The Girl You Lost by Kathryn Croft: psychological page-turner

Eighteen years ago, Simone Porter’s six-month-old daughter, Helena, was abducted. Simone and husband, Matt, have slowly rebuilt their shattered lives, but the pain at losing their child has never left them. Then a young woman, Grace, appears out of the blue and tells Simone she has information about her stolen baby. But just who is Grace – and can Simone trust her?

When Grace herself disappears, Simone becomes embroiled in a desperate search for her baby and the woman who has vital clues about her whereabouts. Simone is inching closer to the truth but it’ll take her into dangerous and disturbing territory.

My review:

A good page-turning read and I very much liked the main character, Simone. However, as other reviews have said, there are so many books like this now that the ‘female in jeopardy’ novel is probably rather old-fashioned. Also, I worked out the twist a third of the way through so the ending was no surprise, and on a really picky note, I don’t think you can draw blood from trying to stab someone with car keys but I’m not prepared to put this to the test, LOL!

However, still a good quick read and I will probably try this author again.

Anne Brooke Books

Holding by Graham Norton: old-fashioned charm in a page-turning read

The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama; and yet its inhabitants are troubled. Sergeant PJ Collins hasn’t always been this overweight; mother of­ two Brid Riordan hasn’t always been an alcoholic; and elegant Evelyn Ross hasn’t always felt that her life was a total waste.
So when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be that of Tommy Burke – a former­ love of both Brid and Evelyn – the village’s dark past begins to unravel. As the frustrated PJ struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community’s worth of anger and resentments, secrets and regret.
Darkly comic, touching and at times profoundly sad. Graham Norton employs his acerbic wit to breathe life into a host of loveable characters, and explore – with searing honesty – the complexities and contradictions that make us human.

My review:

A well written and interesting debut novel from Graham Norton. The characters are well portrayed and very sympathetic, and the small village setting is beautifully described. There’s an old-fashioned feel about it – particularly in the way that setting tends to be described before we get to the character in each chapter – but that itself has charm and doesn’t negate the page-turning quality of the story. The ending was very satisfying indeed.

Anne Brooke Books

The Quality of Silence by Rosamund Lupton: a wasted opportunity

The story is rather too full of cliche for me – ‘woman in jeopardy’, and partial ‘environmental thriller’ were both just a little dull here. The journey across the snow was also far too long and uninteresting and I did a lot of skipping. That said, Ruby (the daughter) has a very strong voice and is by far the most interesting character in the book. I particularly liked how Ruby describes words by taste and smell. The sign language is also well used as a key part of the plot.

I also enjoyed the mother/daughter relationship and tensions, but Matt (the father) was just far too flat and really very annoying. He appears directly in the book at far too late a stage, and then launches into a huge section of ‘info dumping’ concerning what exactly has gone on, which is very amateur. It would have been better if Matt could have had sections earlier so we discover things in the same timeframe as he does – this would have been far more exciting.

In general, this book could easily have been cut by a third, and I suspect the film will be far better than the novel. That said, the final scenes of drama are fun (though anything would be good after that dull trawl through the snow!), and the ending surprisingly delicate.

Anne Brooke Books