Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Book Review: Sacrifice - S J Bolton

This is the third and final book I have read as part of The Great Transworld Crime Caper which I have really enjoyed taking part in. Three books, eight weeks = one happy reader.

The blurb:
Moving to remote Shetland has been unsettling enough for consultant surgeon Tora Hamilton, even before the gruesome discovery she makes one rain-drenched afternoon...

The corpse I could cope with. It was the context that threw me.

Deep in the peat soil of her field, she uncovers the body of a young woman. The heart has been removed, and marks etched into the skin bear an eerie resemblance to carvings Tora has seen in her own cellar.

And there I'd been, thinking the day couldn't possibly get any worse

But as Tora begins to ask questions, terrifying threats start rolling in like the cold island mists...

My thoughts:

This book covers a deeply chilling subject, and one which some may not wish to read about.  The author tackles it well, and it makes for an exciting and chilling read.
The negatives: The main character Tora seems a little unbelieveable, one minute she has a high powered job as a Consultant Surgeon, then next she is running around the countryside like daft teenager. I found the overly descriptive parts of the book off putting at times. I would rather have had the information about the location of the islands by way of a map at the front of the book

The positives:  The author writes in a compelling way which makes it hard for the reader to put the book down, and I was fascinated by the descriptions of the ancient runes and their meanings. The setting is in contemporary Britain, but often felt like another world, as the different landscapes and folklore just adds to the chills.

I would have liked to have read more about the "folklore" and less about the relationship between Tora and her boss, however this is a book which kept me interested right up to the final page, and made me want to learn more about  Shetland folklore

This is the debut novel by SJ Bolton and I am lucky enough to have her next novel waiting on my "to be read" pile. I look forward to it.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Book review - Telling Tales - Ann Cleeves

I came across this author quite by accident and I'm so glad I did. 
I bought Red Bones, which is part of The Shetland Series as part of a three for two offer. It was an excellent and chilling read, and although I read it completely out of sequence it encouraged me to seek out more.

I then read Hidden Depths which is the third book in the Vera Stanhope series. This is being dramatised by ITV this summer with Brenda Blethyn as Vera and I look forward to seeing her on screen.

Telling Tales is the second book in the series yet does not suffer from being read out of sequence.  
It is ten years after Jeanie Long was charged with the murder of fifteen year old Abigail Mantel.  Residents of the East Yorkshire village of Elvet are disturbed by the new evidence which has emerged proving Jeanie's innocence. Abigail's killer is still at large.

For her friend Emma Bennett, the revelation brings back haunting memories of her vibrant best friend and the winter's day when she discovered her body lying cold in a ditch.

Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope is such a well written character, and whilst she's not perfect you'd rather have her on your side than not. There's an overwhelming sense of sadness in this book, which as the story unfolds, seems to hang over every character. There's no real happy ending in this, but a great solid conclusion. 

I'm looking forward to reading more of Ann Cleeves, and hope that the ITV series serves her character well!

Book Review - The Chemistry of Death - Simon Beckett

This is the second book I have chosen to read for the Great Transworld Crime Caper. Published by Bantam Press, an imprint of Transworld, it was shortlisted for the CWA Duncan Lawrie Dagger for Best Crime Novel of the Year.

Forensics expert David Hunter retreats to the remote Norfolk village of Manham to escape from a family tragedy. By taking up a job as the local Doctor he believes his old life can be left behind. However when a local woman is murdered, the police are desperate for his help. When it happens again, and the tight knit community worry that a serial killer is on the loose his assistance is invaluable. The villagers become suspicious of each other and no one is exempt from investigation.

This novel started really well, but I found it hard to get into until the pace picked up towards the middle of the book. There is a “love interest" which I often dislike, however I felt tied in well with the story and helped make David a little less one dimensional. I didn’t feel as though I knew any of the characters very well, as the novel wasn’t particularly descriptive.

I was concerned this would be a gory novel, which is not something I enjoy reading, however the level of gore was contained and not over the top. It was much more Midsomer Murders than Silent Witness!

The level of intrigue intensified half way through the book, and I was glad of this as the red herrings and story developments made me want to keep reading, and the ending was very well written.

A good start to the “David Hunter” series of novels. This is an enjoyable easy read, which sets the stage well for his subsequent investigations.