Snow White Must Die by Nele Neuhaus and Steven T. Murray

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Helllllo readers, apologies it’s been a little while since my last review – I’m still getting back into the swing of writing reviews so often. No wonder I was exhausted all the timee but I do utterly adore it. Today’s review is a book my lovely lovely sister gave to me. If my sis were to start a book blog it would be literally all CRIME BOOKS, cause she loves crime books. Anyway thanks Char Balds hoping you’re enjoying UNIVERSITY FREE TIMEEEE. Enjoy the review.

On a September evening eleven years earlier, two seventeen-year-old girls vanished from the village without a trace. In a trial based only on circumstantial evidence, twenty-year-old Tobias Sartorius, Rita Cramer’s son, was sentenced to ten years in prison. Bodenstein and Kirchhoff discover that Tobias, after serving his sentence, has now returned to his home town. Did the attack on his mother have something to do with his return?

In the village, Pia and Oliver encounter a wall of silence. When another young girl disappears, the events of the past seem to be repeating themselves in a disastrous manner. The investigation turns into a race against time, because for the villagers it is soon clear who the perpetrator is—and this time they are determined to take matters into their own hands.

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Right, so the blurb is kinda extensive so I’ll try to sum it up super quickly. We follow the truly devastating story of Tobias Sartorius. Pia Kirchoff is embarking on her saddest case so far after finding the bones of an unknown individual in an underground jet fuel tank. Pia and her partner in crime Bodenstein must unravel the secrets that surround the body. On the other side of town, there is another incident, a 7-car collision caused by the attempted murder of a woman pushed off a bridge. The woman in question is Rita Cramer and as it comes to light  there are more and more secrets in the town of Altenhain. Tobias is back in town after serving ten years for the murder of two beautiful girls whose bodies were never found not that he can remember what happened – when another young girl goes missing and once again Tobias is missing his  memory is everything as it seems?

Right, down to the nitty-gritty (finally.) In terms of the story there are multiple story-lines mixed in together and pulled in very quickly. The writing is really engaging and definitely draws the reader in. In terms of characters profiles, despite their being MANY MANY characters all of them are really well-developed and examined. I thought Tobias could have been developed a little better – I think because he was so closed off because of all that had happened it was at times difficult to feel for him.

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I must admit at times it does feel a little stilted, I think it’s because of the translation but it is sometimes a bit awkward. I also found it a little difficult to keep up with alllllll the names. I don’t know whether I’m just really bad with names but I struggled a little when characters were mentioned super quickly and then weren’t mentioned until another ten chapters later. Some of the police procedures were very different from UK practices? I guess it’s just a European thing but it added to the slight awkwardness.

However, what I did like was that there were lots of twists and turns, lots of mixed messages, red herrings and throughout there were LOTS of possible suspects for certain parts of the mystery. It’s one of those books were I felt maybe a diagram would have been a good idea just to spell out all the twists and turns but it plays out really well – it’s not too confusing but I adored looking at the different alliances with different members of the village, the use of town anxieties, and gossip. It just helped to fuel my excitement.

Before I go on for utterly forever  I would definitely recommend this book for a read. It’s one that recaptured my attention and I literally didn’t put down for over 2 and a half hours on the train to London. It’s a really good crime novel and although there are wobbles it’s still a brilliant book!

LIIIIINKKKKSSS

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Baggage by S.G. Redling

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Helllllllo readers, hope you’re well. I’ve got some superrrr exciting books for you this week – the first thing I need to do is apologise because I was asked to read and review this book forever ago and I read it and then the review kind of got stashed in my ‘must-post-on-the-internet’ pile. But here we are, on the internet and with a super brilliant review (hopefully) sooooo, enjoy.

Over the years, terrible things keep happening to Anna Ray on February 17. First, there was the childhood trauma she’s never been able to speak about. Then, to her horror, her husband killed himself on that date.

A year later and a thousand miles away, Anna tries to find solace in the fresh start of a new job in a new place. She takes comfort in her outspoken cousin Jeannie, the confidant and best friend who’s there whenever she needs help. On the day of the dreaded anniversary, Anna and Jeannie hit the town, planning to ease the pain with an alcohol-induced stupor and then sleep…

When Anna awakes the next morning, she thinks she can put one more February 17 behind her, but fate is about to intervene in the form of two gruesome murders with eerie similarities to her violent past. This time, however, she won’t be an abandoned daughter or a grieving widow. This time, she’ll be a suspect.

So the book follows the life of Anna Shuler Rayler who is a 29 year old school counselor who when she goes to work on February 18th finds that the school she works at is surrounded by police, detectives, and the whole college is covered in crime tape. Finding that a colleague of her’s has been brutally murdered, Ellis Trachtenberg, just the day before. A  day of hell for Anna that she thought would forever be forgotten and yet now, a year later she is rising to the top of a suspect list. As it becomes more and more apparent that Anna  needs to find out what happened and clear her name her past that she has worked hard to keep locked away is coming close to being revealed to all.

So what did I think? I thought that the characters were really well built; I kept swapping between Anna and Jeannie and how I felt about both of them. At times I really struggled with Anna and then I would swap back to Jeannie and it definitely kept me completely consumed with the plot and what was going to happen. I thought the writing was a little slow to start off with, but after a chapter or so it definitely started to move forward – the writing had real suspense, the swapping from past to present worked incredibly well and I thought the big showdown towards the end (#nospoilers) was reallllly great. I thought the author was also brilliant at creating a really descriptive landscape to hold the book together.

I really liked the continuous swapping between the crime and also what was happening in terms of the life of Anna; we see her struggling to contain her past and using drink as a way of coping and this leads to a really interesting understanding of the main character. The author works had to contain all of these sub-plots together at once and overall I think it worked really well. There is an interesting concept worked in around some letters – I think this could have been developed more – I don’t want to ruin the book for anyone but it did leave me wanting more in terms of their involvement in the book.

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The only wobbles were that I thought that there were a lot of unnecessary details and when a book is kind of short it took away from the rest of the plot-line and made the movement of the book a little sluggish. I thought more suspects could have been easily incorporated to make it a little more exciting and add a little more suspense. I also found, and don’t hate me, that being inside the head of Anna for a little while became a little tiresome; she is an addict, she does exhibit a typical addict behavior but over time it does become a little tiring. The only final wobble was a cliffhanger ending – I just wish more of the loose ends had been tied up but that’s a smaller issue for me.

Overall I would definitely recommend this – I think if you’re a reader that likes thriller books that have a family feel to them and mix that into the suspense this will be brilliant read for you and also, if you like thrillers that have NO ROMANCE, this will definitely be one for you. A solid read with a few wobbles but a book I really enjoyed.

Linnnnnks

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The Art of the Imperfect: a crime mystery set in Scarborough: Kate Evans (Review nine of the review challenge)

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Good morning lazy Saturday readers, it’s day nine of the ten-day review challenge and I’m a little sad to see it end. I’m currently in the middle of writing a post on the things I’ve learnt whilst completing the challenge and it’s fair to say I’ve learnt a lot. The main thing I’ve found is that if you put your mind to writing a review you really can do it despite the distractions. Yes, there have been a few days where I’ve been a little panicky about it actually getting finished whilst writing a million other different articles and furiously munching down cheese on toast but I’ve done it, almost. Today’s review is of a murder mystery that I rather enjoyed, enough of my babbling and onto the review.

The death of the renowned psychotherapist Dr Themis Greene in Scarborough sends storm waves through the intertwining lives of three of the small seaside town’s residents. The murder in the town perched on the edge of land and sea, pushes Hannah Poole, Aurora Harris and DS Theo Akande to the borderlands. They are forced to explore the edges of reason, understanding, justice and love. What they discover gets them through but is far from perfect. This isn’t gritty crime, this isn’t cosy crime, this isn’t police procedural. This is poetic storytelling which peels back the psychological layers to reveal the raw centre.

As the blurb describes the book follows the death of Themis Greene a psychotherapist who is bludgeoned to death. Discovered by the waif like Hannah a trainee therapist, the investigation begins pulling together different characters and interweaving subplots including Theo, the sergeant investigating and Aurora an expectant, exhausted mother. As the case continues we as a reader are drawn into the different difficult lives of those affected by the death as their hopes and fears are thrown into turmoil and we as the reader get to discover more about them as characters.

The first thing to mention is the writing style is incredibly strong. The description for example is wonderful throughout; the words used help to set the reader right in the heart of Scarborough. I often disagree with bloggers when it comes to description as I like it plentiful, and often overly so. The description through this book is brilliantly constructed so that I really felt completely immersed. This also leads to very strong character profiles. Hannah is a difficult character, insecure and easily daunted I found her story rather heartbreaking. Aurora was my favourite of the characters, a new mother, tired and struggling her anguish felt incredibly real and difficult to swallow. Throughout the author also introduces a number of deep and richly described supporting characters.

The most important point to make however is that this book is less about the crime; this is a softly spoken story on how a sudden event can seriously affect the lives of others and how us as individuals cope and deal with this as people. Yes the book does incorporate a crime, Themis Greene is a rather tricky character and as the plot thickens we learn that she hasn’t been the most ethical in her work after embarking in an affair with one of her patients. By the author acknowledging that a number of characters not only knew but were affected by this it opens the pool of suspects helping to make the crime more intriguing. However the book tends to look at the after effects and weaves these into a thoughtful story.

A couple of quibbles; although this is a book about therapy and character investigation I thought that the author should have made more of the crime side of the story. It had the beginnings of being the perfect division between the two but as the story continued I think it focused too much on the investigation of the characters personally. I also thought the final conclusion of said crime was too easily brushed under the carpet. Although the therapy side of the book is a large part of the plot and obviously something the author wanted to explore it became overwhelming. I also thought that Hannah was a little too bruised to be training as a therapist; it is explained that it is partly due to the trauma of moving in with her parents and her lack of belief in herself but it was a little difficult to understand why she had been pushed so directly in this career path.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. I always remark on how well characters are scripted and built up and reading a book so heavily involved in the lives of the characters was very enjoyable. I think the crime should have been made more of a focal point instead of being used as just a host to explore the characters however I will be definitely reading this book again and cannot wait to read more from this author.

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