Red Snow by Will Dean

Red Snow

Tuva is due to start a new job in a couple of weeks, and is looking forward to moving south where she imagines life will be more interesting (and warmer). But the best laid plans…

Red Snow is the sequel to Dark Pines – the second book by Will Dean to feature journalist Tuva Moodyson – and you really need to read them in order to understand why Tuva responds the way she does, especially regarding the characters that live on the edge of the forest.     

Superb writing and vivid descriptions emphasize the claustrophobic isolation of life in this small Swedish town in the middle of winter; the repetitive descriptions drive home the relentlessness of the cold and dark winter months (so realistic I had to wrap myself in a blanket while reading).  

Although I found her slightly irritating, Will Dean does a good job of getting inside Tuva’s head and making her come alive on the page. The town of Gavrik seems to be populated by a lot of really weird and creepy characters; the descriptions of David Holmquist’s unusual cooking actually made me feel ill!   

With Tuva due to leave, and the ‘Ferryman’ still at large, the ending comes as a shock; with so many possibilities I had no idea who the killer was. I will read Dark Pines next to fill in Tuva’s missing back-story, and look forward to reading her next adventure.

Thanks to Tripfiction for a copy of Red Snow in exchange for an honest review.

The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn

The Woman in the Window

The Woman in the Window starts slowly to build the claustrophobic atmosphere and introduce the unreliable narrator, Anna Fox. We wonder what has led to such self-destructive behaviour, and why she is living the way she is – doped up on a cocktail of prescription drugs and red wine.

Her agoraphobia is obviously the result of some great trauma, but AJ Finn ramps up the tension by only gradually revealing Anna’s story in a series of flashbacks.

Time passes slowly and she spends it watching old black and white movies, playing chess and observing her neighbours through her camera lens. The Russell family have recently moved in across the park and Anna is slightly obsessed with watching them. One day she believes she has witnessed a murder. Needless to say, no one believes her and there is no evidence.

In his debut novel, AJ Finn has created a well-written and convincing female character, and a tense plot full of twists and turns. My only criticism is that it would benefit from some judicious editing as it is padded out with too much repetitive description.   

Thanks to the author, the publisher and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Hands Off by DE Haggerty

Hands Off by DE Haggerty

Hands Off is the third in the Love in the Suburbs series, but I did not enjoy it as much as the previous two. I found the character of Roman Cadwell to be a bit two-dimensional; I can’t quite put my finger on it but something was missing. There was too much emphasis on Roman’s wealth and not enough on his character. He just didn’t convince me that he was a real person, and at times he was overly forceful; he was aptly described as a ‘bulldozer’ at one point. This was not a problem in the first two books where the characters came across as very believable.

Bailey seemed to be unable to forgive herself for what had been a genuine error of judgement; she put up a bit too much resistance, once the truth had been uncovered, to the idea of dating Roman even though they were really attracted to each other.

Frankie’s grandma was her usual delightful self, determined to bring Bailey and Roman together no matter what. I imagine it would not be so much fun being on the receiving end of her matchmaking. I liked the strand where Bailey got to know her father; it was sad that it had taken so long for them to find each other. What a piece of work her mother was – I don’t want to give anything away, but I don’t understand how anyone could treat their own daughter that way?

While you could read this as a standalone, it would be a much more rewarding experience to start at the beginning, and I’m glad I did. The next in the series, Knee Deep, is Luke and Violet’s story, and I’m very much looking forward to finding out what happened to make them so antagonistic towards each other. Thanks to the author for a copy that I review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team. #RBRT #HandsOff #DEHaggerty  

The Woman in the Lake by Nicola Cornick

The Woman in the Lake

I really enjoyed The Woman in the Lake, a dual timeline novel, set in Swindon, which is split between the 1760s and the present day.

The suspense is built gradually, by alternately telling us a little bit more about the stories of Fen and Isabella, until the dreadful truth is revealed; as the story unfolds we see parallels between the two marriages, hundreds of years apart.  

Lots of historical detail is woven into the story, and the supernatural element is done with a light touch. The characters are well drawn and convincing though not always likeable.

I will certainly be on the lookout for other books by Nicola Cornick, and Lydiard House is definitely worth a visit. Thanks to the author and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Bury Them Deep by James Oswald

Bury Them Deep by James Oswald

Bury Them Deep is the tenth book to feature DCI Tony McLean, and they just keep getting better and better. You could read this as a standalone, but I’m a great believer in starting from the beginning as the accumulated backstory gives you a much more nuanced read.

Tony’s team are part of Operation Caterwaul, a multi-agency investigation into financial fraud involving some very influential people; security is of the utmost importance, and not even Tony knows all the details.

The most senior of the admin staff, Anya Renfrew, does not turn up for work. With her high security clearance, the senior officers fear that the operation is compromised. As a matter of urgency, Tony is given the job of finding her. This suits him fine as it gets him out in the field, doing what he does best, instead of having to focus on his neverending stack of paperwork.

From here on in, James Oswald skillfully weaves several plot strands together, and builds up to a truly shocking finale. Edinburgh is enjoying a period of unusually hot weather, which adds to the already strained atmosphere. There is always a sense of something ‘other’ in this series, and here it involves Scottish folklore, and local myths and legends. Anya’s car is found burnt out in a forest where other women are rumoured to have disappeared. Human bones are found after a forest fire. What transpires is more gruesome than anything you could have imagined.

Most of the story is told from Tony’s point of view; his narrative voice is what makes these books so enjoyable. He is a flawed human being, but an excellent, intuitive detective. I love his total disregard for the concerns of his media- and budget-obsessed superior officers. All the usual members of his team are there, and this enables you to immerse yourself in the story straightaway. I look forward to reading the next instalment in the story of Tony McLean.

Thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for a copy of Bury Them Deep in exchange for an honest review  #JamesOswald #BuryThemDeep #NetGalley

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