Posts Tagged With: Cath Staincliffe

The Kindest Thing by Cath Staincliffe

ImageTitle:  The Kindest Thing
Author:  Cath Staincliffe
ISBN: 978-1849012089
Publisher:  Constable & Robinson (C & R Crime)

First Published:  May 2010 (Paperback)
No .of pages:  272

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis (from Amazon):
When Deborah reluctantly helps her beloved husband Neil end his life and conceals the truth, she is charged with murder. As the trial unfolds and her daughter Sophie testifies against her, Deborah, still reeling with grief, fights to defend her actions. Twelve jurors hold her fate in their hands, if found guilty she will serve a life sentence. Deborah seeks solace in her memories of Neil and their children and the love they shared. An ordinary woman caught up in an extraordinary situation.  A finely written page-turner, compelling, eloquent, heart-breaking. The Kindest Thing tackles a controversial topic with skill and sensitivity. A book that begs the question: what would you do?

Review:
This was quite a riveting read for me.  I thought I had quite a solid opinion on assisted suicide but over the course of the book I have questioned it several times and I’m now much less sure of where I stand.  The story is told from the viewpoint of Deborah who is on trial for the murder of her husband Neil.  Neil was a Motor Neurone Disease sufferer and Deborah assisted him when he decided it was time to end his life.  Whilst the book is solely from Deborah’s view, as the story and the trial unfolds you begin to see the wider consequences of what has happened to this family. 

Although my opinions on the subject have wavered, my support for Deborah through the book remained.  You are never far from the fact that she truly loved her husband and everything she did was for him despite her better judgement.  You really feel for her when she describes the hellish time she had even contemplating what her husband wanted of her and for me, the most poignant moment was the realisation of what she had taken from her children.  Yes, she had helped her husband and done as he asked but her children were denied the opportunity to say goodbye and possibly from seeing their mother again as she is put on trial.

The ups and downs of the trial has kept me riveted throughout and I must admit that I stayed in my bath considerably longer than I really should have but I just had to know poor Deborah’s fate.  I won’t give the ending away but I will encourage you all to go and read this.

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Blink of an Eye by Cath Staincliffe

512MAHEYaZLTitle: Blink of an Eye
Author: Cath Staincliffe
ISBN: 978-1780335681
Publisher:  C & R Crime

First Published:  July 2013(paperback)
No .of pages:  272

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis (from Amazon):
In a heartbeat, life changes.  A sunny, Sunday afternoon, a family barbecue, and Naomi Baxter and her boyfriend Alex celebrate good news.  Driving home, Naomi’s recklessness causes a fatal accident, leaving nine-year-old Lily Vasey dead, Naomi fighting for her life, Alex bruised and bloody and the lives of three families torn apart.  Traumatised, Naomi has no clear memory of the crash and her mother Carmel is forced to break the shocking truth of the child’s death to her.  Naomi may well be prosecuted for causing death by dangerous driving.  If convicted she will face a jail term of up to 14 years, especially if her sister’s claim that Naomi was drink-driving is proven.  In the months before the trial, Carmel strives to help a haunted and remorseful Naomi cope with the consequences of her actions.  Blink of an Eye is a novel about the nightmare that could be just around the next bend for any one of us.

 

Review:
This is my second Cath Staincliffe book.  After reading “Split Second” last year, I immediately went on the hunt for more of her books.  She writes about difficult scenarios that make you question your own opinions and own reactions if you were in a similar position.

“Blink of an Eye” is about a fatal car crash and the consequences it has on those involved and their families.  The story is told from the point of view of Naomi, who was in the crash and her mother Carmel, and it begins before the accident, at a family gathering.  Once the scene has been set, the readers already know what events are around the corner, although it isn’t built up as a big dramatic event.  I expected more to be made of the accident itself, however, once I had read the book to the end, it made sense to me that the accident was not the focal point of the story, it was more the catalyst for the events that followed.

And this is where the book gets really interesting.  I devoured the rest of it in two sittings, and only because I was forced to put it down the first time.  Naomi can remember nothing of the accident and is devastated at the news that she had caused the death of a child.  Her mother is torn between her sympathy for the little girl’s family and her concern for her seriously ill daughter.  As we shift between the two points of view, we begin to understand the devastating effect that the events of that day have had on everyone involved and as we move towards a trial, it all starts to unravel.

My only criticism of this book is a couple of plot points that, to me, would not have happened in real life; however, I understand why they had to happen in this book to continue the flow.  They don’t detract from the book at all and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  I just feel it was a slightly less realistic situation than her previous book.

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Blink of an Eye by Cath Staincliffe

Following a family barbecue on a sunny Sunday afternoon, Naomi and Alex are driving home when they are involved in a fatal car crash – Alex suffers from broken bones, Naomi almost dies, and is left with no memory, and a young nine-year-old girl is knocked off her bike and killed. To make matters worse, Naomi’s sister Suzanne insists her younger sibling had been drinking too much, and shouldn’t have been driving.

The story starts at the barbecue, and is told from alternative points of view – Carmel, Naomi’s mother, and Naomi herself. Carmel is convinced her daughter would not have driven when drunk, which puts her at odds with her oldest daughter, who can’t forgive Naomi for what she’s done. During her parts of the story, we also learn about her own background, as well as insights into the sister’s relationships.

Naomi’s part is told from when she first wakes after the accident, dealing first with physical issues, and then the emotional ones. This for me was one of the strengths of the stories, being with Naomi as the full weight of the accident bears down on her.

I have to admit that for me, the first half of the story was the weakest – the accident didn’t have the impact I expected it to, and I couldn’t connect that well with Carmel as she reflected on her early life. I was glad I stayed with it though, because the second half had me enthralled. I had an idea at this half way stage as to where the story may go, and I stayed up far to late to finish the book and find out if I was right.

Cath Staincliffe takes instances which could happen to any of us, and takes us into it’s depths – you can’t help but wonder how you would feel and respond in the same situation, and characters are real and believable. Her experience as a script-writer also shines through – this would work brilliantly as a TV drama, and I would love to see it brought to life.

Blink of an Eye is published by CRCrime

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Split Second by Cath Staincliffe

Three youths gang up on Luke on a bus. They are challenged by a bystander, Jason, and a fight breaks out – which ends up with Jason fatally stabbed, and Luke critically ill in hospital.

The book follows what happens during and after, and is told from the point of view of Jason’s father, Luke’s mother, and Emma, a witness on the bus.

For me, the key to this book was the way it was written – the characters are very human, and the emotions are laid out in front of the reader. There’s no over-use of emotions, designed to tug at the heart-strings, but rather a raw emotion – honest and heartbreaking.

Whilst I expected the parent’s stories to be the most important, it was Emma’s which really caught my attention, the sort of person usually ignored in these circumstances, a witness who has to deal with her own decisions, as well as her own life.

In that split second, what would you do?

Published by Constable and Robinson

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