Betsy Reavley has been on my radar (and my Kindle) for far too long and given that I have had a bit more time to read my own book purchases, I took the opportunity to read a couple of her books over the Christmas period. So, today I bring you two reviews. And despite being by the same author, the books couldn’t be more different!
Murder at the Book Club
Imagine nine women meeting. Tea and cake are on the coffee table. They’ve come together to share their love of books. They are friends. They trust each other. It’s a happy gathering. What could be more harmless?
Then scratch the surface and look closer.
One is lonely. One is desperate and one of them is a killer.
When the body of a woman is discovered on a Cambridge common, DCI Barrett and DI Palmer are called in to investigate. But the motive behind the crime isn’t clear… And it all leads back to a book club.
As the lies, volatile friendships and tension among the group rise to the surface, DCI Barrett and DI Palmer must work out the motive and track down a cold-blooded killer. But just when they think they are on the right track, a twist in the case throws them off course…
With the promise of a murder, a book club and a cake on the front cover, how could anyone resist reading this book? Known for her hard-hitting crime novels, Betsy Reavley has taken a different direction with Murder at the Book Club which fits more into the cosy crime genre.
When one of the members of a book club is found dead on a common in Cambridge, all eyes turn to the somewhat disparate group of women who meet regularly to discuss books. As DCI Barrett and DI Palmer investigate, Murder at the Book Club becomes part murder mystery and part, often tongue in cheek, look at human behaviour.
Murder at the Book Club relies heavily on character and part of the joy of this book is the sneaky peek we get into each of the suspects’ lives and mentality. I love trying to figure out what makes people tick and this aspect of the book appealed to me greatly. I was reminded of the people and dynamics that I have come across in various social media groups and at times it had me giggling and nodding my head. By moving it offline and taking it into the real word, Reavley has been able to further explore the idea of what can happen when a group of people who have only one ting in common come together … and it can be deadly!
Unlike in a lot of crime fiction, the focus in Murder at the Book Club is not on the detectives trying to solve the case and I really liked this. Reavley has written an old-school murder mystery in which we rely on the personalities and motivations of the characters alongside policing techniques, with the emphasis being on the characters. As none of them are particularly likeable, they are all potential suspects and this keeps the reader firmly on their toes.
A thoroughly enjoyable read, Murder at the Book Club is brilliant if you are looking for a crime fiction with a lighter edge. It doesn’t take itself too seriously and the observations of life, friendship and social groups will have you both nodding in agreement and, at times, giggling. A great read to curl up with on a Sunday afternoon.
Published on 6 August 2018 by Bloodhound Books. Grab your copy HERE.
And my second review is of The Quiet Ones which is about as far as you can get in tone and style from Murder at the Book Club!
The Quiet Ones
What if you didn’t know where you came from?
Who am I?
This is the question Josie asks herself when a mysterious letter arrives. Then a brutal murder turns her world upside down.
To make sense of the present, Josie must go back to the start.
But who can she trust when no one knows the truth?
And who is the sinister stranger obsessed with her life?
The past is catching up with Josie and the consequences will be fatal …
I have heard a lot about Betsy Reavley and her books being disturbing and given I read a fair amount of crime fiction and psychological thrillers I thought how dark and disturbing can they actually be? Well, they can be VERY dark! Having been through a spate of guessing the outcome and twists in a lot of psychological thrillers I have read recently, The Quiet Ones proved to be the exception as it caught me totally off guard.
The Quiet Ones is very much a slow burner as it focuses on the life of writer Josie Brewers and her husband Charlie. Told through the perspective of Josie for the majority of the book, we get to know her quite well. Her life is a bit of a mess and Reavley’s portrayal of a woman on the edge of unravelling, dealing with the aftermath of a traumatic childhood and verging on alcoholism is very well done. Now, I like this in a novel as I love to get right to the heart of a character, especially a complex character but it may not appeal to everyone initially. What I would say, however, is bear with it as the ending is worth waiting for and what becomes before starts to make sense. A murder then rocks Josie’s world completely off its axis and things become even more uncontrollable for her.
Chapters are interspersed with the voice of an unknown character, a voice full of malevolence which is really chilling. This adds to the tension as the reader tries to figure out who this person is. Throughout The Quiet Ones the tone is dark and oppressive and it is a book that weighs heavily on you. There is something disconcerting throughout the book that you can’t quite put your finger on and it is a book that is oddly compelling.
It’s difficult to talk about certain aspects of The Quiet Ones without giving the plot away, but I liked the issues raised and they certainly were not on my radar. As the book ends and revelations are revealed I was left feeling winded.
The Quiet Ones is one of the darkest books I have read in a while. It left me thinking about it after I had finished it and it also left me open-mouthed. There are some really nicely written observations throughout as we see the world through Josie’s fuddled mind. A book that will appeal to those who enjoy the slow burn of a real character driven psychological thriller.
Published on 18 February 2016 by Bloodhound Books. You can get your copy HERE.