Run To Me

Title: Run to Mecover22416-medium
Author: Diane Hester
ISBN: 9781742756424
Source: Advance copy from publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: March 1, 2013
Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis:

It’’s been two years since Shyler O’Neil’’s beloved son Jesse was killed –but his final moments are as vivid to her now as they were that dreadful day. Suffering from post-traumatic stress and convinced she did not do enough to protect him, she retreats to an isolated cabin in the woods of northern Maine. Meanwhile, Zack Ballinger –a ten-year-old boy who has never known a mother’’s love – finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. He’’s seen too much and is now running for his life. Fleeing into the woods, Zack soon finds himself at Shyler’’s cabin. He’’ll take whatever help she can give –even though, for some reason, she keeps calling him Jesse . . . With the pursuers hot on their heels, ‘mother’ and ‘son’ go on the run. Protecting Zack may well be Shyler’’s one chance at redemption. Either that, or she is the child’’s greatest threat . . .

My Review:

This is a very well written novel. There is no mystery here but it is suspenseful. The characters are brilliant, especially Shyler. Shyler has been through a lot, the death of her son has scarred her and she has withdrawn from people and reality. Shyler’s character is very well nuanced and Hester does a superb job articulating Shyler’s thoughts and what all goes on in her mind.

Zack is another damaged character due the circumstances he has faced in his short life. Zack has grown up in foster homes and is mature beyond his age, yet there is a small child within him who yearns for a home and mother’s love. So he holds on to Shyler even after knowing that she is a bit unhinged and damaged.

The novel is written from the perspectives of Shyler, Zack and Dr. Chase Hadley. I couldn’t help but smile at that name! While Zack and Shyler are dealing with their own hells, Dr. Hadley is stuck in between them and offers to help. I loved the dialogues between Dr. Hadley and his father. There are parellel stories going on in this novel and yet it all comes together in a suspenseful climax. Do read this one! Highly recommended.

Afterwards

Title: Afterwards
Author: Rosamund Lupton
ISBN13: 9780307716545
Source: Library Copy
Rating: 3 out of 5

Synopsis: When Grace sees the private school engulfed in smoke, where her daughter works, she runs inside to save her daughter, Jenny. Later, she wakes up in a hospital and finds herself staring down at her body. Both she and Jenny are in coma but their spirits freely roam the inside the hospital. The spirits of mother and daughter follow the people they know to find out the person who started the fire to hurt them.

My Review:

I had thoroughly enjoyed Sister and was excited to read Lupton’s second novel, Afterwards. This is a twisted kind of thriller that keeps you interested from the first page. You know from the start that the fire wasn’t an accident and you try to keep guessing who could have possibly done it and what was the motive. What I found most interesting was the concept of this novel – two trapped spirits trying to deduce the mystery behind the fire and possibly an attempted murder.

The hospital building, its halls and gardens offer solace to these spirits and although they can leave the hospital it is very difficult for them to be outside. Grace who narrates all the incidences following the fire gains a whole new perspective about the people in her life when she follows them around the hospital.

After a point though the book became a bit predictable and while it was still interesting, you could make out what the end was going to be. Despite this, I enjoyed Lupton’s writing. The lyrical and mesmerizing ways in which she depicts emotions, situations and people is very captivating. If not for the mystery, then for the narration and plot premise I would suggest read this book.

Kind of Cruel

…by Sophie Hannah.

Amber Hewerdine presents to a hypnotherapist Ginny Saxon. Much against her beliefs. However, it’s the last resort to help with her insomnia. Amber hasn’t had a good night’s sleep since the murder of her best friend Sharon two years ago. Despite her cynical view of her therapist, Amber finds herself drifting and then saying the words “Kind, Cruel, Kind of Cruel“. But what do those words mean? Amber has no idea. A few hours after saying this, Amber is arrested for a murder that occurred a couple of months ago. The murder of Katherine Allen. Amber has no idea who this person is and why those words were found at the crime scene. Nor does she know where she has seen the words before. As Amber sifts through her memories, her life is in danger the closer she gets to uncovering those. It also puts her husband Luke and Sharon’s children Dinah and Nonie who are now in her care in danger.

Could it also put the rest of the family in danger? Including Luke’s brother Neil, his wife Jo and their children?

Is there a connection between the murders of Sharon and Katherine despite the gap of time in between?

Why does Amber continue to be friends with Jo despite not liking her subtle criticisms of Amber?

Why did Jo disappear with her family on Christmas day in 2003? And why does she refuse to talk about it?

So many mysteries, so much to know. All you can do is read the book.

As always, Sophie Hannah keeps you guessing throughout the book. The chapters alternate between third person narratives for the detectives of Spilling, to first person narratives by Amber and the therapist, Ginny. There is a bit of psychobabble which I didn’t enjoy because it’s about hypnotherapy and the importance of feelings over thoughts which personally to me as a psychologist are not very evidence-based. However, she still keeps you intrigued as to whodunit. While you may have suspicions about whodunit, the motives behind them are completely unknown. And yes, while it may sound far-fetched in the end, Sophie Hannah has done her research into some psychological aspects to explain the same. I admire once again how she gets into the heads and psyche of her characters. This is possibly what makes her mysteries even more exciting.

Once again, like her other books, I’d recommend reading this one for a good psychological thriller. I also give it a rating of 3.

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

Lasting Damage

…by Sophie Hannah.

I am going to be killed because of a family called the Gilpatricks.

That’s how the book starts on the 24th of July 2010. We are then taken back to a week earlier with Connie Bowskill the narrator. She lies in bed waiting for her husband Kit Bowskill to fall asleep and then sneaks out to check out a property listing online. While watching the virtual tour of 11 Bentley Grove, Cambridge, Connie sees something. In the living room, in the middle of the carpet is a woman lying face-down in a pool of blood. She rushes to get Kit to view it. But when he does, he sees no dead body. Nothing. Just an ordinary house for sale.  Thus begins a nightmare for Connie. She attempts to get Simon Waterhouse but is dismayed to find that he is away on his honeymoon. She has to make do with Sam Kombothekra. Who listens to her story although he is a bit sceptical. Kit does not believe Connie and thinks she is losing her mind. Until another woman comes forward with the same story. A real estate agent Jackie Napier. But with no dead body, what is it they saw?

Is it someone playing a cruel prank?

Who are the Gilpatricks?

Is Kit having an affair with the woman at 11 Bentley Grove as Connie suspects?

Or is Connie making up the entire thing herself?

To know all these answers, well, you have to read the book. Once again, Sophie Hannah manages to weave a wonderful psychological thriller. She really manages to get into the heads of all her characters and gives them intricate and unique personalities. As for the dysfunction, she’s a master at chalking them out. It was hard for me to have to put down the book while at work in the last day because I was so eager to know what happened next. And Sophie Hannah manages to do that…keep you hooked so much so you don’t want to put it down until you know the answers. I am still constantly stumped by her mysteries and mind you, I can solve most mysteries pretty quickly. If you are looking for an interesting psychological thriller, this is the way to go.

I give it a rating of 3.

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

Ghost Child

…by Caroline Overington.

When 5 year old Jacob Cashman is found unconscious by police and paramedics in a housing commission estate in Melbourne, his single mother and her partner are the suspects. The police don’t believe the mother’s story that a stranger bashed her son when he and his younger brother Harley went to buy her cigarettes. While she and her partner are eventually convicted, rumours still swirl in the neighbourhood about Lauren Cashman, the 6 year old sister, possibly being responsible for Jake’s death. The story narrated by Lauren, Harley, Hayley (another sister, just 18 months at Jake’s death) and other individuals who become part of their lives and the investigation explore the past and the present. The three surviving children are sent to different foster homes through the Department of Community Services and each has their own struggle. Currently, 27 year old Lauren is being hounded by the media in Sydney. Why? What is it that they have found? And did she really have a part to play in the death of her brother?

This is Overington’s debut novel and looks at the child welfare system in the country. The manner in which cases are dealt with in order to tick boxes is very interesting to read, especially for someone who has had their gripes about the same system. Moreover, she looks at issues such as class and the paths we choose. I guess in some way she shows that not everyone who goes through the foster care system ends up being a junkie or a no-good. All of this mixed with some mystery makes an interesting read and one that you could possibly finish in one sitting.

I give it a rating of 4.

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

Note: This has been cross-posted on my personal blog.

I came to say goodbye

…by Caroline Overington.

The book begins with a young woman walking into Sydney Children’s Hospital and taking a baby girl from a ward. That is the prologue. It then moves on to a letter by Med Atley to a judge. He recounts his life in Forster, New South Wales up to the moment where the young woman in the prologue, his daughter, takes the baby. Med recounts how he met and married his ex-wife Pat and had two children, Karen aka Kat and son, Blue. And ten years later, another child. Donna-Faye. A.k.a. Fat. Pat walks out on Med when Fat is merely two years old and consequently, Med raises her on his own. At the same time, Kat, who is intellectually gifted, gets a scholarship to study at a private girls’ school in Sydney for her high school. As Fat becomes a teenager, Med realises how difficult things can get. For one thing, Fat starts to get interested in boys. And worse, she takes up Paul Haines at the age of 15. Ten years her senior. Known for criminal behaviour, drug use and violence since the age of 10, he is nothing short of bad news. At 16 Fat moves in with him and things get worse for Med as she is unable to see the flaws in her partner. It all comes to a head when their first child, Seth is taken away from them due to child protection concerns. Concerns that Fat claims she has no knowledge about.

How does her life spiral to the point in the prologue? 

To know that, you have to read the book. Because if I continue, I could give it all away.

While I was a bit sceptical about the book at the beginning due to the writing style, I realised how wrong I was once the plot and the issues grabbed me. It was one of those books I was unable to put down. You could understand Med’s confusion around his teenage daughter’s rebellion when neither of his older kids had behaved in this manner. You could also understand why Fat would stay in a relationship (if it could be called that) with a man like Haines. There are also comments about how the child protection authorities work in NSW as well as the health system. And for someone who works in the public health system and has to deal with child protection workers, I could totally feel the anger and the angst at the political correctness madness the system can get into. I loved how the story built up…from the present to the past and rejoining the present…all in the form of letters. And it kept you gripped wanting to know more. More about Fat’s past. More about what led her to kidnap this baby. More about who this baby was. It was heart-breaking in some instances as well and will make the reader question the system we live in. For someone who works as part of the system though, it comes as no surprise. Another thing I really enjoyed about the book was the local knowledge. While a lot of the past is set in Forster, the present is in Sydney. And knowing the landmarks and the suburbs has a connected feel to the whole thing. It almost makes the story feel real.

I give it a rating of 5. And I’m heading off to the library to get more of her books.

Blueeyedboy

…by Joanne Harris.

Once there was a widow with three sons, and their names were Black, Brown and Blue. Black was the eldest; moody and aggressive. Brown was the middle child, timid and dull. But Blue was his mother’s favourite. And he was a murderer.

And so begins the journey. The story is mainly narrated by B.B. or Blueeyeddboy on his webjournal badguysrock.com. He writes what he refers to as fic (stories) which are generally about murders but also about his life with his mother and two brothers. His stories though, may just be more than fic. The individuals in the story are real and live around Malbry where our narrator lives. And died in manners eerily similar to what he posts. The question is, did B.B commit the crimes or not? After all, his stories are there for the world to see.

He receives comments from regulars, some of whom he knows in rea life. One of these is referred to as Albertine who is somehow embroiled in his past and now, his present. Who happened to be in a relationship with his now dead brother Nigel. B.B also talks about his childhood. And most importantly about their mother. Gloria Green. Who pummelled them and punched them and broke their bones if they did not do as she asked.

This was my very first book by the author. I found it interesting and yet, disturbing at the same time. While the concept seemed like an unusual one, there were parts when I was bored and other parts when I was just confused. There is a major twist three-quarters of the way through that I did not see coming but I had to re-read a couple of things as a result of it. Personally, I am not a fan of glorified murderers and reading the webjournal entries made me feel a tad sick. I didn’t think abuse was a reasonable justification. Also, I didn’t connect with most characters except perhaps when the boys were young and getting beaten up by their mum.

All in all, it is a decent mystery but not necessarily one to rave on about. It’s a whopping 500 odd pages and possibly could have been shorter. It hasn’t completely deterred me from reading other books by the author except I may borrow them rather than buy.

I give this book a rating of 3.

Until next time,

Cheers!!!