Would you stake your life on your marriage?
Newlyweds Jake and Alice are offered a mysterious wedding gift - membership of a club which promises its couples will never divorce.
Signing The Pact seems the start to a perfect marriage.
Until one of them breaks the rules.
The marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.
Because The Pact is for life.
And its members will do anything to make sure no one leaves . . .
The premise of this book is a great one. What would you do, and how far would you go, to protect your marriage?
The book begins with the wedding of Jake and Alice, a couple seemingly well suited and happy. As a gift they are given a mysterious locked box and only when they return for honeymoon do they come to realise they have been selected to become part of The Pact, a club which comes with the promise that none of its couples ever divorce.
At first, it seems like a no-brainer. A club of very well connected and happy couples who will support Jake and Alice, through a series of rules and rewards, to make a success of their marriage.
But soon it becomes clear the rules have more power than the rewards and any infringement of the marriage codes can lead to stark and sometimes archaic consequences.
Oh, and did no one mention - the first rule of the marriage Pact is that you don't talk about the marriage Pact - and you certainly don't ask any questions about it, former members or what happens when marriages don't work out.
As Jake and Alice find themselves caught up in the increasingly claustrophobic world of the Pact - with each facing their own "rehabilitation spells" at the Pact's specialist facility (a former prison) they come to realise that no one leaves the Pact. Ever.
Not alive anyway.
This is a book that had me gripped. At times it made for very disturbing reading and the feelings of claustrophobia were almost overwhelming. Even as a reader. It does require a certain wilful suspension of disbelief but not excessively. One could, perhaps, draw comparisons with the Pact as it is set up in the book and certain "religions" favoured by celebrities. The power of the cult is strong.
If ever a book was crying out to be made into a movie, this is it. Although I would hope it wouldn't lose the nuances of Jake's narration - and his snippets about research into marriage and what makes for a successful union.
This is a dark, compelling read which I highly recommend.
The Marriage Pact is published by Penguin UK, I received a review copy of this book via Netgalley
Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive - but not how to live. Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend. Eleanor Oliphant is happy.
Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything. One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted - while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she's avoided all her life.
Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than...fine?
I hate it when there is a great deal of hype around a book - I'm always fearful when I read it that it won't live up to expectations. There are a few bestsellers out there that have singularly failed to wow me and then I find myself wondering if everyone else is more clever than I am that they saw something so wonderful in what I didn't.
So I'd been putting off reading Eleanor Oliphant for a while. There is just so much love out there for this book - that I really was scared of becoming a lone voice shouting at the wind.
I didn't know much about the book except from that everyone seemed to love it, I had read the blurb and I knew that the theme of loneliness ran throughout it.
What I was not expecting was to become so immersed in this story that i simply didn't not want it to end. It is by far one of the most uplifting books I have read in years, if not the most uplifting book i have ever read.
That's not to say there aren't bits in this book that pack hard, painful punches. At times I had to put it down and just think about what I had read. There is a punch delivered near the end - in a single line - that actually broke my heart.
But oh my God.... this book! This beautiful, life affirming, hope giving book. It shows that life can change in unexpected ways, that everyone has their story, their battle, their scars - physical and emotional and if only we learned to look beyond them we might find something really beautiful.
As a protagonist Eleanor is quirky, sad, funny, heartbreakingly unaware of what she is worth and someone who, within a few pages, despite her often brusque exterior, you find yourself championing, feeling her emotions, watching as she makes mistakes and picks herself up and walks around in a world where she doesn't seem to fit.
The supporting characters in this book - especially her work colleague, Raymond, are equally memorable and infinitely admirable.
The writing is exquisite, the gentle roll of the story, the drip feeding of information about Eleanor's past is done with such delicacy that this is simply a sublime read.
If a work of fiction can make the world a better place, this is it.
I loved every perfectly formed, beautifully pronounced, carefully placed word and I loved Eleanor.
Quite simply, this is a book you have to read..
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is published by Harper Fiction.
I purchased my own copy of this book for review.
A mother always knows best. Doesn’t she?What if your choice for your child could harm someone else’s?Every mother faces impossible choices. Vaccination is one of the hardest.
For single mum Kate O’Hara, there was no decision to make. Her daughter Rosie is one of a small percentage of Irish children who can’t be vaccinated against measles. All Kate can do is hope that her little girl is safe.
For mummy blogger Madeleine Cooper, it was a leap of faith she wasn't prepared to take when she and her husband declined controversial measles jabs for their daughter Clara. All she can do is pray that it’s the right decision.But when classmates Clara and Rosie both become sick will Kate pay for Madeleine’s choice?
A stunning and addictive new book club read from beloved bestselling Irish author Melissa Hill that explores every mother’s worst fear.
Two things immediately sprung to mind when I saw what this books about. The first is that, at the age of four, I developed Measles myself. I remember it as being particularly unpleasant and that I was so unwell that I could not even go upstairs at home and had to sleep on the sofa for a week - my poor father sleeping on the floor beside me. (My mother was in hospital having just given birth to my sister - the stress must have been immense).
The second thing is that I'm more than aware of the controversy surrounding the MMR vaccine and the now debunked theory that it is linked with Autism. As the mother of a child on the spectrum (who was vaccinated, as was his little sister) it's an issue that is emotive for me - and which I will always wonder about - debunked theory or not. Ultimately though, I fall very much firmly in the pro-vax side of the debate and I brought this to my reading of this new novel from one of Ireland's finest female writers, Melissa Hill.
The book pulls no punches - it shows just how horrific measles can be. It questions the reliance of some of herd immunity but more than than that it examines the very real and very human reasons why some people cannot or choose not to have their children vaccinated.
It may sound like this makes for a very preachy, medical heavy book but it absolutely isn't. It humanises both sides of the debate and while I think my sympathies always lay primarily with Kate O'Hara the single mother whose daughter contract the virus - I could see the side of Madeline Cooper also. I was really made to question my own prejudices at times.
But all this was wrapped up in the storytelling that Hill is so famous for. She creates warm, believable characters that you cannot help but care about. She pulls you into her stories so that you find yourself falling into the "one more page" trap and reading even when your eyes are drooping.
One thing to be said about Melissa Hill and her books is that she has been delivering killer twists in books long before the "twist you will never guess"' became the in thing. This book delivers a thumper of a twist too - which elevates it from courtroom/ family drama to something more.
Keep You Safe is a timely read with the safety of vaccines once again in the media (this time in relation to the HPV vaccine). The publishers promote it as an ideal bookclub read - and they are definitely onto something there.
But while it is a great bookclub read, it is more than that. It is one of Ireland's best storytellers writing a memorable, moving and incredibly thought provoking read. I loved it.
Keep You Safe will be published by HQ on September 21.
I received a review copy of this book from the author.
You never know who’s watching…
Corinne’s life might look perfect on the outside, but after three failed IVF attempts it’s her last chance to have a baby. And when she finds a tiny part of a doll house outside her flat, it feels as if it’s a sign.
But as more pieces begin to turn up, Corinne realises that they are far too familiar. Someone knows about the miniature rocking horse and the little doll with its red velvet dress. Someone has been inside her house…
How does the stranger know so much about her life? How long have they been watching? And what are they waiting for…?
This is an OH. MY. GOD. jaw-dropper of a book, with a tantalisingly slow burn which turns into a pretty explosive finale.
Gushing as that may sound (because it is) I loved this book from the moment i started reading - perhaps for no other reason that when I was a little girl my most favourite toys of all - the one's I would spend hours and hours playing with - were my dolls' houses. They weren't fancy handmade ones, as in this book - one was a Caroline's Home and the other a Sindy House - but they were my most prized possessions.
So the premise of little items from these most beloved of toys showing up, rather menacingly, in a grown woman's life had me sold from the start. But there is so much more to this book - as it follows the lives of sisters Corinne (she who receives the dolls house pieces) and her older sister Ashley - in the run up to the first anniversary of their father's death.
There is domestic stress, fertility issues, financial worries - and that's not to mention the very raw grief the girls are experiencing - it would be enough to drive anyone mad. Which is exactly what Corinne's nearest and dearest (her beloved boyfriend Dominic) fears is happening to his fragile girlfriend. But of course it is more complicated than that - someone is playing a game behind the scenes - meticulously watching the sisters (as she has done for years) and biding her time until she can reveal the secrets of her own and claim what is rightfully hers. With a lot of psych thrillers it's a difficult balance reviewing a book and it's strengths without revealing some of the twists and turns. What I can say is that is that this book doesn't just twist and turn - it leads the reader to a point where they simply don't know who to trust in the book - and even to question whether or not, perhaps. Corinne is reacting to too much stress in her life as she undergoes her fourth round of IVF in the hope of conceiving a much wanted baby.
But more than that twists and turns - this book is beautifully written - it creates such a sense of place, such a claustrophobic feeling in its pages that I found I had to keep reading and reading and do nothing else until I found out exactly what was going on.
When I turned the last page, I wanted more - while acknowledging the book finishes in the most perfect way. This is one for book club discussions and I have no hesitation at all in recommending it as one of the strongest thrillers I have read this year. It is simply brilliant.
The Doll House is published by HQ Digital.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.
Two girls go missing, decades apart. What would you do if one was your daughter?
When eight-year-old Grace goes missing from a sweetshop on the way home from school, her mother Emma is plunged into a nightmare. Her family rallies around, but as the police hunt begins, cracks begin to emerge.
What are the secret emails sent between Emma’s husband and her sister? Why does her mother take so long to join the search? And is Emma really as innocent as she seems?
Meanwhile, ageing widow Maggie Taylor sees Grace’s picture in the newspaper. It’s a photograph that jolts her from the pain of her existence into a spiralling obsession with another girl – the first girl who disappeared
The cover and the title drew me to this book - a debut thriller from Libby Carpenter - but the writing, and the gripping multi-perspective story telling kept me reading, well into the wee hours.
This is a book that twists and turns in ways you don't see coming - but at the heart is a storyline that any parent can identify with. The horror of having to deal with the knowledge that your beloved child has disappeared and has most likely been snatched.
We all have stories in our minds from recent years of missing children - those faces we see staring at us from newspapers or round the clock news coverage on TV. So this book immediately draws the reader into that world - the world of a family imploding as they deal with the possible abduction of eight year old Grace Harper. There are her parents, her aunt, her cousin, her somewhat distant grandmother - not to mention those on the periphery of their lives who are immediately caught up in every parent's worst nightmare.
The book also follows the story of Maggie - a grandmother who can only sympathise with what the Harper's are going through - her grand-daughter Zoe having disappeared 30 years previously leading to a catastrophic turn of events for her family. She wants to reach out to the Harpers, but has become embittered by her losses. As I mentioned this book is told through multiple points of view, Grace's aunt, Steph, the abducted child, the abductor and Maggie but the multiple voices don't ever become confusing, Each is clear and distinct and adds a carefully crafted layer to the story. The pace of this novel is good - and certainly as it reaches it's dramatic climax I simply could not put the book down and my heart was in my throat. This book is exceptionally accomplished for a debut novel - there are some passages which are beautifully written, tender and genuinely very moving. Other passages have just the right amount of menace about them. It also explores how experiences can change a person - and how the mind does what it needs to do to protect us from our own harmful memories.
For me, the real gem in this book is Maggie - a beautifully written character who I was rooting from from the start. Her friendship with Jim is just perfectly drawn.
This is a book that I would love to see adapted for the small screen - and if this is Libby Carpenter's debut - I'm very much looking forward to seeing what she does next. Highly recommended.
99 Red Balloons will be published by Avon on August 24, 2017.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher, via Netgalley.
‘One of the funniest books I've ever read. It made me cry with laughter. I highly, highly recommend it to anyone looking for a complete gigglefest of a read!’ Kirsty Greenwood
Izzy Harris should have it all – but her boyfriend has been ignoring her for months, she’s been overlooked for a promotion, and the owner of her local coffee shop pervs on her every time she has a craving for a salted caramel muffin.
Then her life is unexpectedly turned upside down.
Izzy dumps her oblivious boyfriend, and leaps on the chance to win a big pitch at work. Needing to work closely with gorgeous colleague Alex is an added perk…
But then her best friend has her heart broken, the pitch is way more complicated than expected, and Alex is keeping secrets. Does Izzy have what it takes to help her friend, save her career and get the guy?
Keris Stainton is one of the funniest women on Twitter - and indeed online. Especially if you have a *thing* for Harry Styles. I've known of Keris for a long time - probably about 11 years since we were in the same online writing group - all of us working on what we would hoped would be our first books. Keris indeed went on to write many books - but aimed them at the YA market. If You Could See Me Now is her first foray into a "grown up" book and all I can say is.... ABOUT BLOODY TIME!!
Okay, so the concept of If You Could See Me Now is a little strange. I had purposely avoided reading anything about it because I didn't want to have preconceptions about the book. So when the main character Izzy wakes up invisible (yes, invisible) after a few chapters, I was a bit flummoxed. This was a bit left field - but I've known Keris long enough to trust that she isn't completely off her rocker and this was probably going somewhere good.
Where it went, in fact, was somewhere which elevated this book from just another chick-lit type rom-com to something a little more special. Definitely something funnier. Definitely something more thought-provoking. Definitely something perhaps a little sexier in places too. It's a relatively simple concept as they come - but with Keris' funky feminist take on things it became something much more, About how as women we blend in - we have been taught not to stand out, that it's not always safe or desirable to be noticed and that we colour our behaviour to not make a fuss - even when we perhaps really, really should be making a fuss.
Keris has created a brilliant cast of characters - not least the very memorable (and maybe Harry Styles-esque?) Alex. More of him please, Keris. Thank you very much! This was an easy read - a really, lovely enjoyable read that was the tonic to a stressful week.
I found myself turning the last page and wishing for more. So it may have taken Keris Stainton some time to write that first grown up novel - but hopefully it won't be long until we are treated to another... and another... and another.
Funny, frothy, feminist and sexy, If You Could See Me Now is a real treat to read.
If You Could See Me Now will be published by Bookouture on August 4.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher, via Netgalley.
'Myself and Hugh . . . We're taking a break.'
'A city-with-fancy-food sort of break?'
Amy's husband Hugh says he isn't leaving her.
He still loves her, he's just taking a break - from their marriage, their children and, most of all, from their life together. Six months to lose himself in south-east Asia. And there is nothing Amy can say or do about it.
Yes, it's a mid-life crisis, but let's be clear: a break isn't a break up - yet . . .
However, for Amy it's enough to send her - along with her extended family of gossips, misfits and troublemakers - teetering over the edge.
For a lot can happen in six-months. When Hugh returns if he returns, will he be the same man she married? And will Amy be the same woman?
Because if Hugh is on a break from their marriage, then isn't she?
The Break isn't a story about falling in love but about staying in love. It is Marian Keyes at her funniest, wisest and brilliant best.
It's not news to anyone who has ever asked me about writing and who I admire that I am a huge fan of Marian Keyes. Like - I even embarrass myself with how gushing I am about her - and having now met her a few times, I have made a complete gom of myself on each occasion.
You would think then that being such a huge fan of Marian Keyes would mean reading this book and reviewing it would be a breeze; but it hasn't been for a number of reasons.
1) Before I started to read I took the fear that I wouldn't like it and then I would be all embarrassed around Marian and when she asked (if she asked) if I liked the book I'd have to do that awkward cough and stare at the floor thing or change the subject or feign sudden onset muteness.
2) Second of all, I knew if I reviewed it, there was a chance herself would read the review and therefore the pressure for this to be well written and not stalker-y levels of gushing is high.
3) Thirdly of all, as soon as I heard what this book was about I felt tight knot in the pit of my stomach because already I knew that I would relate to Amy. I would get that person in a bit of a rut and not sure what she wants-itis about it all. I've made a number of huge life decisions in the last year and while they don't directly mirror Amy's - I knew there would be a resonance there. And it scared me a bit.
I was almost scared to start reading - but when I did, I had to fight between the urge to read-it-all-now and the urge to eek it out in little treat size pieces because I didn't want it to end. I didn't want it to end because Keyes writes characters so well you feel as if you know them - they are real, and raw, and flawed, and funny and they fuck up sometimes. They become friends you become heavily invested in.
What this book brings the reader is a marriage in a state of flux - and a woman who has always been there for everyone else finding that the rug has been pulled resoundly from under her feet. She doesn't know how to cope - she lurches from day to day, trying to hold family, friends and work together - managing other people's crises with aplomb while enduring the biggest crisis of her life.
That might sound a bit grim - but it isn't. As with the likes of Rachel's Holiday - Keyes has a way of writing on very serious subjects in a way that pulls the reader in without pulling the reader down. While Amy exists in a void of grief and loss, making some suspect decisions along the way - the reader never feels as if she is wallowing.
She is a strong woman - one of those "didn't know how strong she was until she had to be" characters who you cheer for and want to hug.
Similarly as with the magnificent Walsh family books, Keyes has created such a memorable cast of supporting characters that the book never feels overwritten, padded out or feels as if it has too much focus on Amy.
From her daughters, to her mother (Lillian O'Connell, Mother of Five) to her work colleague Alistair (I love him, I really do. Everyone should know an Alistair) - the characters are brilliantly drawn. They will have you laughing out loud one minute, sobbing the next and cheering the minute after that.
With her finger very firmly on the pulse, Keyes also tackles some pretty heavy issues in this book. She has spoken before how this book involves a take on the Eighth Amendment and the impact it has on women in Ireland. These chapters are strong, emotive, angry even. That Keyes has used her celebrity to speak out so strongly for the 12 women a day who leave Ireland to travel to England is admirable - but it doesn't feel preachy. It doesn't feel shoe-horned into the book to make a point.
I have to admit as much as I LOVE Marian - I would hate to be her. The pressure that she must feel as she releases each new book - with hoards of fans waiting eagerly must be immense. I think I would find it particularly crippling. Has this latest book hit the mark? Will it live up to the greatness of her previous books? Will it help her maintain her position as Queen of Commercial Fiction?
For what my opinion is worth - yes.
This book, more than any other of her's, profoundly touched me. I felt as if Marian was in my head - actually reading my thoughts, my fears, my worries - and putting them on a page for everyone to read. (Killing me Softly with her Books! Sing it if you know it!)
I stayed up until 5am to finish reading it - and when I did, I cried because it was done. And it was brilliant.
No one writes like Marian. No one should even try - her voice is unique, strong and distinctive. Her ability to pull away the layers of the human condition is remarkable.
This book is, simply, brilliant. Her best yet. It has done what I thought was impossible and surpassed Rachel's Holiday in my estimation. It will be the must read book of Autumn 2017.
(And the dirty bits are fecking brilliant too!).
The Break will be published by Penguin/ Michael Joseph on September 7.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley.
When was the last time you put yourself first?
Thirty-eight-year-old divorcee Courtney Downey has no idea who she is any more. She has devoted her life to bringing up her beloved 15-year-old daughter Susan, but Courtney just doesn’t get the celebrity-obsessed, Snapchat-filtered teenage world Susan is part of, and they’re growing apart. When Susan announces she wants to live with her dad and his new, younger girlfriend, Courtney is devastated. But could the end of one life be the beginning of another?
When Courtney is offered a job in beautiful, sun-kissed Cornwall, she and her vivacious best friend Claire follow their hearts and leave their problems behind for a summer of sand, sea and second chances. And when she meets sexy but infuriating builder Tony, Courtney rediscovers her passions for life, for cooking and for love.
But just as Courtney is finally looking to the future, a crisis with Susan pulls her back to Dublin, and back into old habits. Will she ever be able to let go of the past and embrace the importance of being herself?
This is a book every woman - and especially every mum - should read - possibly several times.
It's a book for every woman who has ever felt taken for granted by her family - mostly especially her children (and let's face it, children have a habit of being terribly selfish creatures), or who has felt a yearning to rediscover her identity, or felt under-appreciated in work or finds herself unexpectedly single a little bit later in life and wondering whether it is worth the effort of even thinking about starting again.
Caroline Grace Cassidy is very skilled at cutting through the noise to get to the heart of a story - a story that will no doubt resonate with many women (as did her previous novels, especially her last book 'The Week I Ruined My Life' ).
She tells the story of Courtney Downey - newly single, desperate to cling on to the 'love of her life' (Her 15 year old daughter) and wondering how she lost her joie de vivre along the way - brilliantly. The addition of her quirky but vulnerable friend Claire adds to this brilliantly - as both women face personal crises in their lives.
It would be easy for a book such as this to slip into maudlin rhetoric littered with inspirational quotes and cliches - but what Caroline does in this book is interject the serious moments with laugh out loud humour, with stunning surroundings, and with much talk of mouth watering-ly delicious meals. (Can I be chief dessert taster, thank you very much?).
The women are real - flawed and funny and the story is a balm for the soul.
This book hits of a few punches along the way but remains gloriously predictable in that you just now our heroine is going to find herself and her happy ending - making this the perfect, uplifting summer read.
Do yourself a favour and pack this in your holiday case - and enjoy every deliciously crafted word.
The Importance of Being Me is published by Black & White
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher, via Netgalley
Each girl survived an unthinkable horror. Now someone wants them dead...
They were the victims of separate tragedies. Three strangers bound by similar traumas grouped together by the press.
When something terrible happens to Lisa, put-together Quincy and volatile Sam finally meet.
Each one influences the other. Each one has dark secrets. And as the bloodstained fingers of the past reach into the present, each one will never be the same.
Quite simply - this is one thriller you simply HAVE to read.
Filled with twists and turns - it keeps you guessing (mostly wrongly!) until the gripping conclusion.
I adored this book - I gobbled it up in a couple of sittings - reading into the night and getting up early to finish it, desperate to know what becomes of the two leading characters Quincy and Sam.
This is a quickly paced psychological thriller, combined with some slasher type horror that very quickly escalates into a on-the-edge-of-your-seat read.
I most certainly do not want to spoil any of it - but I'd confidently say this is the strongest book in this highly competitive genre that I have read this year.
For a debut author, Riley Sager has pulled off something really remarkable - and I foresee great things ahead for this author and this book. It begs to be adapted into a film - but as with all adaptations, make sure to read the book first.
Final Girls will be published by Ebury on July 13.
I received a preview copy of this book for review from the publishers, via Netgalley
A young man is found in a riverside park, his head bashed in with a rock. The only clue to his identity is an admission stamp for the local gay club.
DS Lucy Black is called in to investigate. As Lucy delves into the community, tensions begin to rise as the man's death draws the attention of the local Gay Rights group to a hate-speech Pastor who, days earlier, had advocated the stoning of gay people and who refuses to retract his statement.
Things become further complicated with the emergence of a far right group targeting immigrants in a local working class estate. As their attacks escalate, Lucy and her boss, Tom Fleming, must also deal with the building power struggle between an old paramilitary commander and his deputy that threatens to further enflame an already volatile situation.
Hatred and complicity abound in the days leading up to the Brexit vote in McGilloway's new Lucy Black thriller. Compelling and current, Bad Blood is an expertly crafted and acutely observed page-turner, delivering the punch that readers of LITTLE GIRL LOST have grown to expect.
First off, I'm going to admit that I know Brian quite well. We're both Derry folk, you see - and have a number of mutual longstanding friends. We both started our writing careers at the same time - and so have worked together on a number of projects and have been sat side by side at many events.
It makes the prospect of reading one of Brian's books scary - because if I think they suck, it could end a lovely supportive friendship.
Thankfully I've yet to read one of Brian's books that I haven't loved - and by loved, I mean ploughed through - even though, ordinarily, crime fiction is not my thing and I don't think I ever read a police procedural novel before Brian told me about his latest creation - DS Lucy Black.
"I'd be interested to see how you think I write a female lead," Brian asked and I nodded and said I would tell him. So sat down to read Little Girl Lost (a New York Times bestselling title) - and was immediately swept up in Brian's in-depth and at time keeping uncomfortable look at Northern Ireland's criminal underworld.
The Lucy Black novels are all set in and round our home city of Derry - it brings an immediacy to the stories that are instantly relatable to me as a local reader but I don't think it would preclude anyone else from getting enjoyment from the read.
What Brian also does well is capture the zeitgeist of the moment. Bad Blood is set in the immediate run up to the Brexit referendum - when tensions were running high. It follows DS Black investigating the murder of a young gay man, and also getting caught up in investigating an apparent hate crime against members of the Romany community.
With the modern political world being what it is - this book could not be more timely. It's a dark, disturbing look at how hate breeds hate, at how homophobia is very much alive and well in this corner of the world and of how people from outside our tight knit communities can at times be feared and demonised.
Once again, Brian's story moves along at a pace - with so many twists and turns and revelations that it never once feels like any section of this book is filler. Nothing drags - it rattles along at an incredible pace, tension building until the final chapters.
As Brian once asked me how I felt he writes a female lead - here's my take on it. DS Lucy Black is a brilliantly drawn character. She is kick ass at her job, but she is also deeply flawed. She has been wounded by her past (and to a degree the troubles of her present) but she strives to do the right thing - acknowledging that she doesn't always want to or find it easy to do so.
There is a sequence towards the end of this book that is written incredibly - where Lucy's fighting spirit comes into full force. It's a difficult scene to read but it is one of the finest Brian has ever written.
Bad Blood is the fourth book in the Lucy Black series - and it stands well on its own. You don't need to have read the previous books to get everything from this novel, but I recommend you do.
I'd love to see Lucy Black on the small screen - as a strong female character at the heart of some very serious investigations.
Bad Blood is, for my money, Brian's best book to-date and it is brilliant to see him go from strength to strength. I hope there are many more stories in the Lucy Black series.
Bad Blood is published by Corsair.
I purchased my own copy of this book.
For the love of books
A good writer must be an avid reader. I'll be posting reviews of some of the books I'm reading. Disclaimer: I'm not a book blogger - I'm just a reader. These are books I've chosen to read for fun.