Wednesday 12 December 2018

A new series and an old one

Busy, busy at the moment so it's two quick reviews of what I've been reading over the past couple of weeks and they involve a brand new series and an old friend.

First up, the new series. Against a Dark Sky, book one in Katherine Pathak's 'DCI Dani Bevan' series.

DCI Dani Bevan and her team are assigned to a case in the small village of Ardyle at the foot of Ben Lomond in Scotland. A group of climbers became separated in bad weather, two returned safely to their holiday cottage, of the other three, a woman has been found strangled and two men are missing. For the people who live in the village it brings back bad memories of an event 30 years ago when a local school party got similarly separated in the fog and three children died. The parents of one of those children have returned to the village to offer help with the investigation. They claim to 'see' things in their dreams that they believe are linked to real life events. Most of the police team are skeptical about this but Dani feels they need all the help they can get. What she has to discover is whether there's a connection between the two tragedies and, if there is indeed one, is anyone else's life in danger?

This was one of those books that I found hard to put down. I believe this kind of murder story is known as A Police Procedural, where the tale is centred mainly around the police and the steps they take to solve a complicated murder. I sometimes find that can be a bit tedious but it wasn't in this case, there was a lot going on and the author injects a fair bit of pace into the story. I enjoyed the way in which family secrets were slowly revealed, people doing stupid things just as they do in real life. A real star of the book was the Scottish setting. Ben Lomond actually exists and as you can see the area is very beautiful. Katherine Pathak is excellent at atmosphere and depicting how frightening it suddenly becomes when the weather closes in on a mountain. With interesting characters, a strong mystery, and an excellent setting this was a real winner for me. I'll be reading more by this author, I have Aoife's Chariot, which is book one of another series, on my Kindle, and will be buying more in the Dani Bevan series too.

Against a Dark Sky is my eighth book for the 2018 European Reading challenge covering the UK.

And now for an old friend, A Song of Shadows, book 13 of John Connolly's 'Charlie Parker' series.

Parker is staying in the seaside town of Boreas, Maine, recuperating from a near-fatal shooting. He is quite frail and is trying to recover his former vitality by walking the beach, going further every day. A woman and her daughter, Ruth and Amanda Winter, move into the house further up the beach. The little girl is friendly but her mother is extremely wary. Parker isn't sure whether this is because of his reputation, which has preceded him, making the whole town wary of him, or whether there is another reason entirely. The young daughter alerts him when she asks about his dead daughter, how does she know about that? It's not long before things, as per usual around Parker, hot up. A dead body is washed up on the beach, a man named Perlman, and the police wonder if there's a connection to a double sadistic murder in Florida recently. Parker has a bad feeling about the whole business and tries to find out what is frightening Ruth Winter, because he doesn't think it's him. When his investigations turn out to be too little, too late, the trail leads eventually to the German community in Maine. Who are they? Why are they in the USA? What are they hiding?

A strong stomach is required for this instalment of the Charlie Parker chronicles. You know, as soon as the neighbour and her daughter appear on the scene and the daughter can see dead people, that things are not going to go well for them. A strong stomach because sadism is involved here, as regards the modern murders but also holocaust events in concentration camps in Germany during WW2. More than any book of this series, apart from possibly The Reapers which dealt with Mississippi in the 1950s and 60s, this is a real history lesson and even I who have read a fair bit about The Holocaust found myself horrified all over again. I often think that fictional books can be far more affecting than non-fiction when it comes to the retelling of shameful events and this book proves it. But it is also everything else we've come to expect from a Charlie Parker novel. It's psychologically very creepy, it's hugely descriptive - Maine is so real in Connolly's hands - and it's very funny in places: it needs to be to lighten the horror. But best of all there is that running back story of what Parker is and to this has been added the mystery of what exactly his daughter is. Rivetting. Superb, no one writes like John Connolly, but I have to read him in small doses and definitely NOT at bedtime! Five out of five stars on Goodreads, no question.



TracyK said...

Both of these sound too creepy, or psychologically intense, for me. But the book by Katherine Pathak has a lovely setting.

Cath said...

Tracy: The John Connolly is definitely very psychologiclly creepy and intense, the other one not so much and I think you would be fine with it. The setting is wonderful.

Margaret @ BooksPlease said...

Against a Dark Sky sounds like one for me - especially with such a beautiful setting. I think I'll give A Song of Shadows a miss, though.

Cath said...

Margaret, yes I really think the Scottish book would be your kind of thing... but not the JOhn Connolly. I have a high tolerance of his books but that was a strong one.