When a friend asks –

A Simple Favour Book Cover A Simple Favour
DARCEY. BELL
Literary fiction, Contemporary, psychological
Pan Macmillan
December 14, 2017
352

A Simple Favour is a twisting free-fall ride filled with betrayal, reversal, secrets and revelations, love and loyalty. Darcey Bell ratchets up the tension in a taut, unsettling, and completely absorbing thriller that holds you in its grip until the final page.It starts with a simple favour - an ordinary kindness mothers do for one another.When her best friend, Emily, asks Stephanie to pick up her son from school she happily says yes.Their children are classmates and best friends. And five-year-olds love being together - just like she and Emily. As a widow and stay-at-home blogger mum living in suburban Connecticut, Stephanie was lonely until she met Emily, a glamorous and successful PR executive.The trouble is that Emily doesn't come back. No matter what the police say, Stephanie knows that she would never leave her son. Terrified, she reaches out to her fellow mummy bloggers.And she also reaches out to Emily's husband - just to offer her support.What Stephanie hasn't shared are the secrets buried in a murky past.

The film adaptation of the book stars Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively as the seemingly mismatched pair of best friends.

A book that starts out like a ‘normal’ story of a mother and her best friend, and mommies in NY suburbs and then gradually becomes darker and more twisted as the truths of their lives begin to unfold.

And then, half-way through, a really big twist turns the story into something else entirely! Something you had not anticipated and it all goes into a spiral from there…

And at the end there is a cliff-hanger, that leaves you to make up your own mind about the ending.

I found this really enticing as a story as the main characters have such secrets that they have carefully hidden, for a variety of reasons, and their own real personalities are hidden too. I couldn’t wait to find out what they would do next. And how they would spin half-truths and blame others… All of them characters you really could not empathise with, for any reason at all…

Good solid writing if not great.

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When it’s really really cold!

Her Frozen Heart Book Cover Her Frozen Heart
Lulu Taylor
psychological, womens' literature
Pan
(30 Nov. 2017)

Caitlyn, there’s something I have to tell you. About Sara.

Caitlyn thinks her marriage to Patrick is a success. For one thing, he is one of the few people not to fall head over heels for her beautiful friend, Sara. Life is lived on his terms, but they are happy.

Aren’t they?

When a devastating accident turns her existence upside down, Caitlyn is forced to reassess everything she thought about her marriage, what she truly knows about Patrick, and his real feelings for her best friend. In the refuge of an old manor house, she begins to discover the truth.

In 1947, the worst winter in decades hits England, cutting off entirely the inhabitants of Kings Harcourt Manor. For Tommy Carter, widowed at the start of war, it is particularly hard: the burden of the family falls on her. She has the solace of her children, and the interesting presence of her brother’s friend, Fred. But there is also Barbara, a mysterious figure from her past who appears to want a piece of Tommy’s future as well.

Loved the way the story moved between the two women in different times, but who were, in the end, linked by the same house.

I had – sort of – known that the winter in the UK in 1947 was bad, but not quite as bad as was shown in this novel.

It must have been dreadful to experience when the UK had not yet recovered from WW2 and there were still shortages of basic foods and heating materials  – the coal had frozen in the mines and the drifts were too high for the miners to get to work or coal to be transported.

An anti-cyclone sat over Scandinavia and there were 6 weeks of snow falling – 55 days in total. The temperature dropped to -21C in Bedfordshire and this was before people had thermal underwear and outdoor clothing that was suitable for this type of weather.

Newspapers were cut to 4 pages.

There were no electric fires (the main alternative to coal in most houses) between 9-12am and 2-4pm.

And no afternoon Greyhound Racing!

Over 20,000 acres of corn was destroyed by the cold.

That said, I personally experienced the winter of 1963 as a schoolgirl in the days before 1. Tights, and 2. Trousers were permitted to be worn.

I walked to school.

3.5 miles each way.

I thought my knees would never stop chapping and warm up!

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Very black birds?

Raven Black Book Cover Raven Black
Shetland
Ann Cleeves
mystery, thriller, police procedurals
Pan; New edition edition
(2 July 2015)

Raven Black is the first book in Ann Cleeves' Shetland series - filmed as the major BBC1 drama starring Douglas Henshall, Shetland.

It is a cold January morning and Shetland lies buried beneath a deep layer of snow. Trudging home, Fran Hunter's eye is drawn to a vivid splash of colour on the white ground, ravens circling above. It is the strangled body of her teenage neighbour Catherine Ross. As Fran opens her mouth to scream, the ravens continue their deadly dance . . .

The locals on the quiet island stubbornly focus their gaze on one man - loner and simpleton Magnus Tait. But when police insist on opening out the investigation a veil of suspicion and fear is thrown over the entire community. For the first time in years, Catherine's neighbours nervously lock their doors, whilst a killer lives on in their midst.

 

The first book in this fabulous series about policing in the Western Isles and remote lands of Scotland. We have very inbred and inward looking communities with very strong cultural and community ties to each other. And then we have people who like to flash the cash and appear to be party animals – perhaps to offset the boredom of living in such remote places.

If you are different from others and don’t take part in community activities you are considered suspicious here and thus we have people suspecting others with no reason other than that they are different.

How do you untangle the truth from the suspicions and mis-directions? Jimmy Perez has the job of finding out the murder/murderers

A really good detective/thriller novel with great prose [The ravens were sky-dancing] and style and of course enough suspense to keep you reading and reading and reading.

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