Posts Tagged With: murder

Crippen by John Boyne (Transworld Book Group)

Title: Crippen
John Boyne
Black Swan
First Published:
No. of pages:504

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis (Amazon):
July 1910: a gruesome discovery has been made at 39 Hilldrop Crescent, Camden. Buried in the cellar are the remains of Cora Crippen, former music-hall singer and wife of Dr Hawley Crippen. But Dr Crippen and his mistress Ethel Le Neve have disappeared, and a full-scale hunt for them has begun. Across the Channel in Antwerp, Captain Kendall gives the order for the SS Montrose to begin its two-week voyage to Canada. On board are 1300 passengers, including the overbearing Antonia Drake, the unassuming Martha Hayes and the enigmatic Mathieu Zela. And, slipping in almost unnoticed, a Mr John Robinson with his seventeen-year-old son Edmund …

Well, where to start? How about with just one word: WOW! Crippen is quite one of the most gripping crime faction novels I’ve ever read. That’s the short version.

You want the long version? OK, here goes…

This fictionalised account of a real and infamous crime that gripped the English-speaking world is nothing short of brilliant. The characters are sympathetically drawn, yes, even that of Dr Hawley Crippen himself. Boyne has taken one of Britain’s most notorious and mysterious killers and made him a human being; one with feelings and troubles with which one can readily identify. The relationship he suffers with his overbearing wife, Cora, makes one wish someone would kill her!

Despite Dr Crippen being a name synonymous with gruesome and grisly murder, mystery and misconception surrounds both the man and the case, so proceedings are not so straightforward as one might expect. Indeed, Boyne manages to keep things suspenseful to the very end, which came as a huge surprise to this reader!

I was completely drawn into the plot and loved the back-and-forth style of storytelling which revealed things little by little, drawing things out in such a way that there was always something unexpected around the corner. Time and again I was delighted by some little twist or turn till the thrilling conclusion which was immensely satisfying.

It’s rare that a novel compels me to research a subject further, but this one has had that exact effect. I’m now fascinated by the man and the crime he committed (or did he?), and urge all fans of crime fact and fiction to pick up Crippen as soon as possible.  I guarantee you won’t be able to put it down till the last page has been turned.

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

You can find out more about the Transworld Book Group HERE.

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Remix by Lexi Revellian

Title: Remix
Author: Lexi Revellian
ISBN: 978-0956642202
Publisher: Hoxton Press
First Published: August 2010
No. of Pages: 278

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis (Amazon):
Caz Tallis restores rocking horses in her London workshop. When shabby but charismatic Joe and his dog turn up on her roof terrace, she is reluctantly drawn into investigating a rock star’s murder from three years before – an unsolved case the police have closed. Somebody is prepared to kill to prevent it being reopened – and is Caz’s judgment clouding as she falls in love?

It’s not often that I get so firmly grabbed by a book right from the very beginning, but that’s exactly what happened when I picked up Remix. Of course, it helps that the lightness of style makes it absurdly easy to read and before you know it you’re half way through and refusing to put it down!

The characters are all great, especially Caz Tallis, who feels particularly real and I found myself believing in the ex-teacher who restores and makes rocking horses for a living. There’s a little bit of stereotyping with Ric, but it works because of the kind of person he is, what he goes through, and how he comes out the other side.

The use of real locations helps ground the whole plot in reality and the lines between their fact and the characters’ fiction is so successfully blurred that the reader is carried along with Caz on a fun and exciting adventure. The mystery also keeps you guessing right up to the tipping point, which is, in y experience, unusual for a lighthearted mystery of this kind which, on occasion, verges on the cosy before sharpening its edges.

This is Revellian’s third novel, but her first non-fantasy, and I’m pleased to see from her website that there’s a sequel coming (Rewind), and I will definitely want to get my hands on it!

Reviewed by Kell Smurthwaite

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The Strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Synopsis by Amazon:

Everyone has a dark side. Dr Jekyll has discovered the ultimate drug. A chemical that can turn him into something else. Suddenly, he can unleash his deepest cruelties in the guise of the sinister Hyde. Transforming himself at will, he roams the streets of fog-bound London as his monstrous alter-ego. It seems he is master of his fate. It seems he is in complete control. But soon he will discover that his double life comes at a hideous price …

Dr. Jekyll is a scientist with a dark secret – he has created a drug which transforms him into his sinister dark side. At first this is OK, but then Hyde, his alter-ego starts making trouble and goes as far as committing murder. Jekyll’s friends start to get suspicious when Mr. Hyde is seen coming and going from Jekyll’s home – and then the hideous secret is out….

I really enjoyed this book. It explores human nature and good and evil – and ultimately the choices we make. The book was exciting and gripping. It is original and well written – clearly a classic.

Stevenson’s characters were great! I liked the fact Mr. Hyde was written in such a way that I really didn’t like him – it is nice to come across a book that sparks emotion and feelings, and this book did that.

I didn’t find this book scary, just a great read.


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Savage Tide by Glen Chandler

savage tide

Synopsis from Amazon:

This is a Steven Madden mystery. For Steve Madden, Brighton is no longer beaches, fish and chips and amusement arcades. It’s also a place of murder. Estranged from his son and grappling with the jealousy that comes from watching your ex-wife getting closer to another man, his world is thrown into turmoil when he is called to investigate a particularly savage murder. But there is something else, something that will change his life forever. Dragged into the twilight world of nightclubs, drugs and prostitution, Steve is about to realise that being a Detective Inspector in a seaside town is far more dangerous than he could ever have imagined.

Steve Maddon is called is called to a murder scene in Kemp Town, Brighton – the place notorious for where the homosexual community live. What he finds in the flat is a shock – and will completely rock his world. The murder is sex fueled and gruesome, and personal.Maddon is taken off the investigation, but unsatisfied with the police work, investigates himself, where he makes some shocking discoveries.

This book is not for faint hearted. The description of the murder was graphic, and horrific. The is a lot of violence, drugs and sex in this book, which aren’t really my cup of tea. That said; it was a good read, with a few twists and an interesting portrayal of the seedier side of Brighton.

Chandler wrote well – it flowed easily, I was able to keep up with the story and remember who all the characters were. It didn’t take me long to read and I was quite surprised by the revealing of the murderer. If you like crime novels, or a good murder book, this is for you.


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Blue Diary by Alice Hoffman

Synopsis from Amazon:

Ethan and Jorie, the perfect couple, have been married for 13 years, and are still very much in love. But 13 years ago, Ethan committed a brutal rape and murder. A young girl’s phone call exposes him, and nothing will ever be the same for them again.

Well, to be honest, I didn’t enjoy this book. I found myself wanting more and this book just didn’t satisfy me.

The Ethan story was believable, but other strands I found myself disbelieving, such as the journey to Maryland. It was an interesting look at how a family and a small town deal with something like what Ethan did, taking sides in such a matter, but is that what would really happen? I don’t know.  However, I think Hoffman explores people’s characters well.

What I wanted out the book was to find out what happened to Ethan and his family, and the family of the girl, but it was a bit ambiguous. There were other storylines running along side the main story, which added depth to the book but I didn’t think were finished either.

My favourite character was Charlotte. I enjoyed watching her fall in love and stand by her best friend even through the challenges she was facing. There was something lovely about her.

Overall, this book did keep my attention right up to the last page, but I was not satisfied with this book.


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Excursion to Tindari to Andrea Camilleri

This is the fifth book in the Inspector Montalbano series.  It’s not essential to have read any of the previous books to understand what is happening, but I would recommend it, as the characters have been developed over the series.

In this installment, Police Inspector Montalbano finds himself  heading up an investigation into a young playboy.  At the same time he finds himself dealing with the disappearance of an elderly couple.  Initially there appears to be no connection between the two crimes, but when it discovered that all three people lived in the same apartment block, Montalbano’s suspicions become aroused.  His investigation takes him and his team into dangerous territory involving the Sicilian Mafia.

As is the case with all of the books I have read in this series (so far), the case is interesting, but it takes a back seat to the interaction between the various characters.  Salvo Montalbano is an irritable, grumpy man who feels that he is being left behind in a word where technology is taking over.  However, he has amazing intuition and a terrific sense of humour, as well as a deep sense of honour.  His interactions with his detective team – particularly the hapless Catarella and the smart Augello  – are amusing and believeable.

The book (and indeed the series) also paints a vivid picture of Sicilian life and culture.  It’s a light read, but an interesting one.  This series has not disappointed me yet!

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The Darker Side – Cody McFadyen

Amazon Synopsis
When FBI Agent Smoky Barrett and her team of investigators are called in by the Director himself to handle a case of murder committed on a flight from Texas to Virginia, the case begins with a shock, and the twists keep coming. It soon becomes apparent that Smoky is dealing with a serial killer who appears to have committed a truly horrific number of murders already, someone who can find people with secrets not just the secrets we all admit to ourselves, but the deepest, innermost secrets of all and is using them to target and destroy his victims. The case is on the edge of going public, and when that happens, with all the accelerated power of the Internet behind it, public hysteria is not far behind. Just at the time when she is working so hard to bring up her adopted daughter Bonnie, Smoky is now under the most intense pressure of her career to get results. Yet the team has never been faced with such an apparently insoluble problem. Who will the next victim be? Everyone in the world has secrets. Even Smoky.


My Thoughts

This is the first book by McFadyen for me and I was gripped from the very beginning. I loved the characters that he has created and felt I got to know them and understood what was going on in their heads. Smoky, the main character has a traumatic background with some harrowing history but is dealing with her demons the best she can. Murders are being committed in their hundreds and the only link is that all the victims had a dark secret that they had shared with someone. How the killer accesses this information is a mystery that Smoky needs to unravel. Yet she has a secret that she’s never told to anyone before, will this hinder or aid her search for the murderer? When the killer’s methods are described it makes for cringing reading. I felt the pain and fear of the victims, and their sense of helplessness. There is also a strong religious theme running through this storyline that is sure to spark many discussions. This is a tale of love, loss, pain and grief, with a strong sense of endurance and hope. 

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My Lady Judge by Cora Harrison

This is the first book by Cora Harrison that I have read, and I really enjoyed it. Here is the Amazon synopsis for My Lady Judge:

In the sixteenth century, as it is now, the Burren, on the western seaboard of Ireland, was a land of grey stone forts, fields of rich green grass and swirling mountain terraces. It was also home to an independent kingdom that lived peacefully by the ancient Brehon laws of their forebears. On the first eve of May, 1509, hundreds of people from the Burren climbed the gouged out limestone terraces of Mullaghmore Mountain to celebrate the great May Day festival, lighting a bonfire and singing and dancing through the night, then returning through the grey dawn to the safety of their homes. But one man did not come back down the steeply spiralling path. His body lay exposed to the ravens and wolves on the bare, lonely mountain for two nights …and no one spoke of him, or told what they had seen.And when Mara, a woman appointed by King Turlough Don O’Brien to be judge and lawgiver to the stony kingdom, came to investigate, she was met with a wall of silence …’An excellent historical novel with a most original leading character…A true Celtic feast.’ – P. C. Doherty.

This is a murder mystery set in Ireland in the Middle Ages. The main character is Mara, who is the judge of this kingdom. I loved her character. She had so many sides, the teacher, the mother, the judge and the woman. She could be deceptive when necessary, or just to get out of boring social meetings, which made me chuckle. She did have a conscience however. She was fair, calm and friendly. All the characters were well written and many I found an emotional connection too.

I liked the old-fashioned way of investigating the murder. There were several characters who could have been framed and way the murder was solved and reveled reminded me of the old murder mystery shows, with Mara talking to the king about how she worked it out. I guessed who the murder victim was but I did guess who the murderer was. I liked how there were two crimes that needed solving, and how we learned about the family ties and feuds that joined the community together. It was also interesting how Harrison compared English law to Irish law at the time.

I did have problems with the names. There were several long, hard to read names, but I just read over them and inserted my own version of the word.

Harrison’s description of Ireland in the Middle Ages was magical and I found myself transported back there. I will definitely be reading more in this Burren Series.


panmacmillan May 2008 £6.99 paperback

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