Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The Mind's Eye

Title: The Mind’s Eye

Author: Hakan Nesser

Number of pages: 279

Started: 23 April 2012

Finished: 25 April 2012

Opening words:

He woke up and was unable to remember his name.

His pains were legion. Shafts of fire whirled around in his head and throat, his stomach and chest. He tried to swallow, but it remained an attempt. His tongue was glued to his palate. Burning, smoldering.

His eyes were throbbing. Threatening to grow out of their sockets.

It’s like being born, he thought. I’m not a person. Merely a mass of suffering.

Plot summary:

Janek Mitter stumbles into his bathroom one morning after a night of heavy drinking, to find his beautiful young wife, Eva, floating dead in the bath. She has been brutally murdered. Yet even during his trial Mitter cannot summon a single memory of attacking Eva, nor a clue as to who could have killed her if he had not. Only once he has been convicted and locked away in an asylum for the criminally insane does he have a snatch of insight – but is it too late? Drawing a blank after exhaustive interviews, Chief Inspector Van Veeteren remains convinced that something, or someone, in the dead woman’s life has caused these tragic events. But the reasons for her speedy remarriage have died with her. And as he delves even deeper, Van Veeteren realizes that the past never stops haunting the present…

What I thought:

I am not sure what I made of this book.  I feel as though I should like this book (and series) more.  Somehow the characters don’t quite come to life though, and the plots whilst having intriguing elements to them were never really engaging.  I wanted this book to be better than it was, but somehow it lacked that element which would make it a good book.

Friday, 20 April 2012

The Four Last Things

Title: The Four Last Things
Author: Andrew Taylor

Number of pages: 351

Started: 18 April 2012

Finished: 20 April 2012

Opening words: All his life Eddie had believed in Father Christmas. In childhood his belief had been unthinking and literal; he clung to it for longer than his contemporaries and abandoned it only with regret. In its place came another conviction, another Father Christmas: less defined than the first and therefore less vulnerable.  

Plot summary: Little Lucy Appleyard is snatched from her child minder’s on a cold winter afternoon, and the nightmare begins. When Eddie takes her home to beautiful, child-loving Angel, he knows he’s done the right thing. But Lucy’s not like their other visitors, and unwittingly she strikes through Angel’s defences to something both vulnerable and volatile at the core. To the outside world Lucy has disappeared into a black hole with no clues to her whereabouts…until the first grisly discovery in a London graveyard. More such finds are to follow, all at religious sites, and, in a city haunted by religion, what do these offerings signify? All that stands now between Lucy and the final sacrifice are a CID sergeant on the verge of disgrace and a woman cleric – Lucy’s parents – but how can they hope to halt the evil forces that are gathering around their innocent daughter?

What I thought: This was a readable book, but one which gave me mixed feelings. It was a decent enough plot and it was pretty well written, but it was one of those books that involved two different, but connected storylines developing – and I rather preferred one thread to the other. Perhaps that was partly because of the subject matter, I didn’t like the more sinister side with Eddie and Angel.

This book was the first in a trilogy, although apparently they can be read in any order. I would be interested in reading another in the trilogy, but if I didn’t find that an entirely comfortable read then I would move on.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Into the Darkest Corner

Title: Into the Darkest Corner

Author: Elizabeth Haynes

Number of pages: 403

Started: 7 April 2012

Finished: 17 April 2012

Opening words:

Lancaster Crown Court


Wednesday 11 May 2005

Morning Session


Mr Maclean: Would you please state your full name?
Mr Brightman: Lee Anthony Brightman.
Mr Maclean: Thank you. Now, Mr Brightman, you had a relationship with Miss Bailey, is that correct?
Mr Brightman: Yes.
Mr Maclean: For how long?
Mr Brightman: I met her at the end of October in 2003. We were seeing each other until the middle of June last year.
Mr Maclean: And how did you meet?
Mr Brightman: At work. I was working on an operation and I happened to meet her through the course of that.
Mr Maclean: And you formed a relationship?
Mr Brightman: Yes.
Mr Maclean: You said that the relationship ended in June. Was that a mutual decision?
Mr Brightman: Things had been going wrong for a while. Catherine was very jealous of the time I spent away from her working. She was convinced I was having an affair.
Mr Maclean: And were you?

Read a longer extract here.

See an excerpt from The TV Book Club about this book.

Plot summary:

Catherine has been enjoying the single life for long enough to know a good catch when she sees one. Gorgeous, charismatic, spontaneous – Lee seems almost too perfect to be true. And her friends clearly agree, as each in turn falls under his spell.
But there is a darker side to Lee. His erratic, controlling and sometimes frightening behaviour means that Catherine is increasingly isolated. Driven into the darkest corner of her world, and trusting no one, she plans a meticulous escape. Four years later, struggling to overcome her demons, Catherine dares to believe she might be safe from harm. Until one phone call changes everything.

What I thought:

I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to read this book. It has a somewhat sombre subject matter, domestic violence, and also one of those books that seems very hyped – it was even Amazon’s book of the year. Despite my scepticism, this was actually a very good book. I thought it was a well written novel and although it could have been a very depressing book, it actually wasn’t, perhaps because the main character never seemed like a “victim” – she showed a strength throughout regardless of the seemingly hopeless situation she was in.

It was an interesting lesson in properly listening to people, even if there are reasons to doubt them.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Murder on the Thirty First Floor

Title: Murder on the Thirty First Floor

Author: Per Wahloo

Number of pages: 224

Started: 4 April 2012

Finished: 6 April 2012

Opening words:

The alarm was raised at exactly 13.02. The chief of police phoned the order through personally to the Sixteenth police district and ninety seconds later the alarm bell sounded in the operational rooms and administrative offices on the ground floor. It was still ringing when Inspector Jensen got down from his room. Jensen was a middle-aged officer of normal build, with an unlined and expressionless face. On the bottom stop of the spiral staircase he stopped and let his eyes scan the reception area. He adjusted his tie and went out to the car.

Plot summary:

In an unnamed country, in an unnamed year sometime in the future, Chief Inspector Jensen of the Sixteenth Division is called in after the publishers controlling the entire country's newspapers and magazines receive a threat to blow up their building, in retaliation for a murder they are accused of committing. The building is evacuated, but the bomb fails to explode and Jensen is given seven days in which to track down the letter writer.
Jensen has never had a case he could not solve before, but as his investigation into the identity of the letter writer begins it soon becomes clear that the directors of the publishers have their own secrets, not least the identity of the 'Special Department' on the thirty first floor; the only department not permitted to be evacuated after the bomb threat.

What I thought:

This is the first book by Per Wahloo book that I have read. I enjoyed the book, but found it one that was difficult to really immerse yourself in because somehow the story always seemed to be at a distance. It was an interesting plot, but lacked that element of connection with the reader.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The Nine Tailors

Title: The Nine Tailors

Author: Dorothy L Sayers

Number of pages: 384

Started: 29 March 2012

Finished: 4 April 2012

Opening words:

"That's torn it!" said Lord Peter Wimsey.

The car lay, helpless and ridiculous, her nose deep in the ditch, her back wheels cocked absurdly up on the bank, as though she were doing her best to bolt to earth and were scraping herself a burrow beneath the drifted snow.

Plot summary:

When his sexton finds a corpse in the wrong grave, the rector of Fenchurch St Paul asks Lord Peter Wimsey to find out who the dead man was and how he came to be there.

The lore of bell-ringing and a brilliantly-evoked village in the remote fens of East Anglia are the unforgettable background to a story of an old unsolved crime and its violent unravelling twenty years later.

What I thought:

This was a very readable crime novel set in a bygone era. Lord Peter Wimsey stumbled into a village where all turns out not to be well and in the end solves a mysterious death. It was enjoyable enough and a break from some of the grittier novels of recent times, and a pleasant distraction.