The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup

The Chestnut Man

The Chestnut Man is an intricately plotted, well-written thriller that keeps you guessing right to the end.

Written by the creator of the TV series The Killing, the short chapters and cinematic quality of the narrative make it stand out from a lot of other Scandinavian crime fiction.

My only criticism would be that it is far too long (like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series); it really needed the services of a good editor.

To begin with, I did not really take to either of the main characters, but gradually their backstories emerged and their characters were developed to such an extent that I fully expect there to be a sequel to The Chestnut Man; in fact I really hope there is.

I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Bookshop on the Shore by Jenny Colgan

The Bookshop on the Shore

In The Bookshop on the Shore, Zoe has come to Scotland to help run a mobile bookshop while its owner has a baby, and look after three children who have been running wild since their mother disappeared.

Unlike some of her earlier stories the emphasis here is on the lives of the children; romance definitely takes a back seat. Shackleton, Mary and Patrick live in The Beeches with their reclusive father, and mystery surrounds the whereabouts of their mother. These children are not coping well and six other nannies have already given up on them.

Zoe has problems of her own; her four-year-old son, Hari, does not speak, but she tries to bring order and understanding into their troubled lives. With nowhere else to go, she has to make a success of her new life.

I loved the Scottish setting and the emphasis on the powerful effect reading can have. The children are the stars, and the bond that develops between Hari and Patrick will make you laugh and cry in equal measure.

This book features some characters from The Little Shop of Happy Ever After but you don’t need to have read it first. It is many years since I last read a book by Jenny Colgan but I won’t leave it so long next time. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy in exchange for an independent review.

Swallowtail Summer by Erica James

Swallowtail Summer

I normally enjoy books by Erica James (my favourite is A Sense of Belonging) but this one was disappointing as I found it difficult to care what happened to most of the characters; they were a rather self-obsessed bunch with few redeeming features.

The best thing about Swallowtail Summer is the sense of place. Erica James brings the Norfolk Broads to life – you can almost hear the birdsong and the lapping of the water – and you can see why it holds such great appeal for so many visitors.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a review copy.

Ten Things My Cat Hates About You by Lottie Lucas

Ten Things My Cat Hates About You

I chose to read this book mostly because of the title (a play on one of my favourite films) and the involvement of a cat. It’s as good a reason as any.

Not having much luck with boyfriends, Clara has decided she will trust the opinion of her cat, Casper, when embarking on her next relationship; then two interesting men come along at the same time.

I was not impressed with the vet, Josh, though Casper was putty in his hands. Right from the beginning, I was hoping the professor, Adam, would be the one to win Clara’s heart.

This humorous, light-hearted romantic comedy is lifted out of the ordinary by the unusual setting in the academic world of the colleges and museums of Cambridge.

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

Plume by Will Wiles

Plume

I read an excerpt and interview with the author in the Guardian a few months ago, and was sufficiently intrigued to read the rest of the book.

It is slow to get going, but somehow you feel compelled to keep on reading. The story is told from the point of view of Jack Bick, an investigative journalist and alcoholic, whose career is slowly going down the pan.

For me, the writing is at its best when dealing with his addiction and how it affects every area of his life.

I found the rest of the book a bit disjointed; despite introducing several important issues (perhaps too many?) facing the modern world, I’m not sure the various parts of the narrative hang together very well, but the quality of the writing more than makes up for it.

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