The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley – Hannah Tinti

The Twelve Lives of Samuel HawleyThe story: Loo has spent her life travelling the country with her father, never staying in one place for too long and always ready to pack up and go at a moment’s notice. Samuel Hawley, her father, has a dangerous past – one that’s written across his body in scars. When they attempt to settle down in the hometown of Loo’s mother, resistance from the local community causes problems for them both. As Loo grows up and struggles to fit in and become her own person, she also has to reconcile her idealistic childhood views of her father with the man that he used to be, and the man that he’s become.

My views: I really enjoyed this book. The format – which is made up of stories of Samuel’s past and how he came to get each of his twelve bullet scars, interspersed with the story of Loo’s present as she attempts to deal with bullying, boys and an absent mother – worked really well and kept me gripped.

Samuel is unapologetic about his past. He knows that he’s made some bad decisions and chosen a dubious path on numerous occasions, with repercussions that have affected not just himself but also his daughter. He may not have been the model father, but he’s fiercely protective of Loo, and has turned his life around to raise her as best he can. As she grows up and starts to question him, he’s forced to deal with the fact that she’s no longer a child but a young woman capable of making her own decisions and her own mistakes. Continue reading

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

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.

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‘The Museum of things Left Behind’ by Seni Glaister

Museum of Things Left Behind‘The Museum of Things Left Behind’ is set in the entirely fictional country of Vallerosa, which is supposed to sit somewhere in the middle of Switzerland, Italy and Austria.

Lizzie, a British student, arrives in Vallerosa aiming to widen her horizons, intending to give to those judged less fortunate than herself by helping out in a hospital, orphanage or similar institution. What she finds is very different.

Run by an elected dictator, who inherited the job from his father, Vallerosa’s government seems entirely hung up mindless bureaucracy – a committee to decide the name of a committee or a meeting with the under-secretary to arrange a meeting with the Secretary.

Positions of power are inherited, women are scarce and the President himself is consumed by self-doubt. The country is neatly divided into those in government and those that are more working class – and the two groups really mix socially. But at the same time, everyone is educated, employed, healthy and generally happy.

Lizzie is initially at a loss as to what to do with her time. But she quickly learns that she can give seething back to this country, albeit not at all in the way she’d planned. Confusion over her identity pushes her straight into the heart of government, giving her a unique opportunity to see life from the viewpoint of the countries many dedicated officials. At the same time, she goes out of her way to speak to ordinary people. Initially, she sets out to find a way to fix the town clock, and in doing so, she may have the opportunity to bring the country even closer together.

At the same time, Vallerosa might also be able to give her something that she didn’t have before – a new sense of self-awareness and an appreciation for a simpler, more honest way of life. Continue reading

‘The Stranger You Know’ by Jane Casey

The Stranger You KnowDetective Maeve Kerrigan has a strained relationship with her boss – the chauvinistic, obnoxious, but occasionally charming DCI Josh Derwent. But when a recent spate of murders in London starts throwing up parallels to the murder of Dewent’s girlfriend twenty years earlier, it soon becomes clear that her superiors suspect that he might have a darker side.

Despite being under strict instructions not to talk to Derwent about the details of their current investigation, Maeve finds herself increasingly torn between following orders and allowing Derwent to help her in her attempts to find out what really happened to his girlfriend all those years ago.

Although Maeve doesn’t believe Derwent capable of killing, the cases throw up more and more disturbing similarities. As more bodies are discovered, and the cold case brings old feelings to the surface, Maeve becomes increasingly unsure if she really knows her colleague at all. Continue reading

‘Ghost Moth’ by Michele Forbes

ghost mothSet in Belfast, Ghost Moth follows the lives of Katherine and George against a backdrop of considerable social unrest and religious tension.

In 1949, Katherine is young, vivacious and discovering all of the new opportunities that life has to offer. She’s also torn between two men – George, her fiancé, who is steady, loyal and dependable, and Tom, who offers fire, passion and unpredictability. As months go by, Katherine has to make a choice that will have far-reaching consequences, indelibly marking all involved.

In 1969, Katherine and George are married with four young children. Her life is dominated by looking after others and she’s still scarred by events that happened twenty years earlier. Her relationship with her husband is strained, and hides long suppressed feelings on anger, guilt and desire that threaten to destroy their marriage and the carefully constructed life they’ve built together. Continue reading

‘The Ties that Bind’ by Erin Kelly

The Ties that BindFleeing a bad relationship, struggling true crime journalist Luke runs to Brighton. Soon, he unwittingly stumbles across a story that has the potential to completely turn his career around. Joss Grand, now an upstanding business man and property owner, was once an infamous racketeer who ruled Brighton with an iron fist.

As he delves further into Grand’s murky past, and into the unsolved murder of his right hand man in the 1960’s, Luke soon finds himself increasingly over his head. His attempts to find the perfect story have stirred up old secrets that some people would prefer to leave buried. Someone is watching his every move, and it’s impossible to know who to trust. But by the time that Luke finds out just how high the stakes are, it’s too late.

There’s no doubt that Erin Kelly has a talent for writing skilful, well-structured mysteries, and this is no exception. It starts off quite slowly but then all of a sudden it picks up the pace and throws in a few curveballs to keep you guessing. The suspense gradually builds as the novel progresses and the twist at the end

My main problem with this book was that Luke wasn’t the most likeable main character. It was incredibly frustrating to watch his relationship with Jem develop. He then spends most of the book distrusting and ignoring his friends, whinging in self-pity when anything goes wrong and being wilfully stupid whenever the opportunity arises. Continue reading