Heavenfield by LJ Ross DCI Ryan #3

I guess I should start this review with a Happy New Year! It might be belated, but is no less sincere for that. I reImage result for happy new yearally hope 2018 is a cracker of a year for you. I am excited about it – not only do I have two novels coming out this year (the US version of The Locksmith’s Daughter in May with William Morrow, replete with a gorgeous new cover which I will preview soon and The Chocolate Maker’s Wife in Australia/NZ through MIRA Harlequin/Harper Collins in October – 2019 release slated for the USA,), but I also commence a new writing job as an advice columnist for a magazine. Watch this space. So I really feel writing is my living now – from fiction and history to contemporary politics, social issues and pop culture to advice. Feel ever so fortunate to be making my living with words and the ideas they inspire, imaginations they fuel, knowledge they impart and also the ability they have to console, excite, arouse, enrage, and satisfy.

I have made a promise to myself to read a lot this year – non-fiction (which I will do researching my new novel) as well as glorious fiction from all genres. Currently, I am reading the book that, before its release, caused so much controversy – Fire and Fury by Michael Woolfe. OMG.  Stay tuned for a review of that in the next few days. In the meantime, here is the first of  my reviews for 2018. So many great books, so many lovely words. Never enough time! Happy New Reading Year!

NuImage result for heavenfield LJ Rossmber Three in the Detective Chief Inspector Max Ryan series ups the ante by commencing the novel with Ryan being placed into custody under suspicion of murdering a man in a church. While it’s evident to the reader he is no more guilty of such a crime than we are, and for those following the series we understand how and why he’s been detained, it’s the one flaw in this otherwise good book that other investigators take their time releasing him so he can do what he does best: track down the real culprit.

Focusing once more on the mysterious “Circle” who have been the bane of Ryan’s life, in this book, they turn on each other and one by one, die gruesome deaths. Suspects become victims and Ryan and his team find rather than narrowing the pool of potential perpetrators, they are at a loss to know who is responsible. But time is running out as not only the death toll grows, but the murderer sets his or her sights on one of Ryan’s own.

Dark at times, but also interwoven with gentle humour and romance, this book, like the others in the series, is a light and easy read. With each book, the characters grow on you, even if the plot around the Circle is becoming thin. That said, they are well worth a read and great for holiday escapism.

Have already bought the next one.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments: No Comments

Book Review: First Impressions by Charlie Lovett

My first impressions of this lovely novel by Charlie Lovett were more than favourable as I lost myself in this skilfully woven dual narrative of a modern young woman, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, plagiarism, loFirst Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austenve and so much more.

Book lover and Jane Austen aficionado, Sophie Cunningham, not only comes into an unexpected and bitter-sweet inheritance, but takes a job with an antiquarian book dealer in London. Grieving, confused about where her life is leading, but happy, as always, to take solace from books and the unexpected attentions of an American traveller, she has her suspicions aroused when two completely different customers request the same obscure and trifling book, the Little Book of Allegories, second edition by a Reverend Richard Mansfield, in a matter of days. One of the customers is the handsome and incorrigible Winston, the other a shady, threatening voice on the end of the phone, George Smedley, who promises Sophie a great deal of trouble if she does not fulfil his request.

Segueing back to 1796, the novel also follows the developing and touching friendship of aspiring young novelist, Jane Austen, and the octogenarian, Richard Mansfield. Sharing a love of words and stories, as well as confidences, Jane and Richard become very attached and propose to help each other’s ambitions by embarking on a literary project together.

In the meantime, Sophie’s efforts to locate the obscure book by the Reverend Mansfield unearth a potentially huge literary scandal involving Austen and the authorship of Pride and Prejudice. Torn between two very different men and their intentions towards her and the book she is tasked to find, as well as the dangers posed by Smedley and the threats he continues to unleash, Sophie’s search becomes a matter of life, death and literary reputations. Who can she trust and what will she do with the truth once she unravels it?

Lovett’s writing is delightful and you sort of fall into this charming tale and its captivating and quite riveting premise regarding Austen. It requires a complete suspension of disbelief which I had no trouble, especially in the first half of the book, performing. In fact, the parts of the novel focussed on 1796 are simply enchanting and Jane Austen and the Reverend make a wonderful pair and their project fascinating for all sorts of reasons. As a consequence, some of the action and decisions of Sophie and the events that occur in contemporary times lack lustre and a bit of conviction. The final parts of the book especially are weak by comparison and the plot doesn’t thicken so much as congeal.

The romance in the modern part is also an attempt, it seems, to mimic the Darcy/Wickham plot in Pride and Prejudice. I think it suffers by comparison with the original but there’s also a sense in which it doesn’t take itself too seriously. In fact, humour liberally peppers the modern section suggesting a joy and cheekiness as well as a homage to the greatest of romance plots, which also allows you to forgive its weaknesses.

But, what I loved most about this book (apart from having Jane Austen as a character and the lovely prose), was its unabashed celebration of writing, reading and books and the role stories play in our lives. How they enrich, educate, provide comfort, mystery and romance. Lovett is a bibliophile par excellence and his utter pleasure in books and reading is contagious. I found myself murmuring in agreement and gratification at some of the words and thoughts he allocates to characters regarding reading and authors.

Overall, a real pleasure to engage with and imagine.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Comments: No Comments