Friday, 21 February 2014

Book Review: Murder In Steeple Martin (Libby Sarjeant #1) by Lesley Cookman

Murder in Steeple MartinMurder in Steeple Martin by Lesley Cookman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was recommended Murder in Steeple Martin by my Aunt. Like the central character Libby Sarjeant, I too am involved in amateur dramatics and was curious to see if this book was a realistic interpretation.
I must admit, when I started this novel I groaned and cringed more than I enjoyed it. Several of the characters were stereotypical and clichéd, while Libby herself I found quite irritating. There is 30 years age difference between her and me, so maybe that's why I struggled to put her with her ramblings. Or maybe it's because I realised how like her I actually am with the constant worrying and turning into a teenager any time a man arrives on the scene. Although I did like the fact that she wore a cape.
The first half of the book I thought was very slow going. It took me an age to actually 'get in' to the story, but once somebody was murdered it all kicked off. I was hooked and read the last hundred or so pages in one sitting.
The play the characters are putting on is written by Libby's friend Peter Parker (also Spiderman's alter ego, so that put me off a little bit) and is based on family events during the 40's on a hop farm. There are a few chapters set in that time which I think helped immensely keep track of who everybody was. Not only do you have to remember the name of the character, you have to remember who they're playing in the lay and then who they are based on from Peter's family. In the end I gave up trying to work out how everyone was related. Lesley Cookman does start her book with notable characters but a family tree could have also been useful.
I also felt the introduction of Libby's children was somewhat unnecessary. They turned up to watch the play and then they left again, two of them didn't even speak. I hope they're made more use of throughout the series otherwise it was a bit of a waste of time.
The amateur dramatic society isn't represented very well either. They all appear to be of a certain age, and not a very nice group of people. I belong to two theatre companies, the youngest is seven, the oldest is in her eighties and everybody displays a range of talent and interest. However, the fact that they all troop off to the pub after every rehearsal is very true indeed.
Overall, an utter cheese fest, but who doesn't love a bit of cheese? I've already purchased the next in the series on Kindle.

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Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Book Review: The Nightmare by Lars Kepler

The NightmareThe Nightmare by Lars Kepler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this on my Mum's recommendation as a great foreign murder mystery. My Mum isn't usually wrong but this book didn't live up to expectation.
The story follows Joona Linna an odd Finnish police detective as he solves crime in Sweden.
The Nightmare centres around Penelope Fernandez, a Peace Activist who is on the run after she finds her sister dead on her boyfriend's boat. All of the events that follow are surrounded by a single photograph taken and displayed in Penelope's flat.
I liked the character of Joona Linna, but this is the second book in the series and I felt like I was missing out on some information. There were two women that he both appeared to be in a relationship with, but I was confused as to who they were and to be honest, I didn't really care.
Lars Kepler who is incidentally, two people, writes action very well. There is a scene at the German Embassy which is particularly tense and exciting. But the characters is where this falls flat. They aren't particularly likeable or interesting. There is no one I'm rooting for. Although having said that I particularly liked Axel Reissen and following his actions. The musicality of his character and his pains and problems were interesting to me.
Overall, I enjoyed this book and it wasn't poorly written, it was a decent book, but it had no pull or excitement for me. I might read more Lars Kepler in the future, but it's not jumping off the shelf at me.

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