Anne Bonny #BookReview Someone To watch Over Me by @YrsaSig Yrsa Sigurdardottir 5* #CrimeFiction #IcelandicNoir ‘A cracking crime fiction thriller and I applaud the author for her accurate and inclusive cast of characters. 5*’

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Someone To watch Over Me by Yrsa Sigurdardottir – Thora Gudmundsdottir  #5
Translated by Philip Roughton

My own copy from tbr pile
Synopsis:

A creepy, compelling thriller, SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME is the fifth Thora Gudmundsdottir novel from Yrsa, ‘Iceland’s answer to Stieg Larsson’ (Daily Telegraph).

A young man with Down’s Syndrome has been convicted of burning down his care home and killing five people, but a fellow inmate at his secure psychiatric unit has hired Thora to prove that Jakob is innocent.

If he didn’t do it, who did? And how is the multiple murder connected to the death of Magga, killed in a hit and run on her way to babysit?

My Review:

This is #5 in the Thora Gudmundsdottir series. I initially picked it to read, because of its unique synopsis. A young male (Jakob) accused of a violent and fatal crime, but also a character central to the story with downs syndrome. I was intrigued to see how the author would tackle the themes of learning difficulties, in a crime fiction novel. I was not disappointed, at all. What I got was a snapshot into life in a secure psychiatric unit and Thora’s relentless quest for justice.

The novel opens with an eerie scene of a young boy (4yrs) seemingly being haunted by a spirit. It immediately gave me goose bumps and I wondered how much of the novel would contain a supernatural element.

In January 2010, Thora is requested to visit Josteinn Karlsson. He is an inmate at a secure psychiatric unit Sogn; with seven other patients. Josteinn is a prolific child abuser, certified guilty but insane. He has been diagnosed with acute schizophrenia and personality disorders. He has resided at Sogn for 8yrs now and Thora wonders why he would suddenly request her assistance. She informs Josteinn she cannot help with his case, that it is entirely beyond her remit. However, it isn’t her case he wants her to investigate. . .

‘He’s my friend. A good friend’ – Josteinn

Josteinn wishes for her to investigate the case of fellow patient/inmate Jakob. Who is remanded to Sogn due to an act of arson, that left five people dead. Josteinn claims Jakob is innocent, because he knows what it takes to commit such a heinous act and he believes Jakob to be innocent.

Reluctantly, Thora takes the case. She begins her investigation by talking to Jakob’s mother Grimheidur Porjarnardottir. Jakob’s mother brings Thora up to speed, on how she has raised Jakob and the authoritarian approach social services has had over their lives. I found this to be very true to life. There have been multiple cases in the British press; where adults with care needs enter a residential setting against the parents wishes, only for there to be an incident of harm to them or others. Jakob’s mother also sheds light upon a life of little support, being dictated to and not listened to. He was at the sheltered accommodation, only 16 months before the fire occurred.

Their so called support was just the opposite: you never got what you wanted, and you never wanted what you got’ – Grimheidur Porjarnardottir

Thora begins to investigate the residential setting, going into business and patient’s records. The setting was a new-build, designed for five residents aged between 18yrs-25ys. The home’s residents had a wide-range of needs. Lisa was a comatose patient. Sigridur was blind and deaf. Natan was severely epileptic and heavily medicated at night. Tryggvi was severely autistic and never left his room. All perished in the fire, along with the night watchman.
But what was life really like inside the setting? How can Thora get to the truth when the patients are deceased?

‘A sheltered community should be a safe haven for the unfortunate, like a fortress to protect the most needy and vulnerable members of society. But that was clearly not the case. What had actually happened there?’

When Thora digs into the post mortem of resident Lisa, she will uncover a shocking case of abuse.Was the fire to cover up the abuse of a disabled resident?
Was it really Jakob that set the fire?

Thora also begins to receive cryptic random text messages, that are drip fed into the narrative as clues. We the reader, come to understand what they mean, before Thora. At this point I was literally screaming at the kindle. The tension and stakes were THAT high!
Thora questions the motives of Josteinn throughout. Why would a outwardly soulless man care for the future of Jakob’s plight?

‘I can promise you that I have only bad intentions’ – Josteinn

Every book brings something unique, but what this book brings is an honest portrayal of a wide-range of characters with additional needs. I think the author did a brilliant job of the portrayal of the shady people that can be involved in the care of society’s most vulnerable. The cast of residents is written incredibly well, especially the character Tryggvi. My son is autistic, so I rarely read novels with this condition. But when I do I like to see the needs portrayed as accurately as possible, which the author fully achieved.

A cracking crime fiction thriller and I applaud the author for her accurate and inclusive cast of characters. 5*

YS
Yrsa Sigurdardottir
Twitter
My review of, The Undesired
My review of, The Reckoning
My Review of, The Legacy
My review of, Why Did You Lie?

Anne Bonny #BookReview Songs Of Innocence by @Anne_Coates1 #NewRelease #CrimeFiction #Thriller #HannahWeybridge @urbanebooks ‘Perfect for fans of crime fiction who like a female driven, ambitious and feisty protagonist’

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Songs Of Innocence by Anne Coates
Review Copy
Synopsis:

A woman’s body is found in a lake. Is it a sad case of suicide or something more sinister? Hannah Weybridge, still reeling from her friend’s horrific murder and the attempts on her own life, doesn’t want to get involved, but reluctantly agrees to look into the matter for the family.

The past however still stalks her steps, and a hidden danger accompanies her every move.

The third in the bestselling Hannah Weybridge thriller series, Songs of Innocence provides Hannah with her toughest and deadliest assignment yet…

My Review:

Songs Of Innocence is the third novel in the Hannah Weybridge series. The novels are set in the 1990s and Hannah is an investigative journalist. She is feisty and independent. She is never afraid to tackle and expose the toughest crimes.

This particular novel focuses on a series of murders of several young women. The first murder is nearly misjudged a suicide. It is only at the involvement of Hannah and her request of a second post mortem; the truth is brought to light.

The murders involve several young women of the local Asian community. Hannah is brought in by the family of Amalia Kumar. Her aunt Sunita is furious at the police’s lack of interest in the case and urges Hannah to help her get justice for Amalia.

‘An Asian girl getting herself killed isn’t top of their priorities, is it?’ – Sunita Kumar

The racism and prejudice faced by the Asian community is fully explored within the novel. I did find this quite eye-opening that in many ways Asian women are still fighting for equal rights in 2018. With issues that they face in their communities often being politicalised; with no real legal repercussions imposed (FGM).

When more bodies are discovered, it becomes clear there is a killer in their midst and he is targeting a specific demographic. Is this the work of a serial killer? Is there a form of cultural basis? The police and Hannah are struggling for clues.

The author has included a wide-range of culture and diversity, whilst also maintaining an honest to the era. Society understood far less back then, than it does now.
Forced marriage is explored, as is Rana’s story of domestic abuse. The novel opened by eyes, to the struggle other generations of women have faced.

The professional trust and relationship between the police and the press, is what makes it for me. Something we will sadly see little of, in the future.

Perfect for fans of crime fiction who like a female driven, ambitious and feisty protagonist. Hannah Weybridge is for you! 5*

AC
Anne Coates
Website
Twitter

Anne Bonny #BookReview East End Angels by @hendry_rosie Rosie Hendry #ww2 #Saga #WomenOfWW2 ‘East End Angels tells the story of three fascinating women and their journey through ww2’

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East End Angels by Rosie Hendy
My own copy from tbr pile
Synopsis:

Meet The East End Angels, the newest members of Station Seventy-Five’s ambulance crew

Strong-willed Winnie loves being part of the crew at Station Seventy-Five but her parents are less than happy. She has managed to avoid their pleas to join the WRENS so far but when a tragedy hits too close to home she finds herself wondering if she’s cut out for this life after all.

Former housemaid Bella was forced to leave the place she loved when she lost it all and it’s taken her a while to find somewhere else to call home. She’s finally starting to build a new life but when the air raids begin, it seems she may have to start over once again.

East-Ender Frankie‘s sense of loyalty keeps her tied to home so it’s not easy for her to stay focused at work. With her head and heart pulling in different directions, will she find the strength to come through for her friends when they need her the most?

Brought together at LAAS Station Seventy-Five in London’s East End during 1940, these three very different women soon realise that they’ll need each other if they’re to get through the days ahead. But can the ties of friendship, love and family all remain unbroken?

My Review:

East End Angels tells the story of three fascinating women and their journey through ww2. The novel is the first in a series and perfectly builds the foundations for further novels. The three women are all very different in personality and I look forward to watching them grow and develop through the series. I already own the next in the series Secrets Of The East End Angels on my bookshelves.

The East End Angels comprise of: Stella Franklyn (Frankie), Margot Churchill (Winnie) and Peggy Belmont (Bella). They are members of the 75 ambulance crew, with Frankie their newest member. Overseeing their work is Station Officer Violet Steele. There is also transferred in new recruit William McCartney (Mac).

‘We look out for each other at station 75’ – Bella

The girls form a fantastic team and as the novel progresses we see them on various call-outs and in action. It is quite shocking some of the scenes they must contend with and overcome. At times forced to make tough choices with little time to think or plan. But together they make a formidable team.

William offered an interesting narrative into the plot. As William in a conscientious objector. I read a lot of ww2 fiction and saga’s, yet I think this is the first time I have come across a conscientious objector as a character.
So, I looked forward to every scene he was in.

‘I’m not a coward; I just can’t kill’ – Mac

Slowly we begin to learn each girl’s backstory. Stella’s homelife is far from perfect, but she takes comfort in nurturing an evacuee. Winnie was born in India and raised in considerable wealth and her mother tries to play a huge part in her life choices. Bella is possibly the quietest of the bunch, she has experienced a hard life and thanks to the air raids, it continues to get tougher.

The story of the male characters is told as they confide in their sisters. I thought this was a fantastic idea. I am one of eight siblings, I cannot even begin to imagine how life would have been for us growing up during ww2. But I know my brothers would perhaps confide their fears to me and my sisters. I think this also offered a different dynamic to the confiding soldier we see so often in ww2 fiction or saga’s with confidence only being between lovers.

There is love, smile and laughter amongst the team. As the battle the aftermath of catastrophic air raids and the devastation they leave behind. There is even a search and rescue dog named Trixie. The novel has a personal focus solely on the characters and their role in the ambulance crew.
It reminded me of the novels/TV series Call The Midwife. 4*

RH
Rosie Hendry
Website
Twitter

Next in the series. . . .
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Secrets Of The East End Angels by Rosie Hendry