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…

Post Script: One May Smile – Penny Freedman

A crime mystery with intellect and humour.

One May Smile

A Gina Gray Mystery

Penny Freedman

Troubador Publishing Ltd

Matador

ISBN: 9781783067954

 

Description:

Penny Freedman strikes again with another of her thrilling ‘whodunit’ novels. Continuing on from the success of This is a Dreadful Sentence (Matador 2010) and All the Daughters (Matador 2012) we find ourselves catching up once more with Gina Gray, the central character whom readers love or hate, but certainly can’t ignore.

Struggling, as ever, with the demands of work, family and a precarious love life, Gina finds herself in the world of Scandinavian noir. A trip with students to perform Hamlet in Denmark, at the very castle where Shakespeare sets the play, starts out as an adventure, but at the last minute everything goes wrong. She has to take her three-year-old granddaughter, Freda, with her, David Scott, her ‘boyfriend, partner, lover or significant other’ breaks off contact and the student group turns out to be seething with neurosis, envy, conflict and soured relationships.

Even before the first death, Gina is wishing she could go home… but when one of the students dies in a car crash and the local police suspect foul play, she is drawn into the investigation. As other attacks follow and Gina stumbles towards the truth, hidden deep in Hamlet itself, police suspicion lights on her and a murderer’s net closes in around her. I could come over, David texts. No need, she replies. Can she really cope alone?

 

One May Smile takes place in a ‘cosy’ Middle England context, but takes us to dark emotional places with a lot of humour, black and otherwise.

 

My View:

And smile I did!

This novel is filled with fun, intellect, great insights into relationships, modern life and just a few acts of violence and murder; with more than enough action to satisfy any crime fiction enthusiast.  Freedman writes with pizzazz, adds a dab of Hamlet and a whisper of black humour and a trip to Denmark with a troupe of graduating university students come actors to set the scene. It is delightful to be part of the journey that reveals so much about human nature whilst providing a seriously good “whodunit”?

Freedman’s protagonist Gina Gray solves crimes the old fashioned way – by observation – people watching and analysing evidence – in this case the minutia of speech, language and the writing of texts and emails. A great satisfying read.

PS This is also a bargain prices read!!

 

 

Post Script: Codes of Betrayal – Dorothy Uhnak

Masterfully written – I expect no less from Ms Uhnak.

Codes of Betrayal

A Novel

Dorothy Uhnak

Open Road Integrated Media

Open Road Media Mystery & Thriller

ISBN: 9781480460980

 

Description:

To avenge his child, a New York cop vows to tear his own family apart.

On the twentieth floor of a half-finished skyscraper, two brothers-in-law stare each other down. One is Vincent Ventura, a made man who fancies himself a real estate mogul. The other is Danny O’Hara, an honest foreman who’s just seen Ventura’s thugs throw one of his employees to his death. O’Hara doesn’t think Ventura will harm his own kin. He’s wrong. Ventura barely hesitates before pushing his brother-in-law over the edge.

Thirty years later, Nick O’Hara—Danny’s son—is a cop, and Ventura is king of the New York mob. Though he avoids his uncle’s business, Nick makes the mistake of allowing his twelve-year-old son to pay his respects at the old man’s birthday party. A gun battle erupts in Little Italy, and young Peter is caught in the crossfire. As his life collapses around him, Nick risks everything for vengeance—taking on the Italian mob in the name of his son, and the father whom he never knew.

My View:

This is a narrative of complex plotting, of secrets, lies and crime. This is a spotlight on The Mob; the narrative begins in 1960’s in the USA and relates to repercussions of a violent incident that spreads its dirty, grubby fingers into relationships thirty years on .This is ultimately a novel about power, influence, corruption, relationships and honour that asks the question, “no matter whose shoes you wear how do you lead an honourable life?”

As I read this book I kept having flash backs to the Johnny Depp film, Donnie Brasco (a film I loved), both the characters Brasco and Nick O’Hara going undercover and being put in very difficult positions where  other peoples life and deaths are in their hands. This was a very well written, well plotted, well executed novel that had elements of the classic police procedural, had an authentic voice and was ultimately a very sad story. I really enjoyed this glimpse of the underworld.

 

Post Script: A Cry In The Night – Tom Grieves

A very well plotted, complex and darkly atmospheric mystery.

A Cry in the Night

Tom Grieves

Quercus Books

ISBN: 9780857389855

 

Description:

When night falls, fear spreads . . .

The Lake District: a wild landscape, rife with stories. Detectives Zoe Barnes and Sam Taylor are called to investigate the disappearance of two children.

But they quickly realise they have been drawn into a complex and unnerving case that hides a much darker intent: as they dig deeper, whispers grow of a community hiding a deadly secret – and talk of witches, the like of which hasn’t been heard since the seventeenth century, is spreading.

Zoe and Sam will have to work fast to save lives; but in this atmosphere of fear and mistrust, can they even rely on each other?

My View:

This well written narrative explores the sinister side-effects that occur in a family and a community when a couple of young children go missing. Paranoia, irrational ideas and mob violence ripple across what on the surface appears as a peaceful and quiet village. The tension is palpable; old hurts, prejudices, grief, blame, deceit and exclusive behaviours combine to create a gripping cloak of fear and distrust amongst all involved in this mystery.  The web of distrust spreads trapping those who are commissioned to solve this case.

The characters are well developed, flawed and believable. This is such a complex story, missing children tug at the hearts of all and there is a suspicion that there is a link to previous incidents involving the death of other children; suddenly a conspiracy blossoms and smothers rationality. Hurt is everywhere. Blame rises to the surface. Many emotions are put under the spotlight; grief can be blinding, dis-empowering, small incidents become mountains that cannot be crossed.  This is a rich and powerful narrative about the fragility of being human.

This is also an interesting study in systemic/institutionalised sexism and bullying – in this instance in the police force; this layer of the narrative was particularly interesting yet at the same time unpalatable.  It had a realness that saddened me; I was not surprised by the attitudes, just saddened.

Yet above all this is a fantastic mystery and psychological thriller. You will be enthralled with the developing story, the mystery, and the suspicions, the veil of fear and the links to a sinister  past. You will not want to put this book down till you have turned the last page. This is a powerful read on so many levels; take from it what you want to find.