Book Review: Who Killed Anne-Marie? by CM Thompson

This is part of a blog tour organised by Love Books Group and Hookline Books.

Daniel and Anne-Marie’s marriage isn’t just on the rocks, it’s about to go six feet under. Anne Marie Mills is out of work, out of love and out of whisky. Everyone else is out of patience. When Anne-Marie is found dead who is to blame? The neighbours who despised her drunken rants? The husband who wondered how much more he could take? Or is there another killer in the neighbourhood?

I thought the beginning of Who Killed Anne-Marie? was really interesting because the narrative switches frequently between Daniel’s perspective and Anne-Marie’s perspective on their crumbling marriage, which makes it difficult to know who is worse, who enables who, and who abuses who – a fascinating idea.

As the title suggests, Who Killed Anne-Marie? is a murder-mystery novel. I actually liked that Anne-Marie’s death was revealed in the title, as I was alert to characters’ speech and actions, in order to pick up on possible clues in advance.

Another interesting aspect of Who Killed Anne-Marie? is that all the characters are horrible. Daniel is cruel, Anne-Marie is a violent drunk, Anne-Marie’s mother is bitter and angry, and Anne-Marie’s brother is selfish. Plus, all of the neighbours on the street are flawed too. This, I think, both helps and hinders the narrative. On the one hand, it made the murder mystery intriguing because the book was filled with seemingly hundreds of people who would be happier if Anne-Marie were dead. On the other hand, it was difficult to get read the book at times because it was so depressing. Also, I found it hard to sympathise or support any of the characters – including the police officers investigating her death – because all the characters were either overly harsh and horrible, or somewhat under-developed.

Whilst I admit I think Who Killed Anne-Marie? could have benefited from some glimpses of humour or some lighter moments, I nonetheless found it an enjoyable read.

Star Rating: 3/5 Stars

Who Killed Anne-Marie? is available to buy as a paperback or an e-book from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

– Judith

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Book Review: The Good Friend by Jo Baldwin

This is part of a blog tour with Red Door Publishing.

The Good Friend is a brand new thriller / psychological drama novel by Jo Baldwin about love, lies, and obsession.

Once upon a time they were best friends.

They were all friends.

So when Jenny moved to Australia to focus on her swimming career, she not only lost Kath, but her soulmate Tom. It was for the best. Or so they said.

The Good Friend is about Jenny, her ex-boyfriend Tom, and her best friend Kath, who also happens to be Tom’s wife. Jenny decides to visit Kath and Tom in rural France. Initially, the two women instantly reconnect and enjoy the friendship they had as teenagers. However, some strange and malicious behaviour soon leads Jenny to suspect something is wrong with her friend.

I really enjoyed The Good Friend. A lot.

As I was reading, I was struck by the lengths a supposed friend goes to in order to destroy somebody else’s life. It was incredibly uncomfortable to read, but enthralling at the same time. This was helped by the fact that the chapters end on cliff-hangers, to increase tension.

I thought the writing was good, particularly Baldwin’s creative use of imagery, which really helped to make the descriptions as vivid as possible.

I loved the Kath’s deviancy (I do like a well-fleshed out villain), even if some of her actions were a little predictable.

Personally, I think Kath could have been even more manipulative and obsessive. For example, if Kath had begun to dress like Jenny, or copy her body language slightly, this would emphasise just how obsessed Kath is with Jenny’s life and Jenny’s personality, making The Good Friend an even creepier read.

Following on from this, I thought Jenny was a little too self-aware at times of Kath’s manipulation over her life and family. I think it would have been more sinister to reveal Kath’s true intentions, if Jenny had been kept completely unaware to begin with, thinking Kath was just being a Good Friend.

These are small criticisms however, as I did really enjoy reading The Good Friend and would definitely read a sequel, if it existed.

The Good Friend was released on 21st February 2019 and is available to buy as a paperback from Amazon.co.uk.

Star Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

– Judith

Book Review: The Spectacular Vision of Oskar Dunkelblick by Hattie Holden-Edmonds

This is part of a blog tour with Red Door Publishing.

The Spectacular Vision of Oskar Dunkelblick is the second novel written by Hattie Holden-Edmonds.

Oskar is the ultimate teenage loner who thrives on painting other people’s misery. However, after a ‘not-so-routine’ eye test, his bleak perspective is transformed after trying on a pair of very unusual lenses. The world he sees is filled with beautiful colours, happiness, and wonder – not what Oskar wants at all.

The story is original and interesting, and I enjoyed the wry tone Hattie uses.

As the title would suggest, the book centres on Oskar Dunkelblick. Hattie does a great job at making him the focus of the novel, as his character is incredibly interesting and detailed.

Oskar is quite a remarkable person; he enjoys tragedies, misery, is fascinated by diseases and is generally an oddball. He reminded me of Alex from Anthony Burgess’ novel A Clockwork Orange, and though he might be cruel at times, I couldn’t help but be drawn to Oskar’s personality.

The magical and psychological elements of the narrative were okay, if a little lost on me, and personally, the idea of seeing the continuous beauty within life came across slightly little wishy-washy, but that’s personal preference.

my-photo-oskar
Image via www.hattieholdenedmonds.com

I thought the front cover is creative and fun, and its focus on the eyes may be another unintentional stylistic similarity to A Clockwork Orange.  

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Image via www.penguinsciencefiction.org

I really enjoyed the flashbacks to Oskar’s past – they were well integrated into the narrative and the scenes recounting how he controlled and altered the life of his ex-friend Franz were some of my favourite parts. The flashbacks helped demonstrate how Oskar’s prickly personality has been formed by a tragic upbringing and past relationships.

However, despite these sadder scenes, The Spectacular Vision of Oskar Dunkelblick is definitely less bleak than A Clockwork Orange. The ending was surprisingly happy, and Hattie even includes a small, sweet, love story.

I’m curious to learn why the book was set in Germany with German characters – it certainly made a change from typical young adult fiction which always tends to take place in an English or American setting. If you know why it was set in Germany, do let me know!

Star Rating: 4/5 stars

The Spectacular Vision of Oskar Dunkelblick is available to buy as a paperback from Amazon UK.

– Judith