Anne Bonny #BookReview The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead 4.5* #Historical #LiteraryReads #NickelBoys

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The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
My Own Copy ~ Hardback

Synopsis ~

Elwood Curtis has taken the words of Dr Martin Luther King to heart: he is as good as anyone. Abandoned by his parents, brought up by his loving, strict and clearsighted grandmother, Elwood is about to enroll in the local black college. But given the time and the place, one innocent mistake is enough to destroy his future, and so Elwood arrives at The Nickel Academy, which claims to provide ‘physical, intellectual and moral training’ which will equip its inmates to become ‘honorable and honest men’.

In reality, the Nickel Academy is a chamber of horrors, where physical, emotional and sexual abuse is rife, where corrupt officials and tradesmen do a brisk trade in supplies intended for the school, and where any boy who resists is likely to disappear ‘out back’. Stunned to find himself in this vicious environment, Elwood tries to hold on to Dr King’s ringing assertion, ‘Throw us in jail, and we will still love you.’ But Elwood’s fellow inmate and new friend Turner thinks Elwood is naive and worse; the world is crooked, and the only way to survive is to emulate the cruelty and cynicism of their oppressors.

The tension between Elwood’s idealism and Turner’s skepticism leads to a decision which will have decades-long repercussions.

Based on the history of a real reform school in Florida that operated for one hundred and eleven years and warped and destroyed the lives of thousands of children, The Nickel Boys is a devastating, driven narrative by a great American novelist whose work is essential to understanding the current reality of the United States.

My Review ~

Publication day for the long awaited new Colson Whitehead novel, finally arrived!
The Nickel Boys is an emotive and thought provoking title. The novel is loosely based around a real life true case of systemic abuse at a borstal type facility in 1960s America. Whilst the novel deals with themes of physical/emotional/sexual abuse, it does so in a sensitive manner. Only using scenes of violence to portray the fear within the boys and the complete and utter control their abusers have over them.

The novel is set in 1960s America the fight for civil rights is a backstory within the boys lives. But unfortunately equal rights will not come quick enough for Elwood and Turner. The boys come from very differing backgrounds, although both have known the emotional pain of abandonment and loss. Despite their different out looks on life, they instantly bond at the Nickel Academy. Their friendship will be the only saving grace during their time of detainment.

How do you follow-up a title as powerful as The Underground Railroad? How do you ever emulate a title that has had such global appeal and massive success?
Colson Whitehead has picked a real life part of history and used it to display how institutional racism gives way to abuse and even murder.
Life at the Nickel Academy is one of brutalisation, humiliation and loss of power for the boys detained there. How anyone can ever conceive that this environment would enable young men to make the changes they need, one can never truly know.
What the boys need is love, acceptance and a chance to learn. But there is NONE of that at the Nickel Academy.

I haven’t included any quotes in this review, as the title is only 208 pages. I raced through them at breakneck speed. leaving no time for note taking. Colson Whitehead has an exceptional way with words and there were many opportunities to quote moving passages.

The Nickel Boys is a hard-hitting title which is perfect for book groups, debate and discussion. I have a feeling it will stay with readers for a long time after the closing pages are finally turned!

Literary food for the soul, heart and the brain. 4.5*

CW
Colson Whitehead
Website
Twitter
Check out the authors website for news on the TV adaption of The Underground railroad and also for links to the real-life case behind The Nickel Boys.

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Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas 4* #CrimeFiction #Thriller #Mystery #CoastalCrime #Psychological

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Then She Vanishes by Claire Douglas
Review Copy

Synopsis ~

THE ONLY THING THAT WILL SHOCK YOU MORE THAN THE FIRST CHAPTER . . .
IS THE LAST. . .

Jess and Heather were once best friends – until the night Heather’s sister Flora vanished. The night that lies tore their friendship apart.

But years later, when a brutal double murder shakes their childhood town, Jess returns home.

Because the suspect is Heather.

What happened to the girl you used to know?

My Review ~

The prologue begins in March 2012. An individual with a shotgun in their hand  and murder on their mind. We then watch on as a man and woman are shot in cold blood and at close range. But the killer knew there was a witness and just casually left the scene of the crime. Why did they murder the people? What is their motive?

We are then introduced to Bristol and Somerset Herald journalist Jessica Fox. She is writing up the murders of mother and son Clive Wilson (58) and Deirdre Wilson (76). The suspect is local woman Heather Underwood (32), but she is in critical condition after administering a near fatal gunshot wound to her chest.
The name Heather Underwood leads Jessica to one question and one question only…
‘Is it my Heather?’

It then becomes clear that Jessica is acquainted with the suspected perpetrator and her family. But will this help or hinder Jess in getting close to the family and uncovering their secrets?
The family background of both Heather and Jess is detailed over the following story and weaved within the narrative. The biggest question remains on everyone’s mind…

‘Why would someone want to kill an old lady who never hurt a fly’

I did find the title had a slow (ish) start after the opening murder scene description and had moments of slow burn throughout. That being said I love the coastal location. The idea of secrets from the past and the intense ‘why she did it’ as opposed to ‘who did it’. 4* 

CD
Claire Douglas
Twitter

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Anne Bonny #BookReview The Boy Who Fell by Jo Spain 4* #CrimeFiction #Irish #TomReynolds #series @QuercusBooks

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The Boy Who Fell by Jo Spain
Review Copy ~ Amazon Vine Product

Synopsis ~

FROM THE NUMBER ONE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE CONFESSION AND CO-WRITER OF RTE ONE’S TAKEN DOWN

Kids can be so cruel.
They’ll call you names.
Hurt your feelings.
Push you to your death.

In the garden of an abandoned house, Luke Connolly lies broken, dead. The night before, he and his friends partied inside. Nobody fought, everybody else went home safely. And yet, Luke was raped and pushed to his death. His alleged attacker is now in custody.

DCI Tom Reynolds is receiving the biggest promotion of his career when a colleague asks him to look at the Connolly case, believing it’s not as cut and dried as local investigators have made out. And as Tom begins to examine the world Connolly and his upper class friends inhabited, the privilege and protection afforded to them, he too realises something.

In this place, people cover up for each other.
Even when it comes to murder.

My Review ~

‘Her body showed all the hallmarks of resistance when the first responders came’

The title opens in Dublin, Ireland in 2015 at the scene of a violent murder/suicide. The crime scene is at the home of an affluent couple, who reside in a 1.2 mansion. The abandoned property will become something of local legend amongst the teens and eventually another crime will occur there…

We are quickly re-introduced to DCI Tom Reynolds and made aware of his new promotion. Tom is a highly likeable detective and has aided the series to go from strength to strength. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but he reminds me of the character Jack Frost (previously played by Sir David Jason in A Touch Of Frost) But an Irish younger version.

‘A man who doesn’t want power but is willing to take it for the greater good’

When Natasha McCarthy (head of sex crimes) brings a case to Tom, we are immediately aware, it is going to be one of much complexity. The case revolves around the potential rape/murder of 17yr old Luke Connolly. The teenager accused is 18yr old Daniel Konate.
This will be a case that will tackle various themes of consent, class divide, racial barriers and homophobia.

The case deals with many themes also amongst the bunch of teenagers that decided to party at the abandoned murder house. With Daniel being the only teen who is black, from a modest background and gay. Tom is going to have his work cut out. Is Daniel guilty? Why are the other teens so quick to pin the blame on Daniel?

‘They were a toxic little mix of money and meanness and boredom’ 

There is added heartbreak and emotional complexity, when we learn Luke had a brother. A twin brother in fact and he is currently in hospital with terminal leukaemia. Luke’s twin Ethan only has weeks left to live.
With this scenario, you really begin to feel for the Connolly parents. How do you grieve for one son, when the other has just weeks left in your life? How do you go from having two sons, to no living children?

‘Since Luke’s death, the world was on its axis’

Privileged posh kids, secrets and betrayal. 4*  

JS
Jo Spain
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Anne Bonny #BookReview Forget Me Not by Claire Allan 4* #CrimeFiction #Psychological #Thriller @AvonBooksUK

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Forget Me Not by Claire Allan
My Own Copy ~ Paperback

Synopsis ~

I disappeared on a Tuesday afternoon. I was there one minute and the next I was gone. They’ve never found my body…

It’s six in the morning during the hottest summer on record when Elizabeth O’Loughlin, out walking her dog, comes across Clare, a victim of a horrific knife attack, clinging onto life at the side of the road.

Clare dies minutes later, but not before whispering her haunting last words to Elizabeth.

When it becomes clear that Clare’s killer has more than one murder on his mind, Elizabeth has to take drastic action or face losing everything.

But what if she can’t stop a killer determined never to be forgotten?

My Review ~

‘Someone had wanted this woman very much dead’

The title deals with the aftermath of a violent and sadistic murder. Elizabeth O’Loughlin stumbles upon the victim in the throes of bleeding out, whilst walking her dog. She is left emotionally and mentally disturbed by what she saw… And what the victim said…
“Warn them”

When the woman in later identified we follow not only the witness statements and local police officer DI Bradley. But we follow the lives of her two closest friends, one of them Rachel, is grieving particularly heavy and her friends death leads her to question those closest to her.

We also begin to learn of Elizabeth’s past life and the story of her family. When she begins to receive threatening notes, we know that someone close to Elizabeth, means her harm.

‘Laura sends her love’

The title deals with the impact of violent murder on those left behind in its wake. The past collides with the present in this gripping Irish crime fiction title. 4*

‘Every action has consequences. Every inaction, too.’

CA
Claire Allan
Twitter
Website