She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge / Blog Tour

She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge

 

40232703Publisher: Michael Joseph

Publishing Date: 21st March 2019

Series: DCI Jonah Sheens #1

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 10.01.20)

 

Synopsis:

Get ready for the biggest crime debut of 2019…

Six friends. One killer. Who do you trust?

“A dark, deep, terrific thriller and a scorching portrait of friendship and its betrayal” Nicci French

On a hot July night in 1983, six school friends go camping in the forest. Bright and brilliant, they are destined for great things, and young Aurora Jackson is dazzled to be allowed to tag along.

Thirty years later, a body is discovered. DCI Sheens is called to the scene, but he already knows what’s waiting for him: Aurora Jackson, found at long last.

But that’s not all. The friends have all maintained their innocence, but the body is found in a hideaway only the six of them knew about.

It seems the killer has always lurked very close to home…

Rating: four-stars

 

“She Lies in Wait” has a brilliant synopsis. In July 1983, six teenagers go camping in the woods, but only 5 come back. The 14 – year – old Aurora is missing – her sleeping bag is empty and cold. What has happened? Where has she gone? Who last saw her? Is she alive?
Thirty years later, remains are found in the same wood. Soon it’s confirmed that it’s Aurora Jackson. DCI Sheens and his murder squad re – open the case and start investigation. It soon becomes clear that all members of the group that went camping are hiding truth and that there was much more happening as they first told. Was one of them the killer? Or was there someone else involved?

The story is told in alternating time – lines and the events take place on 23rd July 1983 – it’s my birthday. We slowly experience what happened during the camping trip and 30 years later, with the investigation being open again after the remains of Aurora have been found, watching Jonah and his team investigating. And it was not an easy task, what with the disappearance happening so many years earlier. The past tells us what has happened on this day and introduces us more to Aurora’s character – a very compelling one.

I know that some of the bloggers say that they knew almost immediately what the mystery is but I, well, I didn’t know. Yes, that’s me, the worst and slowest logical thinker in the world, I think I wouldn’t make a great inspector. Honestly, till the very end, when the reveal came and face palmed me I didn’t know who it was – and it’s great, really, that the book kept me in darkness for so long.

I liked this book, really liked, but I wanted it to engage me more, as I’ve never felt a part of this story, and I also couldn’t connect with the characters. Actually, all the time one of the friends was mentioned I wasn’t sure who it was and to whom they belonged – especially the male characters, those two that their names began with “B”, I really didn’t know which one of them is the athlete and who’s the politician. And then a Daniel? Was he one of the “Bs”? I am really not sure what has happened here, why I had those problems, can’t explain them – it’s probably one of the things. And I also missed the tension a bit – the book was not as dark and full of surprising twists as I’d hoped it could be – on the other hand, now I’m writing this, it didn’t have to be tense and dark, so everything is okay here. But the writing was very good, the writing style is the one that immediately draws you in and makes you intrigued, it was flowing and seamless, and I was glued to the pages, so that’s a good sign, right?

The characters seemed unengaged, not interested in what has happened with Aurora, and maybe because of the relatively huge number of them we weren’t given the opportunity to really get to know them, deep, and to find their motives. It looks like each person is protecting the other, not telling truth, trying to hide things and forgetting that it’s about murder. On the other hand, DCI Sheens and his squad were interesting characters, and I really liked their work ethics. They also perfectly complemented each other.

“She Lies in Wait” was a slow burner, a methodical and well build and plotted book. It was thoroughly planned and I had a feeling that every detail in this story was very well considered and that nothing unnecessary wasn’t put into this stale. You shan’t expect many “wow” – moments in this story but on the other hand the way it was written, its slow tempo, the hard core police procedures was addictive and I simply enjoyed it very much. It is a clever, multi – layered book and I desperately wanted to uncover every single layer, heck, it doesn’t happen often guys but I wanted to have a look at the last page to see whodunit – I resisted, of course, but the more thrilling it was to discover the truth. Recommended!

 

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The Scandal by Mari Hannah / Blog Tour

The Scandal by Mari Hannah

 

43881946Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 7th March 2019

Series: Stone & Oliver Book #3

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 432

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

When a young man is found stabbed to death in a side street in Newcastle city centre in the run up to Christmas, it looks like a botched robbery to DCI David Stone. But when DS Frankie Oliver arrives at the crime scene, she gets more than she bargained for.

She IDs the victim as Herald court reporter, thirty-two-year old Chris Adams she’s known since they were kids. With no eyewitnesses, the MIT are stumped. They discover that when Adams went out, never to return, he was working on a scoop that would make his name. But what was the story he was investigating? And who was trying to cover it up?

As detectives battle to solve the case, they uncover a link to a missing woman that turns the investigation on its head. The exposé has put more than Adams’ life in danger. And it’s not over yet.

Rating: four-stars

 

Frankie Oliver is called to a murder scene. After arriving, she’s horrified, as she recognizes the victim – it’s her childhood friend Chris Adams. He’s a journalist, now stabbed to death, and while his death initially looks like a robbery gone wrong, further investigation implies that he was working on a big story. Frankie and David Stone start to suspect that there is much more to this case.

“The Scandal” by Mari Hannah is the third book in the Stone and Oliver series, however it can be read as a stand – alone. I haven’t read the previous books before – and I’m going to catch up with them as soon as possible, this is the greatest thing in being a book blogger I think, all the time discovering new authors/books/series and knowing that you’re for a great read.

The novel is told mostly from Frankie Oliver’s point of view and I immediately warmed to her. She has a great personality and a distinctive voice and she’s the right person in the right place, her passion to her job is palpable. Her relationship with David Stone works really well, I liked their banter and their verbal battles and the fact they weren’t afraid to say what they think.

Mostly the books are over – described. I mean, every single detail is meticulously described, all the feelings and emotions are turned upside down, there is no room for the reader’s imagination. “The Scandal” was, however, different – it was very dialogue – driven, the characters talked and talked and talked, and I absolutely loved this variation. It made the book dynamic, quick and there were enough information in those dialogues. Also, it doesn’t mean that there weren’t enough details, because Mari Hannah’s attention to them is absolutely excellent, only she doesn’t overwhelm us with miniscule descriptions. They are vivid enough, they contain enough information but there is also space left for the reader. I totally loved the way she has explained all the police procedures, their meetings etc – it felt like watching a film, the banter between the characters, being able to follow their way of thinking, seeing how they’re working. This story wis fast – paced and often it goes towards things that I would never expect, full of twists and turns. It gradually starts to make links between the murdered journalist and the missing woman and from that moment on the book gains ever more pace, and I adored the fact that it was simply unpredictable in which way it’s going to take us. There came a moment that I stopped guessing and let the author take me on a journey and waited relaxed for all the puzzle pieces to fell into their places.

The author touches upon many issues in this story. She provides a fresh, different perspective at those that were forced into homelessness and at the abuse of the elder members of the society. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, but probably my most favourite parts were the police procedural – they were simply so vivid that I had a feeling I’m a witness to all of those procedures.
Mari Hannah can so well capture all the feelings and emotions of her characters. The terror, fright, despair and grief were brilliantly brought to the pages, and the tension was visible. Also, the investigation itself is so well written, we’re starting with nothing, with no witnesses, no point of reference and it slowly builds and builds, starting with a small snowball and ending with an avalanche. The plotting is tight and clever, there are no leaking places, it’s logical yet still full of surprises. I’ll be for sure recommending “The Scandal” and reading other Hannah’s books.

 

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The Scent of Death by Simon Beckett / Blog Tour

The Scent of Death by Simon Beckett

 

51lcobhgdwl._sx325_bo1204203200_Publisher: Bantam Press

Publishing Date: 18th April 2019

Series: David Hunter #6

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 368

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Thriller, Mystery

 Buy the Book:  Kindle (out now!) | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 31.10.2019)

 

Synopsis:

Forensic expert Dr David Hunter is enjoying an easy-going summer, pleased with both his stable, happy relationship and renewed status as a police consultant who is very much in demand. Even the threat of Grace Strachan – the woman who tried to murder Hunter after breaking into his flat – has been placed in the past.

But Hunter’s peace is disturbed once again when hereceives a call from an old associate, DCI Sharon Ward. A partially mummified corpse has been discovered at St Jude’s Hospital in North London. Awaiting demolition, the empty hospital’s only visitors arethose left behind by society – outcasts, addicts and dealers. Hunter’s forensic expertise concludes the body is of a pregnant young woman. But for how long she has been left is unknown.

‘When a floor of the hospital collapses, it revealsmany other darksecrets. A sealed-off chamber is discovered with beds still inside and some of them occupied. As the investigation unfolds, one thing is certain: St Jude’s hasn’t claimed its last victim.What starts as a straightforward case twists to become a nightmare that threatens Hunter and everyone around him.

Rating: four-stars

 

An empty St. Jude hospital is to be demolished but then a mummified body is found in its loft. Dr David Hunter is called to examine the remains. He can immediately ascertain that the corpse has spent longer time in the hospital. During the examination of the body, David’s colleague, Dr. Conrad, falls through the rotten ceiling and through this fall another room is discovered, with two more bodies. Here begins the investigation that is going to bring more surprises.

I honestly haven’t supposed that I’m going to enjoy this book so much – can I say “enjoy” about a book full of gory details, mummified corpses and descriptions of bones and what flies can do to a dead body? It sounds a bit extreme, yes, but still this word perfectly describes my feelings to this novel. I liked the fact that despite many medicinal details it was easy to follow, and that it was extremely fast paced story. There were many twists and turns but it all sat together perfectly and fitted together.

The story is told from David Hunter’s point of view and quickly I was immersed in his life and what was happening in it – and there was a lot happening, that’s for sure. Although, to be honest, it was probably more of this what was happening than David himself – I mean, his life and his job were much more exciting than David himself. He was not easily ruffled and he controlled himself butt he was perfectly likeable and realistic – as well as the other characters. They were all very well developed and I couldn’t help but feel invested in their lives as well. They felt authentic and Dr Hunter felt human and genuine.

The book was written in – despite the really heavy topic – such a light way that I immediately felt a part of it. The writing style was incredibly descriptive and the author didn’t leave much to the imagination but in that case it works wonders – those descriptions have made the book so thrilling and exciting to read, they details were so well described that you could easily see them in your head, and I absolutely enjoyed the descriptions of David’s job as a forensic anthropologist. Yes, sometimes I did have a feeling that I am on the crash course for the amateur forensics but everything happened at a good pace and it kept me gripped, and let’s be honest, all the details were truly fascinating, no? And I think we should appreciate the fact that the author has managed to bring closer to us the highly complicated details in such accessible and interesting way.

It was a real page – turner and while the final twist was not a surprise for me, the book kept me hooked. It was chilling and captivating and the author has well and easily captured the dark, chilled and tense atmosphere. Also the setting was chosen perfectly, the old hospital a place full of dark secrets and you could never be sure what more they’re going to find there – actually, I was hoping there won’t be anything more to find to be honest, I think I wasn’t ready for another body. I liked how complex and complicated the story was, and how slowly, piece after piece, all the puzzle elements were beginning to be right for each other and the whole picture started to emerge. Yes, it took a lot of time until we really get into the heart of the case but thanks to the writing style those were truly amusing pages.

Although it is already book number 6 in the series it can perfectly well be read as a stand – alone. There is enough retrospection to let us, the first readers, to understand that something happened in the past that has consequences in the present, so that this subplot was understandable and also clear why it was there in this story. “The Scent of Death” was altogether a very multi – layered and complex, intelligent read, mixing well developed characters, mystery and tension. The storyline was meticulously planned and it took time for all the elements to fell into place, it was not at all rushed or pushed forward, the author let the events happen at their own pace. Yes, I was hooked and yes, I am for sure going to read other books in this series. Recommended!

The research behind The Scent of Death

 Working as a freelance journalist in 2002, Simon Beckett visited the Body Farm in Knoxville, Tennessee for an article about crime scene training for US police officers. At the time, the research facility was the only place in the world to use human cadavers to investigate the process of human decomposition. Using real human bodies, the site aimed to give police officers the most visceral experience of what working with the dead was like. Both harrowed and marvelled by the experience, Simon was left feeling there was more than just a feature article in it.

Alongside the development of the tortured character of David Hunter,Simon began to write The Chemistry of Death, informed by his experience at Body Far in Knoxville.The novel went on to become translated into 29 languages and thus began the infamous Dr Hunter series. While Beckett’s experiences in journalism have contributed to the authenticity of his novels, Beckett also frequently speaks to both UK and US based forensic anthropologists to inform any forensic ambiguity he may have.

While authenticity is essential for Beckett,character and psychological motivations are also hugely important factors to his writing process.Beckett is a huge fan of Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe series and John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee books.Their flawed and complex characters were instrumental in contributing to the development of Dr David Hunter, rather than opting for the stereotypical heavy-drinking, maverick tough-guy as his main character.

www.simonbeckett.com

 

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The Mum Who Got Her Life Back by Fiona Gibson / Blog Tour

The Mum Who Got Her Life Back by Fiona Gibson

 

41841567Publisher: Avon

Publishing Date: 7th March 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

The laugh-out-loud Sunday Times bestseller is back and funnier than ever! Perfect for fans of WHY MUMMY DRINKS.

When her 18-year-old twins leave for university, single mum Nadia’s life changes in ways she never expected: her Glasgow flat feels suddenly huge, laundry doesn’t take up half her week, and she no longer has to buy ‘the Big Milk’. After almost two decades of putting everyone else first, Nadia is finally taking care of herself. And with a budding romance with new boyfriend Jack, She’s never felt more alive.

That is, until her son Alfie drops out of university, and Nadia finds her empty nest is empty no more. With a heartbroken teenager to contend with, Nadia has to ask herself: is it ever possible for a mother to get her own life back? And can Jack and Nadia’s relationship survive having a sulky teenager around?

A gloriously funny and uplifting new book perfect for fans of Gill Sims and Jill Mansell.

Rating: four-stars

 

Nadia is embracing the HEN – Happy Empty Nester – after her twins left for University. And then she meets the fabulous, funny and warm Jack – and they hit it off immediately. Going from full on parenting to a feeling of being a desired woman again is a change that Nadia enjoys very much – and of course uses the situation, the freedom of an empty house and dating again. But then Alfie comes back home earlier as expected and it turns out he’s dropped out of uni – and now Nadia has to juggle her role as a girlfriend and a mother and find a balance and a happy medium. But things don’t go too smoothly.

Nadia was great – in her early 50s and doing nude modelling for an art class and an illustrator and I really liked her life approach. I know, Nadia’s attitude towards Alfie was sometimes soooo overblown – the way she was treating her son like a baby was getting on the nerves, but on the other hand I could absolutely understand her, the desire to help him, to save him the troubles was ringing the bell – I mean, my daughter is only 7, so I have some time still, but oh my god, I’m sure you know this feeling when you simply want to do things for your child just for the sake of it, for some serenity, and because you just cant watch how they’re doing it, right? And Alfie was just such a typical teenager, you want to hug him and in the next second to bang his head on the wall. Really well developed and described, feeling like an adult but deep inside still a child relying on his mum. The ways Nadia would go to defend him only showed that no matter how old our kids are, the inner lioness is going to wake up and simply kill the ones who dare to criticise her kids – you, as mum, are allowed to do this, but not other people, don’t forget it 🙂
Jack was also brilliant – working in a charity shop, divorced and raising his daughter together with his ex, trying to be a good dad and – in my opinion – doing a great job on this front, looking after his work colleagues as well. There was something that happened in his past that he didn’t want to talk about, something really sad and difficult.

The story is told from Nadia and Jack’s points of view and it was great to see their perspective on the same things – that often, as it usually happens, was different. I really liked the romantic aspect, from the very beginning to the end. It was lovely, and warm, and didn’t run smooth, with some tricky moments and sharp turns. There were no silly games between the characters, however they also had problems to communicate sometimes – usually when it came to their families! It was realistically painted, showing what it actually looks like, and feels like – for all involved – when single parents meets someone.

This was a totally nice and relatable book. The pace was only right, the amount of desperation I felt towards Alfie and Nadia as well, and it felt so refreshingly honest and genuine. It’s for sure going to resonate with any parent, not only those whose kids have left home – we were all teenagers, so we know how the wind blows.
“The Mum Who Got Her Life Back” is a down – to – earth story, tackling some real life problems and struggles but without being too depressive, too serious. It touches upon relationships, new and old, and their dynamics, everyday life and problems that it brings and this all written in a very accessible, light writing style. It is full of humour mixed with bittersweet moments and families and characters that will make you smile and also desperate and showing you that you’re not alone here, that we all have to balance the needs of our children, family, friends, sometimes ex – partners and eventually our own. Recommended!

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Happiness for Beginners by Carole Matthews

Happiness for Beginners by Carole Matthews

 

41828647Publisher: Sphere

Publishing Date: 21st February 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 464

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 30.05.2019)

 

Synopsis:

Molly Baker is living her best life.

Thirty-eight years old, she lives on the twenty-five-acre Hope Farm in Buckinghamshire, surrounded by (mostly) four-legged friends and rolling hills. There’s Anthony the anti-social sheep, Tina Turner the alpaca with attitude, and the definitely-not-miniature pig, Teacup.

Molly runs the farm as an alternative school for kids who haven’t thrived in mainstream education. It’s full on, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. So when the well-groomed Shelby Dacre turns up at Hope Farm asking to enrol his son Lucas, Molly isn’t fazed.

But Lucas is distant and soon Molly realises he might be more of a handful than she anticipated. And then there’s the added problem that his dad is distractingly handsome. Molly has her beloved farm to think of – could letting Lucas and Shelby in be a terrible mistake, or the start of something wonderful?

Rating: four-stars

 

Molly Baker is a shy, single and also lovely and welcoming woman, running Hope Farm in Buckinghamshire, which she inherited from her beloved Aunt Hettie. It doesn’t bother her that she lives in an ancient caravan, with neither TV not shower, the main thing is that her animals and students are happy. Students – because the farm is also an alternative school for children with learning difficulties, autism, behavioural problems. One of the new students, Lucas, finds a way to Molly’s heart – his father finds this way as well but because of their totally different life styles it’s a recipe for a guaranteed heartbreak, right? Also, Molly’s farm, that is so much more to her than only a farm, it’s her home, a place to live and to bring happiness, is facing being closed down for good. Will she manage to save the farm and her heart?

I haven’t mentioned any lovely covers lately and this one deserves a standing ovation. It’s gorgeous, and I love this beautiful yellow colour – you can feel spring in the air only by looking at this cover, and the little flowers dotted around are so lovely. And it is as uplifting and full of warmth as the book itself.

I loved Hope Farm, it was simply my kind of heaven, even with all of its inconveniences. OK, I’d maybe need a TV and a good internet connection but I so could live with the rest, just like Molly. I know it is said one shouldn’t work with children and animals but I work with both and I am still going, so it can’t be that bad, right, and so I immediately connected with Molly and could resonate with her on all levels. I also feel the best in my wellies and I always smell of dogs and horses treats. The assortment of animal at the farm was absolutely perfect, and their personalities were very, very well captured by the author.
But Hope Farm was not only about animals, and here comes the great idea – it was to help children who couldn’t find help anywhere else, it was their last chance saloon – they, usually already excluded from schools, could come to the farm and learn how to be around animals, some practical skills as well, and also learn from animals and about them being so good at simply being there. I totally loved all of the animals on the farm, they were all so special, and well, yes, it weren’t only the pupils that had problems but the animals as well. The children react to animals, learn to bond with them, to open to them and to develop the so much needed self confidence, and it was incredibly important for them, and it was really well described by the author.

I immediately fell for Molly. Immediately. Her love and passion to the things she has devoted herself to was overwhelming and palpable. She really knows what her animals of all shapes and sizes need, and her students as well. She was so chilled and relaxed and I really could get her reluctance to engage with other people. Her side – kicks Bev and Alan were also special, absolutely loveable and it was impossible not to like them. The story is told from Molly’s point of view and her narration is flowing, it’s chatty and honest, and the short chapters are what I really like in Carole Matthews’ books.

I always appreciate the fact that Carole Matthews tries to touch upon more serious issues in her books as well, of course with this gentle touch of humour. This time she’s factoring children with learning difficulties and dealing with grief – through Lucas, still grieving for his dead mother, feeling neglected by his father, lonely and mobbed at school. Molly tries to come through to Lucas, get him to open up and quickly she finds herself involved not only in his life but also this of his father’s, the famous soap opera actor Shelby Dacre. The relationship between Molly and Lucas, and actually between Molly and all of her charges, was so genuine and heart-warming and it was a real pleasure to read about them.

Even though you know from the very beginning that the book is going to end with a happy end, it is still full of moments that are going to make your heart stop beating, and you’re going to keep everything crossed for Molly and her charges. Because – of course – life is not a bed of roses for Molly and her farm, and she’s struggling financially, but there is also one small problem of finding a new place for the farm. Why? Read for yourself, you’re really going to fall for Molly and Hope Farm.

This book would be perfect if it weren’t so slow. I loved this story, and the characters – it was warm, funny and uplifting but not too sappy but I had a feeling that it doesn’t move, that we stay in one place, that the one idea has been taken and written on thousand different ways. As much as I enjoyed reading it, I simply wished for something to happen, for something refreshing to arrive and take us by surprise. And this time I missed the depth a little.
However, altogether, “The Happiness for Beginners” was a funny, uplifting and overflowing with charm story, full of the feel – good factor that I know I can expect from Ms Matthews’s books. Carole Matthews is simply a natural storyteller. She has a way with words and she describes her characters in such a way that you quickly feel like knowing them all since childhood, and not only the main characters, but also the secondary ones as well. She makes them relatable, genuine and realistic. The book was emotional, it was funny and poignant at the same time, a great mix of laughter, tears, emotions and feelings. You won’t want to miss it!

 

The Secretary by Renée Knight

The Secretary by Renée Knight

 

40611138Publisher: Doubleday

Publishing Date: 21st February 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 304

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery, Suspense

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

Synopsis:

Look around you. Who holds the most power in the room? Is it the one who speaks loudest, who looks the part, who has the most money, who commands the most respect?

Or perhaps it’s someone like Christine Butcher: a meek, overlooked figure, who silently bears witness as information is shared and secrets are whispered. Someone who quietly, perhaps even unwittingly, gathers together knowledge of the people she’s there to serve – the ones who don’t notice her, the ones who consider themselves to be important.

There’s a fine line between loyalty and obsession. And when someone like Christine Butcher is pushed to her limit, she might just become the most dangerous person in the room . . .

The eagerly anticipated new thriller from the No.1 bestselling author of Disclaimer.

Rating: four-stars

 

Christine Butcher is married, has one daughter. She’s just been offered a job as a PA to Mina Appleton who, together with her father, is running a family business. Christine’s job becomes her life as Mina starts to be more and more demanding on her time and dedication, which takes its toll on her private life. After 18 years of work, Christine’s loyalty is going for a full dress rehearsal, as Mina is accused of partaking in some unethical transactions and taken to court, together with her secretary and driver. Now it’s time for Christine to ask herself how far she’s willing to go and whom shall she protect: Mina or herself?

The way the book was written was really risky. I mean, there was a secret, a hint that something has happened, mentioned in every chapter, and every single one of them ended with a cliff hanger. It is OK to know that there is some kind of mystery but there are limits of course, and it can always go wrong – the reader can simply lose interest, as sometimes too much is too much. And yes, to be absolutely honest, I was scared and I started to feel impatient and desperate at one moment, but then the mystery was solved – and I’d say, at the perfect moment, so the book was saved. And as much as I liked the first part of the story, I think the second part, the court room drama that it turned out to be, was even better.

This book is told from Christine’s point of view only, and while sometimes you can miss on other people’s narrations, it was not the case here, it was more than enough. It’s a kind of diary/not diary but describes Christine’s job, her relationships – also this with Mina – her life in a very detailed way and we see the way her attachment to Mina progresses and how this relationship shifts and changes – it was full of dramas, secrets and lies. I was completely invested in Christine’s story, and in her character as well. She was not your normal, usual heroine. She was elusive, incredibly loyal but she seemed not to know where her priorities should be. And I loved how thought – provoking it was because let’s be honest – was Christine only a victim to her boss’s manipulations? To be honest, I am not absolutely sure if she was so innocent but here I arrive at the fact that the book lacked a little in depth and character development that I’m going to tell more about in a moment. I don’t think that Christine was a pleaser and doormat, she was only desperate to make herself indispensable to her boss, to be part of her life perhaps, and she agreed with catering to her every whim and need. Sometimes it looked like she was one step ahead of Mina, anticipating her needs before they were even articulated. Mina was a very driven and ambitious character, thinking that the whole world should resolve around her and that she’s untouchable. She was manipulative, cold and egoistic and knew how to get what she wanted. It wasn’t easy to connect with those two women, to be honest, as I couldn’t relate with their behaviour, the way they were, and while I perhaps could get Mina’s greed and desire to be more profitable without caring how it’s going to happen, I simply couldn’t understand Christine and her unwillingness to set boundaries. Mina’s acceptance and prise was what kept Christine going. But they both were the strength that has pushed the story forward because you may not agree with them but they were fascinating character, and their relationship even more.
However, I missed more on the “why” – why was Christine the way she was? Why wasn’t she able to say no? What was it that attracted her so much to Mina? So much that she was able to sacrifice everything for a – theoretically – totally strange woman? What was her motivation? But other than that, this book was an excellent page turner, a great case study, a brilliant look into person’s personality. It was part a psychological thriller, and part a court room drama, and the tension there, and the feeling of uncertainty, were really well captured. It was a slow burner, but so well written, so full of insight into the characters’ heads, and with a truly brilliant ending that was an absolute surprise.

Altogether, “The Secretary” was a gripping story about misplaced loyalty and power games, about manipulation. Also, my favourite kind of read, full of questions and understatements and it’ll make you ask yourself questions. Thought – provoking and gripping, another brilliant story from the author of “Disclaimer” – truly recommended.

The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood by Susan Elliot Wright

The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood by Susan Elliot Wright

 

410pdykqsvl._sx324_bo1204203200_Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 21st February 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 384

Genre: General Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 19.09.2019)

 

Synopsis:

What has happened to Cornelia Blackwood?
She has a loving marriage. But she has no friends.
Everyone knows her name. But no one will speak to her now.
Cornelia Blackwood has unravelled once before. Can she stop it from happening again?

From a supremely talented storyteller, The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood is a powerful novel of motherhood, loss and loneliness and how we can make damaging choices when pushed to our emotional edge. A paperback bestseller with her debut novel, The Things We Never Said, and nominated for an RNA Award in 2014, Susan Elliot Wright has written a truly important novel that explores the dark depths of psychosis with honesty and sensitivity.

Rating: four-stars

Cornelia (Leah) Blackwood loses her husband Adrian in a car accident. After his funeral, she finds something on his computer – something that makes her start to doubt in Adrian’s loyalty and fidelity and something that is going to change her life. But before it happens, she goes on a quest and investigates to find more. She befriends Cass, a young woman that Leah somehow becomes obsessed with, and her little son Lucas. Is this friendship a casual one or is Leah hiding something from Cass?

The story goes back and forth, from past to present and while it feels a little slow, especially at the beginning, it then steps up the momentum. I also never felt confused and always knew where we are. The story is told mostly through Leah and we slowly get to know her and her background history – how she’s met Adrian, how they got married, through the ups and downs of their life together. The past intertwines with the present, hinting that something has happened previously, something bad and wrong, something that caused Leah to lose her credibility and friends. There came a point when I guessed what must have happened and what’s going to happen but it didn’t spoil the reading for me, it rather kept me hooked and made me feel as if I was getting a chill up my spine, predicting the worse to happen.
I fell for Leah, to be honest. Her story was like one tragedy happening upon another one and seeing her surviving all of them was incredibly uplifting, and it took almost till the end to reveal why she’s getting the treatment that she’s getting. The story of Leah was somehow heart – breaking, and the author has done such a great job in capturing and describing her feelings of loss, despair and desperation. She has by any means found words to bring it to us so that the pain was palpable and you couldn’t help but fell for Leah and feel sympathy for her. While you’ll probably have problems with accepting Leah’s choices, you will also understand why she made them. Her wanting something that she couldn’t have has filled her every waking moment yet it didn’t feel too overwhelming for me as a reader, too repeating, and the author has always revealed the right amount of information in the particular moment, leaving me wondering and wanting more.

This is a book that tackles some serious and heavy issues with tons of gentleness and sensitivity. It’s heartbreakingly and brutally honest in explaining how it feels to be grieving and to be mentally ill. The author has really has done her research and she deserves a standing ovation for writing with so much feeling and understanding, without judging. This novel was sad, it was tragic, it was full of tension and the feeling that something’s going to happen. Yes, I guessed the outcome, but still I was glued to the pages and drawn into this story.

Altogether, “The Flight of Cornelia Blackwood” was deeply emotionally charged and it’ll leave you thinking and wondering. It was a well – kept mystery, filled with enough red herrings, twists and turns. It was a captivating, heart – breaking story of grief, love and desperation. The author deals with postpartum psychosis in a very gentle, sensitive way and gives her character a chance after a chance. It was a hugely emotional read but I wouldn’t call it depressing – it was simply sad but without it being too overwhelming a feeling. Susan Elliot Wright has written it in a no – nonsense way, brutally honest and well, it’s a read that’s going to take your breath away, to make you stop and think – just my favourite kind of read, even if I wouldn’t classify it as the easiest read. Highly recommended!