Post Script: Monkey Business – Kathryn Ledson

Here is my contribution to Australia Day 2014 and the Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop being hosted Shelleyrae at  Book’d Out. Please check out the other participants on the  Book’d Out site.

Please comment if you would like to be considered for a giveaway –  by an Australian author –  Chick Lit, Memoir, Crime Fiction or Recipe Book.

AustraliaDaybloghop2014

My reveiw:

Monkey Business

Monkey Business

Kathryn Ledson

Michael Joseph

The Penguin Group

ISBN: 9781921901164

 

 

Description:

Erica Jewell reckons being a part-time vigilante is stressful enough, without the added pressures of a demanding day job, annoying family and bossy cat. Now her mysterious lover has vanished on some clandestine mission, without leaving a forwarding address. Erica thinks that’s pretty typical of hired gun Jack Jones – he’d rather risk his life than his heart.

Then Erica discovers with a shock that Jack is M.I.A. on the jungle-infested island of Saint Sebastian. When no one seems willing to help find Jack or even acknowledge his existence, Erica knows she’s his only chance. But negotiating her way around lawless and sweltering Sebastian, where monkey business abounds, proves far more dangerous than she expected.

Fast-paced, funny and totally engaging, Monkey Business blends adventure and romance in an irresistible summer read.

My View:

A delicious snack of fun and laughter.

I really enjoyed this easy reading, fast paced piece of escapist writing; for several hours I laughed to myself and got lost and involved in the madcap world of Erica Jewell.  This is perfect read for on the train, plane or beach or when you need cheering up – light, engaging, funny and all action completed with an authentic Australian voice.

There is something about this  novel that is so engaging – maybe it is its Australianness – the characters and the narrative do not take themselves seriously, there is a glorious sense of fun and madness that the author does not  try to justify – it just is what it is – fun, light, entertaining. The characters and settings are familiar and memorable –   who doesn’t know of Tupperware parties, of standing in queues at night clubs,  of exotic overseas holiday destinations (not), handsome heroes , demanding mothers, true good friends and mysteries galore – what isn’t there to love about this book? Ledson strikes the right balance of fun and adventure, danger and romance. A great entertaining read.

Post Script: Stone Bruises – Simon Beckett

Moody and atmospheric.

Simon Beckett

Random House UK, Transworld Publishers

Bantam Press

ISBN: 9780593073285

 

Description:

‘Somebody!’ I half-sob and then, more quietly, ‘Please.’ The words seem absorbed by the afternoon heat, lost amongst the trees. In their aftermath, the silence descends again. I know then that I’m not going anywhere…

Sean is on the run. We don’t know why and we don’t know from whom, but we do know he’s abandoned his battered, blood-stained car in the middle of an isolated, lonely part of rural France at the height of a sweltering summer. Desperate to avoid the police, he takes to the parched fields and country lanes only to be caught in the vicious jaws of a trap. Near unconscious from pain and loss of blood, he is freed and taken in by two women – daughters of the owner of a rundown local farm with its ramshackle barn, blighted vineyard and the brooding lake. And it’s then that Sean’s problems really start…

Superbly written, Stone Bruises is a classic nail-shredder of a thriller that holds you from the beginning. The narrative slowly, inexorably tightens its grip as the story unfurls and will keep you guessing until the unnerving and shocking final twist…

My View:

Beckett does an excellent job of creating tension and a sense of mystery that builds and builds until the final revelations in the last few chapters. This dual time line narrative alternates between chapters in London describing  life and events leading up to the protagonists time on the run in the French countryside and the next chapter based in the present time in the provincial run down Chestnut farm in rural France.

The sense of foreboding and secrecy dominates the lives of those who inhabit the farm. There is a definite and palpable power imbalance and a strong sense of evil looms heavily over what could have been an idyllic setting. Fear orchestrates life on the farm; fear, pigs, traps and shot guns assert their authority.

 

This is an excellent thriller, the sense of unease and dread is cleverly constructed and the mysteries of both locations are not unlocked until the very last chapters of this novel. Beckett creates a great sense of place and maintains the high level of adrenalin loaded action that has the reader chanting; “leave, get out quick.” They dont.

Post Script: The Woman Before Me: Ruth Dugdall

The Woman Before Me

Ruth Dugdall

Legend Press

ISBN: 9781909593619

Description:

Winner of the CWA Debut Dagger and the Luke Bitmead Bursary

Shortlisted for The New Angle Book Prize, The People’s Book Prize and the Brit Writer’s Novel Award.

 

‘They came for me, just like I knew they would. Luke had been dead for just three days.’

Rose Wilks’ life is shattered when her newborn baby Joel is admitted to intensive care. Alongside her is Emma Hatcher, who’s just given birth to Luke. Joel dies and Luke is thriving, until tragedy strikes and Rose is the only suspect.

Now, having spent nearly five years behind bars, Rose is just weeks away from freedom. Her probation officer Cate must decide whether Rose is remorseful for Luke’s death, or whether she remains a threat to society. As Cate is drawn in, she begins to doubt her own judgement.

Where is the line between love and obsession, can justice be served and, if so… by what means?

My View:

This is a haunting story of obsession, birth and murder and the consequences of said behaviours. This is the type of book that once you have read it; it sits with you, teasing your memories, challenging your ethics, ideals and questions “what would you do in this position?”

This is an interesting narrative; before we have even turned the first page we know that 1 baby dies in hospital and one has died in a tragedy, that Rose Wilks has been charged and found guilty of the death of baby Luke and that she is in gaol awaiting possible release on parole. Here we meet probation officer Cate who has the unenviable task of determining if Rose is suitable for early release.  And this is where our story actually starts.

This is a story of the everyday, by that I mean the language is simple, cleanly written, neat and precise. The story sits quietly on the page, daringly revealing the truth word by word, entry by entry in Rose’s diary. In this narrative we have the alternating perspectives of Cate and Rose to guide the reader.

Dugdall is excellent in creating mood and setting. I found the prison settings, inmates and guards disquieting. I did not however find any of the characters particularly inviting or endearing. I did find the story particularly sad and the twist in the tail will surprise many.  I wonder what Ms Dugdall will come with in her next book?

Post Script: My Dearest Jonah – Matthew Crow

In words hide secrets…

My Dearest Jonah

Matthew Crow

Legend Press

ISBN: 9781908248251

 

Description:

Like you I’ve been feeling forlorn of late. I don’t know how long you have to be somewhere before it begins to feel normal, before you start to feel as though you belong… And so all I have is you. Your letters and the thought that somewhere, something good exists in my life. For now that seems enough to get by on.’

Introduced via a pen-pal scheme, Verity and Jonah write their lives, hopes and dreams to one another without ever having met.

Verity is a fragile beauty. When a dangerous sequence of events is set in motion, she tries to explain to Jonah what led her to unravel so spectacularly. Jonah has been released after years of imprisonment and embarks upon the quiet life he’s always wanted. But then a dark reminder shatters his world, one that’s keen to make history repeat itself.

Offering the sole strand of stability in two progressively elaborate lives, Verity and Jonah develop a deep and delicate love, a love that becomes clouded and threatened by increasingly dark forces.

My View:

This is superbly crafted and elegantly written narrative that uses the device of letter writing to explore the lives and perspectives of the two main characters – Verity and Jonah. Verity and Jonah have never physically met yet share a camaraderie and friendship based on loneliness and their individual strange circumstances; a supportive alliance is formed, perhaps even love?

I loved that the letter writing device maintained and disclosed the details two very different lives. The reader dangles on the hook, lusting for more details of the main characters lives as the tension is built. And what interesting characters they both are – I felt a sense of admiration for Jonah and the apparent efforts he was making to live a good life – silly me! How I was conned. (But no spoilers here) Verity was not quite as endearing, perhaps a little distant and not quite so engaging but as a character she allowed me a glimpse of a life that was strong, passionate, independent and courageous. She dared to live! She dared to dream, she was honest about herself, her life and her lifestyle. This character was quite a remarkable woman.

I found the writing itself almost lyrical, elegant and often caught myself almost reading the letters out loud – I think this would really be a wonderful experience – a stage /radio show perhaps? The language itself was interesting – often contradicting the academic and socio economic levels of the characters – again I found this deliberate playing with language attractive and entertaining.

Throughout this narrative Matthew Crow displays an uncanny power of observation and understanding of the world and how it revolves. The writing is powerful and sensitive; the almost formal style of letter writing is particular engaging; the reader is often caught unawares when an expletive or action emerges that shocks as it does not fit this formal, genteel approach which is the style of the bulk of the letters. Perhaps this is Crow hinting that all is perhaps not quite as it seems on paper, hinting that we should be more observant and less reliant of the written word?  I admire Crow’s use of language and the spectacular way the story unravels and turns the narrative on its head. This was a delight to read.

Post Script: Bad Wolf – Nele Neuhaus

Sins of the fathers…

Bad Wolf

Nele Neuhaus

St. Martin’s Press

Minotaur Books

ISBN: 9781250043993

Description:

On a hot June day the body of a sixteen-year-old girl washes up on a river bank outside of Frankfurt. She has been brutally murdered, but no one comes forward with any information as to her identity. Even weeks later, the local police have not been able to find out who she is…

Then a new case comes in: A popular TV reporter is attacked, raped, and locked in the trunk of her own car. She survives, barely, and is able to supply certain hints to the police, having to do with her recent investigations into a child welfare organization and the potential uncovering of a child pornography ring with members from the highest echelon of society. As the two cases collide, Inspectors Pia Kirchhoff and Oliver von Bodenstein dig deep into the past and underneath the veneer of bourgeois society to come up against a terrible secret that is about to impact their personal lives as well.

In Bad Wolf, tensions run high and a complex and unpredictable plot propels her characters forward at breakneck speed.

My View:

Not for the faint hearted.

This is a narrative about particularly heinous crimes and the brutally of life. We all wish to believe in the essential goodness and kindness of others, Neuhaus makes it blatantly clear that we cannot always rely on appearances or position in society when judging our neighbours and she suggests it is often those closest to us that do the most damage. We are asked to stop and consider the world we live in and the injustices that abound. This is a powerful and at times horrific story of abuse and corruption, it is hard hitting, brutal, confronting, graphic and challenging. And it is a powerful work of crime fiction that could easily and comfortably mimic many a current TV or news report where ever you are reading this.

Be very scared of the Big Bad Wolf…