Monday, 15 January 2018

The Dry by Jane Harper

Book Review

The Dry by Jane Harper - Reading, Writing, Booking

"It wasn't as though the farm hadn't seen death before, and the blowflies didn't discriminate."

The Dry was written by Jane Harper and was published by Little Brown.

This is a grim first line, and one that sets the tone for the rest of the book. But though The Dry is dark it's also authentic and engaging. It's easy to see why this Australian outback crime story is so popular.

After getting a note demanding his presence, Federal Agent Aaron Falk arrives in his hometown for the first time in decades to attend the funeral of his best friend, Luke. Twenty years ago when Falk was accused of murder, Luke was his alibi. Falk and his father fled under a cloud of suspicion, saved from prosecution only because of Luke’s steadfast claim that the boys had been together at the time of the crime. But now more than one person knows they didn’t tell the truth back then, and Luke is dead.
Amid the worst drought in a century, Falk and the local detective question what really happened to Luke. As Falk reluctantly investigates to see if there’s more to Luke’s death than there seems to be, long-buried mysteries resurface, as do the lies that have haunted them. And Falk will find that small towns have always hidden big secrets.

I mentioned The Dry in my review of Dark Pines as a book with a setting that is integral to the story. Some plot lines can be lifted out of their setting and placed elsewhere, but The Dry is reliant on the, well dry, habitat. The two year drought is the reason for the tension, stress and desperation in the town and it is felt from page one. I've read very few books set in Australia so for me this was a refreshing setting, one that's alien yet I could understand the desperation of the towns people.

The Dry has two mystery storylines, one from Falk's past and one that he's currently investigating, and they blend together well. Occasionally the jumps in time are a bit confusing as they aren't always clearly seperated, but the parallel stories suited each other.

This is a complex thriller but it doesn't rely on sensationalism and ridiculous twists. Having said that, I was surprised by the ending and didn't guess it.

There were a couple of moments where I felt a plot point was a bit too simple, there were a couple of clues that came a little too easily. However, mainly it flowed well and I really like Harper's writing, which is as bare and arid as the setting of The Dry.

My Rating: 4 Stars

The Dry by Jane Harper - Reading, Writing, Booking

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Thursday, 4 January 2018

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

Book Review

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor - Reading, Writing, Booking

"For who are we if not the sum of our experiences, the things that we gather and collect in life? Once you strip those away we become just a mass of flesh, bone and blood vessels."

The Chalk Man will be released in the UK on 11th January 2018. It is written by C.J. Tudor and published by Michael Joseph.

I often find that hugely hyped books just don't live up to the buildup generated around them, but I'm pleased to say that The Chalk Man is one of the few that does. I've been seeing lots of good reviews for this one, and the premise sounded right up my street, so I requested it from NetGalley and I'm so glad I did because I thoroughly enjoyed it. I've read a lot of thrillers recently that have been only OK and I was a bit wary to have to read another one that didn't grip me, but The Chalk Man was a breath of fresh air.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

Book Review

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan - Reading, Writing, Booking

"Sophie has never thought of her husband as a liar."

Anatomy of a Scandal will be published in the UK on 11th January 2018. It is written by Sarah Vaughan and published by Simon and Schuster.

Anatomy of a Scandal was a book that interested me but didn't grip me. I enjoyed it while reading but it wasn't unputdownable. A solid effort, B+.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

My Top 10 Books of 2017

My Top 10 Books of 2017 - Reading, Writing, Booking

I hope you've had a lovely Christmas and are enjoying a lazy Boxing Day morning. Pity me, because I've got to go to work this afternoon. Whatever you're doing today I hope you have time to check out my top ten books released in 2017.
I've included links to my original reviews in the information for each book if you want to know more about each one.

These are in no particular order.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

White Bodies by Jane Robins

Book Review

White Bodies by Jane Robins - Reading, Writing, Booking

"I can't remember such an exciting day in my life as this. I just wish he hadn't forced Tilda under the water and held her there so long."

White Bodies will be released in the UK on 28th December 2017. It is written by Jane Robins and published by HQ.

White Bodies had equal parts good and bad for me, books usually go one way or the other, but this one had elements I thought brilliant and others that just didn't work, so it ends up sitting at an average 3 stars, although I don't think this is a particularly average book.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Dark Pines by Will Dean

Book Review

Dark Pines by Will Dean - Reading, Writing, Booking

"Something just died. I don't know how I know this but I do. The air has changed around me."

Dark Pines will be released in the UK on 4th January 2018. It is written by Will Dean and published by Point Blank.

I really enjoy thrillers that are reliant on their setting. I recently read The Dry (review to come) and the harsh and arid landscape is integral to the plot. Dark Pines is the same, but with a completely different environment. A small Swedish town on the edge of a mighty pine forest, where stepping off the path can be deadly, yet most of the inhabitants' livelihoods depend on the forest.

It's an ideal place to set a murder mystery and Will Dean does this brilliantly in Dark Pines (which is also a perfect name for the book). You really feel the forest setting the whole way through, and it just wouldn't be the same if it was set somewhere else. It's intensely claustrophobic yet there is a power and energy both in the setting and the story.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

The One That Got Away by Annabel Kantaria

Book Review

The One That Got Away by Annabel Kantaria - Reading, Writing, Booking

"I'm a damaged woman who has knowledge and power."

The One That Got Away was released in the UK on 21st September 2017. It is written by Annabel Kantaria and published by HQ.

I've been in a bit of a thriller slump recently; reading a lot of mysteries that are only OK. Unfortunately, The One That Got Away falls into this category.  A lot of people have been saying how clever it is, and the concept is I suppose, if a little cliche now, but I don't think it stands out amongst other 'clever' thrillers, like The Girl Before and Gone Girl, though it is clearly trying to follow in those footsteps.