The Scars Beneath The Soul by Dave Sivers. Read September 2015.

A cracking read – and a thank you to Twitter!

“In a quiet market town in Buckinghamshire, a brutal killer strikes, shattering any illusions Detective Inspector Lizzie Archer might have had about her new patch in Aylesbury Vale being a sleepy hollow. 
Disfigured in the line of duty, Archer has transferred in from the Met, hoping to make a fresh start in her life and her career. The last thing she needs is an awkward colleague, but that is what she seems to find in Detective Sergeant Dan Baines. 
Baines bears scars of his own, the kind that cannot be seen. Eleven years ago, his family fell victim to a serial killer, and recently his life has fallen into fresh turmoil. Haunted by dreams and visions of his still-missing son, and confused by feelings for his murdered wife’s identical twin sister, he finds himself resenting a new boss who knows nothing about the area. 
But the killer shows no sign of stopping and with no obvious connection between the victims and the body count rising daily, Archer and Baines must put aside their differences and work together if they are to stop a maniac whose appetite for slaughter seemingly knows no bounds.”

First, why a thank you to Twitter? Well, some time ago I posted my crime fiction map of the UK on the blog and author Dave Sivers tweeted to suggest including his characters Archer & Baines on the map in Aylesbury. Always keen to discover new crime fiction, especially series, I looked them up on Amazon, added them to my wish list and updated the map. I subsequently got my hands on the first two books in the series and now my only regret is that I didn’t start reading The Scars Beneath the Soul sooner.

It has everything I look for in my crime fiction: a strong, character-led story; twists and turns in the plot that give the reader a chance of guessing what’s coming but not so much that it becomes predictable or boring; a cast of characters that gives the reader a sense of being involved in the team or community; finally, most important for a series, main characters who have a dynamic and/or back story that is almost more interesting than the plot of the book.

Archer and Baines are now firmly on the list of crime fiction series I follow and I highly recommend them to other crime series fans. Although I don’t like reading consecutive books by the same author I’ve moved book two (Dead In Deep Water) up my TBR list to be read very soon.

Thank you to the author for donating the signed paperbacks I purchased via the Authors For Nepal appeal.
  

The Daughter’s Secret by Eva Holland. Read 2015.

Published in the UK in August 2015 this debut novel by Eva Holland was the winner of the Good Housekeeping novel writing competition 2014.

The blurb: “My daughter is a liar. A liar, liar, liar. And I’m starting to see where she gets it from. When Rosalind’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Stephanie, ran away with her teacher, this ordinary family became something it had never asked to be. Their lives held up to scrutiny in the centre of a major police investigation, the Simms were headline news while Stephanie was missing with a man who was risking everything.

Now, six years on, Ros takes a call that will change their lives all over again. He’s going to be released from prison. Years too early. In eleven days’ time. 

As Temperley’s release creeps ever closer, Ros is forced to confront the events that led them here, back to a place she thought she’d left behind, to questions she didn’t want to answer. Why did she do it? Where does the blame lie? What happens next?”


My thoughts
: We’ve all seen those police press conferences on the news. Distraught parents whose teenage daughter is missing, presumed to be on the run with her teacher. Most of us probably blame the predatory teacher and hardly give the family a second thought. But what about the story behind the headlines? What if the daughter’s home life was far from perfect?  

The Daughter’s Secret is cleverly structured so we see the situation from three time points (though only from the point of view of the mother). Firstly the clock is ticking down through eleven days towards the release of the disgraced teacher Nathan Temperley. Within that, Stephanie, the daughter, has been brought home by her parents Ros and Dan, after her flatmate rang them for help. We also have clues to a relationship that Ros has been having, and why does it seem that Dan would rather be at work than at home? 

There are flashbacks to before and during Stephanie’s disappearance that give us a clear view of Ros’s neurotic approach to parenting. What makes this such a page turner is that the reader is dying to know what will happen when Temperley is released from prison. No spoilers here folks! 

This is not a comfortable read, especially for the parent of a 20 year old daughter. However it is an engrossing story written using spellbinding language. 

Thank you to the publisher, Orion, for my review copy of the book.