As I’m writing this it’s tipping down with rain. I think the heatwave is definitely over. But I’ve had the chance to read some fantastic books over the last few weeks of sunshine and need to write reviews before I forget to do so. First up, my favourite kick-ass heroine.
The Girl Who Got Revenge by Marnie Riches
Revenge is a dish best served deadly…
A twelve-year-old girl is found dead at Amsterdam’s port. An old man dies mysteriously in a doctor’s waiting room. Two seemingly unconnected cases, but Inspector Van den Bergen doesn’t think so…
Criminologist George Mackenzie is called in to help crack the case before it’s too late. But the truth is far more deadly than anyone can imagine… Can George get justice for the dead before she ends up six-feet under too?
I love The Girl Who series by Marnie Riches. This is the fifth novel and it’s important to point out that time moves on with each book. It’s now ten years since George was an undergraduate student on an international placement in Amsterdam. But her love affair with the city hasn’t dwindled although her love affair with Inspector Paul Van den Bergen isn’t exactly rosy. Her work in Cambridge isn’t looking great either so when a trafficking case turns up in Amsterdam, George is more than happy to act as consultant. Paul is pleased too but he appears to be juggling his police work with his new role as a grandfather, trying to make up for his failure as a father. Naturally this puts a strain on his relationship with George.
But there’s plenty of police work to keep them occupied. Once again, Marnie Riches brings two disparate storylines and deftly ties them together. What on earth does a dead twelve-year-old Syrian girl have to do with a dead old Dutch man? On the surface, nothing. But as George and Paul pull away the layers, there is a connection.
The pace of this book is fast and the turbulence that George faces comes across well in the writing. George may be more mature but her temperament hasn’t mellowed. She’s just as feisty as ever. I don’t want to give away any spoilers but the ending is interesting. I don’t know if Marnie has plans for any more The Girl Who books but it’s left open-ended. And if this is the end, then I feel that George has been left in the right place. My lips are sealed.
You can buy The Girl Who Gets Revenge here and it’s now available in paperback along with the rest of the series.
Marnie Riches grew up on a rough estate in Manchester, within sight of the dreaming spires of Strangeways prison. Able to speak five different languages, she gained a Master’s degree in Modern and Medieval Dutch and German from Cambridge University. She has been a punk, a trainee rock star, a pretend artist and professional fundraiser. In her spare time, she likes to run, mainly to offset the wine and fine food she consumes with great enthusiasm.
Having authored the first six books of Harper Collins Children’s Time-Hunters series, she now writes crime thrillers for adults.
Dark Pines by Will Dean
SEE NO EVIL
Eyes missing, two bodies lie deep in the forest near a small Swedish town.
HEAR NO EVIL
Tuva Moodyson, a deaf reporter on a small-time local paper, is looking for the story that could make her career.
SPEAK NO EVIL
A web of secrets. And an unsolved murder from twenty years ago. Can Tuva overcome her fears and track down the killer before she is hunted down?
When I started reading this book, it was particularly hot. So a book that transported me to a cold, damp Swedish forest was very welcome! But it wasn’t just the setting that chilled me. A huntsman shot dead is bad enough but the removal of his eyes is particularly creepy. And it’s this information that sends shockwaves around the small town of Gavrik. They’ve been here before – the Medusa killer is back after a twenty year break. For Tuva Moodyson though, a reporter and newcomer to Gavrik, this is the most amazing story of her career.
There is huge attention to detail in this novel and rather than putting me off, I found it drew me into the story more. Tuva is deaf and it was great to see the world through her eyes and hear, or not hear, through her ears. It’s clear that Will Dean has done his research on this and although we are always aware of Tuva’s disability, it’s not one that holds her back. Despite her fears, Tuva pushes on to find the truth. The tension at the end was almost unbearable and I had to actually put the book down for a bit as I was so tense reading it!
This is a stunning debut and rightly deserves its place on the shortlist for Not The Booker prize. It also featured in Zoe Ball’s Book Club. This is the start of a series and Tuva Moodyson will be back next year in Red Snow.
You can buy Dark Pines here.
Will Dean grew up in the Midlands, living in nine different villages before the age of 18. He was a bookish, daydreaming kid who found comfort in stories and nature (and he still does). After studying at LSE and working in London, he settled in rural Sweden. He built a wooden house in a boggy clearing at the centre of a vast elk forest, and it’s from this base that he compulsively reads and writes.
Him by Clare Empson
It all started with… H I M.
Catherine has become mute. She has witnessed something so disturbing that she simply can’t speak – not to her husband, her children or her friends. The doctors say the only way forward is to look into her past. Catherine needs to start with Him. Lucian.
Catherine met the love of her life at university and was drawn into his elite circle of privileged, hedonistic friends. But one night it all falls apart and she leaves him, shattering his love forever.
Still, fifteen years later, Lucian haunts every one of Catherine’s quiet moments, and when they are unexpectedly reunited, their love reignites with explosive force.
Can you ever have a second chance at first love?
I was one of the lucky ones to pick up a proof of this book at Harrogate and I’m so glad I did. I’m still finding it hard to believe that it’s a debut – it’s so accomplished. We start with Now and Catherine is mute due to psychological trauma. The story then moves on to two more different time periods – Fifteen years earlier and Four months before – with both Catherine and Lucian telling the story. This may sound complicated but it really isn’t. The narration slips easily between them all. And what a story! I think this has to be one of the most obsessive and claustrophobic love stories I’ve ever read. I don’t know if Wuthering Heights was an inspiration for Clare Empson or not, but for me, there are definite similarities.
Catherine and Lucian meet at Bristol University. She’s from a middle class family, an only child loved and adored by her parents. Lucian’s family has money and he’s the heir to a country estate (through his uncle). But his father is dead and his mother hates him. In some respects they have nothing in common but they fall desperately in love until something happens and Catherine leaves him. Fifteen years later, their paths cross again.
This book reminded me of the drawings you make with a spirograph – circling in and out of the story, creating an image that doesn’t become completely clear until the end, the intricacies then displayed for all to see. We quickly fall into the characters’ lives. I thought I wouldn’t like Lucian and his crowd of friends but Clare Empson paints a vivid image, warts and all. There’s a sense of despair that comes across well throughout the book. Obviously there are secrets waiting to be unveiled but there was one twist that I found devastating and completely threw me.
Just as the love in this book is obsessive, I found this to be an obsessive read. I really resented have to put it down. It captured me entirely. I can’t wait to see what Clare Empson writes next.
This novel is published on August 23rd and you can pre order Him here.
Clare Empson is a journalist with a background in national newspapers – small business editor, finance correspondent and fashion at the Mail on Sunday and The Daily Express, freelance for The Sunday Telegraph, The Sunday Times, the Evening Standard and Tatler amongst others. She currently works as editor/founder of experiential lifestyle website countrycalling.co.uk
I’ve just started to read Come and Find Me by Sarah Hilary so I’ll write some more reviews at the end of the holidays. In the meantime, I hope you have a fantastic summer!