April 2019 books

Dead Girl Walking (Jack Parlabane)Dead Girl Walking by Christopher Brookmyre

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I used to love Chris Brookmyre books, funny and gripping and with some fantastic rants, also really cool covers, then he decided to get serious, even though his old books weren’t exactly comedies, I tried a few and, well, Brookmyre got knocked off my favourite author podium. I hadn’t even realised he was still writing Jack Parlabane books, and despite the identikit thriller book cover and identikit thriller book title, I thought I’d give the series one more go for old times sake.

In this one, Dead Girl Walking, Jack is down on his luck when the band manager sister of an old friend, hires him to find a missing rock star. The story (mainly) has two narrators, Jack and then there’s Monica, the new fiddle player in the band. We know from the opening chapter that someone has been murdered but we have to follow Jack’s story, as he investigates and Monica’s story leading up to the band’s lead singer’s disappearance. Brookmyre really brings the characters alive, so much so, I was reading the story wishing that the band were real, so I could listen to their music! It’s not anywhere near as funny or ranty as the old Brookmyre but there were a few brief moments. The plot was definitely more interesting than your average thriller too. Dead Girl Walking has reignited my interest in Brookmyre’s work, I’ll definitely be reading the next Parlabane and I may even give Brookmyre’s sci-fi another go.

Black Widow (Jack Parlabane, #7)Black Widow by Christopher Brookmyre

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Sigh, this was okay I suppose, I should say that I’m a massive fan of the original Parlabane books and this just isn’t the same. There’s a note from the author at the end of this one, explaining the difference between the originals and the restarted series and although I did quite like the first of the restarted series, Dead Girl Walking, I didn’t like this one. Like Dead Girl Walking and as the notes at the back of the book say, Black Widow is character driven, the thing is, I was rooting for the characters in Dead Girl Walking, in Black Widow I was just wishing that they’d hurry up and murder each other. Ninety percent of the time they were behaving fairly believably (there were a few, key bits, where I was like “really????”), they just weren’t (most of the time) that interesting. Also Jack Parlabane is barely in it, it’s like Brookmyre had thought of a plot for a stand-alone book but felt like he had to write a Parlablane book, so squeezed him in. Anyway, I haven’t said what it’s about, a relatively recently married man has an accident where his car ends up in a river, his body missing. His wife, a surgeon, is suspiciously not grieving enough. The bereaved sister gets Jack in to have a look. A very large chunk of the book, at the beginning, looks at how husband and wife got together and it was this bit that just set the tone for the whole book being a bit of a drag, although the ending did pick up.

The King’s EvilThe King’s Evil by Andrew Taylor

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Not my favourite Marwood and Lovett book, not helped by me having trouble remembering what had happened previously in the beginning, although the story does pick up towards the end. In this one, Marwood is drawn back into the world of Lady Quincy, who has a (to me) not that believable thing for. Lady Quincey is interested in scrofula (the King’s Evil). Meanwhile, Lovett’s evil cousin is murdered and Marwood is instructed to investigate.

The Taking of Annie ThorneThe Taking of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was really good. Set in an old mining village in Nottinghamshire, teacher Joe Thorne returns to his childhood home when he hears that another child has died in tragic circumstances. Joe had lost his sister and his dad when he was a teenager, and there’s plenty of flashbacks as we learn what happened and how the events of the past are having repercussions in the present. It’s quite scary in places, particularly if you don’t like a certain thing (I won’t say what it is).

The House on Vesper SandsThe House on Vesper Sands by Paraic O’Donnell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The House on Vesper Sands is a gothic detective story about a group of mysterious disappearances and a mysterious suicide. There’s a grizzled detective, a green around the gills young man, a daring female reporter and shadowy supernatural going’s ons. It took me a while to settle into the story but I rather enjoyed it by the end.

QueenieQueenie by Candice Carty-Williams

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book has some mixed reviews. Queenie is a young woman of Jamaican descent, living in London and trying and failing to come to terms with the recent break from her boyfriend Tom. Queenie clearly had some issues whilst with Tom but when they separate she goes into self destruct mode. A lot of the negative reviews I’ve seen don’t like the fact that she keeps sleeping around with men who treat her ‘as an orifice’ (to quote a phrase from the book) and although all the unprotected sex did make me wince, it’s clear that she’s an extremely mixed up person and whereas a non mixed up person would hopefully tell those men where to go, she’s got baggage that makes it harder to do that. Trying not to give to many spoilers here but this is one of those books where the plot is how a character evolves within themselves, so the whole book isn’t just lots of unsatisfactory sex scenes. I liked it, I could get why she behaved as she did and I was cheering her on whilst she tried to work her way through her issues.

In at the Deep EndIn at the Deep End by Kate Davies

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this one, a coming out story for Julia, a civil servant in her late 20s, it’s funny, rather graphic and infuriating in places, as Julia does stuff that isn’t the most sensible but love is often blind.

View all my reviews

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