Tuesday, 9 May 2017
#LittleBones #SamBlake #review
Twenty-four-year-old Garda Cathy Connolly might be a fearless kick-boxing champion but when she discovers a baby's bones concealed in the hem of a wedding dress, the case becomes personal.
I really enjoyed this. It was a great read; a real page turner and a well written, well constructed crime story. It did everything you could ask a book to do! I don't know why it's taken me so long to get around to reading Sam Blake as I have seen so many rave reviews for her novel but I can assure you, as the blurb promises, protagonist Cath Connolly is indeed a bright young heroine set to take the crime world by storm!
"Cathy had seen worse, but standing here in the ransacked bedroom, her six years on the force didn't help make her feel any less unclean."
I really liked the premise for this police procedural as to me, it felt like more fresh and original than the recent crime novels I have read - there seemed to be an element of domestic noir within it and also more about a family's secret history. As the title suggests, the mystery centres around the discovery of baby bones hidden within the hem of a wedding dress that now belongs to Zoe. This is such an imaginative opening and such an intriguing discovery that I was immediately hooked!
Zoe is a struggling artist about to put on an exhibition of her work and she received the dress from her very wealthy and successful grandmother. The bones are only discovered after her house is ransacked and the dress snags on a nail revealing what turns out to be the start of a complex unravelling of a story that spans decades as well as continents.
Zoe is a well created character as I was unsure how to respond to her initially. She is clearly rattled by events - and rightly so- but the early implication that she is used to being followed, watched and judged hints at something more sinister and suggests that perhaps Zoe is privy to more than she is revealing. She appears very anxious and easily panicked as well as elusive and distant.
"There always seemed to be someone, something, watching, waiting for her trip .......the nuns who had hovered like great black birds ready to swoop on the smallest transgression......her grandmother [with] pencilled-on eyebrows raised in permanent disapproval."
I liked the lurking weight of a family name and a need to be mindful of media attention and publicity. I loved the depiction of the grandmother. I think this added extra suspense and intrigue. I liked that I didn't know how to respond to the characters who appeared to be victims but perhaps were more involved than they realised.
I really liked Cathy. She is so relatable, so likeable, so believable. She works hard, she cares, she worries, she questions and she also has her own private struggles to come to terms with. She is young but she is experienced and once again we see a female fighting in a male world and overcoming boundaries to seek out the truth and enforce justice.
"That had been the day she'd decided to join the Guards. The day she'd realised that there were people in society who meant harm to others and who needed to be stopped, and others who needed to be looked out for, and how one small act could change the course of someone's life forever."
Cathy does have her own personal issues to deal with and I thought Blake handled this aspect of the storyline immensely well. She has picked a tricky dilemma for Cathy to find herself in - a hugely emotive one and a hugely contentious one, particularly for Ireland where the story is set. She manages it thoughtfully, sensitively, realistically but also maintains tension, fear, anxiety and plenty of suspense. It creates a more multilayered plot line which compliments the nature of the mystery and investigation taking place in the main part of the story. I liked the way Cathy could not escape her personal issues and how they affected her - she is a human, a real feeling person and this made her a very tangible, likeable heroine.
For me, I liked that this crime thriller was about families, secrets and dark revelations. The investigation relies on all the usual ingredients for a great police procedural but it also explores the complicated dynamics and relationships within a dysfunctional family. It weaves together several threads that initially seem unrelated and the reader is on tenterhooks, eagerly anticipating the resolution. Blake's control of such a multilayered novel is impressive for a debut author and suggests that this series has incredible potential.
I also really enjoyed Blake's writing style. This novel has great pace, great tension, great characters and also great description, imagery and observations. I found it very readable and would not hesitate to read anything else written by this author.
As the book says this is a Cat Connolly Thriller, I guessed it is the beginning of a series - but oh my word, I was genuinely shocked at the ending. It was such a cruel way for Blake to leave me hanging.....I do hope there is more to come because otherwise I don't know whether I can forgive her for that dramatic ending!
In case you weren't sure, I recommend this book!
Little Bones was published by Twenty 7 in May 2016.
Sam Blake is a pseudonym for Vanessa Fox O'Loughlin, who is originally from St. Albans in Hertfordshire but has lived at the foot of the Wicklow Mountains in Ireland for (almost) more years than she lived in the UK. She has been writing fiction since 1999 when her husband went sailing across the Atlantic for 8 weeks and she had an idea for a book.
Vanessa is also the founder of The Inkwell Group publishing consultancy and the Irish national writing resources website Writing.ie. She is Ireland's leading literary scout who has assisted many award winning and bestselling authors to publication.
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