Archive for August, 2015

Blood Shot by Sara Paretsky

17323869V.I. Warshawski isn’t crazy about going back to her old south Chicago neighbourhood but a promise is something she always keeps. Caroline, a  childhood friend, has a dying mother and a problem –  after twenty-five years she wants V.I. to find the father she never knew. But when V.I. starts probing into the past, she not only finds out where all the bodies are buried – she stumbles onto a very new corpse. Now she’s stirring up a deadly mix of big business and chemical corruption that may become a toxic shock to a snooper who knows too much.

Book group reads are very different from your generic, commercial fiction – well I think they are anyway – so the only reason I chose a very standard crime thriller was simply due to the fact that it was a Harrogate Big Read book. Books are given out in their hundreds to various library groups in the north east, and I think that this is a super idea. To make it even more superer (yes, that is a real word – honest) there are book group meetings specifically for this book in the run up to the Harrogate Crime Festival. Anything that promotes reading on a big scale is pretty fab in my eyes, so I jumped at the chance of reading this with my group and dishing out free books at the same time. Everyone loves a freebie!

However, what I wasn’t planning on was how poor the choice of book was this year (and I NEVER like to be negative about a book). This book has sold in the thousands – the series in the millions – and yet my eyes have need dried up so quickly as they did reading this novel. Boring would be an improvement to what my group had to say on this book. It really was a very bland and simple book that it would probably sit better on a creative writing course as an example of how not to write a novel.

It really was that bad.

So, I’m quite reluctant to write this blog as I really don’t like to rip apart any novel, but I’ll do my best to keep it succinct.

We hated it.

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey

thElizabeth is Missing, Emma Healey’s stunning debut novel, introduces a mystery, an unsolved crime and one of the most unforgettable characters since Mark Haddon’s Christopher. Meet Maud …

‘Elizabeth is missing’, reads the note in Maud’s pocket in her own handwriting.

Lately, Maud’s been getting forgetful. She keeps buying peach slices when she has a cupboard full, forgets to drink the cups of tea she’s made and writes notes to remind herself of things. But Maud is determined to discover what has happened to her friend, Elizabeth, and what it has to do with the unsolved disappearance of her sister Sukey, years back, just after the war.

We seem to have read quite a lot of very ‘samey’ books recently so I was a little dubious about reading this one for book group. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The way in which Emma Healey portrayed Maud was both gentle and, I believe, very accurate. I have limited experience of Alzheimer’s disease but I felt as though Maud was incredibly genuine and very well written and felt deeply for her plight to discover what happened to Elizabeth.

The book was met with mixed views at our meeting and although everyone seemed to find the read well written and interesting, some members did struggle with the believability of Maud’s character, and of the final plot twist too. However, it wasn’t until I began to write this blog that I realised that we digressed in our meeting and talked too much about social care and the current system than we did of the book. Indeed, the issues we raised did generate a healthy and lengthy discussion about the disease, and how it’s managed through out current welfare system, but we failed to get back to the novel in the end.

No one seemed to enjoy it as much as I did, but no one took a particular disliking to it either. In summary it was an interesting read addressing some delicate issues but maybe the sub-plot could have been a little stronger. It’s clear throughout the book that the disappearance of Elizabeth plays a strong role in Maud’s life but when the mystery is finally unravelled it feels a little far fetched. Nevertheless, I do believe it to be a very good novel and certainly recommend it as a general good read for anyone.


About the group

The Tees Valley Book Group meets at Stockton Central Library at 6.30pm on the first Tuesday of the month.

If you would like more information about what the group is reading, please visit www.newwritingnorth.com/submit/join-tees-valley-book-group.

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