Monthly Archives: August 2014

The Holiday Home

The Holiday HomeI suppose that for many people, this kind of book just can’t be taken seriously. I must admit that I was not entirely convinced by the idea of a book written by a woman best known for presented daytime TV programmes. But I needed something a little different, and preferably not too “heavy” so I thought, what the hell.

The Holiday Home is the story of one family’s summer holiday in Cornwall. But this is not just any family. Sisters Pru and Connie are returning to their family’s holiday home in Cornwall with the husbands and children too share a family holiday away from the stresses and strains of everyday life.

Connie and Pru are as different as sisters could be, and their lifelong sibling rivalries are about to come to a head.

Set beside the Cornish coast, this is a rather touching story. There are secrets that slowly begin to come to light and relationships that are rekindled. There is a good mix of gently humour, some sadness and some joy. 

You can never be sure how these “celebrity” novels are going to turn out but I was very pleasantly surprised by The Holiday Home. The characters are good, the plot is simple but effective, and the narrative engaging and endearing. From the very beginning I was captivated by the warmth of the writing and just wanted to know more about the wonderful characters.

Not a book for the purists. It is very much an easy summer read, definitely one for the beach. But I really enjoyed its simplicity. 

I was in the mood for some light escapism and that is exactly what I got. I am not saying that Fern is an accomplished writer, but she does tell a good tale well.

Terminus (Outpost #2)

by Adam Baker

Terminus“Terminus” is the third in his series of books surrounding a mystery plague that turns humans into something half robot half zombies.

I will admit that when put like that it does sound a little pathetic. Just another trash zombie book! Well actually no, these books are far from that. Adam Baker is a great writer with the ability to draw the reader in and keep you hooked right to the very end. 

There are no characters that link the three books (and the fourth?), only the mystery infection. But with each book we get a little more of an insight into the “virus” and its purpose.

In Terminus, a team are sent into the subway tunnels below Manhattan to recover a team of scientists and their notes. But things start to go wrong right from the start with members of the team falling victim to the plague carriers, cold and nuclear fallout. 

A pattern is beginning to emerge. We know that the characters will probably not going to make it as far as the next book, but that doesn’t stop me wishing for their survival. 

Like its predecessors, Terminus has pace, believable characters and a plot that keeps you guessing right to the end. Baker is very descriptive of the rescue and military hardware, and it’s obvious he has done his research.

Once again, Adam Baker has produced a book that is difficult to put down. 

The Female Detective

The Female DetectiveFirst published in 1864, The Female Detective is a book ahead of its time, as the first real female detectives were still half a century away. But that’s not all that is unusual about this book. For one thing, we never know the real name of the detective in question. She is referred to as Miss Gladden, but other than that she remains anonymous.

Also, this is not one story but a selection of narratives, some too brief to be called short stories. And even those that are long enough can hardly be considered as anything more than notes. 

The cases themselves are very mixed, but the one thing they all have in common is that in none of them is the perpetrator of the crime brought to justice. Each case is in fact a mystery, with some being resolved, but with the culprit either beyond reach or dead. 

There is a little of the Sherlock Holmes about the way in which the detective pieces together clues from nothing. But for me the whole thing lacked any kind of cohesion and I never felt I was reading anything more than rough notes. Certainly, a couple of the tales could have been built on to produce a more typical crime thriller. As it is, I was very disappointed.

The introduction and forward label this as a kind of classic. Sorry, but I don’t agree. Certainly it was ahead of its time, making the detective a woman, but the lack of any attempt to give the character any personality, or to bring some resolution to some of her cases just didn’t work for me.

Big Spender

by John McCabe

Big SpenderAccording to the song by Pink Floyd, money is the root of all evil today. One person who can surely appreciate that feeling is Jake Cooper, the hapless hero of John McCabe’s excellent book “Big Spender” 

Safety Inspector Jake is finding it increasingly difficult to make his income match his expenditure. Having an at-home girlfriend addicted to internet chat rooms isn’t helping. 

Trying to make ends meet is only a part of Jake’s problems, what with the mysterious death of his miserly uncle Norbert, disillusionment with his job, his girlfriend’s online liaisons and falling in love with a firework developer, it seems his life is beginning to fall apart. 

Using a manuscript left behind by his uncle, Jake tries tom turn his life around. And just when he thinks he might be getting somewhere, a long forgotten face from his past returns demanding repayment of a debt.

Great humour and plot twists reminiscent of the late, great Tom Sharp make this an excellent holiday read. McCabe has a wonderful way of making the most ridiculous ideas seem plausible, I was captivated with the story and characters right from the start. 

John McCabe is another author to my must read more list.

Fear The Worst

Fear The Worstby Linwood Barclay

The story starts with a father and his teenage daughter arguing over breakfast, a common enough event in any household. But when Tim Blake’s daughter doesn’t return home after work, it becomes clear that this is no ordinary day. Staff at the hotel where she has been working say they have never heard of Sydney, and there is no trace or clue as to where she has gone or why.

With the police seemingly making only a token investigation, Tim takes it upon himself to find his daughter. But he is now the only one looking for her and he soon finds his own life in danger.

His life is threatened, his home broken into and he even finds himself on the run from the police as his investigation leads him closer to finding his daughter. Linwood Barclay once again takes the reader in a rollercoaster ride. Although I had my suspicions about a couple of the characters, I did not anticipate the ending at all. As with most first-person narratives, the reader only sees as much as the character, so you don’t see what outsiders might and you never get a real insight into other characters in the book. There are occasions when I found myself wanting to shout at our hero, pointing out he was about to do something exceptionally stupid. 

In all it was an engrossing read that I could not put down. The pace is relentless and I had total sympathy with the father. Having a young daughter myself I found it easy to put myself in the father’s shoes as he felt his life begin to unravel. 

“Fear the Worst” is Linwood’s third novel. I now need to get my hands on “No Time For Goodbye”. He is a talented storyteller and someone whos work I will recommend to anyone with an interest in crime thrillers.