Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

I had spotted this book in the Bookstagram world, so when it was a bargain then I had to pick up a copy. Now, I had no idea what this novel was about, just that it was by the same author as ‘Gone Girl’.

When I started reading I was instantly hooked as there were so many strands to this novel that you simply wanted to know ‘Who, What, Where, When, Why, How’. There is a clever study of human nature and psychological throughout. The interactions between the characters are absolutely fascinating. Especially, when you realise the impact that someone’s actions and attitudes can have on someone else. Camille and her mother have a very strange and strained relationship but as secrets are uncovered there are even more surprises ahead for all. As well as the solution to the mystery gripping Wind Gap.

This book is not a comfortable read, as it deals with some very difficult issues, but it is compelling. I am glad I have read it and it will certainly stay with me for a long time to come – a good autumnal choice.

Have you read any Gillian Flynn novels?

Too Close to Home by Linwood Barcley

This was a book I was sent thanks to The Reading Residence’s book swap. To my shame this was a swap last year and was sent to me from The Crafty Lass as something that she had enjoyed and she hoped I would enjoy it too.

The thing I enjoy the most about a book swap is the chance to read a book you would not pick yourself. I am not sure that I would have picked this novel myself, for no other reason than the fact that it would have not been on my radar. I enjoy the crime thriller genre but sometimes feel a little overwhelmed by the choice, so it was nice to have this chosen for me.

Although, to begin with, I found this story a little slow going it did pick up as the story developed. In fact, the story has many different strands to it that knit together to create the main plot. The murder of one family in the neighbourhood creates all sorts of trouble for Jim Cutter, his wife and his son. Secrets of many people in the town are revealed and the road to the conclusion of the tale is bumpy for all involved. I did enjoy predicting what would happen next and was not too far off solving parts of the plot, but I did not necessarily have all the parts in the right order to complete the puzzle.

This has all the ingredients of a good crime thriller and is worth a read if that is your genre of choice. I would read Linwood Barcley again when I need a book of this kind because when the pace picked up it was a page turner.

Have you discovered any new authors through book swaps?

The Girl Friend by Michelle Frances

Thank you again to #BookClub140 for introducing me to a title that I may not have picked up otherwise. It is honestly the best thing about a book club community: they allow you to try something new.

The Girl Friend is a traditional psychological thriller that leads you on all sorts of twists and turns and makes you consider people’s motives. Although you get a good insight into all the characters, you can not help but turn the page to find out what trickery is to come next to allow Cherry to get her way. There is an interesting study of family relationships within the tale too; when and how do you make those decisions about who you trust or where your loyalty lies?

I am not sure that you necessarily invest in any of the characters, as they all seem to have clear faults – that almost leads to the tension between two of the central characters, Dan’s mother Laura and his girlfriend Cherry. In fact, it is Cherry’s mother that most of my sympathy lay with, rightly or wrongly.

If you want a good page turner, this book really does keep you turning the page from the moment you start, as you want know how the prologue was reached and what will happen next. And, if you enjoy a tense conclusion that does still leave a little question mark in your mind, then this is the novel for you.

Have you read any good thrillers recently that you think I should pick up and give a go?

Conclave by Robert Harris

Having lived in Italy during the election of Pope Benedict XVI, this title immediately caught my eye. I think we are all probably a little intrigued about what takes place during the Conclave and how such an old tradition continues to have a place in the modern world.

Of course, as Harris clearly states at the start of his novel, this is a work of fiction, but he has clearly researched in great detail the rules, regulations and traditions of the Conclave. However, he has also brought this story bang up to date with reflections on the troubles that the religion (not simply the Catholic Church) has in the twenty-first century. The lead character, Cardinal Lomeli, often reflects on the struggles between his faith, the modern world and unsettling the order of things, which leads the tale on some twists and turns. It is possibly an unusual setting for such a thriller, but Harris has managed to keep the reader guessing until the end and the twist, for me, was quite a surprise – but one that again really reflected an issue of the modern age.

It can be hard to write a post about a book that has a level of mystery and intrigue to it, as you do not want to spoil it for others. So, I just want to let you all know that I could not put this book down; I was always keen to pick it up and find out what was going to happen next, or who had a secret that was going to be discovered (and if, how, why that secret would make it out and what that would mean for the tale). This has certainly reignited my interest in the novels of Robert Harris, so now I just have to decide which to read next.

The Breakdown by B A Paris

I love a book title that is clever and, for me, this is one of those. ‘The Breakdown’ can refer to the car in the lay-by at the start of the novel (and, in fact, the crime scene), and the mental state of the central character as the story develops.

It can be difficult to talk about thrillers, as part of the enjoyment is not knowing. The pace of the story sets the scene and reflects the ‘breakdown’, however the book becomes ever more fascinating as it hurtles towards the conclusion and you revisit all your thoughts and ideas about the story.

Cassie, the main character, is someone you feel both empathy and sympathy for, although I was not sure some of her actions accurately reflected the educated woman she had been presented as. Although, this could be due to the ‘breakdown’ concept of the story – it certainly makes you wonder how you would behave if ‘fear’ was always with you. Despite the thriller side of the book, I think the fear Cassie has of her family history is more pivotal to the whole story.

Overall, it was a satisfying read – but a story I would only think works as a one-off.

I’m Travelling Alone by Samuel Bjork

The wonderful thing about a book club is that it encourages you to read titles that you would not usually select. #BookClub140 by Parker and Me has been a really great way for me discover new titles and feel part of a book club, even when I am struggling with time. This month’s book has been another great read.

I have not really embraced ‘Scandi Crime’ – I think it has just passed me by. However, this book had me hooked from the moment I read the first page. Short, sharp chapters are used to keep the pace of the story and have you constantly wanting to find out what happens next. It is a complex, clever story with many twists and turns, and you’re always guessing what will happen next.

The two lead characters, Holger Munch and Mia Kruger, are interesting people, and you very easily empathise with their situations. As with many great detective stories, they have their own demons and a complex relationship with each other, but you root for them throughout the novel, hoping that it is going to be a happy ending. (Although, you may occasionally question some of their very stubborn decisions…).

In this story, you are never really sure what is going to happen next and your imagination has you constantly trying to work out where the crossover in the stories may come. It is a tale that you really become invested in as you become suspicious of pretty much everyone, and Samuel Bjork uses minor characters with skill to really bring great depth to the plot.

I would really recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well-constructed crime thriller, and I am intrigued to see where the second encounter with Munch and Kruger will take us.

 

Hidden by Emma Kavanagh

Someone recommending a book is always a joy. So, when a friend of mine suggested the book ‘Hidden’, it seemed worth a read.

A nice easy read told in short, sharp chapters from the point of view of the key characters. It introduces the story at the point of a tragedy and you then go back to follow the characters through the story to find out why they have faced such an event. These people are all already connected by the tragic shooting of Dylan Lowe about a year before, and their lives continue to cross paths – until they are brought together again as witnesses or victims of ‘The Shooter’: the mysterious character of the novel who has been watching the hospital where Dylan Lowe is in a coma.

The plot does not need spoiling (which, therefore, makes it hard to summarise) but is well constructed. There are a number of occasions you feel that you may know the identity of ‘The Shooter’, only to be thrown by a plot twist. I was as surprised as the characters in the book when their identity was revealed, and this does lead to you having some sympathy for the character. If you are fan of modern thrillers this will be a definite read for you.

The honour of Book 8 in my year of books goes to this title…now what to read next?