The Good Teacher by Rachel Sargeant

Book Reviews of My Latest Reads

June might have provided a mixed bag of weather, but for me it brought an excellent case of good books. Here are my book reviews of my latest reads:

Ruin Beach by Kate Rhodes

In this second outing for the Scilly-based murder series, a new star emerges. It’s not the vivid, craggy, sometimes benign, sometimes treacherous coastline of Tresco (although a prize here for the best supporting role) and it’s not the equally vivid and craggy Ben Kitto (although I can’t imagine the story without his commanding, wild-haired and 6’4″ presence). Scene stealer this time is Shadow, the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog we met in book one. He bides his time, mooching about the island and getting in Ben’s way. Then he has his moment…

From the opening scene when experienced diver Jude Trellon is found dead in a cave after high tide, I was caught up in the myth and danger of sunken shipwrecks. The heart-pounding conclusion didn’t disappoint.

An array of plausible suspects keep us guessing until the very end, and some of the minor characters from Hell Bay re-appear in Ruin Beach. I can clearly picture them as an ensemble cast in a TV adaptation.

Read my review of Hell Bay here.

Mindsight by Chris Curran

Clare is released after five years in prison. She has to relearn how to live independently, how to hold down a job and how to reconnect with people she loves, including her sister, cousin and godmother. She also has to learn how to be a mum to her thirteen-year-old son, Tom. He urges her to investigate the accident that landed her in prison.

There are big gaps in her memory of that night and Clare fears that filling them in will only further prove her guilt and lead to more heartache for Tom, especially as the rest of the family encourage her to forget and move on.

But does one of them have another reason they don’t want Clare to remember? Is one of them trying to frighten her with silent phone calls in the night and by entering her flat when she’s out? Or should Clare be wary of her new neighbours? Is there an ulterior motive for their eagerness to befriend her?

This is a slow-burn, engaging thriller. We see Clare adapting to life outside prison and struggling with the best way to handle her teenage son. She is a likeable character – as are her assorted relatives and new acquaintances. The author introduces us to a vast array of suspects. I didn’t know who to trust so I trusted them all!

This was Chris Curran’s debut novel in which she set out her stall for psychological thrillers with engaging characters. She’s carried this through to her subsequent books and I’d recommend them.

Read my review of her latest thriller, All the Little Lies, here.

You Think You Know Me by Clare Chase

The author evokes a chic London setting for her ambitious young protagonist, Anna, who doesn’t know who to trust or believe at the art gallery where she works.

The cast is small but I had suspicions about each of them:
Seb – the gallery owner and Anna’s friend since student days, who warns her against a new relationship.
Radley – Seb’s loyal assistant, who doesn’t seem to like Anna despite apparently protecting her.
Darrick – a mysterious guest at a private view who’s keen to get close to Anna, but why?
Alicia – Anna’s bossy, manipulative cousin who owns the house where Anna lodges and who is suspicious of everyone Anna meets.
Sally – a fellow lodger, who apparently trusts everyone and is a willing listener to Anna’s problems, maybe a little too willing.

I called this a gentle psychological thriller until I found out a more accurate description would be romantic suspense. I hadn’t read in this crime sub-genre before and rather liked it.

Nothing Else Remains by Robert Scragg

Traditional police procedural – two bantering detectives investigate a case with their difficult boss breathing down their necks. But the mystery was fresh and the writing brisk with a nice touch of humour in the many similes. This was a quick, enjoyable read. I’ll definitely look out for the next Porter and Styles.

And my book reviews of my latest reads are not just limited to crime novels. Here’s my review of a delightful teen-style romantic comedy.

Truly, Wildly, Deeply by Jenny McLachlan

Annie starts sixth form college and, as an outgoing, confident girl, immediately makes new friends. She’s pretty much the leader of her little group of witty nerds. But enter Fab, someone even more outgoing, confident and downright eccentric. Over their shared love of Wuthering Heights – their set book in English – Annie and Fab form an argumentative, funny, happy friendship. Things go awry when each starts to want something different from their relationship.

The writing is razor-sharp, the story gentle, the protagonists strong and likeable, and the supporting cast dryly amusing.

Oh, yes, nearly forgot. Annie has mild cerebral palsy and has to use a wheelchair sometimes. We see how Annie has to make that bit bigger effort to fit in and ignore the stares of strangers. And we see how her “disability” is often the product of the able-bodied world not being accommodating – as her journey on a bus illustrates.

I hope you enjoyed my book reviews of my latest reads. July is proving just as good so more reviews will follow very soon.

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