Anne Bonny #BookReview Wrong Way Home by @IsabelleGrey 5* #CrimeFiction #Thriller #NewRelease @QuercusBooks A cornered predator is most dangerous of all. . .

Wrong way Home by Isabelle Grey
Review Copy

A cold case leads DI Grace Fisher on the hunt for the most dangerous killer of her career – but after twenty-five years, can she really be sure she will get to the truth?

The same night a local hero saved two people from the burning Marineland resort in Southend, a young woman was raped and murdered minutes from the scene of the fire, the culmination of a series of brutal rapes in the town. The killer was never found.

Twenty-five years on, new DNA techniques have blown the cold case open. DI Grace Fisher relishes the prospect of finally catching the culprit, but when the evidence doesn’t point to one clear suspect, she must reconstruct the original investigation. Any suggestion that the Essex force was less than thorough at the time could alienate her colleagues and destroy her chances of reaching the truth.

Grace finds her investigation shadowed by a young true-crime podcaster backed by veteran crime reporter Ivo Sweatman. As pressure mounts she cannot afford to be distracted. She knows that a cold-blooded killer is slowly being backed into a corner, and a cornered predator is often the most dangerous of all…

My Review:

The novel opens with Freddie Craig delivering his live podcast. The podcast entitled ‘stories from the fire’ focuses on the 1992 fire at the boarded up Marineland resort; and also a murder that took place that night. Heather Bowyer was just 19yrs old when she was raped and murdered at a nearby park. The media attention surrounding the fire and rescue of two local teenagers over-shadowed any focus on Heather’s case and she became quickly forgotten. The case remains unsolved and Freddie makes it his personal mission to unmask the killer. . .

‘Nobody knows. Or only one person, and he’s not telling’ – Freddie Craig

The novel then jumps to DI Grace Fisher, we are briefly introduced to the other members of the police team. But what is most fascinating, is that Grace has a lead on the Bowyer rape/murder case. Due to a DNA familial match, they have a drink driver from 2yrs ago with ties to whoever left DNA the night of Heather Bowyer’s murder. This could ultimately crack the case. Unbeknown to the rest of the team, Grace has linked this case to a potential 5 further rapes in Southend at that time.
Will Grace get the answers she so desperately seeks?

The novel also introduces Ivo Sweatman the chief crime correspondent at the daily courier. He was a young reporter at the time of the murder and reluctantly agrees to assist Freddie with his personal mission.

Grace tracks down the drink driver Deborah Shillingford. They ask about any living male relatives and explain how they would need to eliminate their DNA from the case. Deborah has two brothers Larry and Reece and her father is still alive. But there is something about Deborah’s plight that unnerves Grace. Why is she so accepting that the blame will fall to her? Why is she content to live a life of misery, almost in exile from all her family?

Meanwhile, Freddie’s podcast’s get more and more intense:
‘I want to know how it feels to live with the knowledge that every day might finally bring that knock on the door that will expose your whole life as a sham. I really want to meet this man and I bet I’m not the only one’ – Freddie Craig

Grace immediately assembles teams to take DNA from both Larry & Reece. It would seem the truth is finally about to be revealed. Then the novel takes a HUGE twist!
A fire breaks out at one of the potential suspects homes and throws the whole case into jeopardy.
This cold case, just hot a whole lot hotter…….

‘She knew all too well that true evil was never as simple as that’ – DI Grace Fisher

The characterisation of Grace, Freddie and Ivo, makes the novel so much more intense. Each has a different motive but the same ultimate goal. They all want to see justice for Heather Bowyer. Whilst some of the suspects conspire to conceal the truth.
Grace must deal with a case gone cold; in an era when rape victims weren’t believed or taken seriously at all.

As with all fantastic protagonists DI Grace Fisher continues to pursue justice despite the difficulties she faces unravelling the cold case. 5*

Isabelle Grey
My Review – The Special Girls

Anne Bonny #BookReview The Undesired by @YrsaSig Yrsa Sigurdardottir #CrimeFiction #IcelandicNoir @HodderBooks @HodderPublicity #TheUndesired ‘Breath-taking ending 5*’

The Undesired by Yrsa Sigurdardottir
My own copy from tbr pile

Aldis is working in a juvenile detention centre in rural Iceland. She witnesses something deeply disturbing in the middle of the night; soon afterwards, two of the boys at the centre are dead.

Decades later, single father Odinn is looking into alleged abuse at the centre following the unexplained death of the colleague who was previously running the investigation. The more he finds out, though, the more it seems the odd events of the 1970s are linked to the accident that killed his ex-wife. Was her death something more sinister?

Yrsa Sigurdardottir is a huge European bestseller both with her crime and horror novels. You might want to sleep with the light on after reading THE UNDESIRED . . .

My Review:

I have recently read The Reckoning, which is #2 in The Children’s House series of novels. I have also read and absolutely LOVED, why did you lie? So, I was intrigued to read Sigurdardottir’s back catalogue of novels. This novel appealed to me, due to its themes of juvenile detention and eerie/horror thrills. I like a good scare occasionally. I actually put this down at one point, reading alone at night as it began to freak me out!
So, when it says it has eerie moments, it is not lying!

‘Someone always gets punished when a crime is committed, but not always the guilty party’ – Aldis

The novel opens at the end quite an unusual start. It opens with the death of Odinn, in his car via poisonous fumes, as he thinks of his daughter Run. It is quite Vague, which I liked. I didn’t know if this was a murder, I can only assume due to the cover that it was so. But assuming anything, with one of Sigurdardottir’s novels is your first mistake!

We then meet Odinn, very much alive and prior to his sealed fate. He works for a committee that is investigating potential historical case in residential settings. He has been assigned the case of the Krokur care home for delinquent boys, to investigate its practices in the 1970s. Odinn has been assigned this case after his work colleague died at her desk, of a heart attack. The committee is under great stress and Odinn must continue to investigate despite no allegations have been alleged.

We learn more about Odinn personal, that he is a single father to his daughter Run. That his ex-wife Lara recently fell to her death from her window. This tragic accident left his young daughter (11yrs) traumatised and Odinn has her attending counselling to deal with the grief.

The novel then jumps back in time to 1974. Where we meet Aldis as she begins work at Krokur. There are currently seven boys and a new arrival pending. The boys are aged 13-16yrs old and have committed relatively minor crimes. Things that nowadays wouldn’t be considered subject to such harsh punishment. Although nobody should be subject to the punishment dished out at Krokur. The owners are a couple named Lilja and Veigar, they are recovering from the loss of their stillborn baby. Krokur is based in a remote location, SW of Reykjaner peninsula, meaning staff rarely get to leave. The owners are bizarre and their behaviour serves to become more and more alarming! Hakon, Malli and Steini are the three male members of staff that board with Aldis. Everything about Krokur just screams ‘get me out of here’. I simply don’t know how Aldis withstood it.

It is through the arrival of new ‘inmate’ Einar we learn more of Aldis’s background. As she begins to form quite a strong bond with the new young man. She is eager to know what crime he has committed to land him at Krokur but staff do not have access to the boys files. The boys dormitory is locked at night, there are bars amongst the windows and they are surely given the full ‘prison experience’. But if the boys are locked in every night, who is it that the owners claim to have seen on the grounds at night. Does Krokur have its own prowler? If so, what do they hope to achieve?

As Odinn continues to dig into Roberta’s files, he finds mis-matched information and from what he can understand Krokur seemed to offer humane care. That is until he uncovers the two deaths by ‘accident’ and digs deeper into their personal history. At the same time he begins to personally investigate Lara’s alleged accident. He hopes that if he can understand some of the facts, he can help his daughter come to terms with her loss. Run’s behaviour becomes increasingly erratic and she claims her mother in angry with her in heaven.

‘Perhaps the day of reckoning had come’ – Odinn

Odinn eventually manages to track down one of the former residents and one of the former owners of Krokur. I couldn’t wait to read their point of view and found myself racing through the pages, at rapid speed. Odinn also uncovers some threatening emails in Roberta’s computer. Somebody didn’t want this home under investigation. But why? Was Roberta’s death an accident or something more sinister?
‘Bloody nosy bitch
leave well alone
or You’ll regret it’

Aldis is caught in a power cut with one of the young boys Tobbi. After she catches him in the cellar. The entire incident gave me goosebumps! I cannot accurately describe it, but it is such an eerie sinister moment in the whole book!
It left me putting the book, down for the night, to prevent nightmares.

Odinn interviews Pytti at the Hladgerdarkot treatment centre. He is introduced to the man, via Kegga one of the staff at the centre. She gives Odinn some of Pytti’s history. It becomes clear this is a man that has consistently struggled with his past. Leading him down a never ending path of addiction and suffering. Pytti informs Odinn that he spent 11 months at Krokur for breaking a window at school. He tells of the appalling conditions, of no education, enforced labour and bible study. He also remarks about the physical and verbal abuse withstood.
But maintains that Lilja was the worst of the bunch. . .

“It doesn’t alter the fact that if you want to look after children properly you have to love them. And people seem incapable of that” – Kegga

In 1974, Aldis begins to snoop further and further into the owner’s office. Determined to uncover something she knows has been kept from her, along the way, discovering more truths.

‘Her mother had once told her that those who eavesdrop never hear well of themselves’ – Aldis

Odinn prepares to meet an elderly Lilja at the geriatric ward. Unknowing this will be the interview that not only unravels the case but unravels his entire life.

No one and nothing is as it seems

This novel has a fantastic ending that leaves you in utter disbelief! I couldn’t believe how many clues I had failed to pick up upon. The author clearly had me, the reader in the palm of her hand. I was so distracted by the various characters stories and spooky episodes. That I completely missed how it all interconnected.
Breath-taking ending 5*

Yrsa Sigurdardottir
My review – The Reckoning
My review – The Legacy
My review – Why Did You Lie?

Anne Bonny #BookReview Bitter by Francesca Jakobi – @fjakobi #Literary #Psychological #Suspense @wnbooks Would you let her in?

Bitter by Francesca Jakobi
Review Copy

It’s 1969, and while the summer of love lingers in London, Gilda is consumed by the mistakes of her past. She walked out on her beloved son Reuben when he was just a boy and fears he’ll never forgive her.

When Reuben marries a petite blonde gentile, Gilda takes it as the ultimate rejection. Her cold, distant son seems transformed by love – a love she’s craved his entire adult life. What does his new wife have that she doesn’t? And how far will she go to find out? It’s an obsession that will bring shocking truths about the past to light . . .

Bitter is a beautiful and devastating novel about the decisions that define our lives, the fragility of love and the bond between mother and son.

My Review:

This literary novel takes you right into the heart of 1969 and the mind of Gilda, which is not always a nice place to be.
Gilda is such an unusual protagonist, at times I quite liked her. Yet at others I found her behaviour and obsession quite disturbing. Whatever you think of Gilda good or bad, she dominates your thoughts for the entirety of the read!

The novel opens at the wedding of Gilda’s son Reuben to his beloved Alice. Gilda is on edge at the wedding. I couldn’t quite fathom if Gilda is uncomfortable at this wedding, or in her own skin. I was soon to learn the answer is both!
I felt quite sorry for her at the wedding, having to put up with the sight of her ex-husband Frank and Rueben’s stepmother Berta. Especially when guests complimented Berta on what a fabulous son she has raised etc. There is something that told me, there was more to Gilda than meets the eye!
Yet it is at her own son’s speech at which her internal thoughts rage. . .

‘He says she taught him how to love; that she taught him what love could be. And I can’t look at him because he didn’t learn about love from me’ – Gilda

The bond between mother and son is infinitely complex and can be fundamental to the man, that will grow from the boy. Various psychologists have studied the bond between parent and child, including Freud etc. I have also seen the mother/son relationship extensively documented in true crime documentaries. Did the mother cause the man to develop into the killer? So, on and so forth. Yet this novel isn’t about the impact of the relationship on Rueben, but on Gilda.
Gilda’s fractured emotionally longing, for love from her son.

‘This is the son who never touches his mother, not even on the cheek when he kisses me hello. This is the son who never visits me unless he knows he has to’ – Gilda

The wedding and the speech leave quite the impression with Gilda. They cause her to challenge everything about her own childhood, upbringing and existence.
Gilda’s emotional pain at her son’s marriage, weighs on her like a bereavement. She lives alone and has little else in her life to focus on. So, what is born that day becomes an obsession. Gilda’s only (reluctant) friend is Margo, who has known Gilda from their school days together. I hoped through Margo we might get to the truth. But Gilda is content to paint an entirely different story whenever she speaks to her. Margo believes the two share a close bond. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. . . .

‘As if love were simply there for the taking’ – Gilda

The novel explores Gilda’s childhood, she had distant parents. Who were Hamberg socialites until ww2. Gilda was then sent to boarding to school in England to avoid the Nazi’s. She took this as the ultimate rejection, which caused a lack of confidence as a mother herself and last a lifetime.

“Don’t think any of us will miss you” – Lena

Gilda was constantly compared to her sister Lena. Her sister was the blonde bombshell, the beautiful clever daughter. Gilda was seen as the inconvenience or the embarrassment. This is cemented further when her father decides to marry her off to a work colleague. A marriage of convenience for an inconvenient young girl.

“You’ll like him very much. You’ve got no choice” – Gilda’s father

Her marriage to Frank Goodman, was far from a success. But yet produced the very much-loved Reuben. The secrets within Gilda and Frank’s marriage slowly unravel and you begin to see things not only from Gilda’s point of view. But from the truth of what took place years ago.

‘Our marriage went wrong but he wasn’t a bad man. He doesn’t deserve the things I’ve done’ – Gilda

In the present day of 1969, Gilda begins to meddle in the lives of Rueben and Alice. I could tell this would end badly for Gilda and that her continued interference would only push her son further away. I wanted to scream through the pages at her, that she was going to make this all so much worse than it need be.
Alice however, continues to make effort with Gilda to try and form a bond and a relationship with her new unapproving mother-in-law. In one sense Alice is quite the hero of the novel. It maybe through her kindness and tolerance that Gilda sees sense. Rueben on the other hand is not so forgiving. He blurts out a brash statement, that made me physically flinch. As I knew the impact this would have on Gilda’s emotional state.

“She looks after me better than you ever did” – Rueben

Rueben’s own childhood is then explored. We learn that like his mother he too, was sent away to boarding school. However, the circumstances were devastatingly different.
We also learn that through his entire childhood Gilda seemed to love and long for him from afar. Pursuing other interests as she felt so inadequate as a mother. To such an extent that Rueben’s first word was ‘nanny’.

Somehow in all of this, I felt that a lot could be solved if Gilda and Rueben just sat down and talked the past through. Then you remember that this is 1969 and within the era, parenting attitudes were much different to modern-day parenting.

I found this novel incredibly moving, for many reasons. Gilda’s past history makes such a fascinating read. I felt captivated by her. She is this book reading, whiskey drinking woman that loves to wallow in her own misery.
We can all be a Gilda, given Gilda’s personal history.
Essentially this novel is about coming to terms with our past mistakes and building a future. I found it interesting to read about women in a different era. The social norms and traditional roles they play. So much different from my own experiences.

Slow burning, literary and captivating. 4*

Francesca Jakobi