Posts Tagged ‘The Girl on the Train’

Here’s some information about the novels I enjoyed on my recent holiday in Spain:

‘Under my Skin’ by Sabine Durrantc1yr-square-orig.jpg

This debut psychological thriller has been likened to ‘Gone Girl’ and ‘Girl on a Train’. It is certainly domestic noir and takes the reader straight inside the world of TV presenter Gaby Mortimer as she goes through the horrors of finding a dead woman’s body and then becoming the police’s first in line suspect. I didn’t warm to Gaby as a character but was fascinated to read more about her TV life-style. She was strong enough to carry the plot and I didn’t guess the ending until close to the end. Some of the other characters, especially the police ones like D I Perivale were less convincing. The book takes a while to get going but when it does with the introduction of journalist Jack it rips along. ‘Under my Skin’ was an excellent holiday novel. It was easy to read and interesting with its continuous twists and turns which gave the reader lots to think about under their parasol.

‘Murder at the Lighthouse’ by Frances Evesham – to curl up in comfort with a G & T.murder-at-the-lighthouse

This is the first of the Exham on Sea Cosy Crime Mysteries. It was a very enjoyable light hearted read in the Agatha Christie tradition, bursting with village life idiosyncrasies and implausibility and a litany of very amusing characters. Just right for basking in a temperature of 41 degrees. Libby Forest, the lead character and amateur detective is an endearing and insightful recent divorcee who has moved to Exham on Sea for a fresh start in life. As an incomer she has a refreshing take on the hypocrisy of her fellow residents and the stupidity of the local constabulary. Of course she immediately finds a body by the lighthouse and from then on in refuses to be side tracked until the identity of the victim and then the murderer are discovered. Frances Evesham has invented an array of lively village personalities to get in Libby’s way from her Goth teenage lodger to the pompous chair of the women’s group or the rude but kindly garage proprietor. Fortunately there are two further books in the Exham on Sea Mysteries (based on Burnham on Sea) waiting on my Kindle for my next sunshine break.

‘Cross and Burn’ by Val McDermid9780751551273
Having caught up with all the books in the delicious Tony Hill and Carol Jordan series I am reading them through again enjoying my extra closeness to the main characters and Val McDermid’s masterly plotting. I have reviewed this before but it is worth a second look.

‘Cross and Burn’ is the eighth book in the series of nine. It can be read as a standalone as the plot arc starts with the two lead characters in dark places because of what happened in book seven, something that is deftly revealed without holding up the pace as the book progresses, and ends with a resolution of sorts and a new direction for the future. While Tony Hill and Carol Jordan are sorting out their downfalls a parallel plot with a serial murder unfolds with flashes of scary insights into the mind of the murderer as Paula aided by the few who remain from Carol’s old team try to save the lives of his victims. Like all Val McDermids books the victims are portrayed as real people whose lives you care about, making the whole thing much more suspenseful.

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Just the book for a scary night in with cocoa and biscuits

Just the book for a scary night in with cocoa and biscuits

I read Paula Hawkins’s debut novel The Girl on the Train after hearing about its international success back in February this year and its rave reviews. Described as the English follow up to Gone Girl, it remained in the New York Times Fiction Best sellers list for 13 consecutive weeks and Dreamworks are making it into a film (possibly starring Emily Blunt). I was eager to know what all the fuss was about. Was it as good as people said?

I loved the opening. Girl on train looks out of window on her regular commute to work and imagines what the people who live in the houses she passes are like. Something I’ve done myself and I’m sure many other readers have too.

The story is told from the viewpoint of Rachel, the girl on the train, and reads like a diary entry, alternating with Megan, the girl who lives in the house Rachel watches and where she herself lived until her marriage broke up. We get to understand Rachel’s sadness and frustration with her current life. Megan’s seems so much more exciting with her handsome partner, often seen by Rachel drinking wine and smooching in the garden that used to be hers.

Both Rachel and Megan have unlikable thoughts and behavior. Rachel drinks too much and often forgets what she’s said and done. A characteristic that becomes more important as the plot develops. Megan has a guilty secret and seems unable to commit to a relationship.

The chapters of ‘The Girl on the Train’ are short and compelling. The alternate point of view and uneven timelines work well, adding to the tension as Rachel gets more caught up in Megan’s life and as a reader you wonder just how much you can trust her. The characters are extremely well drawn, especially the women, and the red herrings are skillfully placed. Overall this really is a satisfying read and I can’t wait to see how the film version pans out.

Theakston's Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival 13

Agent Jane Gregory and friends at the Theakstons Old Peculiar Crimefest

It’s two years since I’ve been to Harrogate for the crime writing celebratory bonanza and four since I braved the Dragons’ Pen initiation of terror for would-be crime writers. But the heightened sense of adrenelin is just the same and I was sorry I could only stay for one day.

Still, there was plenty of time to have fun and experience some great moments like:

  • Mingling with authors, agents and publishers at the first Dead Good Reader Awards. I won two new books and my favourite book of the year, The Girl on the Train, was voted the most recommended book. As a fan of Ann Cleeves crime books, I was delighted to see Brenda Blethyn accompany her to collect their award when Vera was voted the best detective.
  • Meeting Sarah Hilary after her brilliant debut novel, Someone Else’s Skin won the Crime Novel of the Year Award. I met her last year at The Agatha Christie Festival where she was giving one of the best writing workshops I’ve attended. She’s still just as lovely and very much deserves her success.
  • The Perfect Match panel, Isabelle Grey, Stewart Bain, Anya Lipska, James Oswald

    The Perfect Match panel, Isabelle Grey, Stewart Bain, Anya Lipska, James Oswald

    Finding out how to identify books to make your heart sing at ‘The Perfect Match’ panel consisting of authors and Orkney librarian, Stewart Bain. It was entertaining and amusing and I learnt that very cheap or free books increase sales and writers revenues; most readers on Amazon already know what books they want to buy; covers count and readers of crime novels want to solve puzzles and expect to find an early murder.

  • Enjoying the interchange between author and critic, NJ Cooper and Stig Larsson’s publisher and editor about gender issues and sensitivity arising from The Millennium Trilogy in advance of the release of ‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web‘ the new Lizabeth Salander sequel by David Lagercrantz on the 27th of August. With regard to the rape scene, the editor, Eve Gedlin was asked ‘Was Blonquist too important to bother with his women’s emotions?’ She didn’t think he was but it will be interesting to see how Lizabeth’s emotions are treated in ‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web’.