Anne Bonny #BookReview The Reckoning by @YrsaSig 5* Genius #CrimeFiction #IcelandicNoir #NewRelease @HodderPublicity @HodderBooks ‘This novel is the perfect revenge story, with revelations right up to the very last page!’

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The Reckoning by Yrsa Sigurdardottir
#2 In The Children’s House Series

Own copy via Kindle
Synopsis:

A chilling note predicting the deaths of six people is found in a school’s time capsule, ten years after it was buried.
But surely, if a thirteen-year-old wrote it, it can’t be a real threat…

Detective Huldar suspects he’s been given the investigation simply to keep him away from real police work. He turns to psychologist Freyja to help understand the child who hid the message.
Soon, however, they find themselves at the heart of another shocking case.

For the discovery of the letter coincides with a string of macabre events: body parts found in a garden, followed by the murder of the man who owned the house. His initials are BT, one of the names on the note.

Huldar and Freyja must race to identify the writer, the victims and the murderer, before the rest of the targets are killed…

My Review:

This novel is the perfect revenge story, with revelations right up to the very last page! It is brilliantly written and slowly unravels to reveal a meticulously planned plot.
It is one NOT to be missed!

The novel opens in September 2004, with 8yr old Vaka waiting at the school gates for her father who is late to collect her. She is approached by a curious school mate who offers to wait with her. Eventually the girls agree to walk to her new friend’s house nearby and call Vaka’s father. The friend warns them they must be quick and quiet.
This will be the last time, Vaka is seen alive. . . .

The novel then jumps ahead to 2016 with Detective Huldar, dealing with the cases no one wants. He has recently been demoted, from head of major murder investigations after a screw-up. He is left feeling demoralised and redundant in his new post.

Freyja has also been demoted from director of children’s house to child psychologist. She is angry with her downfall and lays the blame firmly with Huldar.

The case of the school time capsule is rather complex. When a capsule is unearthed ten years later in 2016, it has an extra letter inside, one that carries with it threats of death. . . .
‘In 2016 the following people are going to die: K, S, BT, JJ, OV and I. Nobody will miss them. Least of all me. I can’t wait’

As creepy as the time capsule note is, is this a prank? A threat gone astray? Or is someone planning on killing the individuals listed? How do you identify the people with only initials to go from? This may seem mundane and tedious to Huldar and young copper Gudlaugur ‘Gulli’ but it will turn out to be their most twisted case yet!

Erla is now in-charge of the major murder investigations team. She feels out of her depth and inadequate. Despite Huldar’s attempts to build her up. She is present at a crime scene where two human hands are discovered in a hot tub. The owner Benedict, has an initial from the letter BT, are the cases related or pure coincidence?

“Who’d be capable of chopping of another persons hands?” – Huldar
“A madman. Someone seriously deranged” – Freyja

Freyja reluctantly agrees to help Huldar with the time capsule case. She represses her inner anger at him, due to her own on-going problems in her personal life.
“Lots of teenagers fantasise about killing their enemies one day. But virtually none go on to act it out” – Freyja

Across town prosecutor Thorvaldur begins receiving emails from reckoning@gmail.com they contain death threats and attachments regarding betrayal and an image of two scruffy children. He is baffled as to who is sending the threats but doesn’t call the police. Despite the sinister tone of the threats. . .

‘What beautiful children you’ve got. Make sure you take good care of them. There are people out there who might betray them, as you know too well’

Meanwhile Huldar assumes he has a lead on the time capsule case, when one of the other notes has matching handwriting. The case links to Throstur, now in his 20s. But does he hold the key to solving this bizarre case?
Huldar and Freyja dig into his past. His child psychologist records and family history. He appears to be a depressed young man obsessed with death and evil. A friendless kid, who scared his peers.
His family situation is dire, as they read on he becomes a likely suspect. . .

“There must have been something wrong with the boy. Or his immediate environment” – Freyja

The novel does talk about crime in Iceland in general. How most cases are solved within 24/48hrs and crime is relatively low.
This really adds to the realistic nature of how the story pans out.

Freyja quizzes her work colleague Solveig, on Throstur’s vague records and her approaches with him in the past, as his child psychologist. The more Freyja digs, the less she trusts Solveig!

“Even one child with problems is one too many” – Solveig

Freyja continues to dig into the past. Throstur Jonsson has been known to the child mental health system since 8yr old, yet his records are bare. He has an ID but no files. Who would want to delete his history? Was it Solveig?
‘Something didn’t feel right’ – Freyja

Prosecutor Thorvaldur battles with his ex-wife over the whereabout of their two young children. He is an arrogant, rude entitled man. Yet his concern for his children Karlotta and Dadi is real. Who would want to harm them? And why has he not reported the threats? Does the esteemed prosecutor have something to hide? If so what?

Freyja and Huldar eventually interview Throstur. He lives with his sister Sigru and mother Agnes in poverty. At the mere mention of social services involvement, he becomes enraged and the interview is cut short. Huldar mentally makes a note to summon him to the police station at a later date, when they have more evidence and his records. But it is clear to see, this is a young man in deep pain. Something happened to that boy and no one helped this family.
Condemned by their father’s reputation, the family have been forced to move every year for the last 5yrs. Their inner pain and coming to the terms with Jon’s crimes is fully explored.
This is a family right on the edges of society, who nobody wants to know or help!

“I was dumb enough to think the cops would be worried about us now that he’s out. I should’ve known better” – Thorstur

It becomes apparent Thorstur’s father Jon Jonsson has been recently released from jail. He is a convicted paedophile and served over ten years for the sexual abuse and murder of an 8yr old girl. He claims to have no memory of the crime due to his alcoholism, at that time. But DNA evidence doesn’t lie. Since his incarceration he has ‘found’ god. But does anyone that evil, ever change? Did Jon abuse his own children?

‘Children were not born bad; not Thorstur nor anyone else’

When Benedict Toft’s body is discovered the case really picks up its pace. The past and the present will be fully uncovered and no one’s secrets are safe anymore!
A public murder scene brings with it media attention and the police officers are placed under the media spotlight. Can they untangle the past and solve the case in time? Or are those listed on the time capsule note doomed to death?

Huldar believes the cases are interlinked, yet this remains tough to prove with no evidence. With his past history and demotion, he is aware he is skating on thin ice. The answers lie in the past, but can Huldar and Feryja get Thorstur to open up?

This novel is a fantastic read! I devoured it instantly! The themes of childhood abuse, cover-ups and revenge finally come together to make one phenomenal ending!!!
5* Genius

YS
Yrsa Sigurdardottir
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My Review of, The Legacy #1 in The Children’s House series
My Review of, Why Did You Lie?
Coming Soon – My Review of, The Undesired 22nd May 

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #GuestPost – #Disability – A Spoke in The Wheel by @KathleenJowitt #ContemporaryFiction #Cycling

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A Spoke In The Wheel by Kathleen Jowitt
Synopsis:

The first thing I saw was the wheelchair.

The first thing she saw was the doper.

Ben Goddard is an embarrassment – as a cyclist, as an athlete, as a human being. And he knows it.

Now that he’s been exposed by a positive drugs test, his race wins and his work with disabled children mean nothing. He quits professional cycling in a hurry, sticks a pin in a map, and sets out to build a new life in a town where nobody knows who he is or what he’s done.

But when the first person he meets turns out to be a cycling fan, he finds out that it’s not going to be quite as easy as that.

Besides, Polly’s not just a cycling fan, she’s a former medical student with a chronic illness and strong opinions. Particularly when it comes to Ben Goddard…

Guest Post:

Virginia Woolf opens her 1925 essay On Being Ill with the following observation:

Considering how common illness is, how tremendous the spiritual change that it brings, how astonishing, when the lights of health go down, the undiscovered countries that are then disclosed… it becomes strange indeed that illness has not taken its place with love, battle, and jealousy among the prime themes of literature.

I’d like to take that further and say that, considering how many people are living with a disability or a chronic illness, it becomes strange how little that’s reflected in fiction

We’ve had didactic Victorian fiction, often with a miraculous cure at the end of the book; we’ve had the overwrought sensationalism of Me Before You; but we’ve had very little about ordinary disabled people just getting on with their life. Disabled characters tend to be saints or villains, with not much in between. And that doesn’t reflect the world that I see around me, or the people that I see around me.

I wouldn’t say that I deliberately set out to redress that balance: it just happened that way. A Spoke in the Wheel came out of a conversation I had with my partner as we watched the Vuelta A España: he observed that endurance athletes must be some of the few people to intuitively understand the ‘spoons’ analogy of disability. I started wondering how the circumstances would need to align for two people who had that first-hand experience to have that conversation. The book started there: Ben, a professional cyclist, meets Polly, a disabled fan.

Then I started thinking about the other thing that disabled people and professional cyclists have in common: the assumptions people make about them, the hurtful, damaging assumptions that cyclists are doping to win, and that disabled people are faking it to get benefits. That went into the pot, too. (Since it’s made clear in the first two chapters, I don’t mind telling you now. He’s a cheat. She isn’t.)

I’m not physically disabled myself so I was very keen to ensure that I portrayed Polly’s ME in a sensitive and accurate manner. Joanne Harris’ Twitter thread on Ten Things About Writing Medical Conditions [link here: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/979331230318686208.html%5D came just as I’d approved the final proofs of A Spoke in the Wheel, but it demonstrates very well the approach that I tried to take, particularly tweets 6, 7 and 8. Polly is much more than her disability, but her disability affects her life in all sorts of ways. She absolutely has a leading role. And there are no miracle cures, and no saccharine deathbed scenes in this book.

And I can’t tell you how grateful I am to my friends who read the manuscript and said things like, ‘No, if he’s going to pick her prescription up for her then he’ll need a signed letter…’ Or, indeed, ‘Haha, yes, that’s happened to me several times!’ Not to mention the one who took her wheelchair to pieces so that I could photograph one of the wheels for the front cover…

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Kathleen Jowitt
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***Don’t miss the other bloggers on the blog tour***
ASITW blog tour

ASITW blog tour individual 17 May

Anne Bonny #BookReview Snap by @BelindaBauer #CrimeFiction #NewRelease #SnapBook @TransworldBooks ‘Bauer writes child characters scarily good!!!’

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Snap by Belinda Bauer
Review copy
Synopsis:

SNAP DECISIONS CAN BE DANGEROUS . . .

On a stifling summer’s day, eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters sit in their broken-down car, waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them.
Jack’s in charge, she’d said. I won’t be long.

But she doesn’t come back. She never comes back.
And life as the children know it is changed for ever.

Three years later, Jack is still in charge – of his sisters, of supporting them all, of making sure nobody knows they’re alone in the house, and – quite suddenly – of finding out the truth about what happened to his mother. . .

My Review:

I am a HUGE fan of this author and have read ALL of her previous novels. I love the sound of the synopsis and the way the author has previous written the psychology of children in her novels. I literally could not wait to read this book!

The novel opens in August 1998 on the hard shoulder of the M5. Jack (11yrs) is in the broken down car with his siblings Joy (9yrs) and Merry (2yrs). Their heavily pregnant mother has left the vehicle to use the SOS phones on the hard shoulder. The setting of 1998 adds to the feeling of helplessness as the children must be left alone, whilst the mother attempts to get help.
But their mother never returns!

‘Jack’s in charge’

In 2001 we are introduced to another character, heavily pregnant first time mum Catherine. She disturbs an intruder and finds a knife and note stating ‘I could have killed you’. However, she takes the bizarre course of action to not tell anyone about the encounter. Not wanting to appear a victim or seen as weak in any form. It is a choice that will lead her to come face to face with her intruder.

Jack and his sibling’s fate goes from bad to much worse. The press continues to hound the family, resulting in the children being unable to return to school. Their father is a broken man, falling apart. It falls to Jack to take charge and make the decisions needed for his sibling’s survival.

Jack for me personally is the shining star of this novel. He is so emotionally fragile and vulnerable. He struggles to deal with his own feelings in the aftermath of his mother’s disappearance, leading to bad dreams and a criminal future.
Bauer writes child characters scarily good!!!

West Country Detective Chief Inspector John Marvel has transferred from the murder squad in Lewisham to the quiet town of Somerset. He is a no-nonsense cop and he is itching to solve some ‘proper’ crime. He puts together an operation to trap a local serial burglar nicknamed ‘Goldilocks’.

Catherine continues to be harassed by the anonymous intruder that left the note. She has a weird relationship with her husband Adam, which kept me guessing. I never really trusted her character, there is just something about her, I don’t like. . .

The first 40% of the novel is a difficult read and very slow burning. But once the twists start, the plot really takes off. I was so emotionally invested in the character of Jack. Maybe this is because I am a mother of two young sons. Or his journey of being the oldest sibling and the bearer of responsibility. But there is something very moving about Jack’s plight. His characterisation is an example of excellent writing. 4*

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Belinda Bauer
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