The One by John Marrs

The One

How did I get it?:
I received it from the publisher. Many thanks to them! This does not affect my opinion of the book!

Synopsis:

How far would you go to find THE ONE?

One simple mouth swab is all it takes.

One tiny DNA test to find your perfect partner – the one you’re genetically made for.

A decade after scientists discover everyone has a gene they share with just one person, millions have taken the test, desperate to find true love.

Now, five more people take the test. But even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking – and deadlier – than others…

A psychological thriller with a difference, this is a truly unique novel which is guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Thoughts:

I was very intrigued to be sent this book through the post.

1

The One centres around a Match test which is a test where your DNA determines who you should be in love with. It’s an interesting concept that’s for sure. Is true love really something that can be determined by Science? I’m sure many scientists (I’m looking at you, Beth) would be interested by that. It’s a premise that really intrigued me and made me think. The story follows the connections made between matches. Some of the connections are confusing to our characters and some people are matched that really surprise others. For example, a man happily engaged to a woman finds himself to be matched with another man.

There are loads of twists and turns within the story and connections that you discover along the way. The characters are so complex and there are some rather shady characters. The story may have a scientific aspect but it’s more about the emotions, so if Science scares you, then don’t be put off by this book.

I first wondered why this book was billed as a psychological thriller, but it really is. I don’t want to say anything else about the plot because I don’t want to ruin it. Like any good thriller, it’s worth not knowing a lot before you jump into the story. There are more genres that this book falls into though. There’s romance and a slice of crime.

I have to admit, at the start I was very confused as there are quite a few characters and even though each chapter is character named, it took me a while to get into their story and work out who was who. As soon as I grasped it though, I was gripped by their stories and wanted to find out their secrets. In this book, every character has a story of their own to be told and I loved exploring them.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

An intriguing idea!

Talking About ‘I’m Traveling Alone’ with Bibliobeth!

I'm Traveling Alone (Holger Munch & Mia Kruger, #1)

How did I get it?:
I borrowed a copy from Beth!

Synopsis:

A six-year-old girl is found in the Norwegian countryside, hanging lifeless from a tree with a jump rope around her neck. She is dressed in strange doll’s clothes. Around her neck is an airline tag that says “I’m traveling alone.”

A special homicide unit in Oslo re-opens with veteran police investigator Holger Munch at the helm. Holger’s first step is to persuade the brilliant but haunted investigator Mia Krüger to come back to the squad–she’s been living on an isolated island, overcome by memories of her past. When Mia views a photograph of the crime scene and spots the number “1” carved into the dead girl’s fingernail, she knows this is only the beginning. She’ll soon discover that six years earlier, an infant girl was abducted from a nearby maternity ward. The baby was never found. Could this new killer have something to do with the missing child, or with the reclusive Christian sect hidden in the nearby woods?

Mia returns to duty to track down a revenge-driven and ruthlessly intelligent killer. But when Munch’s own six-year-old granddaughter goes missing, Mia realizes that the killer’s sinister game is personal, and I’m Traveling Alone races to an explosive–and shocking–conclusion.

CHRISSI: What were your first impressions of this book?

BETH: From the very basic….yaay, a crime novel to (even better) a Scandinavian crime novel! I’ve always been a bit of a fan of crime fiction from the Scandinavian region so I was excited to begin. My very high expectations were completely fulfilled as it is everything I could possibly want from this genre – a thrilling plot, a great mystery and intriguing characters.

BETH: Mia had a very strong relationship with her twin sister. How do you think what happened to her sister affected her as a person and as a police detective?

CHRISSI: A good question! I think Mia’s relationship with her sister did have such an impact on her. After the situation with her sister, Mia has completely changed. She sees no point in carrying on and wants to be with her sister again. I loved how a case did bring her out of isolation though. Mia had always been a dedicated and wonderful police detective and I feel she felt compelled to take the case on and help to solve the crime.

CHRISSI: This is a Scandinavian thriller – do you feel there is a distinctive tone to books and TV from Scandinavian countries?

BETH: Definitely. These authors are not afraid to go dark and disturbing and the darker the book is, the more it affects me personally and leads me to think on it for days after finishing. It also helps that they have some beautiful (and sometimes very remote) settings to describe so that adds to the chill factor. Also, being set in a country that I don’t know too much about and don’t speak the language is a greater form of escape for me and I love that sense of escapism in a novel.

BETH: There are a few twists in this tale, did you expect them and do you think they worked?

CHRISSI: I think the twists in this tale are exactly what kept a good pace of the story. I’m not one for crime fiction, but I felt compelled to read on. I think it’s the twists that kept me working through this story. I thought the twists and turns within the story were actually very smart and I think that’s what captured my attention and kept it there. I think there were some twists that were executed better than others, but on the whole, I really enjoyed this book!

CHRISSI: The relationship between the detectives Holger Munch and Mia Kruger is a key part of the novel. Discuss what this adds to the novel.

BETH: Holger and Mia are both fascinating characters, especially Mia who had a twin sister who sadly died from a drug overdose. From the very beginning you can tell they both have a few skeletons in their closet or quite a colourful past which is alluded to throughout the story. As they both come with their own separate and very different histories, they seem to be somewhat kindred spirits and I loved watching their working relationship and how they both looked after and out for each other, no matter the cost to themselves.

BETH: You are not normally a big fan of crime fiction, how did this one compare to others you have read?

CHRISSI: You’re right. I’m not a fan of crime fiction. I usually find the plot quite same-y and a little predictable. However, I thought this book was particularly smart and had some really interesting story-lines that really worked well and seemed to come together. I wasn’t bored when I was reading this book and sometimes I find myself losing interest in crime fiction.

CHRISSI: How does this book compare to others in it’s genre?

BETH: Very well I think. I’ve already mentioned that I’m a bit of a fan of Scandinavian noir and this sits perfectly alongside authors such as Jo Nesbo and Camilla Lackberg (two of my favourites). The plot was terrific but it was the strength of the characters themselves that would make me come back and read another book in the series by the author.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: Whilst I wouldn’t race at the chance to read another book by this author (it’s not my genre!) I wouldn’t say I’d avoid the author in the future. If I was interested in the book, I’d certainly read it!

Would I recommend it?:

BETH:  Of course!

CHRISSI: Yes- 3.5 stars!

Talking About ‘Missing, Presumed’ with Bibliobeth!

Missing, Presumed

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Synopsis:

Mid-December, and Cambridgeshire is blanketed with snow. Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw tries to sleep after yet another soul-destroying Internet date – the low murmuring of her police radio her only solace.

Over the airwaves come reports of a missing woman – door ajar, keys and phone left behind, a spatter of blood on the kitchen floor. Manon knows the first 72 hours are critical: you find her, or you look for a body. And as soon as she sees a picture of Edith Hind, a Cambridge post-graduate from a well-connected family, she knows this case will be big.

Is Edith alive or dead? Was her ‘complex love life’ at the heart of her disappearance, as a senior officer tells the increasingly hungry press? And when a body is found, is it the end or only the beginning?

CHRISSI: Discuss the choices that Manon makes – both professional and private.

BETH: When I first started this book I honestly wasn’t sure what to make of Manon but it wasn’t long before I was completely won over. I love how we really get to know her character through a much more thorough exploration of her private life than is usually found in crime novels. She has quite a colourful love life in her search to find “the one,” parts of which were really very funny and made me warm both to the character and the author. Later on in the novel, she also makes a hugely personal decision regarding a child to call her own and this made her much more relatable and “real” as an individual. Generally speaking, she is very professional in her workplace but there are a couple of wobbles…. which again, made her more human in my eyes.

BETH: There are strong female characters in this novel. Discuss whether crime novels feel different with female leads centre stage.

CHRISSI: I do think they feel different with female leads at the centre of the novels. Quite often, there are male leads in crime fiction and I think it feels really refreshing to have a female lead. Especially one as strong as Manon!

CHRISSI: Discuss how Susie Steiner structures the novel to create tension?

BETH: I think the author does this in a great way by using multiple narratives which I love in a novel and in this one, they are particularly effective. We get to hear from Manon, her colleague Davey and the missing girl’s mother Miriam, amongst others. At times, it almost felt like each perspective ended on a little cliffhanger before a different one started. This meant that I was always eager to read “just one more chapter,” so I could get back to the thrilling perspective that I had been reading beforehand, if that makes any sense!

BETH: Who was your favourite character in this novel and why?

CHRISSI:  I really liked the character Manon because she’s such a strong female lead. I liked how she was so independent and headstrong but she had a vulnerability about her at the same time. I also loved reading about her dating mishaps. It made her incredibly relatable.

CHRISSI: Did you find the book predictable in any way?

BETH: Maybe at times but it didn’t affect my enjoyment on any level at all. I think I always had an idea in my head about who was responsible (either directly or indirectly) for the disappearance of Edith but the way in which everything unravelled was excellent. Also, I didn’t guess the reasons behind why Edith went missing – that was all very complicated and quite extensive.

BETH: You’re not normally a crime fiction fan – did this book change your mind in any way?

CHRISSI: If I’m totally honest, no. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. I did. I just don’t think crime fiction is my thing. It’s certainly not my go to genre.

CHRISSI: How does this book compare to other crime reads that you’ve read?

BETH: Very favourably! As I know you’re aware, I always worry that crime reads are going to be a bit “samey” for me and there was something about Missing, Presumed that made it stand out in the genre. Perhaps it was the humour running through it, which I really appreciated or perhaps it was the characters who I really enjoyed getting to know, especially Manon. Either way, it’s certainly a series that I would be interested in continuing.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I liked Susie Steiner’s writing style so I’d certainly consider it!

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: 

CHRISSI: Yes!

Talking About ‘The Widow’ with Bibliobeth

The Widow

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Synopsis:

When the police started asking questions, Jean Taylor turned into a different woman. One who enabled her and her husband to carry on, when more bad things began to happen…

But that woman’s husband died last week. And Jean doesn’t have to be her anymore.

There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment.

Now there’s no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage.

The truth—that’s all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything…

CHRISSI: Discuss the interaction between Kate and Jean and the ethical limits of investigative journalism.

BETH: First of all, I loved how we got to hear the story of The Widow through a number of different viewpoints i.e. The Reporter (Kate), The Widow (Jean) but also The Detective and The Husband so there were a lot of individual voices with their own particular clues as to what was going on. The interactions between Kate and Jean were among the most interesting – Kate is not a terrible person in her own right but she is hell-bent on getting the story she feels she deserves and is very good at manipulating people, especially those who may be slightly weaker than herself so that she gets what she wants. It’s not that she doesn’t care about Jean or her feelings but she realises that she cannot get too emotionally involved as it may cost her the story and at the end of the day, she’s there to do her job. Journalists can often be thought of as vultures, especially in more emotive cases when vulnerable people are hounded and I think, in a way they have to switch off from the more “human” aspects to be able to get a story.

BETH: This is Fiona Barton’s debut novel. How do you think it compares to other debut novels you have read recently?

CHRISSI: Ooh good question. I have read some very good debuts so far this year. I do think Fiona Barton’s stands out as a decent debut. I’ve read quite a few psychological thrillers now, as you know, some of which have been debuts. I feel like it stands up well to other debuts. It’s definitely memorable. It’s made me want to read more from the author.

CHRISSI: Fiona Barton is a former journalist. Do you think that has influenced her writing style?

BETH: I hadn’t realised this previously but looking back on The Widow, I believe it can only have been an advantage for the novel. It is told in short, snappy, very readable chapters that certainly made me want to read “just one more” before closing the book for the night! The style of writing itself was thrilling and although I didn’t particularly warm to any of the characters they were all fascinating enough to keep me reading until the end.

BETH: What are your opinions on the character of Jean? Did you feel sorry for her?

CHRISSI: Another interesting question Beth, you’re rolling them out today. I was very confused with the character of Jean. At times I wondered what she had gone through with Glen. I knew there was something more to the story than first met the eye. During some points of the story, I thought Jean was quite a weak character. I felt like Glen had some sort of hold over her. Then I started to doubt her. I felt sorry for her in some ways but towards the end of the story my feelings began to change towards her. I don’t want to spoil it, so I won’t say anything else. She really was a mixed bag character for me.

CHRISSI: Did you find this book predictable in any way?
BETH: I’m not sure whether predictable would be the right word. I don’t think the author is deliberately keeping anything from us, everything seems to be somewhat out in the open and fairly easy to interpret. I guessed quite early on which character(s) had done wrong, it was just exactly what they did and to what extent that was hidden until the end.

BETH: Do you believe that Glen really loved Jean?

CHRISSI: That’s a hard question to answer because I don’t feel we really ever hear much from his perspective. I would hope he did love Jean, but there’s no real evidence to show this. He certainly doesn’t act like someone madly in love. He comes across as very controlling.

CHRISSI: We read widely in the genre, how does The Widow compare to books in the genre?

BETH: Ooh, yes we do love a good psychological thriller! For me, it holds its own against other books in the genre, I loved the plot-line, the way it was written from multiple viewpoints, the jumping back and forward in time, the characterisation and the exciting final reveal. It’s everything I look for in a thriller and I look forward to reading more from Fiona Barton.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: Yes, I would. I loved the short and snappy chapters and the overall plot.

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Yes! 3.5 stars

Talking About ‘The Samaritan’ with Bibliobeth

The Samaritan (Carter Blake, #2)

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Synopsis:

When the mutilated body of a young woman is discovered in the Santa Monica Mountains, LAPD Detective Jessica Allen knows this isn’t the work of a first-time killer.

She’s seen this MO before – two and a half years ago on the other side of the country. Allen begins to dig deeper and soon uncovers a terrifying truth. A sadistic serial killer has been operating undetected for the past decade, preying on lone female drivers who have broken down. The press dub the killer ‘the Samaritan’, but with no leads and a killer who leaves no traces, the police investigation quickly grinds to a halt.

That’s when Carter Blake shows up to volunteer his services. He’s a skilled manhunter with an uncanny ability to predict the Samaritan’s next moves. At first, Allen and her colleagues are suspicious. After all, their new ally shares some uncomfortable similarities to the man they’re tracking.

But as the Samaritan takes his slaughter to the next level, Blake is forced to reveal that the similarities between the two men are closer than even Allen suspects. With time running out and an opponent who knows all of his tricks, Blake must find a way to stop the Samaritan …even if it means bringing his own past crashing down on top of him.

CHRISSI: You read a lot of crime fiction. How does this book compare?

BETH: I certainly do, although less than I used to as at one time I used to read it almost exclusively and kind of over-dosed a bit on it I think! I also found everything was becoming a bit “samey,” although I expect it’s quite difficult to come up with something completely original. As to how the book compares, I don’t think it’s the best crime fiction I’ve ever read but it’s by far not the worst! Generally, I really liked the characters and the plot captured my attention in a way that made me really want to know what was going to happen next.

BETH: One of the lead characters in The Samaritan is strong-willed detective Jessica Allen. How well did you think Mason Cross tapped into the female mind?

CHRISSI: I think Mason Cross did a good job of tapping into the female mind. I liked that she was a strong-willed and clever. Mason Cross made Jessica incredibly easy to like. I appreciate that! I do have to admit though, with her being referred to as Allen a lot, sometimes I had to remind myself that she was female!

CHRISSI: What do you think of Carter Blake – hero or flawed man?

BETH: For me, Carter Blake is definitely one of the good guys. He has somewhat of a murky past as we find out in the novel, and we don’t really find out too much about his past in any great detail (perhaps there is more to be revealed later on in the series?) but he is a hero for sure. For me, it makes a story all the more believable if a character has some flaws – after all, no-one is perfect, right? In the past he may have made some bad decisions and may even make a couple of wrong turns during this particular novel but he has so much good in him that makes up for his (very few) flaws!

BETH: Did you have a favourite character in this novel and why?

CHRISSI: I didn’t really connect with the characters as much as I wanted to. That’s not to say they weren’t great characters. I just didn’t connect with them. If I had to choose a favourite character it would probably be Carter Blake, mainly because I found him quite fascinating to read about.

CHRISSI: Discuss the idea of good and evil in the novel.

BETH: Ooh, good question! In The Samaritan, there is not such a clear cut between good and evil. Take the title for example, I’m sure we all know the definition of a good samaritan as being a person that goes out of their way to help somebody else with no real personal gain to themselves. Now, our bad guy in this novel is deemed The Samaritan by the police as his M.O. seems to be helping stricken young women with car trouble. This is obviously an ironic title in itself considering he ends up bumping them off! As a reader I also found myself quite dubious when Carter Blake first shows up. He is a bit of a maverick with an interesting past as I’ve already mentioned and as I haven’t read the first book in the series, I was unsure at the beginning of his motives in taking on The Samaritan case like our lead detective, Jessica. I don’t want to say too much more for fear of spoilers but I found myself wondering whether there is any truth in the statement “born evil,” compared to “learning evil.”

BETH: Were you surprised by the various twists and turns in this novel?

CHRISSI: I was. I enjoy good twists and turns in a novel. I like to be kept on my toes and to be kept guessing about what might happen next. I felt like the twists and turns kept the pace fast and certainly kept me as a reader, turning the pages. I was eager to find out how everything would unravel.

CHRISSI:  Did it matter to you that this book was a further book in a series that you haven’t read?

BETH: Hmm. I think you might know the answer to this question already…YES! I’m afraid I’m a bit obsessive compulsive over wanting to read things in order but that’s purely a personal preference. It’s quite silly really as I don’t see any reason why this book can’t be read as a stand-alone. In some ways, perhaps it’s a bonus as I wasn’t familiar with the character of Carter Blake which made trusting him that little bit more interesting.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author? Does this book make you want to read the first in the series?

CHRISSI: I’m not sure. I don’t really enjoy this genre as a regular read and only like to dip in and out of it. I don’t think I enjoyed it enough to read the first book in the series. That’s not to say the writing or the book is bad, it just wasn’t my type of read. I think fans of the genre will lap it up!

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Yes!

Talking About ‘No Safe House’ with Bibliobeth

No Safe House

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Synopsis:

Seven years ago, Terry Archer and his family experienced a horrific ordeal that nearly cost them their lives. Today, the echoes of that fateful night are still audible. Terry’s wife, Cynthia, is living separate from her husband and daughter after her own personal demons threatened to ruin her relationship with them permanently. Their daughter, Grace, is rebelling against her parents’ seemingly needless overprotection. Terry is just trying to keep his family together. And the entire town is reeling from the senseless murder of two elderly locals.

But when Grace foolishly follows her delinquent boyfriend into a strange house, the Archers must do more than stay together. They must stay alive. Because now they have all been unwillingly drawn into the shadowy depths of their seemingly idyllic hometown.

For there, they will be reconnected with the man who saved their lives seven years ago, but who still remains a ruthless, unrepentant criminal. They will encounter killers for hire working all sides. And they will learn that there are some things people value much more than money, and will do anything to get it.

Caught in a labyrinth between family loyalty and ultimate betrayal, Terry must find a way to extricate his family from a lethal situation he still doesn’t fully comprehend. All he knows is that to live, he may have to do the unthinkable….

CHRISSI: This book is a sequel to No Time For Goodbye. How do you think it compares?

BETH: No Time For Goodbye was the first book by Linwood Barclay I ever read and I remember being pleasantly surprised by it. I continued to read his novels although I haven’t read one for a while I have to be honest. At the start, I didn’t really remember No Time For Goodbye too well although bits and pieces came back to me as I made my way through No Safe House. I think both books are stand-out in the genre and kept me turning the pages, eager to find out what was going to happen next.

BETH: Grace has a very difficult relationship with her mother. Discuss this and if it felt resolved to you at the end of the novel.

CHRISSI: Grace was really rebellious and seemed to want to really push the limits and test her parents. Especially her mother. Grace’s family are understandably very protective over her, due to the things that have happened

CHRISSI: This novel is definitely a real page-turner. Discuss how Linwood Barclay structures his novels to create this pace.

BETH: I don’t think the author needs any fancy gimmicks or multiple narrators to tell his story. He has a sterling plot, compelling and intriguing characters, lots of action and bags of mystery which all equal a read that is unputdownable.

BETH: What did you think about Cynthia’s decision to live apart from her family? Did you understand her reasons?

CHRISSI: This is where I have to admit, that I didn’t really like Cynthia as a character. She was so paranoid. I know given her families history it’s only natural to be anxious, but I think it would’ve felt more believable if she wanted to be close to her family and build a better relationship with her daughter. Cynthia moves away to give Grace space after her overprotectiveness almost suffocates her daughter, but I would have preferred to read about a mother who works more on a relationship with her daughter than one that moves away.

CHRISSI: Was there a stand out character for you?

BETH: I loved the father, Terry. His love and devotion to his family were clear to see and I loved that he would go to ANY lengths to protect his daughter, even if she was in the wrong at the time. I also really enjoyed the character of Victor who I remembered from No Time For Goodbye quite vividly once I began reading. He is a crook and there is no doubt that he has no remorse when he kills but he was VERY readable.

BETH: Who was your favourite character and why?

CHRISSI: Terry was my favourite character although in this particular book, I didn’t always feel that his decisions were believable, but like you, I loved his devotion to his family, especially his devotion to his daughter. He wasn’t as overpowering as Cynthia!

CHRISSI: Discuss the ending of the novel.

BETH: I don’t want to give too much away but I was pleased with how it ended. There was some sadness, which I wasn’t expecting but I think things were pulled together perfectly and in a way that would give every reader some satisfaction. I sure hope this poor family gets a break now!

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I would, but at the same time I’m not rushing to read another book by him. I find his books gripping and exciting, but I have to admit I was a little let down by the sequel to No Time For Goodbye!

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Yes!

Talking About ‘Eeny Meeny’ with Bibliobeth

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How did I get it?:
Netgalley- thanks to Penguin UK

Synopsis:

Two hostages. One bullet. One lives. One dies.

They were going to spend the rest of their lives together. Soul mates. But when a young couple wakes up alone together, disorientated and trapped, they are yet to grasp the true horror of their situation. They have no food, no water. Instead there is a gun loaded with a single bullet and a mobile phone with enough power only to deliver a short message: ‘when one of you kills the other, the survivor will walk free’. For their captor it’s simple: set the scene, watch, wait and leave the victims to do the killing. Tortured by fear, desperation, starvation and thirst, there’s only one way to end their ordeal: one of them must die.

DI Helen Grace and her team know they are hunting a complex predator whose broken survivors must endure their role as living calling cards. And killers. The victims – work colleagues, a mother and daughter, a pair of dancers – appear to be chosen at random and yet the planning is meticulous. There must be something driving the choice of victims, but until DI Grace can establish a connection, the killer is unreachable. A breakthrough is elusive and then, terrifyingly, the investigation begins to turn full circle…

Thoughts:

CHRISSI:  Discuss whether having a female character at the heart of a crime novel gives it a different feel.

BETH: This novel was a bit more unique than your usual crime/thriller as the perp of this novel is a woman. I haven’t read much fiction before that has a female character as the murderer so instantly it became a bit more interesting. I think this is probably because the statistics show that women in general don’t tend to kill random strangers as much as a man. What makes the story even creepier in my opinion is that our perp is choosing two individuals, placing them in a situation where they can’t escape and have no access to food or water. The only thing they have access to is a gun, and instructions saying that one must kill the other if they want to be set free. The idea of this terrifying plot combined with the fact that it is designed and carried out by a woman, make this novel stand out amongst its other rivals in the genre.

BETH: The story is set in Southampton. As we’ve lived there for quite a while, how did you enjoy reading about it in this novel?

CHRISSI: I have to admit it was very odd to read about places that we knew about. It’s not often books are set in Southampton so it was an enjoyable reading experience. I could easily picture the places they mentioned. It gave a very creepy feel to the story!

CHRISSI: When we were reading Eeny Meeny we were unsure whether the author was male or female. Do you think it matters? Does it affect the reader’s opinion of a book depending on what gender the author is?

BETH: The author of this book is M.J. Arlidge with no clue as to the gender. We aren’t given much more information about the author and I know a few authors decide to have just their initials and the surname on the book cover without revealing their sex. I’m not entirely sure why this happens, except that some might think it removes the prejudice that certain readers may feel about reading a book say, by a woman. For me personally I don’t really care whether the author is female or male, the only thing that matters surely is the quality of the writing and the story? However, I know we did have fun speculating on whether the author was male or female, and I have to say I was slightly surprised when I found out as I had expected the opposite. Perhaps I did make some assumptions without realising it?

BETH: Did you like the main character, DI Helen Grace? How well was she written in your opinion?

CHRISSI: I don’t think that Helen is a character that you immediately like. I think readers will either love her or hate her. I think she was a good character, but I didn’t immediately connect with her. She is incredibly well written though. She’s a strong character that comes across as incredibly steely, determined and driven. Her career is immensely important to her and she has to be tough in order to deal with the job and the challenges that come her way every day. She does come across as a very good leader. I sympathised with Helen towards the end and I’ll be interested to see how her story continues…

CHRISSI: The novel asks difficult questions about moral choices. Discuss the choices that the characters make.

BETH: Our perp is a very sneaky character and it seems the whole point of her agenda when it comes to these murders is questioning the morality of different characters when placed in the same situation. Some of the individuals have closer relationships than others, the first being boyfriend and girlfriend and some others are work colleagues. The victims have no way of getting out of their situation and are being denied food and water. Only one of the two can survive, but to do this they must kill the other. It’s hard to think if you were placed in the same situation with a loved one, a friend or even a colleague what you would do in that situation. I don’t think I would be able to kill anyone at all but when faced with this choice, it is surprising what some of the characters choose to do, in some cases they may think of killing the other as a mercy. It is only afterwards, when the surviving victim has to live with what they have done, that we see the internal struggles they go through because of their decision.

BETH: How do you think Eeny Meeny compares with other novels in the genre?

CHRISSI: I think it fits in nicely with other books in the genre. It definitely has a place. I think it’s great when female characters are at the heart of the novel, because more often than not the characters in thrillers/crime reads are male.

CHRISSI: How did you find the pacing of the story?

BETH: I found that the pacing of the novel changed which I enjoyed. In some parts it is slightly slower when we learn about our main character Detective Inspector Helen Grace, with a few tidbits about her life and how she is managing to solve the crime. Other parts are action-packed, fast and exciting and these parts were written in a way that I never felt bored.

BETH: Discuss Helen’s past and how what she has been through has affected her character.

CHRISSI:  Helen has had a traumatic past. I don’t want to mention all that had happened to her, as it would affect the story for those that haven’t read it yet. I think it does affect Helen’s present behaviour. It’s bound to. I found her to be quite an emotionally damaged character because of her past. She’s also such a flawed character, with some desperate sexual desires. As she learns more about the murders, Helen realises she’s being punished for something that happened to her that she’s tried hard to move on from.

CHRISSI: Eeny Meeny has some very dark sex scenes. Did you ever find it too much or do you think it made sense in context with the story?

BETH: Great question! I’m thinking of one sex scene in particular that was incredibly graphic. I’m no prude but it did make my eyes pop slightly! I’m not very sure if it fit in with the story exactly except for emphasising the relationship between the characters. Did I find it too much? Perhaps, but it did add a naughty little edge to the novel in points.

BETH: The next novel in this series is going to be Pop Goes The Weasel. Would you read it?

CHRISSI: I think I would read more of this series, but it’s not particularly a book that I’ll rush to read. It was enjoyable, but it felt fairly long at points!

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Yes! 3.5 stars