In just under two weeks on Tuesday 14th July, we’ll be having our next author event in conjunction with the Friends of West Barnes Library. Of course, current circumstances mean that we can’t meet as normal so we’re moving online to Facebook Live. It’s very simple to join in although you do have to be on Facebook. Just like the Friends of West Barnes Library page and then watch us on Tuesday 14th July at 7.30pm. Joining us will be TM Logan, GJ Minett and Chris Whitaker. To give you a flavour of their books, I have some reviews for you.
The Catch by TM Logan
She says he’s perfect. I know he’s lying . . .
He caught me watching, and our eyes met. That was when it hit me.
There was something not quite right about my daughter’s new boyfriend . . .
The doting father
Ed finally meets his daughter’s boyfriend for the first time. Smart, successful and handsome, Ryan appears to be a real catch. Then Abbie announces their plan to get married.
The perfect fiancé
There’s just one problem. Ed thinks Ryan is lying to them.
Who would you believe?
All of Ed’s instincts tell him his daughter is in terrible danger – but no-one else can see it. With the wedding date approaching fast, Ed sets out to uncover Ryan’s secrets, before it’s too late . . .
I have to confess this is only the second book I’ve read by TM Logan. I read The Holiday last summer and was instantly hooked by his writing. I’m happy to report that The Catch is just as gripping!
The Catch probably comes under the psychological thriller genre but I think it could easily fit into the sub-genre of domestic noir. It’s rare for a man to write in this area, even rarer to have a male protagonist. And rarest of all, it works brilliantly. Ed’s a typical father – over-protective of his daughter, Abbie. It’s going to take a remarkable man to win Ed’s approval as a son-in-law. Abbie thinks she’s found that in Ryan. Ed’s not so sure. And so the story begins.
I thought I knew how this book would go but I was so wrong. I was genuinely surprised by the twists and turns and even shocked at one point. I heard TM Logan say that he loosely based Abbie on his own daughter so those fatherly concerns feel very real. I’m not sure if that reassures his daughter or not!
I liked the setting of Nottingham and the Peak District. Having visited the latter a couple of times for holidays, I could tell that TM Logan has done his research. The wild expanse added to the tension of the story and I could easily imagine those scenes.
The Catch is very different to The Holiday and shows TM Logan’s versatility as a writer. I look forward to seeing what he comes up with next!
The Syndicate by GJ Minett
YOU THINK YOU’RE FREE, BUT THEY’LL NEVER LET YOU LEAVE . . .
Twenty years ago, Jon Kavanagh worked for a crime syndicate.
Then one night he made a mistake.
He left a witness at a crime scene. Alive.
Now, he is haunted by the memories of that young girl. Her face a constant reminder of the life he chose to leave behind. Time has passed and now he wants answers: What ever happened to her?
Anna Hill is an aspiring singer, but the bars and clubs she works in are far from exciting. When she is given the opportunity to work in Portugal, she takes it. This is her chance to finally kick-start her career.
But the job offer comes at a price; one that will endanger the lives of those she knows, and those she doesn’t. Becoming involved with the Syndicate is risky, and Anna will need her instincts to work out who to trust – and who not to . . .
The Syndicate tells the story of Jon Kavanagh, former hitman. He’s unique. He’s managed to escape the Syndicate and has been out of their clutches for twenty years now. Or so he thinks. But his last job still haunts him and time is running out for him to make amends.
On the face of it, I’m not sure this would be my normal read but I was drawn into it. Rather than chapters there are sections with different points of view, places and timeframes. It took me a while to get used to this. It was a bit like taking the layers off a pass the parcel, not knowing if a treat or a forfeit was waiting for you. And for Jon, there are definitely more forfeits than treats.
Hitmen aren’t always particularly likeable let alone loveable (except maybe Jason Bourne) but there’s something about Jon Kavanagh that makes you warm to him. Maybe it’s the remorse he shows for his final job for the Syndicate. Maybe it’s his traumatic childhood. Maybe it’s the injuries he sustained as a soldier. GJ Minett has pulled off the feat of making what should be a reprehensible character as someone you’d want fighting your corner.
I don’t want to say too much but the ending was not what I expected. But like so often with pass the parcels, that final layer doesn’t always reveal what you want.
We Begin At The End by Chris Whitaker
Thirty years ago, Vincent King became a killer.
Now, he’s been released from prison and is back in his hometown of Cape Haven, California. Not everyone is pleased to see him. Like Star Radley, his ex-girlfriend, and sister of the girl he killed.
Duchess Radley, Star’s thirteen-year-old daughter, is part-carer, part-protector to her younger brother, Robin – and to her deeply troubled mother. But in trying to protect Star, Duchess inadvertently sets off a chain of events that will have tragic consequences not only for her family, but also the whole town.
Murder, revenge, retribution.
‘You can’t save someone that doesn’t want to be saved . . .’
I never find it particularly easy to find the right words for reviews. It becomes even harder when the book shines with such brilliance. Tall Oaks showed us that Chris Whitaker can write a darkly comedic Crime story. All the Wicked Girls had the humour stripped away revealing a beautifully written tragic tale. I didn’t think it was possible for Chris Whitaker to step it up but he has in We Begin At The End. I read it slowly, desperate to eek it out, longing for it not to end.
Whitaker immerses us in the lives of Duchess Day Radley and her younger brother, Robin. Aged 13 and 5 respectively at the beginning of the story, their lot in life is pretty bad. Their mum, Star, is in a bad way and so Duchess looks after her little brother. They get by – just. Until one night when a beaten-up Star returns from her bartending job at a local club. Duchess makes a decision which leads to a chain of catastrophic events for her family and her home town of Cape Haven. Chief Walker, known as Walk, is the other main narrator who has to battle his childhood loyalties with justice and his failing body. I don’t want to tell you too much more about the plot as I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.
I found myself totally wrapped up in these characters’ lives. I didn’t want it to end. It was like having a slice of the best chocolate cake in the world and choosing not to gobble it down in one go but eating just a small amount each time. And when I did finally finish reading it at bedtime, my husband looked at me and said, “Well, you won’t be going to sleep just yet.” My emotion was clear and if he hadn’t been there, I probably would have sobbed.
But it’s not just the characters and the plot that make this book so special. It’s the actual writing. All of Chris’ books have been set in small town America so his words have that lilting American tone. There were times when I just stopped reading because of the beauty of the words. As I’ve read a proof I’m not really allowed to quote but this sentence is so incredible and it doesn’t give any spoilers (and I checked with Chris’ editor).
‘At Caroga Plain a man with a guitar got on and asked the few if they minded and they all shook their heads so he sang about golden slumbers, his voice rough but something in it stripping the roof from the old bus and letting the stars fall in.’
See what I mean? How am I supposed to write a review that does this book justice? The truth is, I can’t. There is only one word I can give it – extraordinary. But more than that, Chris Whitaker is an extraordinary writer.
So as you can see, we have three very special books to discuss with our authors. Normally we have the books available to buy on the night but of course we can’t do that. Here are the Amazon links but maybe check out your newly-opened independent bookshops as well.
TM Logan – The Catch
GJ Minett – pre order for 9th July The Syndicate
Chris Whitaker – We Begin At The End
Hope you can join us on the 14th July at 7.30pm (BST) on Facebook Live. Apologies, especially to the authors, that I can’t give you all cookies!