Review: Eva Hudson – The Senior Moment

theseniormomentblogbooksI’ve only just managed to squeeze in my e-book of the month. My kindle (as usual) went AWOL and I then forgot what a short month February is. However, I just managed to get my reading done in time. I reviewed the first book by Eva Hudson last year. The Loyal Servant was set in the corridors of Whitehall and featured the hapless Caroline trying to uncover the truth about a Minister’s death. My review mentioned that my favourite character was Caroline’s mother Jean Henderson, and I was pleased to see that she had become the main protagonist in The Senior Moment.

Jean is visiting her son Simon in New York, who is awaiting the imminent arrival of a new baby with his wife Cindy. But the moment she arrives, she is witness to a violent robbery in a grocery store and catches a glimpse of the gunman’s face. Her son is missing and the only clue in his empty apartment is a friend who turns up to say that they own $100,000 to a loan shark. As Jean tries to raise the money to bail-out her son, she is being hunted by the grocery store killer, who wants to eliminate her as a witness.

Despite the change of location, the book is written very much in the style of The Loyal Servant. Jean is the same doughty character that we saw in book 1, determined to rescue her son although frightened that she has found herself within the gunman’s sights. The scenes containing Jean are the ones with the most tension. A friend and I have in the past lamented the lack of interesting older women characters in fiction, particularly given that many women read crime books and thrillers. Jean fills some of that gap with her gung-ho attitude and astute actions although the character is written with subtlety and with a bit of romance thrown in.

I also enjoyed the police scenes as Luisa, suffering at the hands of a male dominated precinct, attempts to unpick the case in the midst of departmental disinterest. The character develops throughout the book and towards the end you’re rooting for both Jean and Luisa for different reasons.

It was a bold move for the author to move this second book from London to New York but I was surprised at how well it worked. I’m looking forward to book 3.

I received a copy of the book from the author whose website is here.

Review: Eva Hudson – The Loyal Servant

April – a new month and I’m determined to try out some new authors rather than rely on old favourites. My kindle has also been shamefully neglected and usually only gets dusted down in advance of a plane trip. The trouble is, I like the feel of books and the e-reading experience is never completely going to do it for me. However, I downloaded The Loyal Servant by Eva Hudson because I liked the premise of the book – a political thriller set in the Department of Education involving the death of a politician.

Civil Servant Caroline Barber discovers Martin Fox, a junior minister and her former lover, dead in his office one evening. She had been called to his rooms after he had left a cryptic message on her voicemail which subsequently disappears. Unconvinced by the official explanation of suicide, Caroline pairs up with investigative journalist Angela Tate and soon both her job and family are at risk as secrets emerge that others wish to be covered up.

The book was the winner of the 2011 Lucy Cavendish Prize for fiction and I liked the fact that the two lead protagonists are strong women. Caroline, the lowly civil service is the best realised of the two, generally happy in her dull job but trying to juggle work and family pressures. Her family were particularly well portrayed, especially her militant mother protesting against various government measures. The journalist Angela Tate was also a strong character, her job continually under threat from cost-cutting measures and desperate to get that all important scoop.

The descriptions of the Department of Education were particularly strong and the writer clearly knows the world well with its bureaucracy that can be circumvented by those in the know. As the plot reached its climax I found it a little rushed and wanted the narrative to continue to the (hinted) conclusion. But overall it was a good read and it was nice to see a political thriller written by a woman and featuring two strong female leads.