Archive for the ‘Sidmouth Crime Book Group’ Category

51x9O-9cPvL

I have just finished reading ‘My husband’s wife by Jane Corry. Jane is a well established local writer who also runs writing workshops in Sidmouth. This is her first psychological thriller published by Random House.

I found it a terrific read. It has a very different tone from Jane’s previous novels and has something of ‘Gone Girl’ about it, but in a much more accessible and English way. It’s about relationships both within marriage and between parents and children and what can happen when they go wrong. It’s a novel of two halves. From the prologue at the beginning we know someone’s been murdered and who, but the novel cleverly gives us insights into the two women in the victims life in a way that makes it very difficult to know who will turn out to be the antagonist.

‘My husband’s wife’ is a gripping read and I couldn’t wait to finish it. It’s a novel about guilt, how early experiences leave a stain on adult life and innocence versus morality. The description of children with autism is realistic and empathetic providing another dimension to the relations tangle ensnaring the main characters. A fascinating and enjoyable read and a contender for the Sidmouth Crime Fiction Group when it starts again in September.

Crime Writer M J Hall

Crime Writer M J Hall

We recently discussed M R Hall’s crime novel ‘The Coroner’ at the Sidmouth Crime Fiction Book Group. The book generated a lot of discussion. We shared our own experiences of sitting through a Coroner’s court and although most cases are brief and business like, we agreed that Matt Hall’s experience of being a criminal barrister and his knowledge of the criminal justice system brought real authenticity to Jenny’s courtroom – although we hope that Coroner’s are not in the habit of popping pills in the real Coroner’s Court.

We like Matt Hall’s tense and compelling style of writing and thought he did an excellent job of getting inside the head of a neurotic professional woman, with the proviso that the romance/sex side of the novel seemed a bit more masculine.

Matt Hall will be giving a workshop on ‘Turning Good Ideas into Commercial Crime Novels’ at ‘Creative Thursday’, part of the Theakston Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival in York on Thursday 21st of July. Sarah Hilary, (see my earlier post) another of our favourite authors and winner of Crime Novel of the Year Award at last year’s festival will also be taking part. I’ve attended Creative Thursday on two previous occasions and found it inspiring and fun. I can also recommend taking the challenge of pitching at ‘The Dragons’ Pen’. It’s scary but brilliant when all four ‘dragons’ want to read your submission.

Sarah Hilary - Theakston prize winner 2015

Sarah Hilary – Theakston prize winner 2015

Somone else's skin_b_pb.indd.

Sarah Hilary - Theakston prize winner 2015

Sarah Hilary – Theakston prize winner 2015

Our Sidmouth Crime Fiction Group’s read for February was ‘Someone Else’s Skin’ by Sarah Hilary. I love this book. It was the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year in 2015. I was at the prize giving and thought the prize well deserved. I’d read the book in one sitting after attending a workshop on novel writing that Sarah was running at the International Agatha Christie Festival at Torre Abbey, Torquay in September 2014. The workshop was inspirational as was our chat over coffee and cakes in the sunshine during the break. Sarah is a crime writer I admire and I’ve loved both of her novels, so I was curious to know what other members of the group thought about it.

IMG_0402.jpg

This novel goes straight into the action with a scene from five years ago when the main protagonist, D I Marnie Rome arrives at the burnt out ruin of her parent’s house to find it they have been murdered by their fourteen year old foster son. The story then moves at a pace as Marnie and her Sergeant, Noah Jake, try to get evidence against a violent murderer who has also grievously assaulted his sister. Arriving to interview her at a woman’s refuge they arrive to witness a stabbing.

The novel explores themes of domestic violence, controlling behaviour and abuse of power. But be warned, Sarah Hilary is the queen of twists – and things are never as they first appear.

So what did the group think? Overall, they didn’t like it as much as me, although everyone found it a riveting read and appreciated the writing and great descriptions. They liked the theme and the way the plot twisted and changed direction and no-one guessed the ending.

Some of the group didn’t like the graphic violence and not everyone warmed to Marnie Rome. They found her too edgy and her attitude to Michael, the foster brother who murdered her parents, hard to understand. We did all love Noah Luke though. An interesting and believable character. We also liked the alternating viewpoint between him and Marnie, which provided some interesting insights into Marnie’s behavior. Most of us are now going to read the sequel ‘ No Other Darkness’ , a novel about child abuse. Some might just skip over the violence, but not me. I like the total package. It’s nail biting stuff.

For our March Book Group on Thursday, 24th of March, we are doing something slightly different. Peter Robinson is our chosen author but we are each going to read a different book from his Inspector Banks series to see how they compare. The group starts at 2.30 p.m. at Kennaway House and new members are always welcome.

OUTCAST%20DEAD%20HARDBACK%20COVER%20VISUAL

I’ve just spent a delightful afternoon at the Sidmouth Crime Book Group discussing the sixth in the Kate Galloway series by author Ellie Griffiths. Having read all the books so far it was with great pleasure that I returned to read ‘The Outcast Dead’. I never tire of reading about Ruth and her interesting life full of superstition, archaeological relics and striving to balance her career with her commitments as a single working mum. So I was delighted that everyone else in the group found ‘The Outcast Dead’ as enjoyable as I had.

What particularly pleased the group was the bevy of beautifully crafted characters. We all liked Ruth with her passion for Radio 4 and the Today programme, her guilt trips and refreshing lack of concern for her appearance, but the personalities of the minor characters are also fully drawn and shine through, especially Cathbad the captivating druid. We liked the now familiar themes of morality and guilt found both in Ruth and Nelson’s personal relationships and in the plot of ‘The Outcast Dead’. How ancient beliefs influence contemporary thought, in this case motherhood and absent parenting.

We are all big fans of Ellie Griffiths writing but we agreed the characters were stronger than the plots and that over the series similar plot ideas continue to reappear like the abduction of children. However that didn’t spoil our enjoyment of the book and just like Ruth who takes comfort in listening to the Archers, we took pleasure in meeting up with our favourite characters, and as in all the best soaps in following the lead characters machinations. This was one occasion when we all enjoyed our book group read and those of us who haven’t read the complete series are going to now.

Kennaway House where we meet

Sidmouth_Kennaway_House_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1494840