Into the Water – Paula Hawkins

Into the WaterThe story: The drowning pool in Beckford has claimed many lives over the centuries. Originally the chosen place to drown witches, it’s now a notorious suicide spot. Most recently, Nel Abbott either jumped, fell or was pushed to her death, depending on who you believe. Nel’s daughter Lena’s best friend, Katie, walked into the pool with pockets full of rocks months earlier. And 30 years before that, Lauren Townsend threw herself from the cliff. It soon becomes clear that all of these deaths are connected in more ways than one, and that the people in Beckford are hiding many secrets that they don’t want brought to light.

My thoughts: There are a large number of narrators in this book (around 11 in total) which I initially found confusing. After a while though, I’d managed to get everyone straight in my head and didn’t find this to be too much of a problem in terms of following the story.

As each section is written in the first person, we spend a lot of time in people’s heads hearing their inner monologues. Each of these narrators is also biased to their own point of view and influenced by their own experiences and beliefs. Many of the things they think are true are distorted by false memories, heightened emotions or a misinterpretation of the facts. This creates an atmosphere where we as readers are never quite sure of the facts. Nothing we find out is solid, and truths seem to fall away like an eroding river bed as things are slowly revealed.

While in general I quite liked the descriptive writing style, having so many narrators did mean that we often heard the same events from several points of view, with a new perspective to throw things into a different light. This got a bit repetitive at times. In my opinion losing a few of these characters – Nickie, the psychic, or Josh, Katie’s younger brother, for example – wouldn’t have taken anything away from the overall plot, and we could have easily kept up to date on their stories through their interactions with others.

The character I cared the most about was Lena. She makes some questionable decisions and often lies, but she’s fifteen and grieving. She’s allowed to make mistakes and her motivations are understandable. She’s struggling under the weight of a huge secret, and she doesn’t know how to fix the mistakes that have been made in the past. I really felt for her and wanted her life to take a turn for the better.

The pace of Into the Water is definitely slower than Paula Hawkin’s first novel, The Girl on the Train, and as a result the twists and reveals felt like they had less impact, and I also had a good idea of what the final twist might be. I also wasn’t keen on a particular subplot that delves into the supernatural – it wasn’t needed in my opinion. While I did enjoy Into the Water, it didn’t keep me gripped as much as others in this genre have recently.

 

Buy it here: Amazon UK

I’m Travelling Alone – Samuel Bjork

I'm travelling aloneThe story: The body of a young girl is found, with the number 1 etched into her fingernail and a sign around her neck that reads ‘I’m travelling alone’. Baffled, the police turn to detective duo Holger Munch and Mia Kruger to stop the killer before any more girls are murdered. As the case progresses, things turn more personal, and with no solid leads, it soon becomes clear that more people will suffer before the perpetrator can be stopped.

My thoughts: Holger Munch and Mia Kruger are the archetypal troubled detectives, a version of which you can find in many other books in the genre, and they each come with their own set of personal issues and past mistakes to overcome over the course of the case.

Despite being slightly cliched, I thought Mia in particular was a really interesting character. We first meet her as a suicidal drug addict, and when she’s pulled into the case she struggles to cope. She’s clearly gone through a major trauma and is finding it difficult to reconnect to the person she once was. This not only affects her relationships with her team and superiors, it also affects the way that she works and her natural ability to read people and situations.

Mia’s personal story and recovery is interwoven with the main case, but in my opinion takes up too much page space. The same goes with the other key characters that we meet. I’d have preferred more of an emphasis on plot and less on backstory, especially as this is clearly intended to be the first in a series, so we have plenty of time to get to know the characters.

While the story was a little bit long winded in points and could have done with more focus, there were plenty of twists and turns and it kept me interested. The plot was complex and there are a few big red herrings. This helps to give a rich picture of events and police procedure, although some of the storylines did feel a little far-fetched.

Overall, I think there’s better Scandinavian crime fiction out there (Lars Kelper’s Joona Linna series is great). However, I did enjoy it and will be continuing with the series.

Let the Dead Speak – Jane Casey

Let the dead speakThe story:
When eighteen year old Chloe Emery returns to her house to find it covered in blood and her mother missing, and DS Maeve Kerrigan and the murder investigation squad are called to investigate. While investigating the various shady neighbours living on the street, all of whom seem to be hiding something, they uncover a complicated web of lies, deceit and deeply buried secrets.

My thoughts:
If you’ve read the previous books in the series, you’ll already be familiar with the main players. As always, the investigation, processes and team dynamics were totally believable. Maeve’s own relationship with Derwent and the rest of the team has also evolved from the earlier books in the series. She’s now a Detective Sergeant and an integral member of the team with a junior to manage. Continue reading

‘A Lovely Way to Burn’ by Louise Welsh

A Lovely Way to BurnAny regular readers of my blog will know that I have a thing for dystopian fiction. I also love a good crime novel. Louise Welsh’s new novel, ‘A Lovely Way to Burn’, is a mash up of these two genres and so was always going to be hit in my book.

Stevie Flint is horrified when she discovers the dead body of her boyfriend, Simon. But having reported it to the police, she’s immediately struck down by a debilitating flu-like illness. When she recovers, she emerges to find that people across the country are being struck down by a mysterious, and in most cases fatal, sickness known as the ‘sweats’. It soon becomes clear that people are dying in droves – and there’s nothing that the doctors can do.

Despite everything that’s going on, Stevie is determined to find out what happened to Simon – and when she finds a package addressed to her hidden in Simon’s flat, she is convinced there’s more to the story. Continue reading

‘Camille’ by Pierre Lemaitre

CamilleThis is the third novel in a series from Pierre Lemaitre focussing on Camille Verhoeven, a detective with the French police, of which I’ve only read one – ‘Alex’.

When Camille’s lover, Anne, is caught up in what seems to be a jewellery store robbery gone wrong and left with horrific injuries, he immediately breaks all the rules to take on the case. But what seems to have seen a simple robbery soon takes a more serious turn, as the perpetrator sets out to remove all witnesses who could tie him to the crime – including Ann.

As he attempts to keep Anne safe, Camille’s attempts to hide his involvement with her from his colleagues grow more and more frantic. He comes under increasing scrutiny from his team and his senior officers, threatening to derail his career and destroy his friendships. Despite this, he preserves on regardless, throwing caution to the wind as he grows more and more desperate. Continue reading

Jane Casey’s ‘After the Fire’

After the fireA fire rips through the top two floors of a tower block, leaving three people dead. One of the dead happens to be the controversial right-wing MP Geoff Armstrong – one who has no business being in those flat that night, so far from home. Of those who made it out before the blaze took hold, a young boy is separated from his mother, an illegal prostitute flees the scene with nothing but the clothes on her back and a child from one of the block’s more dubious families suffers horrific burns.

To make things worse, it soon becomes clear that the fire is arson and Geoff Armstrong may not have jumped to his death to avoid the flames – he may have been murdered. With such a high profile death, the force are under increasing scrutiny and pressure to get to the bottom of the situation as fast as possible. But with any number of motives, potential suspects and possible intended victims, narrowing down the search is an enormous ask. Continue reading

Kathy Reichs’ ‘Bones Never Lie’

Bones never lieThe latest installment in Kathy Reichs’ long running crime series featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan, ‘Bones Never Lie’, continues in the vein of her previous novels – fast paced, full of twists and turns and a great main character that readers can relate to.

When young girls start showing up dead in circumstances that are strikingly similar to one of Tempe’s old cases, she is forced to face her demons as she, along with her team, try to catch ‘the one that got away’.

This ‘one that got away’ is a sadistic killer with every reason to hold a grudge against Tempe. But is the same person behind this latest spate of killings? With little evidence to go on, Tempe goes back over every detail of her old files, hoping to find the one thing that will break the case. But it’s not long before things get personal – and Tempe has to fight tooth and nail to stop the culprit before it’s too late.

Continue reading