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: Call Drops by John F Leonard

This is a book review for Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Call Drops is a short horror story by John F Leonard. Call Drops is about Vincent, who finds an old phone in a second-hand shop that only he can hear ring and when he answers, he hears sinister messages on the other end of the line – or nothing at all.

Call Drops is the first in a series of stories inspired by Dead Boxes, which are seemingly ordinary household objects yet have mysterious or dangerous properties.

I recently read a enjoyable selection of short stories by Stephen King called Skeleton Crew. Similarly, Call Drops fits in well with the short horror story genre. The idea of buying something dangerous at a second-hand shop reminded me of another great Stephen King work – Needful Things.

However, Call Drops is on the rather short side of a short story.

I understand short stories are not meant to be overly lengthy, but it felt almost too short for me to truly understand what was happening. I think Leonard spent slightly too much time providing background information about Vincent, rather than describing the supernatural events plaguing him.

I also thought the front cover does not match the style or genre of the book; a close-up image of an older man’s ear is an odd choice.

By the end of the story, I understood the gist of Call Drops and thought it was a similar concept to The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe, as Vincent is haunted by the memories of terrible things in his life, just as Poe’s narrator is haunted by reminders of his murderous actions.

I liked what Call Drops was trying to do, though I think it could have been improved by focusing more on events happening now than details of the protagonist’s past.

Star Rating: 2.5/5 Stars

Call Drops is available to buy as a paperback or an e-book from Amazon UK or Amazon.com.

– Judith

Book Review: Gone by Midnight by Candice Fox

I acquired this book for free in exchange for a review via NetGalley and Random House UK, Cornerstone.

Gone by Midnight by Candice Fox is the third novel in a series of crime and detective books called the Crimson Lake series. I didn’t realise this before reading but in my opinion, the book functions well as a standalone too.

They left four children safe upstairs.

They came back to three.

Reminiscent of the infamous Madeleine McCann case, a child goes missing from a hotel. The child’s parents insisted they checked the room regularly, to check all was well, whilst dining at a nearby restaurant.

Gone by Midnight is set in Queensland, Australia. I enjoyed this because I don’t think I’ve ever read a book set in Australia before, and there were dramatic scenes involving a crocodile or two (of course) which was a fun addition to the narrative.

On the whole, the book was gripping. I genuinely didn’t know what had happened to the missing child or who was to blame, and I was keen to find out.

I thought Ted Conkaffey, the investigator, dealt well with the situation and the discussion of clues and possibilities was informative and realistic. However, Conkaffey is an unusual character because, although is a privately hired investigator to uncover the mystery behind the child’s disappearance, Conkaffey is also a falsely accused paedophile. I don’t think it’s the best decision for one’s public image to get involved with a missing child case.

Conkaffey’s sidekick, Amanda Pharrell is a convicted murderer, and is another character whose involvement in this case looks potentially dodgy. I thought Amanda rode a very fine line between being different for the sake of being different and “cool”, and deliberately irritating and dislikeable. Personally, I didn’t find her wacky attitude or her darkly comic one-liners particularly entertaining.

Overall, I think I enjoyed the story of Gone by Midnight more than the specific characters. The climax of the novel had a really exciting build-up, and this was probably my favourite section of the entire book.

Gone by Midnight is released today! It is available to buy as a paperback, hardback, or e-book directly from Penguin Books.

Star Rating: 3/5 Stars

– Judith