Welcome to my first instalment of Rapid Reviews. As the title suggests, you’ll find rapid reviews for books I’ve read recently, but for one reason or another decided against writing a full review. These reviews vary in length but they will all be rapid! And to make things easier, you can see if I’ve enjoyed a book, or not, at a glance – next to titles I’ve enjoyed, you’ll find a ✔️ and for those that didn’t work for me, you’ll see a ✖️.
On today’s rapid reviews:
The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy ✖️
A neo-noir crime novel from the legendary crime novelist James Ellroy. Los Angeles, 15th January 1947: a beautiful young woman walked into the night and met her horrific destiny.
Five days later, her tortured body was found drained of blood and cut in half. The newspapers called her ‘The Black Dahlia’. Two cops are caught up in the investigation and embark on a hellish journey that takes them to the core of the dead girl’s twisted life…
This novel was absolutely nothing like I thought it would be. Firstly, it takes about 84 pages before any mention of a crime – we’re given way too much backstory at the beginning. Yes, it sets the scene for the relationship between the cops, but it could have been condensed down and still had the same effect. My main issue with this novel was its lack of actual detecting; the crime itself was heavily overshadowed by the lives of these two detectives, it was basically non-existent (the blurb gives the impression it would feature more). The Black Dahlia is a dark and twisted novel for sure, but the narration/writing style was dull, dense and in no way thrilling or engaging – it’s unlikely I’ll read a book by this author again. After finishing this novel, I found a google search of Ellroy’s life much more interesting than this book!
In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward ✔️
Bampton, Derbyshire, January 1978. Two girls go missing: Rachel Jones returns, Sophie Jenkins is never found. Thirty years later: Sophie Jenkins’s mother commits suicide.
Rachel Jones has tried to put the past behind her and move on with her life. But news of the suicide re-opens old wounds and Rachel realises that the only way she can have a future is to finally discover what really happened all those years ago.
This is a story about loss and family secrets, and how often the very darkest secrets are those that are closest to you.
Book one in the DC Connie Childs series. A very good debut novel with a strong mystery and likeable characters. This is a plot-driven police procedural, so there is minimal backstory on the characters, but enough to keep you wanting to learn more about them as the series progresses.
The Weaning by Hannah Vincent ✔️
For childminder Bobbi, it’s all about keeping your babies safe.
When professional couple Nikki and Rob uncover their childminder Bobbi’s secret everything changes. Bobbi has a child-shaped hole in her life that her ‘silver fox’ lover can’t fill. Now she is seeking out children once more. Troubled young couple, Kim and Connor are battling with social services to keep their baby, Jade – but they needn’t worry, Bobbi soon arrives to help solve all their problems.
At 158 pages, this novel begs to be read in one sitting. It’s subtle in its narration but so effective in addressing themes of motherhood and mental health. As you read this novel, you will likely figure out certain parts of it, or at the very least, you’ll get a feeling that something is not quite right – you’re itching to know exactly what Bobbi’s story is, why you sense this air of foreboding. The Weaning is a dark novel, one that you’ll likely reflect on once you’ve finished reading, as you’ll now have all the information, you can begin to dissect, to try to understand the complexity of this novel so simply told. I think this one will appeal to fans of Lullaby by Leila Slimani (although I did prefer Lullaby).
*My thanks to Ninja Book Box for providing me with a copy of this title*
I Can’t Begin to Tell You by Elizabeth Buchan ✖️
When the Nazis invade Denmark, British-born Kay Eberstern is sickened when Bror – her husband of twenty-five years – collaborates with the enemy to save his family home.
Lured by British Intelligence into a covert world of resistance, her life in the hands of London’s code breakers, Kay’s betrayal of her husband is complete as she risks her home and children to protect an SOE agent who won’t even tell her his name.
As her family – especially her headstrong daughter – is drawn further into danger, Kay is faced with a wrenching moral dilemma. Who will be sacrificed next for the cause? Can she and Bror ever find their way back to one another?
I’m drawn to historical fiction set during WWII, especially when it centres around the role women played during the war. And I haven’t read a novel focusing on the Danish resistance before, so that was the appeal.
However, I struggled with this one, really struggled to finish the book (but I did)! I couldn’t get on board with the writing style at all, it wasn’t engaging enough, to be brutally honest, it bored me at times, making this an incredibly slow read. There was just no momentum to propel me on. And I struggled to believe in the characters. This lack of authenticity really made it hard to become invested in their plight. I found it hard to believe spies would love and trust so easily in times of war. And if you’ve read this one, everything about Tanne had me rolling my eyes.
I did find the information on Morse code interesting. And I liked the idea of there being a divide between husband (collaborating) and the wife (resisting), even though the tension I was hoping for didn’t manifest.
*My thanks to the author for providing me with a copy of this title*