The Bad Place by M.K. Hill
An excellent start to a new series by M.K. Hill. It was a welcome change to meet a female 'middle-aged' protagonist in a police procedural. DI Sasha Dawson is juggling a demanding family life (interfering mother, stroppy teenagers and depressed husband - known as living in the 'sandwich generation'!) with a hectic career and workload. The plot explores a kidnapping twenty years ago, with questions remaining about what happened to the five teenagers who eventually escaped to safety from 'The Bad Place' - and why the sixth ended up dead. This is linked to the present-day kidnapping of a teenage girl, the author expertly weaving the two stories together while also revealing details of the teenagers (now adults) involved. Looking forward to the next book in the series and seeing how the character of DI Dawson develops.
After the End by Clare Mackintosh
I read this several months ago and never wrote a review. I am fascinated by the 'sliding doors' concept - the 'what ifs' of life, which path to choose ... and how great it would be if you knew all of the outcomes before making any decisions. But sadly life can't be like that. After the End does give that opportunity to readers though - following the lives of Max and Pip after they have to make a tough decision regarding their young son's health, looking at the outcome of both main options. This book explores the heartbreaking decisions that so many people have to make about themselves or family members - guided by their instinct, love and grief along with often-conflicting medical science. The narrative is split between Max, Pip and the doctor involved in their son's care, filling the pages with their thoughts and emotions. When the parents can't make a decision, it's left to the courts to decide. The thought-provoking book made me cry, but it also gave me hope. It is very different from Clare Mackintosh's other books so far, proving her versatility as an author.
Cruel Acts by Jane Casey
The Cutting Place by Jane Casey
I am reviewing Cruel Acts and The Cutting Place together; while these are two very different books in terms of plot, they still feature the same characters that I know and love! I am a huge fan of Jane Casey's Maeve Kerrigan series, following the sparky relationship between Maeve and Derwent, but hadn't managed to catch up on the latest books - until now.
Cruel Acts investigates the conviction of Leo Stone for the murder of two young women and whether he is now responsible for the murder of a third after his release. The Cutting Place covers important contemporary issues, such as white male privilege and domestic violence.
Jane Casey's books are brutal and witty (the dialogue drives the plot), honest and raw. She handles dark themes with sensitivity and care while leading her readers on a twisty path. The Cutting Place, in particular, focuses as much on the main characters' lives as the case they are trying to investigate, with a few shocking scenes and further revelations. Other characters, such as Maeve and Derwent's colleague Georgia Shaw, are also now being thrust more into the limelight.
The Wailing Woman by Maria Lewis
A welcome change of genre for me as I was struggling to choose my next crime read. This Romeo-and-Juliet 'urban fantasy' novel features (mainly) banshees, witches and werewolves, with romance, magic, mystery and a touch of action thriller. I read this quickly, enjoying the chance to immerse myself in another world - great escapism at the present time. I haven't read any of the author's previous books, but believe that these feature some of the same characters. This book begins in Australia and ends in London, England. As well as a coming-of-age novel, this read as a 'me too' book, with potentially dangerous women who have been dominated for centuries finally finding their voices - literally, in one case. Great fun.
That's all for now!
Back soon with some more recommended reads.
Keep safe and well, everyone!