Monthly Archives: February 2016

BOOK REVIEW – The Silent Girls by Ann Troup

The Silent GirlsMany thanks to the author and THE Book Club (Facebook) for an advance copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Edie has returned to Number 17 Coronation Square after an absence of 30 years. It is not a happy reunion. She’s here to clear out the house after the death of her aunt Dolly, its last occupant, and almost as soon as she arrives she feels a crushing depression settling upon her. It’s not only that she feels bereft and quite alone in the world, having left her abusive husband and uncaring son, or that her sister has gone swanning off on a cruise, leaving her to handle this unenviable job, but the house and the square that it sits on seem to have a cloying magnetism that draw her in and drag her back into a past that bears no resemblance to what she remembers.

With a cast of characters, most of which seem to have hidden agendas and split personalities, Ann Troup gives us a seedy view of an unsavoury side of London life that is probably a lot more rife than we’d like to believe. There was something of the ‘Olde Worlde’ in the telling of this story, and this added to the atmosphere. Throw in the fact that there are 5 unsolved murders that happened on the Square many years ago, and a regular murder tour that does the rounds, fuelling people’s macabre tastes, and there’s even more mystery to delve into here than in an episode of The Twilight Zone!

But, the people of the Square have managed to carry on their lives here, quite undisturbed … until Edie arrives to clear out Number 17 and unwittingly discovers that somewhere in the mess that her aunt has left behind, she, and some others along the way, have left a few things that some would rather were left untouched.

The story starts off rather slowly and plods along at a bit of a maddening pace for a while before picking up. I couldn’t really warm to Edie. I kept getting the feeling that I was supposed to feel sorry for her, in fact I know I was! She really was down in the dumps and not necessarily through any fault of her own, but I just couldn’t get to like her! I did like Dolly’s neighbour Lena – this poor, elderly lady, who’d stayed on the Square through all this time, watching it deteriorate, yet still trying to keep up appearances, knowing her son is a thug, yet still trying to act like a ‘Jolly Old Mum’, because that’s just what you do, isn’t it? And I adored Sophie, the teenage runaway who turns up on Edie’s doorstep and lands up staying because she has nowhere else to go – sometimes home just isn’t an option!

Because that’s the thing about Ann Troup: she writes real characters! They’re real people. You don’t have to like them all; just like real life, where you don’t like everyone. They’re identifiable and realistic and could be your next-door neighbours. They have issues and challenges and she threads the story through them all until she guides you to the very skillful conclusion.

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BOOK REVIEW – The Girl in the Ice by Robert Bryndza

The Girl in the IceThank you to Netgalley and Bookouture for my advance copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Wow! So, after writing a series of ‘chic-lit’ (I don’t like the term, but for want of a better one I’ll use it here) books about an individual by the name of Coco Pinchard, and various other light-hearted romance novels, Robert Bryndza has moved over to the dark side and has created the intensely complex, intricate character that is DCI Erika Foster! I for one am thrilled, and even more so at the news that this is the first of at least 3 in a series about Foster, a hard-working, demanding cop facing some very difficult challenges that often make it extremely difficult for her to function in her daily life.

Andrea Douglas-Brown is a good-time girl. Young, beautiful, wealthy and spoilt, her body is found under a thick layer of ice and the South London Metropolitan Police Department is immediately under huge pressure to find her killer. DCI Erika Foster has been on forced leave for 7 months but Superintendent Marsh believes that she is the best person for the job (partly because of her expertise, but also because of a kinship with the victim’s mother in that they’re both of Slovakian origin), and also that it is time for her to return to work after the tragic events of her last case.

Immediately the case is hindered by the fact that Lord Douglas-Brown likes to throw his weight around – he’s a Labour Peer, a man of certain importance , who’s used to making the rules and to people following them. But that’s not how DCI Foster works. Together with her chosen sidekicks, Moss and Petersen, she intends to run things her way, despite being told otherwise by Marsh. And so begins a breath-taking cat and mouse chase during which Erika and her team need to deal with the unique arrogance of the affluent who truly believe that they are untouchable, and that their lives are lived by a completely different set of rules (or lack thereof) to the rest of the mere mortals.

Policing and politics come together to form a convoluted spider-web of intrigue, and the reader is left unsure as to whether justice is truly the desired outcome of those who are in the driving seat. Is there a legitimate honesty to their actions, or rather, a duplicitous agenda serving only themselves?

The other angle to the story that was of particular interest to me as a South African, was the blatant negative prejudice that was shown towards Erika and her obvious Slovakian background. It adds to her already prickly nature and sensitivity. The barb that struck me the most was when she is accused of having such an English name – Foster (her married name) – the suggestion being ‘how dare she, when she’s not really English?’

The action is fast-paced, there’s no shortage of twists, and I’ll admit, a couple of characters I wanted to punch in the face more than once or twice. It’s one of those books that will grip you and won’t let go until you find out ‘who did it’! So check that you’ve locked the doors and windows, and settle down for a good read.

 

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