The description of “What are you afraid of?” was something that drew me in straight
away. Serial killers, journalists and copycats are words that immediately catch
my eye and grab my attention. Instantly pull me in but did the novel match up
to its initial description?
myself for the first time struggling to write a review on a book which is new
for me. I did really enjoy this book and the storylines that it follows, I mean,
I finished in in less than two days. And yet here I am struggling to give it a
review to the best of my abilities.
follows that of Carmen Jacobs, an investigative journalist that has recently
risen to stardom because of a book that she released featuring interviews with
serial killers. One of these being The Trucker, who is safely tucked up in jail
where he belongs. However, Carmen receives a package from someone calling
themselves The Trucker that has polaroid photos of dead women, closely
resembling Carmen herself.
police ignoring her Carmen reaches out to a computer and security specialist
that she had been trying to interview for her book but had been quickly denied.
Griff Archer, the previously mentioned computer and security specialist, who
all of a sudden is in the hunt for the serial killer alongside Carmen. The
narrative switches between Griff, Carmen, the real perpetrator and the women
that are being killed in this sick and twisted game. There are many twists and
turns to the story line, with the suspicion changing constantly on who could
have caused these brutal slayings that are mirroring the methods of the serial
killers that Carmen featured in her book.
that there is a personal element to the killings and the trail leading Carmen
back into the past where we learn about the brutal murder suicide of her
parents. We are teased as the audience as to whether the tragic event that
happened when Carmen was 12 could be possibly linked to the killer teasing
Carmen with the photographs and other presents that he has left her along the
is a satisfying twist that I did not expect and I applaud the author for this
sudden twist in the tale. However, I did feel that the book dragged at some
points but then was too fast, not focusing on the details at other times. I
sort of feel that we were following along the trail of murders quite steadily
and then were suddenly thrown the ending. Overall, I did enjoy this book, and
would read another one of Alexandra Ivy’s books. It doesn’t however quite match
up to the novels that I have already read this year.
With a first-time author being given the praise
of a master like Mr Stephen King to stamp across the cover of their book, you come
to expect great things from this individual. With twists and turns and
intricate story lines woven expertly together throughout, C.J. Tudor takes you on
a journey in The Chalk Man that you
would expect from an author much more experienced in her field.
It is rare
that you find a female author that so correctly conveys a male voice like C.J.
Tudor does in The Chalk Man through
his younger years but then can also adapt that voice into a matured adult.
the story between the 1980’s and present day, so effectively we grow with
Eddie. We initially see him as a young and innocent boy, hanging round with his
gang of trusty mates and speeding through the woods on their bikes – basically the
normal 1980’s childhood. That is until their childish game of leaving chalk
figures as notes for each other goes horribly wrong.
childish eyes we see the death of a friend’s brother, an assault by a gang of
bullies, the near death of a local girl, the frowned upon relationship between
a teacher and a young girl and the protests of his mother’s abortion clinic to
name but a few of the subjects covered in front of this young boy’s eyes. Not
forgetting the murder that shapes the whole book.
present day, we see an older Eddie who hasn’t managed to move on. He is
seemingly stuck in the past shown through his living same house he grew up in
long after his father’s early death and his mother’s moving on with another
husband. Thus, leaving him to move a lodger into his spare room in order to
make ends meet on his meagre wages as English teacher at the local high school
that he once attended.
from the past of an old school friend also reveals that his lodger is not all
that she seems, leading him back down the path of his past that he has hardly
travelled from since he was 12 years old.
years information is revealed by various characters that you have come to love
in the chapters based in the 1980’s that leave you reeling. Highlighting that
not everyone is as they seem. Which is something that you come to understand
very clearly in this book. The twists and turns don’t stop until the very last
chapter and the very last page. I found my eyes re reading the last pages many
times to make sure that I had really read it correctly. It didn’t make sense
but at the same time, everything slotted into place and it really did make
sense, in the best of ways.
I read this
book in two days, even sneaking in a few chapters when I arrived early for work
because I just couldn’t shake the characters from my thoughts! If C.J. Tudor
can deliver a book that kept me on the edge of my seat like that then I
sincerely look forward to her next book coming out later this month.
I am a self-professed super fan of Sharon Bolton and have been steadily making my way through her novels – both stand alone and her one series – for the past year. For some reason, her style of writing drives me forwards through the book. With relatable characters that you feel for and intricate plot lines you become deeply invested in and Awakening was no different.
starts with a prologue that gives you a hint of the carnage that is coming in
due course throughout the rest of the novel.
hour I’ve ever known came last Thursday, a heartbeat before the sun came up”
From the first line my pulse started racing thinking
of the possibilities of the plot and what insights that this small chapter
would give me. It wasn’t until later that I would realise that this prologue
was a chapter simply plucked out of the novel and is integral to the story. Whilst
standing alone it works giving you just the right amount of intrigue to make
you want to carry on but at the same time it doesn’t ruin the plot of the book
or give away any spoilers.
The first chapter starts with a rhetorical question
instantly drawing the reader in and engaging them and introducing us to the
main protagonist, setting up the main vein of the story to come. Before very confidently
tapping into the vein that is Clara and bleeding her dry of her story over the
next 560 pages.
Our Clara is painted so delicately as a very
intelligent and compassionate woman whose whole life focus is that of the
animals that she cares for as a very experienced veterinarian. But instantly we
are shown that she is a self-isolating and lonely character who only keeps
herself in the company of her animals. Instantly Bolton alludes to Clara having
a facial disfigurement – but to what extent we really don’t know. Throughout the
novel more and more is revealed about the scars that she bears, both physical
and psychological, but I won’t spoil it for you. I will tell you however, that
it is the reason for her self-imposed loneliness and why she hides herself away
from the world.
This all changes when she is called upon in an
emergency by a neighbour, that she has spent year avoiding, to come and save
her child. Clara shows her skills when freeing a poisonous snake from a babies’
cot when they are found sleeping peacefully together. Until the baby starts to
stir that is. This is where Bolton first gets to flex her knowledge with the handling
of snakes which then is demonstrated further throughout the novel at different
intervals. You can see through the writing that the technical and medical
jargon for both human and animal was well researched and understood by Bolton
and the book severely benefits from it.
The snake in the babies’ cot is not the first incident
that Clara is called to consult on as the closest thing to a snake expert that
this sleepy English village has. Especially when the deaths by venom start
stacking up and the world’s most exotic and deadliest snake makes an unexpected
appearance in a child’s bedroom.
I was interested to know that more snakes are born
after a long hot summer. That doesn’t bode well for us this spring after the
horrific summer of 2018 and it also doesn’t bode well for me with a severe
phobia of snakes!
It was honestly a struggle for me to make it through
some of the scenes where there was a rogue poisonous snake on the loose and
Clara was trying her best to catch it with her police officer companion that we
meet frequently thorough out. I found my heart beating too fast and I kept on
gasping at the actions of the characters and the snake and it has been a long
time since a book made me do that.
We also meet Sean North the rugged and well-travelled
minor TV celebrity who specialises in dangerous animal documentaries –
specifically snakes. I couldn’t help thinking of the parallels between Bolton’s
Sean North and Australia’s own Steve Irwin, who sadly died in 2006 whilst
documenting stingrays and his love of animals. I wonder whether Irwin was an
inspiration on her characters whilst Bolton was writing this novel.
At the start of the story its seems as though it is a
normal murder mystery plot but then as it carries on it becomes more and more
intricate. But not too complicated so that you can’t follow along-side Clara,
who is learning of the tragedy that struck her village 50 years ago from
religious extremists who have returned, bringing their snake fascination along
Through various twists and turns, my theory on the
antagonist behind all of the deception and intrigue kept changing, keeping me
on the edge of my seat right up until the end. Bolton has a way of combining
short and longer sentences to build up the tension during the dangerous scenes.
They make you hold your breath, not wanting to tear your eyes away from the
pages, desperately wanting to know whether certain characters survive the
events that transpire (hint hint).
In the ending chapters the story line is finished and
tied up into a pretty neat little bow in the aptly named “Tail End”, it is nice
to see an author with a sense of humour. However, the ending lines do leave
room for a little something more…is there more to come Mrs Bolton, or are you
just teasing us?
Welcome to my book review blog. My preferred genres to read are Thrillers, Crime and anything psychological. Basically anything full of twists and turns to keep me on the edge of my seat until the early hours of the morning.
I am a 21 year old Creative Writing student based in the UK who has a weakness for books, particularly written by female authors.