Keep Him Close by Emily Koch

Keep Him Close by Emily Koch

Lou goes out the pub with his friends, but will never come home again; the events of the evening are surrounded in mystery. None of the others present will say what went on, and then Kane confesses that he was responsible for Lou falling to his death.

Keep Him Close is an unusual crime thriller in that the story is told mostly from the points of view of the mother of the victim, and the mother of the young man who confesses to the crime. The two lads were friends, but their mothers did not know each other. The police are involved but seem particularly inept and happy to take Kane’s confession at face value.

To begin with Alice has the advantage as she works in the library and Indigo comes in looking for help using the computer. Alice knows that Indigo’s son has confessed; Indigo does not know who Alice is. This adds to the tension. As the story progresses, we learn not to judge the characters by first impressions. They all have secrets that only gradually come to light, and through Indigo’s eyes we see a different side to Alice, less rigid and more human.

Once Indigo finds out that Alice is Lou’s mother, and that they are both searching for the truth about the fatal events in the multi-storey car park, they start to work together to clear Kane’s name and find out what really happened to Lou. The backstory is revealed a little bit at a time, ramping up the suspense, until the truth finally comes to light.

Keep Him Close is well written with believable characters and a plot that will keep you guessing right to the very end. I’ve not read anything by Emily Koch before, but I will certainly be looking out for her next book.

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

The Forgotten Sister by Nicola Cornick

The Forgotten Sister is a dual timeline novel split between the sixteenth century and the present day. It centres around the mystery surrounding the death of Amy Robsart, wife of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. His cruel treatment of his wife, and the ruthless ambition fuelling his desire to be the partner of Queen Elizabeth 1, makes him a thoroughly despicable character.

In the present day,  Dudley Lester, a member of the boy band Call Back Summer, is married to Amelia Robsart and they are on the verge of divorce.  She is found dead at the bottom of the stairs just like Amy all those centuries before. Dudley had been spending far too much time with his childhood friend, Lizzie Kingdom, and the ensuing scandal forces her to flee. A bit late in the day, she has come to realise that the people she has surrounded herself with do not have her best interests at heart; to them she is just a commodity to be exploited. Lizzie is alone among the characters in the modern part of the story to change for the better. This is fortunate as she was not very likeable at the beginning.

I found this book quite slow to get going; it was not obvious what the connection between the two strands of the story was until about a third of the way in (or maybe this was just me). This was not helped by the fact that the modern-day characters were particularly vain and shallow, and it was hard to care what happened to them.

The story is told from the alternating points of view of Amy and Lizzie. The sixteenth-century strand is well researched and full of fascinating historical detail. The supernatural element is done with a light touch, lending an extra dimension to the narrative. The characters are well written and believable. Overall, this is a  gripping and atmospheric story that you won’t be able to put down.

Thanks to the author, publisher 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 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 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.