Finally…

So it turns out working full time, deciding you don’t like it and changing careers again, all while in the final couple of months of arranging your wedding means that reviewing books takes a back seat, even if the reading of the books themselves does not.

I’ve been meaning to write this for weeks but kept telling myself I’d reading it once I’d finished the next book. This is mainly because all the books I’ve been reading have been quite similar so it’s been easy to group them together. Today I’m going to be telling you a little bit about the books I’ve read recently that are crime novels with a female protagonist, these being Love Me Not by MJ Arlidge, The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware, and The Beautiful Dead by Belinda Bauer.

Love Me Not is the most recent installment in the Helen Grace series I keep banging on about. I wouldn’t say it’s one of my favourites but it’s still a fab, gripping read. Sadly, if I’m to keep to my no spoilers promise, there’s not a tremendous amount I can really say. It opens with a woman who works with troubled youths heading to work. She’s indulged in a new car recently and is enjoying the ride right up until she spots a body lying in the road. She stops to see what she can do to help and a young girl steps out to say the body is her boyfriend and he’s crashed. When our woman looks down to check the vital signs, the man sits up and attacks.

What I did like about this was the involvement of the detestable Emilia Garanita, who I usually hate. Here she plays a more important role in how the story pans out and you come to see her as more than just the heartless journalist she pretends to be.

Overall, not one of my favourites, as I’ve said, but this is more likely my problem than any issue with the story itself. The pacing’s still great and the characters are as strong as ever.

Next on the list is The Woman in Cabin 10. Here we open with a woman, Lo, suffering a break in in her flat. She comes away from it relatively unscathed, but obviously shaken. Lo’s due to leave for a work perk trip on an exclusive luxury yacht, where she’ll be reporting back to the travel mag she works for, all while making contacts in the industry. She leaves following a falling out with her partner, having fought about where they are in the relationship, usual stuff.

Onboard, everything seems pretty awesome, if very claustrophobic. The boat is smaller than expected and absolutely packed full of luxury facilities. Also onboard are the other guests, and here we start getting a bit of an Agatha Christie feel. We’ve got an ex-boyfriend there, we’ve got a ruthless female editor, we’ve got the owner of the boat and his sickly wife, we’ve got a mysterious photographer whose wife’s just left him and a handful of other shady characters.

The biggest shock I got was that Lo is not the titular woman in cabin 10! I know! Instead she’s the woman in cabin 9, and pops round the cabin 10 to see if anyone in there can lend her a mascara. Turns out the girl in there can, though is pretty keen to get rid of her. Lo doesn’t see this girl at dinner and then, later that evening, here’s the crash of something heavy, a body, falling into the water below and spots a smear of blood on next door’s balcony.

You can guess where this is going. She begins to investigate only to be told that nobody was ever in cabin 10! What follows is a lot of paranoia, claustrophobia and Christie-inspired sleuthing.

I feel like I sound scathing but I’m really not. I enjoyed this a lot! Sure it’s all a bit over the top but what crime novel isn’t?

Finally, The Beautiful Dead. Now, I read this and The Woman in Cabin 10 at the same time and, my god, it was confusing, even though, on reflection, the two books have very little in common. Eve is also a reporter, though this time she’s a tv crime reporter. She lives with her father who is slowly crumbling under Alzheimer’s and it’s rather sad and very real (though I can’t claim to know from personally experience, for which I’m very grateful!) to read.

She basically gets caught up in the murders of a whole stream of seemingly unrelated victims. The killer has taken a fancy to her, liking what she can do to publicise his crimes. There’re a lot of questions about the morality of what she does. There are moments where she’s just witness a horrific death and picks herself up and films a report on it. It’s a bit sick but that’s very much the point.

Eve has with her her faithful cameraman Joe, and the two of them have enough chemistry that you spend a good amount of time wondering if Joe is going to die or if they’re going to end up together. I won’t ruing it and tell you which it is. The third person narration is very helpful here as there’s a constant sense of unease as you just don’t know who’s safe.

I’ve obviously chosen well recently as I enjoyed all of these.

I’m currently reading Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent, and The Woodcutter by Reginald Hill, so will try to find time to review those once I’m done!

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