Archive for fiction

Book review – The Body In The Library by Simon Brett

Posted in Books, Netgalley, review with tags , , , , , , on June 12, 2019 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

Black Thorn [Publication date 16.06.19]

In the sleepy, English village of Fethering, an author event at the local library ends in murder and it’s up to amateur sleuths Carole and Jude to solve the case.

Fethering has everything a sleepy coastal town should: snug English pubs, cosy cottages, a little local library – and the occasional murder

A bestselling author with a soaring ego and wandering hands has come to town, but he won’t be leaving. Jude is the prime suspect; she was, after all, the last person to slap Burton St Clair alive. If she is to prove her innocence she will have to dust off her detective skills, recruit her prim and proper friend (and partner-in-sleuthing) Carole, and together they must find the real culprit.

Simon Brett I first came across in my teens via the Mystery & Thriller Guild, one of the many book clubs run by Book Club Associates (anyone remember them?!). I enjoyed the Charles Paris mysteries, a series of books (in striking yellow covers) based on an actor and how he always seemed to be involved in theatrical based murders.

Fast forward a fair few years and Simon Brett is still writing witty and enjoyable crime novels. ‘The Body In The Library’ is the first of the Jude and Carole amateur sleuth books I have read (this is number 18, as Simon Brett is a tad prolific!). It is a gentle send up of the Golden Age of Crime writers and books, what publishers now refer to as ‘cosy crime’. However, Simon Brett cunningly adds in plenty of plot twists and a whole host of possible murderers. He also finds time to promote the cause of libraries (although the victim is bumped off outside a library, perhaps not the greatest advert for them) and gives insight of an author’s life, both from a successful one and at the other end, the self-published author who is bitter about any other writers success.

An enjoyable read. Perfect escapism into an updated Golden Age of Crime writing.

Book review: Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas

Posted in Authors, Books, crime writers with tags , , , , , , on May 13, 2019 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

Michael Joseph [Publication date 27.06.19]

The blurb…

Everything changed the night Flora disappeared.

Heather and Jess were best friends – until the night Heather’s sister vanished.

Jess has never forgiven herself for the lie she told that night. Nor has Heather.

But now Heather is accused of an awful crime.

And Jess is forced to return to the sleepy seaside town where they grew up, to ask the question she’s avoided for so long:

What really happened the night Flora disappeared?

This is the second book by Claire Douglas that I have read and she is now on my ‘must read’ authors list. The story is told from various characters’ viewpoints and the story also switches from present day to the past, however it is not too difficult for the reader to keep up with it all!

I particularly like the reporter Jess’s character as she faces some tough choices when reporting on the case as she is personally and emotionally involved.

If you enjoyed TV dramas such as ‘Broadchurch’ I would heartily recommend this book as each of the main characters have a skeleton or two in their closets and these impact on the story as the book progresses.

Highly recommended.

Book review – Reasons to be Cheerful by Nina Stibbe

Posted in Books, review with tags , , , , , , on April 27, 2019 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

Penguin Books [Publication date 28.03.19]

The blurb –

‘When people in the village heard I was about to start working in the city they tried to unsettle me with tales of woe. The sun, blotted out by the tall buildings, couldn’t shine and the rain was poisoned by the toxic fumes that poured from the sock factories. My skin would be covered in pimples from the hell of it all’

So begins a young woman’s journey to adulthood. Lizzie Vogel leaves her alcoholic, novel-writing mother and heads for Leicester to work for a racist, barely competent dentist obsessed with joining the freemasons.

The verdict –

After reading a fair few crime novels and the odd non-fiction title, it is always nice to read a bit of everyday life fiction. Nina Sibbe has an easy going writing style, with the main character Lizzie, one may readers of a certain age many identify with, or at least the time she was growing up in, namely the 80’s.

There is plenty of dental work description, often quite graphic for those who don’t like going to the dentist! The plot is a coming of age as Lizzie really sees what a messed up world adult life is and her mother is one of the better characters, as she continues her quest to have a book published by her favourite publisher Faber & Faber.

An easy going read, with some genuinely funny moments and perfect for a bit of escapist fiction.

Book review – A Beautiful Corpse by Christi Daugherty

Posted in Authors, Books with tags , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2019 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake
Harper Collins [Pub Date 04 Mar 2019]

It’s a thin line between love and murder…

A tense new thriller, perfect for fans of Clare Mackintosh, Cara Hunter and Lisa Jewell

A murder that shocks a city… 
Shots ring out on one of Savannah’s most famous streets. A beautiful law student lies dead.
  
A case full of secrets and lies…
Three men close to the victim are questioned. All of them claim to love her. All of them say they are innocent of her murder.
 
An investigation that could prove deadly…
As crime reporter Harper McClain unravels a tangled story of obsession and jealousy, the killer focuses on her. He’s already killed one woman. Will he kill another?

Second book featuring crime reporter Harper McClain, this time she is investigating the murder of a law student and the events that unfold afterwards, including plenty of references to the first novel.

Different view as it is not a standard police procedural novel, instead it focues on a murder from the press viewpoint and Harper McClain soon becomes entangled in the case in a dangerous way. Fast paced, with minimal description, Christi Daugherty has written an enjoyable thriller. Good enough to have the reader looking forward to the next McClain novel.

Book review – The Quaker by Liam McIlvanney

Posted in Authors, Books, crime writers, Netgalley with tags , , , , , on February 17, 2019 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake
Harper Collins [Publication date 28.06.18]

It is easy to see why ‘The Quaker’ has won such high praise and the Scottish Crime Book of the Year award, as this is a proper page turner and one with plenty of twists & turns in the plot.

Set in 1969 and Glasgow has been brought to its knees by a serial killer spreading fear throughout the city – the Quaker. DI McCormack is called in to report on the murder investigations and whether the case should be kept open after no success in tracking down the killer.

Set in 1969 and Glasgow has been brought to its knees by a serial killer spreading fear throughout the city – the Quaker. DI McCormack is called in to report on the murder investigations and whether the case should be kept open after no success in tracking down the killer.

McIlvanney vividly creates the atmosphere of the late 60’s in Glasgow, where gangsters and corrupt coppers murky the investigation into finding the Quaker, DI McCormack himself hides a secret that could jeopardise the investigation as it reaches its climax.

Never too graphic, but with plenty of menace coming through from the villainous characters involved.

One of the best crime novels I have read in a long time, Liam McIlvanney should be on your ‘must read’ list if not already on there.

Book review – Gallowstree Lane by Kate London

Posted in Authors, Books, crime writers, Netgalley with tags , , , , , , on December 29, 2018 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

Publication date 07.02.19 Corvus

A new author to me, Kate London has written a hard hitting police procedural novel based around the London gang culture.

She has a descriptive style, with a good eye for details on police procedure. The book switches between the thoughts of the main characters, ramping the tension up as the book progresses.

Perfect read for those who enjoyed Prime Suspect and I could see Gallowstree Lane being made into a TV series in the not too distant future. Impressive and Kate London joins my list of must read crime writers.

Book review – Scoundrels by Major Victor Cornwall and Major St. John Trevelyan

Posted in Books, Netgalley with tags , , , , , , on October 23, 2018 by The Rock 'N' Roll Oatcake

Scoundrels

Farrago [Publication date 01.07.18]

Hits you like a battering ram, ‘Scoundrels’ is NOT for the feint hearted or the PC brigade. It is like classic Tom Sharpe meets Monty Python, with a dash of Fifty Shades.

Based on the memoirs of two retired majors they recall their initiation into the Scoundrels club. A club which carries out missions others would baulk at and these missions lead the two majors to gate crash Hitler’s birthday celebrations, go undercover to catch a spy and try to conquer Everest.

Like any good boy’s own adventure, they have an arch-nemesis, Hansclapp, who keeps popping up causing mayhem for the pair throughout the book.

You will either love this book, which has some genuinely laugh out loud moments, coupled with parts that leave you a tad off colour, or you will be repulsed and email a complaint to the publishers forthwith. Quite unlike anything I have read in many a year and I think that’s a good thing?!