REVIEW – Insidious Intent by Val McDermid

There’s nothing like a book that hits you straight in the feels, as my late demented fangirl self used to say. The most recent instalment in the ‘Wire in the Blood’ series from McDermid does not fail to disappoint.

We join Tony Hill and Carol Jordan for a tenth instalment after, let’s face it – a whole lot of crap that could never happen to two people in the real world (at least I hope not). She’s lost her brother and future sister in law in the most savage way possible, she’s hit the bottle and is losing control. And Tony, well he is the same as ever, trying to prop up Carol and figuring out what role he should play – therapist, friend or something more.

Carol is facing a lot of demons, not just those that lurk in the bottom of a bottle. Death features heavily on her conscience, the deaths of Michael and Lucy because of a killer she hunted, drink driving deaths in a cover up to protect her and bring her back to the sharp end of major incident policing. She’s taken a lot out on Tony in past books, to my eternal sadness, but this book she really has jumped down the rabbit hole, to the point where Tony considers she probably has PTSD.

In this entire Tony/Carol centric universe, a murder case brings them together again with a slightly revamped squad – ReMIT, a regional major incident team that rush in and solve the big cases so locals don’t have to. Their first case is a potential serial who’s interested in romance – picking up single, lonely women who want love at wedding receptions, and killing them in someone else’s place, setting up a credible pattern that this person will follow – the person he really wants to kill. Which, according to Tony’s analysis, makes him ‘not your typical sexual killer’.

The seemingly random choice of victims and scattered locations, combined with the forensically savvy killer, makes ReMIT’s job ridiculously difficult, providing it with a baptism of fire and making no friends upstairs or in power. This is a recurring strand within McDermid’s Hill/Jordan series, as what they do is expensive, and in a climate of budget cuts, cheaper options are always preferred and ReMIT essentially becomes a law unto itself.

But that’s what I love about this team of loveable rogues. They have unconventional methods yes, expensive ones probably, but whatever twists and turns the job does get done. I loved the little diversion that Paula’s young ward Torin brought to the book in the midst of murder and Tony/Carol drama and the unfolding notion that DC Sam Evans never deserved his place on the team with his betrayal and me me me attitude.

So the ending, I was not expecting. And I won’t talk about it because its mean to those who want to read it but haven’t yet. But I sense that the end may be in sight for this series, but I really really hope not. Probably going to have to wait two years for the next instalment, you’ll find me wailing in the corner about how life is unfair and how its a torturous existence being a Tony Hill/Carol Jordan Val McDermid fan.

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REVIEW – The Boy In Her Dreams by Laekan Zea Kemp

The second book in ‘The Girl in Between’ series show a sort of rehabilitated Roman and a rapidly spiralling Bryn on their German odyssey seeking more information and a cure into Bryn’s KLS – or at the least more answers.

This book hinges on a more supernatural twist to the concept engaged in the first book of Bryn’s condition, KLS and the physicality’s of it, with a brief interlude in the idea of shared dreaming between her and Roman. That leaves you sort of open to the possibility of what the second book brings you – the idea that Bryn’s KLS might not be KLS but something grounded more in inheritance, birth and mysticism.

This book was more confusing than the first book, but I’ve found that can happen with series, especially as there’s an underlying thread that will be explored in further books. So we have been enlightened further as to the shadows, but as to what they want and why they want it – it’s still somewhat of a mystery. We’ve been introduced to the idea of Dreamers and Rogues, those trapped in their dreams and sleep like Bryn and those destined to protect their sleepers like Roman. But what the shadows want from them, whether to trap them or to kill them, I guess we will be treated to that in Kemp’s next instalment. Some more context around the idea of Dreamers and Rogues would be nice, but I suspect the audience is playing out the story with the characters – in that no one really seems to understand the notion of who they are and what it all means.

I would say that Dr Banz is the most intriguing character so far as I’m not entirely sure whether his motives are true or whether his grief for his daughter is causing him to do something stupid, or even how he may have been corrupted by a shadow, as this book showed us with other characters.

This book still maintained my interest, the characters and their relationships are still developing and I’m looking forward to see how the story moves on and how the loose ends will be tied up.

REVIEW – The Girl in Between by Laekan Zea Kemp

Bryn is a girl trying to get by and graduate, trying to process her on again off again relationship with school hunk Drew, and keeping her cousin Dani on the straight and narrow. Her dream? To go to art school in Emory and sculpt masterpieces. One small problem – she has KLS, a sleep disorder which makes her fall asleep for days sometimes weeks at a time. Her entire life, put on hold, a slave to her condition.

I hadn’t heard of this condition before, and like some of the stranger neurological disorders, it almost beggars belief that it does exist.

What Kemp has created is a girl just seeking to be normal, but retreating into herself. The mysterious character of Roman was a nice addition, a boy who shared her dream world, who she fought to prove was real and not a figment of her imagination. Even the shadows she feels are out to hurt her, portrayed as paranoia, hallucination seems to be a developing actual threat when it is discovered something like this has happened before. As the book likes to dwell on, there is so much more to understand about the human brain, and that we as humans probably know more about outer space than we do about a crucial organ of ours.

I’m really looking forward to reading the sequel as I have so many unanswered questions. Who/what is the mysterious shadow? Will Eve’s history repeat itself again for poor Bryn? Will Roman and Bryn ever actually meet outside of their joint delusion of a dreamworld? I think I might dive straight into Kemp’s next offering to find out, and that for me is a great sign.

REVIEW – The Lost Girls by Angela Marsons

9 year old Amy and Charlie are best friends, inseparable, their parents as close as you could get, living perfect suburban lives. Until one day they’re not.

Falling prey to a sinister group of kidnappers, all with their motives for doing so different. Will, the cool, calm collected one with his motives in his pocket – Symes, the cold-hearted military man, sadistic in the gaining of his pleasures. And a third, who I won’t reveal for the sake of the ending and spoilers – but I certainly didn’t see that coming.

And that, for me, is the eternal mark of a good crime novel. I’ve read so many over the years, and all too often I’ve spotted the betrayer, the mystery bad guy at the heart of the case. This time I was surprised, and that was enough for me to go – oh yes, this has certainly hit the spot.

The novel part of this book was how the parents were played off against each other, competing financially and psychologically. It broke down the parents’ relationships with each other and had them at each other’s throats, and it does go to show how everything else can go out of the window when your kids are involved.

There were twists and turns with the earlier kidnap of Emily and Suzie that added a wonderful dimension and sense of urgency, because you could see the effect on their parents, the paranoia of Emily’s mother and the depression of Suzie’s. Intertwining the past case that had gone half right and half wrong with the very real threat towards Amy and Charlie was a crowning glory of this novel.

The characters Marsons has created are ones we can all relate to – the woman who put her career on hold for her husbands’ career, always assuming it would come off the back-burner at some point, the woman avoiding her past mistakes only to have them come to light in the most tragic of ways, kids off to bad starts and parents doing just about anything for them.

Kim as the lead detective still had that familiar loveable rogue lone ranger kind of vibe, misunderstood by the system and resistant to authority, but like all good fictional detectives, she gets the commendations in to justify her actions, and she gets the job done.

REVIEW – Shadow of a Century – An Irish Love Story by Jean Grainger

I’m not usually one for titles that declare upfront they’re a love story. And to be fair, reading this book came at completely the wrong time for me. I’d started reading it during what I thought was a supposed rough patch with my boyfriend and what soon turned into a pancake to soften the blow ‘I’m just not in love with you’ break up. But in a way, this book helped with the thoughts swimming around my head, weirdly.
The story follows journalist Scarlett O’Hara, cringing at her unfortunate name, cursing her Irish father and avoiding the spotlight after her high profile affair with a Senator goes public. A chance encounter brings her to Eileen, an old lady who’s house had just been broken into, and the chance to hear the story of Eileen’s parents, Irish revolutionaries at the time of the Easter Rising.
So we then jump seamlessly around time, to pre-WW1 Dublin. Mary Doyle has journeyed to the big city to work in a big house and through the influence of her employer and friends, becomes involved in the movement for an independent Ireland. The friends she makes along the way is reminiscent of that age old storyline that a young orphan moves to the city and find where she belongs. But it didn’t feel gimmicky,
I can’t give away too much about the love story aspect of it for risk of giving away spoilers, but I just loved the delicate intertwining of the past and present and how Eileen felt that she could never settle down because of the storybook romance her parents enjoyed. Throughout the book I couldn’t help but feel bad for her because (potential spoiler alert) – their love never had the chance to bloom and was always stuck in the idealistic honeymoon phase. But I love how Scarlett’s narrative intertwined with Eileen’s story and that of her parents.
I concur with other reviews, definitely not just an Irish love story. So much more.

Missed Me?

So after a disastrous relationship/break up I have hit the books ever so intensely once more. They are my never ending love affair and usually they don’t disappoint! (enter joke here sorry not sorry)

I am forever recommending books to people and passing judgement on what I’ve read – usually good judgements I promise! Once upon a time this blog meant a lot to me, and I’m eager to get that back.

So here I am, older and wiser, still reading copious amounts of books and devouring everything put in front of me. Trying to get back to enjoying that alone time single life brings whilst not being a drip who has no fun. Life’s eternal balance – there is still lots of tea, but I’ve broadened my horizons and also enjoy caramel coffee – I’m told its adult juice.

I’ve got some cracking books lined up to review, and I promise to even try and vaguely attempt to keep up with this for the billionth time!