Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Every Move You Make

Every Move You Make by Deborah Bee

Paperback, 512 pages

Published 20th August 2020 by Bonnier Books

abuse, adult-fiction, arc-or-review, better-than-expected, books-i-own, crime-thriller-mystery, mental-health, read, read-in-2020, realistic-fiction
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:

He'll be waiting . . .

Clare James turns up at a police station. She says she's been kept prisoner in her home - abused and tortured. Her every move watched, controlled, questioned.

Now she's escaped.

But when they police arrive at her house, everything is in order. Her story doesn't add up and her husband is missing.

Clare says she's the victim, but what if she's not? What if the stories she tells aren't her stories at all . . .

I think I've found my new favourite genre of book this year - the psychological thriller - and this book has definitely helped with confirming my suspicions! I really enjoyed this book from the beginning and continued to do so right until the very end. 

Every Move You Make tells the story of Clare who we're instantly introduced to as she stumbles into a police station after running for her life. Clare claims to have been domestically abused by her partner, Gareth and is placed in a women's refuge whilst an investigation into both the alleged abuse and Gareth's subsequent disappearance begins. This book is an exploration of the complexity of domestic violence and the true turmoil it causes - not only when the abuse is actively happening but also in the aftermath - particularly during the time when allegations are first made. 

Of course, this being a psychological thriller, as a reader you are always wondering if things are really as they seem, particularly regarding Clare's allegations and Bee does a fantastic job at making you wonder! I have to admit that I truly didn't know what to believe until actual the conclusion of the story. There are enough twists and revelations in the book to keep you on edge and to stay gripped. This really was a page turner and I just kept wanting to read more and more. The story and the hard-hitting subjects fascinated and intrigued me and I also wanted to know more about each character in the book, each distinctive and well formed.

There are several points of view explored in this book, not only Clare's, but also the views of Sally and DS Susan Clarke. In my opinion, Clare was the most effective narrator, perhaps due to being the most troubled - her narrative also included the internal voicing of Gareth, her tormentor, giving us flashbacks into her past and an insight into her deep psychological state which was utterly heartbreaking and difficult to read at points. 
I really enjoyed reading the chapters that focused on Sally, Clare's roommate at the women's refuge. We get to know a lot about Sally, her past and her troubles which also become an important focus in the story. I think Sally will resonate with a lot of female readers with her down-to-earth personality and her straight forward talking. The relationship that develops between Sally and Clare is beautiful to observe, showing a real kinship between two troubled ladies. 
DS Susan Clarke is the Detective Sergeant in charge of Clare's case and a long-time friend of Sally. I felt that her character had a very authentic and headstrong personality, but unfortunately I also found her quite stiff, unempathetic and unlikeable at many points. However, as aforementioned, these features of her personality gave her a feeling of being a 'real' person and actually strengthened her character. 

Overall, I really enjoyed this book - I loved the fact that I had a perpetual feeling of unease and wonder about the real story and I just didn't want to put it down. I was impressed by the characters, their individual personalities and flaws. The story was of a good pace and I never felt bored - the only things I could criticise is how fast that the story was wrapped up at the end, though the fast pace did emphasise the tension and desperation of all involved, and I did find Gareth's character a little too OTT - I think his character could have been more believable as an 'average man'. Despite these two issues, this really was a fantastic book exploring the intense, damaging and harrowing subject of domestic violence alongside showing the true value of friendship and community. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

A Lie For A Lie Book Tour & Review

Welcome to my part in Julie Corbin's 2020 book tour for her new novel, A Lie For A Lie!
If you haven't already, I urge you to check out the previous stops, encourage you to follow the tour as it goes on and of course, pre-order this fantastic new story. 

Today, I'm going share my review of this book with you. 

Thank you to Myrto @ Hodder for the opportunity!

A Lie for a Lie by Julie Corbin
Paperback, 352 pages

To Be Published 15th October 2020 by Hodder & Stoughton

abuse, adult-fiction, arc-or-review, blog-tour, books-i-own, crime-thriller-mystery, death, mental-health, read, read-in-2020, realistic-fiction
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:

We all tell lies, don't we? Most of the time, they're harmless. But every now and then, we lie without thinking about the consequences.

As a school nurse, Anna Pierce is a well-respected and trusted member of the community. So when she is accused of hitting a pupil, the reaction is one of shock and disbelief.

The pupil is Tori Carmichael - Anna's mentee and a troubled child known for bending the truth.

With her career and reputation on the line, Anna is determined to clear her name. But before she can, the worst happens: Tori is found dead.

Suspicion mounts against Anna, who says she didn't do it. 
But if she isn't the killer, there is someone out there who is ....

When I was offered to read A Lie For A Lie, I jumped at the chance. Despite being a bestselling author, I was yet to read a book by the acclaimed Julie Corbin and this was certainly a fantastic introduction. The premise of the story sounded very intriguing and neither the story nor the author let me down. 

A Lie For A Lie tells the story of Sister Anna Pierce, a seemingly perfect school nurse whose life is turned upside down when she is accused of hitting one of the children that she mentored - a troubled girl named Victoria ('Tori') Carmichael. Unfortunately, when things seem like they can't get any worse, Tori is found dead in her home. This book explores the time from when Anna is accused and all of the trials and tribulations that follow.

Despite the often 'heavy' subject matter of this book, I found this an easy read from the start - something which was very welcome. The writing is simple yet very well done - the descriptions of the setting, mainly a large boarding school in Scotland, gave me a great sense of where the characters were and a good sense of atmosphere without ever feeling over-explicatory. The characters were written equally as well, having multiple layers and depth and personality.

There are a lot of different emotions and relationships explored within the story and I think that this is one of the main places where the book excels. Relationships between teachers and students, husband and wife, parent and child, teenagers, siblings and even more are all explored with great care and consideration, none falling short. I really was impressed by the authenticity the relationships depicted. 

As aforementioned, there are a lot of 'heavy' subjects discussed in this book including but not restricted to abuse, family separation, bullying and self harm. I was particularly affected by reading about the family separation issues in this book, the explanation and exploration of the the subject seemed so heartfelt and, honestly, heart wrenching at times. It's a subject that is written about frequently, but I have to admit that I related to Corbin's depiction of it more than I have with any other piece of writing regarding it. I admire the author for writing about several difficult topics with great understanding.

A Lie for a Lie is an easy to follow story which becomings increasingly complex with twists and turns around every corner. I had lots of thoughts and ideas of what the real story was but I was left guessing right until the very end. It consists of simple but highly intriguing writing which is a pleasure to read and, if you're like me, will keep you up until the early hours of the morning, desperate to find out more! It is so refreshing to read a book where you're left wondering until the last page.

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Killing for Company

Killing For Company by Brian Masters

Paperback, 368 pages

Published 17th September 2020 by Arrow
(First Published 1985) 

arc-or-review, adult-fiction, arc-or-review, books-i-own, contemporary, currently-reading, death, historical, mythology, read-in-2020, realistic-fiction
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:

Dennis Nilsen, who died in May 2018, murdered at least 15 people before his arrest in 1983. This groundbreaking criminal study of his killings was written with Nilsen's full cooperation, resulting in a fascinating - and horrifying - portrait of the man who worshipped death.

On February 9th 1983 Dennis Nilsen was arrested at his Muswell Hill home, after human remains had been identified as the cause of blocked drains.

'Are we talking about one body or two,' a detective asked. Nilsen replied 'Fifteen or sixteen, since 1978. I'll tell you everything.'

Within days he had confessed to fifteen gruesome murders over a period of four years. His victims, all young homosexual men, had never been missed. Brian Masters, with Nilsen's full cooperation, has produced a unique study of a murderer's mind, essential reading for true crime aficionados.

After watching ITV's latest hit drama starring David Tennant, Des, I just knew that I had to get my hands on a copy of the book it was based on - Killing for Company. This impressive and important book is a thorough and superbly written case study of the late Dennis Nilsen, one of the most infamous serial killers and necrophiles of the UK. 

When I started reading Killing for Company, it didn't take me long to recognise that I was reading a very important and significant book. This is an evaluation of Nilsen by the author, Masters, a man with no formal experience of psychology but a clear talent for writing and analysis. This is the full story of Nilsen from childhood to conviction, featuring a compilation of thoughts from both Masters and the killer himself. For anyone who is interested in Dennis Nilsen and his history, this is the go-to book and it's understandable why - it feels as though Masters leaves no stone unturned - however disturbing it may be. 

Masters doesn't hold back with any details in this book and so Killing for Company contains several in-depth accounts of murder and necrophilia from Nilsen himself. Whilst being obviously horrific, it's also extremely rare, morbidly intriguing and important to hear from the killer as to what he was thinking and feeling during the most disturbing times of his life. However, the biggest significance of the book was Nilsen's post-murder writings, his inner contemplations which gave a glimpse into his mind and his thoughts. It was not the murders themselves that I found most interesting - it was Nilsen's mind, one which was clearly searching for the answer as to why he did what he chose to do and who he really was. Perhaps most disturbingly, there are clear moments in the book where Nilsen seems like a common man - someone you may know, someone you live beside or work with, he was someone who enjoyed music, someone who had a sense of humour, someone who cared for his pets. The juxtaposition between his repulsive acts and his fragments of 'normality' is effective and jarring. This book shows how loneliness, isolation

I felt that Masters did a sterling job of commenting on Nilsen's actions, never dramatising or glorifying him and trying to really understand his actions and behaviours. Impressively, I think Masters remained fair throughout the whole of the book and whilst he did mention his personal relationship with Nilsen and subtly voice some personal opinions, it always felt that he was looking at the whole situation in an unbiased manner, which I can only give him credit for. Whilst it's always dangerous for someone with no experience of psychiatry to perform psychoanalysis, Masters has truly impressed with his analysis and this has only been reaffirmed with the republishing, support, TV adaptation and the true success of this book - a truly thought provoking read with a heck of a lot to think about. I also found the inclusion of photographs and images, in particular, Nilsen's collection of 'Sad Sketches' to be very interesting and shocking.

When reading True Crime books, it goes unsaid that you're likely not in for an 'easy-read' and you certainly won't find that with this book, however you will more than likely find it to be an unexpected page turner which you will devour. Whilst I did notice some outdated terms, there were few and this book really has stood the test of time, being just as significant now as it was back in the 80's. For anybody who is looking to expand their knowledge about true crime or has even a fleeting interest in psychology, Des or his crimes, this is a must-read. This is certainly the best and most engaging true crime book that I've read so far.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

From The Review Pile (102)

From the Review Pile is a meme hosted by Stepping Out of the Page every Thursday.
The aim of this meme is to showcase books that you've received for review (or if you don't receive review books, any book that you own and really want to read/review) but haven't yet got around to reading, in order to give the book some extra publicity.

I know that a lot of you have a huge pile of books that you want to read/review, but it understandably takes a while to get around to reading them all - here you can give a book (or two!) some of the publicity that it deserves, even if you haven't read it yet!


This week, I'm going to showcase Inside 10 Rillington Place!

Although I think I have quite a good knowledge of the most famous cases of true crime, it's always surprising (and unfortunate) how much more there is to learn. Whilst I've heard of Rillington Place and of John Christie, I know almost nothing of this horrifying case. I was sent Inside 10 Rillington Place for review last week and I am looking forward to learning more.

Inside 10 Rillington Place by Peter Thorley
Paperback, 304 pages

Published 6th August 2020 by Mirror Books

During the 1940s and 1950s John Christie, an English serial killer and necrophile from Halifax, murdered at least eight people - including his wife, Ethel - by strangling them in his flat at 10 Rillington Place, Notting Hill, London.

Two further bodies were found wrapped in a tablecloth in the washhouse behind 10 Rillington Place - those of Beryl Evans and her baby daughter Geraldine. They were his lodgers.

In 1939 Beryl Thorley, then 19, married Timothy Evans. Baby Geraldine followed quickly and, determined to stand on their own two feet, the couple rented a room from John Christie and his wife Ethel, at 10 Rillington Place, not knowing how fatal this would prove.

Over the years this case has sparked huge controversy surrounding the question of who actually killed Beryl and Geraldine. Now, more than 50 years later, Peter Mylton-Thorley, Beryl's youngest brother, is ready to tell his story. With first-hand knowledge of the real horror of life inside 10 Rillington Place, it is time to set the record straight.

Peter has collected unseen evidence, never released crime scene photos and statements to the police. This is the shocking true story of the crimes and horror of life with John Christie, Timothy Evans and 10 Rillington Place.

Monday, 14 September 2020

The Book of Two Ways

The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult
Paperback, 432 pages

To Be Published 20th October 2020 by Hodder & Stoughton

adult-fiction, arc-or-review, books-i-own, contemporary, currently-reading, death, historical, mythology, read-in-2020, realistic-fiction
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:

Jodi Picoult's stunning new novel about life, death, and missed opportunities. Who would you be, if you hadn't turned out to be the person you are now? Dawn is a death doula, and spends her life helping people make the final transition peacefully. But when the plane she's on plummets, she finds herself thinking not of the perfect life she has, but the life she was forced to abandon fifteen years ago - when she left behind a career in Egyptology, and a man she loved. Against the odds, she survives, and the airline offers her a ticket to wherever she needs to get to - but the answer to that question suddenly seems uncertain. As the path of her life forks in two very different directions, Dawn must confront questions she's never truly asked: What does a well-lived life look like? What do we leave behind when we go? And do we make our choices, or do our choices make us? Two possible futures. One impossible choice.

The Book of Two Ways is Jodi Picoult's latest offering and possibly, in my opinion, her most cleverly written book to date. The Book of Two Ways is a coffin text, an Ancient Egyptian map of the underworld/afterlife made up of two routes - land and water, separated by a lake of fire, but both ending up at the same place. In this book, Jodi creates her own routes for her main character, death doula and former Egyptologist, Dawn Edelstein. 

Picoult has a real talent for really exploring subjects well with both knowledge and wisdom and her writing is often breathtakingly beautiful, something that I was repeatedly reminded of within this book. What really stood out for me in this book was the character development and the relationships that Picoult writes about. 

Dawn's discussions with her latest client, an elderly artist named Win, were a pleasure to read - sobering, heartfelt, sometimes amusing, always emotional. Dawn's discussions and explanations of death both with her client, her husband and the effect upon herself were very thought provoking and well written.
The main relationships explored in this book are the ones between Dawn, her husband Brian, a scientist whom she first met whilst visiting a hospice and her first true love, fellow Egyptologist, Wyatt. I think that Picoult did a fantastic job of exploring Dawn's emotional feelings and relationship between these two men. Whilst both characters were well written and I did feel a lot of compassion towards Brian, Picoult did such a fantastic job of creating Wyatt's character that I must admit, I fell a little bit in love with him too! The sections of the book that are set in Egypt  and exploring Dawn and Wyatt's relationship quickly became the highlight of the book for me.
In regards to relationships within the story, I particularly loved reading about Dawn's somewhat awkward but ever-loving relationship with her young daughter, Meret, a girl struggling through the trials and tribulations of being a teenager. Meret was such a realistic, troubled character who really grabbed my attention and I enjoyed seeing how her relationship with her mother and herself developed and changed throughout the book. 

I had two feelings about The Book of Two Ways - like Dawn, our protagonist, I find death absolutely fascinating and reading about a death doula sounded really, really interesting - which it was and I feel that Picoult really did the subject justice. As a bit of a history nerd, I loved reading and learning about Egyptology as a child, which made me think that the parts of this book that are based in and around Egypt would be really intriguing - which it was, in parts, but unfortunately not always. I quickly became lost in the beautifully portrayed setting of sandy Egypt, imagining myself there in the tombs with the characters, but unfortunately, I found myself getting a little bored after some of the heavy information regarding Egyptian history and hieroglyphics. It is so clear that Picoult has, as always, done a huge amount of research for her story, which I respect enormously and obviously has helped the story, but at points I felt like I was reading unnecessary, textbook-style information. I do find the history of Ancient Egypt very interesting, but I felt completely overwhelmed at some points - it was just too much. Thankfully, the beautiful writing, setting and interesting relationships kept me gripped for the rest of the book.

I had two feelings about The Book of Two Ways - The largest part of me absolutely loved the writing, the story and the emotions, but another part of me also loathed the thought of having to read pages and pages of complex history and even quantum physics. For me, fiction books should be a form of escape. If I want to study a subject in detail, I will choose to read a non-fiction book. Unfortunately this is where the book fell short for me and the reason why I didn't give it a higher rating. I still highly recommend the story for the beautiful writing, the brilliantly thought-provoking exploration of the often-taboo subject of death,  the characters and relationships - they alone kept me gripped. I can't wait to see what Picoult brings us next!

Thursday, 10 September 2020

From The Review Pile (101)

From the Review Pile is a meme hosted by Stepping Out of the Page every Thursday.
The aim of this meme is to showcase books that you've received for review (or if you don't receive review books, any book that you own and really want to read/review) but haven't yet got around to reading, in order to give the book some extra publicity.

I know that a lot of you have a huge pile of books that you want to read/review, but it understandably takes a while to get around to reading them all - here you can give a book (or two!) some of the publicity that it deserves, even if you haven't read it yet!


This week, I'm going to showcase A List of Cages!

Whilst I'm trying to focus more on adult fiction, this young adult book is certainly one that appeals to me. I particularly enjoy reading realistic fiction, especially ones that deal with complex and difficult issues such as mental health. This book is based on real life experience of the author which is bound to make this an interesting read. 

A List of Cages by Robin Roe
Paperback, 310 pages
Published 15th December 2017 by Little Brown

This "gripping and moving" story of two foster brothers sharply examines the impact of loss, grief, and abuse (Emma Donohgue, bestselling author of Room) -- and celebrates the power of friendship.

When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he's got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn't easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can't complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian -- the foster brother he hasn't seen in five years.

Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He's still kind hearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what's really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives.

Monday, 7 September 2020

Death Row: The Final Minutes

Death Row: The Final Minutes by Michelle Lyons

Paperback, 304 pages

Published 3rd May 2018 by Blink Publishing

crime-thriller-mystery, death, non-fiction, read, read-in-2020, series-or-companions, title-appeal

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:


First as a reporter and then as a spokesperson for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Michelle was a frequent visitor to Huntsville's Walls Unit, where she recorded and relayed the final moments of death row inmates' lives before they were put to death by the state.

Michelle was in the death chamber as some of the United States' most notorious criminals, including serial killers, child murderers and rapists, spoke their last words on earth, while a cocktail of lethal drugs surged through their veins.

Michelle supported the death penalty, before misgivings began to set in as the executions mounted. During her time in the prison system, and together with her dear friend and colleague, Larry Fitzgerald, she came to know and like some of the condemned men and women she saw die. She began to query the arbitrary nature of the death penalty and ask the question: do executions make victims of all of us?

An incredibly powerful and unique look at the complex story of capital punishment, as told by those whose lives have been shaped by it, Death Row: The Final Minutes is an important take on crime and punishment at a fascinating point in America's political history.

This was one of those books that I picked up as soon as I saw it - the title told me that this was something that I would find extremely interesting. Despite this, I also have to admit that I was slightly doubtful that it would give me a fresh, new insight into what is a deeply emotive, complex and controversial subject. Thankfully, this book and author surprised me with the openness and honesty they held. 

Death Row: The Final Minutes is a book about both the final minutes of several Death Row inmates and also the story of the author, Michelle Lyons  and her late colleague Larry Fitzgerald. 
I think that you will either love or hate Michelle which could be problematic for readers, but I like to think that if I knew her in 'real life', we'd be friends. Lyons was incessantly passionate about her job - at points quite fiercely so as seen in her retorts to anybody who disagreed with her or the death penalty. I can understand and admire her passion but I don't think that the two opposing views on the death penalty were addressed as much as they could have been and sometimes it felt that she was so stuck in her own way of thinking that she couldn't consider  opposing thoughts. Michelle continuously tells us that the majority of executions that she watched didn't affect her, but it soon becomes clear that, unsurprisingly, they did. I admire Lyons refreshing honesty in this book and her recognition that her stoic front didn't completely reflect what was really going on inside her head.

The book gives us great insight into Death Row and its workings, using both transcripts of voice notes and diary entries from Lyons as reference points. These are the true highlight points of the book - getting to learn what it is really like in the death chamber - how the prisoners, executioners and observers all react in their own, unique ways.  We get to learn about both the build-up to execution and the details of the execution itself. For me, whilst reading about the prisoners last words were moving and often profound I found the most interesting and harrowing part hearing about the observers, or often lack of, in the chamber - particularly the mothers of both the victims and the perpetrators. 

It was of course very interesting to read about the last words and requests of the Death Row inmates and it's something that I think most people will find very emotive and thought provoking. You can easily go online and find prisoners last words and their last meal requests, but nonetheless I thought there was a good, genuine, selection shared in this book. I really enjoyed reading about Michelle and Larry's interactions with the prisoners but I wish there was more of this interaction included - though perhaps i'm just greedy for more information! 

Overall this was an interesting read and I think it will appeal to anybody who is interested in true crime, criminology or forensic psychology. Death Row: The Final Minutes offers an honest and unique view on execution and how it affects those who have to witness it. 

Thursday, 3 September 2020

From The Review Pile (100)

From the Review Pile is a meme hosted by Stepping Out of the Page every Thursday.
The aim of this meme is to showcase books that you've received for review (or if you don't receive review books, any book that you own and really want to read/review) but haven't yet got around to reading, in order to give the book some extra publicity.

I know that a lot of you have a huge pile of books that you want to read/review, but it understandably takes a while to get around to reading them all - here you can give a book (or two!) some of the publicity that it deserves, even if you haven't read it yet!


This week, I'm going to showcase Normal People!
I have been reading quite a lot of 'heavy' books recently, mostly non-fiction, and so have decided to purposely choose a fiction book this week. I have heard fantastic things about the TV adaptation of Normal People and noticed that the book has won a lot of awards, so I'm eager to both read and watch Normal People at some point. Quite honestly, it's one of those books where I'm not entirely sure what to expect from the blurb, but from what I've heard, it must be good, right? Have you read or watched Normal People? What did you think?

Normal People by Sally Rooney
Paperback, 273 pages

Published 2nd May 2019 by Faber and Faber

Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. When they both earn places at Trinity College in Dublin, a connection that has grown between them lasts long into the following years.

This is an exquisite love story about how a person can change another person's life - a simple yet profound realisation that unfolds beautifully over the course of the novel. It tells us how difficult it is to talk about how we feel and it tells us - blazingly - about cycles of domination, legitimacy and privilege. Alternating menace with overwhelming tenderness, Sally Rooney's second novel breathes fiction with new life.

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

The Nothing Man

The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard

Paperback, 304 pages

Published 20th August 2020 by Corvus

adult-fiction, arc-or-review, books-i-own, contemporary, crime-thriller-mystery, death, en-route, rape, read-in-2020, realistic-fiction

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:

I was the girl who survived the Nothing Man.
Now I am the woman who is going to catch him...

You've just read the opening pages of The Nothing Man, the true crime memoir Eve Black has written about her obsessive search for the man who killed her family nearly two decades ago.

Supermarket security guard Jim Doyle is reading it too, and with each turn of the page his rage grows. Because Jim was - is - the Nothing Man.

The more Jim reads, the more he realizes how dangerously close Eve is getting to the truth. He knows she won't give up until she finds him. He has no choice but to stop her first...

I didn't really know what to expect when I was offered The Nothing Man for review - the description was vague, but intriguing. I am so glad I decided to read this book as it is both different and captivating, a book that is guaranteed to get almost anybody gripped.

The story starts by introducing us to The Nothing Man - a man called Jim Doyle who works as a supermarket security man, when he shockingly discovers that a book has been written about him. The book consists of alternating chapters, some consisting of Eve Black's novel and the rest from Jim's perspective, showing his reaction to the instantly popular publication.

The Nothing Man is a book inside a book. The book is written by Eve Black, a woman who was a witness to her sister and her parent's demise at the hands of The Nothing Man, a serial killer who prowled Ireland over twenty years ago, leaving a trail of devastation but absolutely no trace of his identity - hence his name. Eve is the only person to have witnessed and survived one of this man's crimes and makes it her mission to discover who this man is.

As some of you may know, I have had a deep interest in the Golden State Killer recently, since watching his trial and reading the late Michelle McNamara's I'll Be Gone In The Dark. In fact, that's the book that I read directly before this one, and I could see a lot of similarities with this story and the real life case. After contacting the author and reading the acknowledgements of this book, I discovered that Ryan Howard based this book on McNamara's. Whilst I understand that it's important to do research and to make the story realistic, the only reason I didn't rate this book higher was because it often felt like a carbon copy of the actions of the killer in I'll Be Gone In The Dark. However, if you haven't read McNamara's book or know about the Golden State Killer case in detail, I doubt that this will concern you at all. The author of this book did well to portray McNamara's message that once you discover who killer is, he really is nothing.

I really enjoyed this book from the very start. Both Eve and Jim were very well developed, interesting characters. The story was super compelling, the format only making it more so. I enjoyed the short chapters as they kept my attention and made it so easy just to tell myself 'just one more chapter' - this book is the definition of a 'page-turner'. This is a very well written,  well paced, engrossing read that will have you riveted until the very end. Highly recommended for anyone interested in thrillers, fictional or true crime reads. 

Sunday, 30 August 2020

I'll Be Gone In The Dark

I'll Be Gone In The Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara

Paperback, 344 pages

Published 28th February 2019 by Faber & Faber

arc-or-review, books-i-own, crime-thriller-mystery, desperate-to-read, historical, lasting-impression, memoirs-biographies-etc, movies-or-tv, non-fiction, rape, read, read-in-2020, title-appeal

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:

The masterful true crime account of the Golden State Killer - the serial rapist turned murderer who terrorised California for over a decade - from the late Michelle McNamara. I'll Be Gone in the Dark offers a unique snapshot of suburban West Coast America in the 1980s, and a chilling account of the wreckage left behind by a criminal mastermind. It is also a portrait of one woman's obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth, three decades later, in spite of the personal cost. Updated with material which takes in the extraordinary events that followed its initial publication, Michelle McNamara's first and last book is a contemporary classic - humane, haunting and heroic.

I'll Be Gone in the Dark is a book unlike any other that I've read. The book is beautifully written whilst describing a real-life horror story. This is the story of the late Michelle McNamara's obsessive search for an elusive monster. This is the story of the known attacks of The Golden State Killer, also known as The East Area Rapist, The Original Night Stalker, The Visalia Ransacker, The Diamond Knot Killer, and only more recently, Joseph James DeAngelo. 

It is difficult to review this book and it's difficult to read too, which is part of its success. Quotes on the book cover state that this is a book that you can't put down, it's something to read in one-sitting, but for me it was completely the opposite. The writing is indeed gripping and compulsive, but also frighteningly vivid. It can be a difficult book to digest due to the content and it's important to take breaks in order to really appreciate  exactly what you've just read, to absorb the impact that the events of the book had on the victims and the wider community of California. Whilst I was gripped by the crimes and mystery - as I was and I am - this is a book that I had to consciously keep putting down in order to reflect upon whilst still eager to get back to. 

McNamara's prose is surprisingly beautiful despite often describing such violent content. This is a book that is so well written, the crimes so clearly portrayed that it is guaranteed to have a lasting effect on any reader. The Golden State Killer stalked, burglarised, bound, raped, psychologically tortured and tormented his victims before going on to murder some. McNamara uses all of her collected evidence and investigative skills to bring these crimes to life on paper, not being afraid to share small, intimate details whilst still never overstating and always showing respect to the victims. This entire book is a fantastic piece of investigative journalism, but for me, the stand-out part was Michelle's final piece of writing that was included, entitled "Letter to an Old Man" - her imagination of the Golden State Killer's eventual arrest, where it's almost as though she foreshadowed his eventual capture.

Admittedly, the book does seem a little disjointed at places, both due to the fact that it's not written chronologically and that it was partially written/edited posthumously, but this doesn't distract from McNamara's apparent talent for writing, her brilliant investigative and journalistic skills as well as her sheer dedication and determination. I also enjoyed seeing how she gained the trust of detectives and police departments. Her untimely sudden death only adds more sadness to the whole story. The fact that she didn't finally get to discover the GSK's true identity is heartbreaking and I truly wish that she had been able to watch Joseph DeAngelo's arrest and sentencing. Thankfully, her main wish did however come true and we now know exactly who the Golden State Killer is - that is partially with thanks to Michelle's hard work, relentless research and her publicity of the case.

Before reading this book, I did have some general knowledge about The Golden State Killer, learned from the documentary series Unmasking a Killer and some internet searches. Here in the UK, he is not well known and the known crimes were committed before I was born - I first heard about him after his arrest. I read I'll Be Gone In The Dark in the week during DeAngelo's sentencing, where he was sentenced to life imprisonment. I really feel like I have watched, and now have read, an important piece of criminal history. 

This is a book and a case that will stay with me for a long time and that I will continue to follow. I highly recommend I'll Be Gone In The Dark to anybody who is interested in true crime, criminology, forensic science or investigative journalism. It has really made me see not only the Golden State Killer, but all undiscovered serious criminals, in a new perspective. 

The TV adaptation of I'll Be Gone in the Dark, produced by HBO, is available to watch in the UK from today (30th August) on the Sky Crime Channel, but be sure to read the book first! 

Thursday, 27 August 2020

From The Review Pile (99)

From the Review Pile is a meme hosted by Stepping Out of the Page every Thursday.
The aim of this meme is to showcase books that you've received for review (or if you don't receive review books, any book that you own and really want to read/review) but haven't yet got around to reading, in order to give the book some extra publicity.

I know that a lot of you have a huge pile of books that you want to read/review, but it understandably takes a while to get around to reading them all - here you can give a book (or two!) some of the publicity that it deserves, even if you haven't read it yet!


This week, I'm going to showcase Columbine!
I have been listening to a lot of podcasts lately and a lot have mentioned the following book, Columbine, by Dave Cullen. I would really like to read this book to get some more information on the horrific event of the 90's that changed the way we view American schools and their safety. I believe this book is supposedly quite controversial in its content, but I would really like to read it for myself. 

Columbine by Dave Cullen
Hardback, 417 pages

Published March 2009 by Twelve

"The tragedies keep coming. As we reel from the latest horror . . . " So begins a new epilogue, illustrating how Columbine became the template for nearly two decades of "spectacle murders." It is a false script, seized upon by a generation of new killers. In the wake of Newtown, Aurora, and Virginia Tech, the imperative to understand the crime that sparked this plague grows more urgent every year.
What really happened April 20, 1999? The horror left an indelible stamp on the Americanpsyche, but most of what we "know" is wrong. It wasn't about jocks, Goths, or the Trench Coat Mafia. Dave Cullen was one of the first reporters on scene, and spent ten years on this book-widely recognized as the definitive account. With a keen investigative eye and psychological acumen, he draws on mountains of evidence, insight from the world's leading forensic psychologists, and the killers' own words and drawings-several reproduced in a new appendix. Cullen paints raw portraits of two polar opposite killers. They contrast starkly with the flashes of resilience and redemption among the survivors.