Recent Reads

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed my reading but I’ve been busy working on various projects, more news of which soon. However, I’ve been powering through books on my kindle which has been a godsend during this lockdown.

Sound of the Sinners is the latest book by Hull author Nick Quantrill. Private eye Joe Geraghty is back in Hull to attend the funeral of his old friend and colleague, Don Ridley. The city has changed during his stint in Amsterdam and Geraghty becomes convinced that his friend’s death was no accident. A cold case, it appears, is coming back to life and it’s Geraghty who feels honour-bound to finish what Ridely started. As usual, the city of Hull leaps from the page in Quantrill’s novel and I’m always impressed by the author’s clear and compelling prose.

Hell Gate by Jeff Dawson is another well-written and compelling thriller set in New York. After the sinking of the steamship General Slocum which killed over a thousand souls, mainly from the German immigrant community, a populist senator preys on his voters’ grief. It’s 1904 and alliances haven’t yet been formed, the senator reminding people that, except for one vote in the House of Representatives, the nation would be speaking German. British spy Ingo Finch arrives in Manhattan to infiltrate and expose the new political movement and is soon under attack from all sides. I loved the historical detail in this book, genuinely feeling I’d learnt something about the period and the pace never lets up. A very strong spy story.

Barbara Copperthwaite writes psychological thrillers with interesting themes and empathetic characters. In her latest book, The Girl in the Missing Poster, Stella plasters posters around the town looking for news of her twin sister Leila who disappeared twenty five years earlier. It attracts the notice of a TV company who feature her quest on Netflix. Stella receives a letter from someone claiming they took Leila and, as a reunion is organised for those who were present on the night her sister disappeared, old secrets begin to emerge. It was great, after a gap, to read a new Barbara Copperthwaite and I found it to be a page-turning read.

I haven’t been reading as much Scandinavian crime fiction recently but I was reminded of how much I love the genre after reading The Therapist, the debut novel from Helene Flood. Sara’s husband, Sigard, leaves early one morning for a trip to a holiday cabin. A phone call from his friends waiting for him reveals that he never arrived. As she tries to interest the police in her husband’s disappearance while running her therapy practice, she begins to notice that objects are being moved around her house. Does she have an intruder and is it connected to Sigard’s disappearance? This is an excellent thriller with sharp insights into how people behave and how not everyone is how they present themselves. It was, as I always expect from Maclehose, a high-quality read. The translation was by Alison McCullough.

The Ormering Tide is the debut novel from Mercury Prize-nominated musician Kathryn Williams. Rozel lives with her three older triplet brothers on a small island. When one brother goes missing, Rozel is forced out of her comfortable existence to see the community as it actually is. Secrets, odd behaviour and repressed truths are explored with beautifully evocative language. A truly stunning read.

Review: Barbara Copperthwaite – Her Last Secret

I’m an admirer of Barbara Copperthwaite’s books. She effectively combines a strong sense of place with intriguing plots and her latest book, Her Last Secret, continues this tradition.  Chief Inspector Paul Ogundele is called to a house on Christmas Day after reports of gunfire and is shocked by a discovery. The narrative then tells the story of events leading up this and the secrets which threaten to overwhelm the family.

Copperthwaite effectively builds up a portrait of an outwardly ordinary family, parents Ben and Dominique and their daughters, Ruby and Mouse. The author explores one of my favourite themes: families and the secrets that they carry around with them. Mouse is the most intriguing of the characters. Bookish and introverted, the family appear at times unaware of her presence. Gradually the true nature of the individual characters are revealed and most, while unsympathetic, are entirely believable.

The dual timeline, the first beginning on the 17th December, interspersed with what the police discover on Christmas Day works extremely well and I found myself turning the pages to discover what caused the carnage. As much a character study as psychological thriller, this is the author’s best book yet and will appeal to fans of Ruth Rendell who miss her unique take on the weirdness within families.