Proper Books I’ve Enjoyed – March

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The Boy from the Woods – Harlan Coben

The Boy from the Woods by Harlan Coben

This is the second Harlan Coben novel that I have read, having had the pleasure to read Run Away last year. What I really like about Coben’s writing is the pace at which things happen. There’s no waiting around or switching to a red herring sub plot – there’s a lot going on, all of the time. The Boy from the Woods is another great example of this.

Even with the set up / prologue to the main story there’s a lot to take in, from the young boy seemingly found living in the forest to the outsider teenage girl at the mercy of school bullies. From the word go, it’s all going on, with a host of key characters to love and hate, including Hester Crimstein, the feisty lawyer who pops up in other Coben novels. The storyline does get a little far fetched at times, with abduction and secret blackmail tapes, but this doesn’t make the book any less of a good read. You’ll race to the finish!

When Life Gives You Lemons – Fiona Gibson

When Life Gives you Lemons by Fiona Gibson

OK, so a 50+ menopausal mum with marriage difficulties isn’t exactly in my demographic and I had my doubts when I start reading this book. But there’s common thread that we can all identify with the main character Viv. A dissatisfaction with our lives, a want for something more than we currently have. And most importantly, that the road before us is not always smooth.

Whilst many of the obstacles that Viv faces are not life threatening, there’s also some massive life changes that she has to face, whilst keeping a brave face on for her seven year old daughter. I sped through this book; it was an engaging read with moments of humour, sadness and intrigue. If you have enjoyed Fiona Gibson’s previous novels, then When Life Gives You Lemons will not disappoint.

Little Doubt – Rachel Lynch

Little Doubt by Rachel Lynch

The DI Kelly Porter novels are always excellent to read, with a great mix of suspense, police procedure and strong characters.

For me, Little Doubt was a move away from the precedent, but in a more than positive way. The story starts with the seemingly random murder of a yummy mummy jogging in a local park. The narrative of how the family reacts to the news is beautifully written and really pulls at your heart strings. The story then moves to the polar opposite location of a ‘sink estate’ where another woman is murdered, in view of her friends and in pretty graphic detail. It is here that the differences to the previous books becomes more evident.

The police investigation and identification of those responsible almost takes a back seat as the narrative focuses on the characters left behind from both murders. It is a starkly written description of gang life in our towns and cities today, and the contrasts between that life and the privileged lives of others. There is no way that you won’t get pulled in, and blimey, does it make you think. Even if you have no exposure to gangs locally, as a parent it is a scary future for our children. I was pleased to find that the stories of the main characters do still progress in this book, and it certainly doesn’t feel that this element is lost with the change of format.

Fans of Rachel Lynch will not be disappointed, and new readers will enjoy a fantastically written thriller.

*These books were provided to me as a Net Galley reviewer.

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