Book Reviews

My Book reviews for March 2021

My book reviews for March 2021 comprise a slow-burn suspense story, a cosy mystery and a disturbing literary novel.

Safe and Sound by Philippa East

Safe and Sound is an unsettling, character-led suspense story.

Jennifer, a housing association manager, is required to visit a tenant who is in significant arrears with her rent. But when Jennifer attends with two bailiffs, she is shocked to discover the young woman has been lying dead in the flat for several months.

The author presents us with not one, not two, but three heart-breaking mysteries. Like the narrator Jennifer, we want to know how 26-year-old Sarah Jones could have died so alone that no family or friends have reported her missing. We follow Jennifer’s tentative quest for answers.

But we also want to know more about Jennifer. She is an awkward character who, despite living with her lively 9-year-old son, seems wracked by loneliness and anxiety. She worries constantly about events in her past. The author takes us deep inside Jennifer’s skin, cleverly evoking both our sympathy and our mistrust.

The majority of the story is told from Jennifer’s point of view, but we also have chapters from a little girl called Prin, who recounts an apparently unrelated story of her uneasy life. She sows the seeds of the third mystery.

Read my review of Philippa East’s first novel Little White Lies here. Both books are perfect for fans, like me, of a slow burner.


Murder on the Island by Daisy White

This month I enjoyed a change of pace with my bedtime reading by opting for some cosy crime in the sunshine.

Fifty-year-old divorcee, Chloe, inherits her late grandmother’s home and stables in Bermuda. Initially she receives a warm welcome on the island, but things turn a little tricky after she stumbles across a dead body and she realises not all of her new neighbours can be trusted.

The author delivers a cosy array of mysteries. As well as the murder, there are art thefts, kidnapped horses and poison-pen threats. When she’s not sleuthing, Chloe has time for a spot of beachside lunch with attractive local police inspector, Finn.

All the ingredients not only for a great story, but for the start of a sunny new crime series.


What Shall Refuse Them by Lucie McKnight Hardy

It’s the long, hot summer of 1976 and an English family, mourning the loss of 4-year-old Petra, has decamped to a cottage in Wales. Raw with grief, the mother neglects her other children, leaving the care of Petra’s sickly twin to his big sister, Nif.

This is a coming-of-age story for Nif, a disturbed sixteen-year-old, who finds solace in the Creed, her own bizarre and cruel system of superstitions.

Their neighbours in Wales are fellow outsiders, Mally and his mother Janet, who are despised by the villagers and harassed by worshippers at the local chapel. But do the locals have good reason to be suspicious of this pair? Is the grieving family well-advised to keep a distance?

As the ground bakes and the drought continues, a cauldron of secrets and spite bubbles to the boil with scalding consequences.

No nice characters or happy ever afters, but an evocative, well-written literary novel.


Bargain Alert

So there are my book reviews for March 2021. I picked up a few 99p bargains in the last couple of weeks that I look forward to reading and reviewing next month.

The Roommates, my suspense story set in a university freshers’ week, is also 99p on Amazon until the end of March. Four housemates. Four secrets. One devastating lie.

By Rachel Sargeant

Rachel Sargeant is a British author. Her latest thriller, The Roommates, is a Closer Magazine "Must Read". Her other titles are The Good Teacher, The Perfect Neighbours and Gallipoli: Year of Love and Duty. Rachel won Writing Magazine’s Crime Short Story competition and has been shortlisted in various competitions including the Bristol Short Story Prize. She was born in Lincolnshire and is a graduate of Aberystwyth University. She now lives in Gloucestershire with her husband and children.

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