The opening lines of a book are so important; for me, even more so when the book is an audio book; it really needs to pull me in. There have been mixed reactions to Unravelling Oliver but even those who were disappointed by the story seem to agree on one thing, it has a great opening line.
I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her …. She didn’t even seemed to be surprised. I was surprised. I hadn’t planned to do it.
Oliver has hit his wife. His is the opening viewpoint, as he discusses with cool detachment his own feelings about the event. There was an immediate and chilling insight, for me, as the reader, that there was something very wrong with this man.
The story proceeds through several viewpoints, some I enjoyed more than others but all were very distinct and if you are listening rather than reading, recognisable with excellent narrators throughout.
Oliver is telling his story, from his strange and unhappy childhood, which certainly has had a massive effect on his psyche, to the present day. Despite a singularly unusual upbringing Oliver is a successful man, that is, he is a successful author who writes children’s books under a pen name and has enjoyed fame and fortune which includes radio and television interviews. Oliver met his wife, Alice, through his writing, when the two began to work together, her as an illustrator of his stories, but Alice has always eschewed the fame part of their success.
Unravelling Oliver is a perfect title for this book. Once the reader has taken in the shocking situation at the beginning of the story we go back, hearing the viewpoints of friends and relatives as we unpick the layers of the story and find the truth. Why did Oliver show this sudden and tragic violence toward his wife? What caused this golden personality to fall so far?
I enjoyed Unravelling Oliver, the writing is interesting and assured and the often convoluted aspects of the story were all tied in nicely. Some viewpoints were more interesting than others, but each one moved the story further toward its conclusion. This book is not a thriller and, at times, I felt that the author wanted to redeem Oliver, to show his regret and his admittance (if only to himself) of his failings. That part didn’t work for so well for me.
As a study of a man, shaped by his own early circumstances, and rendered unable to care for anyone but himself to the extent that he will go to any lengths to better protect his chosen lifestyle, it is a book I will remember.
At last, I am very happy and proud to announce the release of the third novel in my Berriwood Series.
Dirty Work will be available on Amazon tomorrow!
Each book in the series is a standalone novel; the link being the Cornish village and its characters.
This is a psychological drama with murder at its heart. Don’t be fooled by the pretty village of Berriwood; dark things can happen!
Here is a little bit about it:-
A shallow grave.
A body to find.
But no one is looking…
Caroline Duke and her sister-in-law Marcie lead very different lives, but blood is thicker than water; they are close, they share things.
Marcie has everything she could possibly want, funded by Nathan’s high-powered city job. She pays for her privileged position in lonely days and nights, while her husband works away.
Caroline is struggling with two jobs and out-of-work Pete, who brings in no money at all. He is never home either. He spends his evenings in bars and clubs and the occasional ditch.
But everything in the Duke family is set to change. And for the better. Pete declares he has given up drinking for good and is getting a job. Nathan announces his intention to work less, spend more time with Marcie.
A birthday dinner should be the perfect occasion to bring the four together. But when is a party not a party? When someone ends up dead.
i would be very grateful for any likes or shares.
Set in the London of 1882, March Middleton, whose father has died, arrives to live with Sidney Grice who is to be her guardian. Sidney Grice is the most famous and celebrated private investigator of the era but his success is equally matched by his gruff and unapproachable exterior.
March however is not cowed by this bully of a man. She formerly assisted her father who was an army surgeon at the front and has already had a tough education in matters of life and death. When a distraught woman consults Grice on the matter of her son-in-law, who has been arrested for murder, March jumps in to pay the poor woman’s fee for the investigation but insists she must help with the case. So begins the hunt for a killer.
I did enjoy the mystery in the book which was quite convoluted toward the end, but for me, there were some reservations. Sidney Grice is clever, an astute investigator, but also an abominable man, rude and unfeeling. There were some funny moments, he is a dab-hand at a witty riposte and a few of them made me laugh but all-in-all I found the detective to be too unlikeable and his presence actually overshadowed the story. March is an enjoyable character but, I have to say, I was weary of Grice’s nastiness and peculiarities, even his love of tea, by the end of the book.
The Woodcutter is quite an epic story and not what I was expecting at all.
Wolf Hadda is raised in humble surroundings as a woodcutter’s son but he is destined for success and a visit to the ‘Big House’ on the Cumbrian estate where he lives is the catalyst for his new aspirations.
Wolf achieves everything he sets out for. He becomes a wealthy businessman, marries well and has a beautiful daughter. Then one dreadful morning everything comes to an end with a police raid. Wolf is accused of the most heinous of crimes; he is committed to jail and deserted by family and friends.
Then into the story come Alva, a pyschaitrist who is determined to help Wolf to face his wrongdoing and come to terms with it but his overriding reason to continue living is to find those responsible for his predicament and see that real justice is done.
Wolf is the most likeable of characters even though he can be ruthless when crossed. He has a wealth of down-to-earthiness that made me feel that if he was on your side he would never let you down. As in real life, other characters in the book are drawn to Wolf, despite his reputation, by what they find to be, a very genuine man,
This is a really great story, with a bit of everything thrown in and the treachery of those around him made me root for Wolf all the more.
I have to mention that I listened to this title on Audible and the narration by Jonathan Keeble was outstanding. I felt as if a whole cast of actors were involved in the performance.
The question at the heart of The Devil You Know by Terry Tyler is ‘Do we ever really know anyone, even our nearest and dearest? The answer, clearly, is no. We can’t ever know for sure what goes on in someone else’s mind but also they can never know what goes through ours and so there is a vast capacity for misconception.
The story is split into parts that go beyond viewpoint. We meet The Wife, the Colleague, The Mother etc and at first I thought each was connected to the Lyndford Strangler who is terrorising the local area but no, each person had a separate story to tell and the links back to the crime were sometimes direct, sometimes tenuous. This was the whole point, to keep the reader guessing and to contemplate the real identity of the killer through the eyes of ordinary people who feared him.
It took me a little while to get to know the characters of each part of the story but once I did I wanted to know how each little scenario would play out. This is a really original and clever modus operandi for a crime mystery. We peek into the lives of different groups and I was invested in every one. I loved the way the author played on the worries, fears and the shortcomings of the characters, (some of them quite sinister), making the story multi-layered.
The narrative is straightforward and fluid and the dialogue spot on.
*Many thanks go to Quercus books and Netgalley for an advanced review copy of this book*
The ‘Cast Iron’ of the title refers to the term often used for an alibi when it is deemed to be beyond question. But can an alibi ever be considered so, until the case is solved?
Enzo Macleaod, forensic expert, has been involved in a bet to unravel the details of a series of cold cases that have thus far baffled investigators. The sixth case is the mystery of what happened to young Lucie Martin, who goes missing from her home one evening, her remains discovered some years later, after a long, hot summer, in the bottom of a dried up lake. The modus operandi indicates the work of a killer already behind bars but he denies involvement.
In the course of the investigation to try to identify Lucie’s killer, Enzo soon realises that there is more than one person who would prefer that the truth never come out. His life is in danger and his family are at risk.
In the past couple of years I have read and reviewed several books by Peter May. I thought I knew his style but found this book, set in France, a little different and, to be honest, a little difficult, at first. Enzo’s complex family life had probably developed over the previous books and so, coming new to the series I found myself backtracking at first to keep the threads of his convoluted relationships clear in my mind. However, the story is a good one, well worth the effort and the investigation a solid standalone that requires no previous knowledge.
For me at least, endings are so often a bit of a let-down even after a very enjoyable rest-of-the-book, so I would also say bravo to Peter May for bringing the elements together in an ending that did not rely on sheer luck or a happy coincidence or a massive and unbelievable hunch. The twist that brings the main characters together in the crucial scene did not disappoint and left a very satisfying aftertaste to an enjoyable read.
I downloaded this book when I saw it on a free promotion because it looked interesting but it was only after it arrived on my Kindle that I realised it was by David Haynes, an author I have read and enjoyed in the past.
This short book did not disappoint. Basil Jenkins is the collector of ‘intriguing objects’ so when he acquires a boxed chess set along with a journal recording matches played by Reginald Perigar, clearly a master of the game, he immediately begins to re-enact the matches one by one.
This Victorian Gothic story is perfectly pitched; the icy streets of London so apt. That the story was fairly predictable didn’t matter at all. Tales such as these are to be savoured in the telling. The twist at the very end is a really nice touch.
Best enjoyed on a cold winter’s night, along with a glass of rich mulled wine.