I Let You Go | Clare Mackintosh – ☆☆☆☆☆


A well deserved  ☆☆☆☆☆ 

What an amazing read!

There is a real rollercoaster of emotions in this book that I could not put down, and then kept thinking about all night.

Kindle Edition, 385 pages
Published November 6th 2014 by Sphere

edition languageEnglish

Buy it now from: Amazon UK  or Amazon US, and available at many other Book stores.


Synopsis by Goodreads:

A tragic accident. It all happened so quickly. She couldn’t have prevented it. Could she?

In a split second, Jenna Gray’s world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever.

Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating…


My review:

A five year old killed in an instant: his name was Jacob. It was a hit and run. How could you do that? How does anyone recover from losing a child so needlessly?

I shan’t describe the plot the synopsis is good enough, no spoilers here.

This book is much much more than a simple ‘who done it crime’, so cleverly written in both first and third person that simply messes with your perception.

There are so many facets to this story, the harsh frantic side of police with full on work and failing marriages, along with the destruction of relationships.  Then there is the slow wind-blown side where fractured lives knit very slowly, healing outside of life itself.

Jenna is trying to rebuild her life far away from people as possible, in a remote cottage on the coast in Wales. Hit and run affects a whole community of individuals and Mackintosh conveys that in a way that is subtly huge.

I love it when authors paint pictures enabling me to stand beside a character and feel their lives, exactly like this does:

The sand becomes pockmarked from the rain, and the swollen tide begins to sweep away the shapes I have made in the wet sand at the bottom of the beach, undoing the triumphs as well as the mistakes. It has become routine to begin each day by writing my own name close to the shore, and I shiver to see it sucked into the sea.

AND THEN: POW!  What freakin happened there?   The shock of what I am reading both excites and confuses me.   Never…..     never…..      would I have seen that coming….nor will you I can promise that!

This book then turns your understanding of the story back to front and inside out.

Very, very, cleverly done, thank you Clare Mackintosh for a beautiful and brilliant read!   :)


Many thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Suffer | E.E. Borton – ☆☆☆☆☆


Why 5 stars?

Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. I loved this book.  Be warned though it is brutal and graphic…just what I love to read ;)

A friend recommended this book to me and from her review I knew I had to read it. (Thanks Maxine) OMG this is going to be going round in my head for a while I can tell you. What a great and interesting mind Borton has to give us this novel.

Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 1377 KB
Print Length: 346 pages
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (9 Dec. 2014)
Language: English


Kate Freeman opened the front door of her vacation villa to see a Florida State Trooper standing on the porch. A few moments later, 50,000 paralyzing volts shot through her body. Her world went dark after her head impacted the tile floor.

She woke unable to move. Sitting only a few feet away bound to a chair, her six-year-old son sat quietly staring at her. It was just the beginning of their hellish nightmare.

150 miles away, Kate’s husband Paul was on his annual scuba trip in the Bahamas. Early the next morning, he pulled away from the dock and headed back to the villa on Sugar Loaf Key to be reunited with his family. He would be the first to find them – exactly as the killer planned.

“Suffer” is a crime thriller that shows what ordinary people are capable of doing when faced with unimaginable evil. Decisions have to be made that take them deeper into the darkness of a sociopath’s world. It’s a place they have to travel in order to hunt him down and make the punishment fit the crime.

Few expected her to survive. Nobody expected her to fight.


My review:

This plot was focussed and did not spend too much time on superficial chatter that could distract from the plot.

Borton did not spare the brutality of the scenes, describing the worst torture anyone can imagine ever. The brutal rape and torture of a young woman and her son is so shocking it cannot even be imagined. What kind of animal could do this to another human being? Her husband and friends finds them and there is only one thing that can be done. Without knowing that his wife is recovering against all odds, Paul commits suicide and Grey their friend vows to find who was responsible. Along with a few others, revenge is well planned and very sweet.

What did I like best?

I loved that this is a fast paced, exciting story, one which both filled me with horror and morbid desire to read how revenge would be described. There is a kind of air-punching satisfaction of knowing that someone suffers the same horrors as they inflicted. Should you be worried about me? Nah, I think that many who read this book will be just as eager to have torture metered out and described in such a visual manner. Why? Well you will just have to read it and find out won’t you!

This is a book that is well written and excellently put together, not once did I get lost in the plot or the characters. Talking of characters, I loved the strength of the vulnerable Kate, the victim. I loved how Borton gives her real character that both scares and amazes those around her. It made me think about whether in the same situation would I be able to be strong enough or sick enough to exact revenge as she did? Indeed it begs the question whether it is right or wrong – okay of course it was wrong but would I tell on her – no way, my mouth stays shut.

Those men around Kate and who love her for surviving, are wonderfully strong characters, no messing about – get the job done types. Who risk their lives for her.

Anything that would have been the icing on the cake for me?

Oh yes, without giving away the plot I would have like descriptions of one mans fear and emotions……. You’ll know exactly what I mean when you read it. (Alright that is probably a bit too creepy of me.)

I now need a follow up, because hey Mr Borton you can’t just end it there for me!!


Source:  Bought from Amazon UK

Convergence | Michael Patrick Hicks – ☆☆☆☆☆

20945315Boy, this was a good book to read!

Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 518 KB
Print Length: 395 pages
Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l. & other online stores
Language: English


An Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist

Jonah Everitt is a killer, a DRMR addict, and a memory thief.
After being hired to kill a ranking officer of the Pacific Rim Coalition and download his memories, Everitt finds himself caught in the crosshairs of a terror cell, a rogue military squadron, and a Chinese gangster named Alice Xie. Xie is a profiteer of street drugs, primarily DRMR, a powerful narcotic made from the memories of the dead. With his daughter, Mesa, missing in post-war Los Angeles, Everitt is forced into an uneasy alliance with Alice to find her.

Mesa’s abduction is wrapped up in the secrets of a brutal murder during the war’s early days, a murder that Alice Xie wants revenged. In order to find her, Jonah will have to sift through the memories of dead men that could destroy what little he has left.
In a city where peace is tenuous and loyalties are ever shifting, the past and the present are about to converge.


Why I liked this book:

There was a brilliant contrast between the a ruined landscape and nano-technology and beyond.

“A series of carpet bombings had wiped out much of the skyline. What remained of downtown were ruined shells; once-tall skyscrapers stood like jagged broken teeth in a bloodied jaw.” 

What a descriptive picture it gives me in my head of a place desolate, ravaged by war.

For me it was such an exciting and easy read, Hicks brought this dystopian world alive without compromising the characters.  As the story unfolds reading about the technology feels really ‘comfortable’ as if it is commonplace already.

I loved the characters, they were honest in their portrayal, strong and intriguing, but showing emotions and vulnerability, especially Jonah.

Full of nano technology and brutal descriptions of war and desolation, I was stunned by this contrasting observation:

“My fingernails worried at a small knot of fabric on the thigh of my pants, picking at the tiny, raised imperfection in the otherwise-smooth plane of cotton . I dug at it, trying to work the knot out of keep myself from going crazy with worry.”

The technology doesn’t seem so outlandish when it is so seamlessly woven into the background of the story.

This is an author I really enjoy, I love the way Hicks puts together his novels, his style of writing and his really imaginative plots that work so well.

I absolutely recommend this book to you all

Source: Bought from Amazon UK.

Review: The Boy In The River || Richard Hoskins


A disturbing read – 4 Stars   Well worth a read!

Paperback, 334 pages
Published June 7th 2012 by Pan Books
ISBN 1447207904 (ISBN13: 9781447207900)
literary awardsCWA Non-Fiction Dagger Nominee for Highly Commended (2013)


On 21st September 2001 the mutilated torso of a small child was found floating beside London’s Tower Bridge, one tide away from being swept into the North Sea. Unable to identify the victim, the Murder Squad turned to Richard Hoskins, a young professor of theology with a profound understanding of African tribal religion, whose own past was scarred by a heartbreaking tragedy. Thus began a journey into the tangled undergrowth of one of the most notorious murder cases of recent years; a journey which would reveal not only the identity of the boy they called Adam but the horrific truth that a succession of innocent children have been ritually sacrificed in our capital city.Insightful and grippingly written, The Boy in the River is an inside account of a series of extraordinary criminal investigations and a compelling personal quest into the dark heart of humanity.


This is a biographical account of Richard Hoskins who helped with the investigations into child murders by those who believed they had kindoki (evil spirits).

Excellently written in the form of a novel rather than pure facts, it is a personal journey as well as an account. An important issue to read about and understand, this is a truly disturbing book to read.

As a Christian and having lived in a village helping in the medical centre in the Congo with his first wife Richard, grew to love the people and country.

Through his expertise in African tribal ritual and religion, he enters the darkest of worlds helping the police in their investigations into child abuse and murder in London linked to beliefs in certain African communities. The investigations leads to child trafficking, and sex exploitation.

He paints a wonderful picture of his early days in the Congo, and of his respect for the people around him. His account of his life in the village is very fascinating and readable, I learnt a lot from his writing.

Through helping the police on several cases of what many thought were ‘witchcraft’ beliefs, he helps the justice system understand the differences in tribal customs and pure child abuse.

There is a disturbing trend that has grown from migrants from parts of Africa to merge Christianity with African religion into a hybrid that is plain wrong. It damages the various peoples of Africa who do not practice ‘deliverance’ rituals, and to the many Africans who do not follow these extreme churches.

Richard Hoskins pulls no punches when he describes how insidious these practices are, and how it affected him and his family when he was researching them. The cases he describes are well known Victoria Climbie and Child B, and his first case that of ‘Adam’ the torso of a six year old found in the Thames. He is honest in the effect on people and society and writes this book as a warning not to overlook the effect on our own communities.

I enjoyed reading this book but was understandably troubled by what he was recounting.

Hausfrau | by Jill Alexander Essbaum


A great 4 stars from me

This book touched something that surprised me and I wept copious amounts of tears at the end for Anna.

Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 959 KB
Print Length: 338 pages

Publisher:  Pan Macmillan

ISBN:  987-1-4472-8079-8

Available from Amazon UK and US, and other online stores.

Goodreads Synopsis

Haunting and elegant, Hausfrau is the exceptional debut novel from the prize-winning American poet, Jill Alexander Essbaum. 

Anna was a good wife, mostly . . .

Anna Benz lives in comfort and affluence with her husband and three young children in Dietlikon, a picture-perfect suburb of Zurich. Anna, an American expat, has chosen this life far from home; but, despite its tranquility and order, inside she is falling apart.

Feeling adrift and unable to connect with her husband or his family; with the fellow expatriates who try to befriend her; or even, increasingly, her own thoughts and emotions, Anna attempts to assert her agency in the only way that makes sense to her: by engaging in short-lived but intense sexual affairs.

But adultery, too, has its own morality, and when Anna finds herself crossing a line, she will set off a terrible chain of events that ends in unspeakable tragedy. As her life crashes down around her, Anna must then discover where one must go when there is no going back . . .


My thoughts on this book:

Anna marries a Swiss banker, and moves to Switzerland into a life that moves her along without will.
She has three children: two boys and a girl. She is a housewife trying to fulfil its cultural role without ever asking what she wants. Life, death and love is something she does not understand, and embarks on a self destroying journey of affairs to cope with her seemingly loveless marriage.

To be honest I nearly didn’t continue reading it as I found the beginning so depressingly grey. There didn’t appear to be any lightness in the reading as Anna’s life was numb and sad.

But, there is something about Anna’s story that drew me in, I had to know whether her life would change, and by what means. When Essbaum adds a friend with such a ‘normal’ life, you begin to understand Anna’s past and present.

The author writes with such authority on psychology and relationships played out in Anna’s sessions with her Psychologist cleverly executed, we never really know what truth Anna tells her.

Slowly throughout the book she is secretly spiralling out of control into an abyss which you fear she can not recover from.

I loved the characters because they felt so real. This is an emotional book on such deep levels, it is not a roller coaster, and has a complexity that will make you wonder how anyone can have so much insight.

Throughout the book there is an analogy to how the structure of the german language is with how Anna feels. Each stage in her lessons she increasingly identifies them with her emotions.

‘We make the passive voice in German with the verb werden. ‘To become.” So the bicycle becomes stolen, if you will. Or the woman became sad.

Or the body would become ravaged. And the heart will become broken. Somehow it made more sense this way to Anna. “

Essbaum has the ability to allow the reader to actually feel what she experiences. An example is when she bumps into a man and falls in love with him with a single look:

“In the short, sharp span of a single heartbeat, she knew that nothing she’d ever said or done, and nothing she would ever say or do again, would carry even half the tragedy of this.”

Beautifully written.

Best not to read this book if you are prone to depression because the emotions are very raw.

Did you cry with Anna as you wrote her, Jill Alexander Essbaum. I wonder?
Many thanks to the publisher and to Netgalley for a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Review: Bryant & May: The Burning Man #12 by Christopher Fowler

A well deserved 5 stars


Amazingly this is the first time I have read any of Christopher Fowler’s books it was so good.

Format: Kindle Edition
File Size: 1581 KB
Print Length: 415 pages

isbn: 0857522043
isbn13: 9780857522047

Also available in Hardcover

Publisher: Transworld Digital (26 Mar. 2015)

You see the thing is, I love David Jason playing detective’s because he embodies the older generation of old style detective work through his on screen personality. So, when I started reading this book I immediately had the personality of Bryant in my head, absolutely marvellous!

There is a line from a memo from Raymond Land (Bryant boss) to all staff that sums him up for me:

The Police Federation’s outing to the Museum of London’s exhibition ‘Living History’: Senior Citizens Recall London in the 1950’s will take place on 25 October, although I understand that Mr Bryant will not be coming as he does not yet regard the 1950’s as history.

What’s it about in a nutshell..

It is Halloween and two ‘should have retired’ detectives are asked to identify a body found in a doorway of a bank, torched by a protestor at a time when London is in full riot over bankers dirty dealings. Tucked away in the Peculiar Crimes Unit (PCU) after running up horrendous expenses for bizarre and dubious acts of fact finding, are all the people hard to place, in the hope that they will become redundant for any crimes to be solved by real modern detectives. Bryant and his long suffering partner May appear to be ‘too long in the tooth’ to do any real detective work, but Bryant can always find a real crime out of an incident to be cleared up.

It is full of the wittiest pieces of writing found anywhere.
In a memo to all staff, Land his boss writes:

I don’t want anyone here thinking for themselves.
But remember this: we are in charge of London.

I love that this is a very British book, quirky and full of the history of London, wonderful stuff!

There is a real sense of serious policing underneath the humour along with the intrigue of gruesome murders continuing along with the build up of London’s riots. Then, Bryant has memory lapses and is often lost in his own head which remarkably sees connections before they have even been thought of. Seen as a liability by his seniors, and just odd by his colleagues they know he will solve a case if there is one to be solved.

What did I like best about this book?

I like that Fowler knows London and has captured its essence. He understands the peculiarity of Britishness and uses it with humour. His writing is knowledgeable, it is tense and relaxed at the same time. When Bryant becomes bewildered Fowler gives the reader the same sense with much compassion, which adds to the story rather than distracts from it.

The crime is complex and not easily guessed, just as the team is baffled I was too, especially as there are so many leads in different directions. The murders are suitably nasty for London, with just enough detail to be able to imagine the horrors of them. There is a time constraint for solving the crime and also the risk of having the CPU closed down if they don’t.

The best for me were the many characters in the book. Each one different and I think I have come across them somewhere, sometime!

Bryant is a legend as you read him, even his team quote him constantly. For me the most poignant line is about Bryant’s own thoughts of his memory lapses, and confusion of not recognising his home:

…because whatever else happened, losing his place in the world was the thing that terrified him most.

The importance of Bryant’s character is that he may have Alzheimer’s or something similar, and Fowler has showed that even with lapses, his intelligence and his personality is strong enough for him to still be useful. Well done Christopher Fowler.

I love the conversation in the taxi when a cabbie interrupts Bryant that it was European Parliament Health and Safety that stopped children making a guy and collecting money in the streets,..

…..’I think you’ll find that the truth is somewhat more prosaic’, said Bryant, ever the enemy of misinformation. ‘With the retail ascendency of Halloween, children’s spending power is used up before Guy Fawkes Night…

In fact I had hi-lighted so many brilliant lines I could not decide which to show you.

So what did I not like?

This is the 12th in the series and I have not yet read the first 11!!!

Many thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book.

Observatory Press – something exciting to watch out for!

I just had to share this with all you book lovers out there.   I came across this project in KICKSTARTER (crowdfunding) and think it is great.   I like the thought that these people are saving old science fiction stories, written a while ago and giving them a contemporary new life with added poetry and essays.


In their own words:

“What is it about? 

Old words, new books. Specialising in science fiction and curating lost classics with contemporary illustration and writing.

Observatory Press is a brand new independent press based in Hackney. We currently specialise in science fiction, illustration and curating lost classics. We believe in creating collectable, beautiful, physical books and supporting new writing and illustrating talent. ‘We’ are Nicholas Herrmann and Ella Chappell. We met while studying at the University of East Anglia.

Nick writes comics and science fiction. His graphic short story, ‘Matters of Consequence’, about the life and works of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, was published by Elbow Room in 2014. Nick is passionate about futurology in science fiction, and delivered a paper about J. G. Ballard and Isaac Asimov’s visions of the future at the University of East Anglia’s recent ‘The Science “New Wave” at Fifty’ conference.

Ella is a poet, with a particular interest in science, post-internet and collaborative poetry. Along with a filmmaker and choreographer, she won the Southbank Centre Poetryfilm Competition in 2014, and she is currently exhibiting a spoken word piece at ‘Conditional Expressions’ hosted by STCFTHOTS gallery in Leeds.”

What are the books?

To launch the press we are publishing three books that are now in the public domain, curating them with contemporary writing and illustration:


       After London

The Clock That Went Backward

The Clock That Went Backward

Star Rover

          Star Rover


Every now and then you stumble across something that takes stirs your imagination and this is an exciting project which had done that for me.

There is more detailed information about these books on their page  CLICK HERE to read to take you to the project to find out more.

Review: Corpalism | Arun D. Ellis


A book that gives you the feeling you have gained a degree by reading it!    I give it ☆☆☆☆

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 850 KB
  • Print Length: 778 page
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007PJJE2O

Available from Amazon UK


What’s it about? 

The worst you can imagine about how society is run and its demise. Karl Popper eat your heart out. Dystopia, or is it a reflection of where our society is heading right now.

There are several parts (volumes) to this book which were brilliant in themselves although I feel each would have been served better with their own story to tell as their own book. I don’t think they gel together very well as I got totally confused with Volumes 2 and 3 and how they fitted in.

Goodreads synopsis:

The story of how the 1% are stealing the world Corpalism is a dark and exciting exploration of a dystopian future wrought by unchecked corporate greed.

The book is in five parts; the timeline moves back and forth 20 years, using inter connected characters and storylines. Situational humour serves to lighten the mood and the characters range from the cynically evil, through the surprisingly likeable to the positively evangelical.

The first part is based in an economically dystopian future, a fast-paced thriller that moves in a believable way between fact and fiction, the second part plunges the unsuspecting reader into the distressed mind of Stephanie White a political activist from the new Independent party and victim of the latest terror atrocity locked in a coma fighting a trivial persona her mother has imposed upon her through years of brainwashing, whilst the third has several characters, including Stephanie and Donald from the previous volumes, in a pub arguing various topics from various points of view; the reader being left to decide which is valid. Part four brings all the threads together and the final part is set 20 years in the past.

A unique experience – a page turner with a message.


My review:

So, we start with organised anarchy in the boro’s (the ghettos of unemployed and dissident people) where millions live outside of the wealthy cities.

There is a detailed breakdown of how the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, and how those in-between become so debt ridden they are stuck in the middle forever.

But wait..the more the structure of society is explained the more complex and convoluted it becomes. Throw in the fact that someone is double crossing someone who is double crossing someone else who is…you get the picture, and you are well on your way to understanding society, economics, and politics but not a lot else.

Volume 1; Terry gets sent to the boro as punishment for tardiness at work, but all is not what it seems. Anarchy is provoked to mobilise the millions to rise up against the system.

Volume 2, totally threw me..was I still reading the same novel, is it a book of short stories? Delores returns after 40 days and 40 nights having no idea she was missing and starts spouting on about the unfair justice of the structure of society at every opportunity she gets. So, the theme is the same the characters are not. Is she mad like they all think she is, or is she correct in what she is saying? What did happen to her?

By now I have completely forgotten about Terry and Volume 1, but am totally immersed in Delores and Volume 2 when it ends.

Volume 3 and we were in a pub all dressed in fancy dress discussing, guess what? Yes, society and the individual. Throw in some history and religion and here we go again.

And so it goes on.

Did I like it?

I love the sharp wit in the narrative of this book which makes it well worth reading. It is a bit like being at University and sitting round in the refectory over burger, chips and coke discussing life, economics, politics and how society is driven by greed alone, and feeling very grown up.

It is quite simply brilliant, encompassing all of the following:

New world order
Macro society managed by micro people

“…thats what they have achieved in their crazy desire to own all of the money. It’s insane, they are insane…they are economic psychopaths.”

Conspiracy theories
Crime and kidnap
Property law
sexual orientation / monogamy
terrorism threats 7/7, 9/11
Cold war: Russians and Middle east
world economics, third world slavery, politics and philosophy
The Church, Religious history, political morality
religious vs society control

“ ‘…every other species is born free and lives free. We humans are born into economic slavery and life crippling dept.”

Royalty and ruling classes
Inequality, sexism and feminism
Talent shows (with Sam Cowbell HAHA!) and facebook
Gods vs evolution
World history class domination
Football and teamwork ruining creativity:

“…who can only play ‘pass and go’ football which is what we’ve got today, its all just ‘pass and go’, in tight triangles. “

People: gays, transexuals, pretty, plain, fat, thin, white, black, super heroes, victims, Muslims, Christians, Jews

It is funny and brilliantly thought out and explained but by Volume 3 I was all lectured out and my brain was fried.

Coming up to an election in the UK this makes a great read…
Q. who would I vote for after reading it?
A. No point in voting society is following a path to becoming doomed already.

Now for the bombshell…..I just couldn’t finish reading the last part of the book because Ellis’ brilliance overwhelmed me and it just got too much. I still give it 4 stars.

Review: Remember Me Like This | Bret Anthony Johnston


This is probably the heaviest novel I have read for a long time.   It is a deep analysis into what the kidnap of a child does to every member of a family and when that child is found and home again. How nothing can be the same, how they struggle to cope with how to be normal, how to continue. There is no fast action, no end goal in sight for the family, because nothing can ever be the same again.

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 648 KB
  • Print Length: 385 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1400062128
  • Publisher: Two Roads (22 May 2014)

Available from:  Amazon UK,   Amazon US,  Barnes & Noble


Four years have passed since Justin Campbell’s disappearance, a tragedy that rocked the small town of Southport, Texas. Did he run away? Was he kidnapped? Did he drown in the bay? As the Campbells search for answers, they struggle to hold what’s left of their family together.
Then, one afternoon, the impossible happens. The police call to report that Justin has been found only miles away, in the neighboring town, and, most important, he appears to be fine. Though the reunion is a miracle, Justin’s homecoming exposes the deep rifts that have diminished his family, the wounds they all carry that may never fully heal. Trying to return to normal, his parents do their best to ease Justin back into his old life. But as thick summer heat takes hold, violent storms churn in the Gulf and in the Campbells’ hearts. When a reversal of fortune lays bare the family’s greatest fears—and offers perhaps the only hope for recovery—each of them must fight to keep the ties that bind them from permanently tearing apart. 

How does this change someone, change a family. What small intimacies between parents and children become uncertainties of acceptance and truth.

The brutal reality of how families fall apart in a sea of sudden uncertainty of parenthood. How each person deals with the trauma in their own way. How it impacts on their relationships both inside and outside of the family, and then again when Justin is home again after 5 years, how they have no idea how to begin again, and have to learn how to be a family all over again, but with the knowledge of what has happened to Justin.

I struggled reading this book because it is so heavy I could feel it dragging me down with it. However, that is the mark of how a good writer can make you feel a story and not just read it.

What makes it different?
It is written so beautifully and insightful. It is not a story of the kidnap and search, but of what how it impacts on personal lives day after day. When doors close it offers a reminder of how families live with the trauma of a missing child. After that child is brought home, this is an account of the trauma starting over again in a way that is heartbreaking. There is a tenderness that will touch every parent who reads it.

What did I like best?
I love the descriptions that convey the pain of coping in their world, which feels so real you are afraid it has to be true.

Eric, Justin’s father describes his pain:
“How often in the last four years had he almost knocked? [Justin’s bedroom door] Then, when his thoughts fitted themselves to reality, he felt cored out and drugged, groping awkwardly through his days as if he’d lost a limb in an accident, an arm or leg whose weight he still anticipated. He recognised its absence, and yet he could still feel the arteries as they dilated, the nerves as they burned.

Johnston describes how each member of the family cope in their own way beautifully, so that you have a real sense of how they move through their days in their own way. Laura throws herself into an anonymity of volunteering at a Dolphin research place, Griff his brother disappears into his own anonymity of being the brother left behind, and Eric his father has an affair. But each feels responsible for Justin’s disappearance.

What was not so good for me?
Because of the ‘heaviness’ of the writing, I almost lost the will to live and nearly gave up reading! It has a feeling of being one long pain driven account of despair when a child is kidnapped, which is most likely true, but to read it in a novel can be very depressing.
It is stunningly accurate in its emotional account of how a family falls apart coping when a child is kidnapped and found five years later. I had to keep reading to find what the conclusion was.

Many thanks to the publisher for a copy for my honest review

Review: The Winter Foundlings | Kate Rhodes


Now here is an author I could read again and again. This psychological thriller had me riveted from start to finish so much so I read it in a day!

☆☆☆☆☆ from me for this brilliant novel

  • Kindle Edition ISBN 987 1 444 73885 8
  • Paperback  ISBN 987 1 444 73884 1
  • File Size: 629 KB
  • Print Length: 351 pages
  • Publisher: Mulholland Books (14 Aug. 2014)
  • Available to buy at:  Amazon UK,  Amazon US and other stores


Whats it about?

Young girls are being snatched off the streets and their bodies turn up sometime later all dressed in white victorian nightdresses similar to the ones in the Foundlings Hospital Museum.

There is nothing for the police to go on to find the killer, and so psychologist Alice Quentin is asked to help find something they can start with.

(Goodreads) Synopsis: Four girls have disappeared in North London. Three are already dead. Britain’s most prolific child killer, Louis Kinsella, has been locked up in Northwood high-security hospital for over a decade. Now more innocents are being slaughtered, and they all have a connection to his earlier crimes. Psychologist Alice Quentin is doing research at Northwood. She was hoping for a break from her hectic London life, but she’ll do anything to help save a child – even if it means forming a relationship with a charismatic, ruthless murderer. But Kinsella is slow to give away his secrets, and time is running out for the latest kidnap victim, who is simply trying to survive.

Told between Alice’s point of view and one of the young victim’s telling her own story which is distinguished by using a different font, it is a powerful touch with some powerful words:

It’s his stare that frightens her, his eyes wide and comfortless. She resorts to the method that always works best, twisting her mouth into its biggest smile.

Arriving at the Laurels psychiatric prison for the criminally insane to start some research, she is searched and here Rhodes gives us a lighthearted explanation of the seriousness of being there.

The smaller woman ave me an apologetic look before turning my handbag upside down and sharing it vigorously.
……..’’You wouldn’t believe the stuff people try and take inside. Drugs, flick knives, you name it.”
I processed the idea while she searched my belongings. It was hard to imagine anyone bringing weapons into a building packed with psychopaths, unless they had a death wish themselves.

Then she begins a nightmare relationship with the notorious child murderer Kinsella, whose work is being copied or directed(?) by him with these murders and it seems that everyone around him is a suspect.

Somehow Rhodes manages to bring a sense of genuine evilness in Kinsella with such small pieces of conversations, I just shuddered with horror as he meets with Alice.

Each of the characters have such a depth to them, the staff of capable professionals with seemingly damage in their pasts which you get to know throughout the novel.

Of course I did my usual, ‘he’s the one, no maybe its woman, no maybe all of them!’ but the intrigue is that all of them showed something that all was not as it seems.

The draw and fascination of such a vile serial killer was totally evident in the writing, and who hasn’t been drawn into a real life news item that both fascinates, horrifies and disgusts at the same time? Rhodes shows us the need to try and understand how people can carry out such terrible deeds and the need to stop it happening.

I love the pace of the book, steady yet thrilling. As the investigation is struggling to come up with anything concrete the victims’ point of view reminds me of how little time could be left for this child. Such clever and knowing observations about people makes this book an intelligent read. I like the way comments’ are revisited so that every line written has meaning.

There is so much more to this novel than a crime thriller. This is as much about Alice’s own story as we learn about her family and relationships which all blend nicely together. I liked Alice and wanted so much for her to find a relationship that mattered.

The Foundlings Hospital museum reminds us of our history in relations to caring for orphans and this is summed up compassionately by Rhodes with her description of what Alice sees in the exhibits:

I stared at the rows of tokens, neatly labelled and dated. There were buttons, matchboxes, and pincushions, but the one that touched me most deeply was a scrap of red fabric, cut in the shape of a heart. Every mother must have dreamed that her luck would change, and one day she could return to collect her child. I felt sure the killer had stood exactly where I was standing now.

Far from being all doom and gloom Rhodes brings us back with some lighter characters and moments that stopped me from feeling all doom and gloom as I read. I love the description of the snow filled scene she describes:

So far the cottage had resisted every attempt to raise its temperature, but when I pulled back the curtains, I stopped caring. Edgemoor Woods had turned into the perfect Christmas card, the sky an empty shimmer of blue, lines of fresh snow balanced on the branches of conifer trees

I absolutely loved this book.
Many thanks to the publisher for a paperback copy in return for my honest review.