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Blood Tide by Claire McGowan

51GRMUtXmDLWhen a young couple disappear on the ominously named Bone Island, forensic psychologist, Paula Maguire braves the treacherous weather to investigate. The case is bittersweet for Paula as it stirs up memories of the last family holiday she had with her long-lost mother. It is soon obvious that ‘outsiders’ are not welcome, with people reluctant to share information about the fate of the couple. With the storm not abating, Paula has a decision to make – should she return back to her daughter on the mainland and leave the case unsolved or risk being trapped on an island with a killer on the loose?

One of my favourite films is The Wicker Man where an ‘outsider’ is lured to a bizarre island in order to investigate the disappearance of a young girl. It was the similarity to this plot that first attracted me to Blood Tide and, after reading it, there are definitely parallels!

One of the things I enjoyed most about Blood Tide was the description of the island – indeed, the island became more of a character than a setting. The author has created an incredibly atmospheric backdrop to the story and it is easy to imagine the desolate landscape that is being terrorised by the unforgiving storm. At times, I felt like screaming at Paula to get off the island, such is the sense of foreboding. Of course, she doesn’t though, and what follows is the discovery of a conspiracy of silence that threatens the life of the forensic psychologist herself.

I would not describe Blood Tide as a fast-paced read, but more of a slow burner that really gets inside your head. Throughout the book, I developed many theories as to what had happened to the missing couple and I was pleased that some of them were correct. I liked the leading character and could really empathise with her plight as she tried to uncover the truth regardless of her own personal safety.

The only problem I had with this book was that I hadn’t realised that it was the fifth in a series. This meant that I had to try to figure out Paula’s backstory in addition to following the missing people story line. This is by no means a criticism – just a slight disappointment that I’ve missed  out on the other books and that I have inevitably come across quite a few spoilers!

With thanks to Headline and Net Galley for the ARC.

The Missing Ones by Patricia Gibney

51uedmjr1slWhen a woman is found murdered in a cathedral and a man is found hanging from a tree, Detective Lottie Parker is called in to lead the investigation. When the same tattoo is discovered on the legs of both victims, is becomes obvious that they are connected, but how? The trail leads Parker to the former children’s home, St. Angela’s, and a cover-up that has existed for decades. When two teenage boys go missing, Parker is under extreme pressure to close the case before the killer strikes again.

By using the line, ‘I wonder which one of us will be next?’, Patricia Gibney has you hooked right from the start of the book as we are introduced to three children witnessing the death and subsequent burial of another child. Although it is obvious from quite early on in the story who some of the children are, the full significance of the event is not revealed until the end and leaves you feeling horrified and traumatised at the same time.

There have been many books written about abuse in children’s homes but what I particularly liked about The Missing Ones is that it deals with the repercussions for all those involved – the abusers and the abused. Patricia Gibney has created a very atmospheric book that paints a very vivid picture of what life was like at St. Angela’s and, at times, your heart bleeds for those who were unfortunate enough to be incarcerated there.

In Detective Lottie Parker, we have a strong female lead who, after losing her husband, is battling her own inner demons. Her relationship with her children is strained as she struggles to find a balance between her work and home life and she is in danger of losing control of her children altogether. I really liked Lottie and felt that she handled situations in a ‘real’ way, making her character very believable.

On the strength of this book, I hope that this is a series that will run and run. I look forward to reading the next stages of Lottie’s life.

With thanks to Bookouture and NetGalley for the ARC.

 

Holding by Graham Norton

When a skeleton is unearthed in the Irish village of Duneen, Sergeant PJ Collins finally has something to sink his teeth into. Thought to be the remains of the missing Tommy Burke, the discovery stirs up memories for two of his former loves: Brid Riordan, an unhappily married mother of two, and unmarried Evelyn Ross. Do either of these woman know more about the skeleton than they are willing to divulge, or is someone else harbouring a shameful secret?

When I saw that TV presenter and comedian Graham Norton had written a novel, I was intrigued. Even more so with the realisation that it was based around the discovery of a body. Would his acerbic wit be evident in the characters or would this be a departure from what I was expecting?

What I read was a gentle mystery with a well-written, character driven plot. Such is the style of the writing, I could almost hear Graham Norton’s voice during certain sections of the text and his humour certainly comes through, albeit in a much more laid back way. In PJ, we have the very antithesis of a leading man – overweight, no social life to speak of and limited job prospects – and yet you quickly find yourself charmed by him. Likewise, I found myself willing Brid Riordan to get out of the rut she had found herself in and felt real empathy towards her plight.

Holding is a great debut from Graham Norton and I hope that this is the start of a new venture for him! It is published on October 6th and can be purchased on Amazon.

With thanks to Hodder & Stoughton and Net Galley for the ebook.

Against the Light by Marjorie Eccles

Against the LightThe year is 1912 and when the body of a man is found in the back of a cab, the police know they have their work cut out when they find that he was known to the notorious Irishman, Danny O’Rourke. With known associates refusing to reveal his whereabouts, Sergeant Inskip must try by all means possible to root him out. The waters are muddied, however, when Lucy, the seven-month-old niece of cabinet minister, Edmund Latimer, disappears, taken whilst on a walk in the park. Could the kidnapping be linked to Latimer’s involvement in the Irish Home Rule Bill currently passing through parliament and is there any connection to the dead man? Latimer’s wife Alice is desperate to uncover the truth, unaware that she is probably not going to be happy with what she discovers…

This is the second book I have read by this author, and like the previous one, Heirs and Assigns, Marjorie Eccles has managed to convey a rich portrait of what life was like for a section of society in the past. In Against the Light, we see a stark contrast between the privileged life of the Latimers and the trials faced by the working class in the east end of London. It was also good to, again, see the character of a strong woman with Alice Latimer’s work as a doctor.

I did have a few reservations before reading this book, knowing that there were going to be references to the Home Rule debate in Ireland. I was concerned that the mystery element of the story would become overshadowed by politics but, thankfully, this was not the case. While the political part of the book is essential to the plot, it is merely a backdrop to all the other aspects of the story. The different sub-plots all link together nicely and there are a few surprise moments. I also liked the way real-life situations were weaved into the plot with, for example, reference to the Titanic disaster.

Another great read from Marjorie Eccles which is available from September 1st 2016.

With thanks to NetGalley and Severn House Publishers.

The Irish Inheritance by M J Lee

Genealogical investigator, Jayne Sinclair, is contacted by an American billionaire who is seeking help in order to trace his father. Adopted at a young age, and with no recollection of his early life, John Hughes is desperate to discover his true identity before he succumbs to the illness that threatens to end his life in the following months. With few clues to help her, the former police detective has to use all of her investigative skills in order to make connections to Ireland’s Easter Rising of 1916 and the later death of a British Officer on a hillside near Dublin.

Genealogical fiction has, in recent years, become a fast-growing genre with authors such as Steve Robinson, Nathan Dylan Goodwin and John Nixon leading the way. M J Lee has shown that there is now another author to add to the list. In Jayne Sinclair we have a solid lead character whose doggedness is evident throughout the book whether it be in her professional life or in the strained relationship with her husband. We also, however, get to see her softer side when she is with her father. The interaction between these two characters is, at times, touching as both of them try to come to terms with his early dementia.

The story is told in two timeframes: present-day Manchester and Ireland during the First World War and ensuing years. Writing about an issue as controversial as British rule in Ireland was always going to be a difficult task but the author deals with it in a sensitive and informative way, showing the events from the perspectives of those on different sides of the argument.

Something that authors of genealogical fiction occasionally get wrong is the methods used by their characters to research – this is not the case here. The steps Jayne uses are logical, using the Internet, record offices and interviews in order to discover the true parentage of John Hughes.

On the strength of this book, it is safe to say that the Jane Sinclair series promises to be a welcome addition to the growing genre of genealogical fiction.

The Irish Inheritance is available to pre-order on Amazon prior to its release on June 15th.

Thank you to the author for providing me with an ARC.

 

 

 

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