As promised, here is part II of my mini reviews of my holiday reads.
Don’t Let Go by Michel Bussi
In an idyllic resort on the island of La Réunion, Liane Bellion and her husband Martial are enjoying the perfect moment with their 6-year-old daughter. Turquoise skies, blue sea, palm trees, a warm breeze.
Then Liane disappears. She went up to her hotel room between 3 and 4pm and never came back. Her husband, worried, had gone to the room along with the concierge – the room was empty but there was blood everywhere. Despite his protestations of innocence, the police view Martial as their prime suspect. He was the only other person who went to the hotel room between 3 and 4pm according to the staff of the hotel.
Then he disappears along with his daughter. With Martial as prime suspect, helicopters scan the island, racial tensions surface, and more corpses are found. Is he really his wife’s killer? And if he isn’t, why does he appear to be so guilty?
I had really high hopes for this novel, having loved After the Crash and Black Water Lilies, and whilst I enjoyed it, I have to admit that it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad, and I liked it, but I had had a couple of issues with the novel.
The good points. The plot has all the twists and turns that I’ve come to expect from Bussi, and if I guessed elements of where it was going, I didn’t see the whole picture until the big reveal. I’ve not been to La Réunion, so I don’t know how accurate a portrayal it is, but it does sound lovely. And, Captain Aja Purvi was a great character.
But. Throughout the novel, many of the women are treated as little more than objects to be groped and ogled at, and whilst the inclusion of the odd incident isn’t necessarily an issue (it does happen, after all), to have to read about it repeatedly does get a little tiresome. In addition, the plot requires the suspension of disbelief, as it’s rather implausible at times. I also had some issues with the relationship between Martial and his daughter, Sopha, which seemed a little off.
Not for me, this one, although I’d be willing to read additional novels by Bussi, on the strength of the first two.
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley
“If it had another name, I never knew, but the locals called it the Loney – that strange nowhere between the Wyre and the Lune where Hanny and I went every Easter time with Mummer, Farther, Mr and Mrs Belderboss and Father Wilfred, the parish priest.
It was impossible to truly know the place. It changed with each influx and retreat, and the neap tides would reveal the skeletons of those who thought they could escape its insidious currents. No one ever went near the water. No one apart from us, that is.
I suppose I always knew that what happened there wouldn’t stay hidden for ever, no matter how much I wanted it to. No matter how hard I tried to forget….”
The Loney is book that has had quite mixed reviews. Having read it, I can see why it doesn’t appeal to everyone, although I absolutely loved it.
The narrator, who we know only be his surname, Smith, or by his nickname, Tonto, tells the story of what happened at the Loney whilst he was a child on the last of the many Easter vacations he spent there with his family, the local vicar, and other members of their congregation. This book does contain a lot of detail of Catholic rites, although it’s done in such a way that even an atheist like myself didn’t feel overwhelmed by this.
This isn’t a fast-paced novel with something happening on every page. But, if there’s nothing overtly happening, I always had the feeling that something was about to happen, and I thought that Hurley’s writing effortlessly maintained the sense of unease with which he imbued the novel from early on. Obviously, it wouldn’t be much a novel if nothing happened at all, but it does take a while, and I did suspect where it was going from the hints earlier on. That said, I still found the ending to be quite shocking, even though I was expecting it.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and whilst I can see that it may not be to everyone’s taste, I’d recommend this to anyone looking for a gothic tale.
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
The Method by Shannon Kirk
Imagine a helpless, pregnant 16-year-old who’s just been yanked from the serenity of her home and shoved into a dirty van. Kidnapped. Alone. Terrified.
Now forget her …
Picture instead a pregnant, 16-year-old, manipulative prodigy. She is shoved into a dirty van and, from the first moment of her kidnapping, feels a calm desire for two things: to save her unborn son and to exact merciless revenge.
She is methodical, calculating, scientific in her plotting. A clinical sociopath? Leaving nothing to chance, secure in her timing and practice, she waits for the perfect moment to strike. The Method is what happens when the victim is just as cold as the captors.
The agents trying to find a kidnapped girl have their own frustrations and desires wrapped into this chilling drama. In the twists of intersecting stories, one is left to ponder. Who is the victim? Who is the aggressor?
I’m not sure that a book about a kidnapped, heavily pregnant teenager should be fun, but that is the word that springs to mind to describe this one. Told from the perspective of a unique protagonist, we see how this exceptionally intelligent and gifted young woman is able to scientifically assess her situation and the “assets” that she has available to her, and to form a plan to escape her captivity.
Despite her meticulous planning, there are plenty of knuckle-biting moments when you’re not sure whether she will be ok, and I found this to be an incredibly quick read as I was desperate to know whether her planned worked and she was able to escape, what the federal agents working the case found, and whether she was also able to take her revenge on those that abducted her.
A brilliant twist on the kidnap thriller.
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐