Tag Archives: mystery

Book Review: Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris

bring me backThis is an easy to read fast paced mystery/thriller.

We meet Finn, a 41 year old financial trader who lives with his fiancée near Cheltenham.  12 years earlier Finn experienced an awful tragedy when his much loved girlfriend, Layla, disappeared – assumed kidnapped and murdered – while they were on holiday in France.  After briefly being a suspect Finn was released without charge and has worked hard to rebuild his life and has finally found love again.  But no body was ever found, so closure has not come easily.

His uneasy peace is then blown away.  An old neighbour reports seeing Layla at their old cottage in Devon.  There have been fake sightings before, all turned out to be hoaxes or mistakes, but this is different, the old man knew Layla well plus it coincides with other strange happenings.  Layla always carried the smallest of a Russian doll set as a good luck charm and childhood memento, tiny Russian dolls start appearing on the walls near Finn’s house, they are sent to him in the post and left for him to find in other places he visits.  He also starts receiving emails from a stranger, again this has happened before with trouble makers and attentions seekers claiming to know where his lost girlfriend is, but this stranger seems to know things only he or Layla would know.

Despite this Finn is adamant Layla is dead and it must be a hoax or cruel trick.  But why is he so certain?  Has he been telling the full truth all these years?  Does he know more than he has told the police?  And if so, why did he lie?  What is he hiding?

It’s a great set up to a mystery.  I really enjoyed the early stages and trying to guess the twist I felt was coming (in case you are wondering, I suspected from page 15, convinced by page 136 – well done me!)  One reasons I enjoy mysteries is trying to guess the twist and in my experience guessing it either right or wrong needn’t spoil the rest of the book.  But in this case I do feel the story went downhill a little towards the end.  I liked the idea Paris had but didn’t feel it was perfectly executed and at times the plot veered from ‘crazy but possible’ to far-fetched.

Still a very good read and hard to put down once you have started.  I look forward to reading more from B.A. Paris.

3.5/5

Zoe

Borrow this book from Brent Libraries

3 Comments

Filed under Book Review, books, Missing people, Modern Fiction, Mystery, Thrillers

The Book of You by Claire Kendal

The book of you

This is a really frightening book, I’d say more horror than mystery.  So beware if you are easily frightening and a wimp (like me).  But if you are made of sterner stuff it is a pretty good read.

The main character is Clarissa, a woman definitely down on her luck.  Her husband has left her after years of unsuccessful fertility treatment, her career has stalled and she hasn’t really got any friends…and now she has found herself pursued by a scary stalker!  Her life is so rotten that she greets a jury service letter as a source of salvation, being on jury service will get her temporarily away from her stalker and her crappy job and she might even make some new friends.  But I am afraid her high hopes lead only to disappointment.

The villain of the piece is Rafe.  He works with Clarissa at the University of Bath and probably drugged and raped her after a party.  I say ‘probably’ as we only have it from Clarissa’s point of view and she doesn’t remember exactly what happened, he gave her a strange tasting glass of wine and she awoke the next morning naked in bed with him feeling sore and bruised.  She is confused and disoriented and doesn’t report it.  From this point on he acts like they have begun a relationship after a night of consensual sex.  He pesters her and sends her creepy presents and when she yells at him to leave her alone behaves as if they are having a harmless lover’s tiff.

At times you feel quite frustrated with Clarissa.  Why didn’t she report the rape to the police?  Why isn’t she taking this more seriously?  But at other times you feel sympathy.  She is a very vulnerable woman, possibly quite depressed, and she has confused and complicated emotions about what happened to her that night as many rape victims do.  Also Rafe is very convincing to the outside world, he is charming and successful at work and even convinces Clarissa’s oldest friend that he and Clarissa have been having a relationship and that he is nothing more than a caring and concerned boyfriend to the mentally disturbed Clarissa.  So Clarissa comes up with a plan, she will systematically collect and record evidence until she has enough to present the police with a strong case against Rafe.

The trial Clarissa is a juror for, far from being an escape, is a rape case that brings up painful memories of her own experiences and fears.  At the same time, outside the relative safety of the court, Rafe’s behaviour becomes increasingly menacing.  Will she gathered enough evidence to see him convicted and out of her life or has she underestimated the danger she is in?  Read this book to find out…if you dare!

A bit too violent and scary for my tastes.

3/5

Zoe

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, books, Modern Fiction, Thrillers

Book Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

I know this book has already been reviewed on this blog by my colleague but I enjoyed this book so much that I wanted to add my review too!

gone-girl-book-cover-med

This is the story of married couple Nick and Amy Dunne.  On their fifth wedding anniversary Nick comes home to find his front door wide open, furniture overturned as if there has been a violent struggle and his wife gone.  The book then gives us alternate chapters of Nick dealing with the fallout of his wife’s disappearance and extracts from Amy’s diary telling the story of their relationship from their meeting  up to the time of her apparent kidnap and probable murder.  Neither the reader nor the characters know what really happened to Amy so we all get to engage in a captivating guessing game as well as finding out about the dysfunctional relationship of two very flawed characters.

The initial chapters I struggled with a little, I disliked the characters and found a lot of the regular pop references unfamiliar partly because it’s an American book and partly because I’ve just never been very clued up on popular culture now or as a child!  But as I read on the negatives became positives and I found myself gripped by the story and enjoying the writing style.  I think it’s a real tribute to Flynn that she has managed to write such a compelling book where pretty much all the characters are various degrees of repellent! Usually I find it hard to get into a story when you are unable to root for any of the characters, these characters are all rotters; Amy, Nick, their families, their friends, the police investigating the case, the lawyers who get involved and the media reporting on the case – by no means are they all evil but none of them are remotely likeable or admirable in their behaviour.  I guess the ‘character’ you are rooting for is the story itself – you just have to see it played out.  For once I agree with the opinions on the book cover, this book really was ‘addictive’, I read it in a weekend which is very unusual for me as I tend to be a slow reader.

gone girl scene

Scene from the movie. Amy’s husband and parents use the media to plead for Amy’s return…but are they as innocent as they seem?

Another thing I enjoyed about the book was the setting.  After I had got over the unfamiliarity the alien-ness became an asset.  It is primarily set in a mid-American town that is really suffering in the economic recession; it’s a background of boarded up shops, layoffs, struggles and broken dreams – a setting very fitting and very real.

The first part of the book focuses on the past of their relationship and immediate aftermath of the disappearance.  Then it shifts to a sort of PR battle between various characters but primarily focusing on Nick.  First he is the pitiable ‘widower’, then the prime suspect, next the terrible husband, then pitied again as the wrongly accused and back to prime suspect.  These shifts are not entirely based on evidence found but also the media’s changing angle on the story which swings this way and that.  It is an interesting analysis of how the media judges those involved in crime and makes decisions about who is the victim and who the villain – there are many examples of this process in real life news stories.

set_gone_girl

The happy couple? The state of the couple’s marriage comes under the media spotlight when Amy goes missing.

The third section of the book is a sort of conclusion, dealing with the aftermath of events.  This is the part of the book I enjoyed the least.  It’s not bad but I often find with mysteries and thrillers that the questions (what happened? who’s guilty? will the police work it out? etc.) are actually more interesting than the answers!

I highly recommend this book and if you haven’t read it yet or seen the film I think you should pick up a copy today.  If you haven’t managed to avoid plot spoilers, and it’s tricky as it has been widely discussed and reviewed, I still recommend you read it as it is a well crafted tale that offers enjoyment beyond the twists, turns and surprises.

4.5/5

Zoe

6 Comments

Filed under Book Review, books, Crime, Modern Fiction, Mystery, Thrillers

Book Review: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

gone-girl-book-cover-medThe author of the brilliant novel is Gillian Flynn. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good plot and also a mystery. I would also recommend this book to someone who is usually determined to finish a book because trust me you will need a lot of determination. I picked up this book 3 months ago and read 3 chapters (which took 2 weeks) and gave up. I picked the book up again (4 weeks ago) and, am finally towards the end. I was a mission but it was worth it.

The novel is about a girl-Amy- who goes missing on her fifth wedding anniversary. The police suspect Nick Dunne – Amy’s husband. Amy’s friends reveal that Amy was afraid of Nick and Nick swears it isn’t true. I really don’t want to give away a lot of the plot because that’s what lures the reader. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. Nick says they weren’t made by him. So the real question is what did happen to Amy?

Guys I will tell you from experience try you best not to discuss the book whilst reading it with anyone who has read or seen the movie because it is tempting and they probably will spoil the ending and all your hard work reading.

I give this novel a 5/5.

Umaimma

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Review, books, Modern Fiction, Mystery, reading