being at the house much more than the others. Kate is initially suspicious of her as a potential rival for Danny's affections but Trudie wins her round. This made the point at which things began to turn nasty more effective. I found it hard to see what Kate initially saw in Danny, though, and even for a naive young woman she was very slow to grasp what was really happening. Kate is quite a cold person - she probably has reason to be but this, and the fact that there can be no real resolution, nothing to offer hope to the reader at the end of the story, made it an unsatisfying read.
This is a first novel but Diane Janes is apparently an experienced writer of non-fiction, and The Pull of the Moon is well written and constructed - I thought this was an accomplished work but not a likeable one.
This review first appeared at www.thebookbag.co.uk.