Tag Archives: murder

Book Review: The Unforgotten by Laura Powell

Published 3rd July by Hesperus Nova.

25246282Goodreads Synopsis: Fifteen-year-old Betty Broadbent helps her erratic and beautiful mother run the Hotel Eden, a boarding house now besieged by reporters, keen for juicy gossip and eye-catching headlines. They are there because the Cornish seaside town has recently witnessed a string of murders, young girls stabbed to death. Among the newspaper jackals, Mr. Gallagher stands out. Quiet, serious Mr. Gallagher—Betty is fascinated by his mysterious nature and desperate to be noticed by him and not be treated as a child. As he and Betty get to know each other, through snatched conversation and illicit meetings, their feelings for each other grow. But she soon starts to realize how little she knows about the older, enigmatic journalist. With a dangerous cloud looming over the town, Betty starts to take risks to see him and hide secrets from her mother, her friends, and even herself—secrets that will echo through the years and affect the lives of many. Beautifully written with skilllfully drawn characters, evocative language, and set partially in 1956 with perfect period depiction, this is an astonishing tour de force from debut author Laura Powell.

My Review: I actually received this proof from the publisher via my dad and I hadn’t previously heard of them – or the book itself – but after finishing it, rather in awe, I’d love to see what this imprint also publishes… and what Powell will write in the future!

The Unforgotten is set in two times; 1965, and the present day. In 1965, Betty lives in the hotel with her mother, whilst it’s overrun with journalists clamouring to get scoops on the murder spree happening in the village. As tensions are rising, so is Betty’s fixation with Mr Ghallager, one of the local reporters.

I wasn’t too sure what to expect of the story and it was a lot darker than its pretty book jacket lets on. It didn’t feel like a clichéd ‘whodunnit?’ novel. It was simply stunning. I couldn’t predict who the killer was at all. I was swept up in the story – reading it in a day. The pages were practically turning themselves, as horrifying murders took place while a perilous connection between Betty and Mr Ghallager developed.

I was surprised at how invested I became in the lives of the central characters as they all unravelled mysteries. Betty was a little quirky and a really likeable character to read about – in the past and present.

Reading about the characters in 1959 then as elderly people, in the present day, made the story even more brilliant. I don’t think I’ve read many ‘split’ stories like it but it gave the mystery a new depth, as I tried to piece together evidence from the present day and the sixties. It was also a really interesting way to see how the characters changed and grew.

Overall, I wholeheartedly recommend The Unforgotten. I think it will appeal to teens and adults alike – especially to fans of Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey. The characters are really well formed and I haven’t been able to get them out of my head – especially after the bewildering ending!

My Rating:

five

I received a copy of The Unforgotten from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review: BOO by Neil Smith

Published 21st May 2015 by Windmill Books.

24702495Goodreads Synopsis: When Oliver ‘Boo’ Dalrymple wakes up in heaven, the eighth-grade science geek thinks he died of a heart defect at his school. But soon after arriving in this hereafter reserved for dead thirteen-year-olds, Boo discovers he’s a ‘gommer’, a kid who was murdered. What’s more, his killer may also be in heaven. With help from the volatile Johnny, a classmate killed at the same school, Boo sets out to track down the mysterious Gunboy who cut short both their lives.
In a heartrending story written to his beloved parents, the odd but endearing Boo relates his astonishing heavenly adventures as he tests the limits of friendship, learns about forgiveness and, finally, makes peace with the boy he once was and the boy he can now be.

My Review: As soon as I’d read the synopsis for Boo I knew it would be my kind of book – it reminded me of an old favourite anime series, Angel Beatswhich is about a high school that deceased teenagers find themselves at. The ‘heaven’ in this book is quite different, though shares similar themes, so I was really interested in reading Boo.

Boo is the nickname of the protagonist, Oliver – who wakes up in an afterlife consisting only of American 13 year-olds like himself. He thinks he’s died of a heart problem in school – but when he finds his sort-of friend there with him, Boo has to track down who killed them.

The story is very dark and unnerving at points – but is also unexpectedly a heart-warming story about the bonds people make. I couldn’t predict a single thing about the plot – it turns in ways impossible to imagine. The ‘reveal’ was abrupt and shocking. There’s no way I could’ve guessed it, but as soon as I finished the book I was wondering how I’d missed it! It definitely sent a chills through me, though.

Neil Smith’s imaginative ability is admirable. His version of heaven in Boo felt completely individual and was the perfect backdrop for the mystery plot. As fantastical as it was, it seemed so real: Each uniquely crafted character of the strangely bound community seemed to jump from the page, brimming with personality.

The main protagonists were incredibly memorable. Oliver is a slightly awkward thirteen year-old, who is more engrossed in his science fascination than anything else. I saw a little of my thirteen year-old (and current…) self in him and his voice grabbed me from page one. I’m sure I say that the voice stood out about a lot of books I read, but Boo was just different. The narrative was flawless to me and I felt Boo’s vulnerability and curiosity shine through.

Overall, I’d without a doubt recommend Boo. It’s certainly not for everyone, given its disturbing subject – but it’s hard to fault Neil Smith’s writing. His characterisation and narrative were brilliant – as was the plot, which unravelled cleverly. Boo didn’t turn out the simple ghost murder mystery I thought it would be: It was addictive, ingenious and the kind of book that breaks your heart then sticks it back together again. Multiple times. I can see Boo getting a lot of attention!

My Rating:

four and a half

I received a copy of Boo from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Mini Reviews: CRUSHER and INCINERATOR by Niall Leonard

I read Crusher a while ago, in January, though I didn’t get to write a review of it! I was sent a copy of the sequel which was released really recently (Thank you, Random House!) and I thought it would be nice to do a joint-mini-review post, reviewing the series so far- Book three, Shredder, will be out soon. Enjoy!

17307328Crusher: By Niall Leonard, published by Corgi in September 2012.

Goodreads Synopsis: The day Finn Maguire discovers his father bludgeoned to death in a pool of blood, his dreary life is turned upside down. Prime suspect in the murder, Finn must race against time to clear his name and find out who hated his dad enough to kill him.
Trawling the sordid, brutal London underworld for answers, Finn exposes dark family secrets and faces danger at every turn. But he’s about to learn that it’s the people you trust who can hit you the hardest…

My Review: Crusher was a really, really exhilarating read! I really enjoyed it, for the most part. It’s really shocking, and packed with some brilliant plot twists that keeps the reader completely engrossed. The plot’s very unique, but at the same time, a very gritty urban murder mystery- who killed Finn’s dad with his own award? Though I did enjoy most of the plot, there were a few parts I couldn’t really agree with… I couldn’t really understand Finn’s choices a lot of the time, and I felt some points were a bit rushed. It is a fast paced novel, but I did feel like a lot happened at once, and some bits were… too freaky!

At first, I really liked the main protagonist. Finn was so determined and prepared to tackle his father’s killer. He’s a very realistic teenager- one I think a lot of YA readers will definitely be able to relate to. Then, when he meets the first love interest of sorts in Crusher, I really started to dislike his new attitude- he was so obsessed with her and I hated him for seeming to completely forget about the whole mystery behind his dad…

17612844 Incinerator: (Newest release- just published!) By Niall Leonard, published by Corgi in January 2014.

Goodreads Synopsis: London gang-lord The Guvnor is in hiding, and Finn Maguire has begun a new life running a boxing gym with his old friend and coach Delroy. But when Finn’s lawyer Nicky Hale vanishes overnight with all his money, Finn finds himself in hock to a loan shark with a vicious gang of enforcers. Desperate to track down Nicky and repay his debts, Finn investigates her other clients and soon finds himself engulfed in a web of lies, betrayal, malice and madness, with only his wits and his fists to keep him alive.

My Review: Incinerator was probably my favourite of the two books in the Crusher trilogy so far! I felt that it was very fast paced too, but definitely enjoyed the themes a lot more. It shows that Finn’s developed so much- now trying to get out of the violence, and into business- though that doesn’t work for very long. I really enjoyed the plot of Incinerator- it had me even more hooked than Crusher. Niall Leonard’s writing is really great, and captures the urban setting so well.

I really liked Leonard’s writing, as it’s edgy and gritty, going with the setting and the themes really well. I definitely grew to like Finn Maguire a lot more in this installment as well. Beforehand, in book one, I couldn’t get on with him for a portion of the book. Though, I really liked seeing his character develop a lot in Incinerator. He was even more determined than ever and I’m looking forward to hearing what awaits him in Shredder! 

My Ratings:

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I received Crusher from my dad.

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I received Incinerator from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.

Book Review: Running Girl by Simon Mason

Published January 2nd 2014 by David Fickling Books.

17999143Goodreads Synopsis: Meet Garvie Smith. Highest IQ ever recorded at Marsh Academy. Lowest ever grades. What’s the point, anyway? Life sucks. Nothing ever happens.

Until Chloe Dow’s body is pulled from a pond.

DI Singh is already on the case. Ambitious, uptight, methodical – he’s determined to solve the mystery and get promoted. He doesn’t need any ‘assistance’ from notorious slacker, Smith.

Or does he?

My Review: Running Girl was a book I’d been really looking forward to- and luckily I did really enjoy it! Not entirely as much as I thought I would, but still, it was a really fun mystery to follow.

I started the book with a pretty clear idea of it, as I’d talked to the author at the RHCP crime event about it! I was really absorbed in the story for most of the time: I enjoyed the beginning, especially, which really hooks the reader in. I really did like the pot; it’s a classic crime fiction scenario, though it felt fresh and new, and completely original.

I enjoyed guessing throughout, though Running Girl is so misleading! It’s clever, really clever, though I found a lot of parts quite confusing. It’s a really great crime book in the way that it leads you to think the killer’s one person, when really it’s the person I least expected… though I think so much was going on, I lost track! I ended up re-reading a lot of passages and chapters, because I did get confused.

Garvie’s a really uncommon main character. A lot of books I read centered around mysteries have character that are the complete opposite. Instead, Garvie Smith is lazy, incredibly intelligent but unwilling to do anything, and prefers to hang out with crime-committing kids instead of going to school. Despite his personality, I loved him. He was very much like Sherlock Holmes, only willing to do something if it interests him hugely- and that, now, is working out the mystery behind Chloe Dow’s murder.

I admit it was hard to like him at first, but I did really grow to like him! He was brilliant, a really alternative protagonist, that I think a lot of teens and adults will become attached to. I don’t think he developed very much through the events, but I’m hoping to get to know him even better in book two.

Overall, Running Girl is a book that I’m really mixed on, though I’m mainly loving it. Despite the fact I struggled to follow at a few points, the murder plot was really clever. It’s unpredictable and unexpected, and Garvie’s journey is wild and takes him everywhere on a search, from a Casino to a school… I really enjoyed reading about Garvie’s search, because he’s not your average fictional character. Recommended to crime fiction fans. (:

My Rating:

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I received a copy of Running Girl from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.