In less than three books, Lucy Foley has become renown for serving up stories where nothing and no-one is what or who they seem. She gathers disparate characters into almost claustrophobic settings (a hunting lodge in Scotland, a wedding venue on a remote island and now a Paris apartment block) and gives the reader a chance to “know” them before completely over-turning expectations and allowing the characters (and what we thought might be happening) to unravel.
So it is with The Paris Apartment.
This time, young Jess flees to join her brother in his quite luxurious apartment in the French capital. Broke, escaping an untenable workplace and boss, she’s shocked to find her brother, Ben, despite promises to be there to admit her, absent. When it’s apparent he’s actually missing, his fellow residents (who all knew him) appear loathe to help. What secrets are they keeping? How did they know her brother? How could he afford to rent such a lovely place on his wage? And where the hell is he?
As the days pass and Jess becomes more frantic, the residents behave in suspicious ways, teasing Jess with scraps of knowledge about Ben. Something has happened to her brother, but until someone starts telling the truth, Jess is afraid not only will she never find out, but Ben might not be the only one to disappear.
This is a quick, easy read that just when I thought it might fall into cliché and all-too familiar tropes, fortunately did not. Foley manages to keep the suspense ratcheted up and though the book is populated with really unlikeable characters, tells a cracking yarn.
Tags: family, locked room, mystery, past, secrets, siblings, The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley
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You know when you pick up a Sarah Bailey, you’re not only in the hands of a master storyteller, but going to be drawn into a twisty, twiney dark tale with flashes of humour, well-drawn characters and spine-tingling moments. In other words, buckle up and hang on- or, as I did, donned the pyjamas, settled into a cosy chair and read… and read… and read…
Years earlier, journalist Olive Groves covered a story where a young woman was murdered and one of her housemates was convicted and served time for the crime while the other one simply vanished. It’s a gruesome mystery that fascinated folk at the time and still does. The case obsessed Olive. So, when the missing housemate is found dead on a remote property nine years after she originally disappeared, Olive once again becomes involved, determined to unearth the truth. Only, this time, she’s given a side-kick – the precocious yet competent Cooper Ng, who produces a successful podcast and wants to add this case to his repertoire.
As Olive and Cooper work the story, and try and iron out the wrinkles in their professional relationship, new facts and secrets are uncovered, ones that both throw doubt upon original findings and shed new but very, very dangerous light on their current investigation. As more questions than answers arise, a dark threat grows, one that hovers not just over the case, but Olive and Cooper’s lives…
This is a fabulous fast-paced and unputdownable read that I devoured in no time at all. I loved that not only is it a great crime read, but the book also explores the changing nature of journalism – how it’s moved from what we might term the street-beat or “gum-shoe” style of covering stories by moving into the landscape and meeting and talking to people face to face, “feeling the story”, to not only relying on screens, media releases, Google and phone calls, but the growing dominance of podcasts and the older generation of workers’ resistance to this new form. It was so well done. Utterly plausible, thrilling and with a great and flawed heroine in Olive, this is thriller/mystery writing at its best.
Tags: Australian fiction, crime, journalism, murder, mystery, podcasts, The Housemate by Sarah Bailey
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Whenever I learn there’s a new Elly Griffith’s Ruth Galloway book, I become all tingly with excitement. These are my lexical comfort food, my not-guilty pleasure, into which I escape the moment the book is in my hot little hands. With this latest one, however, I deliberately kept it at arm’s length – knowing it would be a terrible distraction – until I’d met a very important deadline. It was to be my reward. Well, meet it I sort of did and now the book is devoured and I’m left hungry for more. Again.
The latest in this wonderful series – The Locked Room – which just gets (if it’s possible) better and better, sees Ruth, Nelson, Judy, Cathbad and the entire crew in the throes of Covid and lockdown. As you can imagine, this makes doing their respective jobs nigh on impossible and, when a dead body is found and someone has Ruth in their sights, an already difficult job becomes even harder. But, when a dearly beloved character falls deathly ill with Covid, everything else becomes insignificant, that is until someone else goes missing and finding them before the killer strikes again forces Nelson and co to act.
While I found the criminal/mystery plotline in this book a little weaker than in others, it’s the interpersonal relationships – their growth, the changes in certain characters and how they relate to each other and the choices they make that I just adore. This book is no exception and certainly, with Covid, Griffiths has used the pandemic and the enforced lockdowns and isolation, and the social and personal changes they enforced, as not only something every reader can relate to (missing family and friends, longing for open air, a face-to-face conversation, the trials of home-schooling, working from home, venturing to shops, uncertainty about rules) , but as an opportunity for many of her characters to do some long overdue self-reflection – and it works a treat.
Overall, another fantastic addition to a completely addictive series. Now to wait impatiently for the next one!
Tags: Covid, crime, England, isolation, murder, mystery, Ruth Galloway, THE LOCKED ROOM BY ELLY GRIFFITHS
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I was looking for something quick and gripping to read as I was laid up in bed with a fever and I couldn’t have asked for anything better, than Allie Reynolds’s book, Shiver.
Set in the Alps, it’s about a group of competitive snowboarders who, ten years after they’re involved in a tragedy, come together to commemorate the loss of one of their own. Believing they’ve been invited for an exclusive weekend in a resort they’re all familiar with, once they arrive, they find things are not what they seem. As the hours pass, they swiftly understand that whoever invited them – and it wasn’t who they thought – has done so with sinister intentions. But which of them is it? And what are the dark secrets they all seem to be hiding?]
Told from the perspective of one of the snowboarders, Milla, and moving between the present and ten years earlier, the story moves quickly, the suspense and claustrophobic feel of not only being trapped on a mountain, but with fiercely egotistic and alpha personalities, takes its toll.
The writing is taut, you are able to suspend your disbelief and let the story carry you. The characters aren’t always particularly likeable, though a couple are redeemed, and it’s a credit to Reynolds that she doesn’t shy away from exposing the less than glamourous aspect of competitive sport and athletes at these levels. It was a great way to spend a few hours, curled up in bed, turning pages of what was a thrilling read.
Tags: alps, mystery, Shiver by Allie Reynolds, snowboarding
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After reading so many positive reviews of Mrs England, a new historical fiction by Stacey Hall, I simply had to read it. The title is bold and strangely evocative and the cover is gorgeous too, but it’s what lies between that is utterly compelling.
A slow burn of a book, it draws you in with beautiful prose and marvellously but economically crafted characters (this is high praise – Hall allows you to see and even understand a person with a deft few words). The titular character from which the book earns its title doesn’t appear for quite a while and, indeed, the story is told from the first-person point of view of Norland nurse, Ruby May. Quiet, efficient, in some ways Mary Poppins-like, Ruby is a woman who takes her work and the charges in her care very seriously. She knows her place and responsibilities. The Norland Institute motto – Fortitude in Adversity – is etched on her conscience.
When circumstances send Ruby to Yorkshire to care for the four children of the wealthy England family, who are part of a greater dynasty who have made their riches from wool and milling, she meets the challenges of a new family, new charges and new area with aplomb. The master of the house, Mr England, is nothing like she expected, nor is his quiet, disinterested wife, the lovely but very fragile Mrs England.
As the weeks go by and Ruby settles in, the children responding to her genuine care and ability to nurture and bring out the best, she begins to sense that all is not as it seems in this strange but beguiling family. As letters go missing, information is misunderstood or misconstrued and mysterious goings-on begin to occur, Ruby starts to wonder if she has misjudged not only the family, but her own abilities. After all, Ruby has her own secrets, ones that if they should be revealed will not only threaten her livelihood, but that of those she loves.
This is one of those books that lingers in a strange and quite wondrous way. The telling is superb and even though in some ways not much seems to happen, it is like an ice-berg with nine-tenths occurring below the surface. You cannot stop turning the pages, wanting to know, to find out more. The story-telling is first-rate, each scene building on the last, persuading you to keep going so you can see the complete picture… and yet, it remains somehow elusive. And then, just when you think you have it all sorted and neatly wrapped up, Hall delivers one of the best OMG moments on the final page. It overturns everything and, if you hadn’t already gleaned why the book carries the title it does, this will cement it for you.
A really clever, completely fabulous read.
Tags: abuse, childcare, feminism, history, Mary Poppins, milling, Mrs England by Stacey Hall, mystery, Nanny, women, Wool, Yorkshire
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