runner

runner

I live in Bristol UK horror dark fiction and crime are my books of choice and when not reading I like to run

Review
4 Stars
An engaging and warm family thriller
Blood Sisters - Jane Corry

Alison works as a lecturer teaching stained glass creation. To help her income Alison applies for a post at a local open prison where she hopes her skills can benefit those due for early release. Kitty, following a road accident, has suffered acute brain damage now requiring 24 hospital care. The connection between these young ladies soon becomes apparent and as the story unfolds we learn the secrets that bind them together both in the past and the present. On first introduction the reader has naturally great sympathy for Kitty, her almost vegetable state and inability to communicate, but Alison has also been affected by events from her childhood now manifesting in her need to self harm....."It doesn't hurt enough. Never does. For it's the cuts we hide inside that really do the damage."

 

This story for me is stepping out of my reading comfort zone and surprisingly enjoying a style of writing where the reader becomes a bystander as events unfold through the voices of Alison and Kitty. What is  particularly poignant is the fact that Kitty cannot communicate by speech and her thoughts can only remain as thoughts not shared with the other players in the book but only with the (privileged) reader. This is a very powerful story telling tool as the more you read the more you can  appreciate and understand how difficult life is for someone so incapacitated . The author effectively displays the structures and need that exists within the family unit and how, even in our darkest moments, that warm felling of love and tenderness can overcome the greatest adversity. Now please do not suffer under the illusion that this is a banal and trite story, I am a reader and reviewer more comfortable with crime and horror and yet I managed to read this 400 page thriller in a day.....it is good! Many thanks to the good people at netgalley for supplying me with a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review, and that is what I have written.

Review
5 Stars
Brilliant start to a new series
Fire Damage (A Jessie Flynn Investigation) - Kate Medina

What on the face of it looks like a standard crime novel, albeit set within the confines of the armed forces, proves to be much more a character driven study where all the main participants are in some way tainted by past events.

 

Psychologist Dr Jessie Flynn is trying to understand and break down the traumatic and delicate mind of 4 year old Sami. The child appears to be suffering a form of PTSD and Jessie becomes suspicious that perhaps his parents Scott (badly injured and disfigured during a tour of Afghanistan) and Nooria know more than they are prepared to divulge. At the same time Jessie's friend and former patient Captain Ben Callan is investigating the premature death of Sergeant Andy Jackson in the stifling desert heat of an Afghanistan autumn. Callan must also live each day with the consequences of war, he carries a bullet lodged in his brain too risky to surgically remove causing him to suffer frequent epileptic type fits. Meanwhile Inspector Bobby "Marilyn" Simmons (what a wonderful name to be associated with a rock legend!)  has encountered his own difficulties, a badly decomposed body on the shore killed by severe blunt trauma to the back of the head

 

Sound complicated? It's not....The story and momentum gather pace until in the last few chapters all is revealed. I read at blistering speed but found it difficult to keep abreast of events and I urged on Jessie Flynn in her quest to help restore a sad and damaged Sami. What makes this a great read is the depth to which the author shows the emotional fallout present in all. Flynn is haunted by an event in her childhood in which she blames herself and has never recovered. This manifests itself in recurrent OCD....."straightening the sleeves. Taking a step back she checked their alignment, straightened again, millimetre by millimetre, until they were exactly level...." Ben Callan has a bullet embedded in his brain and cannot be removed due to fear of death...."Frontal lobe seizure is the official diagnosis . He tapped the scar on his temple. Caused by the bullet that the army surgeons decided was too risky to remove." Major Nicholas Scott, Intelligence Corps, badly burnt in Afghanistan three months previously....."the left side of his face was so badly burnt that the skin had melted, slid away from the bones underneath, leaving threads of brown, tortured tissue. Batman's Joker dropped into a vat of acid..."

 

This is not a story that is inundated with army rank and slang but rather a crime thriller where the main participant happens to be an army psychologist. It is the first in the start of a new series featuring Jessie Flynn and I look forward to reading the second  when released later this year. Many thanks to the good people at netgalley for sending me a gratis copy of this superb story in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written.

Review
5 Stars
Welcome back Detective Robert Hunter!
The Caller - Chris Carter

I am sure I am not the only one who was disappointed when The Caller (8th outing for Robert Hunter) was not published last July and we the faithful had to wait a further 6+ months before the great Detective Hunter of the LA ultra violent crimes unit was confronted once again with a seemingly unstoppable and deranged serial killer. Hunter is not like any detective I have met before, he is highly intelligent possessing an over active mind that rarely allows him time to relax. He enjoys alcohol but not in the falling down "sozzled" way, rather his tipple of choice is single malt scotch whisky which he savours and sips....."Hunter reached for his glass and brought it to his nose. The smoky and complex aroma of the golden liquid made him smile again. He picked up a water jar and poured just a little more than a few drops into the tumbler, before finally sipping his whisky. Smooth sweet vanilla, with sooty smoke coming to the fore and a long honeyed ember finish..."

 

A sadistic killer is once again targeting victims in downtown LA, and his methods of execution are both bloody and ingenious. Rather than use immediate torture he makes a video call to someone very close to the victim and asks that person 2 questions. If the friend is successful in answering then the victim lives but a wrong response results in him or her having to watch a horrific and callous murder. What sets Chris Carter's books apart from his rivals is the methods that the perpetrator uses to silence his victims. We have a face destroyed by glass fragments, a head crushed in a vice, a skull penetrated with a chisel and hammer...He brought the chisel and hammer back to Cassandra's head. This time he positioned the chisel just a little left from center, and only about an inch up from her forehead........Up went the hammer. Down it came BANG...." The fact that the author studied psychology and criminal behaviour and as a criminal psychologist  worked with many serious offenders means that he can display his knowledge through the brilliant and determined Detective Hunter. My Favourite character in The Caller is Mr J (Jenkinson) married to the lovely Cassandra, who falls victim to the "demon" (I'm not spoiling the story by sharing that with you) We discover that Mr J has a hidden occupation, one that his wife was not aware of, he is a hit man for the mob, and when Cassandra meets an untimely demise Mr J is on the case.....So with Detective Hunter chasing the demon before he strikes again and Mr J demanding revenge the scene is set for a fantastic conclusion...a perfect ending that bought a smile to my face with a beautiful closing observation......

 

Yes Chris Carter's stories may not be deep, observational and character driven but by god they are great fun to read and once started impossible to stop. The front of the UK hardback edition states "as compelling as a box-set thriller" and that is a great description. I hope I do not have to wait 18 months before joining Detective Hunter and his colleague Carlos Garcia on another thrilling outing!

Review
4 Stars
Fast paced Scandinavian crime thriller
Watching You - Arne Dahl, Neil Smith

When I started this book it really confused me. I expect Scandinavian fiction to be a slow burner with deep descriptions and weighty character development. However from page 1 we are literally thrown into the unrelenting action as Detective Sam Berger together with his trusty assistant Deer (Desire) smash rotten wooden planks and charges through the door of a ruined building, battering ram in hand, in search of another teenaged girl who has disappeared without trace.

 

At first I found the unrelenting pace not to my liking but as the story evolved and the complexities developed and ticked away, like the mechanics of well oiled Patek Philippe 2508, I began to settle into an enjoyable and clever thriller. In total 7 girls have disappeared and on searching through photographic evidence Berger notices that in a number of pictures, from separate crime scenes, a lady on a bicycle is always present. Her name is Nathalie Freden and if the detectives can successfully trace and connect her to William Larsson, the supposed killer then surely the case can reach a swift and needy conclusion....not so dear readers for in the hands of a very accomplished author nothing is what is seems. Very soon life for Sam Berger is turned upside down and the search is on for a sophisticated killer that stretches back many years where the skills of a murderer are honed and perfected in the seemingly innocent world of a school playground. What is the significance of a small mechanical cog left at each crime scene? and how is this connected with the theft of an expensive Patek Philippe watch from Detective Berger's prized collection?

 

The story is full of surprises and moved in directions that I did not expect, but equally really enjoyed, as the author presented a complex thriller in a very reader friendly format. Many thanks to the good people at netgalley who supplied me with an early gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written.

 

Review
3 Stars
Clever little horror story
A Kiss of Thorns - Tim Waggoner

Julie and Ken a young couple trying to save their marriage copulate in the forest, under the watchful eye of Lonny. Lonny lives in a log cabin alone with some unusual and familiar  company in his cellar. His childhood was a sad picture of incest and abuse living with his sister Delia, who he loved, and a tyrannical and abusive father Nathaniel..."a big man tall, broad-shouldered, thick -limbed who looks like a brute at the best of times." With Delia dead Lonny believes in his own twisted and disturbed mind that by sacrificing lives he can bring Delia back to life.

 

This is quite a clever little story part 80's horror incorporated with the flavour of a well known nursery rhyme concerning a young girl along in the forest and a big bad wolf...."The cold fluttering that she'd felt in the woods started up again. After all, she was alone, in the middle of the forest-at night no less- in the cabin of a strange man who from the look of things lived like a monk." Indeed the author invokes the image of Icarus in the final pages who forgot his father's warnings and dared to fly too close to the sun on wings of feathers and wax."

 

So if you appreciate biblical legends, remember with fondness early European fairy tales, crave the company of Freddy Krueger, and enjoy singing along to Dueling Banjos then quite possibly you will love A Kiss of Thorns but beware...if you go down to the woods today!

Review
4 Stars
Superior nordic noir storytelling
The Legacy: Children's House, Book 1 -  Victoria Cribb (Translator), Yrsa Sigurdardóttir, Hodder & Stoughton UK

Scandanavian noir is a type of crime fiction that is written with a certain realistic style that is both dark and morally challenging. In some ways it is akin to the revered English author Agatha Christie where the players are introduced, analysed and in a complex series of incidents the murderer is exposed. Although The Legacy is strictly set in Iceland I have taken the liberty of categorizing it under Scandi/Nordic noir as it contains many of the latter's  storytelling characteristics.

 

Detective Huldar is investigating the murder of Elisa Freysteinsson and the only witness to this horrific crime is her 7 year old daughter Margret, so traumatised by the event that she is naturally unable to communicate just exactly what she witnessed. In desperation Huldar turns his attention to an organisation known as Children's House and in particular Freyja whose field of expertise is dealing with traumatised young people. This is a difficult situation for Huldar as he had recently been involved in a short, intense relationship with Freyja which must now be set aside in the interest of justice and the care and management of a very frightened young girl.

 

Yrsa Sigurdardottir's style of writing is unhurried, descriptive and yet so involving. It rewards a patient reader with a superb piece of storytelling that gradually and systematically analyses and disregards the irrelevant finally exposing the perpetrator. What is the significance of using an electric appliance as a murder weapon? What are the strange short wave number codes received by a socially inept shy Karl? As the murder count rises and progress falters Huldar must use all his cunning and experience to find answers and to encourage the young Margret to reveal just who she saw on the night her mother was killed.

 

I work within the legal system and was very impressed how the author managed the rather delicate conversations and interviews that Freyja was obligated to implement with a very frightened child. The success or otherwise of the investigation rested to a greater part on the outcome of these interviews, would a young Margret gradually reveal the one piece of information that Huldar so desperately needed?

 

Many thanks to the publisher Hodder & Stoughton for sending me a gratis copy of The Legacy in return for an honest review, and that is what I have written.

Review
2 Stars
Absurd plot and hollow characters
By M. J. Arlidge Eeny Meeny: Di Helen Grace 1 [Paperback] - M.J. Arlidge

DI Helen Grace is, in my opinion, not mentally fit to hold a senior rank in any police force. Due to a difficult childhood (which unfolds as the story progresses) she needs to punish herself, to feel hurt, to cleanse herself and wipe out painful memories. With this in mind she is a client to Jake the local S & M guru, but not only is this a regular past time (not passing judgement here) she wants, needs begs him to really hurt her...is this someone fit to carry the duties of a Detective Inspector?... has some incident in the past created this lonely woman?  This is one lady living on the edge and deserves instant suspension....."Helen cried out in pain and looked down to see her fingernails dug into her palm. She had drawn blood in her frustration and anger"...."she fought the urge, digging her nails into her wounded hand. The pain flowed through her calming her"....

 

The plot in this crime story is frankly absurd. A serial killer is kidnapping two helpless individuals and hiding/locking them in a safe and impossible to find location. A gun is the only other item present and the incarcerated are faced with an impossible conundrum...kill or be killed. The person who remains is permitted to go free, and one such example is the second kidnapping...... Ben and Peter are attending a meeting in Bournemouth and returning home the car apparently develops a mechanical fault somewhere in the New Forest. With no mobile phone reception, and therefore little hope of rescue, they are surprised and but relieved when a van approaches...is this rescue or something more sinister? So how did the killer know that the car would break down at this particular desolate junction? Apparently he had hammered a large nail into the petrol tank and calculated exactly where the vehicle would come to rest and he could then resume his dastardly deed. Ben had ensured that the car was full of fuel before departing Bournemouth and the author assures us that once the car is fueled the driver or indeed any driver would fail to look at the display directly in front of him and therefore not notice the plummeting fuel gauge. What a ridiculous assumption, indeed if we accept that this could quite easily happen surely the killer must have known that there was a great possibility that Ben would see the plummeting fuel gauge and therefore stop immediately.

 

There is a point in the story where DI Helen Grace is convinced there is someone within her group who is feeding and leaking information to the press. So without proper evidence she accuses Charlie and Mark, both experience detectives, (although Mark is on the verge of becoming an alcoholic.. another clichéd policeman) of being the source of that leak. This is an atrocious way for a senior officer to treat her staff...accusations based on assumptions. By carrying out such a callous act Grace is splitting the team apart and lowering morale....would a senior boss really do this? I think not....

 

So with a questionable plot and a dysfunctional cast of characters....are there any redeeming features? The last quarter of the book does contain a few surprises and rather than abandon the story it kept me reading until the end, with a conclusion that leads the reader quite naturally forward to the next story in the series....but I for one shall not partake and can only hope that DI Helen Grace receives the medical help she so obviously needs!

Review
2 Stars
A slow burn does not work for me.....
The Birdwatcher - William Shaw

William South is a policeman in the flatlands around Kent. He is a loner by nature and this is reflected in his past time of bird watching: a hobby that requires stealth, patience and a love of being by oneself. However, when his neighbour Bob Rayner is murdered the responsibility falls to him and his immediate superior DS Cupidi to bring the perpetrators of this vile crime to justice. South spent his childhood in the troubled streets of a 70's Belfast and is no stranger to death and suffering his father having been supposedly  murdered by paramilitaries present in the province at that time.

 

This story has a certain slow tempo and style, South is not a man to be hurried and he approaches his job in the same meticulous manner is his bird watching. He forms a connection with Cupidi whose daughter Zoe it would appear is keen to learn the principles of bird watching and South is almost forced to allow her to accompany him on "twitcher" expeditions. There is a presumption by the reader that South and Cupidi have a mutual romantic interest in each other but the author fails to explore this and their feelings never develop beyond their working environment. The author uses South's troubled childhood to introduce an element of intrigue as past and present collide in a bloody conclusion.

 

I found the whole story to be somewhat boring and lacking in any real warmth towards the characters. It is told in a present and past time line and indeed William's childhood was the most exciting and dangerous part, in contrast to his laborious and humdrum Kent existence.

 

Review
5 Stars
Murder in the scorched Australian landscape
The Dry - Jane Harper

In a parched, dry community, a few hours travelling distance from Melbourne, the bloody killing of Luke, Karen and Billy Hadler has occurred. Attending the funeral is childhood friend and serving policeman Aaron Falk, who becomes involved in the criminal investigation thus resurrecting some painful 20 year old memories. As the investigation proceeds and the list of suspects mounts some long forgotten events tear the heart and soul from the good inhabitants of Kiewarra as they struggle for answers in this rain starved oven.

 

From the moment I received a gratis copy of this book from the publisher I knew I was about to read something extra special. The very texture and feel of the dust jacket with its depiction of red burning heat and rawness immediately set the tone for the harshness of the landscape and the brutality of the content. The author expertly portrays a suspicious people attempting to come to terms with a hidden killer in their midst as they dig out a living on a landscape starved of rain for two years...."They gazed around and were always taken aback by the crushing vastness of the open land. The space was the thing that hit them first. There was so much of it. There was enough to drown in. To look out and see not another soul between you and the horizon could be a strange and disturbing sight." Falk is unwelcome as there are suspicions over the death of Ellie Deacon many years ago, and he is viewed as having a pivotal role with his then childhood friend Luke...so where does the truth lie?

 

This book succeeds with me on so many levels. It is a first class crime story full of deception and subterfuge making it almost impossible for the reader to identify the killer, who when exposed is totally unexpected. It is a story of heartache and greed and ultimately survival as to exist here means coming to terms with the effects of drought and the harsh day to day hand to mouth existence. It is a story of suspicion and mistrust all played out under the unrelenting heat of an endless sun sucking the last ounce of energy from anything that moves...."Soon, they'd discover that the vegies didn't grow as willingly as they had in the city window box. That every single green shoot had to be coaxed and prised from the reluctant soil, and the neighbours  were too busy doing the same on an industrial scale to muster much cheer in their greetings."...

 

Many thanks to Little Brown the publishers for sending me a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written. I cannot recommend highly enough!

 

Review
2 Stars
Fast and furious but lacking soul....
Sirens - Joseph B. Knox

Joseph Knox is one of a new breed of crime writers creating gritty stories based around the northern industrial gang ridden Manchester belt. What he does he does extremely well exposing vice and corruption in the underbelly of inner city life. Aidan Waits is a detective living on the edge quite happy to accept the odd little gift, enjoy a crafty snifter, or test the strength of his septum by sniffing copious amounts of cocaine. When his boss Superintendant Parrs confronts Waits, outlining his numerous misdemeanours, he suggests a solution that will benefit both parties. Aidan must agree to infiltrate and feedback intelligence on the activities of gang supremo Zain Carver and the only way to achieve this is to go deep undercover......

 

Although this is a well written story and there are many and varied characters on show in a city overflowing with illegal late night activity, it was not a novel I particularly enjoyed. I realize that this is probably the first in a new series, by a writer who some may well view as a new Lee Child or Simon Kernick, but for me as a standalone work it failed to inspire. I need my crime to be riddled with characters who appear to be strong on the surface but are consumed by doubt and indecision. I want to explore their weaknesses and to be shown how this impacts on their daily existence not only for them but for the immediate family and loved ones. I read this story in two sittings and found the content more akin to a script for a well made tv series, enough to keep me entertained but little to entice me to return. Many thanks to the publishers who in return for an honest review supplied me with a gratis copy, and that is what I have written.

Review
3 Stars
Spooky and atmospheric tale
Eltonsbrody (Valancourt 20th Century Classics) - Visiting Professor John Thieme, Edgar Mittelholzer

Eltonsbrody an eerie Gothic mansion in the Caribbean under the patronage and possible  madness of Mrs Scaife. Into this tropical paradise enters Mr Woodsley seeking accommodation close to Bridgetown in Barbados.

 

The story written in 1960 is typical of the horror writing of that period. The author does a wonderful job of portraying Mrs Scaife as a kindly yet possible dotty keeper of the inn! As the story gathers momentum the fear element increases and the reader begins to understand that all is not well in the house of Eltonsbrody and in particular its owner Mrs Scaife. There is some beautiful and elegant prose that greatly adds to the overall atmosphere in this Gothic tale of intrigue and growing uneasiness...."The soft swishing rustle of the casuarinas might have been a spirit-voice warning me of danger."......."And it was human hair. Human hair which must have been forcibly uprooted from the head which had once borne it."...."The wind. Just the wind whooping now, moaning now, whining in under the eaves, shaking the windows downstairs."....

 

My thanks to the good people at Valancourt Books for supplying me with a gratis copy of this spooky little tale, in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Review
4 Stars
First class crime thriller
Revolver - Duane Swierczynski

Revolver is a story about a family stretching over three separate time periods. It's 1965 and Officer Stan Walczak together with his partner George Wildey is patrolling an area of Philadelphia known locally as the Jungle. This is not a good chapter in American History and events attributable to racism are an everyday occurrence. The police officers have arranged to meet local snitch ,Terrill Lee Stanton, at a nearby taproom where in unexpected incident has devastating and far reaching consequences.

 

It's 1995 and homicide detective Jim Walczak is made aware that Terrill Lee Stanton is about to be released. Jim suspects that Stanton was to blame for the death of his father but he was never actually incarcerated for this offence. Jim is determined to find the truth whatever the cost.

 

2015 and Jim Walczak's  daughter, as part of her dissertation, is reinvestigating the death of her grandfather Stan. What she discovers will question everything that went before and lead to surprising and shocking revelations.

 

The author of this story has embarked on a difficult balancing act. In attempting to rediscover the truth, he needs to hold the reader's attention as the storyline flits between the harsh and difficult reality of policing a racially divided 60's Philadelphia and the modern world as seen through the eyes of granddaughter Audrey. Duane Swierczynski performs this task with ultimate ease creating a thoughtful story that challenges the reader as he expertly brings all the separate threads together in a surprising yet very fitting conclusion.

Review
2 Stars
Too much dialogue and not enough character exploration
Quieter Than Killing - Sarah Hilary

I'm probably best described as an old fashioned reader of crime and I love character driven stories where the protagonist is a 24 hour meticulous cop with a deeply flawed self. I can think of no better examples of this than John Rebus; Ian Rankin's truer than life drink sodden Scottish detective. Another fine example is Michael Connelly's creation Hieronymus Bosch, the son of a prostitute brutally murdered, secluded in his penthouse overlooking the city of Angels, a city portrayed by the author in prosaic and very realistic manner. He is a driven loner separated from his wife, rebuilding his relationship with his daughter. The point here is that I, as a lover of crime, need to understand the foibles and eccentricities of the main character for the story to have any heart or sincerity. This just does not happen in Quieter than Killing.

 

DI Marnie Rome and her assistant DS Noah Jake are investigating a series of random attacks on the streets of a very wintry and cold London. Those who are the subject of the attacks all have one thing in common, they have just been released following a period of imprisonment for similar acts of violence. So who is carrying out these new attacks, is it some sort of vigilante seeking revenge and retribution? In addition  Marnie's family home has been ransacked, is there a connection between the two events? Is her foster brother Stephen involved? even though he is incarcerated for the murder of her parents.

 

I have real problems with the plotline here finding it very odd and very confusing in the telling. The action is certainly fast and the characters, situations and events as they occur full of exuberance and vigour, but lacking any real credibility. I think it is vital in all good detective stories to really try to understand the main characters, what makes them the people they are. What drives them to this 24 hour obsession they have with their job. Dedication on this level must undoubtedly lead to the unravelling of close partner relations and possibly the introduction of alcohol dependency. Yet we never get to see the other side of Marnie she has a very dedicated partner Ed but the author never explores this relationship in any real detail. I need Marnie to be more human I want her  to display character flaws that each and every one of us is genetically predisposed to....unless of course she is a robot! We therefore have a story without any real soul or heart ( possibly excluding the character of Zoe Marshall social worker with a good and emerging part) that is full of constant action but never seems to take the time to explore the personalities on display in any great depth.

 

Yes I am old fashioned in my choice of detective story but I am open to change, sadly however Sarah Hilary's DI Marnie Rome will not be the instigator of that change. A special thank you to the publisher Headline who supplied me with a gratis copy to read and review which unfortunately was flawed with typing errors. It does not make for easy reading when the name of the author and the book title are displayed randomly throughout the story in large print. This is not an  uncommon occurrence and more time care and patience should be spent by publishers in the marketing and presentation of the kindle/mobi edition.

Review
2 Stars
Not his best
Dead Girl Walking by Chris Brookmyre (2015-07-02) - Chris Brookmyre

Having recently read and enjoyed Want you Gone and Black Widow by Chris Brookmyre I was hoping for more of the same fast prose, good characters and enticing story line in Dead Girl Walking. Jack Parlabane, ace investigative reporter, is asked to help find the beautiful and talented Heike Gunn the mesmerizing band leader of the rock band Savage Earth Heart. What I did enjoy about this story was learning a little about Savage Earth Heart and travelling with them as they performed all over Europe in anticipation of the big American Tour. The author shows, in a colourful way, how the band lived and worked with each other on a day to day basis and the petty arguments and jealousies that frequently occurred as band members fought for self recognition. Monica Halcrow, classically trained violinist and the latest recruit, becomes besotted with Gunn at the expense of the relationship with her boyfriend Keith. This however could not sustain a story that was rather devoid of ideas as we waited to see if the charismatic Gunn could be found safe and well by our hero Parlabane.

Review
5 Stars
A magnificent achievement
A History of Loneliness: A Novel - John Boyne

The events unfolding over the last five years concerning sexual abuse has seen the emergence of a bitter and enraged public calling for justice to be seen to be done and to be done with immediate effect. What has made this all the more shocking is the naming of celebrities who were to many of us cherished and household names, and whose downfall was all the more dramatic. It is impossible to believe that the signs of such abuse were not present or noticed at an earlier time, the fact is it was always there and out of fear or misguided loyalties was simply ignored. In this mishmash of deceit and lies the church (and in particular the catholic church) presented itself as the face of salvation and hope when in reality it's clergy were some of the greatest perpetrators

 

Odran Yates is a priest and had always wanted to be a priest since he received "the calling" at an early age. He accepts the ceremony, the conformity, the celibacy and dedicates his life to a greater being knowing whatever the pain, whatever the trial it is god's will. We travel with him back and forth from days of his youth, his intern at college, his administering to the holy pontiff during his time in Rome. We learn of the tragedy in his life; the death of his younger brother Cathal at the hands of his father William, and the demise of his beloved sister Hannah cruelly stricken with dementia from a relatively early age. He accepts with fortitude his vocation basking in the knowledge that he has the love of his young nephews Janus (now a successful author) and young Aidan. He has always been close with this childhood friend Tom Cardie but has pondered and wondered why it is that he is constantly on the move from parish to parish.

 

I was aware that A History of Loneliness concerned the sexual abuse of young boys when under the guardianship of those they always felt they could trust, the priests and elders of the church. John Boyne does a wonderful job of telling a difficult story and gradually introducing doubt into the mind of the reader. This must be akin to the reality of what actually occurred, the refusal to confront those in power and the inability to accept what the eyes saw but the mind did not question. In this respect and indeed in this story no one is blameless for that moment of hesitation, that moment of questioning what you refused to believe resulted in the destroyed and decimated lives of many young people. Father Yates was to make one such mistake that had devastating and far reaching consequences.

 

This is a wonderful story, told with such depth of feeling and a true understanding of the subject matter being explored. I cannot say how glad I was that I read, even though at times the outcome was heart breaking. Boyne successfully portrays the catholic church as an institution more concerned with its own reputation and place in the community rather than protecting the vulnerable and young, the very people who looked to God as love and his workers the priests his guardians. Highly Recommended.

 

Review
4 Stars
Karin Slaughter writes to a very high standard
Pretty Girls - Karin Slaughter

It's always nice to dip back into the writings of an author who demands your respect and grabs your attention from the first page. What Karin Slaughter is the master off is telling stories around small communities, the people that live therein and the cruel and often dysfunctional lives they lead. The central theme in Pretty Girls is do we really know or understand the family/husband/wife that we live with? Everyone it would appear has secrets that they strive to keep hidden and this is true of the lone family man stretching right up to the top decision makers in our community.

 

Claire Scott's sister Julia went missing some 20 years ago and such a devastating incident ripped her family apart resulting in the suicide of her father Sam and the drug addicted hell of her other sister Lydia. Throughout all the years of this heartbreak Claire has always been able to rely on the solid unmoveable influence of her husband Paul. She is deeply in love with him, and he with her, as he controls and organises her life on a daily basis. One night tragedy strikes and Paul is brutally murdered when the happy couple are returning from a downtown Atlanta restaurant. What follows is an exploration and an undermining of all the values that we hold true as Claire attempts to discover why her husband was murdered. This will lead her on a journey into the heart of her family and when the shocking truth about her dead sister becomes clear she will question her very sanity as she begins to realize the truth was staring her in the face all the time.

 

The pace  and the characterization is of the highest standard. There is an edgy and macabre feeling of doom as the strands of the story unfold and a very satisfying conclusion and possibly the saddest final 5 pages I have ever read.

currently reading

Progress: 320/422pages