Number 4 in the DI Munro and DS West series by Pete Brassett, Duplicity, weaves a labyrinth plot of lies, deceit and bold-faced cunning.
When retired businessman Angus Buchanan, steps outside during a regular weekly dinner party with his wife and closest friends, a couple with whom he shared business and personal interests, to fetch a bottle of wine from the car, the police are called.
When a body is found in the back of an abandoned cab, having died a horrible death, and the victim is carrying identification that doesn’t seem to be his, Munro and West smell a rat, particularly when certain connections to the Buchanans’ and their friends become apparent.
When more disappearances happen and bodies appear, and the major parties never mind the main suspect in the crimes not only evade and lie but don’t seem to understand what co-operation means, curmudgeonly Munro and West have no choice but to plough on to get to the bottom of the deceptions and duplicity, discover the motivation for the murders and maybe then, the real culprit.
Clever, with some excellent characterisation, this instalment is probably my favourite so far. From a small Scottish town to Oslo, from past to present, this is a fun read with an excellent cast of regular characters and some interesting new ones thrown in for good measure.
Tags: business dealings, deceit, Duplicity by Pete Brassett, lies, murder, Olso, Scotland
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Reading all the hype around Shari Lapena’s debut novel, The Couple Next Door, I was expecting a sort of Gone, Baby Gone of Dennis Lehane fame… Only, this isn’t in the same league.
Described as a thriller and using different points of view, it tells the story of young, married couple, Anne and Marco Conti, who leave their baby in her crib while they attend a dinner party at their next-door neighbour’s. With a baby monitor on the table and checking on their daughter, Cora, every thirty minutes, what could go wrong?
When they return home worse for drink to find their baby, well, gone, panic erupts. Police are called and an investigation ensues. As hours turn into days and suspicion falls on the distressed parents and every aspect of their lives and those closest to them are forensically examined, more than skeletons and motives for the crime tumble out of the closet. Skeletons that some would do anything to ensure stay buried…
I had great hopes for this book. A fantastic and uncomfortable premise that resonates in the real world (think the poor McCanns) and which preys on deeply held fears – the idea that someone could be so cold and ruthless as to steal into your home and not only violate that sanctuary but take your beloved child – is a chilling basis for a novel. The writing is mostly taut and the first part of the book maintains a great pace. But at some point, it not only became a little repetitive (the number of times Cora is referred to as “fussy”, how often we’re told Anne doesn’t trust her husband, adores her father, how wealthy her parents are, how it’s her mother’s money, how much her parents hate Marco, are just some examples), but a bit convoluted as well. You also reach a point where you stop caring about any of the characters except Cora. In some ways, for all we learn about the characters, they’re a little two-dimensional, a bit too shallow, but perhaps that’s the whole point.
In the end, I was speed-reading to finish, especially once the “reveal” happened and the guilty were exposed. I just wanted to get to the end. The twists when they happened were often implausible or too convenient and you have to wonder why someone would go to such awful lengths to do what they did… We’re only given a very superficial reason and it doesn’t sit well. I also found the ending a bit staged for my taste – staged and predictable – but in the sense I was thinking, “oh, don’t let character C do THAT to character D… Oh, you did…” But again, this was a book that was morally very grey so rather than be disgruntled about lack of depth of characters or even an obvious plot point, I prefer to see it as a commentary on the type of people and society and a deliberate construction on the part of the author.
Tags: baby, betrayal, deceit, families, kiidnapping, rnasom, The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena, thriller
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I don’t recall reading a Harlen Coben book before, but after consuming his latest, Fool Me Once, in practically one sitting as I was unable to tear myself away, this will not be my last.
This stand-alone novel (that is set to be a movie starring Julia Roberts) is a rollicking read of loss, grief, mistakes, deception, betrayal, secrets, lies, and the consequences of these upon members of a particular family and those they trap in their web.
The main protagonist, Maya Stern, is a retired and admired war veteran who flew missions in Iraq and has come home not only with a cloud over her head and the loss of her beloved sister to face, but now also the brutal murder of her husband, who virtually died in her arms.
Suffering from PTSD and facing the reality of single motherhood, Maya is just coping with the ongoing investigation into her husband’s death and his domineering family that is, until her closest girlfriend persuades her to use a nanny-cam while she’s at work. When, one day, she spots her dead husband nursing their young daughter on the cam’s footage (this isn’t a spoiler – it’s in the blurb and was the hook that convinced me I had to read the book), reality as she knows it begins to disintegrate and Maya, using all the skills and intelligence that held her in good stead in the military, must uncover what’s going on, why and who’s behind it before someone else close to her dies.
Economically written but without sacrificing character development or tension, this is a cracker of a read. At times, I found myself holding my breath or letting it out in relief as the plot built, unfolded and them twisted in a direction I never saw coming.
Suspense grows, the shadows around Maya darken as more and more people are drawn into both her search for the truth and the impossible answers that are emerging.
The complexity of the plot is brought together in a gruesome yet Poirot-inspired finale that I didn’t see coming.
Terrific read that was worth losing most of a night’s sleep over. Bring on the next Coben, please.
Tags: deceit, Fool Me Once, Harlen Coben, Iraq, Julia Roberts, lies, murder, PTSD, suspense
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