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Thursday, 13 October 2016

BA Paris - Behind Closed Doors

review by showhost

I really can’t make up my mind about this book.  Although it was a kind of psychological thriller it was really frustrating, I really wanted Grace to do something more & stop being so pathetic – take them down to the basement. I may be being really harsh but thought there was some other way of dealing with it.

Also the ending was a little weak bearing in mind the excellent forensic work that can be done would find hairs etc from Grace & her paintings.  Too many but & whys for the end.

Grace is in what appears to be a perfect marriage with Jack.  They seem to adore each other, Jack is a perfect husband – too perfect.  He never leaves her side, she never has coffee with her friends unless Jack is there.  She gives up her job and stays at home.  Getting the picture?  Yes a controlling abusive husband.

Grace also has a sister with mental problems, Millie.  Millie is in a home being paid for by Jack.  Millie is due to join Grace in their new home when she is 18.  Jack has prepared a room for Millie but not the kind of room she was hoping for.

Grace needs to do something before this time, she can’t have Millie put in that sort of danger.  But she is foiled by Jack everytime she tries to shout for help.  He has told people she is mentally unstable and sent her parents to New Zealand.

I don’t get why he chose her anyway? It was all too simple and contrite – nowhere near as good as Claire Mackintosh (or even Girl on a Train). 

Sabine Durrant - Lie With Me

review by showhost  oct 2016

I couldn’t decide which category to put this book in so I looked up the meaning of some genres:

Suspense Thrillers are characterized and defined by the moods they elicit, giving viewers heightened feelings of suspense, excitement, surprise, anticipation and anxiety. Successful examples of thrillers are the films of Alfred Hitchcock. NO def not suspense or excitement

Psychological Thriller is a thriller story which emphasizes the abnormal psychological states of its characters.  Psychological thrillers often incorporate elements of and overlap with mystery, drama, action, and horror. FORGET THE ACTION AND HORROR

ANOTHER DEFINITION: a suspenseful movie or book emphasizing the psychology of its characters rather than the plot; this sub-genre of thriller movie or book. In a psychological thriller, the characters are exposed to danger on a mental level rather than a physical one.

So think Psychological genremystery, drama, characters are exposed to danger on a mental level rather than a physical one.

The main character is Paul and you won’t like him but then you aren’t supposed to.  He is self-centred, egotistical, sponging womaniser, with shallow feelings.  He is a failed author who thinks his next book is round the corner.  He sold one book when he was at uni, 20 odd years ago (not many copies though) and lived off the claim ever since.  He has bummed off his friends ever since.  In fact as the story begins he is living in a flat belonging to a friend who has gone travelling for a year plus.  He meets an old student friend Alex, quite by chance, in a bookstore.  They chat and Alex  invites him to dinner.  Paul goes because he will get a free meal and drink all night (even though he didn’t like Alex very much).

At the meal Paul is introduced to Alice, who’s husband died a year or two ago and Alex’s family.  Alice isn’t Pauls usual type and especially as she has 2 teenage children with normal teenage attitudes who Paul doesn’t like. But Alice flirts with him a little.

Paul gets in touch with her a week or so later and is invited to dinner with her.  Her house is decent enough and Paul imagines if he plays his cards right may get invited to come and stay.  She talks a lot about the final holiday she, Alex and family will make to a Greek island where they have had a leased holiday home for years. But things are changing as the land has been sold to developers.  Whilst out there they will carry on with their ‘help find Jasmine’ campaign.  Jasmine went missing when they were out there 10 years ago.  They often meet up with her parents on the anniversary of her disappearance.  In fact Paul was out there too about 10 years ago but he was too drunk to remember it.

Paul decides he would like to be invited as it would be a cheap holiday and may give him the chance to finally win Alice over with his charms. Paul has to look for cheap travel, due to his shortage of money, but can’t tell Alice as he feels he has to impress her and Alex’s family. So starts his improvisation of the truth and his demise.

It isn’t an action packed, roller coasting twisting plot.  More a slow simmer, which slowly bubbles as time goes on with some predictable paths.  The family, in the beginning, reminded me a little of the Durrells, once the plot went to Greece.  I would say if you liked Girl on the Train you would like this one, it’s got the same pace of plot with an undercurrent of tension and sense of growing unease.  I did find myself thinking ‘but would these events have all fell neatly into place in the real world’, was it too contrived?

I enjoyed the novel and have recommended it to others who I know like slowly unfolding books, not those who like fast paced thrillers.

Belinda Bauer The Shut Eye

review by showhost oct 2016

This is another psychological thriller genre book. It kept me reading and the idea was good.

Anna and her husband James live in a flat next to the garage where James works, with a couple of illegal immigrants and a tight fisted, unlikeable boss. 

Most mornings Anna could be seen cleaning the 5 footprints of her young son which are the last sign of him since his disappearance a few weeks ago. James had left the door open on his way to work and little Daniel had gone out and walked in the freshly poured cement of the garage next door where her husband works  .  Anna has gone into melt down and just spend her days polishing those foot prints.  Plus everything in her house is scrubbed clean of germs.  Gone is the loving, happy, carefree woman James married.

Abrasvie cop DI John marvel had been working on the case of a missing 12 yr old girl Edie and they had even paid for the help of a local psychic (even though he totally dissed the concept of being able to talk to the dead) but she still hasn't been found, just her bike.  The fact that he can’t solve the case haunts him.

Anna, crazy lady as people call her, goes to the local church to listen to a psychic session, to ask if he could find Daniel.  The psychic tells Anna he can't help her.  At the hall she meets Sandra who is looking for her missing dog, and hands Anna one of the photos she's handing round of her dog. 

But when Anna gets home and she looks at the picture she starts to see and feel things.

DI Marvel is asked by his boss to help his wife find their missing dog, much to his disgust, but does on proviso he can open up the Edie case.

The narrative is also broken by Edie as we slowly find out what happened to her and where she is and her thoughts as she is kept prisoner.

It's an interesting concept and all the characters are well drawn (the parents of the missing children, the police, the psychic, the perp, the police). The only thing I was a little disappointed with was the ending, I found it a little confusing and left questions.

I would read another by this author.


Gordon John Thomson - Gotha

review written and read live on bookshow 13th Oct 2016 by Brian Lowen

Another great story from GJT that covers the two world wars.

The title refers to a large bomber built by the Germans in WW1 that was going to terrorise Londoners by bringing the first blitz to the great city. It could fly higher than the British fighters and carry several high explosive bombs.
We have to remember that this was back in the time when aircraft were still in their infancy and this biplane bomber could only fly at 75 mph but was still a great threat to the poorly defended people of England.  I had never heard of this aircraft so had to look it up but it did exist and did bomb London and other cities in the south east during the first world war.
Our hero though is Captain James Buckingham who is recuperating after being severely injured in the battle of Delville wood. The Minister of Munitions, Winston Churchill, hears of Buckingham’s expertise in aircraft design from his work before the war and brings him into his office to advise on this new threat and how England could be protected against it.
However, the story starts off in 1940, in the midst of the blitz in London when a young WAAF officer is trapped in a street near St Pauls as fire bombs rain down. She is rescued by a strange enigmatic man called Max who drags her into a cellar, but they become trapped in there by falling masonry.
The story then oscillates from war to war and we gradually learn of the strange connection between the two events.  Meanwhile, back in 1917, James Buckingham meets and falls in love with Daisy Skellern who is a beautiful music hall entertainer. When she is brutally murdered he is accused of her murder and has to hide away with the help of Daisy’s young dresser, Amy, until he can work out who was the murderer. He gets involved with a German spy ring operating in London and has some narrow escapes with his life, but Amy proves a great help to him in his search for justice.
During all that is going on in 1917 we keep going forward to see how our trapped pair are faring and this is when we gradually realise the connection between the two events, one in each war. GJT shows his great skill as a story teller as he gradually reveals the secrets of the two couples.
A great page turner this, full of interest and excitement, that keeps you enthralled the whole way through.

Robert Galbraith - Career of Evil

review written and read live on bookshow 13th Oct 2016 by Brian Lowen

This is the third novel by the creator of the Harry Potter books, J K Rowling, writing under her new pseudonym and it is another great story featuring the erasable Private Detective,

Cormoran Strike and his beautiful young sidekick, Robin Ellacott.

Strike has a certain reputation having already solved two high profile murders before the Police could, This means that he is not given much help from the police in his cases but his work load has increased as his reputation grew.

This is all about to change though when a mysterious parcel is delivered to Robin at their office. When Robin opens it she is horrified to find that it contains the severed leg of a young woman. Strike takes care of Robin while he phones the police. It is obvious to him that someone is trying to ruin him by attacking his Secretary cum Partner thereby dissuading clients from giving him work.

He realises that Robin is in danger and tries to stop her working but she is insistent in continuing as his partner, as she has now been called by Strike. Her staid Fiancé, Matthew, whom she is about to marry in a few weeks, has rows with her about the dangerous work she is involved in, and tries to persuade her, unsuccessfully, to change her job for a safer occupation.

And so Strike and Robin try to narrow down the suspects who might have sent the leg as the police do not seem to be making much progress. Robin makes a mistake in making an investigation that they have been warned against by the police who have instructed Strike to keep out of their investigation. Strike is so annoyed with Robin that he sacks her.

Like the previous two books in this series the tension builds up to a thrilling climax, just before Robin’s wedding, and we are wondering if she gets her job back or not.

I do hope there are more books in this series (available from the Library) as I really enjoy them and being involved in the changing relationship between Strike and Robin.

Colin Bateman - Shooting Sean

review written and read live on the bookshow by Ro Bennett 13th Oct 2016

This is the first Colin Bateman story I have actually read. All the others have been audio books on the library One Click Audio service read by the excellent narrator Stephen Armstrong who has a lovely soft Irish accent which is a pleasure to listen to. A good narrator makes all the difference. 

This book is called Shooting Sean and is the fourth Dan Starkey book.

Maverick movie star Sean O'Toole is a type cast action hero who has left the glamour of Hollywood to direct a film based on an infamous IRA member, a gangster named the Colonel. Local journalist Dan Starkey, has been employed to write his biography. It's a job that plunges Dan into the murky underbelly of the movie business, and from the backstreets of Belfast to the fleshpots of Amsterdam and the glitz of the Cannes Film Festival. Along the way a smouldering romance threatens the frequently rocky balance of his marriage to Patricia while he battles his way through kidnap, extortion and murder, and all of it liberally sprinkled with Hollywood gold dust.

This was another compelling read - a tense thriller full of twists and turns. It has all the elements that I tend to avoid - as well as the murder and kidnap element there is drowning, torture, drugs, explosions and the psychotic, cold, vicious cruelty of the Colonel. In many of  his books, Bateman emphasises with contempt, the mindless violence and ruthlessness of the paramilitary organisations.  Getting involved with the actor and the film soon lead to Starkey once again struggling to both protect his wife Patricia and her child Little Stevie. However despite the suspense there is also the cleverness and wit of Dan Starkey which kept me guessing and laughing out loud right to the end. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed all of Colin Bateman’s books. His heroes are so flawed. The unnamed man who is the private eye in the Mystery Man series was totally neurotic and hilariously dysfunctional, his girl friend Alison’s patience stretched to the limit.  And in this series, Dan Starkey also tends to blunder about making bad situations worse and is equally rubbish in his relationship with Patricia and her son - I kept thinking, ‘You are so useless Dan!’ but it kept me chuckling. At other times I was almost holding my breath wondering how on earth a situation could be resolved and hoping that it would not go horribly wrong. 

I really recommend his books - both the audible and the hard copy. I thoroughly enjoy them - but I never read them at bedtime - far too scary! 

Denise McLeod - The Dog Behaviourst’s Diary

 review written and read live on the bookshow by Ro Bennett 13th Oct 2016

I’m not a dog owner now, although I enjoy dog sitting occasionally, however my childhood home was rather a menagerie with assorted animals and a variety of dogs - Spaniels, a  Border Collie, a Boxer. When I had my own family we had mainly German Shepherd dogs - My favourites being long haired Sabre and especially Zak who was huge, black and magnificent. 

Consequently I am always fascinated by programmes like the Dog Whisperer and have read many books on dog handling, some better than others. Some have been  heavy going. This book was a delight to read.  I enjoyed every single page and I learnt so much from it. 

The book is a collection of case studies and aspects of dog behaviour and each one was interesting. I was gripped from the very first story - especially since the dog was called Zak! It was a very dramatic and traumatic introduction to the book which deals with topics like dogs which bite people and dogs which are aggressive with other dogs, dogs which suddenly start to behave erratically or seem unhappy.  Like life it is a mixture of the tragic, sad and humorous. The author is very honest about mistakes she has made and problems she has encountered. 

The author has a good writing style so I felt emotionally involved in the stories. She seems an extremely warm and caring person and she is also very frank about her personal life and the affect it had on her own dogs. She obviously adores dogs and is passionate about their welfare and helping dogs and owners to have happy, rewarding relationships and interactions. I think every dog owner would learn something from this book, but it would appeal to even those who do not have a dog, because the stories are so interesting. There are some lovely photos as well. I found it a real page turner and thoroughly recommend it. I was so impressed with it that I not only bought my won copy to refer to again, but also bought a copy for my daughters.