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Wednesday, 25 April 2018

‘Too Close to Breathe’ by Olivia Kiernan


Published by Riverrun Books. 
5 April 2018.
ISBN: 978-1-78648-986-9(HB).
ISBN: 978-1-78648-987-6(PB).

A distinguished microbiologist and part-time lecturer is found hanged at her home, and all the evidence points to her having killed herself. Detective Chief Superintendent Frankie Sheehan, just returned to work after nearly dying from a knife attack that left her mentally and physically scarred, is assigned to the case. She quickly comes to the conclusion that scientist Eleanor Costello was murdered.

And so, Frankie and her team begin an investigation that takes them to the dark and seedy heart of Dublin, and more than one dead body will be left in the murderer’s shadow.

I thought Too Close To Breathe, the debut novel from Olivia Kiernan, was simply fabulous. Reminiscent of one of my favourite authors, Tana French, it had whip-smart dialogue, intricate plotting, on the money characterisation and beautiful writing – not a wasted word. I loved that Frankie Sheehan was a strong, more than capable protagonist with the requisite flaws who did not need a romance to define her.

It has to be said that the novel may not be for the faint-hearted, dealing as it does with suicide, abuse, BDSM and the Dark Web, But I feel Olivia Kiernan handles all the themes deftly and with sensitivity.

This cleverly plotted police procedural with its well-drawn together threads is the start of a new series and one of the best I have read in a long time. A gripping and accomplished first novel – I recommend it highly!
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Reviewer: Mary-Jane Riley

Olivia Kiernan is an Irish writer living in the UK and author of crime thriller, TOO CLOSE TO BREATHE. She was born and raised in County Meath, near the famed heritage town of Kells and holds an MA in Creative Writing awarded by the University of Sussex.





Mary-Jane Riley wrote her first story on her newly acquired blue Petite typewriter, when she was eight. When she grew up she had to earn a living and became a BBC radio talk show presenter and journalist. She has covered many life-affirming stories, but also some of the darkest events of the past two decades. Then, in true journalistic style, she decided not to let the facts get in the way of a good story and got creative. She wrote for women's magazines and small presses. She formed WriteOutLoud with two writer friends to help charities get their message across using their life stories. Now she is writing crime thrillers drawing on her experiences in journalism. Her third book, set in East Anglia and featuring investigative journalist Alex.  Dark Waters, was published by Harper Collins/Killer Reads in March 2018.





Tuesday, 24 April 2018

‘Odd Child Out’ by Gilly Macmillan


Published by Sphere,
5 April 2018.
ISBN: 978-0-349-41292-4(PB)

Gilly Macmillan returns after Burnt Paper Sky (also known as What She Knew) and The Perfect Child with a fabulous multi-layered thriller, Odd Child Out. We meet Inspector Jim Clemo again (he was in Gilly Macmillan’s first book but not her second), having undergone counselling, but is now back on duty and assigned to a low-priority case.

It involves two 15-year-old boys who are both friends and outcasts: Noah, white and privileged and struggling with cancer, and Abdi, a Somali refugee in Britain after his family spent many years in a refugee camp. The boys are involved in an accident at a canal that leaves Noah in a coma and Abdi too traumatised to talk.

Set against a Bristol backdrop and in the wake of an anti-immigration march, Gilly Macmillan handles themes of family relationships, friendship, love, loss and secrets with sensitivity and compassion. There are also topical themes of refugees, how life in developing countries is portrayed by the media, and terminal illness in children that all add layers to the story.

There is a mix of first-person and third-person narrative from the points of view of Noah and his family, Abdi and his family and Jim Clemo which I found engaging and effective. Gilly Macmillan never relies on stereotypes, her characters are always flawed and multi-faceted, and with her beautiful prose she slowly unravels the story.

The novel has a really interesting structure and a timely, believable plot that twists and turns at great rate.

Odd Child Out is an interesting and wonderful read and something different to many of the police procedurals on the market at the moment. I heartily recommend it.
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Reviewer: Mary-Jane Riley     

Gilly Macmillan grew up in Swindon, Wiltshire and lived in Northern California in her late teens. She studied art history and worked at The Burlington Magazine and the Hayward Gallery in London before starting a family. Since then, she's worked as a photography teacher but now, very happily, writes full time. She lives in Bristol.         







Mary-Jane Riley wrote her first story on her newly acquired blue Petite typewriter, when she was eight. When she grew up she had to earn a living and became a BBC radio talk show presenter and journalist. She has covered many life-affirming stories, but also some of the darkest events of the past two decades. Then, in true journalistic style, she decided not to let the facts get in the way of a good story and got creative. She wrote for women's magazines and small presses. She formed WriteOutLoud with two writer friends to help charities get their message across using their life stories. Now she is writing crime thrillers drawing on her experiences in journalism. Her third book, set in East Anglia and featuring investigative journalist Alex.  Dark Waters, was published by Harper Collins/Killer Reads in March 2018.



Monday, 23 April 2018

‘Grist Mill Road’ by Christopher J. Yates


Published by Picador,
9 January 2018.
ISBN 978-1-2501-5028-8 (HB)

From the publisher:  1982:  In an Edenic hamlet some ninety miles north of New York City, among craggy rock cliffs and glacial ponds of timeworn mountains, three teenage friends - - Patrick, Matthew, and Hannah - - are bound together by a terrible crime.  2008:   In New York City, living lives their younger selves never could have predicted, the three meet again - - with even more devastating results.  What really happened in those woods twenty-six years ago?

The answer to that question is not made clear to the reader until very near the end of this novel, in what Patrick calls “the final part of a letter I’ll never send,” followed by the words “August 18, 1982.  The clearing. The truth.”

This is a novel that displays varying emotions, including love, anger, and jealousy, and abusive relationships, in a very affecting manner.    Part I begins from the p.o.v. of Patrick, whose nicknames includes Patch, the name he is most frequently called in these pages.  He is twelve years old as the tale begins, which it does in a forest area, where his friend, Matthew, whose nickname for Patrick is “Tricky,” who on the opening pages is shooting Patrick’s Red Ryder BB gun into a tied-up Hannah, their friend, 49 times, the forty-ninth and final time into and through her eye, leaving her of course blind in that eye but, almost miraculously, alive, her left eye socket looking “like it was housing a dark smashed plum.”  Years later, he thinks back and muses “How did that make me feel, having watched a girl tied to a tree and shot forty-nine times?  Flesh, blood, death.”  Further thinking that “at the time, Matthew just felt like an older brother to me - - even more so than my actual older brother.  I feared him and loved him in equal measure.”

The next chapter takes place in New York, in the year 2008.  Patrick is 38 years old and suddenly jobless.  He is now married to Hannah, who tends to have nightmares from which Patrick calms and soothes her.  They have been married for four years, and Hannah is a crime reporter.  Patrick is a food blogger and a gourmet chef.  The story has twists and turns, with varying chapters told from the p.o.v. of each of our protagonists, whose relationships are complex, to say the least.  This is a tale and characters the reader won’t soon forget, and the novel is recommended.
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Reviewer:  Gloria Feit

Christopher J. Yates was born and raised in Kent and studied law at Oxford University before working as a puzzle editor in London. He now lives in New York City with his wife and dog. Black Chalk was his debut novel.





Ted and Gloria Feit live in Long Beach, NY, a few miles outside New York City.  For 26 years, Gloria was the manager of a medium-sized litigation firm in lower Manhattan. Her husband, Ted, is an attorney and former stock analyst, publicist and writer/editor for, over the years, several daily, weekly and monthly publications.  Having always been avid mystery readers, and since they're now retired, they're able to indulge that passion.  Their reviews appear online as well as in three print publications in the UK and US.  On a more personal note: both having been widowed, Gloria and Ted have five children and nine grandchildren between them.