Audio Book Review: Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski

What’s it about?

2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure.

In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame… As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth.

My thoughts

I’d seen this book doing the rounds on various book blogs via a book tour and seen very positive reviews so picked it for my next Audible download.

The story is told via a series of podcasts so was absolutely perfect to experience it with an audio book.  It’s a unique and interesting way to tell the story and like nothing I’ve ever read or listened to before, made all the better I think by the fact I listened to it, just as if it was on the radio or I was actually listening to real time interviews.

For me, I felt the book started off quite slowly.  This, I think, is down to me in part, as I’m a) not used to listening to audio books yet and b) I’ve never listened to a podcast before either.  I just needed to get used to the format and try really really hard to remember all the information given by the six different characters.  I found that the second half picked up pace considerably and I then found it hard to stop listening.

It does help that the main character’s voice, Scott King, is a very appealing voice and easy to listen too.  In fact, the audio book as a whole is very well narrated and there are a lot of voices,  something like 17 I believe.  The only one I wasn’t quite sure of was Anya, her voice sounded like an automated voice.

The events reveal the darker side of groups of teenagers and the things they’ll do to fit in; drugs, alcohol and bullying to name a few.  It’s chilling, sometimes uncomfortable with plenty of red herrings but overall, very now, a very clever idea and 100% worth the listen!

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon

Author links: Twitter | Facebook

Small print for info
Source: Purchased
No of pages: 320
Publisher: Orenda

Book Review: Redemption Road by John Hart

What’s it about?

Elizabeth Black is a hero. She is a cop who single-handedly rescued a young girl from a locked cellar and shot two brutal kidnappers dead. But she’s also a cop with a history, a woman with a secret. And she’s not the only one.

Adrian Wall is finally free after thirteen years of torture and abuse. In the very first room he walks into, a boy with a gun is waiting to avenge the death of his mother. But that is the least of Adrian’s problems.
He was safer in prison.
And deep in the forest, on the altar of an abandoned church, a body cools in pale linen. It is not the first to be found.

My thoughts

I received this book as part of a goody bag at the Crime Rooftop Book Club last year – shame it took me so long to read it as it’s a pretty decent mystery crime novel.

With often brutal content that may not suit everyone this book doesn’t hold back in grittiness.  Cleverly constructed, well paced with a sharp but vulnerable lead female detective, fans of Robert Bryndza’s Erika Foster series should like this one too!

However, the stand-out character for me was Faircloth ‘Crybaby’ Jones.  He reminded me very much of Lucien Willbanks from A Time to Kill.  Old -timer lawyer with a drink problem but with a heart of gold and not afraid to take a few risks and liberties.  I could have done with reading a lot more about Crybaby!

What did surprise me at the end is that due to the ordeals suffered by some of the main characters in this book, we’re meant to feel empathetic and sympathetic towards these characters, which I did, however in my opinion they are guilty of murder and I’m meant to think their actions are justified.  I don’t know if I can justify and condone and as such this would make a really excellent discussion point.

Overall a solid 4* read for me and I would read more from this author.

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon

Author links: Website | Twitter

Small print for info
Source: ARC
No of pages: 432
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books

Book Review: The Ashes of London by Andrew Taylor

What’s it about?

A city destroyed.

A killer exposed.

London, 1666. The Great Fire rages through the city, consuming everything in its path. Even the impregnable cathedral of St. Paul’s is engulfed in flames and reduced to ruins. Among the crowds watching its destruction is James Marwood, son of a traitor, and reluctant government informer.

In the aftermath of the fire, the body of a man is discovered in the ashes of St.Paul’s. But he is not a victim of the blaze- there is a stab wound to his neck and his thumbs have been tied behind his back. Acting on orders, Marwood hunts the killer though London’s devastated streets- where before too long a second murder is uncovered.

At a time of dangerous internal dissent, Marwood’s investigation will lead him into treacherous waters- and across the path of a determined and vengeful young woman.

My thoughts

This was our latest book club read and one which held such promise and one which we were all looking forward to reading.  I initially started with an audio book copy but I switched half way through to the Kindle version.  Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy the narrator’s voice, it was flat and dull and didn’t work for me. However with hindsight, it matched the story.

If historical fiction is your thing then the factual parts of this novel will really please but therein ends the pleasure I’m afraid.  The book couples mysterious deaths during the period of the Great Fire of London but this book is so much more about the history rather than the mystery; which really isn’t a mystery in the regular sense.  If you like books or TV series such as Columbo whereby you know the culprit and are being lead through the mystery as the detective discovers what’s going on then this will appeal.

Marwood is a pretty dull and uninteresting character and narrated in the first person, the only real character of substance is Cat/Jane and is only given a third person narrative which is a shame and so I didn’t find myself having any real engagement with the characters or empathy towards them.  Although the time period and the historical aspects were the most interesting parts there’s possibly too much historical content and description which is somewhat repetitive; once a place has been described once, I don’t need it to be repeated the next time someone goes there.

The mystery is rushed, all very coincidental with a predictable end.  If you enjoy historical fiction I’d recommend Sarah Waters over this one (but it did make for a good book club discussion).

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon

Author links: Website | Twitter

Small print for info
Source: Purchased
No of pages: 400
Publisher: Harper Collins

Book Review: You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmood

What’s it about?

An unnamed defendant stands accused of murder. Just before the Closing Speeches, the young man sacks his lawyer, and decides to give his own defence speech.

He tells us that his barrister told him to leave some things out. Sometimes, the truth can be too difficult to explain, or believe. But he thinks that if he’s going to go down for life, he might as well go down telling the truth.

There are eight pieces of evidence against him. As he talks us through them one by one, his life is in our hands. We, the reader – member of the jury – must keep an open mind till we hear the end of his story. His defence raises many questions… but at the end of the speeches, only one matters: Did he do it?

My thoughts

I requested this book from Netgalley based on a promotional email I’d received and it was the blurb which attracted me to it…being all legal and that.  There is no real format to this review as I have to just get all my feelings and thoughts out in what will probably be one long ramble.

All in all it’s a very interesting and unique way to tell a story; from the point of view of a defendant on trial for murder and through his closing statement.  Although in reality I don’t know if he really would be able to give a closing statement this long or what the implications and consequences be!

However, through this statement, which does go on for a few days, we discover how he came to be where he is and why.  Gang and estate culture, drug dealing and prostitution – it really is another world and another language.  It takes a bit of getting used to, every other word is ‘like’, bro, innit all this gangster chat and half the time I found I was trying to decipher what his point was.

PLOT SPOILER AHEAD >>

I do prefer books that have clear cut endings and unfortunately for me this isn’t one of them.  To all intents and purposes, without trying to give too much away, I, and other readers, are the jury and will need to come to our own conclusions at the end as there isn’t a proper end.  For that reason, this book would make an interesting book for a book club read as you could have a really good debate.

Overall, an interesting premise and a pretty decent debut.

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon

Author links: Twitter | Penguin Bio

Small print for info
Source: ARC – many thanks!
No of pages: 400
Publisher: Michael Joseph

Book Review: The Ex by Alafair Burke

the-exWhat’s it about?

Olivia Randall is one of New York City s best criminal defence lawyers. When she hears that her former fiancé, Jack Harris, has been arrested for a triple homicide and that one of the victims was connected to his wife’s murder there is no doubt in her mind as to his innocence. The only question is who would go to such great lengths to frame him and why?

For Olivia, representing Jack is a way to make up for past regrets, to absolve herself of guilt from a tragic decision, a secret she has held for twenty years. But as the evidence against him mounts, she is forced to confront her doubts. The man she knew could not have done this. But what if she never really knew him?

My thoughts

This book was recommended by a well trusted book blogger and as I love a good legal thriller I reserved a copy straight away from the library.

When someone comes back into your life after twenty years, that in itself can be awkward enough, but when that person is accused of a triple murder, well…are you gonna believe them or the evidence laid out in front of you?  Would you be able to know for sure they didn’t do it based on your relationship from such a long time ago? Would you stake your reputation on it? These are the situations Olivia finds herself in when she agrees to represent her ex-boyfriend.

Whilst a good premise and well paced, for me it just lacked something to grip me and I just wasn’t feeling the wow factor.  I didn’t really engage with Olivia, she comes across as stand-offish and cold and there was something off about Jack that I couldn’t feel much for him.  The only character I felt had some genuineness to them was Jack’s best friend Charlotte; prepared to pull out all the stops to help and protect her friend.

I didn’t guess the identity of the real killer so that’s a positive but once revealed I began to pull apart the plausibility of it all given the level of security already mentioned in the book earlier and what evidence the prosecution had.

Overall, this book took me nearly a week to read which is unusual for me for this genre.  It’s a decent enough mystery but I have read more thrilling thrillers!

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon

Author links: Website | Twitter

Small print for info
Source: Library
No of pages:
Publisher: