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 Sudden Departure of the Frasers by Louise Candlish

What’s it about?

My name is Amber Fraser. I’ve just moved in at Number 40, Lime Park Road. You’ll come to think of me as a loving wife, a thoughtful neighbour and a trusted friend.

This is a lie.

When Christy and Joe Davenport are handed the keys to Number 40 on picture-perfect Lime Park Road, Christy knows it should be a dream come true. How strange though that the house was on the market for such a low price. That the previous owners, the Frasers, had renovated the entire property yet moved out within a year. That none of the neighbours will talk to Christy.

As her curiosity begins to give way to obsession, Christy finds herself drawn deeper into the mystery of the house’s previous occupants – and the dark and shocking secret
that tore the street apart . . .

My thoughts

I’ve read a couple of Louise Candlish’s other books and whilst one I loved, one I could have passed on but was still pleased to pick this one up in a local charity shop.

Told in turn by the two very different women owners of the house the start of the book does entice you in with the hint of mystery and your mind will go into overdrive with all the possibilities of what did make the Frasers flee overnight and of course human nature and sheer nosiness makes us want to find out what’s going on behind all the closed doors in the street.

There is so much build up in this book which does make it somewhat overly long and at times I’m afraid I started to get a little bored along the way and then one character divulges something in confidence it’s kinda obvious where we’re going with the plot, and when everything comes to a head it’s not so much of a shock.

I can’t fault the author’s writing style though, it’s very well written but just with unbelievably horrible stuck up characters that I couldn’t give two hoots about.

If you enjoyed Candlish’s The Swimming Pool then this one would be a hit with you too.  I, on the other hand, much preferred The Disappearance of Emily Marr.

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon

Author links: Website | Twitter

Small print for info
Source: Purchased – second hand
No of pages: 512
Publisher: Penguin

Audio Book Review: Holding by Graham Norton

holdingWhat’s it about?

The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama; and yet its inhabitants are troubled. Sergeant PJ Collins hasn’t always been this overweight; mother of­ two Brid Riordan hasn’t always been an alcoholic; and elegant Evelyn Ross hasn’t always felt that her life was a total waste.

So when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be that of Tommy Burke – a former­ love of both Brid and Evelyn – the village’s dark past begins to unravel. As the frustrated PJ struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community’s worth of anger and resentments, secrets and regret.

My thoughts

Disclaimer: I’m a Graham Norton fan, love his TV and radio show so it was unlikely that I would dislike this book and fortunately I didn’t, I loved it.  This was also my first audio book experience so is kind of a two-for-one review!

A small town drama that’s full of intrigue, mystery and regular and relatable characters; mostly three actually.  Sergeant Collins; a severely overweight police officer, Brid Riordan; a borderline alcoholic mother and Evelyn Ross; heartbroken at a young age, never recovered and feels as though she has nothing to show for her life.

This isn’t really your typical murder mystery type of novel, so don’t go into it thinking it’ll be fast paced page turner.  It is a slow burner with the mystery of the bones being an aside thread for us to unearth Duneen’s secrets in more detail and getting to know the characters and one in particular Sergeant Collins’ housekeeper Mrs Meeny’s heartbreaking story.

I really enjoyed this book as an audio book as I felt the story was enhanced by being narrated by Graham too.  I don’t know if it’s usual practice for authors to narrate their own audio books but it makes so much sense.  Graham was obviously the best choice for bringing his own characters to life.  The small issues I had was understanding the names, not being able to see how they were spelt, and at one point, unusually, I was sure I’d cracked the mystery but couldn’t recall the info supplied earlier in the book about the DNA, so I couldn’t go back and check what I’d heard as I would have done with a paperback.

The book is also quite darkly humourous, especially with Graham’s narration; the characters swear quite a lot and it just made me laugh in the context it was used (picture me walking to and from work listening to this chuckling away like a mad fool).  I think it would make an excellent drama and I thoroughly recommend.

What’s your experience of audio books? Any to recommend?

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon

Author links: Twitter

Small print for info
Source: Via Audible free trial
No of pages: 320
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Talk of the Town

Book Review: The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd

the-london-eye-mysteryWhat’s it about?

When Ted and Kat watched their cousin Salim get on board the London Eye, he turned and waved before getting on. After half an hour it landed and everyone trooped off – but no Salim. Where could he have gone? How on earth could he have disappeared into thin air?

Since the police are having no luck finding him, Ted and Kat become sleuthing partners. Despite their prickly relationship, they overcome their differences to follow a trail of clues across London in a desperate bid to find their cousin. And ultimately it comes down to Ted, whose brain works in its own very unique way, to find the key to the mystery.

My thoughts

My eleven-year-old niece and I bought this book in a local second hand bookshop on Book Shop Day last year.  She read it and then passed it on to me as she’d enjoyed it and I spent a few enjoyable hours over a weekend with it.

If you’ve enjoyed books of the Nancy Drew and Wells and Wong series then you’re likely to enjoy this book too.  A good old caper with a couple of kids investigating a disappearance better than the police can…that kind of thing.  Only this search is aided by Ted’s condition…whether that’s Autism or Asperger’s it’s not actually spelt out, just that he has a differently wired brain!

The books is quite humourous, but of course, it’s probably not meant to be funny as this is just the way Ted is and how he reacts and breaks down social situations that feel alien to him but it’s done in a way that I expect the target audience (I would estimate pre-teen) will understand and empathise with.

I think this is one of the those books where it tells rather than shows; I didn’t feel there were any real clues to pick up on and the book ending will probably annoy regular readers of mystery novels because you at least want a chance to solve the mystery even if you can’t.

At the end of the day the real star of this book isn’t the mystery but Ted!

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon

Author Link: Website

Small print for info
Source:  Purchased (2nd hand book shop)
No of pages: 336
Publisher: Puffin

Talk of the Town