Discussion Time

Discussion Time: The Truth of Fiction

32312859Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks, you’ve probably read the recent New Yorker profile of Dan Mallory AKA A. J. Finn, author of the phenomenally successful psychological thriller The Woman in the Window. The profile alleges that Mallory lied to friends and colleagues about having cancer and implies that, amongst other things, he also lied about having a doctorate from Oxford, about his mother’s death and his brother’s suicide, and about ‘discovering’ Robert Galbraith (the crime writer also known as J. K. Rowling).

The article raised some worrying questions about gender and perceived employability in the publishing industry (for more on that, see this excellent piece in The Conversation), but also raises some interesting questions about what sort of truths we expect from authors of fiction. To what extent does an author have the right to write a fiction of their own life?

A follow-up article by Leo Benedictus in The Guardian prompted me to write this post. In the article, Leo considers the recent history of authors who have, for varying reasons, lied about their identity. From reclusive Asian teenager Rahila Khan turning out to be an Anglican vicar called Toby, to embellished memoirs such as James Frey’s ‘A Million Little Pieces’, the tradition of the literary liar is, it seems, a long one. And if we start to consider writers who, for various reasons, have elected to write under a pseudonym in order to secure publication (hello, the Bronte sisters and George Elliot), then the list stretches back to the very beginnings of the English novel.

But does finding out the ‘truth’ about an author’s identity alter their work? Were Rahila Khan’s stories of British Asian life any less affecting when it emerged that their author was, in fact, a middle-aged white guy? Did ‘Jane Eyre’ become less brilliant when it emerged that Currer Bell was, in fact, Charlotte Bronte? Is ‘The Woman in the Window’ a less accomplished thriller because of its author? To what extent does an author’s fiction stand on its own?

This is not a question with an easy, or even, I think, a definite answer.

On the one hand, surely the job of fiction is to be just that – fiction. Setting aside for one moment the valid debate about the very real need for own voices narratives, the job of a novelist is surely to imagine a life outside of their own; to be able to craft worlds and characters that are beyond their own lived experiences.  Hannah Kent has not lived in nineteenth-century Iceland but does that make ‘Burial Rites’ a lesser novel? I would say no – to say otherwise would be to argue that fiction can only be written in, and about, the present moment. Crime writers do not, one hopes, have to kill anyone in order to write about serial killers, and I don’t think many science-fiction authors have actually been to space.

But when the author is declaring that the validity of their lived experiences informs their work, then I can understand why readers feel angry and misled. Benedictus’ article mentions the disturbing phenomena of the fake or exaggerated Holocaust memoir. To exaggerate or fake a life, or life events, in order to elicit publicity, reader sympathy, or praise for your work is different to imagining yourself in another situation. These authors have stepped away from the stage of their fiction and are moving amongst their audience. For me at least, it is at this point that a fiction becomes a lie.

As I said, this is a multi-faceted and complex debate, but I think ultimately this is a question of expectations. Personally, I have no issue with an author creating a fictional experience outside of their own lived experience. This is the art of fiction and I appreciate being able to revel in the scope of their imagination. But if I am being sold a book on the basis that it reflects the author’s life experience, it has not been sold to me entirely as fiction, so my expectations are altered. As a reader, I would expect an element of ‘truth’.

Which brings me back to Dan Mallory/A. J. Finn. I reviewed ‘The Woman in the Window’ on the blog and, for the most part, enjoyed it. Amidst an onslaught of psychological thrillers, it was a compulsive page-turner and I liked the way in which it played with the plot of ‘Rear Window’ in order to subvert expectations.

Having read the New Yorker piece, does my opinion of ‘The Woman in the Window’ change?

Having thought long and hard, I don’t think it does. I still think the book is a compulsive and entertaining psychological thriller. From a distance, and with more reflection, it’s probably not quite as unique or original as my review made out, but I still enjoyed the experience of reading it. It was, and remains, a decent thriller.

Has my opinion of its author changed? Undoubtedly. But whether I like, or agree, with the actions of an author – and whether this prevents me from reading any more of their books – is, I think, an entirely separate debate.

I’d be really interested to hear other thoughts on this and would highly recommend reading Leo’s Guardian piece (and the original New Yorker profile) linked above. There’s also another Guardian article on literary fakery that informed my thoughts in this post. As with any ‘Discussion Time’, this is just my thoughts on a current literary/reading debate so be nice and respect each other in the comments.

I’ll be back soon with another book review and a great author Q&A with writer Alison Morton but, until the next time, Happy Reading!

 

 

 

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Blog Tours · Reviews

BLOG TOUR REVIEW!!! The Lost Man by Jane Harper

The Lost Man Cover“He had started to remove his clothes as logic had deserted him, and his skin was cracked. Whatever had been going through Cameron’s mind when he was alive, he didn’t look peaceful in death.”

Two brothers meet at the remote border of their vast cattle properties under the unrelenting sun of the outback. In an isolated part of Australia, they are each other’s nearest neighbour, their homes hours apart.

They are at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old that no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron. The Bright family’s quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish.

Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he choose to walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects…

Having read and greatly enjoyed Jane Harper’s two previous novels, The Dry and Force of Nature, I jumped at the chance to be part of the blog tour for her third book, The Lost Man!

Whilst still set amidst the sun-bleached landscapes of Australia, The Lost Man is slightly different from her previous two books in that it doesn’t feature protagonist Aaron Falk (although there is a very cleverly hidden reference to him in the book for keen-eyed readers to spot!). Whilst you certainly didn’t need to have read The Dry to appreciate Force of Nature, this makes The Lost Man a complete standalone and has given Harper scope to experiment with a slightly darker tone to produce, in my humble opinion, her best book yet.

The Lost Man centres on the Bright family, cattle farmers in the remote Australian outback. Nathan, eldest of the Bright brothers and ostracised from both his family and his community as a result of a terrible decision made years before, is reluctantly pulled from his isolated existence when his brother, Cameron, is found dead. Dying of heat exhaustion and exposure in the middle of the Australian summer is not in itself surprising – this is a landscape that kills the unwary without mercy.  But when Cameron’s car is found several kilometres away from his body, filled with plenty of water and several days worth of supplies, Nathan begins to question why his brother would have walked into the wilderness – and whether he had help.

Thus begins a gradual unravelling of family secrets, spiralling into the past and causing troubled memories to resurface that send ripples through Nathan’s remote outback community.

I really took to Nathan as a narrator. His gruff, awkward outward demeanour belies a contemplative and considerate nature and, even when the awful truth of his past mistakes are revealed, you can’t help but empathise with him. One of the main strengths of the book is the gradual revealing and development of Nathan’s character, as he begins to step out from the shadows of his past and look towards future possibilities. As Nathan begins to unravel the truth behind Cameron’s death, he has to explore long-neglected relationships and decide who he can trust amidst the small list of suspects. And, as the reader, you’re right there alongside him, putting together seemingly incidental pieces of information and pulling them into a cohesive narrative that eventually leads to the real reason Cameron Bright ended up dying so slowly and painfully out at the stockman’s grave.

The supporting cast are equally well realised and, as the novel progresses, you get a real sense of the shifting family dynamics and divided loyalties at play within the Bright family. Harper is fantastic at developing rounded characters and all of her characters feel like real people, with strengths and flaws. Good guys and bad guys are in short supply in The Lost Man. Instead you have people making choices; some good, some bad and some terrible.

The final character worthy of note is the outback itself. Harper has utterly captured the harsh yet beautiful landscape in which her story is set. From the searing dust of an outback morning to the cool balm of nighttime air, you can practically feel the heat rising from each page. The thin line between life and death in this beautiful but deadly landscape is bought fully to life in the book, and getting a glimpse into the struggle to maintain life amidst such a harsh climate was a fascinating aspect of the book.

As you can probably guess from the emphasis on character and setting, this is a slow burn of a book. The first third takes its time to set up the characters and the place, drip-feeding information gradually. The plot picks up pace about halfway in and I devoured the last third late at night, determined not to finish until I’d reached the end. So there’s a definite compulsion to the narrative but I wouldn’t necessarily call The Lost Man a page-turner. It’s a book that rewards considered reading and will be most appreciated by readers who want a well-written, compelling narrative with added depth. Fans of The Dry and Force of Nature will not be disappointed with The Lost Man and, with its mesmeric setting, entrancing narrative twists and absorbing characters, I very much hope that the book will bring a host of new readers to her work.

The Lost Man by Jane Harper is published by Little, Brown and is available now from all good booksellers and online retailers, including Hive, Waterstones, Book Depository and Amazon. My thanks go to the publisher and Netgalley for providing a free eARC of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review, and to the publisher for inviting me onto this tour. The blog tour continues until 13 February so please do check out the other stops along the way! 

The Lost Man Tour Poster

Reviews

REVIEW!!The Library Book by Susan Orlean

43217645After moving to Los Angeles, Susan Orlean become fascinated by a mysterious local crime that has gone unsolved since it was carried out on the morning of 29 April 1986: who set fire to the Los Angeles Public Library, ultimately destroying more than 400,000 books, and perhaps even more perplexing, why?

Weaving her lifelong love of books and reading with the fascinating history of libraries, Susan Orlean investigates the legendary fire to showcase the larger, crucial role that libraries play in our lives. She also reflects on her own childhood experiences in libraries; studies arson and the long history of library fires; attempts to burn a copy of a book herself; and re-examines the case of Harry Peak, the blond-haired actor long suspected of setting fire to the library over thirty years ago. Along the way, she reveals how these buildings provide much more than just books – and that they are needed now more than ever.

As a keen reader of books about books who also has an interest in non-violent and historical true crime, I was immediately interested in Susan Orlean’s The Library Book. It’s one of those multifaceted books that wears many hats – examining the devastating fire that decimated Los Angeles Central Library in 1986 and the personal history of the man accused of starting it, whilst at the same time providing an eclectic history of the Los Angeles library system and an examination of the role of the public library within our increasingly digital world.

Orlean’s narrative is extremely dense and the book covers a lot of ground in it’s 300 or so pages. But the clear and engaging prose, which blends personal reflection with immersive journalism and factual history, drew me into the narrative and gave the book a compulsion.

Orlean really captures the intensity of feeling that surrounds libraries and books. Her description of the library fire is devastating for a book lover to read – she really makes it easy to empathise with the librarians, who cried on the street as they watched over 400,000 items from their extensive collection go up in flames. In a fascinating chapter, Orlean burns a book herself; an act that she finds both terrifying and subversive. It’s a feeling that I completely understood and I found myself mourning the lost knowledge that was turned to ash on the morning of 29 April 1986.

Orlean’s sensitive treatment of Harry Peak, the charismatic young actor suspected of setting the library fire, manages to convey both the fiercely-held belief that investigators had in Harry’s guilt whilst acknowledging the fallibility of fire investigation techniques and the circumstantial nature of the evidence available at the time.

That said, Harry’s narrative was, for me, the weakest part of the book – although that is the fault of history rather than of Orlean. Harry, a man who constantly re-wrote his own narrative, flits elusively through the pages and you definitely get the sense that Orlean, like many of the other people around him, struggles to pin him down. The Library Book is impeccably researched but, as Orlean admits, the truth about the library fire – and whether Harry had any involvement in it – will probably never be known. This does give the ending a slightly subdued quality – the pace drops off noticeably in the last third as it becomes apparent that this isn’t a mystery that will have a resolution. To Orlean’s credit, she instead turns the book into a love letter to libraries and a reflection on their importance in the world today.

The Library Book may disappoint readers looking for a true crime narrative. There are definitely similarities in pacing and style with David Grann’s excellent Killers of the Flower Moon and Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, but this is a very different kind of book in tone. The Library Book isn’t about finding the answer to a mystery – it’s an ode to books, a love-letter to reading and a homage to libraries and their place in the world. It’s a book that’s perfect for anyone who has whiled away hours browsing the stacks or has childhood memories of magical trips to neighbourhood branches. In short, it’s for anyone who appreciates the power of libraries to fascinate, to educate, to entertain and to unite – a rich, warm and heartening book that kept me spellbound throughout.

The Library Book by Susan Orlean is published by Atlantic Books and is available now from all good bookshops and online retailers including Hive, Waterstones and Amazon. My thanks go to the publisher for providing me with a copy in return for an honest and unbiased review. 

Blog Tours · Reviews

BLOG TOUR REVIEW!!! Oh, I Do Like To Be by Marie Phillips

oh i do like to be coverTo B&B or not to B&B? That is the question…

Shakespeare clone and would-be playwright Billy has just arrived in an English seaside town with his sister Sally, who was cloned from a hair found on the back of a bus seat.

All Billy wants is a cheap B&B, an ice cream and a huge hit in the West End. 

Little does he know that their fellow clones Bill and Sal are also residents of this town. Things are about to get confusing – cue professional rivalry, marital discord and a family reunion like no other. 

Having previously read Marie’s wise-cracking take on Arthurian romance, The Table of Less-Valued Knights, I was expecting great things from Oh, I Do Like To Be. And sure enough, this extravagant comedy romp doesn’t disappoint. Combining Marie’s talent for screwball comedy with the plot of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors, this is a madcap combination of mistaken identity, some dodgy genetic experimentation, the bard’s finest phrasing, and the pleasures of the English seaside resort.

Clones Billy and Sally are blissfully unaware of fellow clone twins Bill and Sal’s existence. All they want is a cheap B&B, an ice cream, and somewhere inspirational for Billy to write his West End debut. But when Billy is found by Sal and not Sally and taken home to his clone’s long-suffering wife Thandie, he quickly ends up in over his head. Because Bill has secrets and, in his efforts to extricate himself from the situation and reunite with Sally, Billy is going to plunge headlong into all of them!

Full of madcap characters, improbable situations and hilarious misunderstandings, this is a short, fun riot of a book that is packed to brimming with Shakespeare references and glossed with Marie’s spirited wit. When I started the book I was worried that I would find the Billy/Bill, Sally/Sal dynamic difficult to follow but, as with the Shakespeare play from which it borrows, Marie’s pared-back prose and eye for detail mean that it’s easy to follow who’s who, allowing me to sit back and enjoy the farcical comedy that ensued when Bill and Billy’s lives become entwined.

If mishaps, identity swapping and The Comedy of Errors aren’t for you, then you might not get the humour in Oh, I Do Like to Be but if (like me) you enjoy the occasional Ealing comedy then there’s plenty of belly-laughs to be had here. Oh, I Do Like To Be is one of those books that does what it says on the tin – funny, smart and a little bit ridiculous all at the same time. Perfect for gulping down in one sitting on a gloomy afternoon, this is a delightful read for cheering up these cold post-Christmas days.

Oh, I Do Like To Be by Marie Phillips is published by Unbound and available in ebook and paperback from all good booksellers and online retailers including Hive, Waterstones, Unbound and Amazon. My thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review, and to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to join the blog tour. The tour continues until 31 January 2018 so do check out the other stops along the way!

oh i do like to be tour poster

Reviews

REVIEW!! The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

41429961EVERYONE’S INVITED. EVERYONE’S A SUSPECT.

In a remote hunting lodge, deep in the Scottish wilderness, old friends gather for New Year. 

The beautiful one
The golden couple
The volatile one
The new parents
The quiet one
The city boy
The outsider


The victim.

Not an accident – a murder among friends.

I have this thing about making sure my first book of any year is a good one – some strange superstition that the first book will, somehow, be a portent for the reading year to come. If that is the case then 2019 is going to be a great year because The Hunting Party, which I started on the morning of 01 January and breathlessly finished two days later, was just fantastic!

Set at a luxury hunting lodge in the remote Scottish highlands, the book follows nine university friends, back together for their annual New Year celebrations. Beautiful, effervescent Miranda is the life and soul of any party – but at 33, desperate to start a family and with no meaningful career, is there a sadness lying behind her shimmer? Miranda’s handsome husband Julian meanwhile, is hiding more than just one secret, whilst his best friend Mark seems more volatile than usual. For new parents Samira and Giles, this trip will be their first with baby Priya – as they struggle to adapt to life with a baby, do they really have that much in common with their old friends? Old tensions simmer beneath the surface of golden couple Nick and Bo, whilst career girl Katie seems even more quiet than usual. And what of Emma, organiser of the trip but forever the outsider. Will she really ever fit in with the rest of the group? For Doug and Heather, employees at the lodge who are keeping their own secrets, these are just another group of monied guests seeking adventure. But as the snow falls around them, isolating the lodge from civilisation, tensions rise and old friendships fracture and, on New Years morning, a body is found lying in the snow.

I was utterly gripped by this book! From the start I found the characters utterly fascinating – there’s something so gloriously dysfunctional about them all. With a few exceptions, these are the sort of people I would utterly detest in real life – unknowing in their privilege, and unbearably nasty to anyone who doesn’t fit in. Yet Foley has done a fabulous job of getting beneath the surface glitz and showing the hidden fractures and vulnerabilities that lie behind each person’s facade. I genuinely came to sympathise with some of them and had a dark fascination with the rest.

To say too much about the plot would be to spoil the book but this really is a brilliantly plotted thriller. By using multiple voices and a dual timeline taking place both before and after the murder, Foley managed to keep me guessing right to the very end – even the identity of the victim isn’t revealed until the final few chapters! There’s a lot going on in the 400 pages with a possible serial killer, suspicious activity on the estate, and the gamekeeper’s dark past all jostling for attention amidst the secrets and lies of the guests. But Foley keeps everything neat and I never felt like the plot was running away from me – quite a feat when there are so many characters and subplots.

Combining an Agatha Christie ‘country house murder’ vibe with a modern ‘rich people problems’ twist, The Hunting Party is a fantastic crime thriller packed with twists and turns and full of that elusive page-turning quality. If 2019 continues with books of this quality, then it will be a good year indeed!

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley is published by HarperCollins and is available now as an ebook, and published in hardback on 24 January 2019, from all good booksellers including Hive, Waterstones, and Amazon. My thanks go to the publisher and NetGalley for providing an eproof of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review. 

 

 

 

 

Blog Tours · Reviews

BLOG TOUR REVIEW!!! Run You Down by Julia Dahl

run you down coverAviva Kagan was just a teenager when she left her Hasidic Jewish lift in Brooklyn for a fling with a smiling college boy from Florida. A few months later she was pregnant, engaged to be married, and terrified. So, shortly after the birth of her daughter, Aviva disappeared.

Twenty-three years later, a man from the ultra-Orthodox enclave of Roseville, New York contacts NYC tabloid reporter Rebekah Roberts about his wife’s mysterious death. Once Rebekah starts investigating, she encounters a whole society of people who have wandered ‘off the path’ of Hasidism – just like her estranged mother. Aviva’s world, it turns out, contains dangerous secrets…

Having read and enjoyed Julia Dahl’s UK debut, Conviction, last year, I was eager to be part of the blog tour for Faber’s release of another Rebekah Roberts title, Run You Down. Whilst Run You Down is actually the second book in the Rebekah Roberts series (the first being Invisible City, also now available in the UK), it works absolutely fine as a standalone, with the events of the first book briefly alluded to only at the very start.

Rebekah is an absolutely fantastic character – engaging and determined yet mindful and empathetic, I found her to be a refreshing portrayal of a reporter. At the whims of the city desk, Rebekah has to get the story and get it on record but she never loses sight of the people, or the community, affected by her words. It is, sadly, rarer than it should be to find well-rounded, professional female leads in crime fiction so it is heartening that Rebekah; whilst personally connected to the story she is investigating through her estranged mother Aviva, doesn’t lose her head, remaining focused on being a thorough and professional reporter. I love how balanced she is as a character, with vulnerabilities and sharp edges, hopes and dreams. As in Conviction, Rebekah’s voice is definitely one of the strengths of the book and, having read backwards through the series, it’s fascinating to see how Dahl has developed her throughout each book.

I was also fascinated by the insights into the Orthodox Jewish community. Dahl has clearly done her research into Hasidic and Haredi Jews and vividly but respectfully brings their culture onto the page, without glancing away from some of the more problematic aspects of enclosed communities. More so than in Conviction, Run You Down focuses on some of the problems encountered by Orthodox Jews who choose to leave the community, examining the collision between freedom and vulnerability. Run You Down transports the reader into this world which is made to feel at once both strange and familiar. She is also unflinching in her portrayal of a neo-Nazi organisation, unafraid of getting underneath the skin of her characters and interrogating their motives and beliefs. It makes for a compelling melting pot, taut and tightly constructed but with a sensitivity and deftness of touch.

The plot, which alternates between Aviva’s life story and Rebekah’s investigation into the mysterious death of Pessie Goldin, builds in tension from the start. Initially, I found myself more interested in Rebekah’s investigation that Aviva’s tragic life, however, as the two strands of the story combined, I found myself racing through the pages, eager to know how Aviva’s backstory intertwined with Pessie’s death. The ending, explosive and poignant, was thought-provoking and moving, providing a satisfying conclusion but without too neat a tidying up of loose ends.

Unafraid to confront contemporary issues of gun control, racial tension, and religious freedom, Run You Down is a crime novel imbued with the flavours of our time. Alive from the first page to last, it uses a meticulously crafted plot and incisive characterisation to tell a profound and moving story; one that is filled with insight and compassion and will leave you thinking long after you’ve turned the final page.

Run You Down by Julia Dahl is published by Faber & Faber and is available now in paperback and ebook from all good bookstores and online retailers including Hive, Waterstones and Amazon. My thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy of the book and an invitation to this tour in return for an honest and unbiased review. The tour continues until 11 January so please do check out the other stops along the way.

run you down tour poster

 

 

 

 

Blog Tours · Reviews

BLOG TOUR!! The Wrong Boy by Cathy Ace

The Wrong Boy CoverPerched on a Welsh clifftop, the ancient, picturesque hamlet of Rhosddraig has its peaceful façade ripped apart when human remains are discovered under a pile of stones.

The village pub, The Dragon’s Head, run by three generations of women, becomes the focal point for those interested in the grisly find, and it’s where layers of deceit are peeled away to expose old secrets, and deep wounds. The police need to establish who died, how, and why, but DI Evan Glover knows he can’t be involved in the investigation because he’s just two days away from retirement.

However, as the case develops in unexpected ways, it becomes irrevocably woven into his life, and the lives of local families, leading to disturbing revelations – and deadly consequences . . .

Because I spend so much of my day job staring at a computer, I massively prefer reading tree books to ebooks. So it takes a very strong blurb to entice me onto a tour that’s offering e-proofs only. One look at Cathy Ace’s The Wrong Boy however and I was SO there for this blog tour!! A quiet village, a grisly find, three generations of family secrets – it’s like Shelf catnip!

And I’m pleased to say I was not disappointed. After a slightly slow start in which the key characters are established, I zipped through The Wrong Boy. Packed full of secrets and lies, this is a crime novel that will take the reader to some very dark places indeed, as the crimes of the past come back to haunt those living in the present.

At its heart, this is the story of three women – Myfanwy ‘Nan’ Jones, her daughter Helen, and her grand-daughter Sadie. The Jones’ have run The Dragon’s Head in Rhosddraig for generations and their family story is entwined with the story of the village itself. Family matriarch Nan rules with a sharp tongue and a disagreeable temper, whilst long-suffering Helen dreams of the life that could have been hers if she hadn’t made a poor choice long ago. Sadie meanwhile sees her redemption in barman Aled Benyon. But why does Nan dislike Aled’s mother so much? And is Aled really everything he seems?

Cathy Ace does a fantastic job of making us really live alongside Nan, Helen and Sadie. I found Nan to be a really dislikeable character – she’s sharp, difficult and vindictive – and it’s a testament to Ace’s writing that there were moments in the book when I truly loathed her. Helen and Sadie are much more sympathetic although both, in their own way, are touched by trauma and darkness. Similarly, I really enjoyed the chapters narrated by DI Evan Glover, a gentle long-serving copper who has been looking forward to spending a quiet retirement with his beloved wife, but who just can’t seem to step back from this one last case.

The plot has plenty of twists and turns. The start is a little slow – there are quite a few characters to introduce and it did take me a while to work out how everyone in Rhosddraig was related to each other – but it quickly picks up the pace as new secrets emerge and the police investigation gathers pace. And the ending is really quite a revelation – to say the climax is dramatic would, I think, be an understatement!

If I had a small criticism it would be that I think there are a few too many narrative perspectives in the book. Nan, Helen and Sadie are really strong characters and their voices really lived in my head when I was reading. Similarly, I found Evan’s voice very distinctive. However some of the more minor characters, such as Evan’s wife, also narrate a few sections and I did occasionally find all the head-jumping a little frustrating, especially as their voices and characters weren’t quite as strong.

That’s a really minor niggle in an otherwise excellent book, however. Cathy Ace has written a very engaging combination of police procedural and family drama, with a fabulous sense of place and characterisation. I really felt that I could see Rhosddraig and it’s many characters and, despite all the suspicious deaths, Ace’s descriptions of the rugged beauty of the Welsh coast made me nostalgic for the many years I spent living in Wales! Deftly plotted, with engaging characters, and a bewitching sense of place, I am so glad I got over my ebook qualms and picked this one up!

The Wrong Boy by Cathy Ace is published by Four Tails Publishing an is available now in hardcover, paperback and ebook from all good booksellers and online retailers, including Waterstones and Amazon. My thanks go to the author for providing a copy of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review, as well as to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in this tour. The tour continues until 13 January 2019 so please do check out some of the other stops! 

The Wrong Boy Tour Poster