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January 2017

The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths

img_0987After bones are discovered in the network of tunnels under Norwich, DCI Nelson has a murder to investigate when it is revealed that they are part of a recent burial. To add a macabre twist, Dr. Ruth Galloway has suspicions that the bones have been boiled – could a cannibal be at large? Meanwhile, a homeless woman has gone missing, the only clue seemingly being that she has ‘gone underground’. Are the two cases connected and what, if anything, links them to the disappearance of another local woman? It is up to Nelson and Dr. Ruth Galloway to unearth the mysteries of The Underground before it is too late…

Over the past year, I have read all of Elly Griffiths’ ‘Ruth Galloway’ books and The Chalk Pit was on my list of most anticipated books of 2017. Ruth has become one of my favourite fictional characters and it has been fascinating to see the character development of her and other favourites such as Cathbad and Nelson. All of the characters are extremely well-written, likeable and very realistic.

With homelessness seemingly on the rise, The Chalk Pit is a very topical read and Elly Griffiths deals with the issue in a sensitive and sympathetic way. It is hard not to feel for the plight of the rough sleepers, and people’s differing attitudes towards them is all too true. DS Judy Johnson really comes into her own in this book and the obituary written by her at the end of the book is very moving.

As someone who loves historical as well as crime fiction, I have found Elly Griffiths’ books a perfect read. Although there is less of a historical angle in The Chalk Pit, there is still enough about old bones and communities to whet the appetite! As you would expect with any book involving DCI Nelson and Dr. Galloway, there are some murders to investigate along the way, which tie in neatly to the disappearance of the women.

Elly Griffiths has written another fantastic book and one that, in my opinion, cements her place as one of the best writers of a crime series. My only regret is that I have now finished all the Ruth Galloway books and know that there will be a while until the next one!

With thanks to Net Galley and Quercus for the arc.

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Rush of Blood by Mark Billingham

51io8stn9l-_sx318_bo1204203200_Three British couples become friends after meeting on holiday in Florida. Disaster strikes, however, when, on their last night, the teenage daughter of a fellow holidaymaker goes missing and is eventually found dead. Keeping in touch on their return home and meeting up for a series of three dinner parties, it soon becomes apparent that looks can be deceiving – what exactly are each of these couples hiding? When a second girl goes missing, and connections begin to be made, could one of the six actually be involved?

As a fan of Mark Billingham’s ‘Thorne’ books, I’d wanted to read Rush of Blood (a non-Thorne standalone) for a while. Initially, I found the six characters confusing and it took me a while to fully comprehend who each person was and who their respective partners were. Once I’d overcome this problem, I did find the characters believable, if a tad unlikeable. At times, the couples seemed mismatched, although this helped to muddy the plot slightly, making it harder to fathom out who the killer was.

Despite the story revolving around the death of a teenager, this is very much a character-driven plot and very little detail is actually given about the murder. The only real police work we read about takes place after the couples return home and a young police constable is tasked with eliciting information from them.

This is not a fast-paced book but more of a slow burner that makes you question what goes on behind closed doors. Like in many books, a twist was anticipated although I did not guess the correct culprit! I did feel, however, that the motive was not fully explained and would have liked this to have been expanded further.

With thanks to Net Galley and Grove Atlantic for the electronic copy.

 

The World According to Danny Dyer: Life Lessons from the East End

41nk2ofpkdlNow a household name playing Mick Carter on Eastenders, life hasn’t always been a bed of roses for Danny Dyer. Born in Custom House, in London, Life Lessons from the East End gives us an insightful look into what it was like growing up in an area where becoming an actor was not exactly top of everyone’s career choice list.

More a collection of stories and anecdotes than an autobiography, it is hard to read this book without hearing the voice of the man himself due to phraseology being used. For those not able to translate the Cockney rhyming slang throughout the book, a glossary of terms is provided at the back! Danny is very forthright with his opinions and while some of them may not be to everyone’s liking, he certainly makes a lot of sense on a great many issues.

I found this a very funny read with quite a few genuine ‘laugh out loud’ moments. Danny comes across as a very normal, down-to-earth man and while the liberal use of profanities may offend some, if you are reading this book you must surely know what language to expect!

An enjoyable read.

 

A Tapping at My Door by David Jackson

51eodoodzlWhen a woman is found murdered in a most horrific way in the Stoneycroft area of Liverpool, the police are shocked to discover that she is a member of the police force. DS Nathan Cody has very little in the way of evidence except for a dead raven left at the scene of the crime and the fact that the woman no longer has any eyes… When another body is found, the police fear they have a serial killer on their hands. Can they apprehend the culprit before the body count rises?

After reading so many positive reviews and seeing numerous entries in various bloggers’ ‘best of 2016’ lists, I had to see exactly what had made so many people rave about this book. I am so glad that I did! From the very beginning, when we are introduced to the first victim, I was hooked. The author builds up the tension very quickly and you know straight away that something horrible is about to happen. After such a strong opening, the following chapter came as much-needed light relief and provided a genuine ‘laugh out loud’ moment as DS Cody chases a flasher through Liverpool city centre!

I found myself really liking the character of Nathan Cody and the author has created a likeable, if troubled, lead character. For me, though, the highlight of the book was the setting. Being from Liverpool, I found I could visualise the areas which were being discussed and there are certainly some parts of the city I will now look at in a different way! I particularly enjoyed reading about the aforementioned chase through the city centre – a very accurate description of the route taken!

The closing chapter definitely sets up a follow-up and I do hope that this is the first in a series. An excellent book and one I have to thank my fellow bloggers for alerting me to.

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

img_0999Single mum Louise is content with her life until she meets David. Young, attractive and interested in her, she can’t believe her luck. Then she meets her new boss and, to her horror, it’s the same man. What makes matters worse, is that she also meets and befriends his wife, Adele. It doesn’t take Louise long to realise that there is something very wrong with their marriage but who is telling the truth? Is David the dangerous control freak he is being made out to be and is Adele as weak and vulnerable as she claims?

There has been a lot of online buzz about this book and so I felt I had to see what all the fuss was about myself. Although the blurb clearly states that there is going to be a killer twist, I was certainly not prepared for what it was! Knowing that there was going to be a twist, I spent most of the book desperately searching for clues to no avail – this is something that cannot be predicted!

It is quite hard to review this book without giving anything away, but I will say that the story is told mainly from the perspectives of Louise and Adele, both in the present and in the past. The characters are well-written and the author does a fantastic job in steering you away from the truth so that when that ending does come it hits you hard!

Behind Her Eyes was not the book I expected, but this is a good thing! It’s not often I am completely wrong-footed by a book so well done Sarah Pinborough! My advice would be to read other reviews of this book sparingly as there are a few spoilers out there…

With thanks to Net Galley and Harper Collins for the ARC.

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