Tag: crime (page 1 of 2)

A Good Old-Fashioned Murder

Review: The Lake District Murder – by John Bude

You know what’s nice? Watching people who are good at things do them well. There’s something so utterly satisfying about it.

This is the reason I love watching the Olympics, the rugby world cup… less so the football world cup! I love watching shows where people make stuff, like glass blowing, wood working and mending cars.

Of course, it’s always a pleasure to watch Hercule Poirot go about deducting, but there’s always something kept from the viewer/reader. Poirot is always held above – we don’t figure things out at the same time as he does, because we aren’t finicky little Belgians with a penchant for details. We’ve got jobs and messy flats, and hobbies beyond trimming mustachios.

The Lake District Murder doesn’t focus on superhuman personality and mighty little grey cells, instead the reader follows the process of some good, careful, thorough policing.

When a body is found at an isolated garage, Inspector Meredith is drawn into a complex investigation where every clue leads to another puzzle: was this a suicide, or something more sinister? Why was the dead man planning to flee the country? And how is this connected to the shady business dealings of the garage? This classic mystery novel is set amidst the stunning scenery of a small village in the Lake District.

In contrast with the irrepressible personality of detectives like Poirot, Inspector Meredith is almost without personality. He’s how I imagine a right and proper gent from the 30s – he always stops for lunch, he’s always punctual, never complains and has a healthy respect for his bosses. He’ll go the extra mile to solve a case, not because he’s on a mission for justice so much as because it’s his job, so that’s what he’s supposed to do.

We follow Inspector Meredith and are party to his innermost thoughts, both when he thinks then and when he reports them, working with him as he extrapolates his findings and posits solutions. In spite of the dead body, this is such a low drama mystery, as gentle and meandering as the roads around the Lake District which he must traverse on his combination motorbike.

Worth noting I’ve not been to the Lake District since I was 12 and as such have very little idea of the roads.

To compare this to the high-octane thrillers and American cop dramas I’ve been more familiar with, this probably reminds me most of Bones, both the tv show and the Kathy Reichs books. It’s methodical, it’s the complex made simple. The whodunnit aspect of The Lake District Murder isn’t a secret for long – we know for most of the book- the journey and the excitement comes from bringing the perpetrators to justice, in finding proof where there seems to be none, and all with careful, methodical thought and action. Gentle and uniquely satisfying, this book gave me the same kind of joy as watching Edd China replacing brake discs.

See how you feel about extremely thorough police work here!

Thrilling Action!

Review: Doubt (A Caroline Auden Legal Thriller) – by C. E. Tobisman

I saw the later Harry Potter films before I read the books, and one of the things which made me so excited to read them – aside from the obvious – was to see how all that action in the final battle could possibly be described in words.

In big Hollywood blockbusters, once actions sequences take off, it seems to me that the screen is full of STUFF.

I don’t know how you would even begin to write that – the sense of a battle on that scale. And I can’t remember how it was written, only that my heart was beating fast and I raced through the words to find out what happened, even though I already knew.

I wasn’t expecting the same sort of thing from a legal thriller.

My knowledge of legal thrillers is extremely limited, I think I’ve probably watched a couple of films fitting that description (none of which immediately spring to mind). Does Making a Murderer count? Either way, new territory for me. I’m a bit of a fan of environmental documentaries though, so it was an easy way in to the legal thriller genre for me.

Ahhh, I see what they did with that U…

Doubt explores SuperSoy, a soybean spliced with a jellyfish gene to boost the protein. The healthiest members of society start eating it in their protein smoothies – vegans, vegetarians, fitness fanatics, those with dairy allergies – but a large number of them then suddenly develop degenerative kidney disorders.

WOAH THERE. We’re hitting vegans!? Man. As a vegan (and therefore presumably invincible – thanks, Scott Pilgrim) I felt a personal interest in this book. Do tell me more.

When Caroline Auden lands a job at a top Los Angeles law firm, she’s excited for the challenge—and grateful for the chance to put her dark past as a computer hacker behind her. Right away, her new boss asks her to find out whether a popular GMO causes healthy people to fall ill. Caroline is only supposed to dig in the trenches and report up the ladder, but her tech background and intuition take her further than planned. When she suspects a link between the death of a prominent scientist and the shadowy biotech giant, she cries foul and soon finds herself in the crosshairs. The clock is ticking and thousands of lives are on the line…including her own.

Now this rookie lawyer with a troubled past and a penchant for hacking must prove a billion-dollar company is responsible for thousands of deaths…before they come after her.

The mystery starts right away with the death of one scientist just before the publication of a controversial research paper, and then the disappearance of his partner. The reader knows it’s murder – and therefore that the stakes are higher than Caroline realises right from the off.

I’d say it’s a bit Da Vinci Code, as Caroline races around solving clues left to uncover the article in time to submit it as evidence.

Caroline is pretty cool. She can hack any manner of computer systems, she’s got an addictive personality she scrupulously tries to reign in, and a burning desire to both prove herself and fight for justice. She’s extremely clever and she don’t take no sh!t from guys who think she can’t do stuff. She’s thoughtful, hard working and an altogether diamond gal. I like her.

As the stakes get higher and time runs our before the case goes before a judge, the tension really amps up. I found myself reading this, leaning right over my kindle and racing through the pages. I suddenly realised I could feel my heart beating in the top of my chest and hear the blood rushing around my ears.

The thing of it is, and I suppose the sign that tense, thrilling action sequences are well written, is that I can’t remember how it was written. I was swept away in what was happening, to the point where I forgot that I was supposed to be learning. While that isn’t necessarily great for me developing as a writer, it sure makes for a brilliant book. And the really good news? It looks like the first in a series. I’ll definitely be reading more as they come out!

Try Doubt here, and see what you think!

The Murder Bit.

I’ve been on holiday this past week, which you might think would mean I’ve had plenty of time to do loads of my own personal work, unhampered by the ties of the day job. You would be incorrect. What’s actually happened is I’ve ground to a shuddering halt and watched two full seasons of Game Of Thrones. Time well spent, yes, but it has put me behind on reading for this blog.

Oh no Jon Snow!

I did read a book while I was on leave, but it was in no way relevant to a blog which is, at best, tenuously linked to historical mysteries. I’ve linked it here, it you’re interested, but otherwise I’m not going to mention it.

In lieu of that, and bearing in mind that if I stop posting weekly I’ll probably never start again, let’s look at some books about DEATH.

Click the images for more information.

Amazing True Stories of Execution Blunders – by Geoffrey Abbott

These days, I consider myself something of an historical death aficionado, in so much as a person can be when they read a lot of fiction and are easily grossed out. I know all about the old punishments and the ones which never really happened, but this introduced me to several more disgusting methods which I had known nothing about. It’s not quite so Horrible Histories as it looks, either, and was a heavily sobering look at how awful people used to be – and still sometimes are.

The Buried Soul: How Humans Invented Death – by Timothy Taylor

Yes. This one.

I think it’s always a sign of a good book when you can remember, over a year later, exactly what you were doing when you started it.

I was on a train to London early one morning, sitting by myself in a deserted carriage. I was nervous about what I was going to London for – something to do with the day job – and wasn’t at all sure I’d chosen the right book to bring. I was testing myself – it was the first non-fiction book I’d ever read about death, and given my history and temperament, it could have set me off into a quivering, shrieking mess. Parts of it almost did.

The Buried Soul is a comprehensive look at the culture which has grown up around death, dating far back into pre-history and spanning the globe. It takes a close and respectful look at the taboos surrounding the way we treat our dead, the superstitions which have developed in different parts of the world and why, and what I found most interesting of all, our changing attitudes to cannibalism. Both grim and enlightening, a non-judgemental and intellectual study of why we do what we do, and why we stopped doing what we did.

Ladies! Beware!

Review: Kill Me Again – Rachel Abbott

As a person who is constantly aware of the creeping shadow of death, it surely won’t surprise you to learn that I practice constant vigilance. If I’ve learned anything from all of these thrillers and mystery novels I’ve been reading, it’s that most people are psychopaths, and you probably won’t find out until it’s too late.

As a young(ish) lady of a naturally anxious disposition, it’s been reassuring to have what I strongly supposed backed up so consistently. I have the pessimist’s pleasure of being proved right.

IT COULD HAVE BEEN YOU NEXT TIME IT MIGHT BE KILL ME AGAIN *sorry*

Unfortunately for the heroines of what I like to call Lady Mysteries(TM), they do not share my sense of constant vigilance. In Kill Me Again, in spite of her career as a defence lawyer, and therefore regular contact with serial killers, Maggie Taylor is not of an anxious disposition, nor does she mistrust all people. Indeed, she believes she lives a pretty idyllic life, until her husband disappears.

When your life is a lie, who can you trust? 
When Maggie Taylor accepts a new job in Manchester, she is sure it is the right move for her family. The children have settled well although her husband, Duncan, doesn’t appear to be so convinced.
But nothing prepares her for the shock of coming home from work one night to find that Duncan has disappeared, leaving their young children alone. His phone is dead, and she has no idea where he has gone, or why. And then she discovers she’s not the only one looking for him.

When a woman who looks just like Maggie is brutally murdered and DCI Tom Douglas is brought in to investigate, Maggie realises how little she knows about Duncan’s past. Is he the man she loves? Who is he running from?

She doesn’t have long to decide whether to trust him or betray him. Because one thing has been made clear to Maggie – another woman will die soon, and it might be her.

It’s an odd thing, the idea that you can be married to someone for ten years, think yourself blissfully in love, and then find out that you didn’t know them at all.  On the one hand, how could anyone possibly be so stupid? But on the other hand, I regularly find out things I didn’t know about friends or co workers who I’ve known for years, and they weren’t things they were trying to keep secret. I’ve been in close relationships with people who have manipulated and lied to me for years without my knowledge. It happens.

When Maggie begins to unravel her husband’s lies, she struggles to cope with the idea that she’s married to a stranger. Yet the important part of Maggie’s story is less about what she did not know, and more about the choices she makes when she does find out the truth. She’s torn between Duncan’s betrayal of her, and the idea of betraying the man she loves to the police.

As the story evolved and more and more was revealed, I was drawn in to the point where I couldn’t put it down. It’s tense – I read the last 20% with my hand over my mouth and in a mad rush.

I’ve been thinking about this book from a feminist aspect, too. The women in this are almost all victims in the hands of men. They’re lied to, murdered, tortured, threatened. That seems to be the way in these things, doesn’t it? Serial killers usually are men, after all, and historically, women are the victims. Perhaps that’s why I always look out for books which tend the other way – it is fiction after all. I’d love any recommendations, are there any thrillers you’ve enjoyed with female serial killers?

All the men in Kill Me Again are awful in some way or another, apart from DCI Tom Douglas, the chiselled hero and Maggie’s son Josh, who is a small child. I honestly don’t think it would pass the Bechdel test, but that isn’t to say that all of the women are weak, in spite of being victims. I enjoyed the women in this, and that is because of Maggie’s actions towards the end. It was a great twist and I’d definitely read a Maggie-centred sequel, which there would be room for. In lieu of that, I’d definitely pick up another Rachel Abbott book.

Give Kill Me Again a try here, and let me know what you think!

If you like psychopaths (or reading about them, at any rate), and you haven’t yet read Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test, then I can’t recommend it more highly. And if my word isn’t good enough, perhaps Louis Tomlinson will sway you.

About The Author

Review: About The Author – John Colapinto

To start with a gross generalisation, there’s little more interesting to writers than writers, and the most interesting writer to any writer is themselves. We marvel at our own artistic process, the way we can torture ourselves and hate ourselves and bleed into the page, and create unreadable rubbish and then – on magical moments – emerge with words of true genius. Words we may not even remember writing, but which speak to humanity with truth and ageless wisdom.

It’s the allure of the artist, the god creator, world builder, and purveyor of lies and truth in equal measure. And we write about ourselves, and then lie about it.

Experience colours what you write, and I am written into every line of sin and murder in my own books by dint only of having written them, (not, I hasten to add, due to having done any of that stuff). Perhaps that’s because I’m a ham writer, but perhaps it’s just the nature of being human. We can never fully dissociate from ourselves.

Enter About The Author, a Hitchcockian thriller about precisely that – the separation of the story and the writer.

Cal Cunningham lives a debauched life filled with hollow love affairs, only so at some point he can write the next great American novel about it all.

He doesn’t write a word for years.

Unbeknownst to him, his quiet flatmate Stewart harbours his own dream to be a writer, and has written a novel based on stories Cal has told him, even using Cal’s title – Almost Like Suicide.

Following a freak accident which claims Stewart’s life, Cal feels no qualms about stealing the manuscript and passing it off as his own – he is the protagonist, after all! It’s based on his own past, his own words are quoted. Never mind that Stewart’s skilled prose far exceeds anything Cal could hope to have matched.

What follows is a tense path to fame and riches, followed by increasingly desperate actions on Cal’s part to try and prevent his fall from grace.

Let’s not beat around the bush – Cal’s an asshole. An unmitigated asshole. He is selfish and self-obsessed, and the bruising of his ego at the discovery of Stewart’s hidden talents is the catalyst for the hot mess of Cal’s ascent to the glory he thinks he deserves, but has yet to earn.

But Stewart, the poor, wronged genius taken too soon, is also an asshole, and so too are most of the people in the book. Yet in spite of all this assholery, I found myself warming to Cal. I wanted him to succeed because by the end, boy did he work for that success. As to whether or not he gets it, I’ll leave to you to find out.

About The Author is a masterclass of rising tension, and a pleasantly uncomfortable read.

See if you agree here, and I’d love to know what you think!

Coming Home, a Mystery of Lies and Ladies

Review: Coming Home – Annabel Kantaria

Some books just grab you. I spent about a week dipping in and out of a not-particularly-interesting book that I was glad to finish, then started Coming Home. I wanted something exciting, something a bit dark, and this seemed to fit the bill.

Coming Home by Annabel Kantaria

Hey, if Judy Finnigan loved it…

Boy, did it ever.

Evie, 28, has lived in Dubai for 5 years. She left London to escape from the shadow of her brother’s death, and the demands of her unstable mother. She’s had the time of her life, finally free from the emotional shackles of her family and able to become her own person at last.

Then her father dies.

Evie returns home to face not only her father’s death, but also the mother she left behind.

Struggling to cope with a grief she isn’t able to express, Evie begins to uncover her father’s secrets. These are revealed in tandem with flashbacks of therapy sessions Evie had as a child following the sudden death of her brother. Every page seems to bring new questions, and what would be a main plot twist in another book is just another layer in this one.

Who did her father transfer enormous sums of money to, just before his death?

Where did her father really go during the week when he said he was away working?

Why did Evie’s father not tell her about the cancer which had got so bad, so quickly?

Why doesn’t Evie’s mother speak to her brother?

And most importantly of all, how much did her mother already know?

I got a real sense of the confusion felt by Evie as she discovered hidden truths and faced memories she’d deliberately buried. Having spent her life trying to help her parents at the expense of her own grief, Evie’s shock and confusion at being lied to is palpable. In a world which places so much emphasis on the sanctity and perfection of a mother’s love, I am always interested in stories regarding the significant absence or abuse of that love.

It’s an emotionally complex book, and I welled up several times while reading – and I had to read it all in one sitting. We lost someone a few months ago, and the grief in this book rang so true, it brought back everything I’d felt during that awful period. It was a difficult read, but a worthwhile one.

The numbness of grief coupled with having to grapple with what, at the best of times, would be overwhelmingly difficult truths, are sensitively and honestly brought to life by Kantaria’s delicately woven prose.

I couldn’t put this book down and raced to the conclusion, only to find myself left with a moral dilemma. The question of all questions – how far would you go to protect your family? I know which path I’d have chosen. Why don’t you find out what you’d do?

The best mystery I’ve read in a long time, and one I recommend highly. Read it now, so I can talk to you about it!

And if you like it, you may also enjoy The Disappearance – another mystery of lies and ladies by the same author.

The Butterfly Garden – Review

Review: The Butterfly Garden – Dot Hutchinson

Hey, look at me! I’m reviewing a book that isn’t even out yet! And it was freakin’ weird.

Don’t be fooled – this book will rip your insides out and make you look at them.

Due to my complete lack of status and/or blog visitors, I don’t get sent ARCs for review, but happily Amazon has given me the opportunity (due to our paying them for Prime Membership) to purchase from a small selection of books ahead of their release.

This month, I chose The Butterfly Garden, because… it sounded both the most interesting and the most weird. And weird it certainly was. Have I mentioned that it was weird? Think Sucker Punch, and you’re in the right area. Less… pornographic, but kind of similar? Weird.

Maya lived in the garden with the other butterflies, under the care of The Gardener. Yet in spite of the wings etched into their backs, these are girls, all under 21 and all snatched from the real world and held captive in a beautiful but terrible harem. Now the garden is no more, and Maya is avoiding questions from the FBI. Why won’t she talk, and what is she hiding? Over the course of a long interview, Maya slowly reveals the terrible truths about what went on in the garden, and how the walls came tumbling down.

I read this in one sitting, both out of intention and need. Each page revealed something more terrible, more enthralling, and I could not have put it down had I wanted to. Maya is tough to get to know, and her narration reveals her as guarded and tentative, hiding her heart and refusing to feel. Yet I could not help but warm to her, and admire her courage as her story comes to light.

There’s not much to say without giving away the story, and part of the horrific joy of this book is the slow reveal, discovering new layers of horror at the turn of each page.

The Butterfly Garden also raises the question of how complicit we are when we do nothing. If we see a crime and ignore it, are we as guilty as those who  perpetrate that crime? In life this is generally not so bad as pretending your father doesn’t have an illegal harem, but hey, a lesson is a lesson.

I know this book will stay with me for a very long time, and Maya a strong female lead who I admired greatly. The Butterfly Garden was unlike any book I have ever read, and while it makes for an uncomfortable read, I highly recommend it.

The Butterfly Garden will be available on June 1st.

For the Love of Art

Review: The Improbability of Love, by Hannah Rothschild

I like books with paintings in. Every book I’ve written to date features at least one artist, and some of my favourite books centre around either particular paintings or the art world. There’s Jilly Cooper’s Pandora, A. S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book and now, Hannah Rothschild’s The Improbability of Love.

This week has been very painting-y.

I left university (having studied Illustration) entirely disillusioned and determined never to pick up a pencil again. I hated everything I had created, and had lost all sense of pride in my work. I want to say something extremely bitter here about the quality of teaching I received, but frankly, if you choose a university based only on how close it is to your home and nothing else, you’ve only got yourself to blame.

As the years have gone by I’ve dabbled here and there, but I had forgotten how it used to be. I had lost all the joy in creating.

Then, quite by chance, two events collided. I started to read The Improbability of Love, and I saw my old artwork for the first time in 10 years. I realised just how much I had lost. Looking through my portfolio from AS Level to the end of Uni, I saw how the pleasure had gone out of creating and how my education, rather than pulling me forward, had pushed me back to a level of such deep insecurity that I was unable to paint. I will say one thing for my art education – it’s taught me how to be extremely critical.

The Improbability of Love reminded me of a feeling I had completely forgotten – of being entirely captivated by a painting. Of having the process of creating something with your hands be the first and last thing in your mind. Of being all-consumed.

Why yes, I did get my copy from Waterstones, and yes, I did also get another book for half price. Why do you ask?

Why yes, I did get my copy from Waterstones, and yes, I did also get another book for half price. Why do you ask?

The story centres around one painting, The Improbability of Love, and chronicles the effect that art can have on the lives of those it touches. From the just-not-bothered to the obsessed, from those who want to bask in reflected glory to those who feel a deep attachment, Rothschild skilfully answers the question of what makes art, art, and what makes one picture more valuable than another.

Rothschild presents a broad cast of characters, from exiled Russian billionaires to struggling tour-guides, through the impoverished British aristocracy and dusty scholars. She opens up a world of sleaze, intrigue and high integrity. She contrasts the life of the artist, both idealised and not, and the gravitational pull that mysterious world has on those who surround themselves in it. There is a great deal of difference between Damien Hirst (who incidentally dropped out of one of the Higher Education courses I completed) and Watteau, painter of the story’s central masterpiece. There is a greater distance still between the work of those who create and those who deal in high art, and Rothschild illustrates this perfectly.

For me the real beauty of The Improbability of Love is that it makes me want to go to museums and galleries. It makes my hands stretch out to paint, it reminds me of the way I used to look at things with the idea of getting them down on paper. Coupled with my recently awakened memories of just how long I used to spend painting and drawing, and what pleasure there was to be found in it, the aching chasm where art used to be feels like it’s been reopened. My skill is rusty, but it’s still there.

In the spirit of this I’ve decided to draw a picture a day for all of May. The one caveat is that it has to be created using something indelible. Nothing makes you look at what you are drawing so closely as the knowledge that the line you are putting down is unalterable. If you’d like to check out my progress (and keep me accountable!) I’ve been posting the drawings here on Instagram.

Have you read The Improbability of LoveI’d love to hear what you thought!

Death at the Priory

Review: Death at the Priory – Love, Sex and Murder in Victorian England – by James Ruddick

A few weeks ago I was speaking to a friend, and she said an approximation of the following:

“We woman all say we want equality, but really we want to go back to being married off and put on a pedestal by our husbands.”

The romanticism of arranged marriages in history is what inspired me to write An Unnatural Daughter – one of my first forays into having my heroines murder people. Historically, marriage hasn’t been all that great for ladies. They gained protection, yes, but at what cost?

There were, however, things they could do to get by – things that they did to help themselves when the demands on their bodies became too great.

This is where Death at the Priory comes in – an investigation into one of  Victorian England’s most famous unsolved murders.

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I bought it for the juicy murder, but came away with a deeper understanding of how women of a certain class coped with difficult marriagesIt introduces us to Florence Bravo, a woman ahead of her time. Educated, wealthy, vivacious and beautiful, she had a loving and supportive family and everything going for her. But that support stopped when, having married a man who turned out to be a violent alcoholic, she asked her parents for help leaving him. I shan’t go into too much detail, but on the advent of her second marriage, Florence realized she’d made the same mistake again.

The first half of the book introduces us to the victim and suspects, and paints an intriguing picture of the lead up to the long and agonising death of Florence’s second husband, Charles Bravo, who was poisoned by an unknown hand. The second half follows Ruddick as he sifts through the available evidence before reaching his verdict on what really happened.

Ruddick’s investigations and conclusions occasionally take great leaps of faith, but nonetheless I raced through the book, eager to find out whodunnit according to his theories.

What really got me though, was the revelation that women of the higher classes were known to drug their husbands’ alcohol, when said husband habitually drank too much and became violent with it. The drug, antimony, was highly poisonous, but when used very sparingly it induced sickness or a deep sleep. This wasn’t something I had ever considered before, but as I read it I found myself thinking, but of course they did.

Ruddick also posited and then dismissed the idea that women did the same to control how often their husbands were able to share their beds. I wasn’t able to dismiss the idea so quickly as he did – to me it seems perfectly logical that in an age where death in childbirth was common and the miscarriage rate was high, women in such marriages would use any means at their disposal to save their health. Why would you drug your husband to stop him beating you, but still allow him open access to intimacy when another pregnancy might kill you?

From then on I found myself questioning all of his conclusions. Perhaps I’m blinded by my own agenda, much as I feel Ruddick was blinded by his. Nonetheless, though, an interesting read, and a fascinating window into the life of a very unhappy woman, and a timely reminder of the position of women in Victorian society.

Come to your own conclusions and try the book here.

Moody Review Round-Up

In the strictest sense of the word, I don’t really do reviews. I don’t like to. I feel drastically under-qualified, and as an author myself, massively hypocritical when judging other people. This is why, as you might have noticed, I only ever publish good reviews on here. If I don’t like something, then I won’t write about it.

Perhaps that’s wrong – there’s certainly value to be found in critical evaluation. But in a blog full of death it’s nice to have some positivity, and to bastardise Lesley Gore, it’s my murder blog, I’ll be nice if I want to.

With this in mind, I thought I’d do a brief recommendations round-up of books I have read and loved, long before this blog was a dark shadow on the very edge of your peripheral vision.

A lot of these are books which have been out a good long time, and pulled me deeper into the abyss of murder mysteries and sharpened my interest in psychology. When I’ve not read a book for a long time what I tend to remember about it is mood, and these books are dark, psychological, and moving. Oddly enough, three of these books live together on the same shelf on my bookcase.

The Pleasures of Men – Kate Williams

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A young woman who feels a connection to the victims of a serial killer searches for the key to uncovering his identity.

I started reading this in bed, late at night and quickly had to stop. I saved it instead for periods of bright sunlight because I am a giant wuss, and this is absolutely chilling. Like reading someone’s nightmare.

The Drowning People – Richard Mason

Proof (if proof were needed) that these are my badly cropped scans. £2.00! Bargain!

Proof (if proof were needed) that these are my badly cropped scans. £2.00! Bargain!

Reflections in the aftermath of a murder.

Discovered in a charity shop and couldn’t live without. Beautiful, bewitching and painful in equal measure. Foolish young things in love refusing to think of the consequences of their actions. One of those books which has stuck with me, and that regularly comes to mind.

True Things About Me – Deborah Kaye Davies

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A woman drawn into a destructive and addictive relationship struggles to find a way out.

I  kept it on my shelves for a while, then when I was feeling at my lowest ebb I ran a bath, poured myself some vodka, and read it in one sitting. When I was done I cried into the cold water, and the next day I began to sort myself out. There are books which change your life, and this irrevocably altered mine.

The Observations – Jane Harris

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A maid with a past she’d rather keep hidden is asked to carry out increasingly odd tasks by her new mistress, and encouraged to keep a diary of her most intimate thoughts.

My first foray into claustrophobic historical mysteries, and the first time I read “fuck” in a book, if I remember rightly. Unusual as well in that it’s a first person account told by a highly literate maid. Amusing and frightening by turns.

 

There are many more, of course, and I’ll likely do a couple more round-ups over the next few months. Have you read any of these? What did you think? What would you add to the list?

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