When the writer is unexpected…

The Devil's Work Book Cover The Devil's Work
Mark Edwards
Fiction, suspense, thriller, psychological
Thomas & Mercer
September 13, 2016

A gripping psychological thriller from the bestselling author of Follow You Home and The Magpies. It was the job she had dreamed of since childhood. But on her very first day, when an unnerving encounter drags up memories Sophie Greenwood would rather forget, she wonders if she has made a mistake. A fatal mistake. What is her ambitious young assistant really up to? And what exactly happened to Sophie's predecessor? When her husband and daughter are pulled into the nightmare, Sophie is forced to confront the darkest secrets she has carried for years. As her life begins to fall apart at work and at home, Sophie must race to uncover the truth about her new job...before it kills her.

 Once upon a time you had an ambition to work in publishing – and you knew just which publisher you wanted to work for.

But first you needed a degree – and so you went to university and met Jasmine and then her boyfriend Liam.  Something strange happens whilst you are at uni and Jasmine and Liam leave – some years later hey are declared dead in a boat fire, which you find strange but…

In the meantime you have married and had Daisy who is now 4, and after time at home you have decided to go back to work and your dream job not only becomes available, but is also offered to you.

And then strange things start happening.

Your husband has issues with twitter. Your house is under attack apparently as a result.

‘Accidents’ happen at work and you begin to suspect that someone has a campaign against you – but who? Meanwhile the accidents multiply and a strange book is given to you by your boss to read and you become convinced it was written by Jasmine – but when? After all, she is dead, isn’t she?

And the suspense is ramped it and more things happen until the denouement and the plot twists and turns, and I didn’t guess the ending!

A well written novel that grabs you and you begin to feel the paranoia building as the story progresses.

4.5 stars.

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Did you see her? Did you see her?

Did You See Melody? Book Cover Did You See Melody?
Sophie Hannah
suspense, psychological,
Hodder and Stoughton
August 24, 2017
400

Pushed to breaking point, Cara Burrows abandons her home and family and escapes to a five-star spa resort she can't afford. Late at night, exhausted and desperate, she lets herself into her hotel room and is shocked to find it already occupied - by a man and a teenage girl. A simple mistake on the part of the hotel receptionist - but Cara's fear intensifies when she works out that the girl she saw alive and well in the hotel room is someone she can't possibly have seen: the most famous murder victim in the country, Melody Chapa, whose parents are serving life sentences for her murder. Cara doesn't know what to trust: everything she's read and heard about the case, or the evidence of her own eyes. Did she really see Melody? And is she prepared to ask herself that question and answer it honestly if it means risking her own life?

 

Cara finds herself unexpectedly pregnant when she, her husband, and her children, thought that their family was complete.

She realises that she needs time away from her family and her life to think about what this new child would mean for her.

And so withdraws a significant part of their savings and books a 2 week  retreat in Arizona. She tells no-one where she is going but gives a date to her family of when she will be back.

The 5 star Arizona resort is luxurious beyond her expectations, and when she is accidentally booked into an already occupied room – she barges in and gives the occupants, a father and daughter, quite a shock – she is upgraded.

Then the mystery of Melody begins to play out. Cara becomes obsessed with finding out the trial details and aided by an American mother and daughter she begins an investigation at the resort as she, seems to have been threatened and is very curious about the father and daughter she saw.

The investigation brings unintended consequences for many people and the book’s final page leaves you wondering just what is the truth? And who is telling the story of Melody? And why?

Read carefully and don’t skip anything because you might miss something important.

 

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Don’t go to exotic islands on honeymoon!

The Honeymoon Book Cover The Honeymoon
Tina Seskis
psychological, mystery, thriller, literary fiction
Michael Joseph
March 23, 2017
496

"For as long as she can remember, Jemma has been planning the perfect honeymoon. A fortnight's retreat to a five-star resort in the Maldives, complete with luxury villas, personal butlers and absolute privacy. It should be paradise, but it's turned into a nightmare. Because the man Jemma married a week ago has just disappeared from the island without a trace. And now her perfect new life is vanishing just as quickly before her eyes. After everything they've been through together, how can this be happening? Is there anyone on the island that Jemma can trust? And above all - where has her husband gone?"

This starts as an almost traditional and well-worn story of a honeymoon couple on an exotic island where one goes missing.

So we think we know where the story is going. There are 2 scenarios: 1. He has deliberately left in the ‘missing drowned’ and walked away staged death; or 2. She has killed him and his body has got washed away and may never be found – shark eaten etc etc.

Except. That as the story develops it seems that what we thought we first knew, was not correct at all. The various characters tell lies – sometimes of omission and sometimes deliberately.

And whilst I’m definitely not going give you a spoiler, I am going to say this, you will never, ever, guess what really happened!

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Regency

Lord of Chance Book Cover Lord of Chance
Erica Ridley
Fiction
WebMotion
March 27, 2017
266

The first book in USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Erica Ridley's new regency romance series, Rogues to Riches! When Lady Luck wins him in a game of chance-and a wee mishap has them leg-shackled by dawn-have the tables finally turned in this rake's favor?

Erica Ridley always writes a fluent Regency style novel. Historically correct with speech adjusted to modern nuances and mannerisms.

Here we have two very sad specimens adrift in a society where women are wives, servants or harlots, and society men do not toil for a living.

So an illegitimate daughter of a courtesan cannot be respectably employed and a man without an income has no recourse but to gamble to fund his lifestyle and to support his family.

3

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Apples won the Wild West!

At the Edge of the Orchard Book Cover At the Edge of the Orchard
Tracy Chevalier
history, literary fiction
Borough Press
October 1, 2015
400

The sweeping and compelling new novel from the bestselling author of Girl with a Pearl Earring. âe~Dark, brutal, moving, powerfulâe(tm) Jane Harris âe~A wonderful book; rich, evocative, original. I loved itâe(tm) Joanne Harris In 1830s Ohio, the Goodenough family barely scratch out a living in the inhospitable Black Swamp. Robert and his sister Martha must watch as their parents' marriage is torn apart by disputes over whether to grow sweet apples to eat or sour apples for cider and applejack. One particularly vicious fight sends Robert out alone across America, far from his sister, into a life dominated not by apple trees but by the mighty redwoods and sequoias of California.

Now the story/myth of Johnny Appleseed is well written up in Michael Pollan’s book, ‘the Botany of Desire’ which I happen to have read.

He mentions that when the Europeans’ came to the Western Frontier they brought a ‘portable ecosystem’ with them. This system through seeds and animals recreated their accustomed way of life whether intentionally, as in the case of John Chapman (aka  Johnny Appleseed) or unintentionally such as weeds and diseases.

John Chapman had very fixed ideas about how to use his apples as he was vegan and believed that plants could feel hurt. He belonged to a specific Church which advocated a particular way of life and this included for Chapman not grafting an apple stock. Thus the seeds and seedlings he persuaded new settlers to buy to enable them to claim their lands, evolved with their climates into different species adapted to new soil and weather conditions. Chapman persuade the Govt to grant a claim provided the claimant planted 50 trees in 10 years – thus providing himself with a living as he sold these trees to the claimants on his travels. Chapman maintained a vast acreage of orchards growing on his seedlings but these seedling were really only ‘spitters’, fit for cider not eating. They were a hardy but bitter variety and couldn’t be grafted according to Chapman’s beliefs into eaters. Settlers indeed drank pints of cider – and the stronger variant Applejack – every day as the water was not fit to drink. Thus he became both famous and wealthy.

Where people did graft or the apples grew away from the original into a new variant, there were a multitude of colours, flavours and sizes.  Pollan notes that when visiting the Plant Genetics Institute’s orchard he found apples that tasted of bananas, or pears, or were spicy, or sticky-sweet. Some were purple at or near-blue, or weighed more than a pound or were striped.

In this book the first chapter introduces us to Johnny Appleseed on his travels from homestead to homestead in the Black Swamp of Ohio which stretched 25 miles (40 km) wide (north to south) and 100 miles (160 km) long, covering an estimated 1,500 square miles (4,000 km2).[3] Gradually drained and settled in the second half of the 19th century, and is now highly productive farm land according to Wikipedia. At the time of the story it was only just being settled and mosquitoes were still a regular visitor with associated malaria and the deaths of younger and and weaker members of the settlers. And so the story starts telling us about one family who attempted to settle in this area.

It is a slow burn of a story (unless you are intensely interested in the settling of the Black Swamp) but persevere and the later chapters are much better. You will learn about plant fever n the UK and just how much money could be made by brining home rare plants and seeds and the difficulties of doing so. You will find out what it was like to mine for gold in San Francisco and just how difficult life was for women on these rough frontiers and the few options open to them for survival.

Some great reading and lots to learn about how the West was Settled and by whom.

 

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