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Friday, 25 September 2009

Molly's Millions

by Victoria Connelly

Molly’s Millions is Victoria Connelly’s fourth book, and even though one of her books has already been made into a film, this is her first book to be published in the UK.

The bright pink cover is the first thing that attracts with this book. The second is the beginning of the first chapter where you’ll be drawn into a fun, fast-paced romantic comedy that leaves you with a smile on your face and a feeling that although Molly makes choices that we might not automatically make, they were definitely the right ones.

When hard up Molly Bailey wins £4.2 million in the lottery, rather than go on a mad spending spree, she packs up her terrier pup, Fizz into her ancient yellow Beetle and sets off on a road trip. With few plans, an unsuspecting miserly family who she knows would be horrified by her actions and would want to stop her giving away her money at all costs, and a determined journalist chasing her, she has to use her wits if she is to stay one step ahead of them.

Intent on being the one to discover the next big story, Tom Mackenzie has a companion of his own when his ten-year-old daughter is left with him by her mother. He becomes absorbed by Molly’s motives behind her generosity and, helped by tip-offs and grateful benefactors, manages to stick to her trail.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this wonderful book and can imagine it would make an excellent film too.

Reviewed by Debs Carr

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

The Sleeping Doll

by Jeffery Deaver

The Sleeping Doll is a crime thriller, the first one featuring Special Agent Kathryn Dance, whose speciality is interviewing suspects and using kinesics to read their body language. Anyone who's seen the TV series Lie To Me with Tim Roth will know the sort of thing I'm talking about.
I found this to be a fascinating new approach to crime fiction - new to me, anyway. The plot, as I've now come to expect with this author, was very tight and had plenty of unexpected twists and turns. You do expect there to be some twists, but you'll never second guess what they are.
Despite the engaging plot and story development, I found the overall pace to be a bit slow. This was particularly noticeable near the beginning, once the excitement of the initial events wore off (I won't spoil it by saying what happens). Later on it picks up and then accelerates even further towards the end. This more than made up for the earlier dip.
Although the book is subtitled "Introducing Kathryn Dance", Deaver fans will have met her once before in The Cold Moon, one of the Lincoln Rhyme novels. Rhyme makes a brief cameo in The Sleeping Doll as well.
That said, The Sleeping Doll feels like a spin-off and slightly inferior to the Rhyme series. Perhaps, given time, the Dance series will gain the same status. A disappointment for me, and it's a relatively small one, was that the supporting cast seem rather two-dimensional compared with the well-developed main characters. The principal criminal, Daniel Pell, was particularly well drawn. A very nasty piece of work but scarily believable!

Reviewed by Captain Black

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Book news - Man Booker Prize

The shortlist for the Man Booker prize 2009 has just been announced:

The Children's Book - A.S. Byatt
Summertime - J. M. Coetzee
The Quickening Maze - Adam Foulds
Wolf Hall - Hilary Mantel
The Glass Room - Simon Mawer
The Little Stranger - Sarah Waters

More details can be found here.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Cut Short

By Leigh Russell

This is my kind of book; intelligently written, gripping crime fiction.

The crime, and its detection, are at the heart of the story, but rather than just being plot-driven, the novel is also notable for its large cast of well-drawn characters.

The intricacy of the plot relies on a delicate placing of events and characters. Nothing is wasted and nothing feels out of place.

There is an extra something – almost undefinable – that lifts Cut Short above the run of the mill. In particular, it has a clever and unexpected extra plot strand which leads to a genuine surprise at the end when it is eventually revealed. This lifts it above the ordinary and makes the story both poignant and haunting, providing a truly memorable read.

This novel also has great atmosphere and sense of place. The reader really gets to know the place where it is set and that knowledge adds depth to the plot. It really matters to the protagonists where certain events happen – and so it matters to the reader as well.

The characters do not exist just to further the plot, but are vividly painted and memorable. The young girls who become victims are not just victims – they are real people with reasons to be grieved. DI Geraldine Steel is a gripping main character who increases the reader’s empathy and interest in the plot. I also really enjoyed the skilfully created character of DCI Kathryn Gordon and the realistic interaction between Geraldine and other members of the investigating team.

I’m sure that, like me, you will enjoy Cut Short and look forward to Leigh Russell’s forthcoming books Road Closed and Dead End.

Reviewed by Helen M Hunt