A lovely review of The Memory from Lynne Patrick, member of Promoting Crime Fiction #PromotingCrimeFiction #MysteryPeople #TuesdayBoolBlog

Published by Honno Welsh Women’s Press,
19 March 2020.
ISBN: 978-1-91290513-2 (PB)

Euthanasia is the greyest of grey areas in criminal terms, especially when the person on the receiving end is incapable of making such an irreversible decision. For thirty years Irene has lived with the memory of her mother Lilian standing at her sister’s bedside holding a pillow. No one has ever talked about it, but it has stood between mother and daughter ever since, a dark shadow that made an already fraught relationship almost unbearable 

And now Irene and Lilian are inextricably bound by the cruellest of fates. Lilian is in the most demanding phase of dementia, and before the disease took hold she refused point-blank to give Irene power of attorney. They are joint owners of the house they live in, Irene’s childhood home, but with no control over her mother’s financial affairs she cannot sell it to pay for Lilian’s care and has to do everything herself. Through a nightmare twenty-four hours, during which Lilian’s demands become increasingly challenging, memories flood into Irene’s mind and she relives the childhood that led to that appalling moment and the frustrated adulthood that followed. 

Rose, the dead sister, was a Downs baby, and Lilian rejected her from the outset. Irene, on the other hand, fell in love. Her adoration of her small sister, and the motherly care she lavishes on her is portrayed in almost tear-jerking detail, as is Rose’s affectionate nature, a common feature among Downs children. Irene is not without support, even after her father, who loves Rose but cannot deal with Lilian, leaves to set up home with another woman. There’s Sam, her childhood friend and later sweetheart, and Nanna, who willingly takes on the burden of the household. The network of complex relationships and all their ups and downs form the foundation of the novel.  

Whether The Memory is a crime novel in any conventional sense is open to conjecture. As a perfectly observed account of the last stages of dementia, and a picture of a family riven and distorted by both tragedy and great love, it is a masterclass. But it is also as meticulously and tautly structured as any psychological thriller. As well as vividly drawn characters and a rich sense of place, there are edge-of-the-seat moments of tension, and a twist at the end that I would never have predicted, obvious though it was the moment it was revealed.

Judith Barrow has taken two emotionally charged situations and woven them into a heart-wrenching story which had me close to tears more than once. Long before the end I had stopped caring whether it qualified as crime. I simply didn’t want to stop reading.

Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Buying Links:

Honno: https://bit.ly/3b2xRSn

Amazon.co.uk: https://amzn.to/3qEbVnM

Amazon.com: https://amzn.to/3k8DIMO

Judith Barrow originally from Saddleworth, a group of villages on the edge of the Pennines, has lived in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for over forty years. She has an MA in Creative Writing with the University of Wales Trinity St David’s College, Carmarthen. BA (Hons) in Literature with the Open University, a Diploma in Drama from Swansea University. She is a Creative Writing tutor for Pembrokeshire County Council and holds private one to one workshops on all genres.

https://judithbarrowblog.com

Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives in Oxfordshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

https://promotingcrime.blogspot.com/2021/09/the-memory-by-judith-barrow.html?showComment=1631538885937#c1304619422469911346

Promoting Crime Fiction

My photo
UK-based Mystery People, set up in February 2012, was founded by Lizzie Hayes following the discontinuation of the Mystery Women group.
Mystery People is dedicated to the promotion of crime fiction and in particular to new authors.
But this is not just a writers’ group, for without readers what would writers do?
Lizzie says…
“From an early age I have been a lover of crime fiction. Discovering like minded people at my first crime conference at St Hilda’s Oxford in 1997, I was delighted when asked to join a new group for the promotion of female crime writers. In 1998 I took over the running of the group, which I did for the next thirteen years. During that time I organised countless events promoting crime writers and in particular new writers. But apart from the sheer joy of reading, ‘I actually love books, not just the writing, the plot or the characters, but the sheer joy of holding a book has never abated for me. The greatest gift of my life has been the ability to read.”
As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion. Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction. New reviews are posted daily, but to search for earlier reviews please click on the Mystery People link below and select ‘reviews’ from the welcome page. This will display an alphabetic option for you to find the review you would like to read
:

https://promotingcrime.blogspot.com/2021/09/the-memory-by-judith-barrow.html?showComment=1631538885937#c1304619422469911346

There is Still Crime!Wilderness by B.E Jones. #Review #crime #WeekendReads


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THE WELSH CRIME WRITING COLLECTIVE

Crime Cymru has three main aims.
– To support crime writers with a real and present relationship with Wales
– To help in the development of new writing talent
– To promote Wales, Welsh culture and Welsh crime writing in particular, to the wider world
.

2020, a year that brought us Covid 19, months during which many brilliant books have been produced but have struggled to be found by readers. Here is the list of books by our authors that have arrived this year or are in the pipeline: https://bit.ly/2Q2rqpA. I have read quite a few of them but have been remiss in writing reviews, so have set myself the task of catching up over the next few weeks

My fourth review is of Wilderness by B.E Jones.2020 saw its publication in paperback (already available as e-book and audio).

Book Description:

Two weeks, 1500 miles and three opportunities for her husband to save his own life. It isn’t about his survival – it’s about hers.
Shattered by the discovery of her husband’s affair, Liv knows they need to leave the chaos of New York to try and save their marriage. Maybe the road trip they’d always planned, exploring America’s national parks – just the two of them – would help heal the wounds.
But what Liv hasn’t told her husband is that she has set him three challenges on their trip – three opportunities to prove he’s really sorry and worthy of her forgiveness.
If he fails? Well, it’s dangerous out there. There are so many ways to die in the wilderness; accidents happen all the time.

And if it’s easy to die, then it’s also easy to kill.

My review:

I read Wilderness quite a while ago and it’s a book that has lingered in my mind for all this time.

I try not to give spoilers in my reviews (and, here, the book description gives a quick run-down of the story anyway) so I tend to concentrate on what I liked about the make up of a book and the writing style of the author. And I have to say I loved B. E. Jones’ masterful command and stylish portrayal of the English language. This is a skilfully crafted psychological thriller; a story of juxtaposed timelines that, as a reader, swayed me one way and another in empathy with the main characters. Liv and Will, both rounded, both meticulously developed as the plot unfolds. And supported by a cast of well drawn minor characters.

As the protagonist, Liv tells the story. But from the start it is obvious that she is an unreliable narrator. Her judgement is flawed and erratic; she is ruled by self-doubt and mistrust of others, by her anger and hurt. Although portrayed as a meticulous planner of the journey, her reactions to the unexpected sometimes give the story an unexpected slant.

Both the internal and spoken dialogue is well written and adds to the layers of all the characters.There is never any ambiguity as to who is speaking. And there is no ‘head hopping’ from minor characters (a pet hate of mine).

The descriptions of the settings bring each to life. From the immense skyscrapers and crowded streets of New York, where it is possible to feel both excluded and at one with the city, to the evocative images of America’s national parks that are the background of so much of the action on the road trip, the author manages to draw the reader into each scene. The sensation of being alongside Liz and Will travelling through so many remote areas and also having access to her thoughts and deliberations adds to the tension.

Wilderness is one of the best psychological thrillers I have read in a long time. Threaded throughout the plot are themes that reveal the characters’ strengths and weaknesses: love and hate, rage and revenge, betrayal and forgiveness. Packaged inside the powerful writing style of B E Jones, I have no hesitation in recommending Wilderness to any reader who enjoys a gripping, character-driven crime novel.

About the Author:

Beverley Jones is a former journalist and police press officer, now a novelist and general book obsessive. Bev was born in a small village in the South Wales valleys, north of Cardiff. She started her journalism career with Trinity Mirror newspapers, writing stories for The Rhondda Leader and The Western Mail, before becoming a broadcast journalist with BBC Wales Today TV news, based in Cardiff. She has worked on all aspects of crime reporting (as well as community news and features) producing stories and content for newspapers and live TV. Most recently Bev worked as a press officer for South Wales Police, dealing with the media and participating in criminal investigations, security operations and emergency planning. Perhaps unsurprisingly she channels these experiences of ‘true crime,’ and her insight into the murkier side of human nature, into her dark, psychological thrillers set in and around South Wales. Her latest novel, Where She Went, is published by Little Brown under the name BE Jones.
Visit Bev’s website at bevjoneswriting.co.uk, chat with her on Goodreads.co.uk under B E Jones or Beverley Jones and on Twitter @bevjoneswriting

Bev is represented by The Ampersand Agency.

There is Still Crime! My Review of City of Good Death (The Catalan Crime Thrillers Book 1) by Chris Lloyd. With a Mention of Chris Lloyd’s Latest Book, The Unwanted Dead #TuesdayBookBlog #CrimeCymru

There is Still Crime!

Crime Cymru has three main aims.
– To support crime writers with a real and present relationship with Wales
– To help in the development of new writing talent
– To promote Wales, Welsh culture and Welsh crime writing in particular, to the wider world
.

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Book Description:

A page-turning crime thriller set in Catalonia.

killer is targeting figures of corruption in the Catalan city of Girona, with each corpse posed in a way whose meaning no one can fathom

Elisenda Domènech, the head of Girona’s newly-formed Serious Crime Unit, believes the attacker is drawing on the city’s legends to choose his targets, but soon finds her investigation is blocked at every turn.

Battling against the press, the public and even her colleagues, she is forced to question her own values. When the attacks start to include less deserving victims, however, the pressure is suddenly on Elisenda to stop him.

A gripping series sure to appeal to readers of Val McDermid and the Inspector Montalbano novels

My Review:

I really enjoyed City of Good Death. Chris Lloyd has an easy writing style and, although both Girona and its history and legends of Catalonia were unknown to me it didn’t detract from what is a a clever and intricate plot, It’s also an astute study in human nature, where evil deeds are seen as retribution and values are twisted to justify immoral acts.

The author was recommended to me and I chose this book knowing that it is the first of a series. I was anxious to see if I could relate to the main characters before I carried on with the others. I needn’t have worried; the characters are well rounded and distinguishable despite the names and ranks being unfamiliar (though I must admit that, at first, I needed to go back once or twice to make sure I knew who I was reading about. But that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book).The protagonist, Elisenda Domenech, the law-enforcement officer leading the investigations, is portrayed as a lonely, yet self sufficient woman. Her background and that of her family are, as yet, to be explored more thoroughly in the next books, I surmise. Nevertheless she is a character with whom one can empathise.

The dialogue is good, with those idiosyncrasies and turns of phrase a reader would expect of a book set in a different country with a mixture of languages.

But it is the descriptions of the settings, especially those of the legendary clues, that give the story so many levels. It is obvious that the author both knows Girona and has extensively researched the country in both its historical and contemporary eras.

As the book description says this is a page turner. Any readers who enjoys a crime thriller in an interesting setting, with characters that evolve as the story progresses, will enjoy City of Good Death as much as I did. Recommended.

Links to buy City of Good Death:

Amazon.co.uk: https://amzn.to/3kgJ6ux

Amazon.com: https://amzn.to/3ip8RZ4

I’d also like to mention Chris latest book, which comes out in Sep 2020 and which I’m really looking forward to reading.

The Unwanted Dead by [Chris Lloyd]

Book Description of The Unwanted Dead 

Paris, Friday 14th June 1940.
The day the Nazis march into Paris. It made headlines around the globe.

Paris police detective Eddie Giral – a survivor of the last World War – watches helplessly on as his world changes forever.

But there is something he still has control over. Finding whoever is responsible for the murder of four refugees. The unwanted dead, who no one wants to claim.

To do so, he must tread carefully between the Occupation and the Resistance, between truth and lies, between the man he is and the man he was.

All the while becoming whoever he must be to survive in this new and terrible order descending on his home.

Links to buy The Unwanted Dead :

Amazon.co.uk: https://amzn.to/3mnLUI4

Amazon.com https://amzn.to/2FuSWdp

About the Author:

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Straight after graduating in Spanish and French, Chris Lloyd hopped on a bus from Cardiff to Catalonia and stayed there for over twenty years, falling in love with the people, the country, the language and Barcelona Football Club, probably in that order. Besides Catalonia, he’s also lived in the Basque Country and Madrid, teaching English, travel writing for Rough Guides and translating. He now lives in South Wales, where he works as a Catalan and Spanish translator, and returns to Catalonia as often as he can.
He writes the Elisenda Domènech crime series, featuring a police officer with the newly-devolved Catalan police force in the beautiful city of Girona
.

Review: The Black and the White, by Alis Hawkins

There is Still Crime!The Black And The White by Alis Hawkins #TuesdayBookBlog

Posted on 

THE WELSH CRIME WRITING COLLECTIVE

Crime Cymru has three main aims.
– To support crime writers with a real and present relationship with Wales
– To help in the development of new writing talent
– To promote Wales, Welsh culture and Welsh crime writing in particular, to the wider world
.

My second review is of The Black And The White by Alis Hawkins

Book Description:

Far from home, in the middle of a frozen and snowy night, a stranger saves Martin Collyer’s life. But is he a good man or a callous opportunist?
A difficult question to answer at the best of times but this isn’t the best of times. It’s the winter of 1349 and England is in the grip of a plague which may herald the end of the world.
Martin has left his home in the Forest of Dean to travel the breadth of England, to Salster, to save his father’s soul. But he is not travelling quite alone. Though no mortal walks with him, Martin has a troublingly lifelike statue of his father’s patron saint under a blanket in his cart.
Does his rescuer, Hob Cleve, know about the saint’s miraculous image? Has he been watching, waiting for his chance? Or is he what he seems, a runaway determined to make a better life for himself?
As Martin and Hob travel through a plague-blighted landscape, sudden death is never far away. Will Martin and Hob find Saint Cynryth’s shrine at Salster or will her cult prove to be nothing more than a tale told by a peddler? Will they enter the city as heroes and saint-bearers or as discredited charlatans?
Will both of them arrive at all?

My Review:

 I have long admired Alis Hawkin’s writing style. I first came across her work when I read None So Blind (The Teifi Valley Coroner Series), my review here,   https://amzn.to/2YQ84J2, and, although The Black And The White is a completely different read, nevertheless it is just as absorbing.

The Black And The White is what I call a slow burner; it took me a while to get into the story. But this didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the reading of it. As always Alis Hawking’s research into creating a world for her characters is impeccable; this truly is fourteenth century England, torn apart by plague, stifled by religion and ruled by those who control; through the ministry of the church and those who own land. The author’s  attention to the smallest detail fills the pages, both before and after the main protagonist, Martin Collyer, begins his slow and dangerous pilgrimage from the Forest of Dean to  Salster.

 Told from the first person point of view of Martin Collyer, the internal dialogue reveals his character.His gratitude that he has overcome the plague juxtaposes his fear that his father has died without confession of his sin, without absolution, and his certainty in Saint Cynryth’s ability (the statue he carries with him),to save his father’s soul. The whole thread of the story is his determination to place the statue in the shrine in the woods outside the town of Salster; the place he believes the saint belongs, where it will do most good for the people who comes to bow before it. The portrayal of his innate goodness and innocent naivety and superstitious innocence, alongside his doubts  and lack of confidence, make him an easy target for evil. The reader is left to puzzle through many pages whether the companion who first rescues him from a violent situation then that joins him on his pilgrimage, Hob Cleve, is a true and caring friend to Martin or a cynical foe.

The descriptions, the details given, of superstition, religion, the charcoal burning, the horse and cart, the clothes, the buildings, all give a brilliant sense of place and era.

 I actually read The Black And The White over two weeks, it was essential for me to read slowly, to take in the atmosphere that pervades the whole story; that of a credulous and mostly illiterate people ruled by a ubiquitous God and yet mostly living on their wits and hard work.

 My only problem, though slight, was the denouement. I wasn’t sure how I thought the book would end. And, as I never give spoilers of any novel I review, I won’t reveal it here. All I can say is that I was surprised (though, on reflection, it was inevitable). I’ll leave that there.

 But, without doubt, I wholeheartedly recommend The Black And The White to any reader who enjoys both historical and crime genres and a good story, well written, that builds in tension throughout.

Buy it from Amazon