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Posts Tagged ‘trauma’

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Three stories combine…

Present Day: In Ridinghouse Bay in Northern England, Alice Lake, single mother of three young children and three dogs, finds a man on the beach. He has no idea of who he is, why he is there, or how he got there, but Alice takes pity on him and lets him stop at her holiday house. While he is there, she tries to help him recover his memories.

Meanwhile in London, young newlywed Lily who has come from her home in Ukraine to live with her husband Carl Monrose, is desperate for answers when her husband fails to come home from work. The police are dismissive of her at first, so she sets out to find him on her own.

1993: The Ross family are holidaying in Ridinghouse Bay. Son Graeme and daughter Kirsty are with their parents on the beach when a handsome and enigmatic stranger strikes up a conversation. None of them realise that this is an encounter which lead to disaster.

These three stories start out separately but soon start to intertwine, and while some parts  were sort of guessable, there were plenty of surprises too. It did take me a while to get into and I was somewhat sceptical about it at first as I did not really enjoy the last book I listened to by Lisa Jewell. However, this one won me over in the end. I listened to the audiobook which held my attention during some long and hilly runs! Narration by Antonia Beamish, who did an excellent job.

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A serial killer is terrorising the small Spanish village of Elizondo, targeting young girls. Inspector Amaia Salazar heads up the investigation, and returns to Elizondo where she grew up. People there are superstitious and believe that there are evil forces at work, and additionally Amaia has to deal with difficult childhood memories, and an uneasy relationship with her sister Flora.

I really enjoyed this book, although there was a lot going on – possibly a little too much – but somehow it worked. It was originally published in Spanish and I find that translations can sometimes feel a bit clunky; however, that was not the case here. Apart from the Basque setting, and the Spanish characters, you would not know that this was a translation. I liked Amaia a lot and thought she was a good main character. The mystery itself did get a bit convoluted, but not so much so that I couldn’t follow it easily. I enjoyed reading about the superstitious nature of the small village, and thought it was an interesting setting.

If you like crime fiction and enjoy an unusual setting, give this one a try – you could well enjoy it.

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Lily Riser was kidnapped at the age of sixteen and held captive for eight years. This story opens with the day she makes her escape, when her captor makes a mistake which enables her and daughter Sky to run away. However, when Lily is reunited with her family and begins the painful process of trying to move on from her ordeal she realises that escaping was just the beginning…

I thought the premise of this book was really intriguing. Rather than focusing on the kidnap and ‘whodunnit’, instead we are told pretty much straight away who took Lily and the chapters, although told in the third person, then alternate between the points of view of Lily; her twin sister Abby who has been in mourning for her sister for the last eight years; their mother Eve, whose life has fallen to pieces; and Rick, Lily’s teacher who kidnapped her and is almost immediately arrested for the crime.

However, while I was really looking forward to reading this book, I found it disappointing. I finished it and it’s certainly a quick, undemanding read but to use one of my favourite analogies, it was like eating cheap chocolate – you know it’s not much good, but it’s not bad enough to not enjoy it. I spotted a mistaken in the timeline on page 2, which didn’t bode well, and things didn’t particularly improve. None of the characters seemed believable or particularly well drawn to me – indeed all of them behaved in a way which seemed entirely unrealistic, and potential plot points are dangled and then abandoned (such as Lily’s feelings towards high school boyfriend Wes). Rick is little more than a caricature, and it’s hard to believe that such a resourceful and intelligent (albeit completely evil) man would make such an obvious mistake as he did at the beginning of the book or entertain other plans which he did throughout the story. Also the writing seemed over-wrought and melodramatic, almost like watching one of those cheap made for tv suspense films.

As has become the norm for almost any psychological thriller in the last couple of years, this book has been compared to Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. This should have rung alarm bells for me because I thought that both of those books were completely over-rated, but beware – even if you loved those novels, this one is nothing like them.

So overall, I would give five out of five for the idea behind the story, but probably only 1.5 out of 5 for the execution. Disappointing.

 

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