You Belong to Me

When a mutilated body is left close to her home, Forensic Pathologist Dr. Lucy Trask is shocked, but the eventuality is just another day at the office.  As she performs the autopsy puzzling things are revealed.  The figure ‘I’ has been burned into the victim’s back, the heart, eyes and tongue all carefully removed,  actions that appear to have obvious meaning for the killer.  Neither Lucy, nor Detective JD Fitzpatrick, have any clue what the message is supposed to tell them.  When the body is finally identified, Lucy realises she had a connection to him, and finding him was no accident.  Another body is left for her, with the same mutilations, and that additional connection leads Lucy to something from her past.  Tragic events, hidden truths and cover-ups from her childhood resurface, and a simple bracelet is her only clue to to the killer’s mysterious intent.

I had a list of things to do today, nothing that important, just usual day to day things.  I started reading You Belong to Me with a morning coffee and everything else went out the window, I could not put it down!  Right from the first page I was intrigued, and got completely caught up in the story.  I even had to stop myself from flipping to the back page to see how it turned out, it was that intense, and I’m glad I didn’t in the end.

The main characters were superbly brought to life and I cared so much about JD and Lucy, at times I didn’t want to turn a page for fear of what was going to happen to them.  The moments between the two were so sweet and powerful, it left me a little breathless.  The supporting characters were just as well written, and I had a lot of affection for some of them, but as it should be, they didn’t hold quite as much of my heart as JD and Lucy.

The story itself was amazing.  The plot was both intricate and simple, almost as if two layers are going on at the same time, and I honestly don’t know how Karen Rose kept it all straight.  It was never confusing, however, and I think that is where this book went from a great read, to an outstanding one.

It was truly chilling at times, especially when the antagonist was centre stage or when his handywork had been left to be discovered.  Getting ‘into’ the killer’s head can’t have been easy, nor describing his deeds, yet Rose managed it in a believable and convincing manner.

The pace of the story was excellent, utterly gripping and tuned just right to keep me turning the pages as fast as I could read.

You Belong to Me has now become one of my favourite books from Karen Rose and is quite possibly the best one she has written… so far!

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: Karen Rose
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)


Knots and Crosses

Is it worth reviewing books which are 23 years old I wonder?  In the age of Wikipedia and Amazon is it possible to add anything new with another review of a book written before the Facebook generation were even born?  I don’t know the answer to that question, but I’m going to review Knots and Crosses (Ian Rankin) anyway because it’s a fine read and you should all buy it.

Knots and Crosses is the first of the Rebus novels, but it is not the first Rebus book I read (that was The Naming of the Dead last year).  So in some respects, while Rebus was new to Rankin as he wrote the book, to me he was more like a friend I’d met before and wanted to know more about.

John Rebus, at the start of our story, is a Detective Sergeant in the Lothian and Borders Police force, living and working in Edinburgh.  He has a troubled past, although the details initially are fuzzy we learn he was in the Army and the SAS before suffering a nervous breakdown of some sort, and eventually joining the Police.  His ex-wife lives with his young daughter, while his brother carries on their father’s profession of hypnotist.

A serial killer is lose in Edinburgh and Rebus is assigned to the case along with a large number of other officers.  Young girls are being abducted and killed, and it’s a race to the end to stop the killer before they manage to complete their dastardly plan.

To complicate matters, John’s brother is involved in something he shouldn’t be, Rebus himself is getting cryptic messages delivered and a reporter is sniffing about for a corrupt police story that might be the end of Rebus’ career.

Knots and Crosses is pretty short, certainly compared to some of the later Rebus novels, and while worth reading it does have some flaws.  I’m not sure we should expect anything else in the early stages of an authors work and it’s clear the flaws didn’t stop this book being well read and well loved, nor did they stop Rankin’s career taking off.

The pace is sometimes a little clumsy, with gaps where I would have liked more detail and too much detail in sections where we needed some more speed.  The underlying plot is a bit overcomplicated, but that’s an issue of personal taste and I’m sure some people loved the drama it brings.  What really sets this book apart and makes it worth reading is Rebus.  He’s utterly compelling even in the first book.  Not only is he compelling but for the most part he’s impressively real in texture.  His interactions with the other characters are always engaging, and the dialog is entertaining and solid.

It’s easy to get emotionally attached to the characters, and that helps with the rising tension towards the end of the story.  Some characters are a little cliche and probably don’t get the attention they deserve, but overall, the story is engaging, the writing compelling and the conclusion satisfying.

Well worth a read, at the very least because it’ll give you a good grounding in the Rebus character, which you’ll need when you pick up the much better later books in the series.  Better than average despite being a very early novel from Rankin.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Ian Rankin
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)

One Scream Away

One night, seven years ago Beth Denison’s life changed when she was savagely attacked.  The man responsible went to jail for a different crime and Beth worked hard to create a new life for herself and her daughter.  Now he’s out and sending mutilated dolls to Beth as a warning that he’s coming for her.  Former FBI Agent Neil Sheridan was involved in a related case seven years ago and consults for the FBI and the Police when a string of murders turn up and all seem connected to Beth Denison in some way.  Neil is determined to find out what hold the killer has over Beth and unexpectedly finds something he never thought he would again.  The chance of a new life and some peace.  First though, he has to keep Beth safe from the hands of a demented killer who wants to hear her scream.

It’s been a while since I read a good crime book, having lately been absorbed by paranormal romance and fantasy.  It’s the first time I’ve read anything by Kate Brady and having just finished One Scream Away, it will certainly not be the last.  Her writing is very smooth and easy to read, even the little bits of back-history that were inserted didn’t jerk me out of the story.  Some parts of the book were extremely harrowing and if I didn’t already find collectible porcelain dolls creepy, I certainly would now!

The pace built up gradually until it was rushing along and carrying me me breathlessly with it, and I really couldn’t see what the outcome would be.  I thought the plot was extremely clever, several layers going on at once until they were slowly stripped away to a single one by the end.    Empathy with the main characters of Neil and Beth built the same way as the pace of the book.  I didn’t really feel much for them at the start but by the end I loved them and really cared about what happened.  Even minor but key characters I didn’t come to know that well tugged at my heart in certain scenes.

Nailbitingly tense in the extreme.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Kate Brady
  • Buy from Amazon (UK)