Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Childhunt by @FaithMortimer #Mystery #Suspense

Today’s team review comes from Judith, she blogs at http://judithbarrowblog.com/

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Judith chose to read and review Childhunt by Faith Mortimer

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The plot of CHILDHUNT is an excellent one. I admire Faith Mortimer’s writing. I didn’t realise this was a follow on of the Diana Rivers, Psychological Thriller Series and that some of the characters had a past life in earlier books. This coloured my first reaction when reading of this novel and I needed to give it a second go.

I know how difficult it is to avoid information dumps in sequels. This is one reason, I think, that the story is slow in starting. The early chapters mainly consist of setting the characters and their back-story within the scene. We are first introduced to Adam (a detective), Roger (a retired barrister’s clerk). Diana, the obvious protagonist of the book, and ex-fiancée to Adam is only mentioned in a conversation between the two men about a past crime; the killing of two children. She is brought into the story shortly afterwards as a writer, now married to Steve. And it is through her we meet two of the important characters, Debbie and William; parents of Charlie and Hannah.

There are some thrilling action scenes but these are often slowed right down by long pieces of internal dialogue of the characters, especially the character of Debbie (ostensibly the person thought to be involved in the crime discussed earlier) And there are various times when the point of view changes within the narrative without warning, mid-scene, which slows the story yet again.

I don’t give spoilers in reviews so that’s as far as I’ll go.

The dialogue is good and differentiates the characters but the dialogue of the children didn’t ring true for me. Even being willing to believe they are exceedingly well behaved, Charlie’s voice sounded stilted and that of the little girl, Hannah, irritated, purely because it was written exactly as anyone with a lisp would speak. The odd syllable to show that she stutters is all that is required – you need to trust that the reader understands.

The setting is Cyprus, the descriptions of the customs of the country are interesting, there are some wonderful descriptions of the unusual wintry conditions and the descriptions of the buildings are good, especially that of the rented house of the paedophile.

Paedophilia is obviously a difficult subject to write about and Faith Mortimer’s description of the physical appearance of Philip Bolton, the paedophile, is good (although palpably, and quite rightly) written to repulse) and, straight-away, the reader is made aware that there is a sordid mystery to his past. But I found the internal dialogue of the paedophile particularly uncomfortable; not only because of his thoughts but because of the way it was written. For example, “he grinned, lasciviously, thinking how pleasant and delightful touching them would be…”, when he realises his plan is working he felt a “…tingle with excitement in his groin and he let out a cackle of laughter…” and, when he touched the little girl, “The feeling made him groan with desire.” Ms Mortimer makes a good job of making the man repugnant but there was something about the delineation of the scenes that Bolton is in that feels melodramatic and wrong. But, as always, this is only my subjective view.

This is a well-plotted psychological thriller, written from a third person omniscient narrator’s point of view. There are enough clues drip-fed into the story to keep the reader interested (I guessed the real identity of Philip Bolton about halfway through the book – which was quite satisfying). And as I said at the beginning of this review there is much I admire about Faith Mortimer’s writing.

But I probably would have preferred an earlier book about amateur sleuth, Diana Rivers – if only to get to know the background of the characters (but probably because the subject matter of the crime was totally abhorrent.) I know these crimes are a fact of life; I was a child, living at the time of the Moors murders, in a village near to where the children were buried, and remember it far too well.

However, disregarding that, and purely on the basis of reviewing the novel, I have thought carefully about CHILDHUNT and, after much consideration, have given the book three stars.

Find a copy here:

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http://amzn.to/1A4dryJ

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Karen reviews A Deadly Learning by @FaithMortimer

Today’s team review comes form Karen, she blogs at https://mytrainofthoughtson.wordpress.com/

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Karen chose to read and review A Deadly Learning by Faith Mortimer

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My Opinion

This book and/or an invitation by her friend Wendy takes Diana and her husband to Portugal and – right into some mysterious events. As a reader, I automatically tried to solve this strange case. I will not tell you more about the story than shown in the Goodreads plot description. This would spoil the fun of reading this book yourself.

With A Deadly Learning, Faith Mortimer has created a thrilling suspense story with local flair. The story comprises a broad variety of believable characters with sufficient depth, nicely woven situations and interesting interactions to solve a set of crimes. I had a great time reading A Deadly Learning – it is a very intriguing read. I was drawn into the story right away, thrilled to solve the mystery alongside Diana. This is for you if you like female sleuths, crime writers, suspense with twists and local flair.

A suspenseful book and/or series to read again. I’m eagerly waiting for the opportunity to read the previous volumes of the series.

Recommended.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Liz reviews A Deadly Learning by Faith Mortimer

Today we have a review from Liz, she blogs at https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

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Liz chose to read and review A Deadly Learning by Faith Mortimer

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A Deadly Learning by Faith Mortimer

A Diana Rivers Mystery

 

This is the sixth book in the series of mysteries solved by “author” Diana Rivers, but as the real author, Faith Mortimer, says each one can be read in isolation.

 

Diana Rivers and her husband Steve have decided to take a break from their home in Cyprus by going to stay with their old friend, Wendy, who is assistant head at Lagos International School and College in Portugal. She has asked them to come to help celebrate the twenty first birthday of her god-daughter, Louise.

 

But their relaxing holiday is soon interrupted by a gruesome discovery, buried behind a wall in the cellar of the science block which is being renovated. The remains of the body have been there for three years and while Steve has to travel to Lisbon and London, Diana applies her detecting abilities to solving this murder. She questions students and staff, putting herself in severe danger. Many of them are involved in illegal and unpleasant activities which they wish to remain secret, whether or not there is a connection to the body.

 

Louise is a worry to both Diana and Wendy, as she has become involved with a fellow student who is a particularly unpleasant young man, affecting both her studies and her behaviour. The staff are a disparate group of men and women, young and mature, who also have their own problems and no-one can be excluded from the investigation, especially after another death occurs.

 

There are a large cast of characters in this story but they are clearly described with well-defined characteristics and the reader feels that Diana is a safe pair of hands, even if she is rather fool-hardy. The mystery is maintained almost to the last page, in a very complex plot.

 

I read this while staying in the Algarve, which I know well, and although I could imagine the rather different environment of a college I didn’t feel a strong sense of place beyond the scenes on the beach.

 

I will certainly read another “Diana Rivers” mystery even though she is so annoyingly perfect, as Faith Mortimer writes fluent enjoyable prose keeping me guessing up to the last minute.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Terry reviews Behind A Twisted Smile by Faith Mortimer

Today we have a review from Terry, she blogs at http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

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Terry chose to read and review Behind A Twisted Smile by Faith Mortimer

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Behind a Twisted Smile by Faith Mortimer

3.5 stars

Reviewed by me as part of Rosie Amber’s Review Team

A psychological thriller. Keen marathon runner Moya Waterford has had a brief relationship with Martyn Cousins, and thinks she will hear no more from him when she calls it a day. This, however, is when the trouble starts, as he insinuates himself into the life of her family and manages to convince everyone that he is a really nice guy. Moya suspects differently, especially when she finds out details about his past. Alas, no-one believes her….

This is a fairly standard plot, but it’s in the telling, right? I sped through the first fifty per cent of the book on a long train journey without even noticing I had read so much of it; I found the writing style very readable, and there were no long boring bits or diversions that might have tempted me to skip read. Martyn was delightfully slimy, sister Evie and mother Belinda irritating in their naiveté; the dialogue is mostly smooth and the book starts with a good punch.

I’m in two minds about this one; one the one hand I did enjoy it, but on the other hand I felt frustrated by it because the whole premise by which the plot hangs is, I think, unfeasible. Very slight spoiler alert here; skip to the next paragraph if you don’t want to know anything at all about the plot. Right from the beginning Martyn gives Moya’s friends and family the impression that he dumped her and she is upset and jealous because he is now with her sister, Evie. So why doesn’t Moya make clear that it is she who finished it and she doesn’t even like him much? She’s supposed to be a strong, outspoken sort of woman but for some reason is struck dumb about this detail until much later. Next, someone from Martyn’s past travels hundreds of miles to reveal shocking details about her own experience with him, and to warn Moya that he is dangerous, but for some reason Moya does little about it, and doesn’t even seem to give it more than a cursory consideration although the pattern is clearly repeating itself. When she does finally start to reveal details, her lifelong best friend chooses to believe Martyn over her, despite all the evidence.

I liked Faith Mortimer’s writing style and would read another book by her; if you are good at suspending disbelief this might work for you (as I can see by the reviews it has for many), but for me it needed more thinking out, perhaps another draft or two to tighten up the prose, and less inclusion of unlikely occurrences in order to push the plot forward. I was expecting much more of a twist in the tale all the way through, and suspected another character’s involvement in the evil-doing; I thought I’d been really clever and guessed it at 57% but I was wrong; a really great twist at the end would have made the book so much stronger.

Find a copy here from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com