Monday, 13 November 2017

Daily Commute Audiobook Mini-Reviews for October 2017

With night shifts, a new puppy and lots of gardening work to be done in spring, my reading time has really suffered lately, and my reviews have dried up over the last couple of weeks. Thankfully there is always audio, which has kept me sane during my daily commute and also gave me a chance to tackle some books on my TBR list that I had been looking forward to. The reviews took a bit longer, but finally - TA DA! - here they are:

Author: Kerry Wilkinson
Alison Campbell
October 2017
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟1/2

Book Description:

Megan was ten years old when her older brother, Zac, went missing among the cliffs, caves and beaches that surround the small seaside town of Whitecliff.

A decade later and a car crash has claimed the lives of her parents.

Megan and her younger sister Chloe return to Whitecliff one summer for the first time since their brother’s disappearance. Megan says it’s to get her parents’ affairs in order. There are boxes to pack, junk to clear, a rundown cottage to sell. But that’s not the real reason.

Megan has come to confront her family’s past after receiving a postcard on the day of her parents’ funeral. It had a photograph of Whitecliff on the front and a single letter on the back.

‘Z’ is all it read.

Z for Zac.

My musings:

I’m a bit of a sucker for sister mysteries – there are so many interesting dynamics in sibling relationships that they provide the perfect base for an emotionally charged book. And whilst the plot of Wilkinson’s latest novel is based more around the disappearance of Megan and Chloe’s brother Zac ten years ago, the relationship between the sisters was certainly intriguing and drove much of the storyline.

Despite Megan’s prickly and damaged character, I felt that she was well portrayed and I couldn’t help feeling for her. She is so determined to find out what happened to Zac and get justice for him, and is not easily discouraged, despite the many demons she is battling. Chloe, on the surface the more balanced of the two sisters, seems almost too blasΓ© about Zac’s disappearance, and it is obvious that their parents’ absence during the children’s formative years has done some damage to both of the girls. I loved Wilkinson’t portrayal of these two broken young women, and the undercurrent of something sinister that shadows their time in Whitecliff. There is an ever-present tension underlying the storyline, and I was never sure whose account of events I could trust. Is Megan really a reliable storyteller? Has her anorexia and addiction to prescription drugs from her mother’s stash destroyed her ability to think clearly, distorting her memories and her reality? Or is Chloe the one who is hiding things?

As the events in Whitecliff slowly spiralled out of control, the danger to the girls felt ever more real – but was it? Wilkinson did a great job of messing with my mind and making me question everything I read, and I just love it when a book does that. Despite the picturesque setting of the seaside town of Whitecliff, there was always an air of menace present, and some of the villagers were downright scary. Without giving any more away, tension built as Megan started asking more and more questions about her brother’s last year in Whitecliff, with the villagers closing ranks against her. What were they hiding? And how did their parents fit into all this? There were so many questions and possibilities that my mind was spinning as I tried to follow the trail of breadcrumbs to unravel the mystery. And whilst for me there were a few plot-holes that didn’t quite add up, the portrayal of the small town and the building tension made up for it and on the hole provided a satisfying and  intriguing read. Two Sisters was my first book by the author but it certainly won’t be my last!

Title: Sunday Morning Coming Down (Frieda Klein #7)
Author: Nicci French
Beth Chalmers
October 2017
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Book Description:

Psychotherapist Dr Frieda Klein once again finds herself in the midst of a criminal investigation when the rotting body of an ex-policeman is found beneath the floorboards of her house.

The corpse is only months old but the main suspect, murderer Dean Reeve, died over seven years ago.

As the killer picks off his next victims and her home is turned into a crime scene, Frieda's old life seems like a hazy dream.

With eyes of the world upon her and no answers from the police, Frieda realises that she will have to track this killer before he tracks down those she loves.

My musings:

Avid readers and lovers of the Frieda Klein series will know that the last book ended on a massive cliff-hanger, with Frieda finding a rotting body under the floor boards of her house. So I had been eagerly looking forward to Sunday Morning Coming Down to find out what happens next. And I am happy to say that French’s latest book is full of the same chrilling* details that made the series so irresistible for me. In Sunday Morning Coming Down, Frieda must use her unusual skills for sniffing out the truth to protect the ones closest to her, as her loved ones are the targets for brutal attacks, and not even her patients are safe. With Dean Reeve still out there, and the police (who finally have to believe Frieda that he is still alive) unable to find him, Frieda is at her wits’ end how to escape his unwanted (and deadly) attention. But things are not quite as they seem – and Frieda must use all her skills to stay one step ahead of a ruthless killer.

There is a reason why the Nicci French writing duo remains firmly on my list of favourite writers – theirs are dark and disturbing books that mess with my mind, and I love that! Sunday Morning Coming Down is no exception, with the added element of danger to beloved characters from earlier books in the series, which had me on tenterhooks! I will not go into any details, for fear of giving something away, only to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book, as I have its predecessors.

If you are a lover of unusual protagonists and chilling psychological thrillers, and haven’t discovered this series yet, it’s well worth picking up the first book now. Frieda Klein is a psychotherapist, and a somewhat remote, prickly and often not very likeable character, but if you give her a chance she will grow on you and take you along on her many walks through London’s lesser known places to think and work out the missing links to many murder cases. Whilst I was not a fan of her in the first book (Blue Monday), I am glad I have persevered – she really is a fascinating character who I now look forward to connecting with. This is definitely a series that should be read in order, as it relies heavily on backstory and the emotional baggage the characters share over the course of the seven book currently published. I believe that the eighth – and final – book will be out early next year. I can’t wait to read it, but will be sad to see the end of Frieda Klein.

*) initially this was a typo, but I quite like it - a mixture of chilling and thrilling. Consider it a new word!

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