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Friday, 15 December 2017

Never Let You Go’ by Chevy Stevens

Published by Sphere,
7 September 2017.
ISBN: 978-0-7515-6918-6 (PB)

Not long ago I saw a post on social media bemoaning the fact that there were too many psychological thrillers featuring abusive and controlling husbands/partners as the main (villainous) protagonist. I have a certain amount of sympathy for that point of view, but, like everything else, the story depends upon how it is written. So, when I set out to read Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens -  with yes, an abusive husband in one of the main roles, I was interested to see how Chevy Stevens handled it. I have read several of her books and was confident she wouldn’t let me down with a run-of-the-mill nasty husband thriller.Reviewer:

The premise was good: Eleven years before Lindsey Nash had fled her home with her young daughter, leaving behind an abusive relationship. Her ex-husband ended up in jail, and Lindsey and Sophie began a new life. Now Lindsey is older and wiser and has left the past behind. Then Andrew is released from prison. Strange things begin to happen. Lindsey’s boyfriend is threatened, her home invaded and her daughter followed. Her ex-husband denies all knowledge of these events, but, thinks Lindsey, it has to be him. Doesn’t it?

The novel is told from two points of view - Lindsey and the now 17-year-old daughter, Sophie. It also jumps backwards and forwards in time, gradually revealing Lindsey’s abusive past. It has an atmospheric and unsettling narrative with many strands: the mother and daughter relationship, marriage, obsession, trust. The characterisation is excellent, and the way Chevy Stevens writes makes you feel as though you are in the thick of the action.

What makes Never Let You Go really stand out, however, is the way Chevy Stevens makes us feel for both the struggling and cynical Lindsey who is trying to keep her daughter safe, and the naive Sophie, who has no real idea what her mother’s marriage had been like. Lindsey knows what her husband is capable of but Sophie needs to understand her father and find some good in him - and it is this conundrum that lies at the heart of the book and elevates it from a domestic thriller to an excellent domestic thriller.

Chevy Stevens did not let me down.
Reviewer: Mary-Jane Riley

Chevy Stevens grew up on a ranch on Vancouver Island and still calls the island home. For most of her adult life she worked in sales, first as a rep for a giftware company and then as a Realtor. While holding an open house one afternoon, she had a terrifying idea that became the inspiration for Still Missing. Chevy eventually sold her house and left real estate so she could finish the book. Still Missing went on to become a New York Times bestseller and win the International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel.  Chevy’s books have been optioned for movies and are published in more than thirty countries.
Chevy enjoys writing thrillers that allow her to blend her interest in family dynamics with her love of the west coast lifestyle. When she’s not working on her next book, she’s camping and canoeing with her husband and daughter in the local mountains.

Mary-Jane Riley wrote her first story on her newly acquired blue Petite typewriter, when she was eight. When she grew up she had to earn a living, and became a BBC radio talk show presenter and journalist. She has covered many life-affirming stories, but also some of the darkest events of the past two decades. Then, in true journalistic style, she decided not to let the facts get in the way of a good story and got creative. She wrote for women's magazines and small presses. She formed WriteOutLoud with two writer friends to help charities get their message across using their life stories. Now she is writing psychological suspense, drawing on her experiences in journalism. The Bad Things by Mary-Jane Riley was published by Harper Collins/Killer Reads. Her second book, After She Fell, was published by Killer Reads in April 2016.  To read the review click on the title.

‘The Vanishing Box’ by Elly Griffiths

Published by Quercus,
2 November 2017.
ISBN: 978-1-78429-700-8.

It’s December 1953 and Max Mephisto is top of the bill at the Brighton Hippodrome, but now appearing as Magician and Daughter. Having only recently learned that he had a daughter Max is both elated at being a father to the lovely Ruby, herself a talented magician, as well as slightly miffed that his agent Joe Passolini keeps telling him that his proposed television show with Ruby could make him a star. As far as Max is concerned he has been a star now for two decades. He is also none too happy about Vic Cutler’s tableau show of naked 'living statues.' But Joe Passolini had conveniently forgotten to mention that fact when he got the Hippodrome booking.

Across town Ruby’s fiancé Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens is investigating the murder of a young blonde girl Lily Burtenshaw, a flower seller, found in her boarding-house room positioned in a recreation of the famous painting of the Lady Jane Grey.  Questioning the other lodgers Edgar learns that two of the other young ladies are part of the troupe also appearing at the Hippodrome.

Not surprisingly Edgar’s investigation moves in the direction of the naked ‘living statues’ who also feature famous paintings.  A second killing, this time someone in the living trope, and everyone in the show becomes a suspect.  Sent to keep an eye on things at the Hippodrome young DS Bob Willis thinks the whole thing is sleazy.

Edgar’s priority is to solve these two murders before there is any more killing, but a motive proves elusive, and his attention to his fiancé takes second place.  Although DS Emma would not say she rejoices in this situation, as she is a nice person, it certainly doesn’t make her unhappy.  Meanwhile despite his reservations about her job, Bob Willis finds himself drawn to one of the young actresses. 

Elly Griffiths is without doubt a wonderful writer, and my heart lifts when I see a new book out in either of her series.  Both are brilliant.  Always with an intriguing mystery with interesting well-fleshed out characters, she weaves a fascinating tale.   And like all good mysteries, some surprising revelations along the way with a delicious twist at the end.  Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Lizzie Sirett

Elly Griffiths is the author of a series of crime novels set in England’s Norfolk county and featuring forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway. The first in the series, Crossing Places, earned a good deal of praise both in Griffiths’ native country, England, and in the U.S. The Literary Review termed it “a cleverly plotted and extremely interesting first novel, highly recommended.  Since then Elly has written eight further novels featuring forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway. Recently she has written a second series set in the 1950’s featuring magician Max Mephisto and DI Stevens. There are two books in the new series.

Click here to read a review of Elly’s latest Ruth Galloway book
The Chalk Pit


‘The Girl in the Green Dress’ by Cath Staincliffe

Published by Constable,
27 September 2017.
ISBN: 978-1-4721-2537-8 (HB)

The girl in the title is Allie Kennaway, an 18-year old who leaves home with her friends to enjoy the School prom.  She loses contact with her friends and is found beaten to death - and so the hunt for the murderer begins.  It seems that Allie has been the victim of a hate crime because of her transgender identity and, as the investigation progresses, her father and younger sister struggle to come to terms with their loss.  Theirs is not the only family which has to deal with the consequences of this crime.  The detectives too face their own problems in handling such a sensitive case – personal goals do not disappear in the face of tragedy.  In particular, Jade, the new member of the team, feels that her contributions are not being valued by her boss and colleagues and perhaps, of all the characters, strikes a slightly discordant note.

The story looks at the events from a variety of perspectives and individuals and treats the issues raised sensitively.  Ultimately, despite the positive tone of the vigil organised to remember Allie, this is a sad story of loss.
Reviewer:  Jo Hesslewood

Other books by the author:  apart from the Scott and Bailey Series and the Sal Kilkenny mysteries, Cath Staincliffe has written a number of stand alone books, including:  The Silence between Breaths, Half a World Away, Make Believe, Blue Murder, Witness and Desperate Measures
Cath Staincliffe was brought up in Bradford and hoped to become an entomologist (insects) then a trapeze artist before settling on acting at the age of eight.  She graduated from Birmingham University with a Drama and Theatre Arts degree and moved to work as a community artist in Manchester where she now lives with her family. Looking for Trouble, published in 1994, launched private eye Sal, a single parent struggling to juggle work and home, onto Manchester’s mean streets.  It was short listed for the Crime Writers Association’s John Creasey best first novel award, serialised on BBC Radio 4, Woman’s Hour and awarded Le Masque de l’Année in France.  Cath has published a further seven Sal Kilkenny mysteries. Cath is also a scriptwriter, creator of ITV’s hit police series, Blue Murder, which ran for five series from 2003 – 2009 starring Caroline Quentin as DCI Janine Lewis.  Cath writes for radio and created the Legacy drama series which features a chalk-and-cheese, brother and sister duo of heir hunters whose searches take them into the past lives of families torn apart by events. Trio, a stand-alone novel, moved away from crime to explore adoption and growing up in the 1960s.  Cath’s own story, of tracing and being re-united with her Irish birth family and her seven brothers and sisters, featured in the television documentary Finding Cath from RTE. Cath is a founder member of Murder Squad, a virtual collective of northern crime writers.  She is an avid reader and likes hill-walking, messing about in the garden and dancing (with far more enthusiasm than grace).

Jo Hesslewood.  Crime fiction has been my favourite reading material since as a teenager I first spotted Agatha Christie on the library bookshelves.  For twenty-five years the commute to and from London provided plenty of reading time.  I am fortunate to live in Cambridge, where my local crime fiction book club, Crimecrackers, meets at Heffers Bookshop .  I enjoy attending crime fiction events and currently organise events for the Margery Allingham Society.