Category Archives: Crime fiction

Book Review: Poisoned Waters by Ermisenda Alvarez

Book-Cover-Poisoned-WatersPoisoned Waters is set in the 1950s on a trans-Atlantic cruise from Southampton to New York. Helen Gardener is murdered during the voyage. The novel follows the stories of seven unfortunate characters and how they are affected by the death of Helen Gardener. Was it merely an accident? Mr Phillips, the owner of the ship, and sponsor of the cruise, rules with an iron fist, in search of something or someone.

Lies spiral out of control as the suspects try to survive the final days on board. Conflicted by their sense of morals, greed, and lust, they realise what kind of people they really are. Who will rise? Who will fall? Who was Helen’s murderer?

I was lucky enough to receive an advance review copy of this novel, which also has the honour of being the first full e-book I’ve read! I know I know, I really need to get with the times ūüôā I read it over several lunch breaks at my day job, and found myself looking forward to finding out what was going to happen next as my clock ticked towards 1pm. The characters are well crafted, and you manage to find sympathy towards some of the seemingly ‘bad guy’ characters.

The book reminded me of a classic ‘who-done-it’ in the style of Agatha Christie’s ‘Poirot’ or similar books that are frequently adapted in the UK for addictive Sunday night TV shows. Very rare for me, I didn’t actually guess who had killed Helen Gardener, so that was a great surprise. All in all this is a cleverly woven tale of murder, betrayal and passion, and I would definitely recommend it.

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This post has been part of the Poisoned Waters Blog Tour. Poisoned Waters is a thrilling mystery set on a trans-Atlantic cruise where a murderer walks amongst passengers.

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Book Review: The Burning by Jane Casey

A serial killer is loose in London, brutally beating his female victims to death before setting their bodies on fire and leaving them in public parks.  Maeve Kerrigan is an ambitious detective constable on the investigation task force who is determined to do everything she can to bring the killer to justice, whatever the consequences in her personal life.

So far, so typical crime fiction, but what really sets this above its neighbours in the genre is Casey’s intelligent, detail-driven writing that isn’t just content to let the plot do the work of keeping the reader’s interest. ¬†There is an in-depth look at the investigation into the 5th death attributed to ‘The Burning Man’, the predictable name given to the killer by the tabloids. ¬†Told in the first person, the chapters alternate between the point of view of Maeve, and that of the victim’s best friend, Louise. ¬†Both characters are richly portrayed; Maeve is¬†likable, realistic and admirable in her commitment and drive; Louise is intriguing and guarded, slowly revealing more aspects of her character as the book progresses. ¬†Supporting characters are vivid and add even more depth to the story, with Casey managing to avoid the usual police officer stereotypes.

Though dealing with a serious subject matter, there are a few smartly funny moments in the book that made me laugh out loud, eg.

As I walked down the street, I tried to analyse why I had disliked him so much. ¬†Something about him was unsettling. ¬†Something had made me edgy. ¬†I thought he was a smug manipulative creep, for all his good looks. ¬†But being a creep wasn’t an arrestable offence.

On the bright side, it was a life sentence.

The Burning is Casey’s series debut, with Maeve Kerrigan returning in The Reckoning, a book I ordered as soon as I put the current one down, and I already can’t wait to read it. ¬†I feel invested in the character, like a new friend you click with immediately and can’t wait to spend more time with. ¬†I hope it is as good as I believe it will be. ¬†Look out for my review in the next few weeks!

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The Literary Owl Rating: 4.5/5

Read with: Some tasty, crunchy, raw vegetables with hummus. (Definitely nothing smoked or barbecued!)

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Book Review: Rupture by Simon Lelic

The Literary Owl rating: 4/5

Read with: A relaxing cup of chamomile tea

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When a teacher fires a gun during a school assembly, killing 3 pupils and a colleague before taking his own life, it appears to be a case that the police can wrap up in a matter of days.  One Police Officer however cannot let go of the investigation, and is determined to find out why: What would drive a teacher to commit such an atrocity?  What was going on at the school that the headmaster and other teachers are helping to cover up?

Rupture follows Inspector Lucia May as she seeks the answers to these questions against the backdrop of her own difficult personal issues, and pressure from senior officers to file her report and move on.

The theme of the novel is bullying: its effect on both adult child victims, and the reasons why so many people fail to act to prevent it.  The subject matter is handled perfectly by Lelic, who weaves a believable plot and realistic characters to a satisfying conclusion.

The character of Lucia May is well-crafted and I was as gripped as she was by the desire to know more about the circumstances of the killings, and the events leading up to the tragedy.  The vulnerability in her personal life made an engaging contrast with her determination in her investigation to find the truth.  At the end of the book I was left wanting to know more about her and find out what happened to her afterwards.

The story itself stayed with me, and made me think back to my own experiences with bullying, mainly as an observer, and wonder whether there was more I could have done to prevent it happening. ¬†Though I’ve classified it as a crime novel, Lelic’s expert handling of the effects of bullying make it stand out as¬†possessing a deeper soul than most books within that genre. ¬†The fact that Rupture is his debut makes it even more impressive. ¬†Highly recommended.

Simon Lelic has now officially made my ‘must read his other books’ list and I will report back when I read more!

Rupture, published as A Thousand Cuts in the US can be bought here at amazon.com or here at amazon.co.uk

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