Books/book review/fiction/crime fiction
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Speaking for the Dead?

Let the Dead Speak Book Cover Let the Dead Speak
Maeve Kerrigan, Book 7
Jane Casey
women sleuths, police procedural, psychological, murder, mystery
HarperCollins
March 1, 2017
400

'Casey's writing is compulsive, menacing and moving' Sophie Hannah In the chilling new crime novel from award-winning author Jane Casey, Detective Maeve Kerrigan and the murder squad must navigate a web of lies to discover the truth... A murder without a body Eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns to her West London home one day to find the house covered in blood and Kate, her mother, gone. There may not be a body, but everything else points to murder. A girl too scared to talk Maeve Kerrigan is young, ambitious and determined to prove she's up to her new role as detective sergeant. She suspects Chloe is holding something back, but best friend Bethany Norris won't let Maeve get close. What exactly is Bethany protecting Chloe from? A detective with everything to prove As the team dig deeper into the residents of Valerian Road, no one is above suspicion. All Maeve needs is one person to talk, but that's not going to happen. Because even in a case of murder, some secrets are too terrible to share...

A complex story with many red herrings for the police to sort through and which DS Kerrigan finally does, but not without learning about her own issues along the way.

Whilst I liked this policewoman, I think it is time that we had lead female police characters without so much baggage. Ones that their colleagues all like and are still good at their jobs, ones with happy families and children, but yes, working as a detective will put strains on a family life but they could resolve them without divorce or adultery or…

So here the story starts with Chloe coming home unexpectedly from her father’s to find her mother missing and the house covered in (her mother’s) blood.

There is a presumption of murder but they cannot find her body.

Chloe is, according to her mother and some experts, learning disabled, but still she has a firm friendship with Bethany a neighbour, some years younger than her. Bethany’s family belong to a local religious group that favour Abrahamical teachings, with full immersion baptism and the man being the head of the household and the woman the home-maker. They shun modern appliances such as mobile phones and Bethany ‘s life is quite constrained. But her friendship with Chloe is tolerated, despite their concerns over her mother’s activities – as they perceive them.

The story involves many issues relating to religious tolerance and beliefs as well as who do you believe and what do past actions mean for who you are now – can you change your character?

A nice, if fairly standard, police detective novel with the denouement being behind several twists and turns.

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Heather and Edie together

Watching Edie Book Cover Watching Edie
Camilla Way
Crime, Thrillers & Mystery > Psychological
HarperCollins
(28 July 2016)

THERE ARE SOME FRIENDS YOU’LL NEVER FORGET…
NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRY

BEFORE
Edie is the friend that Heather has always craved. But one night, it goes terrifyingly wrong. And what started as an innocent friendship ends in two lives being destroyed.

AFTER
Sixteen years later, Edie is still rebuilding her life. But Heather isn’t ready to let her forget so easily. It’s no coincidence that she shows up when Edie needs her most.

NOW
Edie or Heather?
Heather or Edie?

Someone has to pay for what happened, but who will it be?

A palpable air of menace pervades this story, with nothing concrete to base it on, but it just doesn’t seem right, as Heather obsesses over Edie – and Edie makes poor life choices.

Is this really a friendship or something else? And why does Heather re-appear in Edie’s life after 16 years just as Edie melts into PPD? And does Heather have something to do with this melt-down you wonder.

The story leaves you guessing as it moves from the past to now and back again, but always moving slowly forward in time towards a climax – but what that climax is is left unclear until the end.

A good read if you like psychological thrillers.

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Mad is as Mad Does

Going Loco Book Cover Going Loco
Lynne Truss
Domestic fiction, humour, contemporary
HarperCollins UK
May 27, 2010
241

When Belinda, a writer married to Stefan, a geneticist, hires a cleaner called Linda, she gets more than she bargained for. With a knack for making drudgery seem glamorous, it's not long before Linda seems to take over Belinda's whole life.

I struggle with ‘comic’ novels especially if they have characters that are ‘strange’ or zany.

Humour is a very personal thing and frequently, for me, books that come highly recommended fail to amuse me – and it is the same with TV. I don’t get on with most of the comedy series/sitcoms. And so it was here.

I had high hopes as I loved Lynne Truss’s book on the manners of the English, Eat, Shoots and Leaves. But for me this one failed to tickle my funny bone and i couldn’t be bothered to finish it.

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What happens at Xmas is quite a Cracker

A Christmas Cracker Book Cover A Christmas Cracker
Trisha Ashley
romance, cozy, humour
Harper Collins
2015

This Christmas is about to go off with a bang!

Things can’t possibly get worse for Tabby. Framed for a crime she didn’t commit, she suddenly finds herself without a job. Then to make matters worse, Tabby’s boyfriend dumps her and gives her cat away to a shelter.

But rescue comes in the form of kindly Mercy. A master of saving waifs and strays, Mercy wants Tabby to breathe new flair into her ailing cracker business. Together, they’ll save Marwood’s Magical Christmas Crackers.

But someone has other ideas. Mercy’s nephew Randal thinks Tabby’s a fraudster. Stubborn, difficult and very attractive, her future depends upon winning him round. But it’s that time of the year when miracles really can happen. Standing under the mistletoe, Tabby’s Christmas is set to be one that she will never forget . . .

This is in the cozy women's fiction romance genre - and well done indeed. It is not a suspense novel and there are no murders or supernatural happenings, but a lovely warm story of generosity.

The animals are fun but please please don't encourage people to feed the ducks bread. This is seriously bad for them. In fact a recent BBC blog said:

Experts warn that feeding ducks bread is not just bad for the bird's health - it can damage entire ecosystems, says Justin Parkinson.

Throwing crumbs of stale bread in a pond or river is a ritual of family days out dating back to at least the 19th Century. Ducks vie with geese, swans, moorhens, sometimes gulls, for their fill.

It's long been recognised that a bread-rich diet - particularly processed white bread - can cause wildfowl to become ill and, in some cases, deformed. Now conservationists are warning that undigested bread sinking and rotting can create wider havoc.

The Canal and River Trust says that it can encourage bacteria and algae which can poison other species as well as attracting vermin.

Rotting bread exacerbates naturally occurring surface algae - which can give off toxins damaging to fish populations and create a stench for humans - by releasing more nitrates and phosphates. It also denies sunlight to underwater plants. And the bread eaten by birds creates more faeces, which has the same effect.

The nutrients can also encourage filamentous algae, which grow upwards from the bottom in chains or threads. The algae can slow down river flows, further deadening the environment.

Now you might think that I am being rather picky here focusing in on just this one aspect but it annoys and upsets me to see people doing something that is going to harm animals when they think they are doing something good. Not good for the poor childrens' psyche at all.

I found that I wanted to keep reading the story as there several twists and turns, but no murders, no supernatural happenings, just a heart warming story,

I was pleased too that the Quaker attitudes to criminality and to their workers was highlighted as this is forgotten all too often now Cadbury's, Fry's and Rowntree's and the banks Barclays and Lloyds are no longer run by them. Perhaps we should look back at some of these principles and see just how far from them some of our current business leaders have gone - see Phillip Green for instance.

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Helen gives women emancipation?

Enter Helen Book Cover Enter Helen
Brooke Hauser
biography
Harper
May 2016

This cinematic story about legendary Cosmopolitan editor and champion of the single girl Helen Gurley Brown chronicles her rise as a cultural icon who redefined what it means to be an American woman.

In 1965, Helen Gurley Brown, author of the groundbreaking bestseller Sex and the Single Girl, took over an ailing Cosmopolitan and soon revamped it into one of the most bankable—and revolutionary—brands on the planet. At a time when women’s magazines taught housewives how to make the perfect casserole, Helen spoke directly to the single girl next door, cheekily advising her on how to pursue men, money, power, pleasure, and, most of all, personal happiness.

In this retro romp that will appeal to fans of Mad Men, journalist Brooke Hauser reveals how a self-proclaimed “mouseburger” from the Ozarks became one of the most influential women of her time. Though she was married (to the renowned movie producer David Brown), no one embodied the idea of the Cosmo Girl more than Helen, who willed, worked, and flirted her way to the top. Bringing New York City vibrantly to life during the sexual revolution and the women’s movement, and featuring a rich cast of characters, including Hugh Hefner and Gloria Steinem, Enter Helen is the riveting story of a polarizing pioneer who bucked convention to define her own destiny, baiting a generation that both revered and rejected her.

 

Sex and the single girl was published in 1961. I was too young to read it! But.. it certainly influenced a lot of people and there was a lot of discussion about it, for many years to come.

Some things I didn’t know about Helen Gurley Brown and US society in 1950-60 approx:

  1. She was married in 1959 when she was 37 years old and prior to that had had over 170 lovers, and been the mistress of many very rich and powerful men. She had deliberately chosen the chosen the role of mistress.
  2. She was very plain in fact with thin hair. But she wore wigs and thick make-up to cover her acne scars – her acne had been treated by the doctor squeezing the spots!!! She could make herself look glamorous. She was very slender and petite.
  3. In most US states in the early 1960s, the husband signed leases for their wives, also bank loans and credit cards. A woman alone needed a male sponsor.
  4. Job adverts were divided into male and female sections. Female jobs were low skilled or unskilled and often advertised with such comments as attractive personality etc. Male jobs were the attorneys, accountants, engineers.
  5. The pill provided safe birth control for women for the first time. It changed the atmosphere of a date – women were now assured of safety and thus a sexual revolution began – I remember this and going to a clinic where unmarried women were accepted!

Each chapter has a quote to start it.

Some that I like included:

‘don’t you know that a man being rich is like a girl being pretty? You wouldn’t marry a girl just because she is pretty, but, my goodness, doesn’t it help?’ From Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

For me this was an interesting book that pre-dated the era in which I grew up, but also had a profound impact on my late teens and early 20s. I  found Helen an interesting character and her life was certainly quite adventurous. however, I did think that overall, the book was too long at 480 pages and thus I started to get bored about half-way through. It needed a little more ‘zip’ in the writing style.

My score of 4 is because I think it is a book that should be read to help young women understand a little of what life was like before the pill and before it was accepted that women were competent to manage their own financial affairs!

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