Thursday, 28 January 2016

Book Review: THE GIRL YOU LOST by Kathryn Croft

The Girl You Lost

Title: The Girl You Lost
Author: Kathryn Croft
Publisher: Bookouture
Read: January 2016
Expected publication: 5 February 2016

Synopsis (Goodreads):

Eighteen years ago, Simone Porter’s six-month-old daughter, Helena, was abducted. Simone and husband, Matt, have slowly rebuilt their shattered lives, but the pain at losing their child has never left them.

Then a young woman, Grace, appears out of the blue and tells Simone she has information about her stolen baby. But just who is Grace – and can Simone trust her?

When Grace herself disappears, Simone becomes embroiled in a desperate search for her daughter and the woman who has vital clues about her whereabouts.

Simone is inching closer to the truth but it’ll take her into dangerous and disturbing territory.

Simone lost her baby. Will she lose her life trying to find her? 

My thoughts:

For 18 years Simone Porter has struggled to put the abduction of her then 6-months old daughter Helena behind her and get on with her life, forging a career as a successful journalist whose empathy for parents with missing children nets her some interesting and heart wrenching stories. One day a young woman, Grace, knocks on her door, claiming that she has received information from a friend that makes her believe she might be Helena, Simone’s missing child. But before Simone can confirm whether the girl’s claim is true or not, Grace also disappears without a trace, and Simone is facing heartbreak and uncertainty all over again ....

I loved the premise of the story and was very excited to receive a copy from the publisher for an honest review. Unfortunately though the book did not grip me or deliver for me, for various reasons. Loathe to imagine the heartbreak a parent would face on losing a child in such horrible circumstances, I found Simone to be rather unemotional and rational on being faced with a girl who might be her long-lost daughter. And if her actions seemed out of character, the people around her also tended to act in a manner that was unconvincing and often bordering on the bizarre (some eye rolls and “yeah right”s being exclaimed quite regularly as I read on). This made me soon lose interest in the story as I struggled to connect to any of the characters or care what happened to them. For me, the story lacked credibility and emotional depth, and I found myself skipping pages just to get to the end and find out the answers. Sadly not the right book for me, but judging on other reviews many readers did enjoy it, so I will not give any spoilers and let people judge for themselves.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Book Review: BREAKDOWN by Jonathan Kellerman

Breakdown: An Alex Delaware Novel (Alex Delaware, #31)

Title: Breakdown: an Alex Delaware Novel (Alex Delaware #31)
Author: Jonathan Kellerman
Publisher: Random House (Ballantine Books)
Read: January 2016
Expected publication: 2 February 2016

Synopsis (Goodreads):

In #1 New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Kellerman’s thrilling new blockbuster Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis investigate the murder of a Hollywood actress pushed to the limits of sanity.

Psychologist sleuth Alex Delaware is surprised to get the call when well-known TV actress Zelda Chase turns up half-naked, half-mad in the LA’s rural Westside. He has little connection to the starlet, save a psychiatric evaluation he performed on her adopted daughter several years ago, a child who has since vanished without a trace and whom Zelda refuses to talk about. When the actress turns up dead a few weeks later without a scratch on her, Delaware calls in police lieutenant Milo Sturgis to help him crack the case—or at least the wall of silence surrounding it. When the body of a second actress turns up with the same mysterious cause of death, Delaware and Sturgis start to wonder—is this a copycat case or a coincidence? When they uncover the death of another actress, a star from another era who vanished decades ago, never to be found, they realize they’re facing one of the their most baffling, mind-bending cases yet.

My thoughts:

I have been a fan of Kellerman’s Alex Delaware novels for a long time, and was very happy to receive a copy of his latest book from Netgalley. Even with 31 books of the series now in circulation, Kellerman has not lost his edge and manages to deliver a taut and interesting psychological thriller, featuring super sleuth and child psychologist Alex Delaware and his detective friend Milo Sturgis.

Alex is somewhat surprised and a little annoyed when he receives a call from the pushy manager of a newly established  but somewhat questionable mental health facility, who asks him to evaluate a patient of theirs. It seems that  Zelda Chase, a former actress who has fallen on hard times and now lives on the streets, has suffered a psychotic episode and has created a disturbance in a wealthy part of town by digging up a garden and babbling incoherently. Five years earlier, Alex had been asked by a colleague to evaluate her young son, Ovid, due to concerns that Zelda’s mental health had been deteriorating. However, Alex is unable to establish what has happened to the boy, as Zelda is not capable of rational answers and nobody seems to know anything about the fate of the child from the moment Zelda started living on the streets. When Zelda turns up dead on the property of a wealthy socialite a short time later, Alex suspects foul play and becomes even more concerned for the boy’s welfare – if he is still alive. Soon more deaths are being linked to the same neighbourhood, and the quest to find Ovid becomes a race against time ....

The novel is perhaps not as dark or fast paced as some of the previous ones in the series, but contains the same intelligent plot development and step-by-step deductions that are the hallmark of Alex Delaware’s investigations. I always enjoy the careful unravelling of the mystery and the attention to detail, and this novel is no exception. Alex’s role as psychologist really comes into its own here, as mental illness features heavily as a theme, as does the plight of so many mentally ill people who end up on the streets, vulnerable to falling prey to predators or questionable mental health facilities.

Breakdown is a slow but intelligent psychological thriller, and I very much enjoyed reading it. Recommended reading, especially for fans of the series.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free electronic copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.