Monthly Archives: April 2015

HOW I LOST YOU – Jenny Blackhurst

How I Lost You

Available 23rd April 2015 from Headline

Source: Bookbridgr

They told her she killed her son. She served her time. But what if they lied?

I have no memory of what happened but I was told I killed my son. And you believe what your loved ones, your doctor and the police tell you, don’t you? My name is Emma Cartwright. Three years ago I was Susan Webster, and I murdered my twelve-week-old son Dylan. I was sent to Oakdale Psychiatric Institute for my crime, and four weeks ago I was released early on parole with a new identity, address and a chance to rebuild my tattered life. This morning, I received an envelope addressed to Susan Webster. Inside it was a photograph of a toddler called Dylan. Now I am questioning everything I believe because if I have no memory of the event, how can I truly believe he’s dead? If there was the smallest chance your son was alive, what would you do to get him back?

Any book that starts with something a little different to the usual scene-setting intro usually does a good job of grabbing my interest. How I Lost You manages this by starting with a letter written by our protagonist, Susan Webster/Emma Cartwright, to the parole board – getting stuck right in with all the tragic and harrowing details of her crime for which she is seeking forgiveness.

Susan has now been released after 4 years imprisonment for the murder of her infant son, Dylan. She cannot remember anything of the actual event, only what she was told by professionals and heard during her trial. Susan was diagnosed with puerperal psychosis – the most extreme post-natal depression – and has blacked out the whole event. Now trying to rehabilitate in a new town under a new persona, Susan starts to receive mysterious letters and packages relating to her son. She cannot make sense of these ‘gifts’ – has someone local discovered her identity and wants to torture her? Is it a vengeful prank at the hands of her ex-husband? Is she crazy and sending these to herself? Or might Dylan really be alive? Armed with the unlikely help of her best friend and old cell mate Cassie, and Nick Whitely, the journalist who covered her trial; Susan sets out to find out the truth about what happened to her son and who is tormenting her, and she stumbles upon a dark secret that spans back 20 years…

I really enjoyed this book. It is full of mystery that had me hooked from the offset. There is nothing too obvious to begin with, so you will be left scratching your head for a fair old while. And further mystery is added when you are given some flashback chapters that go back some twenty years; and you know that of course these flashbacks must link to our present-day story somehow – but if you figure out how straight away…well then you’re a better person than I!! But, if you are anything like me, you won’t have to wait too long for some answers as you will be speeding through the pages with relish.

This was a real ‘Goodness how many bad guys are there?’ kind of read – where you’ll soon be urging Susan not to trust anyone! Throughout the book I had my suspicions about certain characters, but it’s a very elaborate plot and so you can’t put your finger on the exact roles of all the players here. And the way the author entwines the characters so that practically everyone you come across does indeed play an important part in the story is very well thought out. You really need to take note of every detail in this one.

The character development was fantastic, I found myself really liking people that common-sense states I shouldn’t. Susan has just the right mix of remorse, anger, and confusion to make you really like and sympathise with a woman who is essentially a child-killer. Cassie has enough sass, humour, and compassion to make you warm to yet another murderer. And Nick plays the sleazy-journalist-turned-knight-in-shining-armour role very well. Even your ‘bad guys’ are well developed and some real depth is given to their darkness. Ok so their past may have been a little clichéd, but I was willing to let that one slide as it was a cliché that I genuinely didn’t foresee.

How I Lost You is a real nail-biter steeped in mystery, suspense, tragedy and unknown danger. And it is a cracking read for any fan of the psychological thriller!

My thanks to the publisher for providing this book for review.

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CLOSE TO HOME – Lisa Jackson

close to home

Available now from Mulholland Books

Source: Bookbridgr

HOME IS WHERE THE FEAR IS…

The house where Sarah McAdams grew up has always terrified her. But now she’s moved back with her daughters, determined to put her childhood fears behind her.

It’s harder than she thought. Increasingly haunted by the past, Sarah soon realises that the present has its own threats. One by one, teenage girls are disappearing…

Frantic for her daughters’ safety, Sarah feels the house’s walls closing in on her once more. Somewhere deep in her memory is the key to a very real danger.

And only by confronting the terrifying truth can she protect her children from a nightmare that is roaring back to life…

In Close to Home, we have two main plot lines; that of Sarah McAdams and her daughters returning to Sarah’s childhood home to renovate the grand but dilapidated house, and the kidnapping of local teenage girls. Of course, when you have two avenues like this within a book, you know they are eventually going to link up – unfortunately it is pretty obvious how they are going to link up, and so you spend much of the time just waiting for that to happen.

Although I would say this a ‘readable’ story; I wouldn’t particularly call it very enjoyable. Yes there was a bit of mystery to pique my interest, and a little bit of leading me up the garden path as well, however this was overshadowed as there were just far too many flaws.

First of all it was all a bit trite; the old haunted house, the repressed memories, the rekindled high school love (literally with the boy-next-door!), the small town life, the difficult mother/daughter relationship, the tensions between the rebellious teen and the popular girl and the naturally ensuing stealing of the boyfriend… I could go on!

Then there was the fact that there was such an array of characters and yet I couldn’t find a single one to like. Sarah’s relationship with her daughters makes for uncomfortable reading. I get that they are unhappy about having to up sticks to the land that time forgot, but there seemed to be zero love between the three. 17 year-old Jade hated her mother for dragging her from her friends, boyfriend, etc, (although this meant she was missing a grand total of, I think, two) and 12 year-old Gracie seemed to believe everyone was beneath her, and was also completely and utterly useless at foreseeing the coming danger to her family considering how “gifted” she was with the premonitions and such.

As for the ‘love interest’ Clint Walsh, well he was more wooden than the picket fence dividing their properties, and seemed to be there purely for the want of a bit of forced romance. Oh, and there is a whole paternity plot in there that I simply cannot fathom the necessity for. There are a good number of other characters in there that had the potential to be brilliant – but were all very meh… oh and the ex-boss, who had been on precisely three dates with Sarah before she called time on that ‘relationship’, playing the spoilt rich brat who doesn’t like “No!” who then decides to set up camp on her land with the old binoculars…really?!

The ‘twists’ in this story were not exactly very twisty; like I say I was led astray with one mystery regarding Sarah’s past and the flashbacks that she suffered since returning to the house, but where I kept thinking “I know this is what the writer wants me to think, so I wonder how she’ll spin it…” well it was “spun” precisely by being exactly the event I’d presumed but just with somebody else in the spotlight…and it was all a bit icky and didn’t fit the feel of the rest of the book. As for the kidnapping culprit, well we are naturally led to believe it is the local ‘no-gooder’, and so much is focussed on it being him that of course it wont be, will it? And so who was it??? Well obviously it was that guy that you in no way care about because, as his known character, he has had all of one appearance and two lines in the whole book!

I can absolutely guarantee that there will be people who really enjoy this book, I certainly didn’t hate it. But it just had far too much going on – most of which was completely unnecessary. Some of the fat needed cutting, and the lean seasoning.

My thanks to the publisher for providing this book for review.

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