My Review of The Vanishing Point by Val McDermid

Finished on 12/02/13

2013 Reading Challenge Book Number: 12
Rating: 5 stars
The Vanishing Point follows ghost writer Stephanie Harker, guardian of Jimmy Higgins age 5. Steph has screws in her leg which always sets off the metal detectors at airports, and their trip to America is no exception. But as Jimmy waits for her to be searched, a figure whisks a compliant Jimmy away. As Steph and the FBI try to piece together what happened, you find yourself transported into how Steph became Jimmy’s guardian and close friends with his mother Scarlett. 
McDermid as usual has hit the spot for me once more. The characters are convincing as well as conniving, and you question everyone’s motives until the very end. My personal favourite character is Scarlett, who outside of Steph is a central character to the novel. I began to feel very sorry for her as the story progressed for going through so much and coming out on top. The storyline is also very intriguing, the narrative being told by Steph retrospectively for most of the story, a story of her becoming part of Jimmy and Scarlett’s life. The story then shifts dramatically to Steph and DS Nick Nicolaides in the present tense as they try to piece the story of Jimmy’s kidnap together. 
The ending had me completely speechless! Not for one moment had I considered that particular motive that McDermid reveals. Now I’m not one to give away spoilers, but wow. It’s taking every ounce of my self control to not let slip the dramatic ending. It’s so ruthless it seems almost inconsiderable, then you realise you had the completely wrong impression of a particular character all the way through the book. 

My Review of A Place of Execution by Val McDermid

Finished on the 16th January 2013

3rd Book of my 2013 Reading Challenge

This book begins in a cold winter of 1963, in a tiny hamlet in Derbyshire called Scardale. 13 year old Alison Carter has gone missing in strange circumstances, her dog being found tied up close by. No one can figure out who is responsible, was it an outsider who didn’t know their way around the village? Or someone closer to home? A person is convicted through the dedication of the team of police officers led by George Bennett. 35 years later, journalist Catherine Heathcote is determined to write a tell-all book about the case with George Bennett, a gritty true crime text. But a new lead emerges, and Bennett tries to stop the story, leading Catherine determined to find out the truth about the Carter case.

Let me just say how AMAZING this book is. At first I was a bit, ‘okay it’s a tragic story but…’. But then it got intriguing, so intriguing that I managed to finish the book yesterday instead of today. When it got to the 35 years later bit, I seriously couldn’t put it down. It’s got everything you could possibly want from a mystery novel; tragedy, disturbing events, the blame game, family suspicion, rumours, ghosts, abuse, cover-ups, genuinely everything. I was seriously impressed by the ending, even I did not see that coming!

 Val McDermid has definitely outdone herself with A Place of Execution, it’s truly an easy-read yet so perfectly written for the genre. It has loveable characters with a wide variety of personalities, such as the secretive yet community minded and practically all related members of Scardale, the loveable rogue Tommy Clough, the dedicated George Bennett and the headstrong Ma Lomas. I love the continuity throughout the book and how all of the events seem quite straightforward at the beginning but then intertwine to shock you with the conclusion. Thoroughly recommended, definitely, 100%.

Quick Little Update & My Book Haul

So to update you guys on what is going on in my reading life since finishing reading Les Miserables, here is a little blog post for you.

I’ve started reading ‘The Distant Echo’ by Val McDermid, and am over 60% of the way through already. A combination of having too much time on my hands this week plus Val McDermid being one of my all time favourite authors. Every book of hers I’ve read, I have never been disappointed and fallen in love with it with such rapture that I have been capable of finishing it within days. I thoroughly recommend any of her books, especially her stand-alone novels such as Trick of the Dark and the Tony Hill/Carol Jordan series.

I hope to have finished this book by tomorrow or Friday, and have my review of it posted on here before I head back to university. I’m unsure of what to read next, but given that I got 2 more Val McDermid books for Christmas it might be a good idea before diving into something more challenging. I want to ease into my first few weeks back at university whilst keeping up my reading, and Val McDermid is always a fool-proof way of having that reassuring, familiar style with you that fits nicely into your life.

And as for my book haul, this is a combination of books I got for Christmas and some I bought afterwards:

Grantchester Grind by Tom Sharpe – I read the first book ‘Porterhouse Blue’ two years ago and didn’t really get the style of humour. So I reread it a couple of months ago and immediately understood the wit. I can’t wait to read the sequel and delve into the mishaps of Skullion once more.

The Vanishing Point by Val McDermid – Need I say more? Her most recent book which I’m dying to read.

A Place of Execution by Val McDermid – Doesn’t need much explanation again

Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbovsky – I’ve heard that this is meant to be good, although my friend Amy wasn’t very overwhelmed by it, I thought I would give it a try.

Bring Up The Bodies by Hillary Mantel – I read the prequel to this ‘Wolf Hall’ just after Christmas, and although some people weren’t keen on Mantel’s style of writing, I was part of the wide reaching club who adored her characterisation of Thomas Cromwell. In my opinion a worthy winner of the Booker Prize.

The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling – Because like every Harry Potter fan, I am curious about her foray into writing for adults rather than children and adolescents.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey – My old sociology teacher said that the film for this was brilliant and really let you into the sociological ideas behind ‘madness’ and whether it is real or socially constructed. I had to write an essay for my History of Medicine course at university last term on madness being a form of social control, so I figured this would be a read I would enjoy.

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux – I haven’t seen the musical, yet, but after my experience with Les Miserables, I think it will be nice to read the book before I delve into the musical instead of the vice versa process I adopted with Les Miserables.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith – This was one of my recommendations based on my orders from Amazon, so I thought I would give this book a go. What swung it for me was that my best friend Amy planned on reading it too. I always like reading something that Amy’s read or planning to read because we like similar books and always have a good chat about what we think of books we both happen to have read.

The Diary of a Nobody by George Grossmith – This book was raised in one of my historiography lectures as the writer apparently started a Victorian interest in the history of every day individuals who were not important, changing the paradigm that history is the history of dead white men. Should be an interesting read at any rate.

Afterwards by Rosamund Lupton – I read one of Lupton’s other books ‘Sister’ when it was recommended to me by my nan. I loved it that much that I decided to buy this one and read it in the not so distant future.

Before I Go To Sleep by S.J.Watson – Yet another recommendation on my Amazon account, but I find the concept really intriguing so I figure I’ll love the book. I do love a bit of surrealism.

The Penguin Book of the Renaissance by John Plumb – A core text (or so I’m told) for my module this term of ‘Renaissance Courts’. Mixed feelings about how I will find it, the period is generally one that fascinates me (Tudors and Sir Thomas More), I’m not sure I’ll enjoy some aspects of it. But the other choices I had for different modules wasn’t as broad as I wanted. To be honest, I think this will be my favourite module out of the 3 I’m doing this term (Renaissance Courts, Victorian Britain and Medicine and Empire)

Hope wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, you’re thinking about reading and/or reading