Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #PsychologicalThriller ODD NUMBERS by @JJMarsh1

Today’s team review is from Karen, she blogs here https://mytrainofthoughtson.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Karen has been reading Odd Numbers by J. J. Marsh

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My Opinion

The story starts in 1999 when six friends (Clark, Dhan, Gael, Lovisa, Mika, and Simone) want to celebrate the Millenium close to Prague at a cabin by a lake.

With Odd Numbers”, JJ Marsh has created an expertly woven plot, an intriguing novel of five friends who cope with the death of the sixth friend. “Odd Numbers” comprises authentic characters with sufficient depth; Gael is the one I took to the most; my sympathies for her friends underwent slight changes as the story evolved. JJ Marsh delicately introduces her characters. I had a great time reading – this is a very compelling read; I was drawn into the story right away, close to Gael and her friends. The plot offers food for thought, still keeps me thinking. Even if I anticipated some outcomes, I was intrigued by the way JJ Marsh directs her readers there.

I could imagine this a perfect plot for the “Fantasy Film Festivals” (they are known for unusual stories).

The cover is great – perfect for this story.

This is for you if you like thought-provoking stories and psychological fiction.

A remarkable story to read again.

Recommended.

Book description

The Guilty Party meets The Secret History

Can you forgive a friend?

Strange things bring people together. Like a tragic death.

Over two decades, five friends reunite every other New Year. They celebrate, grieve and heal. Memories grow dusty and the nightmare starts to fade.

On the 20th anniversary, in a remote snowy chalet, old doubts surface.
Wounds reopen and morality comes into question.

Is friendship a safety net or a tie that hobbles to the past?

They thought they knew each other’s secrets.
Did they miss the biggest one of all?

When history is rewritten, they must act to preserve the future.
A fatal decision means this reunion will be their last.

A psychological drama with beautifully portrayed characters and an intricately woven plot. The suspense emerges between the lines, grabs you softly but never lets go.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Mystery ODD NUMBERS by @JJMarsh1

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here https://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Odd Numbers by J.J. Marsh

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I chose this book from the review team list because I loved An Empty Vessel by this author, though this book is completely different.

For the past twenty years, Gael, Lovisa, Mika, Simone and Clark have spent every other New Year together, taking it in turns to choose the venue for a short holiday.  There used to be six of them, but Dhan died at their Y2K celebration two decades before.  At the time it was thought to be a terrible accident, but as the book progresses, we start to wonder if it was suicide, or even murder.

Interesting, interesting – and it is a testament to JJ Marsh’s storytelling skill that I enjoyed much of this, and was eager to find out what happened, despite some issues I had with the novel as a whole.

The book is told in first person chapters from all five friends, and dots back and forth in time between the present and the various reunions of the past twenty years, which were held in many different locations. To say I found the zig-zagging between time and locations confusing is something of an understatement; by half-way through I decided to stop trying to remember exactly where and when I was currently supposed to be, who was married to whom when, what already had or hadn’t happened in the chapter I was reading, and just concentrate on the relationship dynamics, and the uncovering of the mystery.

One of the characters comments that if it was not for Dhan’s death, maybe their friendship would not have endured. I thought she was probably right, as much of the time they don’t seem that keen on each other.  None of them are very likeable people (even the ‘nice’ one talks in humourless therapy-speak half the time), but I don’t mind that. I’d rather read about a sociopath than a saint any day; it’s far more interesting, the only problem being not having anyone to root for when all the characters are self-centred, cunning and/or in denial about more or less everything.

Aside from the chaotic timeline, I found it difficult to ‘know’ any of them, because each of their point-of-view chapters is written in much the same ‘voice’, despite their being of different nationalities, different social classes, etc. Aside from the varying subject matter, the odd Americanism from Clark, and Simone being a manipulative, particularly nasty piece of work, they all use the same language, have the same speech patterns, similar mood, tempo, vocabularies. Mika, Lovisa and Gael I could never ‘see’ at all; sometimes I thought I was reading Mika when it was Gael, etc. I also found some of the dialogue unrealistic.

Having said that… (and it’s a big ‘having said that’) I did enjoy reading this book, became immersed in the intrigue and thought the basic plot was great. I liked the slow uncovering of each person’s dark secrets, the truth about Dhan and the final drama, though it felt a bit rushed; I think more could have been made of it. There were a fair few irritations (not least of all the reiteration of the current trend I’ve noticed on new, young audience TV shows: that out of any group of young people, fifty per cent of them will have casual sex with either gender at the drop of a hat), but I found that … yes, I couldn’t put it down. It’s a hard one to rate. Yes, I liked it. Sort of. Mostly.

To sum up: The plot kept me interested throughout. JJ Marsh’s innate talent does come across, despite the book’s weaker elements; although the characters never really came to life for me, I liked the story a lot. So although I couldn’t say ‘yes, definitely, you must buy this’, I also want to say, it’s fun and original, and I did like it. Mostly. Sort of.

Book description

The Guilty Party meets The Secret History

Can you forgive a friend?

Strange things bring people together. Like a tragic death.

Over two decades, five friends reunite every other New Year. They celebrate, grieve and heal. Memories grow dusty and the nightmare starts to fade.

On the 20th anniversary, in a remote snowy chalet, old doubts surface.
Wounds reopen and morality comes into question.

Is friendship a safety net or a tie that hobbles to the past?

They thought they knew each other’s secrets.
Did they miss the biggest one of all?

When history is rewritten, they must act to preserve the future.
A fatal decision means this reunion will be their last.

A psychological drama with beautifully portrayed characters and an intricately woven plot. The suspense emerges between the lines, grabs you softly but never lets go.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

53203060. sy475

Rosie’s #BookReview Team#RBRT Friendship #Thriller ODD NUMBERS by @JJMarsh1

Today’s team review is from Olga, she blogs here https://www.authortranslatorolga.com

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading Odd Numbers by J.J. Marsh

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JJ Marsh is an author I’ve read great reviews about and has been on my list for a while, so I took the chance when I saw an ARC for her next book had become available. I can’t compare it to the rest of her works, but based on this novel, which is a new genre for her, I wouldn’t hesitate recommending her books, and I look forward to catching up on some of her previous novels.

I think the description above provides plenty of hints as to the plot, and this is one of those novels where the way the story is told and the fine details are fundamental, so I’ll try to avoid over explaining things or giving too many hints (I want to avoid spoilers at all cost). This is a story built around six friends (three women and three men) who meet at university, while they are studying to become international translators, and grow to be quite close. They come from different countries (mostly Europe, although one comes from the US, and one is from Indian origin), have very different personalities and backgrounds, and it’s likely that their friendship would have fizzled and died if not for a tragic event that takes place while they are away celebrating New Year (and the new millennium) in December 1999. After that, they meet every two years, and the event that binds them together weighs heavily on them all, having a very different impact in each one of them. Things come to a head on the 20th anniversary of that fateful New Year’s celebration and readers are privileged witnesses of another night to remember. This novel reminded me of a book I read and reviewed recently, The Hunting Party, but also of films like The Celebration (Festen), where there is a build-up of tension, strained relationships, plenty of secrets and lies, and a surprise or two. Although I think many readers will smell a rat from early on in the novel, even if they get it right (and let’s say things are left open to interpretation), the beauty of this novel is in the way it is built, the variety of points of view, and the psychological insights it offers into a catalogue of characters that are not miles away from people most of us know. Considering this is the author’s first incursion into the psychological drama genre, I take my hat off to her.

There are a variety of themes that come up in the novel, some more important to the action than others, for instance the nature of friendship, the way different people experience grief, the guilt of the survivor, how we change and evolve over time and how our relationships change with us, love, death, careers, priorities, family, charity missions, and, of course, lies.

As for the characters, I won’t go into too much detail about them, because the author does a great job of building them up through the novel, and readers should discover them as they read. Marsh chooses one of the female characters, Gael, as the main narrator, and she starts the story ‘now’ (in 2020). The whole novel is written in the first person, but not all from the same point of view. Although I’ve said that Gael is the main narrator, and she has more chapters than the rest, we also get to hear the voices of the other characters, who take us back into some of the reunions the friends have had over the years, and that allows readers to compare and contrast Gael’s version of the rest of her friends with their own words and insights. Readers can compose a mental picture and fit in the pieces of the puzzle, making their own minds up and deciding if they agree or not with Gael’s perceptions. It also makes for a more rounded reading experience, as we get to know each character more intimately, and perhaps to empathise, if not sympathise, with all of them. I liked Gael from the start: she is articulate, a journalist, and a bit of a free spirit, but she always tries to understand and accommodate others as well, and she is more of the observer and the outsider in the story, for reasons that will become evident to the readers from early on. I particularly enjoyed the fact that the friends are like an ersatz family, with individual roles they always fall back on when they are together (the nurturing mother, the responsible and dependable father, the youngest and spoilt sister, the rushed and sporty brother, the sister whom everybody confides in [Gael]), and this reminded me of Eric Berne’s Games People Play. All the characters are articulate and savvy enough to be aware of this and play it for keeps as well.

The book flows well, and the language used is appropriate to each one of the individual characters, fitting with their personalities and quirks without calling too much attention to itself. It helps move the story along, and manages to build up the tension, even when there isn’t a lot of action in the usual sense. There are mysterious events taking place (some that will have readers wondering if the characters are imagining them or not), clues that sometimes don’t seem to amount to much, hints, and some memorable scenes. But all those elements are woven subtly into the narrative creating a spider web that traps the readers and the more they read, the more they become entangled in the strands of the story and the characters, until it becomes almost impossible to put the book down.

There is a closure of sorts, although the ending is ambiguous and most of the surprises and big reveals have come before then. I liked the fact that there is much left to the imagination of each reader, but I know such things are down to personal taste.

This is a great psychological drama, with engaging characters (some more likeable than others), fascinating relationship dynamics, and a mystery at its heart. It’s a gripping read, perfect to keep our minds engaged and to have us pondering the ins and outs of friendships, relationships, and which actions would push us beyond the limits of forgiveness. A gem.

The last 7% of the e-book contains the first-chapter of the author’s work-in-progress, in case you wonder about its length.

Book description

The Guilty Party meets The Secret History

Can you forgive a friend?

Strange things bring people together. Like a tragic death.

Over two decades, five friends reunite every other New Year. They celebrate, grieve and heal. Memories grow dusty and the nightmare starts to fade.

On the 20th anniversary, in a remote snowy chalet, old doubts surface.
Wounds reopen and morality comes into question.

Is friendship a safety net or a tie that hobbles to the past?

They thought they knew each other’s secrets.
Did they miss the biggest one of all?

When history is rewritten, they must act to preserve the future.
A fatal decision means this reunion will be their last.

A psychological drama with beautifully portrayed characters and an intricately woven plot. The suspense emerges between the lines, grabs you softly but never lets go.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

53203060. sy475