The Unlikely Life of Maisie Meadows by Jenni Keer

The Unlikely LIfe of Maisie Meadows

I really enjoyed Jenni Keer’s first book, The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker, and there are some similar themes running through this one – how ‘family’ are not always the people you are related to, the belief that things can have magical powers, and a cast of quirky characters beautifully brought to life.

This is so much more than a romantic comedy – in fact some of the misunderstandings between Maisie and Theo seem a bit contrived.

It explores some serious problems, such as how to cope with loneliness, and the effects of an acrimonious divorce on children, with a light touch and lots of humour.

Maisie may have her faults but her heart is in the right place and she learns from her mistakes. I look forward to reading Jenni’s next book.

Thanks to Avon and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Suffering of Strangers by Caro Ramsey

The Suffering of Strangers

Anderson and Costello are working in separate units investigating cold cases and domestic abuse respectively.

I am new to this series so it took a while to get my head round who they all were. I imagine it would make a lot more sense to start at the beginning and read them in order; the good news is I have a whole new series to look forward to.

I loved the Glasgow setting but the subject matter is not for the faint-hearted. Caro Ramsey skillfully juggles multiple storylines until it becomes clear that Anderson and Costello’s cases are linked, and the clock is ticking – will they find the missing baby before it is too late?

I really enjoyed The Suffering of Strangers, it kept me hooked right to the end and I look forward to reading the series from the beginning.

The Mum Who Got Her Life Back by Fiona Gibson

The Mum Who Got Her Life Back

This is the story of Nadia who finds love again, in her fifties, after her children have flown the nest and gone off to university.

For a while, she enjoys her freedom and her new relationship with Jack. Then her son comes home, and announces that he is no longer going travelling with his girlfriend for the summer, or going back to university, and everything falls apart.

Alfie is a lazy, tiresome and self-obsessed teenager and Nadia panders to him too much (his twin sister doesn’t get nearly as much attention). By the time Jack finally gets him to open up about what went wrong, I really didn’t care that much.

There are some nice touches – I liked that it was set in Glasgow, and enjoyed the descriptions of the trip to Barcelona – but the rest of the story seems to fall flat, and does not live up to expectations.    

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Stalker by Alex Gray

The Stalker

I’ve been reading (and enjoying) Alex Gray’s Lorimer series since the very beginning – initially, due to the Glasgow setting and Lorimer’s refreshing lack of a traumatic backstory (and don’t forget the ginger cat called Chancer) – and this one is no exception.

Maggie, Lorimer’s wife, plays a larger than usual role in The Stalker; she has written a children’s book and, while on a book tour round Scotland, acquires a creepy stalker who follows her from one venue to the next.

There is a vivid sense of place – you get a whistle-stop tour of Scotland, but I also found it really unsettling as she was in some pretty remote areas at times, but seemed remarkably unconcerned about how vulnerable she was.

Although I had an inkling of who the stalker was fairly early on this did not lessen the suspense. Hopefully, there will be another Lorimer book before too long.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy to review.

The Long Call by Ann Cleeves

The Long Call

Vera Stanhope and Jimmy Perez were always going to be hard acts to follow. When I saw that Ann Cleeves had written the first book in a new detective series, I was keen to give it a go.

The Long Call has a complicated plot with well-written characters and a strong sense of place, but I could not warm to Matthew Venn. I realise I’m in a minority, but he seemed bland and uninspiring; there was just something missing.

The pace was quite slow to begin with and only picked up towards the end, but perhaps this is to be expected in introducing a new series. I will read the next book to see how the character develops as I think Ann Cleeves is a very talented writer.

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

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