Recent reads in brief
Best selling authors Lisa Jewell and Peter James both had new books out this year. Since I’m running way behind with my reviews and I don’t have a lot to say about either of these books, I’m just going for a short
Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell
I’d never read anything by Lisa Jewell until this year. I know she has a large fan club but she never appealed to me. I read this only after significant badgering from a friend who is a devotee….
Then She Was Gone is set ten years after a teenage girl goes missing one day when she was on her way to the local library. Ellie’s disappearance led to a divorce and the break up of her family. Her mum Laurel is living a half life, never feeling she can move on while the mystery of her daughter’s disappearance is unresolved.
Then she meets a charming man who makes her feel there is hope. He has a nine year old girl who has a remarkable resemblance to her missing daughter. It proves to be the first in a sequence of coincidences. Questions come flooding back to Laurel. She has to know the truth no matter how painful this may be.
I’ve seen this book described as gripping and heart-breaking. I didn’t experience either of those emotions myself. I’m afraid I guessed the secret at the heart of the book a long way before its ending though it was interesting to observe how Lisa Jewell manipulated the plot to send her readers down several blind alleys. Then She Was Gone was a perfectly acceptable story and told cleverly through different narrators (the identity of one only becomes apparent a long way into the novel). It just wasn’t that special.
Dead If You Don’t by Peter James
This is the latest in a long running series featuring Detective Superintendent Roy Grace, based in the seaside town of Brighton. I’ve not read all of them so I rely on my dad to fill in the blanks about Roy Grace’s personal life (his wife disappeared on the day of their wedding anniversary).
What always impresses me with these novels is the insight into police procedure that James provides. He does extensive research to ensure his story lines are feasible and the actions of Grace and his team are accurate. Roy Grace himself is based on a real life former Detective Chief Superintendent in Sussex Police, David Gaylor, who works closely with James on his books. But James also does the rounds with police officers, attends conferences and has lunch with ex convicts.
In Dead if You Don’t I was fascinated to learn how emergency calls from the public are handled when they come into the operations centre. But the biggest eye opener was that patrol car teams on night shift duty like to play jokes on other drivers by deliberately driving below the speed limit and and seeing who is afraid to overtake.
As is always the case with Peter James, this book has a multi-stranded plot. There’s a suspect device planted at the local football ground during the home team’s biggest match of the season. Then the teenage son of a local big shot financial advisor is kidnapped; a drugs mule dies at Gatwick airport from an overdose and body parts are discovered at another location in Brighton. Somehow they are all connected to a fight for control between the members of a large and powerful criminal network.
If you like high octane drama filled novels, this will definitely fit the bill.
9 thoughts on “Recent reads in brief”
I read I Found You by Lisa Jewel for a reading group. I was not expecting much but it had some good history in it and the plot was handled well. I doubt I will read her again though. I applaud your solution of short reviews. If only I could do it!
It’s taken me a while to come to my senses and realise I am never going to catch up with my reviews otherwise. I know I could have just skipped writing anything but the blog acts as my memory of what I read and what I thought
I need to try Peter James’ books
Very entertaining reading for this time of year!
I’ve tried and tried to read Peter James, but simply can’t get on with him. Am I making a mistake by trying to come to him through the first in the series? Is he one of those writers who has got considerably better as he has gone on? Is there a later book you would recommend as a starting point?
I haven’t read him in order – just dipped in an out as books have become available through the free library audiobook service. This most recent read is the only one I’ve had in hard copy. I thought Not Dead Enough and Dead Tomorrow were good. Maybe those early books worked better as audio than they did in print??
These are 2 crime writers I’ve considered reading in the past but was never sure if I’d enjoy them. It sounds like I’d appreciate the Peter James more.
I can’t say the Peter James series is particularly good writing but the settings are and the procedural aspects keep me reading. I don’t think you’d care for the Lisa Jewell to be frank….
Good to know!