Book Review: The Ice Beneath Her by Camilla Grebe

What’s it about?

A young woman is found beheaded in an infamous business tycoon’s marble-lined hallway.

The businessman, scandal-ridden CEO of the retail chain Clothes & More, is missing without a trace.

But who is the dead woman? And who is the brutal killer who wielded the machete?

Rewind two months earlier to meet Emma Bohman, a sales assistant for Clothes & More, whose life is turned upside down by a chance encounter with Jesper Orre. Insisting that their love affair is kept secret, he shakes Emma’s world a second time when he suddenly leaves her with no explanation.

As frightening things begin to happen to Emma, she suspects Jesper is responsible.
But why does he want to hurt her? And how far would he go to silence his secret lover?

My thoughts

This was our book club read for May and one I was really looking forward to.  The book is marketed as “for fans of I Let You Go” which I loved so of course I had high hopes because when books are compared to or billed as for fans of blah blah blah they don’t always live up to your expectations do they but I’m pleased to say this one did.

Told from three points of view by Emma, Peter and Hanne: Emma a store assistant hiding a secret relationship, Peter an aging police detective with a shitty homelife and zero relationship with his son and Hanne a police advisor, Peter’s jilted lover and wife of an emotional abuser. Plenty to get your teeth into this mystery!

As with murder and crime novels there are scenes of a violent nature which might not suit all readers particularly the scenes of decapitation.  They made me wince but didn’t stop me reading.  It’s reminiscent of the Scandi Noir stuff that has been really popular on TV just lately particularly with the cold freezing dark setting which is enough to chill your bones without any creepy murders.

What really did it for me was what I didn’t see coming and not just because I never pick up on the clues but because the outcome was something I’d never read before in books of this nature – so top marks for this! 🙂

However, the ending was somewhat of an anti-climax given that the rest of the book was quite fast paced and gripping.  As a group we thought the last two chapters would have been better swapped around.  But overall, it’s a really impressive crime procedural debut that would suit fans of The Girl on the Train and Gone Girl.  A solid 4* read for me!

Book links: Goodreads | Waterstones | Amazon

Author links: Twitter | Goodreads

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


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

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