Martin Harbottle's Appreciation of Time is a funny and engaging novel, written in epistolary format, consisting of emails between Dan, a frustrated co...more Martin Harbottle's Appreciation of Time is a funny and engaging novel, written in epistolary format, consisting of emails between Dan, a frustrated commuter, and Martin Harbottle, Managing Director of Premier Westward Trains.
A tabloid journalist, with a wife and newborn daughter at home, Dan is fed up with the continual delays he experiences during his daily commute between London and Oxford and, after fourteen months, demands a explanation from Premier Westward Trains customer service. When he receives no reply to his repeated queries, Dan tracks down the private email address of Martin Harbottle, Managing Director, and decides he will send the man an email every time he experiences a delay, with the length of the email to be equal to that of the delay he experienced whether it by 5 minutes, 12 minutes, or 17 minutes - the idea being that he would waste the same amount of his time as the train service had wasted his.
At first, Dan's emails to Martin express his frustration at the poor service he endures, but soon Martin becomes Dan's (mostly) silent confessor, as he shares everything from his musings about his fellow commuters - Train Girl, Lego Head and Universal Grandfather, to the distress of his strained marriage, to the looming crisis at his workplace, The Globe, loosely based on the disgraced 'News of The World'.
Martin's replies are often officious and dispassionate, briefly providing Dan with explanations for the delays his experiences, variously vandalism, late employees, or faulty signal boxes. But every now and then he engages with Dan with response to a question or a word of solicited advice.
I was surprised at just how much I enjoyed Martin Harbottle's Appreciation of Time. Dan is eminently likeable, and his emails are full of keen observations, snarky wit and a just enough middle-class/ middle age angst to be both funny and poignant. I expect this novel would capture the imagination of many a commuter, no matter the mode of transport, it did mine.
**Note: For two years journalist Dominic Utton commuted between Oxford and London on First Great Western trains. In late June 2011, after 14 months of paying around £450 a month for utterly appalling service, he decided to speak up. Every time his train was delayed, he wrote to the Managing Director and Director of Communications for FGW trains - and the length of his email reflected the length of that day's delay. He shared these missives on his blog, Letters to First Great Western and they are the inspiration for the novel, Martin Harbottle's Appreciation of Time.(less)
Mating For Life is an ambitious exploration of love, relationships and the search for happiness by debut author Marissa Stapley.
The narrative unfolds...more Mating For Life is an ambitious exploration of love, relationships and the search for happiness by debut author Marissa Stapley.
The narrative unfolds from multiple perspectives, primarily those of Helen and her three adult daughter's, Liane, Ilsa and Fiona, who are all variously struggling with romantic entanglements. Helen, a former wild child who essentially raised her daughters, fathered by three different men, on her own, is in her mid sixties and after years of eschewing tradition is wary of her lover's urging for commitment. Liane has been with Adam for three years, but while holed up in her family's lake cabin trying to finish her PHd thesis and imagining her future, she realises that he is not who she wants or needs after all. Fiona has invested everything she is into her marriage and children and when cracks begin to appear in the facade of her perfect family, is left angry and floundering. Ilsa, an artist and mother of two is growing increasingly dissatisfied with her passionless marriage to her much old husband and becomes embroiled in an illicit affair.
As the story unfolds, each woman is forced to negotiate the complications of mother-daughter and sibling dynamics, confront the choices they have made and reevaluate their priorities. What becomes obvious is that to successfully mate for life, they must first learn what it is they honestly want and need as individuals.
Each chapter is prefaced by a snippet from the mating rituals of a Canadian animal or bird which relates directly to the content. I thought the writing style was lovely overall, the descriptions of both place and emotion evocative, though at times a little over detailed. I found I was distracted by the additional perspectives added to the narrative from several minor characters and while I think the author chose to do so in order to explore another facet of her theme, I didn't think it necessary.
While I could relate to some aspects of the themes of Mating For Life, neither the story, nor the characters really resonated with me in the way it has seemed to with other reviewers. For me, Mating for Life was a pleasant read but not a memorable one.
Set in the small coastal town of South Cove, California, Guidebook To Murder begins with the death of an elderly woman befriended by local bookstore/c...more Set in the small coastal town of South Cove, California, Guidebook To Murder begins with the death of an elderly woman befriended by local bookstore/cafe owner, Jill Gardner. Detective Greg King, is of the opinion that Miss Emily's passing was due to natural causes but Jill is suspicious and insists on an autopsy which reveals Miss Emily was murdered. Convinced that the sleazy developer that had been putting pressure on Miss Emily to sell her home could be responsible, when Jill discovers she has inherited Miss Emily's house, she risks becoming his next victim.
The story of Guidebook To Murder is surprisingly busy despite only a single murder taking place. Jill finds herself juggling extensive home repairs in order to meet a council order with attempting to solve the murder of Miss Emily, locate some missing art and defend her reputation from Miss Emily's scheming relatives, all while receiving regular death threats. And if that wasn't enough, Jill is also trying to reign in her meddlesome, if well-meaning, aunt, search for her missing best friend, and fight her attraction to the handsome, but off-limits, Detective King. Though Cahoon manages to tie everything up neatly in the end, the story feels a little overcrowded and despite the plethora of suspects and motives, the plot of Guidebook to Murder is still fairly predictable.
I liked Jill well enough, once a city lawyer, Jill moved to South Cove on a whim after her divorce, investing her life savings into "Coffee, Books, and More". We are told by Cahoon that Jill is a bit of pushover but I don't really see evidence of that, she has no problem standing up to the developer, the council or even the detective when he writes off Miss Emily's death as natural causes. We don't learn too much about the other characters, Amy, Jill's best friend, is missing for much of the book, and her Aunt Jackie is busy running the store while the villains are little more than stereotypes. I never quite worked out the Mayor's role in the story, nor why the developer was so desperate for Miss Emily's land.
I did take issue with few small details within the story too, for example, probate usually takes two to three months (and generally longer) to complete, whereas Jill had control of her inheritance in days.
Guidebook To Murder is the first novel in Lynn Cahoon's, 'A Tourist Trap Mystery' series, I found it to be a quick, easy read but not a particularly exciting one. (less)
It has been a year since forty one year old Henry Munroe unexpectedly passed away. While his mother arranges a a memorial service for her 'golden boy'...more
It has been a year since forty one year old Henry Munroe unexpectedly passed away. While his mother arranges a a memorial service for her 'golden boy', Henry's wife, Jeanie, is stalking his ex mistress, Evie, his teenage son Chad is drinking and smoking pot, and Henry's brother, newly divorced and unemployed, is sleeping in the room they shared as children. A Year After Henry by Cathie Pelletier explores the process of grief, loss and letting go.
Each of Pelletier's characters are struggling to come to terms with the emotional aftermath of Henry's demise, as well as the changes it has has wrought in the direction of their lives. As the memorial service approaches they are forced to confront their angst and reconcile both their love and ambivalence for the son, husband, father, brother and lover they have lost.
Jeanie is the most conflicted character as her husband's death occurred just as she had mustered the courage to confront him about his history of adultery. This complicates her mourning process and she develops a mild obsession with one his last lovers, Evie.
I was surprised by the paranormal aspect that Evie brings to this story. It is not really a significant element, but allows Pelletier to explore another facet of grief. Evie is a local bartender and Spiritual Portraitist whose brief fling with Henry haunts her, especially as she realises she is falling in love with his brother Larry.
Larry misses his brother despite having always lived in Henry's shadow. Henry's status as the family golden boy is only elevated by his sudden death, particularly in contrast to Larry's messy personal crisis which includes being forced to move back in with his parents after his recent divorce, and being fired from job as a school teacher.
A low-key character driven novel, there are flashes of humor and pathos in this poignant story of grief, loss and letting go. A Year After Henry is Cathie Pelletier's 11th book.
S.J. Wilson's debut novel, Before I Go To Sleep attracted much attention on it's debut in 2011, winning the author a legion of awards, fans, and a mov...more S.J. Wilson's debut novel, Before I Go To Sleep attracted much attention on it's debut in 2011, winning the author a legion of awards, fans, and a movie contract, due for release later this year (2014), starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth.
A taut psychological thriller, Before I Go To Sleep tells the story of Christine Lucas, who each morning looks in the mirror to find her face aged by time she can't recall passing, while a strange man, who claims to be her loving husband, Ben, patiently explains she experienced a traumatic brain injury nearly two decades ago and as a result suffers a rare type of amnesia obliterating much of her past and able to accumulate memories only for as long as she remains awake. As each day wears on, Christine struggles to understand what has happened to her, until, each day, Dr Nash calls and reminds her to read her journal, secreted in a shoebox in her wardrobe. A journal where underneath her name, on the very first page, she has written 'DON'T TRUST BEN'.
As the story unfolds, so does the mystery of all Christine has forgotten. Her journal reveals lies, half truths and betrayals but can she trust the secrets spilling across the pages? Watson masterfully builds the tension with each revelation, each contradiction, each truth and each lie.
The narrative is infused with Christine's confusion, fear and panic as she negotiates her past and present. Without her memory she is extraordinarily vulnerable to the manipulations of others and it is frighteningly easy to imagine yourself in her place.
Though some suspension of belief is required for elements of the plot to work, I found I was more than willing to do so. I turned the pages eagerly, caught up in the breathless pace leading to the shocking denouement.
Before I Go To Sleep is a clever, complex thriller that hooked me from the first page and kept me engrossed to the very last.
Elizabeth Haynes draws on her experience as a police analyst in Under A Silent Moon, the first book in a new series to feature Detective Chief Inspect...more Elizabeth Haynes draws on her experience as a police analyst in Under A Silent Moon, the first book in a new series to feature Detective Chief Inspector Louisa 'Lou' Smith.
Lou's first case as Detective Chief Inspector involves the brutal murder of Polly Leuchars, an attractive and popular horse groomer, beaten to death in her own home. As her team begins their investigation, they are alerted to a second death in which a woman known to their victim is suspected to have committed suicide by driving into a quarry. It seems likely the two cases are connected but exactly how and why is for 'Op Nettle' to determine, and the answer is not as simple as it may first appear.
To balance the professional aspects of the investigation Haynes allows us glimpses into the private lives of the investigating police officers. This includes the budding romance between Louisa and police intelligence analyst, Jason Mercer and DI Andy Hamilton's careless womanising that compromise both the case and his life.
The story is organised in chronological order, covering the six days of the investigation. The emphasis is on the investigative procedures of the police task force, named 'Op Nettle', as they interview witnesses, cross check facts, execute search warrants, and collate relevant evidence in their remit to solve the case. The novel also includes partial transcripts of text messages, witness statements, press releases and similar documents which add authentic detail to the story.
I mostly found the details of the investigation interesting, though also, I have to admit, sometimes dry and repetitive. There is tension inherent in the plot, after all the police are chasing a killer, but it's more subdued than I expected, and I thought the pace lagged at times.
While I think there is still room for improvement as the series develops, particularly in terms of pacing and creating suspense, I do like the overall concept. I'll be interested in seeing how Haynes builds on this introduction in the next installment.(less)
After two early term miscarriages, happily married couple Laurie and Alan seek fertility advice and agree to try Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). They...more After two early term miscarriages, happily married couple Laurie and Alan seek fertility advice and agree to try Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). They are delighted, if somewhat wary, when they discover Laurie is expecting but as the pregnancy progresses past the point of their earlier losses, they allow themselves to dream of their future as a family. Until a phone call from the fertility clinic changes everything.
Told from the third person perspectives of Laurie, the expectant mother, Alan, her husband, and college student Jack, also known as Donor #296, Expecting, by Ann Hamilton, explores an unique situation where Laurie learns that the father of her baby is not her husband but instead Donor #296, thanks to the actions of a disgruntled clinic employee.
I felt for each of the protagonists in this story. As Alan struggles to accept the shocking news, Laurie has already formed a connection with the child growing within her, and feels compelled to find out more about Donor #296, leading her to contact Jack, whom she discovers is a college student of Asian Indian heritage.
For the most part I believed in the motivations and thoughts of the characters caught in such a complicated situation and I liked the way in which the author considered the issues from multiple perspectives.
I understood Laurie's refusal to consider a termination and her curiosity about the donor. I too would want to meet him, though I would probably be far more reluctant to embrace him in the way Laurie does. In several ways I think it is admirable, especially as it means 'Buddy' will be able to have a relationship with his/her biological parent and family, but Laurie doesn't really consider the impact on her husband, even though she professes too.
I was surprised at how much I sympathised with Alan's feelings of jealousy, anxiety and anger and his concerns about his ability to love a child, especially one that won't look like him, that is not his. His reaction, to distract himself with the fantasy of a relationship with his ex girlfriend, may have been inappropriate, but is somewhat understandable.
Jack is a fairly typical college student confronted by a decidedly atypical situation. Laid back and easy going he is just as indecisive about deciding what role he will play in the baby's life as he is in choosing a major, or a girlfriend.
Hamilton's tone is deceptively lighthearted, finding humour amongst the angst of the situation. The story is well paced with the shifts between perspectives, and short chapters, making it a quick and easy read.
I enjoyed Expecting, I found it to be both an entertaining and surprisingly thought provoking novel with an interesting perspective on an unusual issue. Ann Lewis Hamilton is a debut author with promise. (less)
Tiddas is Anita Heiss's fifth novel, an engaging story of friendship, life, love and five strong women.
The tiddas (sisters) are lifelong friends havin...more Tiddas is Anita Heiss's fifth novel, an engaging story of friendship, life, love and five strong women.
The tiddas (sisters) are lifelong friends having grown up together in Mudgee. Now approaching midlife, each lives in and around Brisbane providing each other with support, love and friendship. Over a period of a year we are witness to their lives, their relationships with one another, and with themselves and with others, as they each journey towards a personal epiphany about what they value in each other and themselves.
These are women we can likely relate to in one way or another, smart, savvy, socially aware, they are varyingly wives, mothers, daughters, cousins, in law's and of course tiddas. Each of the friends are distinct characters, struggling with their own issues, Xanthe is crushed by her inability to fall pregnant, her obsession placing strain on her marriage and her friendships. Izzy, on the verge of becoming Australia's 'Oprah' and who has never expressed a desire for a child, is horrified to discover she is unexpectedly pregnant. Veronica's self esteem has crumbled in the wake of her husband's desertion for a younger woman and Ellen, who has always been content to play the field, is questioning her aversion to commitment. Finally best selling author, Nadine is drinking far too much, alienating her tiddas and her extraordinarily patient husband with drunken tirades she barely remembers the next morning. They variously evoke admiration, sympathy and laughter and I thought their personal journeys, and their sisterhood, to be portrayed realistically.
Three of the women, Izzy, Xanthe and Ellen are Aboriginal and their cultural heritage plays a large part in the novel. I did sometimes feel a little overwhelmed by Heiss's socio-political agenda, the emphasis on Aboriginal issues is integrated in some contexts, such as the women's book club discussions and the way in which the women related to their family and their mob, but I thought it came across as intrusive, even preachy, in some instances.
Tiddas is a slight departure from Anita Heiss's chicklit backlist, including Manhattan Dreaming and Avoiding Mr Right, that each focused on a twenty something single woman searching for love. I personally appreciate the maturity of the characters, and their conflicts, in Tiddas.
An engaging, warm and amiable novel this is a lovely novel. I enjoyed spending time with the Tiddas, just as I do with my own friends.(less)
Intrigued by her friend's appointment as the head of production for Afghanistan's largest and most successful television broadcaster, Sydney based pro...more Intrigued by her friend's appointment as the head of production for Afghanistan's largest and most successful television broadcaster, Sydney based producer and actress Trudi-Ann Tierney promised to join him if the opportunity ever arose. Barely six months later, in early 2009, Trudi-Ann found herself navigating the heavily armed guards at the airport and IDE strewn roads to Kabul for a four week stint managing 'The Den', a bar catering to 'Knuckle Draggers' (western private security contractors) in the hope that once in-country she could pick up some work with the Moby Media Group.
Making Soapies in Kabul is Trudi-Ann Tierney's fascinating account of her three and a half years in Afghanistan producing local television. Working long hours with few resources, inexperienced staff and hampered by language and cultural barriers she nevertheless produced the country's most popular television soapies, Salam and Secrets of This House as well as a police drama, Eagle Four.
Established in 2003 after the fall of the Taliban, Moby Media's programming was a mix of self-devised television funded by advertising and 'projects' financed by interested parties. Nominated the head of drama Trudi-Ann was also required to facilitate PSYOPS, 'Psychological Operations' which targeted Afghani viewers with messages designed to influence behaviour and attitudes, ranging from promoting trust in police to informing on the Taliban.
Filming largely on location, Trudi-Ann shares the trials of producing television as a foreigner in an Islamic war-zone, smuggling actresses in from Pakistan, negotiating with the military and local law enforcement, and bribing the cast to last the day of filming. Often twice the age of her young staff, Trudi-Ann's goal is to teach them all she knows so that they can carry on when the time comes for her to leave.
Despite being trailed by personal security guards 24/7 and the backdrop of military activity, gunfire and explosions Trudi-Ann rarely thinks of the risks she takes by living in a war-zone aside from devising a hiding place and escape strategy from the various compounds in which she lives. Yet the intensity of the setting fosters a sense of recklessness that expresses itself in drug-taking, excessive drinking and promiscuity.
Written in a conversational tone with honesty, humour and heart, Making Soapies in Kabul is a compelling read offering personal insight into Afghanistan and its people, the thriving ex-pat community and Trudi-Ann's experiences producing television drama in the midst of real conflict. (less)
Betrayed is the fourth standalone novel by Jacqui Rose, who gained noticed as a self published author and then was picked up by Harper Colin's Avon im...more
Betrayed is the fourth standalone novel by Jacqui Rose, who gained noticed as a self published author and then was picked up by Harper Colin's Avon imprint.
Del Williams owns the streets of Soho, running drugs, prostitutes and protection rackets alongside his legitimate businesses. Rich, powerful and ruthless, few are willing to make an enemy of him but even hard men have their weaknesses. Del's is his mistress, Bunny Barker, and their precious seven year old daughter, Star and when Del is betrayed by his allies it is they who will pay the price.
I found Betrayed interesting because I haven't ever read anything quite like it before. It is set within London's criminal underworld where everyone operates outside the normal rules of society. Betrayed is a gritty novel without the patina of glamour usually ascribed to the gangland lifestyle. Rose portrays a brutal underworld aided by corrupt cops, greedy lawyers, violent intimidation and well greased wheels.
Bunny didn't quite play the leading role I expected and I thought Del was the stronger and better developed character of the two. There are no real hero's, nor innocents in this novel. It is a little strange when you realise you are hoping the violent, drug dealing gangster will prevail, but in Betrayed the alternative is unimaginably worse.
The pace of the story is good, as is the writing. It is quite visual in style and could be described as Eastenders meets The Soprano's. Some readers may struggle with the fairly graphic elements related to the victimisation of children, as well as the coarse language.
The gangland crime fiction sub genre doesn't hold a lot of appeal for me in general but I liked Betrayal well enough. It was a fast read, and the plot and characters kept me interested for the length of the story,
"Some of us thought we saved half a million lives. Some of us thought we, our husbands, were murderers, that we had helped light a fuse that would des...more "Some of us thought we saved half a million lives. Some of us thought we, our husbands, were murderers, that we had helped light a fuse that would destroy the world." p 198
In 1943, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the North American government established a hidden enclave in Los Alamos, New Mexico, drafting the nation's best scientists, engineers and chemists into service. The men (and a handful of women) were tasked to work on a secret enterprise, requiring them to uproot their wives and children with little notice and move to the South West, forbidden to reveal any information about their new position or location to employers, colleagues, friends, or even family.
While the technicians toiled away in laboratories and offices, their wives and children struggled to adapt to their new environment, making homes in flimsy pre-fab's without bathtubs or electric stoves, shopping for wilting vegetables and sour milk, surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards. The wives of Los Alamos created a community with dancing and book clubs and cocktail parties, cared for their children and sent letters home, heavily redacted by the censors. They remained largely ignorant of the work their husband's were doing until the day the atom bomb was dropped on Japan.
Nesbit reveals the stories of the wives of Los Alamos using the first person plural narrative (we, us). It is an unusual style and did take me a little time to adjust to, but I came to appreciate the way in which it emphasised the unique community and the wives shared experiences, despite their individual differences. The narrative feels authentic and convincing I expect that Nesbit relied on genuine research to ensure the accuracy of the details.
I really enjoyed this unique book. The Wives of Los Alamos is a fascinating novel giving the reader a glimpse into one of the world's most pivotal events - the development and use of the Atom Bomb, from a perspective rarely considered by history. I'd like to read more about the women's experiences of Los Alamos.(less)
Terms & Conditions is a quirky*, black humoured story of a man** who lost his mind***, then regained his soul.****
* Makes extensive use of footnot...more Terms & Conditions is a quirky*, black humoured story of a man** who lost his mind***, then regained his soul.****
* Makes extensive use of footnotes ** Franklyn Shaw, contract lawyer aka Executive X. Husband of corporate bimbo, Alice. Brother of conscienceless prat, Oscar and Malcolm, who is missing his pinkie finger. *** Amnesia as a result of a car accident while in the midst of a nervous breakdown **** This will all make much more sense when you have read the book. Which you should do.(less)
Mountain Ash is Margareta's Osborn's third appealing contemporary rural romance novel set in the Victorian Highlands, loosely linked to Bella's Run an...more Mountain Ash is Margareta's Osborn's third appealing contemporary rural romance novel set in the Victorian Highlands, loosely linked to Bella's Run and Hope's Road.
Single mother Jodie Ashton craves security for herself and her precious daughter, Milly, too much to dismiss the attentions of the much older, wealthy landowner Alex McGregor. Despite his old-fashioned views, Jodie believes Alex is a good man but when he proposes a romantic relationship she needs some time to think it through. A weekend away with girl friends at the Riverton Rodeo offers her the time and distance she needs to make a decision and it's there that she meets the friendly and handsome Nate with sky blue eyes, a stockman passing through town. Though she initially rebuffs his advances, passion flares and they spend a single night together before Jodie flees, chastising herself for having let her heart overrule her head. Determined to put the lapse behind her, she returns home but is no closer to making a decision about what she wants until her hand is forced by an unexpected discovery and Jodie believes that accepting Alex's marriage proposal is the only sensible option. And then, on the eve of their hastily arranged wedding, Alex opens the door to his estranged son, Nathaniel, a man with sky blue eyes...
Vivid and realistic characterisation is again the highlight of Osborn's writing. I always find myself intrigued by the mix of the protagonists flaws and strengths, no one is either all good or all bad and this is especially true in Mountain Ash. To be honest I didn't always like Jodie much. I could understand why she would have been tempted by all that Alex offers, including stability, security and legitimacy, and could even sympathise somewhat, some of her actions in this story are not very honourable. Osborn skillfully reveals the two sides of Alex, who is both a gentleman and a tyrant. While his affection for Jodie is genuine, it becomes obvious he would not consider her a partner in their relationship and his past shows him as an uncompromising man. Nate has a love 'em and leave 'em history but we warm to him as he proves his loyalty to Wal and then later, when Jodie steals his heart. He is the most likeable character and perhaps the least to blame for all that follows.
There are some surprising twists and turns in the story, though mostly reserved for last third or so of the book when shattering family secrets are revealed, along with Jodie's deception. The final scenes are action packed and tense as tragedy strikes, not everyone gets a happy ending but Mountain Ash is essentially a romance so Jodie and Nate do find theirs.
Though perhaps not my favourite story from Margareta Osborn I did enjoy Mountain Ash. It is well written with complex characters and provides an interesting story of betrayal, family and love.(less)
I was wary of accepting The Fourth Season for review as it is the final installment in a quartet of mysteries featuring Sandra Mahoney but I was assur...more I was wary of accepting The Fourth Season for review as it is the final installment in a quartet of mysteries featuring Sandra Mahoney but I was assured it would work as a stand alone so I ignored my doubts, tempted by the setting and premise, and decided to go throw caution to the wind. In hindsight I should have trusted my intuition because though this novel is well written, I was frustrated by my lack of understanding of the lead protagonist, Sandra Mahoney.
Set in Australia's capital, Canberra, the mystery central to the novel involves a murdered young woman, environmental activist and science student, Laila Fanshaw, her body found floating in Lake Burley Griffin. Private Investigator Sandra Mahoney is shocked to learn her husband, Ivan, is one of several suspects with no alibi for the time of Laila's death. It seems he had imagined himself in love with the girl, but he refuses to discuss the situation with Sandra so when she is approached by another suspect desperate to clear his name she takes the case, hoping to prove both her client's and her partner's innocence.
Sandra isn't sure what to make of the information she finds as she slowly uncovers a complex web of lies, betrayal and dark secrets. Initially she suspects environmental politics may have played a part in the murder but a second death twists the investigation in a whole new direction, one that leads back to her client.
The first person, present tense perspective has a noir-ish feel as Johnston combines Sandra's methodical investigation with ruminations on life and her relationships but I struggled with the introspective nature of the narrative in part, I assume, because of my lack of familiarity with the protagonist. There was a lot I felt I didn't understand about Sandra, from her relationship with Ivan and her children, to her professional status. What is obvious is that Sandra's personal interest in the case bleeds into her professional obligations as she struggles with her clients secrets, her husband's indifference and her children's fears.
This is a literary mystery, lacking the pace, though not the intrigue of its more commercial counterparts. I can't fault the writing but the style didn't quite work for me and I don't think it was right for me to start at the end, rather than the beginning. (less)