Book Reviews

My Book Reviews for April 2023

My Book Reviews for April 2023

My book reviews for April 2023 comprise a mystery/thriller set on the battlefields of World War One, a literary short story collection and the new thriller from a bestselling author.

 

Two Storm Wood by Philip Gray

I came across this book because of a tweet and review by Mandie Griffiths on her sister’s book blog, Jen Med’s Book Reviews. Yet another time that an enthusiastic blogger has led me to a great read. Thanks, Mandie.

Two Storm Wood is an excellent thriller/mystery set in 1919. Amy, a well-to-do lady, visits France in search of her fiancé who was reported missing in action before the armistice. She crosses paths with Major Westbrook, provost marshal, who is there to investigate a wartime atrocity on the battlefield at Two Storm Wood. The perpetrators are presumed long gone or dead, but the arrival of Amy and Westbrook triggers another sadistic murder.

A second timeline from 1916 onwards shows how Amy’s fiancé came to abandon his reserved occupation as a teacher and enlist. As this storyline progresses it develops a tension of its own.

I’ve read several WW1 novels but never come across one set in the immediate aftermath when battalions were sent out to recover and identify bodies of men left on the battlefields. The writing conveys the grim nature of this work and also the risks to the recovery parties of booby-trapped corpses. The sense of authenticity is no doubt the result of meticulous research by the author. Yet this is not an author who lets the research run away with him. First and foremost this is a suspenseful and atmospheric story. I will definitely be seeking out other books by this writer. Highly recommended.

 

The Clock in My Mother’s House and other stories by Annalisa Crawford

This is a terrific short story anthology by a writer at the top of her craft. All of the stories have been previously published and many were placed or shortlisted in prestigious competitions. I thank book blogger Cathy Ryan of Between the Lines Book Blog for a tweet and review which led me to this book. It was a treat. The stories comprise:

The Clock in My Mother’s House Runs Backwards – a beautifully descriptive story about what happens when an antique clock reverses time

The Woman in the Van – two well-drawn characters meet in a suspenseful story with a hint of the psychic

Vera Says – a good, short tale of the unexpected

All the Magpies Come Out to Play – a great evocation of a street in lockdown during the pandemic

A Thousand Pieces of You – an accomplished study of a woman in the early stages of dementia, reviewing the little memories and milestones of her life through the fragments of a shattered mirror. This story made the shortlist in one competition and the long list in another. It is surely worth a first prize somewhere.

Click – the emotional end of a relationship viewed through a camera lens

One Minute Silence – a shocking event vividly described in its big drama and its little stories

Black Dog – is this canine real or figurative?

The Fear of Ghosts – every anthology needs a ghost story and this one chillingly fits the bill

Adventures in my Back Garden – a moving story to conclude the collection

 

The Hike by Lucy Clarke

Lucy Clarke’s last novel, One of the Girls, was one of my favourite reads of 2022 and I also previously enjoyed The Castaways.

There’s no balmy island location this time as the mountains of Norway provide the interesting and less usual setting.

However, we are in familiar territory with the female friendships and betrayals that this author depicts so well. We have plenty of crime and adventure this time too. It will be a hit.  With thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read an early copy in exchange for an independent review.

By Rachel Sargeant

Rachel Sargeant is a British author. Under the name Rae Sargeant, she writes the Gleveham Killers Suspense series, published by Hobeck Books. The first title is Her Deadly Friend. Her titles as Rachel Sargeant, with HarperCollins, are: The Roommates, a psychological thriller set in a university during freshers' week; The Good Teacher, a detective mystery, featuring DC Pippa “Agatha” Adams, and The Perfect Neighbours, a psychological thriller set in Germany. Rachel grew up in Lincolnshire, studied at Aberystwyth University, spent several years living in Germany and now lives in Gloucestershire with her family. She holds a PhD from the University of Birmingham.

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